Snow was starting to coat the planet of Peregrine IV, and Kylo could no longer access the little garage adjacent to their house, which he had turned into his personal workshop, all those years ago, to make ends meet when they moved. It wasn't so much that the snow was tall enough to prevent him from passing through (although it actually was) but what annoyed him most was that everytime the gate opened, all the stuff he had hoarded throughout the year came slumping down and getting lost in a pile of junk and snow. Every winter, he tasked himself with the thorough cleaning and dumping of all the accumulated clutter.
Geared up in his special boots and a black jacket that made him look like the wheels of a HAVw A6 Juggernaut, he huffed and grumbled at having to step into the five feet of snow; with his bones protesting, for after a lifetime of physical strain and high-intensity strain, no matter how well he had maintained his shape, at 50 years of age some things were just meant to crack and tear.
He was so focused on trying to get the gate to open, that he jumped like a spooked cat when Lara suddenly appeared from behind him. “Dad!”
“Damnit, Lara, you scared me!”
“Sorry, dad!” She laughed at the comical way in which her dad's eyes widened while dramatically holding his chest.
“Come on, help me with this, will you?”
“Sure thing”, but instead of squatting down like Kylo, Lara simply raised a hand, and the gate opened by the will of the force. Kylo glared at Lara, to which she responded with a cheeky grin.
“How many times have I told you not to use your powers with matters like these!?”
He had always insisted that Lara did things manually instead of relying on the force, in fear that she might become dependent on it -- ever since she was a child and she would giggle when helping to set the table with a flick of her wrist, instead of grabbing the cutlery herself.
“Oh come on, old man!”, she gently patted him on the back, “How else would we have gotten it to open?”
Ren just groaned, dismissing the matter altogether in preference of getting his cleaning done much sooner; the weather was such a hindrance to Ren's bones, he just wanted to get it over with.
By gods, am I getting old, he thought, when in his late 20's he was able to fight his way through the snow even while sustaining abdominal injuries. Oh well. Times did change--and he never expected to live past 35, so he counted that as a win.
Kylo and Lara started their usual work: Lara would sweep the floors and dust the shelves, whilst Kylo would review and go over each item to separate whatever still worked, from the things that served him no use anymore. He tended to accumulate faulty screws, broken bolts and wires, and odd parts of machines that could not be reused -- while at the same time using the garage as storage, hence why the space got cramped so quickly.
Kriffing hell, am I getting blind or what?, Kylo thought with squinting eyes as he tried to read the labels of some rusty bottles he had picked up from the ground, but he was interrupted from his struggle as Lara called from the other end of the room.
“Hey, dad! What is this?” she asked, making her way to him while holding a hefty box. “It has something engraved in basic.”
Upon closer inspection, Kylo noticed that the box held a bunch of holosticks, a rustic looking viewscreen, and a holorecorder; the words engraved reading: memories.
“Oh yeah, I was wondering where I had left these...have been looking for this box since forever.”
“What is it?”
“Back when we were on Naboo -- you were still a baby -- I must've seen this at a flea market or something,'' he said as he lifted the recorder to assess its state. “But I got the whole set to take holos of you and stuff. I mean, what kind of parents would we have been if we didn't have videos of you growing up?” He said the last bit while affectionately grabbing her chin with his index finger and thumb. “I don't think I've even seen pictures of me back then”
“Do they still work?”
“Yeah, they must do...I figure I might need to charge the viewscreen though, this thing is ancient”
“Ooh, can we look at them, daddy!? Please!? I don't think I've ever seen them!”
“Sure thing. We'll leave this charging while we clean up in here.”
“Yay! Thanks, dad!” Lara stood on the tip of her toes in order to kiss her father on the cheek before returning to her duties. They continued cleaning the garage well into the late hours of the evening, just when their stomachs had begun to protest the lack of food, and when the sky had transformed with ethereal hues of lavender mixed with oranges and pinks -- the icy white dots of snowflakes like quick brushes of paint in contrast with the horizon.
As they entered the house they were immediately enveloped in warmth, and the rich smell of something hearty baking in the kitchen, just as Hux was hunching to retrieve their dinner from the oven and place it on their small, dining table.
Hux looked up --adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose -- in time to see Lara bursting in with the widest grin while holding the box of holos that they had found earlier. “Papa, look!”
“By gods, what took you so long out there?”
“We were cleaning daddy's garage -- look!” She said, placing the heavy box on top of the table.
“Lara, that's filthy! We are just about to eat--”
“--It's a bunch of holos of us! Daddy said we could see them after dinner.”
Hux's eyes widened in realization as he turned to Ren, “Where did you find those? I thought...I thought they had been lost when--”
“--No, I knew I had saved them somewhere, I just forgot where the hells I put them”
They remained in awe, before Lara interjected their sudden reverie, “Well can we see them? Oh, please, papa!”
