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Absolute Territory

Chapter Text

He knew they were coming for him, and he knew that they would not be merciful if they caught him. There was nowhere to run in this hell hole filled with wires and computers, so his only option was to hide. The only plausible place was among the wires; they would probably never check if he imbedded himself between the circuit boards.

It was a good thing he was skinny, he thought to himself as he slid between the rows. As tactfully as he could without being electrocuted, he pressed himself against the wires. The door was kicked open and he could hear the Judge’s footsteps enter the room. He flinched at the noise. His heart was pounding, and he tried to quiet his breathing as he heard them approach closer and closer to his position.

He squeezed his eyes shut and waited.

Suddenly, he was being grabbed from the circuit boards by the male Judge, and his composure broke. “No, no!” He screamed as he was dragged out into the open. “No, please don’t shoot me - please don’t shoot me. I’m not armed, I’m not-“ he spewed as the man pressed him against the smooth metallic side of the same circuit boards he had hidden in. “I - I - I can help you,” he said, trying to bargain for his own life.

“How?” The Judge growled.

The man was holding a gun to his head, and it was sending him into hysterics. He could hardly get the words out due to hyperventilation. “Mama’s in her private quarters, but it’s behind ten inches of steel. You can’t get in there without the keypad combination; I - I - I can give that to you,” he continued, eyes closed and praying they would listen to his logic.

The man pulled him away from the metal wall, and the woman Judge stepped forward. “I don’t need your cooperation to get the combination from you,” she said, placing her left hand against his cheek.

Techie hung his head, knowing that he would probably be dead in the next second or two. He had been used by many people, and now he would die.

There was a pause, each second that passed making him more and more resigned to the fact that his life was about to end. The girl’s hand dropped from his cheek, eyes sympathetic as she said words that Techie had not anticipated.

“Go. Get out of here.”

A moment of disbelief passed over him, but it was only a very short moment. Instinct had taught him to not hesitate to do something in order to survive. In the few short moments it took him to process the words, he turned around and ran, somehow knowing that the two Judges would take care of Mama. He did not look back.

Even with his knowledge of the layout of the building, it still took him awhile to reach ground level. It was a lot of distance to traverse, after all, and the elevators were not working. He burst through the door, his breath catching in his throat when he saw the sight of a body splat on the sidewalk in front of him.

Easily he recognized it as the body of Mama. Far from being disgusted at the sight of a broken and bleeding body, he was actually supremely relieved. Finally he was free from Mama’s terrifying reign.

Often, he had imagined what he might do if this moment ever came. Before, if he had tried to leave, if only his room in the building, Mama’s muscle would come and stuff him back inside, efficiently making escape impossible. But he had imagined what he might do for so long, fantasized about it so much that he actually had a plan of action for escaping this disgusting hell hole of a planet.

First, he needed to locate an intergalactic data pad. The closest one was in the Interstellar Communications Corporation building. Thankfully, it was only a very few short blocks away.

-

Hux looked down at his data pad, eyebrows furrowing as he looked at the ID of the requested face call. It was not one he knew. Still, he had nothing else to attend to at the moment, and it could be important. He pressed the answer button, eyebrows raising high in surprise at the face at the other end of the line.

“Armitage!” It was his brother, but he was - well, he did not look healthy in the least.

“Tiberius,” he acknowledged, with a tinge of concern in his voice. He hadn’t spoken to his twin in a very long time. Close to ten years. “Why have you called? Are you alright?” Despite the time and the distance, he and Tiberius had always been very close. He did not like the look of malnourishment on his brother’s face.

Tiberius’ face broke, eyes darting downward as his dry lips formed a grimace. He looked on the verge of tears, eyes bloodshot and red-rimmed. “No,” he choked, a few tears escaping from the corners of his eyes. “No, I -“ his voice broke again. “I need your help. Please come get me.”

“Of course,” Hux immediately agreed, “where are you?”

“I’m, um, Earth. Hold on, I’ll give the coordinates.” He listed them off, and Hux recorded that part of the message to refer to later.

“Alright, I’ll be there shortly. Will you be okay until I arrive?”

He watched his brother’s uncertain face as he pondered the question. “I - I can try,” he told the floor.

Hux nodded shortly. “Do see to it. I will see you shortly.”

With that, he terminated the message. It would be hard to find someone to go and collect his brother; every single person aboard this vessel was essential to the working order of this ship. Furthermore, he could hardly send a regular stormtrooper for the job, and Phasma was busy training the new troops. Mitaka was an orderly, but Hux did not trust even him with his brother’s protection.

He could not abandon his ship, so . . . he was out of options. Who could he send that would not disrupt the flow of the ship . . . ?

That’s when the idea hit him, but he did not know if it was such a good one. Kylo Ren was volatile at the best times, and he rarely ever listened to orders. Still, he was the only person whom Hux could send that would not throw a hinge in his plans. And although he did not trust Ren’s judgement, he did trust his sheer brute strength. He, at least, would allow for no harm to come to Tiberius.

-

Kylo was in the middle of meditating when he was disturbed by the notification noise of his data pad. He opened his eyes and contemplated the illuminated screen, wondering who it was contacting him. As he knew it, there was no one who required him in any capacity currently.

Still, he slowly unfolded from his meditation pose, taking a few long seconds to stretch and rise to his feet. He picked up the data pad, surprised to see that the missive had come from General Hux. Or perhaps, he was not surprised. That man was the only one who would dare disturb him when he was not expecting it.

He clicked open the message, scanning it briefly. Hux wanted to meet with him privately in the conference room on deck five - in fifteen minutes. He was also, Kylo amended, the only man who would give him such short notice (save, of course, Supreme Leader Snoke).

Despite his feelings on the matter, he donned his robes and mask, knowing that the man would not summon him if it were not important and urgent.

He made his way to the conference room, stepping inside and listening to the soft swish of the automatic doors close behind him. The General was already there waiting for him, standing on the other side of the conference table.

“You wished to speak with me, General?”

Hux nodded, eyes as cold and hard as always. “I have a mission for you,” he said, getting straight to the point.

Beneath his mask, Kylo’s eyebrows raised. The words were extremely presumptuous, coming from Hux. The man had never sent him on a mission before. Of course he tried to give Kylo orders all the time, but he hardly paid them any heed.

“Excuse me? I am your equal, and I have no compulsion to do as you say.” His voice crackled in anger through the vocoder.

Any other time, the words would have made the General irate, but now he just looked . . . resigned. “Kylo, I am not here to argue. I need you to do this for me.”

It was not an explanation. Kylo crossed his arms, becoming more angry but trying to contain himself. “Why should I?”

“Because you are the only one who can.”

The words were piercing, and there was a pause for a moment. “What’s the mission?” Not that he was going to actually do it.

“I need you to collect someone from a planet for me.”

“A rebel? An ally?”

“No. Someone important to me.” The words were defensive, as if Hux expected Kylo to contradict him. “When you collect him, you are to be civil and . . . gentle.” He said the last word as if it were dragged from him by force.

Kylo didn’t know what was more surprising; that the General had someone ‘important to him’, or that he wanted Kylo to ‘be gentle’ with him.

Still, he owed nothing to this man.

“If I do this, what will you give me in return? I don’t work for free, Hux.”

“What do you want?” Hux asked immediately. Kylo could feel relief permeate the air around him - relief that Kylo was willing to go in the first place?

He thought about it, but he truly didn’t know. Being trained in the Force, he had given up indulgences and physical comforts. “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that later. Where do I pick this person up?”

-

He had given the coordinates to the place he was staying, but he was getting anxious the longer he stayed there. There was always the possibility that some of Mama’s gang had survived and were on the search for him. Maybe he would still be tied to her even when she was dead. The thought sent shivers of horror through him.

In a message he had sent earlier, he had given Armitage a meeting place and times that he would wait. It was in a nearby park reserve, right next to the ship landing pad for easy transport.

As it was about time, he made his way there, enjoying the sight of trees and the slight reprieve from the artificial light of buildings. When he approached the meeting point, a bench along the path, he found that there was already someone sitting there.

Techie hoped that the man wouldn’t mind him sitting beside him, because if he did then he would no doubt be in trouble. The man looked terrifying; his body made of muscle and his eyes sharp enough to kill. It made him more than slightly nervous.

Thankfully there was a shower that he had taken advantage of in the place he was staying, and he had been able to wash his only pair of clothes as well as himself. It had been a long time since his hair had been anything other than greasy.

He grew closer, and the man looked up shrewdly to survey him. The man looked a bit shocked at his appearance. He was staring at Techie’s face, and it was making him more than mildly flustered. He was just about to ask if he could sit, when the man spoke first.

“Tiberius?” He asked, voice much deeper than Techie would have suspected of him possessing.

Shocked at hearing his given name from this stranger’s mouth, his mouth fell open and he stuttered a bit. “I - I, u-um, yeah, I’m Tiberius. But how . . . ?”

“Hux sent me.”

It took him a moment to process before he realized that the man was referring to his brother. Once he understood, he gave a sharp nod of confirmation. “oh - Armitage,” Techie provided in clarification, visibly relaxing at the information. This guy was here to bring him to his brother, then.

The man rose from the bench, and they began walking in the direction towards his ship.

Despite the reassurance that he was finally being taken to his brother, he still felt monumentally nervous that something or someone would stop them. That he wouldn’t be able to leave, and that he would be stuck on this planet, in his room of computers and wires for the rest of his life.

Thankfully, his fears did not come true at all, and they arrived at the man’s shuttle without much fanfare. He took a seat, feeling a little less uneasy as the doors closed and the man piloted them away from the planet and into space.

Now that his nerves were starting to calm, it only now occurred to him that he did not know the name of the man who had come to collect him. Still, he didn’t know if he should ask. He should have asked the first time they met. Wouldn’t it seem a bit rude to ask now?

The line of thought was rendered obsolete, because from the cockpit, the man called; “My name’s Kylo Ren, by the way.”

That was pretty much the last thing either of them said for the rest of the journey.

-

This was the meeting spot, at the proper time. He had gotten here a bit early, but there really wasn’t much else to do other than wait.

Hux hadn’t given him a picture to go by in order to find this guy - just a name: ’Tiberius’. He honestly didn’t know why the man had been so stubborn about that.

Kylo had asked how he would know if he had the right guy. Hux had merely said “you will know when you see him”.

And know him he did. He heard footsteps, saw a garishly yellow shirt from the corner of his eye. He looked up, taking in the long ginger hair, the sallow cheeks, the overly-large irises. But the face. His face was perfectly identical to Hux. It was - surprising, to say the least. Still, he had to make sure.

“Tiberius?”

Once he made sure he had the right guy, he informed him that Hux had sent him. He had a blank look before he realized who Kylo was referring to. Before now, he had forgotten that Hux must have a first name. Of course it would be something ridiculous like ‘Armitage’. He was definitely going to use it for blackmail.

Even more interesting, however (but now much less unexpected now that he had seen the proof with his own eyes), was the confirmation that ‘Armitage’ and Tiberius were brothers. Of course neither had told him, but it was easy to read from Tiberius’s scrambled thoughts. To be honest, Kylo had also conveniently forgotten that Hux might have a family.

Still, he led Tiberius to the shuttle and piloted them away from the planet. The further they got away from the surface, the more the man relaxed. From what Kylo could sense, the man was made of stress and anxiety much the same as Hux, except he was also steeped in fear, regret, and sadness.

He wasn’t sure if he would ever want to know what Tiberius had been through.

Chapter Text

The trip to Armitage’s base was surprisingly not far. It only took a couple of hours to get there, and Techie slept for most of that time. He hadn’t had the privilege to nap when he had been . . . working for Mama. He was asleep on the couch when they arrived in the hangar bay, and he was awoken by a gentle shake to his shoulder.

Normally people did not touch him under any circumstance, so he woke up more than a bit disoriented and heavily confused as to who was touching him. It turned out to just be Kylo, informing him that they had arrived.

He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, ignoring how irritated they felt. It was a constant occurrence for his eyes to itch and burn. They had no doubt been slightly infected ever since Mama had gauged his eyes out and replaced them with bionically enhanced ones.

Shaking the thoughts away, he sat up and stretched. There was a resistance to his muscles, but he had gotten used to it a long time ago. Normally he would simply sleep on the floor in the computer room on top of a few blankets and pillows. It had not been the best situation.

Kylo led him out of the ship and into the hangar bay. He looked around, taking in the number of ships, how large the whole room was. Techie knew of course that Armitage ran a base where he was technically in charge of everything, but the monumental scale had not been made clear to him until now.

If only he had contacted his brother before, he probably would have been able to come and extract him from even Mama’s grasp with little problems. He wished he had known to ask. Even so, though, he reminded himself, just because Armitage had the means to do so, it most certainly did not mean that he would drop everything just to come rescue his pathetic little brother.

As he was looking around, a skittish-looking man approached them. He stopped in front of them, sweeping his hat off from the top of his dark-colored hair. Nervously, he wrung the material out in his hands, giving a tiny bow in deference to Kylo. Was Techie right in his original supposition that he was someone to fear and respect? Something was telling him yes.

“Lord Ren, Mister Tiberius,” he acknowledged, “General Hux wishes for an immediate mission debriefing in conference room four.”

-

“Mitaka,” Hux said, calling the man over by gesturing to him with his gloved fingers.

The man scuttled over, looking a bit pale. “Yes, sir?” It came out as a squeak.

“I need you to go down to the hangar bay to inform Ren where we will be meeting for his mission debrief. Tell him to meet me in conference room four when he arrives. He will have a guest with him.”

“Yes, sir,” he said much more definitively, bowing shortly before leaving to do what was asked of him.

Because Techie’s arrival had been so unexpected and abrupt, it was now up to Hux to find him an appropriate place to stay. Despite the massive size of the ship, there were only so many quarters that were available. None of them were empty, and few had only one person in each room.

He looked through room assignments, picking out all of the ones that only had one person in them. As he had previously assumed, there was very few. There was only two men that had single quarters, but one was most clearly the preferable option.

One of the men was alone due to complaints of others and poor work ethic. The other was alone due to exemplary work ethic, and was elevated for privilege.

Hux remembered when he had assigned the man single quarters; he had been kissing up to him in front of the new recruits, which set a good precedent.

It was not a decision at all to place Tiberius in Trooper 2278-C’s room.

Once he had sent a notice to the trooper’s data pad about the assignment, he made his way to conference room four. It was about time for his brother to arrive.

-

The hallways aboard the ship were a complex web of corridors, so it was very lucky that he Kylo to guide him to where he was supposed to be.

He was excited to see Armitage after such a long time, and he could feel his heart beat picking up at the thought of it.

It was a bit of a long walk from the hangar bay to conference room four, but it still felt like a short time due to Techie’s nerves. When they arrived, he found that Armitage was already in the room waiting for them.

Immediately upon seeing him, Techie’s good mood rose. “Artie!” He said, falling back to the old childhood nickname as he walked over quickly and wrapped his arms around him. Armitage felt stiff under his embrace, probably not expecting him to do such a thing. It caused a frown to pull down the corners of his mouth as he pulled away slightly.

Their eyes met, and he could instantly see the concern on his brother’s face. “Toby, what happened to your eyes?” Armitage asked, hands going up to cup his cheeks. He looked vaguely horrified.

Not liking the attention, he turned his face away, looking to the floor instead. “Actually, I go by ‘Techie’ now.” He said, evading the question.

Armitage was obviously still very concerned, but he did not press his brother for further details. Tiberius would tell him when he was ready.

Instead, he turned to the subject at hand. Which was Ren at the current moment. Surprisingly, Ren was not wearing his helmet. Perhaps he had taken it off and forgotten to put it back on.

“Ren,” he began, the softness and concern that his brother had produced in him being replaced with the hard edge of the General. “I trust that you obeyed mission parameters?” Still, he was touching Tiberius with the utmost care.

The question he was truly asking was if Ren had been appropriately gentle with his brother.

“Of course,” Ren said, then added, “General,” as an afterthought.

Disrespectful as always, then.

True to his word, though, Tiberius did not seem to even be much aware of how much damage the man could cause. Therefore Hux was disinclined to believe that Ren had terrorized him.

Hux’s data pad pinged with a message, but he ignored it for now. Whatever it was could wait for him to get Tiberius settled.

“I have made arrangements for you. Unfortunately there weren’t many options, as we only have mostly communal quarters. However, I was able to find you a room that you only have to share with one other person.”

Techie, still feeling relieved that Armitage had not pressed for information about what had happened to him, nodded gratefully. “That sounds lovely, thank you.”

Hux pulled away to retrieve an extra data pad that he brought and placed on the table. “I’m giving you this in case you need to contact me for anything. There is a map of the ship that I downloaded for you.” He pulled it up and showed it to Techie. He pointed to a room on the map, “This is where you will be staying. I can get someone to show you there now if you wish. Later, when I get off shift, we can place an order for your uniforms.”

It went unspoken that Techie did not have any clothes other than what he was currently wearing. Hux would not stand for that; his brother would want for nothing under his care.

“We follow a simple schedule aboard the Finalizer, which you will also find on your data pad - as well as the locations to the mess hall and communal showers.”

Techie paled a bit at that. “Um - communal showers?”

It had not occurred to him that his brother would be put off by the thought. “You can come to my quarters to shower, then. Mine is private,” Hux quickly amended.

Immediately Techie relaxed, looking relieved. He nodded quickly in agreement. “Thank you,” he said again, his voice heavily laden with gratitude.

Just what had happened to his brother was unclear, but it must have been terrible if he was thanking him so passionately just for offering him basic curtesy. Still, he did not need to find out what had happened to Tiberius in order to blow Earth to stardust once his weapon was complete. He rather thought that would be a concise revenge for what the planet had put his brother through.

Ren, who was leaning against the conference table silently observing them, gave him a look that said he knew Hux’s exact thoughts. And - oddly (almost terrifyingly even) - that he agreed with him.

If Ren agreed with him, then it was obvious that he had seen Tiberius’s thoughts and what he had been through - and that he wanted Earth blown up as well.

It sealed the thought into his mind, and he knew that the planet would be the first on his list to destroy.

Techie hadn’t caught the interaction between the two at all, and was still smiling shyly in gratitude.

“It is the least I could do,” Hux assured him with a soft tone, so unlike that of his persona of the General. “Now, I have to return to work. Would you like me to get Mitaka to show you to your quarters?”

Techie pondered it for a moment before giving a slight nod, as if he thought that agreeing would be considered a burden. “Yes, please.” It made Hux’s heart ache more than it had in a very long while.

He sent a quick message to Mitaka. Thankfully, the small man never strayed too far from the General in case he was needed. It only took him a minute or so to arrive.

Clutching the data pad to his chest as if it were the most precious thing he had ever held, he quietly followed Mitaka out the door.

The doors slid closed, and Hux’s sharp gaze was on Ren. “What did you see?” He asked immediately.

“Nothing specific, but he has definitely suffered. Still is suffering, truly.”

He looked at the closed metal doors, his mind on his brother’s infected eyes. “He needs to go to a doctor. I can arrange an appointment after my shift.” Hux said, thinking out loud.

When he glanced back at Ren, the man was giving him a considering look.

“What?” He asked, feeling defensive for some reason.

“Nothing.” Ren said quickly. “It’s just,” he quickly amended, “I never expected you would actually be so invested in someone who wasn’t yourself.” A back-handed compliment. If it could even be considered a compliment in the first place.

Immediately, Hux was offended. So, they were back to this again; fighting.

“You can insult me all you want, Ren, but do not bring my brother into any of this.” The words were snapped, the tone short and cold.

With that, Hux turned and left, chin and nose pointed high in the air as he did so.

Kylo stood, baffled and disappointed as the door slid closed on Hux’s retreating back. He had not meant to offend the General. Not this time, at least. He sighed softly. He was too good at getting on Hux’s nerves - even unintentionally.

-

After storming from the room, he jabbed the message he had received earlier open on his data pad, thankful that it was from Phasma instead of some technician asking for his signature on something. Phasma was safe. Phasma always helped him calm down. Phasma was the only competent soul aboard this whole kriffing ship.

She was sending him an update about incoming new recruits, who would need newly assigned quarters. Something easily done with minimal stress on his part. Stars knew that he needed minimal stress right now.

Chapter Text

Techie followed Mitaka - the same man that had collected him from the hangar bay - through the corridors of the ship. He would memorize the map that Hux had given him when he had the time, but for now he would rely on this lieutenant.

“You’re the General’s brother, aren’t you?” Mitaka asked, looking over at him as they walked.

“Um, yes. We’re twins.”

“I never knew he had a sibling.”

It was reminiscent of what Kylo had commented on earlier. Being his brother, it didn’t surprise him that they thought that Armitage would be an only child; he had been cold and precise at every aspect of his life since they were children.

That was about the extent of his conversation with Mitaka as they made their way to his new quarters.

“Thank you for showing me the way,” he said when they arrived.

“It was no trouble,” Mitaka assured him.

Techie entered the room, a bit scared to meet his new roommate. Mitaka was leaving before the doors even slid closed. Thankfully, though, his quarters were empty when he entered - his roommate was probably out attending to his daily duties.

He was relieved that he would be able to search his new quarters without scrutiny.

Despite there only being one occupant previously, there were two bunks on either side of the room. The sides of the room were completely symmetrical, save for the fact that one of those sides was so obviously occupied. The nightstand beside the military-made bed was covered with a framed picture and a journal.

The open concept of the room made him more than slightly nervous. He did not like the fact that his roommate would be able to see all of his actions.

Techie preferred to be alone, sequestered away where he was alone with only his thoughts. That was the only good thing about his previous arrangement - besides from when he was needed, no one would ever bother him in his room of wires.

Having nothing else to do, he sat on his new bed, staring at the map of the Finalizer. It was easy to catalogue, especially with the help from his bionic eyes. He had always been good with layouts, math, code. Something like this didn’t take him long at all to memorize.

After he was done with that, he went about memorizing the ship schedule. Armitage had provided him with his own schedule and the whereabouts of his quarters as well. It made him feel safe knowing that he could go to his brother at any time.

It was all a very quick process, and once again he had nothing much to do. So, indulging himself again in such a short time, he curled up on the bed, data pad cradled in his arms, and fell asleep. He felt more safe and content here than he had in a very long while.

-

Working with Mama, living in that room of wires, he had learned to sleep very lightly. Light didn’t bother him at all due to the illuminated computer screens of where he used to sleep, and the thrum of computers was actually soothing to him. It was any sound remotely resembling the opening of a door, or the sound of another human, that made him sit straight up before he could even make the conscious effort to do so.

So, that was exactly what happened when his roommate entered their now-shared quarters.

The man - short cropped dark hair, tan skin, brown eyes - looked vaguely startled at first. Then, the surprise was replaced with some calculating look as his eyes catalogued Techie’s face.

“So, you’re my new roommate? I got the message about the assignment.” He stepped inside and placed his trooper on his bunk as he spoke, proceeding to pull off his armor.

Something in the way the man had eyed him, the sharpness of his voice, made Techie slightly uneasy. “Uh - um, yeah. I’m Techie - nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you as well. I’m trooper 2278-C, but everyone just calls me ‘Connor’.”

Techie nodded absently, not knowing what else to say. He wasn’t very good at human interaction.

Fortunately, the man didn’t even seem to notice his awkwardness. Instead, after removing all of his armor, he turned back to Techie, staring at his his face intently.

Almost involuntarily, Techie jerked his head to the side, letting his hair cover most of his face. He hated it when people so much as glanced at him - it outright made him distressed when he was the pure focus of attention.

“Say, you look remarkably like the General,” Connor said, his voice light.

“I’m his brother,” Techie found himself relaying for the second time that day. It was getting a bit repetitive to him.

He glanced up to check if the man was still staring at him, and - yes, still staring. It was making him shake a bit - just his hands. He clutched them into the edges of his yellow shirt.

“I didn’t think the General had siblings.”

So. Repetitive.

“A common misconception.” He said concisely, voice a bit short.

Connor hummed and grabbed his personal data pad, leaning back on his bunk.

Techie was so relieved to be out from under his scrutiny that he almost sighed in relief. Before he could do any such thing, the door slid open, revealing his brother.

Connor jumped to his feet almost instantly, standing at attention. To anyone who didn’t know Armitage as well as he did, he would have seemed completely stone-faced. But Techie could see the amusement in his face at how comical it was to see the man jump up so fast.

“At ease, trooper.” Armitage finally said after a moment of staring at him.

He turned to Techie, gesturing for him to follow. “Come, we are going to go place an order for your uniforms. Also, I am making a doctor’s appointment for your eyes -“ then, after seeing the look of terror that must have crossed his face, “just to get you antibiotics. You know they’re infected.”

Techie looked down guiltily. He knew his brother would never bring harm to him intentionally. “Alright,” he agreed, following his brother out into the corridors and letting him lead even though he now knew where everything was located.

Hux knew he could do these things easily through messages via data pad, but he found that he wanted Techie to be there when he did these things. Maybe it had something to do with trust - he wanted to make sure that Techie knew that he would do nothing but provide for him. Hux knew all the signs of abuse, having gone through them himself. The least he could was to offer Techie support.

They arrived at the acquisition counter where troopers came to get their measures taken. Techie did not much appreciate having the brisk man with a sharp face touching him - even though they were simply for measurements. Still, he appreciated how professional he was - his face did not break from that unimpressed look the entire time.

Besides - he had impressive short, spiky silver hair with frosted tips. Techie could respect the style if nothing else.

Next came the medbay. He effectively hid behind his brother as Armitage made an appointment with the receptionist.

-

When Techie returned to his quarters, he entered quietly, bidding Armitage goodnight. His roommate was already asleep, so quietly and in the dark, he got into bed and pulled the covers almost entirely up over his head.

Another thing he missed from his old room, he noted to himself, was the pile of blankets and pillows. This new bed was stiff and uncomfortable beneath him, and the blanket far too thin. The pillow was meager.

Even with all of these factors, though, he fell asleep soundly.

-

He awoke pinned down, his legs held down by Connor’s hips and his hands held above his head. The room was dimly illuminated, and Connor’s eyes had a fanatically adoring look in them.

Connor was the first to speak.

“You look exactly like you brother,” he breathed, voice filled with adoration.

A sharp terror filled him, and he struggled. He was no match for both gravity and Connor’s weight. “Get off of me!” His voice was sharp and high, filled with terror. His heartbeat had gone from resting to a high pitch.

“So lovely,” Connor said, eyes on Techie’s lips, apparently ignoring Techie’s words entirely.

He released one of Techie’s hands in order to trace the shape of his lips. That was his mistake.

Quickly, he leaned forward and bit harshly into the meat of the trooper’s hand, causing him to curse and recoil. With the distraction, Techie lowered his head and rammed the top of it straight into Connor’s nose.

The man roared in pain, jerking back and away, both hands pressed to his nose. Techie took the opportunity to shove the man off of him with both hands, pushing hard enough to send him toppling off of Techie’s bed.

Jumping up, he kneed Connor in his hand-covered face, kicking him in the gut for good measure.

Techie had never been sexually assaulted, and he certainly would not allow it to happen now.

Now that the trooper was down on the ground (and would be for quite a while), he grabbed his data pad from the nightstand and ran. Thanks to his previous memorization, he knew exactly where he was headed; to his brother’s quarters.

Still, he sent him a message that he was coming as he made his journey.

“What’s the matter?” Armitage sent back, not even two seconds later.

“My roommate tried to sexually assault me,” he sent back, stopping in the corridor, realizing that Armitage would no doubt want to come to him.

True to his thoughts, he received, “I’m on my way.”

-

His reputation as a workaholic was founded in a basis of truth; even after his shift he went about doing paperwork. He was settled down on his bed, assigning quarters for the new troops, when he got a message from his brother.

It was late, and no doubt Tiberius would be tired from all that he had been through. Something must have happened.

Hux messaged back quickly, concerned.

When his brother told him what had happened in a short message, he was immediately blindingly irate. He sent a quick message, already out the door. Even though he did not think he needed backup, he still sent a message to Ren to meet him at Tiberius’s quarters. He would deal with 2278-C himself.

-

Ren was quite happily asleep. That is, he was quite happily asleep before the notification sound from his data pad woke him up. He sat up and glared at the screen that said he had a message from the General.

Still, it was the middle of night shift, so he was curious as to what the General would be messaging him about.

Of course the message didn’t contain any context - only orders. If he wanted to find out what the kriff was happening then he would have to do as told. He hated it when Hux did this to him.

Begrudgingly, he got up and put on his robes. Hux had ordered him to come to his brother’s quarters - who had never seen him with a mask. Tiberius wouldn’t know that it was Ren if he wore the mask. He sighed before voluntarily leaving his mask behind in his quarters.

-

If it had been timed, then Hux would have broken the record for crossing the Finalizer in the least amount of time as possible. As it stood, Hux did not beat any records, and the only award he was receiving was to punish a swine of a trooper for daring to touch his baby brother.

When he arrived, Ren was just arriving as well, once again without his mask. He was wearing a scowl instead. “Why did you drag me out of bed, General?” He grumped, voice deep with sleep, hair ruffled and curly as well.

Hux acknowledged briefly that Ren looked attractive, but it was nothing but a cold observation. He didn’t even pause as he opened the door to the quarters. “My brother was a victim of attempted sexual assault,” he said primly.