“Of course”, Hux's heart warmed at the thought of revisiting such memories. Their memories together, after all they had been through. After 21 years of watching their daughter grow. Memories that had survived. “Of course...I--I want to see them too.”
After they ate their dinner, the family cuddled together on the couch. Lara was snuggled up on Hux's chest as they both waited for Kylo to set everything up and insert the first holostick into the viewscreen.
He dramatically moaned as he straightened up and groaned at the strain of dumping himself on the couch beside Lara, stretching to encase their family within his arm.
“Oh come on, don't be dramatic. I'm five years older than you and I can bend just fine” Hux teased.
“Shut up, Hux. I'm paying for all my years in battle and shit--”
“Oh, hush!” Lara giggled, “The holo is starting!”
Hux and Kylo exchanged knowing, loving looks before focusing their gazes on the flickering--blueish projection in front of them. Their hearts start beating and filling with nostalgia, with adoration. They were anxious at seeing themselves -- specially Kylo, who had never been fond of watching himself on any sort of record or transmission. Hux wasn't as self-conscious, but they were both reluctant to go back and see their younger selves again. On the other hand, they knew that the moment they saw Lara when she was a baby, the need to weep would be too great to contain.
The first clip was the first that Kylo ever shot with the recorder-They were still at Naboo and Lara was still mere months-old.
The frame was shaky, as Kylo was walking with the recorder, hand-held. He had been walking along the corridor from the house at Naboo -- the halls were still dimly lit, being the early hours of the morning.
Though the color didn't translate correctly, Ren remembers the room having been showered with warm, soft tones of diluted ocre and vermillion.
He reached the master bedroom where Hux was resting-- a ray of light falling straight upon him, making him look like an angel, ethereal and languid, still in his soft short-sleeved pajama, holding the baby in his arms. He was bundled up within the sheets, cradling Lara as he fed her with a bottle of formula.
“Just what in the galaxy is that thing!?” He murmured, not wanting to disturb Lara.
“It's a holo-recorder! I got the whole set to film at an incredible price: no price.” Kylo said as he jumped on the bed and inched closer to the two -- shooting closeups of Lara feeding. Her big eyes turned to her dad in awe, crinkling with amusement and curiosity as to what was her daddy doing and why her papa was fussing.
“I thought we agreed on only taking the necessities!”
“This is a necessity.”
Hux only shook his head, knowing when to pick his battles. Besides, he wanted to laugh, for Ren looked ridiculous while holding the device -- like one of those kooky, wannabe holofilm directors.
“Don't distract her, you know how hard it is to get her to finish a bottle”
“I'm not…” Ren said, before cooing at Lara and extending his hand to get her to look at the holorecorder. Lara started gurgling, turning away from the bottle before she exploded into a fit of giggles, trying to reach for Ren.
“What did I tell you!?”
Kylo snorted, totally disregarding Hux as he maneuvered himself beside Lara's while still holding the recorder in one hand, and tickling Lara with the other, smooching her neck and cheeks, getting her to laugh even harder. The moment remained recorder forever, with a close-up of Lara's bright green eyes staring at her daddy with glee, as Ren was laughing his ass off at Hux's annoyed face, who still held the unfinished bottle of formula, unsure of how to proceed.
“Aww, look how pissed off you look, papa!”
Hux and Ren could only look in earnest, overcome with the strangest, most potent wave of sentimentality. Something fuzzy made its home in their chests as they continued looking at the films, while cuddling even closer to Lara in between them. The next scene was also shot by Kylo, although he had corrected the shakiness of his grip.
They were still in Naboo; Kylo was creeping up behind Hux, who had Lara in arms, rocking her as he simply wandered around their back garden. He had the habit of taking Lara outside every day at noon, in order for her to get her natural dose of vitamins from the sun.
Lara immediately perked up at sensing her father's arrival, turning her little head where she laid held in Hux's arms. Instantly, she started cooing and giggling, steering her dad further in.
“Honey!” Ren chuckled as he reached closer, yet again getting close-ups of her beautiful irises as they transformed their color with the sun -- shining like an alexandrite in daylight.
Hux was already used to Kylo creeping up at random times with that thing, so he only laughed. His smile just as resplendent, illuminating his entire face -- a rare sight.
Ren's heart constricts with love at the scene -- at the younger face of his partner, how handsome and breathtaking he looked every time he smiled. He remembers, in that moment, why he had fallen so deeply in love with him in the first place. Their affairs had started roughly and out of spite, yes, but all it had taken was a glimpse of Hux smiling -- bright in contrast to the dullness of their surroundings in the First Order -- and Kylo fell, fell, fell into an abyss from where he never wanted to return.
“Who's that, darling? Hmmm? Is that your silly dad?” Hux cooed at Lara while adjusting his grip on her, aiding Kylo to get a better shot -- and the recorder caught the fleeting light for a bit, as if it was radiating from Lara's own smile. “Say hi to your dad!”