Connor sat on his bed, nursing his bleeding nose and hurting ribs. He looked up sharply as Hux and Ren entered, panic coming into his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, but before any sound could come out, Hux slapped him cleanly across the mouth - effectively silencing any words.

Now he had a busted lip to go with a bloody nose.

But Hux did not stop there. He pulled back and cocked him in the jaw so hard that there was a pop of a dislocated jaw, and he went flying to floor. Once he was on the floor, Hux pinned his boot to the man’s throat, as if he were doing no more than stepping on a cockroach.

“You touched my brother,” Hux began, his entire demeanor godlike in his fury. “And for that, you will never touch anything ever again.”

He stepped down on the man’s throat with all of his might, hearing the man choke and sputter as he felt his trachea collapse under the weight of his foot. It felt like power.

Techie, who had made his way back to the room slowly once Armitage had told him he was coming, stood in the doorway, looking on with apathy.

Hux stepped away and turned towards him. “You did quite a number on him. I’m proud.”

Techie’s eyebrows rose at the words, mouth tilting up in amusement. “We both did. The throat-crushing was a nice touch, I think.”

Kylo, who was watching the whole exchange, was increasingly exasperated with both of them. First with Hux - he had not suspected the man of such brutality. Then with Tiberius - he was so fragile and delicate in both appearance and in mind that he had expected an overly emotional response from the man. Not this understated acceptance.

For his part, though, Techie was completely unfazed. He had seen much violence when working for Mama, after all. It took much more than this to affect him.

Hux sighed, breaking his reverie. “I suppose I’ll have to come up with new accommodations.”

“Oh, can I not stay in this room alone?”

It was a valid question.

“Actually, there are new incoming troops. Too many to place even in the communal quarters. I have to place you with someone . . . less than adequate. After what has transpired here, though, I feel that he will not step out of line.”

Techie’s eyebrows furrowed. “But how will anyone know what’s happened?”

Without a word, Hux held his data pad up and took a picture of Connor’s mangled body, putting a description and posting it to the ship-wide channel.

“Oh,” he said eloquently, just as a new message popped up on his own data pad. The picture of Connor’s dead body.

They both looked over as Kylo walked further into the room, going to Connor’s nightstand. He picked up the journal laying there, flipping through it. After reading a few passages, he looked up, eyes dark with some inexpressible emotion. “I know why he did it.”

“Why?” They asked at the same time, voices mingling and blending.

“He was obsessed with you, Hux. Wanted to ‘lick your boots while you insulted him’,” Kylo read distastefully.

“I wish I had made him suffer more,” Hux sneered thoroughly disgusted by the corpse on the floor.

“What, you’re not into that?” Techie teased, speaking up.

His twin’s nose crinkled further in disgust. “I have standards, Tiberius.”

“As do I, obviously. Anyway, where are my new quarters?”

Chapter Text

Armitage pointed out Techie's new quarters on the map, which was in the opposite direction of his own. It made Hux slightly uneasy that he would be even further from his brother than before - especially after what had transpired this night.

“Do you need someone to come with you?” Hux asked.

Techie shook his head. “No, I know where to go. I don’t want you to lose anymore sleep because of me than you already have.”

“Losing sleep hardly concerns me if it is to make sure that you are safe.”

It was the most sentimental thing that Kylo had ever heard Hux say.

Tiberius did not seem to appreciate it, though; he just looked vaguely uncomfortable and disgusted by Hux’s words. “Don’t be gross,” Techie said, giving a small grimace. He had lasted this long without his brother, and he wouldn’t start being needy now.

Hux caught Ren’s eye, sending him a look that conveyed that he wished to speak with him afterwards.

Catching the look that they shared, Techie excused himself, making his way to his new quarters by himself. As it was in the the middle of night shift, there weren’t many troopers about, and it was mostly cleaning droids he came into contact with. He was glad for it; he didn’t want anymore excitement for very long time.

When he arrived at his new quarters, he slipped inside, noting that his roommate did not stir at his entrance. The rhythm of his snoring didn’t even stutter - Techie was mildly impressed.

Like his last arrangement, both sides of the room were symmetrical, exactly the same set up as the last quarters. Just as the other one, the other bed was obviously unoccupied. He slipped under the the covers, hoping that maybe this time nothing bad would happen.

-

“Help me make sure that this never occurs again,” Hux said immediately after Techie left. He was still very much on edge, furious that anyone would dare to touch his little brother. The only reason he had let his brother leave was because he trusted him to take care of himself; he had defended himself earlier, after all.

He glared down at the dead body, only disappointed that he had not allowed the man to suffer to his full potential. He wished he could give the man a thousand deaths; feel his throat collapse over and over again beneath his heel.

Kylo could feel the hatred pour off of Hux, knowing that it was purely on his brother’s behalf. It was, he found, incredibly endearing to him. Not that he would ever admit that to himself or anyone else.

“Of course, General.” He said it quickly, definitively.

The words made Hux look up sharply, eyes shrewd. Ren had never agreed to any of his orders so tacitly. It was more suspicious than refreshing.

Ren had been agreeing and obeying him more often when it came to Tiberius, and he couldn’t help but see the relation. His eyes narrowed at the Knight, his mouth thinning into a line. “Do you like him?” Hux said, voice full of mistrust.

If it were true, then it might prove to be good for all of them - after all, Hux could hardly be upset over Ren wanting to protect his brother. Still, he knew what a handful the man could be and how unpredictable he was, so it might not be such a good idea after all. He could hardly place his brother with such a volatile man.

“I have no reason not to like him. However, if you are asking in a sexual or romantically-inclined sense, then no, I do not ‘like him’.” Kylo said, stilling Hux’s thoughts.

Hux did not know why he felt very relieved all of a sudden.

That said, however, he was still confused as to why Ren had . . . taken an interest.

“Why are you helping me when it comes to him, then?”

Kylo considered the question, looking at Hux intently. “He’s a good person who has been through a lot. He deserves better.”

Before Hux could even think through the words, Kylo was turning and walking out the door. He was left alone, the only thing left to do was to tidy up. He messaged the cleaning droids and promptly turned to leave as well, still thinking about what Ren had said. Just what had he seen in Tiberius’s mind?

-

He got up at the usual time, the lights scheduled to automatically illuminate the room at exactly one hour before his shift started. It was scheduled so early because it usually took him half that time to actually get out of bed.

The lights came on and he pulled the pillow over his head, really not wanting to get up. It would not be worth a sick day to go back to sleep though, so after about ten minutes he rolled over and sat up. Only to find the bed opposite him occupied.

For a moment he panicked, heart rate skyrocketing as he viewed the blanket-covered lump with long red hair. When he had acquired this new bunk-mate, he did not know. The man had not been there when Matt had gone to bed.

But, if he was new, then he might have a job to get to. Matt got up, pulling his white tank on before walking the short distance over to the sleeping man.

“Hey,” he whispered, his voice a bit rough from sleep.

Immediately the blanket stirred, the man turned, and he was met with bright blue bionic eyes and the shine of ginger hair.

He was . . . a bit shocked to say the least. In fact, he thinks that his heart stopped for a moment there.

The man sat up, clutching the cover as if it were a shield of some sort. “Hi, I’m, um, I’m your new roommate,” he said, voice small and stuttering.

“I haven’t gotten a notification about a new roommate,” Matt said, turning around and beginning to get ready for his shift. He pulled on his overalls, then put his glasses on. The man still sitting on the bed became more clear, every minute detail sharpening.

“It was a bit of a last-minute assignment,” Techie confessed.

The sight of his new roommate made him very nervous after what had happened. He was of a much bigger build than Connor, and if this man decided to attack him, then there was a minuscule chance of being able to fight him off.

“Yeah, I didn’t think they would ever put anyone back with me,” he said with a snort.

Immediately, he was curious and defensive all at once. “I’m General Hux’s brother,” he stated overtly, meaning it as threat. It was implied in his tone that he would not hesitate to report the man if he did one thing that Techie did not like.

Matt, who was sitting on the edge of the bunk lacing his boots, looked up, squinting. “I suppose you do look like him. Don’t think I’ve ever met him in person before.” He did not seem threatened in the least, completely unbothered by Techie’s declaration.

Perhaps, Techie considered, this man was not intimidated by his brother. It was either that or he did not plan to hurt him in the first place. Even so, he would not be letting his guard down again.

“Do you have a job to get to? It’s almost first shift,” Matt said, lacing his other boot.

“Oh, no, I don’t think so . . .”

“You don’t think you have a job?” Matt teased, standing and stretching out his muscles.

Techie shook his head, letting the cover fall as he sat up more fully on the bed. Though his main focus was on how big his new roommate was, his eyes skittered to focus on everything but the man. He caught glances of his muscled arms through his peripherals.

“So, if you have nothing else to do, then you could come with me if you want. I could show you around a little bit,” Matt said, finishing his stretching.

It did sound better than staying in his room all day; there wasn’t anything he could there anyway. He would have to ask Armitage for a proper setup later. For now, he would go with Matt.

He got up and put on his own shoes, having not changed out of his clothes last night.

Once he was ready, Matt led him out, taking him through the corridors that he had memorized only such a short time ago.

“My job is pretty boring despite the fancy title of ‘technician’. All I do is go through the ship wherever my boss tells me to and fix the wiring where it needs,” Matt was saying as they walked through the hallways.

Techie found that the more the man spoke, the less he found him as a threat. He supposes that someone who looks like Matt, which is to say goofy, the less self-confidence he possesses. The less self-confidence either increases the chances of attack or decreases them, depending. In this case though, Techie didn’t truly see him as a threat.

Usually, sexual predators would try to hide their actions, minimize their victims. Matt was doing the opposite just by inviting him to come see the ship with him.

Still, he was not about to let his guard down. He feared he never would be able to.

As they walked down the corridor, they approached an open control hatch with what looked like an angry black woman dressed in technician orange standing over it with her arms crossed. “Uh, that’s my boss,” Matt said, his voice becoming significantly more quiet than just seconds ago.

The woman caught Matt’s gaze from down the hallway and leveled a glare at him as they walked closer. “Matt!” She barked angrily as soon as they were in close proximity.

Techie could see the larger man jump slightly out of the corner of his eye. “Yes, boss?”

“You’re late. Again. I don’t know why I’m so surprised.”

Matt looked down at his watch, and - yes, he was three minutes late. “I’m sorry, boss. I got a new roommate, and I’m helping to show him around. He’s new on the base.”

She looked completely unimpressed. “I don’t care, Matt. That does not excuse your tardiness.”

It wasn’t until the woman said his name that Techie realized that he hadn’t known it, and that he also hadn’t properly introduced himself. However, this was obviously not the best time to introduce himself. “I’m terribly sorry, Sir. He was late because of me,” Techie said, speaking up. He kept his eyes fixed to the floor, feeling uncomfortable.

In any other situation, he would not have stood up to anyone. Now, though, he realized that he had a modicum of power that he did not have before, and he intended to use it.

She eyed Techie, a sassy and piercing look in her eyes. “Uh huh. Don’t let it happen again.”

“Of course,” Techie said, bowing his head slightly. He was used to being reprimanded.

“I’ll leave you to it, then.” She said, before walking off down the corridor.

“She’s grumpy in the morning before she eats her muffin,” Matt explained, setting his toolbox down beside the open panel. He then proceeded to sit down in front of it, then reached inside and began to fiddle with some wires.

Techie hesitated a moment before sitting down next to him, peering inside the hatch curiously. “What are you doing?”

“I’m rewiring the calcinator. It’s hard, though, because I have to keep track of the wires individually.”

“Oh,” Techie said vaguely, his own eyes keeping track easily. “Can I try?” He asked when it was obvious that Matt was getting a bit frustrated. The small wires were slipping through his large fingers.

Matt breathed out a sigh of frustration, nodding. “Sure,” he said, moving out of the way for Techie.

For him, it was easy to crisscross the wires, making sure they were put precisely where they were meant to be. It might have been hard work for someone who did not have his bionic eyes; they easily matched the wires with their proper plug-ins.

It took barely five minutes. “Done,” he chirped, sitting back from the panel.

Matt looked skeptical at first, leaning forward to inspect his work. He pressed a button, and something began to whir. He looked back at Techie, amazement and wonder in his eyes. “You did it!”

“I know,” Techie said, a bit smug and happy that he had done so. Really, though, this kind of thing was basic knowledge to him.

Matt closed the hatch and screwed the bolts back into place, all the while stealing glances at Techie as he did so. After that, he stood and offered a hand to Techie. He took it and let Matt pull him to his feet.

“My name’s Matt, by the way. I don’’t think we ever properly introduced ourselves earlier.”

They hadn’t. “I’m Techie. Or at least, that’s what I go by.”

Matt led them to the next location, and with Techie’s help, they got quite a lot accomplished that day. Techie was halfway down a panel in the floor, upside-down, with Matt hanging onto his hips when his brother made an appearance. His partially baggy yellow shirt had ridden up more than halfway up his torso, revealing everything from his lower stomach to just below his chest.

“Tiberius,” Hux said in a soft tone, not wanting to startle his brother when he was in such a delicate situation.

Techie looked up, taking notice of Armitage. “Hey, General,” Techie said, saying the honorific just to tease, “Your ship is looking spick and span thanks to me. I’ve been doing repairs all day.” As he spoke, he arched up, Matt grabbing his arms and helping him up from the panel. He put the tool he was using back into the toolbox.

Hux furrowed his eyebrows, not liking the fact that Tiberius was working when he should be getting rest. “You shouldn’t have. Now come along; your appointment is in ten minutes.”

Techie nodded, wiping the thin veil of sweat from his forehead. He hadn’t had much physical work in a long while, as he had mostly been cramped up in his small computer room. He rose, wiping the grease from his fingers onto his loose jeans.

Hux grimaced as he viewed the action and the stains left on the material. Thankfully, Tiberius would be receiving new clothes shortly in the next hour or so. He noted to himself that if his brother was going to continue working on the ship like this, then he would be needing a set of Technician overalls. Hux put his foot down with the orange vest, though; it would look garish with Tiberius’s complexion.

Matt, for his part, was mildly surprised that his roommate had been telling the truth about his connection to the General. Then he rethought it; the small guy didn’t seem like the type to be very deceitful.

Hux led Techie through the corridors to the medbay, leaving Matt behind to fix the wiring beneath the paneling in the floor.

As they walked, Ren passed them wearing his full mask and robes. Techie, having never seen him with his mask on, actually swiveled his head as the man walked past. “Who is that?” He asked.

“That,” Hux said in a clipped tone, “is Lord Ren.”

“Oh. Why is he wearing a mask?”

“That is simply how he usually dresses.”

“So he took off his mask for me when we first met? Why would he do that?”

“He wears the mask because it makes him more intimidating. He’s not used to not being intimidating, and collecting you was a mission that he was not used to. He didn’t wear the mask because he did not want to seem intimidating,” Hux explained as they walked.

Techie glanced at Hux’s side profile, a bemused expression on his face. “Something tells me that he is not a very nice person. At least, not usually.”

Hux turned to him, mouth turned up at the corners in a smirk. “That assumption is correct.”

They arrived at the medbay, and Techie was taken in for his appointment. The doctor assessed his eyes, gently maneuvering his head this way and that with a soft grip to his chin. She then prescribed him two weeks worth of antibiotics and told him to take them regularly, and to come back if anything changed, etc.

After that, Hux took him to the requisition counter to pick up his uniforms. There were multiple sets of everything; shirts, pants, briefs, and socks. All of them were in military black - all except the briefs, which were in First Order red.

Techie raised an eyebrow at Hux, holding up a pair of the red briefs. “Trust me,” Hux said instead of explaining, “they look and feel much better than regulation.”

He just shook his head at his brother, letting the briefs fall back into the pile of clothing.

They placed the uniforms in a paper bag and made their way back to Techie’s quarters.

In the corridor, just out of the corner of his eye, Techie thought he could see the silhouette of Kylo. It could have just been his imagination, though. He didn’t get to turn around and look, because suddenly he was being distracted by Armitage.

“Tiberius!” He said the name like he was shocked and disappointed.

Techie turned to look at him, eyes wide. “What?”

Hux stopped in the middle of the hallway, placing the bag momentarily on the ground. Techie stopped with him. “What?” He repeated.

“Your lips are chapped,” he stated, reaching into the pocket of his greatcoat and pulling out a small jar. Promptly, he unscrewed the lid and dipped his finger inside, using his other hand to hold Techie’s chin. Carefully, he applied the chapstick, gliding the gloss over his lips with a finger.

He was simultaneously startled, but not surprised at the proceedings. His brother had always been like this; controlling and overly-caring. Techie had never minded; he actually liked feeling taken care of. Plus, his lips truly had been chapped.

“Thank you,” he said as Hux pulled away, rubbing his lips together.

“Of course. You now have a standard to maintain now that you are the brother of a General,” Hux said, grabbing the bag of clothes so that they could continue their journey.

Techie rolled his eyes as they made their way down the hallway once more. “Shut up Artie, you pretentious ass.”

Hux scoffed, but did not reprimand him.

Once they were at Techie’s quarters, Hux bid his farewells and left, leaving Techie to place all of his new items into the drawers of his nightstand.

Chapter Text

When Hux had asked him to make sure that Tiberius would never be put in a dangerous situation, he had taken the request quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he had decided to keep tabs on him throughout the day to make sure this new roommate was safe.

He was not doing this for Hux, he assured himself. It was merely because he could see some of himself in the boy’s tortured mind. He too felt as if he could barely control anything. No, this was purely for Tiberius’s sake.

The first time he checked in on Tiberius, he was speaking with his roommate, and they seemed to be getting along quite well. They didn’t even seem to notice him. He scanned Matt’s thoughts, and he found nothing that would indicate any violent thoughts or any potential wrong-doing towards Tiberius. Still, he would do better than take that at face value, and continue to monitor them throughout the day.

The second time he came to check in on Tiberius, he found that the General had already beaten him there - he picked up thoughts of doctor’s appointments and new uniforms from the man’s thoughts. He passed them in the hallway, stopping just around the corridor to hear their conversation. It was blatant eavesdropping, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.

Tiberius was asking who he was - which made sense, because he had never seen him while he was wearing his mask. Then, as Hux was answering, some emotion flittered and sparked across the Force - it was unidentifiable, but it burned hot and fierce before it mellowed out into something more resembling his usual irritation with Kylo.

It was not new - it seemed that Hux was usually always at least partially angry with him - or about his person even in vague reference. It had been that way ever since they had met.

The third time he saw Tiberius that day was after Hux had taken him to his doctor’s appointment and picked up his uniforms. The General was now escorting his brother back to his quarters. It seemed that neither of them took notice of him - especially when Hux proceeded to put the bag of clothing on the floor and forcibly applied chapstick to his brother’s lips.

For Kylo, it was as if time had stopped. There was something heart-warming and sweet about how much care and attention Hux bestowed upon his brother, and he honestly couldn’t believe what he was seeing. That Hux even had a brother had surprised him - and it was completely jarring to see that he obviously bestowed so much care and consideration for him.

Before, and even now, all he could think of the General was his frigid and unbending behavior. His strict posture, his rigid control. Now, though, it was as if seeing an entirely different person. At least, only when he was in the proximity of his brother. He was still as strict as before on the bridge.

They were standing so close, obvious care in both of their eyes. Tiberius’s eyes held a bit of shock, and Hux’s held determination. That was perhaps the key difference in the twins.

Kylo moved on.

-

“Hey, you said that your brother is General Hux, right?” He had been in from work for a while now. Techie was averting his eyes as the man stripped off his overalls, which left him in his white tank and boxers.

It was strange to hear his last name with the title. Techie nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Well, General Hux works with Kylo Ren, right? So, what’s he like? Have you met him?”

Techie blinked at the barrage of questions, unsure which to answer first. He just went with the last one. “Yeah, I met him once or twice. My brother says he’s not a nice person, but he was pretty alright to me. He wasn’t nice, necessarily, but he wasn’t a complete ass.”

Matt nodded in acceptance, gaze intent as if he were hanging on Techie’s every word. “Do you know what he looks like? Under his mask, I mean?”

“Umm, yeah. Dark hair, brown eyes. He has a bit of an uneven jaw.”

Matt seemed surprised quite a bit by this. His eyes were comically wide. “How’d you get to see his face?”

“The first time I met him, he wasn’t wearing a mask. Armitage told me that he didn’t want to frighten me when he picked me up.”

“Who’s Armitage?” He asked, completely butchering the name as he said it.

“Armitage,” Techie repeated slowly, “is my brother.”

“Oh. General Hux.”

After that, the conversation devolved into small talk.

-

As Hux was walking back down the corridor, he spotted Ren’s menacing form walking toward him. Before he could pass, Hux pressed a hand to his chest, effectively halting him in the middle of the hallway. “You were watching him today.”

“You told me to make sure that he was never placed in a dangerous situation again.”

Hux nodded in acceptance, eyes sharp even as he stared at Kylo’s visor. “Report.” Then, he looked around, and, upon seeing that they were not alone, he revised, “But not here. Come to my office.”

They both made their way to Hux’s private office, walking side by side silently. Kylo’s legs were longer, but Hux held a more clipped stride.

When they entered, the door slid closed and presumably locked itself. This was one of the only places on the ship that Hux had complete control over, other than his quarters, and only he held the unlock sequence. Well, Hux and Kylo both, as Kylo could override pretty much every code with the Force.

In the hallway, Hux had been as rigid and firm as always, fully portraying the General persona that he held. Now, though, behind locked doors, he allowed himself to relax ever-so-partially. Even so, he was an extremely far cry from how he had been with his brother only just earlier.

Surprisingly, when they entered, Hux did not go behind his desk to sit. Instead, he stood just in front of it, facing Ren expectantly.

“I have surveyed Tiberius and his new roommate three times today, and have found nothing in Matt’s mind that might preclude violence towards his person.” Kylo said promptly.

As he spoke, Hux’s face got a pinched look that conveyed quite clearly that he ‘hated Kylo’s damn mask, I wish he would take it off so that I could read him better’. Or Kylo might just be reading his mind - sometimes, Hux could project thoughts very clearly.

In consideration, he did as Hux wished, removing his mask and placing it on the desk.

Hux’s eyes twitched at the action as he watched in contempt, but he said nothing against it. No doubt he didn’t want it to scratch the expensive wood of the desk.

“Good,” He said shortly, looking back up at Ren’s face. As he did so, he leaned back a bit, his posture going lax ever-so-slightly. Becoming more relaxed in his presence. “You don’t have to continue the observations so frequently, but I would like for you to continue to check in on him every so often.”

He looked down, mouth turned down partially at the corners. So unlike the solid structure of the General. “I do worry about him. I didn’t know what had happened to him. I thought . . .” He trailed off, lost in thought for a moment. Then, remembering who he was speaking to, he shook his head, as if the action would dispel his thoughts.

In that moment when Hux was lost, though, Kylo could finally see more than a hint of a concerned brother. Someone who truly cared and loved, and was worried. It was . . . not something he ever thought he would see from the General.

Now, though - now he had seen past Hux’s persona of the General, and had viewed a person. He didn’t exactly know what to do with that information.

“Nevermind,” Hux said, voice back to its commanding, snappish quality. “You are dismissed,” he said harshly, turning away as if trying to make up for his moment of weakness.

What Hux was forgetting, Kylo thought as he turned to go, was that actions spoke louder than words. That he wanted Kylo to continue checking up on his brother was proof enough that he cared quite a lot for his brother. Such a fact was not so easily concealed - even if he were not a mind reader.

Despite himself, Kylo was curious about the General. It was quite the shift to see the man go from cold and professional to worried brother. Yes, he was curious - and he was not good at reining in his curiosity.

This, however, was something to be pursued at a later date.

“Good night, General.” There was the hiss of hydraulics as he placed his helmet back over his head and swept from the room, the automatic doors swishing closed behind him with slow, underwhelming precision.

-

There came a buzz from the electronic pager from outside of his quarters. Hux stood from his desk, stretching out his back momentarily before making his way over to answer the door. There were only two people who would be brave enough to bother him after his shift ended. Those two people being either Kylo Ren, or his brother Tiberius. At the current moment, he did not believe that the Knight had any business with him.

Sure enough, as he opened the door, he found his brother standing there looking as weak and pathetic as always. Hux was not buying it. “Get in here, then.”

Techie smirked sheepishly and did as he was told. He was holding a change of clothes in his arms, and Hux knew exactly why he was here.

“The ‘fresher is in there. Call me if you need anything,” he said, nodding to the said door.

“Thanks, Artie,” Techie said, giving a small smile before disappearing into the refresher.

Before long, Hux heard the sound of the shower, and he settled back at his desk, getting back to his paperwork.

After a while, Tiberius stepped from the fresher, only a towel over his hips and over his hair. Hux turned and raised an eyebrow at him. “You’ve gone terribly soft.”

It was true; Techie’s stomach was smooth, but soft in a way that revealed his lack of activity. He wasn’t bothered by it, though; even if he could have found a way to be more active on Earth, he probably still wouldn’t have. His love was of computers, and he had to be sitting still in order to use them.

He crossed his arms over his chest beneath his brother’s scrutiny, a small smirk curving his lips. “So? I bet you’re not much better off. It’s simply not in our genes to be all macho.”

Hux let out an indelicate snort, his eyes losing some of their sharp edge. “Trust me, I’m doing much better than you at the moment.”

“So, what, are you gonna whip it out so that we can measure our dick sizes, or?” The words were said belligerently as Techie unraveled his hair from the towel, drying it a little bit before carelessly throwing the towel on the ground. Hux wrinkled his nose at the gesture, but he said nothing against it.

“Shut up, you know we’ve always been the same.”

It was probably disturbing on some level that that statement was true; they both knew exactly what each other looked like naked - even by simply looking in the mirror. To them, it had stopped being strange long ago.

“That means that I win,” Techie said promptly, letting the towel at his hips fall as he picked up his new red briefs and pulled them on.

“And where exactly is your logic in that statement?” Hux said, unfazed.

“Only that if my dick is comparable to that of a General’s, then I must be doing something right. And you’re right - these briefs make my ass look amazing,” he said as an afterthought, glancing behind him to the full-length mirror. One of the only luxuries he got to have as a General.

“I know,” Hux said sardonically, rolling his eyes. “It’s almost like we’re twins or something.”

At Hux’s mocking tone, combined with the words, Techie’s teasing smile slowly melted as he continued to look in the mirror. It wasn’t exactly true. Not anymore. Before, before everything that had transpired . . . he could have been able to put on Armitage’s clothes and parade around as him easily, with no one the wiser.

Now, though . . . Now, his irises were too big, hair too long. Not to mention the tattoo scrawled along his forehead.

Hux, as if he were the mind reader instead of Ren, stood, sensing the mood change. “Toby?” The question was soft, probing. He stepped closer, seeing the distress even in his brother’s replaced eyes. He pressed a hand to his brother’s bare shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

“We’re not.” Techie said. Then, as if remembering that Armitage was not a mind reader, he clarified. “Twins.” He sounded broken, his eyes going to the floor instead of their reflections. “Not anymore,” he continued, lips downturned and slightly quivering.

After a moment, Hux leaned forward and embraced Techie completely, wrapping his arms around his brother’s bare chest completely. “We are twins,” Hux stated firmly, reaching up to tilt Tiberius’s head up so that he was looking at their reflections once more.

“Nothing can change that. Nothing.”

Still, even with Artie’s assurances, all he could see was how different they had become. He blinked his bionic eyes slowly, the irises dilating and contracting. They had been his favorite part of himself. They had been what linked him most to his brother; in his mind, at least. But now they were gone, gauged out by that hateful woman.

“We look nothing alike anymore,” Techie murmured, his voice full of despair as he forcefully jerked his chin from Armitage’s grasp. A shiver worked through him; a consequence of standing in a cool room in nothing but briefs.

A growing despair was rising in Hux’s chest in consequence of his brother’s melancholy. But he was a General, and he was used to fixing problems instead of wallowing in misery. He let his brother pull away from his grasp, watching him steadily and in consideration as his familiar pale form pulled on a First Order uniform.

“If it bothers you, we can fix it. There are no doubt unlimited resources for cosmetic surgery at my fingertips. I can probably even find a doctor to give you organic eyes the exact same shade as mine.” It was perhaps a misuse of his power as General, but what was the use of power if he couldn’t use his right to exercise it?

Techie glanced up from the shirt he was buttoning up, eyes hopeful despite how artificial they were. His fingers paused, shaking almost imperceptibly. “Do you . . . can you really do that?” Of course, he knew that his brother could. The true question he was asking was if his brother would do such a thing for him.

“Of course,” Hux said immediately, not wavering in his answer. If this is what Tiberius wanted, then Hux would do anything and everything to give it to him. That had perhaps been his only one true weakness in life. Without Tiberius, he no doubt would have made himself into the perfect machine.

Without even finishing the task of buttoning his shirt completely up, Techie crossed the room and wrapped his arms around his brother. “Thank you,” he said, purely grateful.

It was this that Hux could never refuse; the reward of making his brother happy.