And Lara wiggled her hand in greeting, but then the camera got shaky again as Kylo got closer when Lara tried to reach for his nose like she would always do. The shot was cut as the entire family began laughing, for that specific quirk was eternally endearing.
They remember the clip that follows. Lara was 11 months old, and she had just started to stand on her own, after having crawled for a while. Each time that she did it, she was able to take further steps, on and on.
Now Hux was the one recording. The scene showed Kylo in a black sweatshirt and pajama pants, sitting cross-legged on the floor in the living room, with his arms wide open, eagerly expecting Lara. She was standing on wobbly legs, one feet apart from him as she slowly tried to make her way to her dad.
Kylo was sporting the goofiest of grins, immensely proud and jittery at observing such an event. Lara's first steps.
“You're doing so well honey, keep going!” He exclaimed while making grabby hands at her; Lara happily gurgled at her dad's encouragement.
“Easy, darling. Easy steps” Hux remarked from behind the holorecorder as Lara inched closer and closer still, faltering but keeping on.
“That's it, honey, you're almost there!”
At watching the scene, Kylo couldn't help but half-hide his face on Lara's shoulder at having to watch himself on the holo. Young Kylo was smiling so widely that all of this crooked teeth were on full display, while letting out loud, unashamed snorts, unable to contain his happiness at seeing his baby walking at last.
“You're not using the Force to keep her from falling, are you Ren?”
“You are, I can read you like a book. If she falls, she'll fall on the carpet, she'll be alright.”
“I just don't want her to hurt herself, is all. But she's doing the walking all by herself.”
“She has to learn how to take the fall. Kids need challenges early on during play. It helps them forge problem-solving skills.”
“Oh yeah, since when did you become an expert on these things?”
“I do my research, you moron, it's not something out of this world!”
“Oh shut up! look!!”
Lara fell momentarily, landing on her butt, but her fall was cushioned by her diaper and she didn't even fret -- she merely laughed and instantly got back up.
“You got this, Honey, almost there! Ahhh, come here!” Kylo kept murmuring until Lara threw herself right into her dad's arms.
“Well done, sweetheart, excellent job!” Hux exclaimed as he set the recorder on a strategic place where both of them would appear within the medium-shot frame, before crouching down on the floor and hugging Lara from behind.
The rest of the clip showed Lara walking back and forth between her fathers. Both of them smiling as openly as they ever had, bursting with absolute delight. Lara constantly allowed them to experience such innocent, pure feelings, for the first time in their lives.
“Look at those two softies, I can't believe it!” Lara remarked, comfortably nestled in the middle of Hux and Kylo.
“You got it out of us, honey” Kylo said, while clicking on the next clip as Hux rested his platinum-ginger head atop Lara's in agreement.
There weren't many clips on that first holostick. There was one with Lara making a mess with her food as Kylo miserably tried to feed her mashed vegetables -- all of the spoonfuls landing on Kylo's cup of caf, to his utter dismay. While the rest were just still images of the entire family together: some while they lay in bed with Lara in between them, or out in the garden; some with Kylo while she played with Lara; others with Hux as he read to her or taught her how to pronounce words correctly. But there was very little material stored, seeing as how their blissful time at Naboo had been cut short when Lara began getting sick.
The very last clip on that holostick showed a sequence of the two fathers singing happy birthday to Lara when she turned one. It was the last, relatively happy moment that they had in Naboo before it all went to shit.
They family tensed as the last holo ended -- for they were weary of recalling such times, so after an awkward pause, Kylo got up from the couch to surf through the rest of the holosticks. The one he selected contained holos from when they moved to their current home. There was one that showed a 3 year old Lara, as seen from a high angle, wearing a yellow sundress with daisies on it.
Kylo was holding the recorder as usual, filming Lara from where he stood. It was a summer day, and they were walking hand in hand along the forest that surrounded their home in Peregrine IV. The summers in that planet were sticky and humid, so Kylo had styled Lara's hair in a braid -- although one of the things she inherited from Kylo was her wild, untamed curls. So soon, with the intense heat that had them both sweating, her black locks had all come spiraling out of her braid to frame her face like a dark halo. Lara was looking up at her dad and babbling excitedly about everything and nothing. Her speech was finally getting more and more coherent and clear, so Kylo and Hux's days were spent listening to the wide variety of tales that their daughter came up with. Just like the one that Lara was telling Kylo in the video, about the countless fairies that lived in the woods, and their detailed classification. Lara liked to pretend that she was a detective, a biologist, sometimes and archaeologist. She loved exploring and cataloguing the creatures in nature. It was as the perfect mix of her father's personalities: the adventurous and the analytical.