They stood there for a long moment, Techie’s long damp hair brushing against his neck and collar. Then he turned his head, pressing a chaste kiss to Hux’s cheek. Afterwards, he pulled away slightly, a small but warm smile gracing his lips. “Goodnight, Artie,” he said, running a thumb over his cheek before turning and departing.

The doors swished closed, and Hux didn’t even have to look around to know that his brother had no doubt left a mess. The dampness of his hair revealed the fact that Toby had used his tenuous water supply, and all he could do was roll his eyes in fondness. Even when glancing in the refresher revealed puddles of water and Tiberius’s discarded clothing.

Honestly, he didn’t know why he loved him so much. He shook his head again before he set about cleaning up.

-

When Techie got back from his brother’s quarters, he found that, once again, Matt was already in bed. It was very apparent that the man was already deeply asleep; he was snoring loudly and his chest was rising and falling steadily from the heavy breathing.

Perhaps any other person, any sane person, would have found it annoying, but Techie found it oddly . . . soothing. The snores were loud and consistent, easily measuring the passage of time. Rhythmic enough to remind him of the whirring computers that he used to sleep beside.

Also, with the snoring came the obvious fact that he couldn’t ignore; by hearing Matt snoring so obnoxiously, it meant that he was too far asleep to be a threat to Techie’s person.

From what he had observed from the man today, though, he didn’t exactly think of him as a threat. That didn’t mean he was going to let his guard down; quite the opposite, really. He was still very much on high alert from the attack that had taken place just the night before.

He fiddled with the data pad that Armitage had given him for a moment, placing it on the floor just by his bed. He had set up a motion detector; one that would ring quite loudly if it were triggered. The only way to trigger it would be to walk anywhere parallel to his bed.

With that set up, he settled into bed quite nicely. The warm water he had used in the shower, combined with Matt’s rhythmic snoring easily lulled him to sleep.

Chapter Text

He woke blurry-eyed as always, still half-asleep while also scurrying to turn off that blasting annoying alarm. Of course it had already been blaring for a good five minutes, as it usually took him that long to register the noise and make himself move.

By the time he had turned it off, he took note that his new roommate was already sitting up. He was sitting cross-legged, back against the wall with the covers pulled up to his chest. His bionic eyes were wide and eerily focused on Matt, giving him small shivers. This man - boy? - was nothing like his previous roommates at all.

His previous roommates had all been tall, bulky, and loud-mouthed. Their mouths had been too big for their own good, really - and they certainly weren’t as tough as they liked to say. It had only taken a well-placed fist on Matt’s part to get them to shut up.

Techie, though, was something different entirely. Though he was obviously . . . smaller than Matt himself, he was also the General’s brother - and that gave him protection. Not that Matt would have tried anything even if he weren’t the General’s brother. Of course he wouldn’t - hadn’t he put other men in their place for even speaking about such things?

That was the point. He hardly even knew this boy, but he knew he wanted to protect him. He just looked so fragile, so delicate with his skinny and fine-boned structure, his soft-spoken words. There was something lovely, something impelling about him. Perhaps it was the way his long ginger hair fell in his face as he glanced down shyly, or maybe it was the quirk of his lips even as his eyes remained haunted.

This was the General’s brother, though, and (despite previous marks on his record) he was not entirely daft. He had seen the holopic and the announcement. If he showed too much interest, anything that anyone might deem inappropriate, he too would end up like trooper 2278-C. Matt might like starting a fight every now and then, but he was not suicidal.

Movement from his roommate caught his attention - he was fiddling with his data pad, tapping at it with precise, delicate fingers. Matt took that as his signal to get up and get ready for work.

Surprisingly, as he did so, Techie did as well, though he was already fully dressed. His uniform was slightly rumpled from where he had slept in it. Matt tried not to find it too cute.

“I thought your brother didn’t want you working on the ship? He said he wants you to rest.” It was strange to refer to the General as Techie’s brother - it seemed far too familiar.

Techie rolled his artificial eyes, in the midst of opening the pill bottle his doctor provided him with. He got out the antibiotics and took them, washing them down with the glass of water he kept at his nightstand. “My brother, despite being the General, is not the boss of me. I can do whatever I want - and I want to work on the ship.”

The tone was far more sure and firm than what Matt had previously heard from him, and far more petulant and mocking. He decided that he liked it.

He raised his hands in supplication, a no-doubt goofy grin stretching his lips. “Alright, alright, geez. Don’t shoot the messenger. Just remind him that I what I said when he yells at you.”

Techie just gave him a sassy look that had an eyebrow involved in there somewhere.

They hit the mess to eat breakfast first before they made their way to work. Thankfully, they were on time this morning, and the boss lady had no reason to yell at them again. Really, Matt didn’t think it was anything personal; she really just liked to take her anger out on him. He supposed that he just had one of those faces.

With Techie by his side once more, it was a very productive day, and they were both tired by the time they got back to their quarters.

Techie had a big grease smudge all the way from his cheekbone down to his jaw, but he didn’t seem to notice. It was so endearing that Matt was not inclined to tell him about it.

Even so, he really should get it washed off . . .

“Hey,” he said as they stepped into their room, “you have something, just -“ he reached out to touch the spot and maybe wipe some of it off, but almost immediately Techie flinched his head to the side, eyes closing partially. “there,” he finished, though it was stilted.

He quickly withdrew his hand. “Sorry, sorry. I didn’t mean to . . . “ do whatever had just caused - that. “I’m sorry,” he said again, emphatically.

Techie opened his eyes again, turning his head to look up at Matt through his lashes. He looked wounded and wary, and was giving Matt a considering look.

It made him feel absolutely wretched, what had just occurred. Like he had done something so abominable that he would never know happiness again.

Slowly, Techie nodded his head, accepting the apology without words. A small relief bloomed in him at the action, but it did very little for relieving any of the tension.

Thankfully, the moment was interrupted by a buzz at the door. Matt opened the door, only to come face-to-face with General Hux himself. Shit - and he had just terrorized his brother. He was so dead this time.

But the General didn’t even seem to acknowledge his presence - he only had eyes for Techie. Without even asking for permission, he pushed his way inside, carrying a bag in his gloved left hand.

A small dent formed in his mouth, pressing the corners down and thinning his lips as he surveyed his brother. “Tiberius,” he began, his voice displaying the sharp General for once when dealing with his beloved twin, “what in the world have you been into? You have grease on your face.”

He walked forward, placing the bag onto Techie’s bunk before pulling a glove off and running it down his brother’s face. This time Techie did not flinch with the contact at all, instead looking rather sheepish when Hux pulled his hand away to show the contrast between the black grease and his pale palm.

Hux just gave him an unimpressed raised eyebrow. Then, without hesitating, he promptly wiped his grease-covered hand down the front of Techie’s uniform shirt, smearing it shamelessly.

“Artie!” Techie squeaked, looking in complete disbelief at his brother’s actions. “This is new! We got it yesterday!”

Still, though, Matt couldn’t help note the juxtaposition between how Techie had reacted when he had almost touched him and now. Matt hadn’t even made contact, and Techie had flinched away. With his brother, though, he had no such reservations.

It made him feel completely awkward and out of place - which he was. He was standing by his own bunk, feeling completely irrelevant. Though it was not a new feeling, it was by no means a good one.

“It already has grease on it. Besides, that’s why I’m here in the first place.” The General’s eyes went to the bag that he had placed on Techie’s bed. “I brought you some more things.” He put his glove back on, hand now clean, and picked the bag back up to hand it to his brother.

Techie opened it, pulling out technician’s overalls. He looked up quizzically, holding the uniform in one hand and the bag in another. “But this isn’t the full uniform - what about the orange vest?”

Hux looked as if Techie had asked the most distasteful question possible. “Oh no, no, no. You will not be wearing such an appalling and garish color as technician orange. It would be degrading to my station and rank, as well as to your complexion.”

“You’re not allowing me to wear it because it would clash with our hair?” He said ‘our hair’, because he knew what Armitage was thinking - that if anyone were to see him in technician orange, then they wouldn’t even have to imagine Armitage in such an outfit.

If Techie looked bad, then so did Hux. That was just a fact of life for them.

“Obviously,” Hux said, deadpan. “Anyway, since I can’t seem to keep you from working on the ship, I got you an official position as a technician as well. You can keep engineering, or you can work in coding again, if you would like.”

Hux doesn’t pause, doesn’t hesitate in his wording, but there was a tightness, a tension in his jaw when he mentions coding. It’s obvious to everyone, but no one mentions it.

“Thank you,” Techie says shortly, though his voice is no less sweet.

“Of course,” Hux says, like it is only common sense that he should do anything for his brother.

The General excused himself, and they got ready for bed in almost complete silence.

“Don’t forget to take your antibiotics,” was pretty much the only thing said for the rest of the night. Neither of them brought up the incident that occurred just before Hux had made an appearance.

-

“Your brother is much more perceptive than you give him credit for. He’s getting suspicious about why he sees me so often. It won’t be long before he guesses that I’ve been following him, if he hasn’t already.”

Ren was maskless once again at his request, his office doors locking them inside a small space of privacy. This time, though, Hux was sitting at his desk, actually getting paperwork done. His lips were pressed downward at the corners, thinned out from the pressure.

His striking pale blue eyes glanced up, anything but pleased. “Perhaps you should make it a point to be more discreet, then. Isn’t it partially your job to make yourself invisible?”

Like an absolute cretin, the Knight actually had the gall to snort at that. “I’m sure you would like it to be, General.”

Hux refused to roll his eyes or give any other outward signal that he found the man deplorable. “I most certainly would,” he confirmed easily, his eyes an icy glacier - piercing in their gaze.

Kylo wondered where the warm, caring brother had gone. Currently, Hux was all General, cold and robotic, eyes wintry. He was beginning to believe that Tiberius was the only thing that would ever be able to thaw him out - the spring to his winter.

Tiberius might be the one with the synthetic eyes, but they were far more organic than Hux’s own.

Yes, Tiberius could express any emotion with ease, be it happiness or misery - but Hux’s eyes were cold, hard, seemingly plastic in their unyielding fierceness. At least, they were when he was in his persona as General.

Hux donned the temperament of the General as others would don a formal suit. It was uncomfortable, impersonal, and more than likely emotionally distant. All of those things encompassed the General.

Now, though, he had seen Armitage; the man underneath that persona of General.

He had seen the soft, warm underbelly of Hux, and Ren was trained to take advantage of weakness. And take advantage was exactly what he planned to do.

“Despite the trauma, Tiberius seems to be doing very well,” he said casually, after a momentary pause.

Hux had gone back to his paperwork, but he looked up curiously at his words. “Yes?” ‘Go on,’ his tone said. It was apparent that he could not resist hearing information about his brother.

“He is physically capable - I watched him jump and climb up to a roof hatch today. He’s quite limber.”

A curious look crossed over Hux’s face at the words, but he said nothing as Ren continued.

“Emotionally, there is still turmoil, but that is to be expected.” As he spoke, Ren watched Hux click and tap at things with his stylus. Then, he realized something he had never noticed before. “You’re left handed.” It was perhaps a silly thing to notice at such a time, but there weren’t that many left handed people amongst the First Order.

Hux looked up at the change of tone, an irritated expression on his face from Ren’s irrelevant outburst. A smart-ass comment was on the tip of his tongue - something along the lines of: ‘I am surprised that you can tell the difference between left and right; would you like a sticker?”

Instead, all he said was, “I am aware.”

He went back to his paperwork for a few long moments, leaving Kylo standing there silently. Then, only because he was watching Hux’s face intently, he swear he could see the ice crack. Just a tiny bit. A small slip in the mask of the General.

Unexpectedly, Hux placed his data pad down, then stood, posture as perfect as always. When he looked at Kylo now, his glacial gaze had melted just that tiniest amount. When he spoke, it was not at all what Kylo was expecting.

“When I asked you if you liked Tiberius earlier, you said that he ‘deserves better’. That’s why you treat him delicately.”

Kylo blinked, keeping his face black. “Yes,” he said, unsure as to where this was going, exactly.

But instead of continuing the train of thought, Hux just shook his head minutely, forcibly ending the conversation before it had even truly begun. Instead, he could feel Hux forming a better, more relevant question. The previous thought was hidden behind the hard shell of the General, making it hard for even Kylo to hold on to.

“Do you know what he has gone through? He . . . hasn’t told me anything yet.” He looked regretful. Painfully so. For that small moment, the mask of the General was pulled back, but not discarded.

Kylo shook his head, feeling a bit regretful himself. “No. Nothing past flashes of pain, panic, and anxiety. No hard concrete images, no specific thoughts.”

Hux nodded, frosting and freezing back over at the information. “Very well. Thank you; you are dismissed.”

Chapter Text

He might not have the most perfect eyes, but Techie was not blind. He knows that everyone, even his brother, was walking on eggshells around him. Treating him like he was some delicate flower that needed to be protected and supported. Even Matt, who was supposedly reputable for getting rid of roommates (with methods that Techie doesn’t even know if he wants to consider), was being gentle with him.

And though he truly appreciated the care and concern . . . well . . . that’s just it. He really, really didn’t.

Not that he wanted anything bad to further happen to him - it was a relief when Matt’s alarms woke him, and not his own.

Matt’s snoring didn’t even break rhythm at the first blaring alarm, and it seemed that he was completely oblivious to the loud, awful screech of it.

It continued to ring, and Techie took matter into his own hands, turning off his own security protocols on his data pad before getting up to shake Matt awake. The cold metal of the floor chilled his feet even through his socks as he made his way over to his still-snoring roommate.

He placed a hand on Matt’s arm, immediately noting how firm and muscular it was. Large too - he would only be able to fit his fingers around half the bicep even if he were to stretch his long fingers out. Even though he tried, it was hard to ignore how nice the firm muscle felt beneath his palm as he shook Matt slightly to wake him.

“Matt. Hey, Matt, get up. I want breakfast, and we can’t have any if we get up late.”

Matt’s response was to roll over onto his back, blinking blearily up at Techie. His face was lax from sleep, and he looked supremely stupid laying there looking up at him like that. For some odd reason, Techie found it endearing. He couldn’t help the small smile that lifted his lips at the corners.

“Matt,” he repeated, “come on.” He shook the arm still in his grasp lightly for emphasis. Lightly because moving a sleepy, mostly unresponsive Matt arm was hard work; and Techie was not at all used to physical hard work.

His roommate continued to blink stupidly up at him for a moment before finally moving, sitting up languidly with a roll of his back. “Alright, I’m up, I’m up. What time is it?”

“About an hour before first shift.”

“Mmm,” Matt hummed, rubbing his bleary eyes before standing, grabbing his glasses from the nightstand.

Techie himself was not a morning person per se, but he was much more lucid than Matt. Matt fumbled and staggered and yawned. He was, in essence, a giant fumbling oaf in the morning. Once again, Techie found himself grinning at the thought.

At least now he didn’t have to worry about an early morning attack - there was no way the man had enough coordination in him to even attempt to pull off such a thing. He barely even woke for his own kriffing alarm clock, for sith’s sake.

They got ready in silence, only because Matt wasn’t awake enough to carry a coherent conversation. This was probably a more accurate depiction of Matt - now that he had gotten back into his routine, Techie or not, he looked dead on his feet. A shell of a person - a dead man walking. Or rather, in his case, shuffling.

Techie had fight very, very hard not to laugh at him. Not out of any meanness - just because he looked so drowsy and out of sorts.

With a large cup of caf, though, he slowly woke up, becoming more and more a part of the land of the living. Techie waited patiently through the process while eating his protein ration.

The food on the ship wasn’t the best, but Techie really and truly could not complain. He had far more regular and nutritious meals here than back on Earth. In honesty, he would be lucky to have two meals a day there. Sometimes one, depending on Mama’s mood.

After breakfast, they made their way down to work, Techie having remembered to wear his new technician overalls that his brother had so thoughtfully bestowed upon him. Sans the regulation orange technician’s vest, of course.

Seeing it on Matt had him agreeing quite reverently with his twin; it truly would look appalling with their complexion. He thanked Hux for that small mercy.

The Boss lady was already there, waiting for them, arms crossed and tapping her foot. Techie checked the time on his data pad - and, no - they were on time. So why was she giving them the death glare? Perhaps she hadn’t had her muffin yet.

“Oh, there you are. I was wondering when you were going to show up,” she said, looking as if she were about to breathe fire from her nostrils.

Beside him, even though they hadn’t technically done anything wrong, Matt shrank back, face looking apologetic.

Techie glanced at him in disbelief. He could not believe - all that muscle, yet no guts to back it up.

But the boss lady was still talking, and he switched his attention back to her again. “And where is your regulation technician vest? It is regulation for a reason. You might be the General’s brother, but that most certainly does not exclude you from the rules. You serve under me, and I will not tolerate poor work ethic in my division.”

As she spoke, Techie became more and more angry. He was itching to put her in her place - but yelling at her or calling her slurs was not going to achieve that. None of those things were really his style anyway.

He waited until she got through speaking, his own lips pressed white into a thin line.

“Actually,” he began, voice filled to the brim with sass as he paused for dramatic affect, “my brother, the General, specifically said, and I quote; ‘My brother will not be wearing such a garish and appalling color as technician orange; it would be degrading to my rank and status, as well as to his complexion’.” All of this was said in the prissiest possible tone; one he knew that his brother liked to adopt as well when putting someone in their place.

The woman simply stood there, expression completely shocked. “I am aghast at your tone, Tiberius. I will most definitely be reporting your insubordination to your brother.”

Techie simply smiled innocently, placing his hands behind his back. “I apologize, miss. I’m sure this is all just a big misunderstanding. You’re right - my brother will surely sort it all out. Now if you’re quite done using our time, Matt and I would like to get to our jobs.” His tone was completely sweet, so sincere that it was suspicious. The words, though, were what contained the bite.

Angrily, she let them go, glaring after them and grumbling under her breath.

For his part, Matt was looking at Techie as if he just hung the stars and the moon. Techie caught the look and sent him a small, mischievous grin.

“What - you just - you just bad mouthed the boss lady! How - I mean, why in the world would you do that? She has the ability to make our lives miserable, yah know.” Still, he looked completely enamored with what Techie had just done.

Techie let out a soft giggle, covering his mouth demurely. “Who? Me? No - I was simply telling her that neither of us had done anything wrong.” He kept his voice light, innocent, his eyelashes down-swept.

There was not one single innocent bone in his body, and he knew it.

That didn’t mean everyone else had to know it as well, however.

Even so, Matt was not buying it. He nudged Techie with an arm, and for once Techie had no urge to flinch away from the contact. “Yeah right - you just told her off. She’s going to be a nightmare now - muffin or not.” Still, his voice was full of admiration.

Techie rolled his eyes, and in doing so, caught a figure of black in the corner of his eye. It just made him want to roll them again - if Kylo thought he was being subtle, then he really should retire or something. If this is part of his job - well, he wasn’t doing it very well.

No doubt he was stalking Techie on the bequest of his brother - Armitage really was too predictable. At least to him, anyway.

Still, he said nothing and kept up his antics with Matt. After they had gotten focussed back on work, they once again accomplished quite a bit during that shift.

After shift, however, it was free game.

Once again, he made his way to his brother’s quarters, intending to use the private refresher. Once again, Armitage let him in. This time, however, he told him not to use water. “It’s a rare indulgence, Tiberius, not for your unprivileged hairy ass.”

“Just because your ass is hairy, Artie, doesn’t mean that mine is. You should look into that, though,” he called back.

Thankfully, though, when Tiberius came out of the refresher, he was completely dry. Fresh from the sonics.

Still, though, he threw propriety to the wind, wearing only a towel slung around his waist. He plopped down on the bed, seemingly content to stay a while.

“I got a message about an interruption from your boss today. Says you were breaking regulation.”

Techie just rolled his eyes. “No, you were breaking regulation.”

Hux’s eyebrows furrowed. “How do you mean?”

“You were the one who wouldn’t allow me to wear technician orange. I got yelled at all because of your vanity.”

Hux looked unimpressed. “That’s what the message about? How trivial.”

“I agree. She likes to yell at my roommate simply because she hasn’t had her morning muffin yet. I’m surprised that you employ such illogical and inefficient people. She delayed us by six minutes simply so that she could monologue about how I would get no special treatment simply because I am your brother.”

The words had the effect Techie was looking for; Armitage’s eyebrows rose steadily at the words, his face becoming stormy. Oh yes - he knew exactly how to manipulate his brother in order to get what he wanted. Artie knew it the entire time too; he simply agreed with his twin’s logic and motives. They were both snakes, and they recognized each other for what they were.

Hux knew exactly what his brother was getting at. “You want me to fire her.” A statement.

Techie smiled innocently, cutting his gaze to the floor. “That sounds like a rather extreme reaction. Don’t you think that it would be considered . . . favoritism?”

Oh, so that was what Tiberius wanted.

“You want me to fire her, then reinstate you as the head of the division in her place,” Hux clarified, allowing himself a small smile as well. Though his was not innocent at all; his was pure evil.

“Oh, Artie, that would be simply so mean. Whatever would the people aboard this ship think, when you are going about replacing a perfectly good worker with your brother?” Once again, his tone, words, and demeanor were all completely innocent, eyelashes lowered and a sweetly concerned curve to his lips.

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head, Toby; I’m sure no one would question my decision when the security camera feed of what happened goes viral. Besides, there is no one else I would trust more with the position - you’re the best technician that we employ currently. Added to that, I can’t just let people push around my little brother - what kind of person would that make me?”

His facade of innocence cracked just a little, in the cruel, anticipatory smile that twisted his lips. “You’re right - let it be known that you are the best big brother in the whole wide universe.”

He got up and plopped himself into Hux’s lap, where he had been sitting in his desk chair. It wobbled insecurely with both of their weight at first, creaking and lurching to the side. Toby’s hands were in his hair, messing up the perfectly combed and gelled part. “Best big brother, best big bother,” he sang loudly in an off-key tone, pressing little kisses wherever Hux wasn’t busy holding his hands to try to stop the onslaught.

“Toby!” He actually shrieked, trying to get his brother to stop without toppling them both to the floor.

How the towel managed to stay around his brother’s hips, he had no idea.

A knock came at the door, but they were both too busy shrieking at each other to properly answer it.

It seemed that they didn’t need to, however, because Kylo Ren promptly let himself in, lightsaber in hand and looking determined to murder someone. Techie shrieked again, because seeing a scary man wearing all black with a mask on holding a weapon was really actually very terrifying.

In the shock of it, Techie pulled himself roughly closer to Hux, grabbing him by the collar and tugging. The motion was so abrupt that it sent them both to the floor, Techie’s towel flying off as they both struggled not to land too harshly. Thankfully, the chair did not land on them thanks to a well-placed kick by Armitage, though unfortunately, Armitage himself did in fact land directly on top of him.

It was all for the best, he figured, since at least his twin would cover his nudity now that the towel was not. It lay to the left of his head, too far above it to reach, as Artie was pinning down his arm.

Hux, shifting so that his weight was not completely crushing his brother, looked over at the intruder, brows furrowed. “Ren,” his voice was a bark, “can’t you see we’re in the middle of something?”

Kylo was stunned. They couldn’t have been - was this what normal siblings did? He didn’t know. He never had any siblings. Had never asked anyone with siblings. But surely siblings don’t sit in each other’s lap whilst naked. That just seemed so - wrong. Very wrong.

“I thought - it sounded like you were being attacked,” He spluttered, grateful for his vocoder when it smoothed out his syllables.

“I appreciate your concern, however this is not that kind of situation at all. Please leave.”

Obviously not. Kylo sincerely hoped it was not a ‘situation’ at all. Really, he wanted to forget this ever happened.

Tiberius, however, knew exactly what Kylo was thinking, and he smirked internally. “Oh, Artie, come on, it’s not that big of a deal. We were just playing a little bit.”

Hux looked down at him, catching on. Tiberius truly was the most evil between them.

“I know, brother, but I don’t like it when people interrupt our . . . play time.” He glanced at Ren as he said the last part, a glare on his face for effect.

“Oh, you’re no fun. We can play with other people too, you know. I bet Kylo would be fun to play with.”

“Hmm,” Hux hummed, looking at Ren considerately. “What do you say, Ren? Do you want to play with us?”

Kylo really, truly, did not like where this was going. “No, thank you. I have to go. Good night General, Tiberius.” And with that, he turned heel and left hastily.

As soon as the doors shut, both twins were cackling maniacally.

“He totally thought - “ Techie wheezed,

“That we were - “ Hux continued,

“Doing naughty things,” Techie finished on a cackle.

They both laughed and laughed for a long while after that. Then, Techie got cold from laying bare-ass naked on the ground, and climbed back onto Hux’s bed again. Both of their faces were red and splotchy from laughing so much - neither of them had laughed so hard in a long time, and there had been actual tears in their eyes.

“Oh my Jeezus, that was the funniest thing I think we’ve ever done.”

Hux shook his head, but his face was too red and splotchy, expression too fond for his reproaching look to have sort of effect on Techie. “You’re evil, you know that?”

“Oh, yes, Artie, I know.”

Once they calmed down and Techie finally put his clothes on, he brought up the topic that he had been waiting to mention all day.

“So, I know you’re worried about me and all, but having Kylo spy on me every day probably isn’t the best method you’ve ever had to take care of me with. I’m okay, you know, Artie. I’m not going to break.”

Hux didn’t look shocked at being called out. In fact, he looked like he had been waiting for it. “I know you won’t break or anything, I just . . . yes, I worry about you. But having Ren check up on you is a way for me to keep tabs on both of you at the same time.”

Just as Armitage could read Tiberius, Tiberius could see right through Artie as well.

“You mean, you’re using me as an excuse to talk to Kylo.” A statement.

Hux actually had the gall the blush and look away. Ooh, that told Techie that this was serious; his brother hardly ever broke composure. His mouth curved into a vicious grin, not even bothering to hide it’s true nature from the one person who knew it best in the universe.

“You have a crush on him. A big, huge, fat C-R-U-S-H.”

“No! Maybe. A little bit.” Armitage wouldn’t even make eye contact with him.

“Don’t you short-change me, brother. I know you better than anyone else ever will. Oh, and he is really quite attractive, isn’t he?”

Hux said nothing, his lips pressed thin.

“I know what you see when you look at him. Those lost, soulful little puppy-dog eyes, the sharp jaw, the long, wavy brown hair - just the right length for pulling.”

Hux flushed deeper, but said nothing as his brother continued.

“But the thing you love most are his lips, right? Perfect for begging,” a wicked smile twisted across his features, “and for sucking.”

Armitage looked up sharply, eyes flashing in anger and shock. “Tiberius! Where did you learn to speak like that? And how I think of Lord Ren has no bearing on your own person.” It was a full reprimand, given in his General voice.

Techie was completely unfazed, though he put on a show - even when he knew Artie would see right through it. He looked down demurely, letting his lips quiver a bit. “I’m sorry, Artie. You’re right, it’s none of my business.” He glanced up, his face changing from supple innocence to unrepentant demon. “Didn’t mean to strike a nerve.”

Hux’s lips pressed together again, jaw twitching in anger. “Get your ass out of my quarters. I don’t want to hear another word about Lord Ren pass from your lips.” The words were firm, but they weren’t said angrily - Hux could never stay angry at his brother for very long. They were too much alike for that.

Besides - all of the words Tiberius had said were true. He did see all of those things when looking at Ren. The only reason he had gotten angry was because he couldn’t have all of those things. Or rather, he didn’t want to desire all of those things. Didn’t want to become entangled with anyone - let alone the Lord Spoiled Brat of Ren.

Wasn’t he, a General, above all of that petty nonsense? Even something like casual sex - it was all base needs and desires that he would not let himself achieve. He was much better off alone, where he himself could get the job done quickly and efficiently without any extra lingering emotions.

They only got in the way.

Techie just sighed, shaking his head as he bounced off of the hard, military-grade mattress. He could read his brother’s face better than other people understood another’s words. “You really should indulge yourself more, big bro. I’m sure he’d gag on your cock if you let him.”

Before Hux could reprimand him again, Techie was out the door already, flouncing off down the hallway. He just shook his own head, looking down at the data pad screen in his hand. It offered no relief from his racing mind - he had already completed all of his paperwork for the day.

When Techie got back to his own quarters, he found Matt sitting on the bed, looking at something on his data pad. He glanced up when he entered, then sat up, as if he were expecting him. “Hey, so did you talk to your brother? Er, the General?”

Techie blinked, sitting down on his own bunk across from Matt. “Um, yeah, why?”

“I mean, about the Boss Lady?” Matt clarified, eyes intent on Techie’s face.

“Oh, yeah. Don’t worry about. My big bro’s got my back. And yours too,” he added, giving Matt a little wink.

Matt blushed at that, looking away slightly before refocussing back on Techie. “What did he say, though? About it.”

“Oh, nothing much. Just that there’s going to be a new promotion soon.” He said it with a small tilt of his lips, innocent to everyone except those who knew him.

Matt didn’t know him all that well.

He was still staring at Hux with awe and wonder. “You got her fired?”

“Oh, no, I assure you - it was all completely my brother’s decision. He doesn’t take kindly to people messing with me. You know, he killed that trooper that tried to lay his hands on me.” He said the words purposefully, intending it to stick with Matt and make him wary of upsetting him in any way.

It seemed, however, that it went completely over his head, because he was still looking at Techie with complete adoration. “Wow, your brother is amazing. He must love you very much. I don’t blame him - you are worth protecting.”

Matt, seeming not to know the significance of the words he just said, leaned back into his bunk and went back to his data pad.

Techie, however, - raised to find every single subtle nuance in people’s words (both he and Armitage were raised to be true diplomats since birth) - knew exactly the significance. Even if Matt himself did not know. He hid his smile - genuine, this time - behind a ducked head under the pretense of removing his boots.

It was that exact moment that he knew in all absolute certainty that Matt would not hurt him. At least, not intentionally.

Truthfully, he should’ve known before - Matt was too honest, too open - too much of a bumbling idiot to ever try to harm him. It showed in the way he smiled with all of his teeth, his eyes lighting up like sunshine despite their dark color.

“Hey, Matt?” He asked, leaning back into his own bunk now that his boots were off.

His roommate looked up, warm brown eyes quizzical. “Yes?”

“Why were you put in solitary quarters? I heard it was because of bad behavior.” It was a question that had been nagging him for the past two days.

Matt blinked a few times, then sat up properly again. “Oh,” he said, then a pensive look came over his face, his features a bit angry. Like he was remembering something. “Well, you see, there was just one incident, really. This big guy - a trooper - he was saying some stuff that I didn’t agree with.”

“What was it?” Techie asked after Matt paused for a moment.

“He was talking about he went around knocking women up without their consent. About how they always protested, but he knew they liked it.” The more he spoke, the angrier Matt got. His big fist clenched, and his jaw ticked. “I put him in his place, though. Beat him up real good, broke his jaw. He’s not in the Order anymore after I told them what happened, but they said I still couldn’t go unpunished, so they put me in solitary quarters.”

Techie’s eyes were wide, and he had leaned forward unconsciously while listening to the story. “Oh,” he said. Not like he was shocked, or happy, or sad. Just “Oh”.

Then, he smiled, a real, genuine smile. “I’m glad,” he said, feeling much better knowing that that was what had happened.

Matt smiled too in response, smiling because Techie was smiling. Then, after a moment, his smile faded. “Does it make me a bad person if I wished he were dead?”

“No,” came Techie’s automatic response. “I would have killed him and been happy for it.”

Matt absorbed that for a moment, then nodded and gave a small flash of a smile, and all was right with the world.

Chapter Text

After that encounter with Matt, all of Techie’s anxieties about his new roommate were dissolved. Of course, the more time he had spent with the man, the less he had worried, but he was still relieved to know the exact reason that Matt had been placed alone.

A week passed, and he was still working with Matt around the ship. His brother had circulated the video feed of the lead of the technology department, and had subsequently reinstated Techie as the new leader. The former boss had been fired, reprimanded, and removed from the ship.

There were a lot of perks that came with being the head of the department, but the best of all was the room filled with the security video feeds, and the new influx of information that was needed for the job.

One of the things he did not like was assigning all of the technicians to certain jobs around the ship. It took planning and knowledge of the different technicians. Some had better skills in certain areas rather than others.

Another was the fact that planning everything took time out of his day that could be spent with Matt around the ship. Or time for himself in general.

Still, he was adapting and learning.

A perk of the job was the ability to bring the technology home - or, rather, to his quarters. Unfortunately, there was only room enough for one computer. Even so, he felt much better sleeping next to it.

Matt didn’t seem to share or even understand this eccentricity of his. He didn’t mind it though; it seemed that he could sleep through anything and everything. This trait still continued to be endearing to Techie; it meant that he could work late on whatever he wished without hearing any complaints.

He woke up from one such late night, blinking and rubbing his eyes, only to be surprised that Matt was already up and getting ready. Usually Techie was the first to wake; it took a lot of shaking and reminding to get Matt out of bed. It was like trying to move a boulder.

Matt looked over from where he was pulling his shirt down, eyes cataloguing Techie’s face. “Hey, your eyes are looking a lot better,” Matt said, completely foregoing a ‘good morning’.

Techie blinked, then looked around for a mirror. There was one in the bathroom, so he got up and walked over to it, viewing his eyes this way and that in the mirror. It was true; ever since he had been taking his antibiotics, the puffy redness had slowly started to dissipate.

He turned to Matt, giving him a small nod in acknowledgment. “Yeah, they are.”

He probably would have been more enthusiastic if he hadn’t just woken up.

They both finished getting ready in relative silence. Techie had long since forgotten his skittishness with being partially naked in front of Matt. It was inevitable when you lived in such close proximity to someone.

That, and . . . sometimes, when Matt thought that he wasn’t looking, Techie caught his eyes on him through his peripherals. It always made him quietly pleased.

Just as they made to leave, Techie’s data pad pinged, signaling a message. Now that he was lead of the technology department, getting messages was not all that uncommon. However, more likely than not, the messages would usually be from his brother. They talked to each other at least three times a day.

Though he didn’t mind the messages from Artie (really, he coveted them), he didn’t enjoy the status updates and such.

This message was indeed from Armitage. It was simply a reminder that they had a consultation with the doctor today.

He send back an acknowledgment, then continued on with Matt to the mess hall.

Or rather, he would have continued to the mess hall if there were not an angry-looking technician standing in front of them. It was a woman, her brownish red hair curly and wild. She was standing with a wide stance, her arms crossed in front of her chest. Her expression was one of supreme annoyance and agitation.

Her eyes were hazel, though her expression made them seem much lighter. Almost as if her eyes were living flames. Her skin was dark, though there were prominent freckles across the bridge of her nose. She had very distinct features.

Techie recognized her from the cross-wiring department, and he had noted her stand-offish behavior with him before. Her name did not come to mind.

She seemed to completely ignore Matt, who was standing beside him, and was staring intently at only him. Her jaw was tensed, like she was gritting her teeth.

“Hi . . . is something wrong?” Techie asked hesitantly, acknowledging her. He could do nothing else when she was blocking their way so effectively. Still, his words were timid; he was still not used to being the one in control.

“Absolutely,” she said shortly, eyes flashing with irritation, “there is absolutely something wrong.”

“And . . . what is that?”

She seemed to become more angry that he even had to ask. “The problem is that you’re our new boss. Everyone knows that the promotion should have gone to me. I am the next best technician.” She was obviously trying to remain calm, but her words were sharp and trite.

“You believe that the General did not make the best decision in promotions?” Techie asked, almost in disbelief, just to clarify. His voice became more confident as his anger grew. Of course he had expected this to happen, he just had not been expecting a woman to confront him.

“I believe that you only obtained the position because he is your brother.” She stated clearly.

“You are accusing the General of nepotism?” His own voice was becoming more and more angry, though his posture was mostly defensive.

“Correct.”

“Then I would suggest that you bring the matter up with him.” His words were meant to deflect and avoid.

He moved to walk past her in the hallway, but the words had made her uncross her arms. Her hands curled into fists by her sides briefly before they came up to push Techie away and back to where he had started.

“This isn’t over,” she hissed, teeth clenched. She looked spitting mad.

Techie was completely taken aback at the action of having her push him away, and he could only blink in surprise for a moment. Of course he had been pushed around before, but he did not expect that here of all places. He didn’t expect it at all anymore.

Before he could react any further than that, he could see Matt step forward in his peripherals. Matt looked less than amused at the situation.

“Yes, it is over. Move.” Matt’s voice was sturdier and more resounding than Techie was used to hearing. He sounded angry, which, oddly enough, sent sparks through him.

It was the thrill at the thought that Matt was getting angry over him - that Matt was actually protecting him. His honor, or something.

Though the girl was still seething, she did as Matt instructed. Matt was too big to ignore or disobey.

Matt looked over at Techie and held out his hand, waiting patiently for him to decide whether to take it or not.

Techie did so slowly, placing his pale hand in Matt’s upturned palm. The contrast between them was astounding. Techie’s hand was small and delicate when compared to Matt’s large, calloused palm.

They walked past her together, and Techie grinned shyly while glancing sideways at Matt. Matt didn’t notice until Techie not-so-subtly bumped shoulders with him.

Matt looked over, began to glance away, then, registering the grin on Techie’s face, looked back with fondness. Somehow, his brown eyes managed to look a lot like sunshine.

For his part, Matt was elated at having caused that expression on Techie’s face.

And, of course, Techie was filled with warmth at how fondly Matt was looking at him.

-

Explaining to Ren that truly, what he had seen between them had been nothing inappropriate was actually quite a struggle. It shouldn’t have been so hard to explain to a literal mind reader that nothing was between he and his brother. Other than familial affection, of course.

“He was naked, Hux. You don’t hold your naked brother.” He was being stubborn.

It had taken quite a feat to just get Ren to meet his eyes.

Or even meet with him in the first place.

It was obvious from the way Ren’s arms were crossed, the curve to his lips, his slightly tilted body, that Ren was still very much disgusted with what he had seen.

All of it was still very amusing to see Ren so repulsed, but he reigned it in. He couldn’t use the Knight if the man wouldn’t even make eye contact with him.

As it stood, Ren had not been checking in on Tiberius like he had been previously.

They had been arguing the point for about thirty minutes now, and Hux was done with Ren’s pointless childishness. He didn’t have time to deal with this - he had to pick Tiberius up for his doctor’s appointment soon.

Finally, he put his foot down.

“Fine! If you don’t believe me, then read my mind. You’ll know if I lie,” He said as he took a step forward, tilting his chin upwards even more than his usual perfect posture dictated.

Ren looked skeptical. “You are giving me permission into your mind?” He asked as he looked down at Hux, head tilted at an angle. At least he was finally making eye contact again.

“If it will end your childish pouting.”

Ren looked severely distrustful, his eyebrows drawn inwards. Still, he stepped forward and, despite him not needing to make contact to read someone’s mind, he reached up and placed his hand on Hux’s cheek.

He didn’t even supply a justification for it; he just . . . wanted to touch Hux. Kylo was too much a man of impulse to break that habit at this moment in time.

The General held steady, not wavering beneath the touch.

There was a pause, and Hux waited for the pain. He had seen Ren interrogate someone before, and . . . well, it wasn’t pretty. The person was usually screaming and crying long before the end of such interrogation.

When no pain registered, he was more than surprised.

Ren pulled away quicker than Hux had expected, a pinched look on his face. “You were laughing at me.”

“And you were making assumptions,” Hux rejoined, fixing Ren with a glacial look.

Neither lost their respective expressions for a moment; Ren glowering while Hux glared at him.

“I have to go, Ren. I don’t have time for you right now.” He started moving before he even finished the words, gathering his coat from the back of the office chair - and subsequently his data pad.

Kylo said nothing in response, watching as Hux gathered his things and left. The automatic door swishing closed behind him undramatically.

The Knight was left standing in Hux’s office, feeling anything but relieved. Though he had found the information he had wanted, he also found much more than he bargained for.

Tiberius’s mind was much more disorganized than his brother’s. It was easy to see bits and pieces of memories thoughts in Tiberius, but it was much harder to pry apart Hux’s coldly constructed mind. At least when Hux did not want Kylo inside.

Even including the juxtaposition between the two twins, they were far more similar in thought process and conclusion than Kylo had realized. And certainly Tiberius had more than a touch of Hux’s mischievousness. Or perhaps Hux had learned it from Tiberius. It was always hard to tell, with twins.

Still, that one fact stuck out the most in what Kylo had found; Hux’s mind was compatible with his own.

Much, much too compatible than is advisable for such a close melding.

Pressing into Hux’s mind was . . . well, it was intoxicating. Which is not and adjective that Kylo ever thought he would be using for the General.

That was the truth of it, though; Hux’s mind was cold, smooth, and calculated on the surface. Past that, however, was so much more.

He hadn’t meant to go so deep into the man’s mind earlier, but it had drawn him in further and further. Beneath that cold exterior was passionate and genuine emotion. And - and warmth. Hux’s mind was warm to him.

It exuded confidence and control, but beyond that was a certain pliability. Kylo was . . . entranced.

To Hux, the interaction had probably lasted for a small moment. No doubt he thought that it had been a cursory connection.

Kylo wished that were so. But he knew the truth, and he was scared. Their minds shared a bond now; a bond that could not be ignored for very long.

There was a very good reason why the Jedi tried very hard to avoid connections.

Chapter Text

“ - and not only will they be organic, but they will also be almost identical to my brother’s!” Techie was saying excitedly to Matt. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, partially leaned back with his arms behind him supporting his weight. He had an ecstatic grin on his face, and a dreamy look in his eyes.

Matt was listening intently, finding it rather adorable that his usually shy roommate was getting so passionate over something. Of course, Matt thought that Techie was always adorable, but in this moment he was doubly so.

“Why not perfectly identical?” He asked, prompting Techie to continue.

“Oh - well, that’s just because it wouldn’t occur like that naturally. Even for the same person, there are no two eyes that are exactly identical. No one is really sure why, but each eye is like a snowflake, I guess.”

Matt snorted at the comparison, shaking his head. “A snowflake?”

Techie raised an eyebrow at him, giving him a flippant look. “Anyway,” he said pointedly, tilting his head and rolling his bionic eyes dramatically, “I have to go to Tarsus in order to see a specialist. Apparently eye surgery is very detailed work when you are implanting organic living tissue. Who would’ve known?” His voice was pure sarcasm - a huge step up from the shy and stuttering tone he had used when Matt had first met him. Confidence looked good on him.

“And your tattoo? You wanted to get that removed too, right?”

“Yeah! Actually, they can do that on the ship, and I already have an appointment. Isn’t that the coolest?” It was easy to tell that he was excited about the new developments. His body was vibrating with energy, and he had a constant curve to his lips.

“Definitely the coolest,” Matt easily agreed, grinning.

Techie leaned forward, extending one arm, his hand clenched into a fist. Matt went in for the fist bump.

After that, they settled in with their data pads and respective interests. It was Matt who broke the peace next.

“So, that girl. The technician who was angry at you for getting the supervising position; how is that going?”

Techie looked up from his data pad, his eyes dilating as as he focused. “Her? Uh, well . . . I understand where she’s coming from. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit, actually . . . and, well, I think she’s right.”

“What?”

“I mean, she would probably be better at it. I think I would be much better off as . . . well, not a supervisor.”

He liked the power.

He liked it a lot.

But.

There was much more to the job than power, and it had so many drawbacks that it didn’t seem worth it anymore. Especially when he had to work out the schedules for all of the technician’s.

“I think I’m going to give her the position and just work around the ship on whatever comes up. That is more my style anyway,” he explained further as he looked back down at his data pad absentmindedly.

Matt hummed in consideration, nodding his head partially. When Techie explained it like that, it did make sense.

So, the next day, Techie approached the girl who had angrily confronted him in the hallway the other day. He had since learned that her name was Joanna; or rather, what she went by. Everyone here on this ship was just a number code, after all.

She glared at him as he approached, her arms crossed and her brows wrinkled. Her stance was wide, as if she expected there to be brawl. Her lips were pressed into a firm grimace.

Techie paused in front of her, his own stance wobbly and uncertain, nervous and awkward. He would be easy to push over.

“H-hey, Joanna? I wanted to tell you that I contacted my brother, and I turned the supervising position over to you. I thought about what you told me the other day, and you’re right. You would be much better suited to the job than me.” His words were slow, and he was surprised that he had only stuttered once. He didn’t make eye contact.

As she listened to him, her defensive posture began to slowly relax, her face becoming softer. In fact, by the end of his speech, she looked more than slightly guilty.

“Oh. Um, thank you.” There was an awkward pause. “I’m sorry,” she blurted, “about the other day. I shouldn’t have been so aggressive, and I definitely shouldn’t have pushed you. I just - well, I have some issues with anger. Of course, that doesn’t excuse my actions!” As she spoke her arms came uncrossed, and she began gesticulating wildly. The wind she was creating was poofing out the sides of her curly hair.

“That’s . . . okay-“ but his air was cut off on the last word because he was being firmly hugged around his waist. It forced the air from his lungs, and he made an ‘oof’ noise.

But just as soon as it had begun, Techie found himself quickly released.

“Thank you!” Joanna said again before turning and heading off. Techie could only stand there and blink. He was too shocked to react further.

 

It was the day after he had taken Techie to his doctor’s appointment, and all of the grief that he had felt upon first seeing him had come back in full force. In all actuality, it was worse. He didn’t know the extent of the damage at first, but now he knew a little bit more of the big picture. And it stung.

Not only had Techie been more than moderately malnourished while he was on Earth, but he had been severely abused. That included both mentally and physically.

Hux was not one for introspection, but it seemed inevitable when it came to his brother.

That was solely the reason for why he found himself at the viewing port in an abandoned rec room.

He stood in front of the transparisteel screen in standard parade rest, watching absentmindedly as the stars swirled by. Or rather, not absentmindedly; he most definitely had something on his mind. It had been a long time since he had let negative thoughts take over him.

The sounds of heavy-booted steps came from behind him, but it did nothing to disturb him whatsoever. It made sense in some odd fashion that Kylo Ren would find him here. He always did during Hux’s small moments of weakness; it was only fitting that the pattern should continue.

Hux was the first to break the pseudo-peaceful quiet.

“It was my fault, you know.”

Kylo stopped by his side, glancing over at him through his mask. He let his silence linger for a moment before responding. “And what would that be, General?”

Despite the bond linking their minds, the General was as unreadable as ever. Though he could feel faint impressions of emotion, they were all dissected, diced, organized, and pressed into small cubes by pure cold logic before he was able to make sense of them.

The link was what had drawn him here in the first place; he could feel that Hux was distressed about something, and he had found himself answering the call before he had even made a conscious decision. It would infuriate him if the bond would actually allow that genuine emotion.

Finding the General here of all places was . . . not something that he ever could have expected.

Not in the location itself; no, that was not what had intrigued him. It was the experience of encountering him.

From the view of the entrance of the room, the General had looked regally ethereal in the glow of the otherwise dark galaxy. He struck an imposing figure against the backdrop of the swirling stars, and Kylo had been unwilling to interrupt.

But the bond had pulled him closer, closer, and he had no choice but to follow.

Even now, standing right beside him, the bond was trying to tug them together. Ren was just barely able to resist.

Hux seemed mostly unaffected by this phenomenon. His eyes were still set firmly to the stars, gaze unwavering and unbroken.

“Everything that happened to Tiberius.” His voice was firm stone, his words heavy and unyielding. Set resolutely into the earth by both gravity and their own weight.

Kylo had not taken his eyes away from the man’s sturdy profile, and he traced his sharp jawline with his eyes. Neither spoke for a long moment, but the silence was not uncomfortable or charged with tension.

In fact, Hux seemed . . . resigned. Like he knew he was to blame for everything gone wrong, and he was ready to shoulder the blame.

The world on Atlas’ shoulders.

Hux looked strong enough in that moment that Kylo would not be concerned if that were Hux’s assigned occupation. In all reality, it was. Hux was the General, after all, and he was responsible for everyone on this ship. Excluding, of course, Kylo himself.

“Why do you believe that?” His tone was merely curious.

Hux was silent for a long moment, his head slowly turning into a sidelong glance. He held the look for a moment before returning to staring at the stars in the viewport. “Simply because it is the truth,” he said finally.

Another long pause. “Care to explain?”

It took much longer this time. At first, he thought that Hux hadn’t heard him. Or was purposefully ignoring him (in hopes that he would get bored and leave, no doubt). But the bond was keeping him right where he was, directly by Hux’s side.

Kylo had given up on getting an answer a while ago. They stood there for a very long time, staring into the swirling stars through an unsettlingly thin piece of transparisteel. He had almost forgotten he had even asked a question in the first place when Hux finally spoke.

“Our father, Brendol, always pushed us to do better. Even when we were better than anyone else, he was never satisfied. He always wanted more from us than we could give. Rarely was he proud, if he ever truly was. I always took it as a challenge, and I used it to fuel my ambition. Tiberius, however, is . . . well, he has always been a free spirit. He always hated our father’s tyrannical ways, and found every chance to rebel. Of course, I love him more than anyone else in my family. I encouraged his behavior, nudged him towards following his passion.”

“He always loved technology. Computers, wires, machinery. He found a job on a fairly obscure planet named Earth, and it was the best thing that had ever happened to him - or so he said. He begged our father to let him go, but father hated the idea of his son being anything less than a fully honored war hero. He refused to let Tiberius leave, and took away his finances.”

“That didn’t stop him. Could never have stopped him, really. Not when he had me. He didn’t even have to beg me; I agreed to give him money for transportation easily enough. Then . . . I didn’t hear from him in years. I was preoccupied with everything else, and it didn’t even occur to me to worry about him.”

“I wrote the lack of communication as intergalactic transmission issues. It is very hard to get a message to someone who lives in a different quadrant, after all. Added to that, I knew that Tiberius could take care of himself. He had the exact same combat training as I did up to the point that he left. I didn’t believe that anything was capable of harming him to such a degree.”

His lips were pursed, the silence heavy after following his previous words. His shoulders were stiff, hands clenched tight behind his back.

“Obviously,” he said, voice terse, “I was wrong.”

Kylo did not have to be a mind reader in order to read exactly what the man was thinking in that moment. The General had always been a stoic man, accepting responsibility for things that should not even be placed upon him. Things that no one could possibly hope to control. This was obviously one of such occasions - he was taking the blame entirely for what happened to his brother on planet Earth.

Bitterness and regret seeped through their bond and into Kylo’s mind. He could feel that the man was very close to breaking when it came to this matter. The Force user had always compared the man to a glacier - an apt description when it came to this matter: he could feel Hux cracking and breaking under the strain even though the bond was so new.

The silence remained as these thoughts were leisurely going through his mind, but the General’s composure did not break even as Kylo stared at his profile through his visor. Hux’s jaw remained sturdy, in no danger of betraying his weakness.

Hux had had plenty of training in keeping his emotions tidily placed away from sight. Sometimes even from his own access; it was what made him a good strategist in dire situations.

After a long pause, Hux finally turned to him, eyes narrowed in suspicion. It was as if he had just realized who exactly he had been sharing all of this information with, and he was confused. “What are you even doing here, Ren?”

For a moment, he thought about lying. Perhaps by saying that he had simply came to this specific deck at this very specific time simply to view the stars. That seemed beyond unlikely, however, and it would only make the general more suspicious. No; it was best to tell the truth.

Or, at least, the partial truth. Kylo did not think that Hux was ready for the truth. Not right now, and perhaps not ever.

No matter; a half-truth would do for now.

“I was worried about you, General. I could feel your negative emotions from across the ship.”

Hux fixed an unimpressed look on his face, not even so much as blinking to convey surprise. What filtered through the bond now was mostly disbelief and mistrust. “I doubt you would concern yourself with something as trivial as my emotions.” He turned away with a disgusted scoff, the motion conveying agitation perfectly.

Kylo wanted to take off his mask, to tell Hux straight to his face that he was important. That his mental health mattered.

However, he most firmly believed that now was not the right moment for those types of declarations. The man would no doubt slap him across his face. Not that Kylo could blame him for that; neither of them were sentimental men.

Instead, he gave a small nod and excused himself. His heavy footsteps stopped at the door, and he turned around to look at the silhouette of Hux outlines against the backdrop of stars once more. It was only a momentary pause before the doors swished open and he left the regretful man behind. The bond protested every step.

 

Though he had technically initiated it, the bond had been a complete accident. The worst thing about it was that the General did not even know about it yet. Kylo kept being pulled in Hux’s direction by the bond, and the man was starting to get suspicious of his constant presence.

And although the bond seemed to affect Kylo physically, the same did not seem to be true of the General. It did seem to affect him in some way, however, because the man had been opening up to him more recently. That did not mean that he was in any way nicer or more accepting of Kylo. No, not at all.

Hux had been sharing his thoughts more often with him, however. It seemed that the night in front of the transparisteel, watching the galaxy pass by, had opened a floodgate.

 

“Ren,” Hux acknowledged, not even looking up from his data pad as his office door swished open, admitting a large figure veiled in shadowy black fabric. It was mostly dark in Hux’s office, the lights switching to low-frequency for beta shift.

The General was sitting in his desk chair, eyes moving across the screen of his data pad, his face illuminated in a neon blue glow that the device lent. He didn’t even pause to look up.

“General,” Kylo replied, making his way over to the front of Hux’s desk.

“To what do I owe this . . . “

‘Pleasure’ would be a lie.

“visit?”

Kylo stopped in front of the man’s desk, crossing his arms across his chest. “You haven’t been getting much sleep, General.”

To punctuate his statement, Hux promptly yawned, a pale hand coming up to stifle it. Then, realizing that he had just shown a weakness, he looked up, a hateful glare fixed firmly on his face. It was somehow mixed with a grimace and a look of complete disgust. It was obvious that he found Kylo distasteful, even when he was trying to help. Or, perhaps, especially when he was trying to help.

“I don’t see how that is any of your concern, Ren.” His voice was firm, but it had a biting undertone. Hostile.

“But I am concerned, General. I care about the smooth running of this ship just as much as you. However, that is compromised when you are not working at optimal capacity.” Mostly complete bullshit. No, he was concerned; the bond ached whenever his other half was not being properly taken care of.

The corners of Hux’s lips were still curled into a scowl; Kylo enjoyed the expression much more than he should have otherwise. For some reason, he enjoyed Hux’s look of hatred even more than his mild and stoic expressions. Probably because they had much more passion behind them.

Hux did not look like he was buying Kylo’s excuse at all. “And why are you truly here, Ren?”

“To put you to bed.”

There was a long pause, and Kylo cursed in his head; that had come out much more suggestive than he had intended.

Hux’s cheeks turned red, but not out of embarrassment. No; he was furious.

Slowly, he leaned forward, placing the data pad on his desk with a click. “Excuse me?” His voice was slow, measured. Contained and precise fury.

“You need sleep, Sir; I am here to make sure that you obtain it.” He only used the honorific because he was trying to placate the man. In fact, he didn’t think he had ever called the man “sir” before. It felt strange to say.

Still, the General did not look very appeased at the name. “Oh, are you? Because the last time I checked, I am the highest ranking officer aboard this ship. That means that everyone takes orders from me; not vice versa.”

Kylo shook his head, a hand coming up to press against the top of his helmet in a show of defeat. Really, he had come here to help the man, and Hux was throwing a hissy fit because of it.

“This is not about power, Hux. I am just trying to help you.” Even through the modulator, his voice came out too earnestly. Shit.

Hux actually paused at that, a confused look coming over his face. His brows drew together, his mouth poised as if he were about to speak; but it was frozen like that momentarily.

“ . . . why would you want to help me, Ren?” The words were scoffed, his voice was derisive and cynical when he finally spoke.

Kylo let the question hang in the air for a long moment before answering, pausing for emphasis. “If you have not noticed this fact yet, Hux, then I will point it out to you: we are not enemies. In fact, we are on the exact same side.”

If anything, the General looked even more befuddled than before. He shook his head, giving a sigh as he rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. “Get out, Ren.”

Ren left.

 

Just because Kylo was the one initiating the contact did not mean that he wanted to. The bond pushed and pulled him there, and he was compelled to follow. In fact, he was just as grumpy about it as Hux was.

He did not want to hang around the General just so that he could be ridiculed and belittled. Added to that, Hux did not want his advice at all.

It was exhausting to follow the bond.

It was exhausting to resist the bond.

Either way, it was not easy at all. Especially when the person he was bonded with was the most difficult person in the universe that he could have bonded with.

 

Now that Techie didn’t have the management position anymore, he was a lot happier with his job. Mostly, he just focused on rewiring and coding. Things that suited him much better than assigning people to do tasks.

Joanna was doing a much better job at it than he did anyway, and she was actually a lot kinder than her first introduction had suggested. She just had a temper sometimes; Techie had long forgiven her for yelling at him about the job.

He hadn’t been so sure at first, but Joanna had quickly become a friend to him. She always put him on the jobs that he requested, and she didn’t yell at Matt for being a little bit late. Added to that, she did much more than the job required; she would also work around here and there instead of simply micromanaging.

Now that he was mostly free, he had more time to spend with Matt and his computers. He had been relieved when he was allowed to keep the computer in his room.

His schedule had settled, and his appointment to get his tattoo removed had already passed.

“Wow, it looks like you’ve never even had a tattoo!” Matt had exclaimed after the skin had healed and he was allowed to take off the bandages.

Techie had smiled in genuine appreciation at him, telling him “Thank you, I’m glad.”

The time to go planet side for his eye surgery was fast approaching, and he was simultaneously nervous and excited. He hated his bionic eyes; they symbolized his life with Mama, and he hated looking in the mirror because of them.

Techie had once stared at them too long, then resolutely looked away. He could feel the unhappy crease to his lips, how his eyes would crinkle in sadness.

Matt could always tell from his expression when he was sad; he pulled him into his arms slowly and just held him, stroking his hair with a large palm. It was a soothing motion, and Techie allowed it even though he found the sentimentality mildly disgusting.

 

“Your presence has changed in the Force, Ren. Something has shifted.” Snoke was as sharp as ever, and his words may be phrased vaguely, but this search for information was certainly not merely a suggestion. It was an order that Kylo explain.