After tht clip, there must have been some sort of glitch or error in the files, for the images that followed took them all by surprise, and Kylo --aching bones be damned!-- jumped out of the couch in a flash to retrieve the holostick.
“Uh...what did I just see?”
“Nothing, nothing at all!” Kylo said, fingers clumsy as he tried to shut down the clip, but failed miserably --the images continued playing, images that would haunt Lara's dreams that night.
Kylo and Hux were tangled in bed, although the clip only showed a medium-shot of them, from the shoulders up. Hux was playing coy, covering his face with his palms as Kylo tried to smooch them away with kisses, holding up the recorder with one hand.
“Come on, Hux, it's gonna be hot!”
“You barely like to see yourself in recordings, why would you want to film us having sex!?”
“Because we would look hot as fuck, for one. And we could use it to turn ourselves on!”
“Kylo, you sick pervert! Hux said with no real ill, snorting all throughout.
“Come on!” Kylo kept kissing Hux in an attempt to get him to comply.
“Ughhh, dad!!! That's so wrong!!!” Lara exclaimed while covering her eyes and chuckling nervously, as Hux howled with laughter at Kylo's awkwardness -- at his face turning redder and redder by the second.
“Okay, that's enough holos for tonight, Lara go to bed!” Kylo stuttered.
“It's so early, still! And even then I won't be able to sleep, you guys are the worst! You're gonna pay for making me watch that -- I can't deal!” Lara lightly reprimanded, holding her aching tummy from all the laughter.
Hux snorted, taking off his glasses to rub the condensation away before replying, “all right, enough for tonight. Let the poor child recover from this!”
The family kissed and hugged each other goodnight before retiring to their respective bedrooms for the night.
In the privacy of their bedroom, Kylo had set the viewscreen in front of their bed, and they were jittery as they snuggled up together to play the clip where they had left it off, like two kids that had snuck out after their bedtime to watch the late-night programming at the adult holochannels.
In a lapse -- where Kylo's plush lips felt just so damn good against his skin -- Hux quickly turned his head to catch Kylo's kiss with his own lips, building up the intensity with fevered licks, with each slide of their mouths. They were lost in a sea of hands caressing faces and necks, moans and chuckles -- as if they were two naughty children about to do something forbidden, knowing that such intimate moment would be recorded for them to revisit forever and ever.
The frame got shakier and shakier as their kiss heated up. Hux was getting antsy -- annoyed at all the clothing-- and from within the frame one could see his hand itching Kylo's black t-shirt upwards, slowly revealing the planes of hard muscle and mole-dotted skin.
Kylo got fed up of not being able to feel up his partner properly, and soon the recorder was thrown aside in favor of Kylo getting his hands all over Hux.
The couple burst out laughing when they realized that nothing extraordinary had been recorded after all. The recorder had landed with its diaphragm face down on the sheets, so the holo went black. The audio remained playing though, and they contorted with equal amounts of amusement and embarrassment at having to hear themselves talking dirty to each other. They sounded so ridiculous in retrospect.
“We could always try again” Kylo joked.
“Oh, come now, would you want to see us fuck at this age!? Hux replied while he recovered from all the laughter.
“We look just as hot.”
“Speak for yourself. How you have managed to stay built like a brick-house, I will never know.”
Kylo blushed, gazing downwards. Never in his 50 years of age did he get used to receiving compliments on his appearance. Though it was certainly true. Kylo never stopped exercising, and though his skin had softened, his muscles remained strong. He didn't even have wrinkles, save for the expression lines on his cheeks, his eyes and his forehead -- from a lifetime of frowning. He really only had grey hairs on his temples and didn't have a single bald spot.
To Kylo, it was easier to openly gush about Hux, underneath all their teasing and bickering. Being five years older, Hux's fiery locks had started to lighten into a light, silvery hue of blonde. The weather on Peregrine IV had done him good, and he had maintained a healthy, rosey skin tone -- no longer looking sickly pale like in his days as a General of the First Order. His thin build had remained the same, although he had a soft belly that Kylo loved to nuzzle and kiss. He definitely walked a little bit slower, yet as poised as ever. On the other hand, Kylo thought that his partner looked insanely handsome -- like a fucking silver fox -- now that he had to wear glasses all the time.
“How about we do it tomorrow? We can make a whole production out of it. Our very own sex tape.” Kylo suggested, half kidding, and half totally meaning it. Hux only laughed and lovingly cupped Ren's cheeks.
They exchanged a tender look, admiring all the tiny wrinkles and lines and spots that had marked their skins as they aged. Whole stories could be found in every scar, every freckle. The years had softened them, yes, but it only permitted them to love each other better, as they had found their peace after a whole life of abuse and war.
They lips met with earnest, and they remained intertwined, long into the night.
They had all the time in the world. Until they were older and wiser -- until their hands turned wrinkly and boney, and their kisses languid and slow.