“Yes. An incident has occurred, and I have . . . accidentally Force bonded with General Hux, Supreme Leader.” It was much more embarrassing saying the words out loud than he had expected.

He was kneeling in front of the projected hologram, facing the floor. He could not see his masters reaction to his words, and it made him mildly anxious.

There was a long pause, but then it was broken by a wheezing laugh. Kylo’s head jerked up momentarily, shocked. It was a funny situation, he supposed, but he honestly never expected his master to actually laugh at him.

“Is that it? I had thought it might be something more serious. Nevermind, I see that it is not. You are dismissed, then.”

Kylo’s brows crinkled, his lips quirking in mortification and confusion. He looked up. “You’re not angry?”

Snoke let out a few more wheezing breaths of laughter before studying Kylo intently. “Why would I be angry? There are certainly worse candidates that the Force could have chosen. In fact, I am rather pleased.”

With that, the call was terminated, and Kylo was rather unsettled. He didn’t know if was better or worse that Supreme Leader Snoke approved. On one hand it was creepy, and on the other hand it was terrifying.

Chapter Text

Nowadays, Techie and Matt actually had a little bit more free time than they had had before. Joanna was taking care of running everything, and she was always too lenient with them. Techie supposed that she still felt bad about how she had first introduced herself to them.

He had told her multiple times that he didn’t hold a grudge, but he didn’t think that she actually believed him. It was all well and good, though; he got more down time than all the other technicians.

Having more free time meant that he was spending more time with Matt and his computers. His computers were as they had always been; whirring, criss-crossing, reliable wires. Matt was not so predictable, but he could a lot of things that technology could not.

Like, for instance, bring him a warm cup of tea and a sandwich whenever he got too preoccupied with coding to remember to have lunch. Added to that too, Matt would drag him away from his wires and codes when he refused to give himself a break.

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, Matt would wake up in the middle of night shift in order to throw a pillow at him with a grumble to go to bed. Ever rarely did Techie actually follow that suggestion. It was a different way of being taken care of, but Techie had learned to appreciate it all the same.

He had started a new project on the starship - a shields upgrade - and it was consuming a lot of his time lately. His late nights had increased, and even his bionic eyes were beginning to feel the strain from the lack of sleep.

This was the third (the fourth?) night of him staying up till half past the night shift, though he was still as active as ever, his eyes scrolling through the coding at his usual pace. The noises of snoring stuttered and stopped, then there came a noise of Matt shifting in his sleep (something not unusual, but a bit uncommon as he was such a heavy sleeper).

Then came a deep voice, rough from sleep. “Techie,” called almost on a groan.

“Hmm?” He hummed distractedly, not even skipping a beat as he continued to stare at the continuous lines of coding on the computer screen.

“Come to bed.”

It was not the first time he had requested this of Techie, and it probably would not be the last.

“When I’m done,” he promised, though he had no intentions of moving any time soon.

Usually, Matt was satisfied with that answer. This was typically when he would roll over and hum in assent, then promptly fall back to sleep. That did not happen this time.

No - instead, there was the creaking of a bunk, and then the sounds of Matt’s sleepy shuffle. The noises grew closer and closer until Techie could feel Matt’s presence directly behind him.

“I’ll just be a minute-“ but he was cut off by the feeling of Matt’s large, strong hands coming to grip him around his slim hips.

Techie squeaked, jumping slightly at the contact as his eyes went wide. Still, Matt’s hands were sturdy and warm, the contact pressing Techie’s sleep shirt firmly to his skin and transferring the warmth.

The hands gave a gentle squeeze, and Matt placed his chin on top of Techie’s head. “Come to bed,” Matt said, repeating his earlier request.

Matt had succeeded in distracting the smaller technician - he was no longer focused on the lines of codes (or even on the computer screen in front of him). No, because he was focused on the comforting heat of Matt behind him, beckoning him to come to bed. It was actually . . . tempting.

But, he had set a goal for himself tonight, and he was not so easily dissuaded from his task. “I told you; in a moment,” he emphasized, trying to refocus on the screen.

Matt made a displeased noise, his fingers tightening around Techie’s waist. Instead of taking that for an answer, Matt shifted, pulling away and coming around to Techie’s side. He promptly placed one arm under Techie’s legs, and another around his waist. With this placement, he easily swept the slight man into his arms.

It happened rather quickly, and Techie could only make a surprised noise, his arms coming up to wrap around Matt’s neck in order to stabilize and balance the hold. “Mattie!” He shrieked in a whisper, his eyes blinking in surprise. It was not a nickname he had ever used for the man before - this was a first.

The man ignored him, walking Techie over to his bunk and depositing him there. “Goodnight, Techie. I’ll see you next shift; go to sleep.” With that, Matt stepped over to shut down the computer terminal before crawling back into his own bunk.

Techie crawled under his covers and contemplated what had just happened. What had just happened? Obviously Matt cared for him, but he was unsure as to what extent. The contemplation didn’t last for long - he was tired, and soon he was asleep.

 

The change in Lord Ren’s behavior was quite abrupt and obvious to everyone. Especially to a certain General that the man would not stop incessantly bothering.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if the Knight had any kind of excuse for his actions, but whenever Hux extended his curiosity towards the subject, all he got in return was radio static. There was no logical reason for why Ren had been bothering him much more than usual.

Well . . . perhaps ‘bothering’ was a loose term. Sometimes the things that Ren did was helpful or productive. Something that Hux had not actually expected from the man - under any circumstances.

Of course there was that time when he had come into Hux’s office demanding that he should rest more often. Hux wrote that off as Ren being a pure nuisance.

There were some occasions, though, where Ren’s actions actually . . . pleased him. Only to a certain degree, however. They were all things that he could have done for himself.

It had occurred sometime after the first incident of Ren trying to tell him to go to bed (as if he were some incompetent school child!).

It was the General’s job to be busy - paperwork, strategy, diplomacy, public image, etc. These were all included in his job description (as was so much more). Sometimes he got so caught up in it all that he forgot that he was a human with needs for basic necessities.

He had been in his office as usual, signing off on budget reports and other such trivial paperwork that needed to be completed aboard his starship for that particular star date. So engrossed in his work was he, that he almost didn’t even catch it when Ren entered with a tray of food.

At the smell of food, however, he soon realized that he had forgotten to break for lunch. He glanced up sharply with a glare, eyeing Ren and the tray with contempt.

“Why are you bothering me, Ren?” He asked, all of his movement completely frozen as he had completely paused to do nothing but stare at the man intruding into his office. Again.

There was a pause, then Ren stepped forward, carefully placing the tray of food on a clear section of desk. “I came to deliver your lunch. You weren’t in the mess hall.”

With the mask on, Hux was almost completely unable to read him. Still, his eyes narrowed in suspicion, his mouth tugging into a familiar grimace.

“Did you poison it?”

Though Hux was unsure as to why that would be necessary. If Ren wanted to kill him, he had much easier access to more direct means. Be that via murdering him with the force, or slicing him in half with his silly red glow stick.

Ren shook his head slightly, just enough to make out with his helmet on. “No, I did not poison it. I just wanted to make sure that you are being taken care of.”

Hux was taken mildly aback by the phrasing of that statement. Ren wanted to make sure that he was being taken care of. He could have said something more along the lines of ‘I wanted to make sure you were taking care of yourself’, and it would carry less meaning.

But no - this phrasing implied that Ren himself was concerned for Hux’s well own wellbeing. It unnerved him. He didn’t know what to make of it, honestly, so he decided to simply store the information away for now.

“Thank you,” he said instead, though the words were hard to say. He supposed that Ren had earned them, just this once; no matter how hard it was for Hux to impart them.

“Of course, General.”

Ren’s response was immediate and matter-of-fact. Almost as if Ren believed it obvious that he should do such favors for Hux. Again, Hux ignored it for now.

Ren left promptly, and Hux ate his lunch with a slight frown.

Yes - the Knight had been acting rather strangely around him recently. That did not explain his own actions, however. He had been the one to open up, to share his thoughts and feelings that night in front of the transparisteel.

Hux didn’t know why he had shared so much, but it had felt right at that moment. Like he was meant to share his burdens with the black-clad Knight. He had felt mildly compelled to start speaking, and once he had, he hadn’t been able to stop.

It was not something that he had ever experienced before.

He was not sure if it was a bad thing or not.

 

Matt squeezed him in a tight hug, muttering something about having to go work on something across the ship.

“Will you be okay here?” He asked, looking down at the smaller technician.

Techie smiled, staring up at him. “Of course,” he said, leaning forward to hug Matt a little bit closer before the man left.

Just as Matt disappeared around the corner Joanna came sauntering over, her wide hips making the motion seem overly-dramatic. She had a wide grin stretching her freckled cheeks. This could only spell trouble for Techie, especially taking into consideration that Matt was not with him at the current moment.

“Oh jeez, what is it, Joe?”

She had a look like a cat that had just caught the canary. “Oh, nothing,” she waved off, though it was more like a promise of all the things to come. Techie was not looking forward to whatever that was.

She stopped beside him at the terminal platform he was working on, casually leaning against the side of the wall. “Just noticed that you and Matt are pretty chummy nowadays.”

“Yeah . . . ?” he said, voice trailing off into a question.

“Matt is a good guy. A bit goofy, but it’s obvious to see that he cares a lot about you.”

Techie did not know what Joanna was trying to say. “He is great guy, and yeah, we’re good friends.”

She latches onto that word with an undercurrent of viciousness. “Just friends?”

Oh, so that’s where this was going. Despite himself, Techie blushed. “Yes, just friends. I mean . . . it would be weird to be anything more, right? We live together, so if we try and it doesn’t work out . . . it would be awkward.”

Joanna raised a dark eyebrow, cocking her head to the side a bit. “Techie, yeah, you already live together. It wouldn’t be much different from the dynamic that you two already have. Wouldn’t it suck to live together without getting the added benefits of sex?”

“Why are you asking me about this?” The question is only to divert attention away from the blush that is no doubt making his face burn sun-red.

She shook her head, a small but genuine smile on her face. “You’re my friend. I just want to make sure that you’re happy.” Her smile widened into something more obscene as she continued; “And that you’re having the most fulfilling sex life that you can dream of.”

“J-Joanna!” Techie spluttered, flailing his arms in her general vicinity as he tried to keep his embarrassment under wraps.

She just cackled, easily dodging his arms before she sauntered away again. “Tell me how it goes,” she called over her shoulder before disappearing down the hallway.

Techie should have chosen his friends more wisely if this is what he got out of them.

 

Ren’s strange behavior from earlier was no longer strange. Not because he had stopped doing suspiciously nice things for Hux, but because they occurred so often now that they had become ingrained in his normal day-to-day pattern.

This time he didn’t even look up from his data pad, recognizing the heavy footfalls as Ren’s as he stepped unannounced into his office. His very locked office.

“You know that I have to fill out a report every time you use your override code on my locked door, right?” The tone was mild, though; despite trying hard not to, he had become used to the inconvenience of Kylo Ren.

Ren didn’t acknowledge his statement at all, looking like the moody man he always was. “It’s late, Hux.”

Ah - this spiel again. He had heard the same thing over the course of the past few weeks. ‘You need your sleep, Hux, you need to well-rested in order to keep control, blah blah blah’. Hux rolled his eyes.

“I was just finishing this up - don’t get so riled. Besides, I don’t feel exceedingly tired.”

“Still, it’s better to sleep while nothing important is happening.”

Hux glanced up at him before returning his eyes to the screen. He pressed a few buttons, and his work was complete. He had not been lying when he said that he was almost done. “That’s an intelligent thought, coming from you.” It was just a continuation of the banter.

He stood, placing the data pad on his desk before he did some light stretching. Sitting in his desk chair most of the time was truly terrible for his posture.

“I am full of intelligent thoughts,” Ren huffed moodily, though Hux could somehow tell that there was quite a large undercurrent of amusement attached to his words - even with the added obscurity of his mask. “Let me walk you to your quarters.”

It was not such an odd request, when paired with how . . . nice . . . Ren had become towards him recently. Hux was not sure at all of what had shifted between them, but he supposed that it couldn’t be anything terrible. After all, Ren was not being intentionally obtrusive anymore, so Hux would count that as a win - no matter what had caused it.

“Alright,” he agreed easily, gathering his great coat from the back of his chair.

It was a quiet walk, mostly full of thoughts of what Hux was going to do when he got back to his quarters. Those plans consisted of: take a shower, go to bed. Now that he was on his feet and moving, he was starting to feel much more tired than he had sitting in his office chair.

Perhaps it was a good thing Ren had come to collect him; he might have regretted staying up any later than that. Or he might have fallen asleep in his office. It had happened multitudes of times before, and the remembrance of those times left him grimacing. The crick in his neck had lasted for days.

They arrived at his quarters, and Hux put in his key code. “Goodnight, Ren.” He did not want to tell him ‘thank you’, but the words hovered in the air between them anyway. He had gotten disgustingly soft with the man.

“Goodnight, Hux.” Ren’s words echoed what he did not say.

He turned and entered his quarters, hearing the slow swish of them closing in Ren’s face. It was satisfying for some reason. A barrier between them.

Hux was not a stupid man, nor unobservant. He knew that his shields were melting when it came to the Knight of Ren, and he needed to reinforce them somehow.

But he could think about such things at a later date; right now, he needed to take a shower and go to bed. He was much too tired to be worrying about something as trivial as his ‘feelings’. He even thought the word with distaste.

Right - shower.

 

Snoke had been tending and cultivating his plan from the very beginning, manipulating Kylo Ren to become his protegé, to grow and become stronger since he was a small child. He had jumped at every chance to enhance him, to grow him into something vital.

This, though - he had not predicted this. And right beneath his very nose! Right now he was almost jumping with glee. Almost; he was too old and fragile at the moment to do anything that even remotely resembled ‘jumping with glee’.

Soon, though, he would be filled with that vital energy, and he would be whole and youthful once again. Now, though, he had to focus on pruning his future life force.

He called for a meeting with Kylo, even though they had had a meeting just prior. Snoke needed to know more.

“Supreme Leader Snoke. It’s good to speak with you again.” There was a question in his young students voice, as if he were asking about the state of affairs. If everything was alright. Really, younglings were so easy to see through.

“As it is with you, Ren. I called to ask you more about your bond to the General,” Kylo stiffened at the mention of it, as if he thought he were about to be scolded. Really, they knew nothing of the power of love, these silly boys. “Is it growing to its full potential yet?”

Kylo looked confused at the question. “I have decided to not pursue it. The General is unaware of the bond.”

Snoke was at once immediately displeased by both statements. “Why have you decided to not pursue it?”

“I do not believe that the General would be . . . amenable to its undertaking.”

His scowl deepened. “It is already done! There is nothing more to be undertaken! You will carry the bond to it’s full potential, Kylo Ren, and that is an order!” He used his scary order-giving voice for good measure.

It worked; Kylo Ren flinched almost imperceptibly, trying not to show that he was perturbed. Snoke could tell anyway, though he showed no indication that he saw. “Yes, Supreme Leader, I will carry the bond to its full potential.”

At last, Snoke was satisfied. For now.

 

Hux stripped, getting ready for his shower. Thankfully Techie had started to use the communal showers, and he had left Hux his water supply. Enough time had passed that he now had a good allotment, and he thought that now was as good a time as any to use it.

He started the spray of water, shucking his non-regulation red briefs towards the floor. The water did not take long to heat, thankfully, and he stepped under the stream of water. The hot water combined with his exhaustion gave him a wave of vertigo, and he followed it down to sit in the floor of the shower.

This was not an uncommon occurrence; he would usually sit while washing his hair, or condition it, etc. He was just too tired most days to stand. Most days he was on his feet all day, and he just didn’t have the energy to keep that up.

The water was nice and comforting, lending him warmth that he hadn’t realized he had lost. The sterile metal walls of the starship leeched his warmth, despite the overcoat and gloves he wore as protection. Perhaps he should bundle up more, he thought to himself, thinking of more underclothes. Another thermal undershirt? Maybe thicker socks. The regulation socks were pretty thin, made of a more silky texture than strictly necessary . . .

Amidst his thoughts, he began to drift off, resting his head against the curve of the tub. A luxury only afforded to him due to his status as a general. Soon, his eyes were closed, and he was falling asleep.

“Hux!” A shout of his name in static - familiar, why is that familiar? Ren. Ren was shouting at him, his voice more than mildly panicked.

His skin was hot, and he could feel the spray of the water still on his skin. He still hadn’t opened his eyes yet, filled with the muffled confusion that waking from sleep brings. There was the sound of his shower curtain being yanked to the side, then the water was turned off.

His eyebrows crinkled at that, even though he was still keeping his eyes determinedly closed. “Why’d you turn the water off?” He asked, voice grumpy.

A fully-clothed arm pushed under his knees, another coming to support his upper torso around his waist, and Ren was lifting him from the floor of the shower.

Hux tried to blink his eyes open, but all he could manage was a squint as he gripped at Ren’s cowl a bit desperately. The material of Ren’s clothes was becoming damp with the residual water from Hux’s body.

The Knight carried him into his bedroom, heading towards his bed.

No. Oh no, Hux was not letting this happen.

“Don’t you dare put me on my bed. I’m soaked, Ren - I am not sleeping in a damp bed tonight.”

“You should have thought about that before you fell asleep in the shower.” Still, Ren actually listened to him and made no move to dump him on the bed.

Hux had no doubt that he looked like a drowned cat now that he was more awake, and he could finally open his eyes all the way. The air in his quarters was chilly despite the raised temperature settings. He shivered, glaring at Ren through the helmet. It was moments like these when he really wished that Ren would take off that damn helmet so that he could tell what the man was thinking.

“I need a towel,” he said petulantly, sounding more like a whiny teenager than a seasoned general.

Ren put him down, leaving him standing there shivering with his arms crossed over his chest and a pout on his face.

He came back a few seconds later holding a fluffy, white, non-regulation towel. Without even offering it to Hux, he stepped forward and began to dry his hair. It would no doubt be an extreme pain to style tomorrow - all of the friction was going to make it excessively poofy.

Hux breathed out a sigh of irritation, reaching up and tugging the towel away from Ren. The man was apparently incompetent at everything.

He angrily set about drying himself, noting absently that Ren just stood, watching. What a fucking creeper.

He looked up, a scowl pressed to his face already. “I understand that I am absolutely beautiful and the pinochle of human perfection, but I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t stare at me like that.”

“Apologies,” Ren said immediately, turning his head to the side as if burned.

Hux rolled his eyes, throwing the used towel at Ren’s bucket head. “Yeah, yeah. Thanks again, I guess. For not letting me drown - and for earlier. Walking me to my quarters.” He made his way towards the bed as he spoke, crawling in now that he was dry.

Once Hux was safely beneath the covers, Ren turned his head towards him again, the towel held almost unconsciously in his hands.

“Of course, General.” He said it in that way he had before when Hux had thanked him; as if it were completely natural for him to be helping Hux in this way. Fuck fuck fuck. He was so fucked.

He slid deeper beneath his covers to make a point. “I’m going to bed now.”

“Goodnight, Hux.” Ren placed the towel in the bathroom on the drying rack and turned off the lights before he left. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so hard after all.

Chapter Text

Despite . . . everything . . .

Despite being away from planet Earth, away from all the trauma that planet had incurred upon him, he was still . . . well. Much like his brother, Techie would never admit any weakness in any form. Still, that did not change the fact that he had been damaged. The kind of damage that does not go away quickly, if ever.

So, yes, despite being with his brother far away from the planet that had hurt him, he still ached. Not physically - not anymore. In the two long weeks that he had been aboard The Finalizer, the medical doctors had cured all of his cuts and bruises. But there still lingered, in his mind, the fact that he had been used. Used and abused, broken into something to be taken for granted time and time again.

Most days, almost at all times, he could fight it off. Shake the feeling away and let a small, quivering smile take over his hesitant lips. His confidence had grown with the time spent with his brother, and even in the presence of Matt and Joanna.

At first he had been faking it, too scared to be anything more or less than the acceptable amount of confident. He had been too afraid of being weak . . . even though that’s exactly what he was. Weak. Soft, trembling, and entirely too vulnerable at any given moment.

Now, though, he felt more assured of himself. More . . . secure. Safer, now that he knew that he was not going to be attacked or taken advantage of. Not like before.

Still, he had his moments. Moments of residual weakness, he called them. Spaces of time where he would be in the middle of coding and would just go blank, his eyes glazing over and his fingers pausing against the keyboard. This small space, working on coding, no daylight visible - it would remind him far too much of his previous situation.

He knew quite distinctly that he was not back on Earth, but his anxiety would still spike, his heart lurching into a quicker pace. But then Matt would make some noise in the background, and it would snap him out of the moment. Some roommates might be bothered by how loud Matt is most all of the time, but Techie finds himself supremely grateful.

“Hey, Techie, are you hungry? I was going to go pick some lunch up at the mess,” Matt said, startling him from his reverie. He jumped slightly, blinking as he turned his head to focus on the man. He could feel a faint flush spread across his cheeks - ever since Joanna had teased him about his relationship with Matt, he had been a bit awkward around his roommate.

“Ummm, yeah, sure; that sounds great,” Techie said, his voice a bit more squeaky than he would have preferred.

Matt narrowed his eyes slightly in confused consideration before nodding. He turned and exited the room, and Techie felt like banging his head against his console. Matt probably thought he was acting like a complete ditz. Lovely.

 

He complained to Joanna about it later.

“Why did you say that about us, Jo? Now it’s all I can think about, and I kind of want it. But what if he doesn’t? I hate you.”

Joanna just laughed at him, thoroughly amused by Techie’s pain and suffering. “Just tell him how you feel. It’s obvious that you’ve got a crush on him.”

Techie made a face at the word ‘crush’, as if it were the most distasteful thing he had ever heard. “No way. You’re making me sound like I’m a pre-pubescent child who’s never experienced emotions before.”

“Then maybe you should stop acting like one,” she said succinctly, cutting him a sharp glance. The words were softened by her childishly sticking out her tongue.

Techie gasped, bringing a hand to his chest. “Joanna! Rude!”

She only rolled her eyes, and the conversation was dropped.

 

Still, that night, when all that Techie could think of was how lonely and chokingly miserable he had been on Earth, Matt wrapped his strong warm arms around him and held him together. Instead of falling apart, he was able to fall asleep.

 

Kylo knelt, knowing not at all the reason why Snoke had called him into a meeting. It had not been long at all since they last spoke, and the prospect of something changing so drastically that it needed to be discussed was mildly worrisome.

Snoke sat atop his throne as usual, his face completely inscrutable. He looked as he always did; cool, calm, collected. Perhaps there was no reason to worry, then.

“Kylo Ren,” Snoke began, his focus intense as he squinted his eyes at his young apprentice, “I sense absolutely no change at all in your Force presence. You said that you would obey me in continuing the bond.” His voice was stern. “Do I need to remind you of your duties in this matter?”

A pause. “To what duties do you refer, Supreme Leader?”

“Of course I am referring to influencing things along.”

Kylo balked, taken aback at what Snoke was suggesting. He may follow the dark side, but this went against even his morals. “Supreme Leader,” Kylo protested, his head jerking up, “I am not going to trick General Hux into reciprocating false feelings!”

“And I am not insisting that you do so, you stupid boy!” Snoke snapped, looking as if he would strike Kylo if he were only in the same physical space. There was a long pause of strained silence, then Snoke leaned back again, regaining his composure. “I was referring to the ancient Force courting rituals.”

Oh. Yes, Snoke had taught them to him, but he had never sincerely believed that he would ever have cause to employ them. They had even taken time as master and student to create a protective bonding ring made of gold. His mind flashed to his quarters where the ring currently resided, placed into box inside of a drawer that he had forgotten about. Would Hux accept such a symbol, he wondered.

Slowly, he nodded. “Very well. However . . . “

“Yes?”

“There will be a delay.”

“And why is that?”

“General Hux is going to Tarsus for a week in order to oversee his brother’s surgery.”

Snoke narrows his eyes at that bit of information, looking far too thoughtful. “Hmm, I see . . . Well, then, I suppose that it can wait. You are dismissed.”

Kylo nodded, taking his leave as the blue holo image of Snoke flickered and faded from sight. It left the conference room looking much darker, the empty seats almost eerie in the dim light. What could be motivating Snoke to make sure that his Force bond with Hux was strong?

Truly, it made no sense . . . . except.

Except that it made perfect sense, the more he thought about it. Because Snoke was his master, he was intrinsically bonded to him through the Force. Their lives had become entangled, and in turn had affected and intermingled their life force as well. The stronger Kylo was in the Force, the stronger Snoke was as well.

With a Force bond, the presence of the Force was intensified to its full potential. Once Hux accepted the bond for what it was, and the bond solidified, Kylo’s Force power would be at its maximum potential. Snoke would reap those benefits as well.

With all of these thoughts on his mind, he had been walking through the halls mostly absent-mindedly. He hadn’t been thinking of a destination in particular, but his stride was confident and purposeful. Of course he ended up at Hux’s office door, the bond pulling him towards the man at full strength at all times.

The Force did not like it at all when two intended pairs went unbonded, and it was quite vengeful and insistent. It would continue to pull them together until they finally gave in and fused their minds.

Before he could turn away, the door to Hux’s office slid open, and Kylo stepped inside. All thoughts and worries of Snoke disappeared when he remembered exactly the last time he had seen Hux, and under the exact circumstances.

It seemed that Hux remembered far too well also, because he stiffened shortly before looking up with piercing blue eyes. Stoic, guarded, yet . . . inquisitive. “Ren,” he said concisely, before looking back down at his data pad sharply.

“General,” Kylo acknowledged back, his hands going up hesitantly to remove his mask. At the action, Hux looked back up again, all of his features sharp. Frozen over completely. He pulled off the helmet, holding it against his side. Hux was looking at him expectantly.

A pause. “Did you want something?”

Ah, so it was back to this frosty countenance, then. Pretending nothing ever happened. And he had thought that he had been making progress.

For a moment, Kylo just looked, letting his eyes slip down over the top of Hux’s torso. Simply remembering exactly how small and delicate Hux was beneath all of that padding. The General could run, but he could not hide.

Hux caught his appreciative look, and despite trying to seem stoic and frosty, his cheeks flushed a pretty cherry color over his barely visible freckles.

“No,” Kylo said finally, glancing back up to meet Hux’s stormy eyes. “I actually came to ask you that question. It’s lunch time - come to the cafeteria with me?”

The man’s lips thinned out, the flush fading mostly from his cheeks. “I have work to do, Ren.”

“Kylo.”

“What?”

“Call me Kylo.”

“Alright, then. Go away, ‘Kylo’.”

Kylo left.

 

The door closed on Ren’s retreating back, and Hux could only stare at the place where the man used to be. Kylo. He wanted Hux to call him Kylo. Is that what was going on here? Is that what was happening?

Kylo, Leader of the Knights of Ren, had a crush on him. Oh.

It certainly explained quite a few things that had been going on with the man recently, but . . . how the hell did it happen? When exactly did this development come about?

He let the puzzlement continue for a few more moments before he shook it off, returning his attention back to his data pad. However it had happened did not matter. Right now, he had to focus on the unfolding construction of his new weapon. Starkiller. The perfect, most brilliant weapon. Something glorious and capable of easy mass destruction.

Soon. It would be complete soon.

 

He tried. He tried very hard, but it was almost impossible not to think about. It was wrong, to think of Hux completely naked, wet, clinging to him tightly. The man had been in a vulnerable position, and the context was not at all sexual in nature.

Still. Still, it was so easy to think back on how slim Hux’s hips were, how easy it was pick him up even when soaking wet. How pale and lovely his skin was, interrupted only by small scatterings of freckles here and there. He was entirely too thin, his hipbones poking sharply through skin.

Hux was easily equal to Kylo’s height, but the man was mostly bone. He hid it well beneath tactically padded clothes, using his posture to intimidate and influence. But all of that wasn’t what truly captivated Kylo. No - it was mostly his passionate expressions. At this junction in time, he could admit to himself that he liked the look of fury on the man’s face.

The man’s chin would tilt, and a disgusted grimace would pull back his lips. His blue-green eyes would squint, making them look even sharper than usual, and his cute nose would scrunch up in distaste. His lips would pull back, exposing his teeth, exposing his nasty nature.

Perhaps it was strange that he liked this expression on Hux’s face. Right now, he did not care to analyze it overly much.

 

“I’ll be back in three or four days,” Techie said, mildly amused as Matt hugged him tightly. The hold was solid, sturdy. All of the things that Techie had ever wanted in his life. Matt pressed his lips into the top of Techie’s head, breathing in the scent of Techie’s shampoo.

“I know,” He muttered into long, ginger hair. “I’m just gonna miss you for three or four days.”

Techie laughed, remembering when he thought that Matt might be a threat. How did he turn out to be a big softie instead? “Alright, alright. I gotta go, though. Hux is waiting for me at the shuttle.”

Matt pulled back, keeping his hands on Techie’s shoulders as he gave him a weird look. “Did you just call your brother ‘Hux’?”

“Oh, yeah - well, that’s what everyone knows him as here. I think he’s started to call me ‘Techie’ as well. It’s just less confusing, I guess.”

Matt nodded, letting his hands run down Techie’s arm as he released him. “Okay, well, you’re right - your brother’s probably waiting on you.”

He nodded, turning to leave. Before he did though, he turned and gave Matt one last quick hug.

 

“Hux!”

Hux turned, pausing momentarily on his way to the hangar bay where he would be taking a shuttle to Tarsus with his twin. Of course it would be a maskless Kylo Ren who had called his name, approaching him with efficiently quick strides.

“Ren,” Hux responded blandly.

“Kylo,” Ren corrected him again, coming to a stop in front of him.

“Kylo, then. Make this quick, I have to depart soon.”

“I understand,” Kylo said, pulling a small black box from the inside of his robes. He opened the box, pulling out a shiny, golden ring. Then, he held out his free hand palm-up. “May I?”

Hux’s brows furrowed, wondering what the hell Kylo was doing. Still, he placed his left hand in Kylo’s gloved hand.

Kylo shook his head. “Other hand.”

A ginger eyebrow was cocked. “If you are proposing to me, Kylo, then this is indeed the correct hand.” Still, he switched hands.

“This is a protection ring.” He did not deny that he was proposing. Kylo worked Hux’s leather glove off, before gently sliding the golden ring onto his right ring finger. “Wear it at all times, please.”

He also conveniently left out the fact that the ring would amplify the effects of their bond, even though it was still a shallow one yet. Not that Hux even knew of their bond in the first place.

“As you are well-aware, I don’t believe in your silly magic religion. But, since you said please, I will wear it.”

Kylo nodded in satisfaction, his lips pursed as he watched Hux pull his leather glove back on over the piece of jewelry. “Safe travels, General,” He said before turning, his black robes swirling dramatically as he did so.

Odd. Hux turned as well, continuing his course to the shuttle bay.

 

The planet of Tarsus was red, hot, and miserable. Barren of almost all life, save for the small pocket of civilization built around an oasis. What an eye surgeon was doing living here of all places was hard to determine.

Still, even the drab surroundings of the planet did nothing at all to curb Techie’s excitement about having organic eyes once more.

The hotel that they had secured was a bit rundown, but otherwise functional. Even so, Hux couldn’t see himself taking advantage of a long shower in this place. Not on this desert and water-stingy planet.

Techie’s surgery was scheduled for the day after arrival, and then after a day of recovery, they were to promptly go back to the Finalizer. It was not an overly-complicated schedule.

Indeed, the next day, Techie’s surgery proceeded as planned. His bionic eyes were removed, and new, living organic optical tissues were inserted. Nerves were connected, and bandages were placed. The surgeon informed them that it would be the rest of the week to well into next week to heal.

They returned to the hotel, Hux helping Techie all the way. He was completely blind for now, as he had to allow time for the optical nerves to fully connect and heal. Thanks to special radiation technology, he was already halfway there at least.

“Artie, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do except lay here and be blind.”

“Well what do you want me to do about it?”

“I dunno. Tell me a story or something.”

“Definitely not.”

Techie frowned, pouting in silence. But not for long, of course. “But you’re my bestest big brother. Won’t you pretty please tell me a story?”

Hux sighed, relenting. “Fine, I’ll tell you a story.”

Techie smiled at his victory.

“Once upon a time . . . “ Hux started uncertainly, not knowing many stories, or even which one to tell. “There was a great kingdom. An empire. The King of the empire was very strong and strict, but he was always fair. To some, though, he was seen as tyrannical. The King had two sons, both princelings. The oldest was destined for the crown, but the younger prince was not jealous. He did not want to rule at all.”

“The oldest prince thrived under his father’s standards and expectations, but the younger prince hated the restrictions placed on him. So, one night, he fled the kingdom. In his absence, the older prince became the new king. He worried day and night over his younger brother, about what had become of him.”

“Unbeknownst to them all, the younger prince had gotten captured by enemy territories. He was used as cheap labour, and abused for nothing more than entertainment. One day, he was able to escape, and he made his way back to his brother’s kingdom. Once the King learned of what happened, he laid waste to the enemy that had captured his brother, and in doing so expanded his own kingdom and territory.”

A pause of silence, then; “The End.”

“ . . . . Hey, Artie?”

“Yes?”

“You make a really good King. Better than our dad.”

“Thank you.”

 

The day they were scheduled to leave, Techie was still completely blind. It was frustrating, though his eyes had been a constant struggle ever since Mama had gouged them out with her fingers. He could still hear the sounds of movement as Hux packed their stuff up, though.

“How soon are we going to be leaving?” He asked. Right now, he didn’t really want to move around much. Not when he was so unsure of his surroundings.

There was a loud thumping noise to his left, where Hux had been, and it sounded a lot like a body hitting the ground too hard. Immediately, he was alarmed. “Artie? Armitage, that’s not funny. Answer me.”

A moment passed, and he was greeted only by silence. Then, he could hear footsteps approaching his bed from the left, and a cloth was being pressed over his mouth and nose. He struggled, but the grip was too strong. He inhaled sharply, unable to repress the instinct.

A wave of dizziness, then pure lethargy washed over him. If his vision weren’t already black, it would produced that effect. In the next couple of seconds, he was completely passed out.

Chapter Text

Kylo sat straight up in bed, gasping as fear, pain, panic, anxiety rushed through him, choking him and making his breathing come harder. He gasped, trying to fill his lungs with air, but it felt like his heart was trying to escape through his throat. He clutched at his chest, confusion blooming through him when he realized that it was not he who was experiencing these emotions. They were filtering through the bond. Hux.

Oh stars, Hux.

With this revelation, his own anxiety and panic added to the mix, but he knew that he had to stay calm. He had to regain his composure so that he could help them both. It took all of his training to push back the emotion, to restrain the panic beneath a thin veneer of calm. It took longer than usual, but he also had to reach through the bond to help calm Hux as well.

It was obvious that Hux did not know what was happening, but Kylo could feel him relaxing mildly through the bond. Not by much, however. He must be in serious danger - Kylo had never felt anything like this from the usually calm and collected man.

He dipped into Hux’s mind using the bond, finding that Hux’s thoughts were muddled, fuzzy. Completely unclear and hardly logical. Mostly they were thoughts of panic, of alarm. They were not following the usual clear-cut cold reasoning that Kylo had come to associate with him. He had probably been drugged, and it was messing with his thought processes.

He thanks the stars that he had offered Hux that protection ring before he had departed - it was no doubt the only reason that Kylo could feel him so acutely through their bond. In fact, he felt the bond with such clarity that he knew that he could follow it to Hux’s location.

Briefly, he thought about going to Snoke with this. Then, deciding that Snoke could do little to help, and it would waste time, he decided against it. He was doing good to quickly pull on his robes, grab his lightsaber, and sprint towards a ship. Whatever was happening to Hux, it felt urgent.

Kylo only feels slight relief when he is on a ship and heading to wherever Hux is. The bond doesn’t give exact specifications, but he thinks that Hux might still be on Tarsus with his brother. He sets the coordinates, validated by the reassuring tug of the bond - even if Hux’s jumbled thoughts were quite worrying.

 

He has a headache, and he’s in a completely awkward position. Everything is black, but that detail is not surprising. The eye surgeon said that he would be blind for another week or so. The eye doctor did not tell him, however, that he would wake up cold on the floor, handcuffed to something behind his back, and with his legs and ass completely numb. Right. Because he had been kidnapped. Again.

Was it messed up that he felt more resigned in this moment than he felt any other emotion? Maybe anger - that emotion was vying for control right now as well. Anger, because not only had someone kidnapped him, but they had also kidnapped his brother Armitage. And Armitage was strictly off-limits to this kind of thing.

Techie blinked, but it made no difference. There was nothing covering his eyes, but his vision remained completely black.

He heard a shifting noise coming from in front of him, though it wasn’t extremely close. Then, he heard his brother groan, then a rattle of metal against metal. “Toby? Toby?” His words words were slurred, and he sounded panicked.

“I’m here, Artie. I’m here,” Techie replied, his words hurried to reassure his brother that he was there. “I’m fine, I feel fine. Are you okay?” Artie didn’t sound okay - he sounded a bit out of it. He had never heard his brother sound like that. Vulnerable.

“I’m . . . . I feel dizzy. I’ve been blindfolded. I can’t see.”

That meant that whoever captured them didn’t want them to see their surroundings. But if that’s what they wanted, and they hadn’t placed a blindfold on Techie as well, then that meant that whoever kidnapped them must know about Techie’s eye surgery and temporary blindness. Who could have that kind of information on him? His heart lurched at the thought, and a new terror filled him. Was he truly not free of her? Had she somehow maintained her grip, even after her demise?

“ - are we? I’m the General - why did they capture you as well? It’s only me they need,” Armitage rambled on, before a new fear entered his voice, “Oh stars - Toby, I can’t if they -“ his voice broke, “ - I’m sorry. I have to surrender if they use you against me. I can’t let you be harmed. Not anymore. Not anymore.” Then, there was the loud sound of his brother sobbing.

“Artie, Artie, I’m fine. I’m okay. We’re going to be okay,” Techie said urgently, trying to calm and reassure his brother.

There was the sound of a loud metal door scraping open, and then heavy footsteps entered the room. “I see that you two are finally awake.” The voice was extremely deep and masculine, but it was jarringly friendly and kind. Whoever this was sounded as if he were speaking to an old friend that he was fond of. It immediately made Techie deeply uncomfortable, as the voice was completely unfamiliar.

Artie had stopped sobbing, but there were still a few sniffles and snorts coming from that direction. “You really are quite a lovely set. Once Tiberius’s eyes heal, you will be completely identical again. I’m really very pleased to have you for my collection.” Again, his deep voice was kind, laced with genuine happiness.

A choking fear crept into his lungs at the words, restricting his breathing and wrapping its tendrils into his throat. Collection. Part of a set. Not to mention that the man definitely knew them. Knew his name. This was not Mama, and this had nothing to do with the Resistance. What they were dealing with was something altogether different, and it was not comforting in the least. The devil you know, as the saying goes.

Techie cleared his throat, licking his chapped lips. “P-part of your collection?” He asked, trying to keep the fear out of his voice. He didn’t really think that it quite worked.

“Yeah,” The man said fondly, and even though Techie did not know at all what he looked like, he pictured him smiling, “I’m a collector of sorts, I suppose.”

Techie hummed, though it came out more as a squeak. He did not want to know what this man did with his collections. He did not know what was going to happen to them. His thoughts were interrupted by the man, “My name is Grendhelm, by the way. If you need anything, then just yell; I can hear you from the other room if you shout loud enough.” There were retreating heavy footsteps, then the sound of the heavy door closing.

Oh no. No, no, no. This was not good - if the man, Grendhelm, was willing to tell them his name, then that meant that he thought they would never escape. That didn’t explain the blindfolds, then. If Grendhelm was willing to impart his identity, then why was he unwilling to impart their surroundings? It didn’t make much sense.

Perhaps it was just to keep them disoriented so that he could keep them under control more easily. Grendhelm was a collector. He mentioned specifically that they were a ‘lovely set’, obviously referring to the fact that they were twins. He knew them; knew Tiberius’s name, knew that he had just had eye surgery. Techie did not know what was going on. Why would the man risk kidnapping a General of the First Order just to have a set of twins for his ‘collection’?

Then again, Techie did not presume to know the thoughts of a crazy person. No doubt that the man had no logical thoughts in his head if he believed that his brother would be overlooked and replaced without a thorough search for his person. He was too valuable of an asset to the First Order. Even if he had been captured by the Resistance, the First Order would go far in trying to retrieve him. He simply knew too much to be in enemy hands.

“Artie?” He whispered, anxiety spiking through him when he realized that his brother had been quiet for far too long. There was no reply. It was now Techie’s turn to start crying, hot tears flooding down his cheeks when there was absolutely no response, not even a shifting noise. “Armitage!” He shouted, but he still got nothing.

Had the man killed his brother just now, as he was in here conversing with him? Had he been present for his brother’s murder without even realizing it? More tears flowed down his cheeks at the thoughts, and he cried his brother’s name over and over again.

He didn’t know how much time had passed, but it felt like hours and hours as he cried. Eventually, he was too tired to continue, and he fell back to sleep.

It was sometime later when he awoke to the sound of rattling chains, and he was so relieved that more tears leaked out. He blinked, surprised that he had regained partial vision. Extremely partial. Everything was grey and blurred out, and he could make nothing at all out. Just very vague shapes. “Artie?” He tried again.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Came his twin’s slurred reply. He must have been sedated again, and that’s why he had not responded. Techie pulled against his handcuffs, the metal screeching against metal as he futilely tried to free them. What he wanted most right now was to be able to make contact with armitage, to see for himself that he was okay. Obviously, that was not an option.

The scrape of the metal door being pulled open came again, then the heavy footsteps. But this time there was a squeaking of wheels as well, being pulled across the floor. “Sorry to leave you guys for so long by yourselves. I had an errand to run, but I’m back now. I got you something.”

The squeaking of the wheels grew closer as the man did. He stopped in front of Armitage first, then he came over to Techie. The man’s blurry grey form crouched in front of him, then a cold pad swiped his left elbow. Then came the small prick of a needle. “This is so that you don’t get dehydrated. It also has nutrients in it.”

Intravenous drip bags. Grendhelm was going to sustain them as if they were coma patients; and with such barbaric methods, as well. Techie grimaced but said nothing, listening as the collector left the room again.

Time passes much slower after that, now that he can hear the steady drip, drip, drip from his IV bag in the silence of the room. Not even the sight of his surroundings can distract him, though he does try. He doesn’t know if it’s just his imagination, or if the images of the room are getting clearer. He thinks so, because he can now identify the red smear of Artie’s hair in front of him.

Techie thinks that the collector must have added sedative to his brother’s drip bag, because all he does is mostly doze. Maybe Grendhelm does know what a dangerous man Armitage Hux is.

Days pass, he thinks, because his vision is becoming clearer and clearer. The surgeon had said at least a week, right? It was hard to tell the passage of time, though, because there were no clocks or any sort of technology in sight. His bionic eyes would have told him the time. What a strange concept to be missing them.

The collector hadn’t come to change their drip bags out, though, so it must not have been such a long time. Maybe the radiation had healed his eyes further along than they had expected?

Grendhelm entered the room, and Techie raised his head but kept his eyes fixed to a random place. The collector did not need to know that he was regaining his eyesight. He walked over, and for the first time, Techie was able to see him.

He was about average height, but he was extremely muscled. His skin was dark and weathered, and he had several small scars all over his body. He had dark short hair, though it was wavy and unkempt, as was his beard. Grendhelm’s eyes were a piercing black, and he looked at Techie thoughtfully. “How are your eyes doing? Are they feeling alright?” The most unsettling thing was that he looked genuinely concerned.

“They feel fine,” Techie told him honestly, blinking a couple of times to show that he was considering the question carefully.

Grendhelm hummed thoughtfully, nodding his head. “Good,” He said, before walking out of the room.

As he watched the man leave, his eyes focused on the ground in front of him, his eyes finally able to pick up details. The room was full of old wooden desks and drawers, a ball gown strewn over the back of a gold-detailed chair. Little odds and ends added up to make a strange mesh of a room, and there were miscellaneous items laying about willy nilly. It was not surprising, then, that there lay, just in front of him, a small hair pin.

Techie wiggled his toes, then shifted his legs. He had already checked for cameras when he had first started to regain his sight. There were none that he could see. The shifting of his lower limbs brought back the blood flow, making them tingle unpleasantly. He waited for it to pass before he carefully stretched out his leg, pressing the hair pin beneath his foot. Carefully, carefully, he dragged it towards him.

It was quite the maneuver to get it behind his back and into his hand, but he did it. He didn’t know how, but he blamed it on a miracle. Maybe those things existed sometimes.

Slowly, carefully, he picked the lock of his handcuffs, letting out an extremely soft sigh of relief when the lock clicked open to free one of his hands. He caught the cuff, making sure that it did not hit the pole to make a clinking noise. Slowly, he rested it on the ground, then unlocked his second cuff.

He was free. He was free. He had escaped once, from his first captor, and she was now dead. Techie had been through so much, and now he was going to have to do it again. And he could. He knew he could.

A wave of anger washed over him, and he embraced it. Grendhelm was obviously unaware of exactly what Techie was capable of. It was not Armitage that he should be afraid of now. On Earth, for ten long years, he had been baptized in pain, violence, and death. He had watched as people had been tortured for fun and profit, had been forced through his own torture over and over. Never did he think that he might be the one to be the perpetrator of any of those things, but he felt the need to inflict all of that onto Grendhelm. The man who would keep his brother sedated for something as stupid as a collection.

It was his turn to act vicious.

He slowly placed his handcuffs on the ground, wincing when they made the tiniest sound of impact. Next, he pulled the needle from his arm, unaffected when the puncture wound bled down his arm a little bit. He had seen much more of his blood spilled for much less. He stood, and, hair pin in hand, made his way over to his brother.

Techie removed the blindfold, then the needle from his brother’s arm - hoping that that first action would give the drug a head start in wearing off. Not that he expected it to wear off in a couple of minutes. Picking Artie’s handcuffs open was easy, as he was completely still throughout the whole thing. His eyes were awake, but his mind was obviously elsewhere. Soon enough, Armitage’s hands were free as well, and Techie placed the cuffs on the ground quietly.

“Artie,” He whispered, kneeling in front of him and shaking him gently by the shoulders. His eyelashes fluttered across icy blue eyes, but they showed no comprehension of the situation. Too much of the sedative was still in his system. Techie would not be able to carry him out of here. Not by himself. There was no choice but to wait until the drug began to wear off.

But by then, the collector might come back to check on them. He really did not want a direct confrontation with Grendhelm.

An idea struck him, and he slowly pulled his own drip bag over to Armitage. He inserted the needle into his brothers arm, patting the tape back into place. He whispered an apology as he put the cuffs and the blindfold back on, even though his brother couldn’t understand him in his state. Making sure he had the hair pin, he dragged the drip bag laced with sedative back to where he had been cuffed.

He taped the needle on his arm, but did not insert it. Then, again making sure that the hair pin was hidden but within reach, he cuffed himself back to the pole behind him. Grendhelm would check Artie’s bag, but would have no reason to do so for Techie. The collector would not discover that his IV was not connected anymore.

True enough, the collector came and went, being none the wiser. Techie watched as Armitage became more and more cognizant, shaking off the sedative finally as the fluids from Techie’s drip bag washed them out of his system.

“Artie,” Techie whispered, “I need you to pretend to be asleep. I have a plan.”

Armitage nodded slightly, he himself unaware if they were being monitored by a camera feed or not.

The next time Grendhelm came and went, Armitage pretended to be out of it. As soon as he left, Techie unpicked his cuffs, then did the same for his brother. “Alright, can you stand?” He whispered. Artie nodded. He helped him stand, but now he had no idea what to do after this. The only door was the large metal one, and it made a very loud noise when opened.

Still, maybe they would get lucky - perhaps Grendhelm was somewhere where he would not hear the door. Added to that, they would try to open it as quietly as possible. It was their only way out, so they had no other option.

As it turned out, they didn’t have to open the door. Grendhelm did it for them, finding them standing in the middle of the room. Free. He was dragging new drip bags - theirs were almost empty.

Immediately, he released them, panic entering his eyes. He lunged forward without thinking, his arms stretching wide as if he was just going to capture them both in a restrictive hug. Techie, used to blood and violence and fighting, grabbed the nearest sharp object - the needle from a drip bag. Promptly, he shoved it in the man’s eye.

Grendhelm screamed, his voice a deep roar as his hands came up to his pierced eye. It gave them a little bit of time to duck around him, running out the door. Armitage was still shaky and wobbly on his feet, but Techie wasn’t much better from sitting on the hard ground for so long. Still, they made into a new room, which at least had more sunlight. They went through another door, making it outside.

Whatever hope they might have had was crushed, then. There was nothing but desert for miles and miles, no homes or any buildings of any kind. If they went out there, they would surely die. At least here they had a chance. There were heavy footfalls running after them, but they had already stopped dead in their tracks.

They turned, seeing Grendhelm looking completely furious as he cradled his (now needle-less) eye. They might be trapped here, but Techie was not about to go down without a fight. And, knowing his brother, neither was Armitage.

Chapter Text

They stood there in the oppressive desert heat for what felt like an eternity as they stared at their kidnapper. There was a long moment in which they did nothing; a bubble of time that could only seemingly be popped with any indication towards movement.

But the moment remained, and nothing and no one moved in that space. Instead, the moment was broken by the distant hum of an approaching aircraft. They all looked up, spotting the distant black dot on the horizon. They all waited, watching as the spaceship drew closer and closer by the second. Soon, it was close enough to identify as a First Order shuttle vessel. It landed not far from where they were standing, the doors opening not even a few moments later to emit and angry-looking Kylo Ren. He was sans mask, wielding his crackling red lightsaber in his right hand.

Hux turned back to Grendhelm to survey his reaction to the situation. The kidnapper looked angry and more than mildly panicked.

“My connection said nothing about the Knights of Ren,” the collector growled quietly to himself, only loud enough for Techie, who was standing closest to him, to hear.

Hux, who had not heard the man’s words, was instead focused on the movement of the man’s hand to his belt. The glinting silver of a blaster was the only warning. Hux shouted out to warn Kylo, but he feared that it would be too late. His thoughts were still muddled by the drugs he was given, and he stepped in front of Kylo.

Directly into Grendhelm’s line of fire.

There was the hissing sound of a blaster shot, and both Kylo and Techie cried out as a searing pain went straight through the left side of Hux’s chest. He could feel himself crumpling to the ground, but his mind whited out before his body even hit the sand.

 

After a while, Hux’s side of the bond went mostly silent. It was a reprieve from the anxiety and panic he had been broadcasting, but Kylo was far from reassured by it. In fact, it made him all the more anxious to reach Hux’s location. It was obvious that he was being sedated. A million scenarios raced through his mind, the most probable one being the Resistance.

Why they would keep him on Tarsus instead of transporting him to the Rebel Alliance base of operations was a mystery to him. Then again, no one else knew at this current moment that the General had been captured. They were still safe for a day or so until suspicion took over that Hux was late in returning.

All of these thoughts were less than soothing to him, and he kept the shuttle rocketing at its maximum velocity the entire way there. Unfortunately, even at this speed it would take him at least twenty hours to get there.

Even though he could have put the ship on autopilot in order to get some rest, he found that sleep was the last thing he wanted at the moment. The fear in his chest was choking him, and he was far too anxious to even hope for any kind of rest.

A few hours before he was set to arrive, something shifted in the bond. Hux awoke, his thoughts becoming incrementally more clear as time passed. As always through the bond, Kylo was unable to hear exactly what Hux was thinking, however he knew that the general gist was not good. He was in a bad situation (not that Kylo hadn’t guessed at that beforehand).

When he finally landed on the sith-forsaken planet, it was to the view of the two twins outside in the harsh desert environment, facing a burly man at the door. Stepping out of the shuttle brought a wave of nauseating heat upon him, but he ignored it. He had fought in conditions a lot worse than this. And he had no intention of letting this kidnapper live long past this moment.

The man, upon looking at him, looked panicked, the emotion radiating throughout the Force. Strong enough that he wouldn’t be surprised if it were obvious to Hux and Techie as well. He took a step forward, intent on slicing the man in half as easily as one might put a hot knife through butter. But he saw the glint of a blaster, and there was the sound of Hux’s voice.

“Kylo, move!” Hux called, he himself diving in front of the blaster’s line of fire.

The sound of a blaster firing came much too quickly, and all Kylo could do was shout as he watched the shot of energy go straight through the left side of Hux’s chest. Directly through his heart. Intrinsically, through years of training and battle, that Hux was dead, even before his body hit the ground. A wave of pain ripped through the bond, and he was stunned motionless by it for a split moment.

The moment was gone in a millisecond, his training kicking him and telling him to act. He reached through the Force and caught Hux’s falling body, gently lowering him to the sand. Even though the man was already dead.

There was now nothing on the other side of the bond. Emptiness. He watched as Hux’s brother rushed to his side, tears streaming down his face. Kylo noted that he did look identical to the General now that his eyes were the exact shade of blue that they once were. So much alike that it hurt, a little bit, knowing that Hux’s image would continue on without him. The resounding emptiness of the bond agreed with him.

His grief was so great that it immediately transferred to rage. He set his eyes upon the man who had caused such reckless destruction, and he looked as if he knew he had done wrong. He looked scared. Good.

The man tried firing again, but Kylo bent the barrel of the gun through the Force, his power fueled by immense fury. Kylo stepped forward, the intent to kill written clearly in his eyes. This man was not going to survive. He stepped closer, closer, lightsaber poised to strike before he realized that his name was being called over and over.

“Kylo, Kylo, Kylo, Kylo,” Techie was calling, sobbing through his tears.

Kylo turned around to face him, stilling his actions. The kidnapper was backing away, then running inside to try to hide from his inevitable death.

“Tiberius,” Kylo said, finally acknowledging the man who looked so achingly like the man he had just lost.

“Don’t kill him. Not yet. He . . . knew things about us. Details. Earlier, he said something about a ‘connection’. We need to find out who that is. It could be a spy.”

It seemed that Hux was not the only analytical mind in the family. Kylo gave a reluctant nod, though he supposed that there was no harm in delaying the inevitable. In a wicked sense, he was glad that Techie had stalled him. He did not want this man to experience an easy, pain-free death. Not after what he had done.

“Kylo,” Techie said, cutting through his thoughts once more, “Armitage needs a hospital, or he’s not going to make it.”

Kylo blinked. Oh, oh Techie . . . “He’s already dead.” He hated to be the one to say it.

But Techie shook his head, tearful but firm. “No, he’s quite alive. Not for long if he doesn’t get medical assistance, though.”

He didn’t think so, but . . . if there was even a small hope, then he would do all that he could. “Do you know how to pilot a shuttle?”

Techie gave him an ‘Are you serious right now? I am a veritable genius,’ look, and he nodded in acceptance.

“I’ll help you get him in the shuttle, but I need you to take him to the hospital. I’m going to stay here and interrogate our little friend here.”

Techie nodded, and they hastily (and very carefully), lifted Hux and put him in the shuttle. Kylo got out, and Techie quickly shot off to find the nearest doctor.

He himself had business to conduct, as usual. He trusted Techie with Hux’s life. And so, Kylo made his way towards the building again, slicing the locked door open easily with his lightsaber. When he found the man again, he was huddling in the corner of a messy room, holding a spare blaster. He tried shooting him again, but Kylo easily deflected it. Easily. Hux shouldn’t have jumped in front of him . . . the thought was accompanied by an ache. He shook it off.

It wasn’t long until he had the man tied to a chair in the living room, mostly so that Kylo could sit on the couch whilst asking questions. Which he was promptly doing. “What’s your name.” Not even a question at this point. A demand, really.

“Grendhelm.”

“Grendhelm? Just Grendhelm?”

“Yes. Just Grendhelm.”

“You knew the twins. How?”

“A friend of mine.”

“Your contact?”

“Yeah, my contact.”

“And who’s your contact?”

“You know that I’m not going to answer that one.”

Kylo raised his lightsaber and almost casually sliced off one of Grendhelm’s ears. His right ear, to be exact. He was not here as a curtesy call or to play games. Patiently, he waited for the man’s screams of pain to recede before asking the next question.

“Why did you kidnap them?”

This time, he was much more forthcoming with an answer. “I’m a collector. I collect things.”

“Is this your first time collecting humans?”

A grudging, “Yes”.

Then that only left one more important thing that he wanted to know. “Hmmm, then let’s try this again. Who is your contact?”

Again, the man hesitated, knowing that either way he would die. Still, he held no loyalties to his source. If he gave up the information, and he Knight let him live, his contact would kill him for being a traitor. But if he did not inform the Knight of his contact’s identity, he would no doubt be tortured and killed. Either way, it was not a good situation. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

Still, he felt like this was a set up. As if this had been the planned outcome all along. He did not appreciate that at all on his part. “I will tell you, then,” he finally acceded.

“Go on, then.”

Grendhelm smiled, because he knew that imparting the information would no doubt sting. “You know him very well. You’re a Knight of Ren, right?”

“Their Lord, in fact.”

“Oh, so yes, you do know him quite well, then. Well, perhaps not so much as I do. You may know him, but it seems that you don’t understand him.” Even in this situation, he was still able to sound smug.

“Hurry up and tell me before I cut off your hand next,” Kylo growled, not appreciating being made light of.

“He’s your master. ’Supreme Leader Snoke’ I believe you call him? A bunch of rubbish if you ask me. He’s the one who gave me information on your precious twins. Said that he would give them to me with no trouble if I kept them out of his way.”

Kylo bristled at the words, hating the way the man spoke of Hux and Techie. As if they were property. He leaned forward and pulled the man’s tongue from his mouth, slicing it out with one swipe of his lightsaber. “You are a swine, and you will never say such heinous things again.”

As far as Snoke giving this man permission to kidnap the twins . . . it wasn’t so hard to believe. Snoke was acting suspicious lately, and though Kylo hadn’t been able to blame anything on him, he was still weary around him. Distinctly, he remembered telling Snoke the details around Hux’s departure surrounding Tarsus.

Despite Grendhelm’s disgusting words, Kylo couldn’t help but to hear the truth ringing throughout them. Snoke most definitely put him up to this. But why? What was to gain by getting Hux and Techie out of the way? It made no sense.

Grendhelm was still screaming about his lost tongue, and it brought Kylo back to the moment. Perhaps he shouldn’t have cut the man’s tongue out. It . . . may have been a hasty decision on his part. Still, he was done with the man, and if he needed more information, then he could simply pillage his mind.

Right now, though, he had other things to see to. He reached through the man’s mind, smiled, then retracted. “I’ll be back later,” he said cheerily, before heading to the garage.

He rode the few hours to the nearest hospital, so immensely relieved that he could follow the finest flicker of the bond to Hux’s location. Hux was alive. Hux was alive. Hux was alive. He wasn’t about to ask how. Not when small tears of relief blurred his vision as he drove.

When he arrived at the emergency room, hair tussled by the wind and probably looking very murderous, no one moved to stop him as he made his way directly to Hux’s room. Techie was there by his side on a chair, looking sleepy as he held his unconscious brother’s hand. He didn’t look at all surprised by Kylo’s appearance.

Instead he looked up, blinked, then nodded sympathetically. “The doctors said that he would be alright. It’s going to be a long recovery period, though.”

Kylo nodded, crossing over and pulling up his own chair beside Hux’s bed. Right beside Techie. Both were bleary-eyed, as they hadn’t had any rest for very long stretches of time. The harsh hospital lighting was hard on their eyes, which did not do any favors for their will to keep their eyes open.

It was probably Kylo who fell asleep first. He had been awake for more than twenty hours, as he had manually piloted the shuttle all the way to Tarsus. Techie was next to fall asleep, but he was the first to lean forward and rest his head on the hospital bed.

 

Hux blinked awake, feeling the unpleasantness of two legs that were numb. Looking down, he saw exactly the cause of this. Two figures, one with ginger hair and one with dark brown, leaning their heads against his legs. A rush of fondness came over him, and he squished it down in disgust.

“Hey,” his voice was rough from being unused for a very long time. “You two, freeloaders,” he said again louder after clearing his throat. He went to move his hand to slap Kylo across the shoulder, but his body immediately protested the motion. He gasped, which devolved into a small whimper. The pain made him clench his eyes tightly shut until it passed.

He felt the grip of a large hand on his thigh, the weight on his leg shifting. When he finally reopened his eyes, Kylo was looking up at him. The man was rumpled, sleep lines on one side of his face and his expression sleep-soft. “Don’t overexert yourself. You almost died.”

“I know. I was shot,” he said weakly, grimacing a bit at the reminder. It was just the fact that he had been so heavily sedated beforehand as well. Already, he was sick of doing nothing. It was not in his nature to sit around and wait for things to change.

“Mmmhmmm. Through the heart. I don’t know how you’re still alive.”

“He wasn’t,” came Techie’s mumbled voice. He sat up, blinking his eyes. He would have rubbed them, but technically he was supposed to be blind right now from the surgery. He thought it best to minimize the chance of infection.

Kylo’s brows furrowed, confusion clear on his face. It seemed that he wasn’t good at controlling his emotions after just waking. For some reason, it made Hux’s heart flutter. Weird.

“What do you mean, he wasn’t? I quite clearly watched the blast go through his chest, right where the human heart is located.”

But Techie was only shaking his head. “Hux is different.”

At the look of continued confusion, Techie expanded on his statement. “I’m right-handed,” he pointed out, as if trying to explain something to a small child.

“Yes?”

“Hux is left-handed. If we were to stand in front of each other, face to face, we would be identical. We’re mirror twins, and it even extends to Hux’s internal organs. His heart is on the right side, and mine’s on the left.”

Kylo looked to Hux to see if Techie was just making all of this up, but his face was completely serious. That didn’t say much, but he supposed that there would be no other good explanation as to why Hux was currently alive.

“It’s true,” was the only thing that he was getting out of Hux on the subject.

The moment was interrupted by a nurse, coming to administer more pain medicine to Hux. He asked the nurse when he would be able to leave, and he told him in a day or so. It depended on whenever the doctor decided to clear him.

And so they waited.

In that time, Kylo debated about what to do about the Snoke situation. The only thing keeping him from blocking the Force bond that tied them together immediately was the fact that it would be be highly suspicious. It would tip Snoke off that Kylo knew exactly what had happened here, and he was not willing to impart that information quite yet. Not until he knew his plan of action.

This, however, was unforgivable. He was not about to let this attack on his bond mate go without payback. And this revenge was going to be lethal.

“Kylo,” Hux began, Techie headed to the cafeteria for caf, “how did you know that we were in trouble?” After all, if the entire Order had known, they would have sent a battalion of troops to the planet. Not one solitary Knight.

“I . . . “ and so began the debate once more. To tell Hux, or to evade the question. But he felt that right here, in this small hospital on Tarsus, where Techie could walk back in at any moment . . . now was simply not the right time to tell him of the bond. It would take too much explanation, raise too many questions. “I promise that I will tell you later. When you are healed.”

Hux narrowed his eyes, a glimpse of the General persona for split moment. But he could sense that he would be getting no more from Kylo in that space of time, so he reluctantly let it drop.

Techie came back with caf, holding it out like an offering when he realized that he had interrupted a moment.

Kylo made a trip back to Grendhelm’s in the shuttle, which was a much faster way to travel. He ended up torturing the man a little more before beheading him. It was a quick jaunt back to the hospital, and he was a lot more smiley for the rest of that day. Hux asked why he looked so happy, and he promptly informed him of the days events. Hux, too, was smiley after that.

They stayed for two more days until the doctor finally cleared Hux for travel. They carefully made their way back to the Finalizer. Kylo pondered how to kill his master.

Chapter Text

When they finally arrived back on the Finalizer, it was without much fanfare. It seemed that no one had noticed that they had been gone for very long. Mitaka, who had been informed of their arrival, ran up to them with his lips pressed thin. “General, sir, you were supposed to arrive back aboard over twenty-four hours ago,” He said, apparently completely disregarding the fact that Hux was wearing a sling on his right arm.

It immediately sent a spike of irritation through Hux so great that the man would have backhanded the boy if he could. Instead, Kylo felt the emotion clearly through the bond and he stepped forward threateningly. “I would suggest that you return to the bridge, Lieutenant.” His voice could not be construed as anything except hostile. Especially when he was without his mask, his sneer visible to all.

Mitaka’s eyes widened, and he took a step back unconsciously. Then he promptly turned and skittered off, his anxiety and fear projected even without the Force. Kylo glanced at Hux, the ice in his eyes appropriately pleased with the outcome. He could feel the surge of vindictive pleasure race through their bond. Kylo couldn’t help but find that really fucking hot. He would have to apply that tactic more often.

Techie, who had been watching the entire interaction, slowly edged away with that awkward way of his. “Um, I’m going to go find Matt. He’s probably worried about me or something.” And so he left with a rather quick pace. He could tell when his presence was unnecessary.

“Do you wish to go to medical, or to your quarters?” Kylo asked, taking in Hux’s sharp appearance. Now that he had finally stepped foot back aboard the Finalizer, he was all shark eyes and business. Back to his ice cold composure and precise composure. Back to being The General.

Upon being posed the question, his eyes cut to Kylo, eyes grey in the harsh artificial lighting. “I will go to my office. I have quite a bit of work to catch up with, as Mitaka was correct. I should have arrived back much sooner than this, and I have no doubt that all of the necessary and essential paperwork for Starkiller Base has piled up.”

Immediately, Kylo wanted to protest and insist that Hux rest; especially so soon after being shot in the chest, for Kriff’s sake. He opened his mouth to say just that, but the cold glint in Hux’s eyes made him click his teeth back together promptly. He would pick his battles where he could, and he knew that he would not be able to win this one. Instead, he consoled himself with the promise to make Hux rest when it got to be too much. “Very well, General,” he said instead, dipping his head in a show of appeasement.

But Hux was not satisfied with only that. “I expect you in my quarters after beta shift. Do not think that I have been completely remiss and unobservant, Kylo Ren. You will report to me then, and you will leave no detail out. Is that clear?” His voice was cutting and precise, his eyes hard as shards and equally as sharp.

They cut deep, and Kylo remembered himself. This was not his Hux. This was The General he was dealing with, and this man held no regard at all for the Lord of the Knights of Ren. Techie’s Hux was not his own, and he had forgotten that - Force bond or not. “I understand,” he said shortly, letting his own mask of calm passivity clear all emotions from his face. Becoming distant once again. Impersonal.

It had been a mistake to get so close in the first place, and now they were bonded. And now they were mostly nothing.

 

Techie stepped into his quarters, unsure as to whether Matt would be there or not. He didn’t really know what time it was, as he hadn’t checked since they arrived. Because of that, he didn’t know where Matt would be in his schedule. He supposed that he could check. He stepped all the way inside, the automatic doors closing behind him as he booted up his data pad.

He glanced up in confusion when the room would not illuminate, thinking that the fusion bulbs must need to be replaced. But as he looked up, he could just see the faint shape of Matt collapsed on the floor. “Matt,” Techie called, dropping the data pad and running to him. He was out cold.

But then he heard movement behind him, and Techie went stiff. “Hey, Tech. Long time no see,” said the eerily familiar wolfish voice. A shiver ran down Techie’s spine. Alpha.

Slowly, he stood from Matt’s body (his roommate was thankfully still alive and breathing) and turned to face one of his worst nightmares. But he had already done that so many times that he felt calm. He was way past feeling scared of this. Now he was ready to get revenge, even if that meant going down in the fight. “A fact that I’m grateful for. I was hoping to never have to see your ugly face ever again,” Techie said, his voice almost bored.

Alpha grimaced, the goading obviously hitting the mark. “I came to drag your puny ass back to Earth, you little cunt.” He stepped forward, his large and muscled form intimidating.

He was one of the reasons that Mama was such a striking influence. Alpha was her dog who obeyed her every order, and now that he was without a master, he was even more dangerous. ‘Who are you working for now, huh? Some other woman that you desperately try to impress?”

Techie probably shouldn’t be pressing the man like this, especially when he knew what he was capable of, but it felt like something inside of him had finally snapped. Some strong string of fear that had been holding him tight was now cut loose, and he was itching for a fight. This was the man who had kept him from his family. This was the man who had held him down and forced him to obey Mama’s orders. This was the man who had relinquished every bit of his humanity it the act of cutting down and slaughtering innocent people in Mama’s name. All for what? Drugs? What a useless cause.

Again, the man bristled, obviously working up to a huge rage. Good. Let him come. Techie stepped back, back, trying to remember if they had anything in their quarters laying around that could be used as a weapon. He could hardly defeat the combat seasoned man with just his fists. No, he would have to think of something quick.

In stepping backwards, his heel pressed into the transparisteel glass that covered the screen of the data pad he had dropped. The glass shattered, and he thanked the First Order for having thick soles in their boots. Seeing no other option, he supposed that the glass would have to do. Thankfully, his hands had gotten cold on the shuttle, and he had borrowed his brother’s gloves. Maybe enough protection to ward of serious injury when wielding razor sharp glass.

Alpha hardly registered the sound of the broken glass, intent on stepping forward to come after him. Quickly, Techie bent and grasped the largest shard he could find in the darkness, at an advantage once the light to his data pad flickered out as it died. After all, these were his quarters, and he knew the outline well. Alpha grunted in agitation once he realized that he couldn’t find his target in the darkness, and Techie smiled. He lunged forward, pressing the jagged end of the piece of glass straight outwards.

It hit its mark, somewhere in Alpha’s lower abdomen. It went so deep that Techie could immediately feel the warm flow of blood even through the thick leather gloves. It made a sickening sound in the darkness, the slick sound of separating flesh and the warm glug glug of blood as it sloshed out of the wound as Techie slid it even deeper before dragging it up and to the sides. Doing as much damage as he possibly could.

The man was obviously surprised, making first a groan of realization, then gasps of pain as it registered to him that this would be the end of his life. Alpha pulled him closer, probably trying to impale Techie on the blade of glass as well, but Techie only pressed it deeper into his abdomen as Alpha crushed his shoulders in a painful grip.

The man was coughing, and Techie felt fluid splatter against his face. He had punctured a lung, then. But then the man did something that Techie did not expect. He laughed. He laughed and coughed, spitting warm blood everywhere. “You won’t get away, little Tech. There are more of us. The whole team is after you. They’ll come when I don’t report. They’ll come.”

If it was supposed to be a threat, Techie did not feel threatened. Let them come. Let them try to take everything away from him again. Let. Them. Try.

They stood there in the darkness for what felt like hours, Techie listening to Alpha bleed out as he was pressed against him. It seemed that he was not able to speak anymore, his throat probably filling with blood as he coughed violently. Soon, weak from blood loss, Alpha was forced to slowly release Techie, his body thumping to the floor even though he was still alive. He was making awful squelching noises in the blood, and Techie couldn’t help but wonder if the lights would turn on to reveal a gory, bloody mess of organs falling out of Alpha’s dead body.

It felt like an eternity before the man was finally silent, either passed out from the blood loss or already dead. Hopefully finally dead. The next sound he heard was Matt stirring behind him. He went to the doors, finding them locked from the inside. Alpha had locked them in, probably thinking that he could easily prevent Techie from escaping.

Right now, it felt as if nothing could stop Techie from doing anything. He opened the door, letting the light shine into the room from the hallway. Matt was just stirring, his brow crinkling as if he had a bad headache. Alpha had probably knocked him out using blunt-force trauma. Techie wished that he could kill him all over again.

Matt finally sat up, his eyes blinking open a little later. Only to find what a bloody mess the entire room had become. Not to mention the dead body. But when he looked up and saw Techie, equally a bloody mess with splatters of blood on his face and drenched in abdominal blood, the only thing registering on his face was relief. “Techie,” he breathed, standing quickly and rushing to the smaller technician. He swept him up in a tight hug, almost sobbing in relief.

“That man, he said he was going to take you. Kidnap you and abuse you, make you suffer for running away,” Matt babbled, his grip on Techie almost strangling in its intensity. Techie didn’t mind, even if his ribs were protesting the pressure.
“Matt, Mattie,” he said a bit breathlessly, the air being hugged out of him, “I’m fine, I’m here, I’m not leaving.”

Finally, after a very long moment, Matt leaned back, but did not fully release him. His hands stayed on Techie’s shoulders, his expression too serious to be on Matt’s face. “You killed him,” he said, tilting his head to refer to the dead body currently residing in their quarters. Techie nodded, a small childlike smile on his face. “Yeah, I killed him,” he reiterated proudly.

He was unsure if he should be scared or not. Truly, Matt felt relieved and . . . impressed. His little slip of a roommate had taken down a man that was at least as big as Matt himself. Mostly, he was just glad that Techie had come back in the first place. Still, he needed to focus on the situation. “Well . . . we need to get some help cleaning up the mess.”

“And we should probably tell my brother about the breach of security. He’ll be pissed right to tits when he finds out that some lowlife drug dealer from Earth just popped right in for a visit.”

“Agreed.”

Techie tried to visual message him on Matt’s data pad, but he got no reply. He sent a message: ‘Hey, I killed a guy who breached your defenses and now I need you to clean up the mess.’

Still, he got no response. Hmmm. Maybe he was busy?

“Looks like we’re gonna have to go collect him ourselves. I don’t know why he wouldn’t be answering his messages, though.” Immediately, he was concerned for his brother. Then, a spike of adrenaline and true fear raced through him. Maybe another member of Alpha’s team was here, and Hux -

He broke out running to Hux’s office, knowing that his twin would probably go immediately back to work once they arrived. “Call Ren!” He shouted to Matt as he bolted, leaving the bewildered man behind with the data pad. Stormtroopers moved out of his way quickly as he ran through the hallways, and he distantly remembered that he was quite literally soaked in blood at that moment. At least it let him streak through the hallways without anyone getting in his way.

Kylo met Techie outside of Hux’s office, and Techie skidded to a halt in front of him. Kylo was still maskless, and there was a look of complete shock on his face when he took in Techie’s blood soaked countenance. “I got Matt’s message. What happened? Are you okay?” He sounded genuinely concerned, his eyes cataloging Techie for any injuries. He found none, but that meant nothing.

“I’m fine, but I’m worried about Hux. He might be in danger,” Techie relayed, eyes turning to Hux’s office door.

Kylo looked alarmed, and he swept the room first with the Force. And there it was, he discovered with a spike of fear. An unknown presence inside of Hux’s office. A presence he had never felt before. He raised his hand, the automatic door crumpling in his grip of the Force despite the lock that Hux had employed. The door peeled away to reveal not a threat, but two very annoyed pairs of grey eyes.

“Lord Ren, I see that you still cannot exhibit enough good grace to simply knock,” Hux said, sitting prim and proper behind his desk as always. Then, his attention focused on Techie, and his entire visage changed. He stood swiftly, his eyes completely panicked as he practically leapt over his desk to get to his blood soaked brother. “Techie, what the hell happened? Are you okay? You’re covered in blood - “

“It’s not mine,” Techie quickly interjected, his eyes on the woman standing in front of Hux’s desk. They had been speaking before Kylo and Techie had interrupted. Techie hadn’t seen her in long, long years, but he would know her face anywhere.

Hux stepped back, eyes still surveying Techie for any cuts or bruises. “Whose blood is this? They can’t still be alive.”

He was right - Alpha had lost most of his blood while still attached to Techie. It was too much blood lost. “It was someone from Earth. They want me back, and I demonstrated to the man who had come to take me that I prefer it here, actually.”

“I see. So this man managed to sneak onto the Finalizer and terrorize you?”

Techie nodded, albeit reluctantly. “Yeah, but don’t worry, Artie! I killed him,” he reassured with a sweet smile.

Hux looked rather unimpressed, his expression flat. “I will most certainly worry, Tiberius. Not only were my defenses breached so soon after our last fiasco, but to add insult to injury, my brother was attacked once again.” His voice was hard as he said the next part. “This will not stand.”

Looking properly chastened, Techie shrunk back a bit. “Alright, but what is Marley doing here?” He asked in a small voice.

Their attention turned to the tall red-headed woman, who had her long hair hanging loose around her shoulders. Despite her hairstyle, everything about here was severe and piercing. It was not hard to see the resemblance between her and the twins. It was similarly not hard to realize that they must be closely related.

She stood at parade rest, her expression just as cold and expressionless as Hux’s General persona. “Tiberius,” she greeted, her tone lacking any inflection. She had failed to give any reaction to the sight of him covered in blood. Kylo knew a fellow warrior when he saw one, and she was it.

“Lord Kylo of the Knights of Ren,” he introduced, stepping forward and offering her his hand.

“Captain Marmalade Hux of the First Order,” she said frostily, her grey eyes dipping down momentarily to gaze at his hand in disdain. She did not offer her own hand, and he withdrew his own after the awkward pause. He could see a flash of a grin across Hux’s lips, that bastard.

“This is my sister Marmalade. She has come to deliver an important message to Tiberius and I,” he said to Ren before turning to Techie, “I was just getting ready to message you.”

“Oh. Well, I was trying to message you using Matt’s data pad, but you wouldn’t respond. I had thought that maybe there might be another member of Alpha’s team sent to get you. I panicked and called Kylo instead.”

“Alpha?”

“The man who tried to kidnap me. Again. Um, not important. But also, he said that the rest of his team was probably going to come after me . . . “

Hux sighed, so tempted to tell everyone to go away so that he could could make his way to his quarters and have a nap. But that was simply not the responsible thing to do, so he sucked it up and dealt with it, letting himself frost over. He straightened his posture, then made his way back behind his desk. “All we can do about that in this juncture, Tiberius, is to tighten our defenses. For now, let us listen to Captain Marmalade’s message so that she can get back to her no doubt busy schedule,” he said, turning his piercing eyes to her.

Her eyes swept over them, cold as gale wind. “Perhaps you will not want the Lord of Ren to hear this message. It pertains to family.”

“Lord Ren is trustworthy,” Hux said firmly.

That made the small flame of hope jump in his stomach, but he sequestered it away. Now was not the time.

“Very well. I have come to relay personally that Brendol Hux passed away on a classified mission. I volunteered to relay the message as we are siblings.”

Brendol Hux. Their father. The twins were too shocked to show any emotion past that. Disbelief being the first stage of grief.

“I . . . see. And of what we were speaking before? You truly wish to transfer to the Finalizer as one of her acting captains?”

She nodded once, concisely. “Yes, General. I would not have applied to transfer if I had not wished it.”

Roiling emotions pushed through the bond like a storm, the feeling so thick and cloying that Kylo almost choked with it. Thankfully, with his years of training, he suppressed the feeling. He could feel Hux do that same through the bond, quickly pulling the feelings back into himself and pressing it down to process at a later time. “Very well. I will see to the necessary paperwork of such a thing. Furthermore . . . I wish to ask a favor of you.”

Again, she nodded sharply. “Yes, General?”

“Our brother Tiberius has recently found himself in need of extra protection. Perhaps you could keep a casual eye on him?”

“I will, Sir,” She said, giving a precise salute. Then she turned, marching out of the room with flawless form. They all watched her go until she was out of sight and out of hearing range.

“Well,” Techie said, breaking the silence, “this has certainly not been an uninteresting day.”

Chapter Text

The fact was that he had been shot in the chest. Not through the heart as Kylo had assumed, but it could have been a fatal wound regardless. He was recovering sure, but only one bacta spray at a time. Any other person would have taken time off. He was not any other person.

Which is the exact reason he was in his office, signing off on endless papers. He had been gone for only a day or so extra than he had originally intended, but that put him way behind schedule for signing off on important development updates about Starkiller Base. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been quite so bad if he had only needed to sign these things mindlessly, but it put him behind due to the fact that he had to read through and analyze all of the crucial developments.

By the time his shift was scheduled to be officially over, he had a large headache and no plans to discontinue his current line of work. Unexpectedly, a serving droid came in and placed a mug of caf on his desk. It was something he was bound to appreciate, but it wasn’t necessarily good for his health. Added to that, it was brought based on the assumption that he would continue working.

Based on all of these clues, the person who had sent him a caf laden droid must be someone who knows him well. However, it couldn’t have been Kylo, due to the fact that he had been opposed to returning to work so early in the first place. In fact, Hux was mildly surprised that Kylo hadn’t come to drag him out of his office yet.

He shook the thoughts off, wondering why the hell he was thinking about Kylo of all people.

And so he sipped his caf gratefully, letting it jumpstart his energy levels and his brain. So far, Starkiller base was coming along quite nicely. It had made much progress even in the time that he had been gone, and the entire project would no doubt be finished in only a few months. Until that time, he could not afford to slow his pace. There had been no rebel activity on the scale that needed much attention, and it was starting to make him suspicious.

He got lost amongst his figures again soon, and it wasn’t until an hour or so later that Kylo was stepping inside his office. Hux had honestly expected him much earlier than this.

“Where were you?” He asked, his tone a low note of curiosity.

Kylo hummed, placing his helmet on a clear space of Hux’s desk. It had annoyed him before, but since his annoyance held no productivity, he let it go. “Who ordered you the caf?”

He was so tired that he would have shrugged right then if he could have, composure be damned. But seeing as how his shoulder was still pretty messed up, he decided to not do that. Instead he said; “Unsure.”

“Unsure?” Kylo repeated, his lips pressing into an unpleased line. “Our security measures were just casually breached, Hux, and you are drinking caf from an unknown source?”

“Seeing as I’m not yet dead, Kylo, I’m sure it wasn’t poisoned. Now, are you here for a purpose, or are you just going to continue complaining at me?” As he said this, he grabbed the prescription pill case on his desk and shook two out onto his palm. He then washed them down with the last dregs of his cold caf, grimacing at the taste.

Seeing as they were getting nowhere with this conversation, Kylo waved him off. “I came to escort you to your quarters.” Even though he had just finished searching every inch of the ship for any unknown presences that may be spies or assassins. Thankfully, the ship had been clear.

In no place to argue, Hux simply nodded, getting up and gathering his great coat and data pad. He was too tired to protest. “Fine, let’s go then.” Added to all of that too, was the fact that this was a common occurrence now. A ritual, practically.

Kylo was uncharacteristically quiet as they walked down the hallway. When they were about halfway to Hux’s quarters, he finally spoke. “You do not want Captain Marmalade to be stationed on the Finalizer.” It was not a question.

Quickly, Hux looked around to make sure they were alone. “Shut your mouth, Ren. You know nothing about such matters, so keep your nose out of it. Especially when in public,” Hux hissed, immediately pissed. Kylo had a habit of causing that reaction in him.

“Why do you feel that way about your sister?” Unperturbed by Hux yelling at him. This was the status quo, really.

Hux was wearing a dark look on his face, and he practically stomped into his quarters. If he didn’t have an injured shoulder, he would have dragged Kylo inside himself. Thankfully, Kylo followed of his own volition, the doors closing and sealing behind them.

He turned and poked his finger into Kylo’s chest, using his uninjured arm to do so. “Listen, it is none of your business how I feel about my sister. I may not want her posted here, but at least I know that she’s going to do Toby some good. She’s going to be a perfect, respectable sibling, and she’s going to protect my baby brother. Okay?”

It had turned into a small rant, and he was breathing heavily afterwards, his finger digging into Kylo’s chest uncomfortably. His blue eyes, usually so cool and piercing, looked a bit crazed. They were wide, staring at Kylo like he wanted him to believe. He looked like he was trying to convince himself.

“O-okay,” Kylo said, more than a bit concerned for Hux in this state.

“Believe me, Kylo Ren. Marmalade will be the best thing that has ever happened to Tiberius. She will be the best sister and mentor. So much better than any influence in his entire life, and - and Toby will be thankful.”

“Hux, are you sure -“

“And it will be great. Nothing to regret. Not ever. Not in a million years. Never ever. No regrets.”

“Hux, let’s put you to bed. I think your pain meds are kicking in . . . “

He was still muttering about Marmalade and Techie even as Kylo was pulling the covers over him. Kylo had to fight the urge to laugh at him.

 

After a trip to med bay for Matt and a much needed shower for Techie, they both were exhausted from the day’s events. Added to that, Techie was grieving over his father. They had never been close by any means, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t feel the loss of the parental figure. So yes, he was mildly sad and tired. They both went to bed early that shift.

It was half past beta shift when their door opened ominously, admitting an unfamiliar figure into their quarters. The figure sneaked its way over to Techie’s bunk, its plans nefarious.

Techie, adding to the fact that he had gone to bed early, was a very light sleeper. He had woken the moment the door had slid open. The figure grabbed him, and he yelled, trying to attack them and shake them off. Matt, the complete log of wood, was still sound asleep.

Despite trying his best, however, the person would not let him get the upper hand. A hand was placed over his mouth, stifling his screams for help. Then, he heard something that made him stop struggling.

Girlish giggles. “Toby,” Marmalade’s voice said, amusement and hysteria mixed in her voice, “you kriffin’ suck at self defense. You suck at this, Toby. You suck.”

The hand was removed as Techie stopped trying to scream. “Marley! You - you scared me, d-don’t do that! That’s not funny, Marley.”

He struggled again, but he was still firmly ensconced in her grip. Her body weight was pinning him to his bed. Now that he wasn’t scared witless, however, he noticed that her breath reeked. “Are you - are you drunk right now?”

“Drunk? I’m kriffin’ sloshed right now.” But she lightly patted him on the face condescendingly, his eyes adjusted enough to see the devilish smile across her face. “But that doesn’t matter - doesn’t matter right now. Cause tomorrow, we’re gonna start your training, Toby. I’m gonna make sure that you beat the shit out of your opponents. They’re gonna bleed, Toby. It’s gonna be great.”

“Okay, well, yeah, sure. Tomorrow.”

Marmalade nodded solemnly, her eyes too wide and earnest to look sober. “Yeah, tomorrow. Training. Tomorrow.” Then, not so quietly, she finally released him as she got up and slid out the door.

Techie blinked owlishly into the darkness, his heart still pounding. What the hell just happened?

It was a long while until he could finally calm down enough to go back to sleep, Matt snoring away and sounding like a chainsaw from across the room.

A few minutes before his alarm clock even went off, Marmalade was at the door. She looked just as clean and pressed as she had when first coming aboard the Finalizer. She looked dead sober, and not at all hungover. “Tiberius,” she said when he answered the door, standing in his boxers, “I have come to collect you for your training today.”

“Marley, what the heck,” Techie said, blinking.

“Get dressed. Today is going to be a refresher course on basic self-defense.”

With a sigh, he went inside and did as she said, putting on his workout clothes. Matt was still asleep, having not gone through his eight alarms yet. He left a note on his desk explaining where he had gone, not wanting him to worry. Then he left, rejoining his sister in the hallway.

They made their way to the gym, neither mentioning last night’s events. Techie not knowing how to introduce the topic without being awkward, and Marmalade looking as cold as a multifaceted diamond.

As soon as they were facing each other on the mat, Marmalade wasted no time in starting the lesson. “Come on, come at me,” she taunted, stepping forward and spreading her arms.

He surged forwards, fist heading for her stomach. She easily curved to the side, grabbing his arm and twisting it behind his back. “Broken arm. Next,” she said, releasing his arm and watching him stumble forward.

With a new determination, he turned around, ready to try again. She motioned him forward again, and he attacked her, this time going for her feet. She sidestepped it, making Techie loose his balance and fall over onto his side. Instead of continuing her attack, she just crossed her arms and shook her head. “You suck at attacking. How the hell did you manage to survive this long?”

She sighed and shook her head, her long red hair shifting with the movement. Then, getting serious, she gathered all of her hair up and tied it into a tight bun. “Alright, show me your defense. It’s gotta be better than whatever you’re doing right now.”

Techie stood up, a glare on his face. It seemed a lot like his sister was trying to get rid of her frustrations by ‘training him’ instead of actually, well, training him. “Fine,” he spat, “attack me this time, then.”

It took literally no time for her to have him pinned to the floor, her weight resting on his chest. She hadn’t even broken a sweat, her breathing normal. “Again,” she said, getting up in a fluid movement and dragging him up with her.

An hour later, and Techie was at least able to not be defeated instantly. They had moved on to fist fighting, and he was sweating and panting. Marmalade was sweating, but it looked like a light work out to her. She was putting more effort into yelling at him than actually fighting. “Protect your kriffing soft organs. Do you want to internally bleed to death? Is that what you’re trying to accomplish here?”

The gym door slid open just as Marley landed a punch to Techie’s kidney, making him double over. He doubled over as Captain Phasma marched inside, a squad of stormtroopers following after her in an orderly line. They were all clothed in proper First Order workout uniforms, including Captain Phasma. But the only one to notice it at that moment was Marmalade, seeing as Techie was trying not to writhe in pain as he clutched his kidney.

“Yeah, that’s why you protect your soft organs, you fuckin’ idiot,” She said, turning back to look at Techie with amusement. Techie only looked up to glare at her weakly.

“I hate you,” Was all he could say, barely able to breathe.

Marmalade huffed a laugh, bending over to ruffle his hair. “Sure, buddy. How about I let you take a break, huh?”

Tired of being beaten up by his much stronger older sister, he sprung a punch at her, hoping the element of surprise would let him land a hit. Unfortunately, she dodged and grabbed his hand. She just held it in her grip lightly, not doing anything to retaliate. “Wow, you suck at this, Toby. Completely rubbish. How did you manage to stay alive this long, huh?”

Before Techie could think of a comeback, Phasma stepped over and placed a hand on Marmalade’s shoulder. Her eyes were narrowed, and her blonde hair glinted in the artificial lights. “How about you stop beating up this scrawny kid and try me for a match?”

Marmalade turned, a grin on her face. She took in the woman’s muscled arms, her toned form. Oh, yes, she could work with this. “Hell yeah, let’s do this,” she said, following the woman to the mat.

“Alright soldiers, today there is going to be a demonstration. How to take down a formidable opponent.”

Marmalade was flattered that she was being considered a ‘formidable opponent’ by this woman. But she was going to love taking her down even more.

They took their places in front of each other. They stared as they sized each other up. The moment was broken by Phasma making the first move, Marmalade dodging easily despite her previous hour-long exertion. She used her momentum to try to bring the woman down, but she was too solid. She stayed resolutely in place, using Marmalade’s grip on her shoulders to grab her arms and flip her forward.

She was swung forward, but she rolled back up to her feet, never losing her balance. Quickly, she backed away from her opponent, getting back her equilibrium for a moment. Phasma rushed her again, but Marmalade also took a few sprinting steps forward, placing her hands on Phasma’s shoulders and launching herself over her in a somersault-like move.

Quickly, she turned, kicking Phasma forcefully in the lower back. The woman stumbled forward, but didn’t fall. She then turned, blue eyes focussed on Marmalade. She didn’t look angry at all. In fact, her face was purely devoid of any emotion, only pure concentration.

Marmalade ran forward, feet barely touching the mat, planning on landing a palm-strike to the woman’s chest. She wasn’t quick enough, though, and Phasma deflected the blow. It staggered Marmalade backwards, and Phasma pressed the advantage. She kicked Marmalade in the stomach, making her drop to the mat with a huff.

Phasma dropped her considerable weight onto the thinner woman on the mat, her strong arms easily pinning Marmalade’s hands above her head. It was in that moment that Marmalade began to think that she was falling in love.

Despite losing, Marmalade smiled up at the blonde woman, bucking into the grip holding her to the floor. The blonde looked serious, other than the mild confusion over the red-head’s amusement. “Captain Marmalade Hux. Nice to meet you.”

The woman released her, standing and offering her a hand. Marmalade took it, letting the rather spectacularly muscled woman pull her off of the mat. “Captain Phasma.”

“You don’t have a first name?” Marley joked, still catching her breath from being kicked in the stomach.

That got her a raised blonde eyebrow and a smirk. “I do,” She said simply, before turning back to her men. Her men who were blushing in a very obvious manner. Phasma narrowed her eyes, making a note to break all of these men multiple times over. She would not allow that kind of thinking in her soldiers.

Techie, who was still on the floor where Marmalade had left him, had watched the whole thing with growing satisfaction. At least his sister had gotten a taste of her own medicine.

“Come on, Toby, I think I’ve broken you enough for today.”

Techie rolled his eyes and muttered to himself about awful sisters as he stood up and followed her out of the gym.

 

Kylo was used to not getting much sleep nowadays. In fact, he had never been used to getting much sleep in the first place, making him prone to wandering about the ship at odd hours during beta shift. Mostly it was to ease his mind that no would-be assassins snuck their way inside while Hux was asleep.

But tonight, he found much more than he had bargained for. He was ghosting around silently in the shadows as he usually does, only to hear singing intermixed strangely with . . . crying. It was a woman’s quiet but clear voice, singing a nice melody. Every so often it was broken off with a sob.

He stood still, only to have the object of the singing to waltz right by in front of him, her long red hair loose as she slowly danced by. She was holding a large bottle of some kind of alcohol, tear tracks quite visibly running down her cheeks.

“Marmalade,” He said, stepping out of the shadows in front of her.

In her drunken state, she hadn’t noticed him until that moment, and she was startled abruptly out of her trance. She blinked him into focus, narrowing her wet lashes at him. “Oh, you’re - you must be, um, Artie’s attack dog, right?”

Kylo bristled at being called a ‘dog’, but he reminded himself firmly that he shouldn’t get upset with her. She was quite obviously in distress herself. “I am his . . . “ what? His bonded? His mate? His right-hand man? He settled for; “co-commander.”

“Ohhh, right. His ‘co-commander’.” She said, making air quotes with her hands, the liquid in the bottle sloshing as she did so. She then took a deep swig from the bottle before pulling it away and burping loudly. “Well,” she said, pointing at him with the hand she was holding the bottle with, “what do you want, mister co-commander?”

Not knowing what else to do, he simply shook his head, at a loss. He had never expected to see this woman in such a state of . . . dishevelment. Every time he had spoken with her, she seemed more cold and collected than even General Hux.

“Ohhh, so you have no need of me? Then run along, boy. I have no need of you either.” She then turned and began dancing again, her voice warbling along to a song that was in her head. She had a nice voice, though her delivery could use a little work.

The best he could do in this situation, he supposed, was to bring it up with Hux later. He would probably know what to with his sister better than Kylo. He left her to her drunken melodies.

And so, after getting a few hours of sleep, he made his way to Hux’s office uncharacteristically early in the shift. Hux actually looked up, surprised to see him so early. “Kylo,” he said, sitting up even though it made him grimace, “is everything alright?”

He inhaled, about to reassure Hux, but he realized that he had in fact brought him troubling news. “Well . . . it’s about your sister.” He admitted, stepping further into the room.

At those five words, Hux’s face became cold and detached. Even his posture straightened, his body becoming stiff in his desk chair. “My sister, hmm? What about her?”

“I don’t think that . . . she’s taking the death of your father well. She’s not doing well.”

“And . . . how would you know that?”

“I saw her last night. She was extremely intoxicated.”

Hux’s lips pressed into a thin and displeased line, eyes frozen over and as blue as antarctic ice. “Why were you with my sister last night?”

Completely caught off guard by that question, Kylo’s face adopted a confused and offended expression. “Excuse me, what?”

“Why were you with my sister last night?” Hux repeated, blue eyes fixed and piercing on Kylo.

“I was doing a sweep of the ship, and she was wandering around singing and dancing with a bottle of alcohol in her hand. We weren’t - kriffing hell, Hux, did you really think I would - with your sister?”

Hux looked mildly appeased, but his posture was still extremely stiff and unbending. “I have learned not to expect anything, when it comes to her.”

“What? What does that mean?”

But Hux only shook his head, looking like he had a million things he wanted to say, but they were all solidly frozen and safely kept inside. The ice was freezing and staying his tongue, fusing it to the roof of his mouth. It was as it had always been, and he would not spill the knowledge now. Not to this man.

“Hux. Tell me.”

“I have nothing to tell you, Kylo. I can’t help my sister with Brendol’s death. We all have our coping mechanisms, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with her work, then I don’t see the need to intervene.”

And so he let it drop, leaving Hux’s office in a swirl of black robes. What was his problem?

Chapter Text

As Hux was being infuriatingly tight-lipped about his thoughts recently, Kylo really didn’t have the time for trying to pry it out of him. Instead, he went about some preparations instead, gathering all of the things he would need to make his journey to the planet that Snoke was residing on. It had only been four days since they had gotten back from Tarsus, but Kylo still felt as if he were wasting time when not actively preparing to kill his Master.

Hux was still pissed at him for daring to insinuate that he was anything less than perfectly peachy, and it was starting to annoy him. Though he supposed that he had been less than forthcoming about the truth himself. It didn’t escape his notice, however, that Hux still wore the golden band that Kylo had given him on his right ring finger. Even if it was only beneath his black leather glove.

So, it was in that vein (and in that vein only) that Kylo supposed that Hux had a right to know that Kylo would be departing soon. Of course, he wasn’t going to tell him the reason why. That would simply raise way too many questions and ample enough doubt.

This is how he found his way back into Hux’s office, not surprised when the man didn’t even look up to acknowledge his presence. Kylo could sense cold resentment and loathing radiating from his shoulders. “General,” he intoned, breaking the silence.

It appeared that Hux was still pissed from the day before. Then again, he had been in a constantly pissy mood ever since Marmalade had shown up.

“What do you want, Ren?”

Ah, so he was back to calling him by his title, then. Harsh.

“I have come to inform you that I am leaving. I don’t know how long will be gone, but it shouldn’t be for longer than a week.”

Hux went rigid at the words, quickly glancing up with his glacial eyes as Kylo spoke. His mouth was pressed into a thin, displeased line. “You’re leaving? Why?”

“I cannot tell you. It’s a confidential mission.”

It made Hux’s mouth crease downwards. He did not like being denied information; especially when it concerned his . . . co-commander.

His eyes flashed gunmetal grey, sleek and dangerous. “You will tell me. I am your equal, if not your superior.”

Thoroughly angered by Hux’s statement, Kylo stepped one dark-booted foot forwards, his own eyes darkening. “Oh no, Hux. You do not get to say such things. I would tell you, perhaps, but these things require trust. I do not give freely, and it is quite obvious that the sentiment is not returned. If you want to know, then you will have to give something in return.”

“Trust?” Hux asked, lips pulling back in a disgusted snarl. “As if I would give you anything just to earn your pathetic ‘trust’.” Hux spat, pushing his way away from the desk with a scrape of his chair and standing up. He looked ready to fight.

Good, because Kylo was quite sick of his frozen composure.

Kylo pressed forward further, until he was almost fused with Hux’s desk, leaning forward with his hands braced against the wooden counter. Hux was leaned forward as well, a furious look marring his pretty face. Only the desk separated them, though even with that between them, they were still almost nose to nose.

“Well perhaps if you would learn to trust me a little bit, General, then maybe I would actually answer your questions about what truly happened on Tarsus.”

Because Hux had questioned him, but he had been completely unyielding in any useful information. So Hux still knew nothing. And honestly, Kylo was quite afraid to inform him about it now, because if Hux would have murdered him soundly before, he would now definitely rip out his heart. It would be a much worse fate than death.

“Don’t make this about me, Kylo Ren, because you have been nothing but a nuisance since you were assigned to my ship,” Hux growled, holding his ground.

“No. You’ve been pissy ever since your sister came aboard, and you’re taking it out on me. On top of that, you won’t even tell me why the kriff you hate her so much.”

A look of resentment settled over Hux’s features. “Fine,” Hux finally snapped, taking a step back. “You want to know why I hate her so much?”

Kylo said nothing, but his expression clearly conveyed expectance.

“I’ll tell you. It’d be better if you took a seat. We might be here for a while.” Hux sat in his own seat with controlled composure. It wasn’t hard to tell that the icy mask that slid into place was artificial.

Kylo sat, trying to control his eagerness as he also took a seat. Finally Hux was going to tell him about all of that crashing emotion inside of him. Even now, he could feel it welling up inside the form across from him, threatening to rise up and overwhelm them both. They were not good emotions.

Hux looked as composed as ever, his face carved of stone and metal. Just as smooth and unyielding as bullet proof durasteel.

There was a long pause of silence where Hux looked rather introspective, hesitant to start. His striking blue eyes were focused to the side, purposefully avoiding Kylo. Even though he had said that he would explain, he now did not know how to find the words. It would be like pulling the plug and letting all of his black and sludgy emotions spill out.

Thankfully, Kylo was silent as well, letting him collect himself. It was a bit surprising how patient he was being, truly.

Hux took a breath, exhaling on a rare sigh. This may not be a long story, but it was a bit of an ordeal to him. He did not like admitting any type of weakness. Not in any form.

“I suppose I should start with a warning, as I’m not sure why you want to know this information in the first place. It is quite boring and trivial. Furthermore, it is rather childish of me to hang onto such unimportant things of the past.”

When Kylo said nothing, he continued.

“I do not know how to phrase it in order to make you understand the weight of my words. Simplicity only serves to make it . . . crude and easily dismissed.”

His only response was attentive dark eyes.

“It starts with my father. All of our problems start with our father.” He really wished that he some form of alcohol in his hand.

He paused, reaching for his desk drawer. It did not surprise Kylo when a pale hand brought out a bottle of whisky and a glass tumbler. “Do you want a glass?” He asked only as a curtesy. As he expected, Kylo declined. Hux poured himself a glass carefully with his right hand before placing it the bottle away and taking a deep sip from his tumbler.

“So yes, back to my father. He was strict and his love was hard to earn. We all strived to please him at one point to some extent. The first one to give up was Tiberius. He found it quite tedious to love someone who was not satisfied with him.”

“Marmalade and I never stopped trying, however. Though I suppose that it was because of different reasons. You see, being his only daughter, Marmalade was his favorite. He gave her love more freely than to us. On top of that, she always tried her best to make Brendol proud. She was the cruelest, most emotionless out of us all.”

“She did not hesitate to do what she needed to do. Of course I did all of that as well, but I had to work harder for it. I did everything I was supposed to and more, but I could never compare to Marmalade in his mind. It was easy to see our rank in his eyes. Marmalade the first, Tiberius the last. I was merely mediocre.”

He took another large drink from his tumbler, his blue eyes downcast and stormy. Then, a tight, grim smile stretched his lips, and he looked back up at his attentive audience of one. “So now you see how truly pathetic I am, Kylo Ren. I tried to warn you.”

But Kylo offered no pity. Instead, he too looked introspective.

Finally, he spoke. “I have something that I need to tell you, Hux, that I had rather not intended to.”

Hux blinked, intrigued. He sat forward, raising the glass to his lips again. “Go on,” he said, taking another sip before laying the glass on his desk. since the alcohol was only room temperature, he would not have a water ring on expensive wood, thank you. He was not a heathen.

“Do you remember when you allowed me into your mind not so long ago? It was after I accidentally walked in on you and your brother . . . while he was naked.”

He tried to think back, recalling when Kylo wouldn’t believe him that he really wasn’t doing anything inappropriate with Tiberius. He had asked the man to read his mind so that they could stop arguing over it.

“Yes,” he finally admitted, “I do remember that. Why is it relevant?”

“During that time when I was in your mind . . . “ but he didn’t know how to proceed.

Hux stiffened, afraid of what Kylo was about to say next. What did he find?

“It’s better if I explain first,” Kylo decided. “You see, in the Force, there are such concepts that are made a reality. Specifically one concept . . . which you would know as a ’soul mate’.”

He was lost. What the hell was Kylo blathering on about now? Really, and just when he thought that he was coming to understand the man . . .

“Spit it out, Kylo. I don’t have time for vague references to subjecs that make no contextual sense.”

Kylo huffed, ducking his head for a moment before taking Hux’s advice. “We are, Hux. Soul mates.” He said, looking up and meeting Hux’s icy eyes with his dark ones.

He couldn’t keep the incredulity off of his face, his ginger eyebrows sweeping into an equally ginger hairline. “Don’t be bloody ridiculous,” he said, the curse startled out of him by the sheer absurdness of the words.

A frown pursed Kylo’s generous lips, his dark eyebrows pulled down into a look of disappointment. “It is the reason why I have been courting you ever since that moment. Didn’t you wonder why our dynamic was shifting to something more cooperative?”

There was a pause as Hux considered his words, the color draining from his face. There wasn’t much to begin with, and he looked as pale as death. “You were . . . courting me?” His eyes widened as he looked at his right hand, at the moment bare of his black leather gloves. The golden band gleamed in the artificial lights.

He had known that Kylo must have had some kind of crush on him, but that had most certainly not been his priority at any moment in the past.

A crush. Not . . .

His thoughts were grinding to a violent halt as he grew more and more angry. Kylo had kept this information from him for a long kriffing time, and he had not thought to mention that they were -

His thoughts cut off once again as he couldn’t even finish them in his fury.

The deathly pallor of his face quickly shifted to an angry red, and his eyes flashed a blue flame. “Kylo Ren,” he started, grinding his teeth, “have you been in my head this entire time?”

“I haven’t. Only what you have deigned to share with me. Your mind is surprisingly hard to read.”

Kylo looked generally unconcerned for his well-being right now. He is going to learn better.

Hux stood, once again scraping the legs of the chair out from under the desk. Calmly and with his usual composure, he made his way around the desk. And then, when he was close enough, he almost casually reached out with his good hand and gripped Kylo’s throat, trying to strangle him with a grip made of pure anger.

Obviously, Kylo wasn’t expecting the assault, and his face would have been comical if Hux were in any type of good mood.

Once Kylo got over the shock of the situation, it was easy for him to pry Hux’s hand away. Of course, that didn’t stop Hux from trying to continue bodily damage to him.

“Hux stop,” he said, not because Hux was hard to fend off, but because, “you’re going to hurt yourself. You can beat me up when you’re fully healed.”

It was hardly appeasing to Hux, but Kylo dragged him forward onto his lap and gently restrained him so that he couldn’t do any more damage to either of them. “Hux, listen, I know you’re upset, but you have to realize that there’s a good reason why I didn’t tell you.”

“Go fuck yourself, Kylo.”

“And that’s exactly the reason why.”

He just continued to scowl, looking more like a five year old in time out more than a thirty-five year old General. “That is hardly a reason. Maybe you should have asked me if I even wanted to be courted.”

“You did. I know that you appreciated it every time I brought you lunch.”

“I still owe you nothing, Kylo Ren.”

There was a pause as Kylo regarded him, his dark eyes far more considering and dangerous than he would have liked. It made Hux lean back a bit, distrustful of this new mood that he supposedly had just introduced.

“But that’s not quite true, is it, Hux? You do quite clearly owe me something.”

For once, he realized that Kylo was indeed correct. His eyes widened slightly when he remembered under which circumstances exactly. He had not forgotten. “The payment for retrieving my brother from Earth,” he conceded, feeling a bit outmaneuvered. Warily, he asked the question that naturally followed. “What do you want?”

As it was, Hux’s violent streak had seemed to pass, so Kylo carefully released his hold. Hux pushed himself off of Kylo’s lap immediately, taking a moderate step back. His eyes were narrow and frosty, looking too much like a caged fox for Kylo’s liking.

He himself remained seated, his legs still spread a bit to accommodate Hux’s weight. “What I want is irrelevant. The true question is, what are you willing to give me, Hux?”

But Hux refused to answer the question, shaking his head. He turned, stalking his way back around his desk and sitting in his chair quite firmly. It was as if he were trying to fuse with the material in order to truly become a statue made of marble and satin. “Get out, Ren. Get out of my office now.” The words were said firmly, as if he were vehemently trying to push everything he had just learned down and away.

It was truly infuriating that he had opened up to the man only to get - this. Whatever it was, it felt like the ultimate betrayal.

“Hux - “ Kylo started, but was cut off when the General looked up, his eyes so glacial that it froze his lips together.

“I said, get. Out. Ren.” He reached up quickly and pulled the stupid golden ring from his finger, transferring it to his right hand before flinging it at Kylo. “NOW.” It pelted him across the cheek, causing him to flinch as it left a small red welt in its wake.

It clattered to the floor, the only thing that broke the ringing silence after Hux’s furious words. Kylo bent to pick up, and then the door was swishing closed after him.

Hux was left panting angrily in the silence, his right hand balled into a fist. His eyes wandered to the half-full tumbler on his desk and he reached for it, downing the rest of its contents. He would need at least the rest of the bottle.

 

He appreciated the help, he really did, but Marmalade did not go easy on him. He personally did not mind it so much, but his close friends were really starting to worry about him.

“Techie, are you alright? You’ve just been really tired for the last couple of days, and we haven’t really hung out at all. What’s up?” Joanna asked, her attractive freckle-covered face conveying nothing but concern.

“Ah, it’s nothing bad. My sister is training me to fight better, and she’s just really tough.”

Joanna did not look appeased in the slightest. “You have a black eye . . . “

Techie grimaced. He had gotten it yesterday and slipped in late. Matt hadn’t seen it yet, but if he hadn’t been against the whole thing from the beginning (which he was), he definitely would be now.

“Yeah, I know, but trust me; it’s for my own good. I have to be ready if someone tries to assault me. Again.”

“It looks to me as if she’s been assaulting you,” she said under her breath with a surly tone.

He heard it anyway and couldn’t help but agree.

Matt was even worse in his reactions. Or better, depending on how you looked at it.

“Oh, Techie,” he said, his eyes drawn to the discoloration immediately. He raised a hand to Techie’s cheek tilting his head this way and that to view the damage. “You really shouldn’t let her do this to you. Surely there’s a better way to learn self-defense?” He sounded devastated, like he hated the fact that Techie was being hurt in any capacity.

The smaller Tech could only shrug, not being able to meet Matt’s eyes. Matt frowned, letting his fingers curl through Techie’s long red hair. “You know that it’s not you I’m mad at, right?” He asked, reading Techie all too well.

A small smile curved his lips, a sweet victory. “Yeah, I know.”

“Come on, I have a bottle of sprayable bacta for the rest of your cuts and bruises.”

He led Techie to the bunk, and Techie let him slip off his shirt easily. Letting Matt catalogue all of his bruises. He shivered lightly when Matt ran gentle, warm fingers across his slightly air-chilled skin. And he let Matt doctor him, spraying bacta fluid across all of his small injuries.

They both knew that this was a very big show of trust from the smaller tech. But as much as Techie was untrustworthy of others, he was also human. A sometimes very devious human.

And so, with Matt on his knees in front of him like this while Techie sat on the edge of the bed, it felt like a natural motion to reach down and grip Matt’s hand. He looked up, a bit confused as to why Techie was holding his hand.

“Thank you, Matt,” Techie said, giving a small, shy smile as he leaned forward and pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of Matt’s lips.

Matt blinked, his brain scrambling for a second. “Techie . . . kiss me again.”

He went a bit pink, but he leaned forward again, more slowly, pressing his lips to Matt’s.

Matt dropped the can of bacta, leaning upwards to kiss Techie more thoroughly and to run a hand through his hair. The loud clattering noise of the can went unheeded as they kissed.

His own more slim fingers gripped the straps on Matt’s overalls, almost like he was pulling the man closer only by his own strength. Matt’s lips were generous and soft, enveloping Techie’s perfectly. His hands trailed slowly up, to the man’s broad shoulders. He thrilled in the fact that Matt was so much more physically strong than he was, but Techie knew that he was the one with the power here.

He knew that Matt wouldn’t push if he didn’t want it, and the relief and exultation was a wonderful feeling.

Matt shifted up, pressing Techie backwards as he climbed onto the bed. One large palm ran across his chest, down to his lower stomach. The hot touch made him shiver, pushing up into the contact.

When the hand started to go lower, however, Techie reached down to still it. Matt pulled back, looking down at him with understanding eyes. “Not tonight?” He asked.

“Not tonight,” Techie agreed, giving an apologetic smile.

“Okay,” Matt agreed, leaning down to kiss him again. He pulled back just enough to speak again. “Just kisses for now.”

Techie gave a true smile in response, and then he was being kissed breathless once again.

It was some time later that they finally parted, both of their faces flushed pink. Matt breathed a sigh of exasperation, tracing the color across Techie’s cheek with a finger. “You are just so adorable. You’re like . . . like a button.”

He snorted, laughter ringing out easily now that he was high on endorphins. “A button?” He asked incredulously.

“Yes, a button,” Matt said, feigning an indignant tone. “You know what, that’s what I’m going to call you from now on. Button.”

Techie waved a hand in the air, as if to disregard the new nickname. “Oh no, we’re not going to have stupid pet names are we?” But he didn’t seem too upset over the notion.

“Oh yes we are,” Matt affirmed, his smile like sunshine. “We are most definitely a cute pet name type of couple.”

That only garnered a giggle and a roll of blue eyes. “Alright, fine, but don’t think that I won’t choose a terrible name for you. You earned it.”

"Whatever you say, Button," Matt chirped happily in response.  

Techie groaned. 

 

“So, why the hell is this guy named Bulldog?” Marley asked, seemingly completely unconcerned about this very real threat on the horizon. Then again, it wasn’t exactly her problem. Not directly, at least.

“Umm, he’s cross-engineered to have a wrinkly face and bulldog ears.”

“That sounds fucking stupid.”

“Yeah, well, it wasn’t my idea.”

She hummed noncommittally, leaning back on the mat. For now, thankfully, they were only in their stretching phase. “He doesn’t sound like much of a leader.”

“Yeah, well, he isn’t. He is, however, an extremely deadly close-range fighter. On top of that, he has two more gang members who are still alive. If they all attack me at once, I would definitely be dead.”

“So then lay a trap. It’s not that hard. Really, Techie, you have no strategical planning at all in that head of yours, do you?”

Techie huffed, letting the insult roll off of him. It was a common enough occurrence that he had actually built up a tolerance to it from their childhood days.

“So, what are you thinking, then? What kind of trap?”

“Hmm, well that just depends, now, doesn’t it. How smart are these silly little gang members?”

“Smart enough that you really shouldn’t underestimate them.”

Marmalade only grinned, sitting up. “Perfect.”

That day, instead of kicking his ass like she always did, they instead focused on a plan of action for when Bulldog and his litter came for him.

 

She was in two bottles deep before she wondered why she was doing this. Again. It really wasn’t a great thing to get smashed every single night. It was starting to wear on her, and she didn’t think she could keep this whole thing up.

But at night, when the ship went to sleep and nothing stirred except for the skeleton crew, she couldn’t escape her thoughts. Couldn’t sleep, could only see that horrific sight behind her eyelids in the dark, every time she closed her eyes.

And every night she grabbed as much alcohol as she could find, trying to drown the sight of his dead corpse from her brain. Maybe if she killed enough of her brain cells, she would be able to erase the memory.

As much alcohol as she consumed, she was mildly surprised that it never worked. Not even when she was at her most desperate, staring at the swirling galaxies through the viewport and trying not to vomit. It had been so long since she had had a proper night of rest, but she was so numb that she couldn’t feel it.

She was probably still in the denial stage, she mused as she took another large gulp from the bottle that she cradled in both of her arms. Like a child. Like something precious.

It would be hard letting this one go. And now she wasn’t referring to the alcohol. No . . .

She looked into the neck of the bottle, fascinated. As if it might possibly hold all of the answers to the universe. Even if it didn’t, she could forgive such a transgression. It made her feel better even without all of the fanfare.

Senselessly, she traced the lip of the bottle with a small smile on her face. It was tremulous, however, and tears were starting to well up in her eyes. They always did; it was an inevitable part of the night for her nowadays.

The small tune came to her lips, as it did almost every night. The song that he used to sing to her so long ago. It was for bedtime, meant to lull her off to sleep. Now it only kept her wide awake.

Fat tears spilled down her cheeks as she warbled out the words, choking a bit on the ending words, having to pause a few moments between the verses.

At the end of her tear-filled song, she just shook her head. “I can’t tell them. I can’t tell them.” She cried harder, gripping the bottle as if it were the only thing that could possibly give her comfort in the whole world. She gripped it like a small child might grip their favorite teddy bear as she sobbed.

She finished the bottle after calming down enough to do so, her eyes glazed over as she stared unseeingly out the viewport. “They can’t know,” she reiterated, her voice edged with a hard finality that would have scared anyone watching the scene. Thankfully, the only spectators were the uncaring spread of stars before her.