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how fierce the beast

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It had been six months since Hux had begun cultivating Kylo Ren.  Long months where Hux was certain his patience would wear thin before Kylo learned to control himself.  Tedious months where they both fought to hide from the Supreme Leader how the nature of their relationship had changed.  Hux counted himself lucky that Kylo had been well occupied with missions, he wasn't sure he trusted the Knight’s acting abilities.  

It hadn’t been a surprise that Kylo understood the stakes, that he had seen the obvious. What had shocked Hux was when Kylo, eyes dark and knowing, quietly told him that they needed to keep this secret less than 12 hours after their first liaison.  Otherwise, Kylo told him, whatever plan Hux had in his head would be doomed to failure. Ren could cloud his own thoughts from the Supreme Leader, Hux had no such protection.

His keen observation was part of why Hux had chosen Kylo.  That buried mind, that insight that had been tamped into non-existence by Snoke.  It wasn't in Hux’s nature to dole out praise or compliments, luckily it wasn't in Kylo’s to accept such accolades. But the Knight did need quiet reinforcement, small acknowledgements and with those Hux was amazed at how Ren thrived. How quickly the intelligence and natural cunning that Snoke had so carefully tried to eradicate returned to Kylo. Even better, it was now paired with Hux’s own shrewd wits.

Hux wasn't foolhardy, he made sure to test this new facet of their command together.  He tested Kylo constantly.  In large matters and small, with command decisions and minutia.  There was no aspect that Hux didn’t push Kylo to show himself, to uncover the hidden depths that the Knight of Ren had allowed to fall to disuse.

There were times when Hux would feel the heavy weight of Kylo’s regard, the black mask conveniently hid almost everything.  But Hux had become adept at reading the stiffness with which Kylo held himself, the way he held his shoulders, by how tightly his fists were clenched.  He never betrayed his insight, let the crew think them bitter rivals to the end.

Being Commandant Hux’s son meant that he was always under scrutiny.  Hux knew, had always known, that instead of embracing his father’s ideas that many of the old Empire had feared his ambition.  It was well known that the son was made in a similar vein; young Hux believed in the innovation that the father had pioneered.  He’d always been proud of how his father had worked to preserve the Empire, it was part of what drove him to live up to that legacy.

Still, the strained silence that was the hallmark of his and Kylo’s interactions worked in Hux’s favor.  There was never time for Kylo to question him or to discuss this.  Whatever this was.   When Hux was alone and let himself think about it, none of it was quite what he had planned. Seducing Kylo had been the easy part, he’d expected the man to either be ashamed or needy.  To avoid or cling to him.  Kylo, stubborn man that he was, had done neither.

Thinking back on it, Hux had to assume that Kylo with his unusually strong Force sensitivity would be a master at reading people. Ren would be an almost perfect emotional chameleon.  Once one had secured Kylo's allegiance, the man would start to conform his behavior patterns to ones that would please.  For now, that would be acceptable, but for Hux’s long term plans he needed a cognizant Kylo Ren.   Kylo would become dangerous not only because he was a living weapon but also for his own brand of intellect.

For now, though, if Kylo needed to hide himself under the false aegis of bending to another's will at least it belonged to Hux. As tempting as it was to keep Kylo shackled and subjugated to him, Hux was smart enough to see the detriment in it. Whether he currently chose to exercise it or not, Kylo Ren had a strong will.  There would come a day when confinement would chafe and Kylo would rebel. It was better to foster him, to groom him and keep him.

“Sir?  Your presence is requested in the audience chamber,” a young woman said softly from just behind him. Hux twisted his head to look at her, his stance never leaving proper military protocol.

"Thank you, Lt. Sasra," Hux told her with a slight incline of his head. He'd made sure to know the name of each of his officers. It never failed to impress them and helped to build his own reputation. Often they were intimidated by his name and quick rise to power and while that had its uses, Hux preferred his people to work efficiently. Fear often precluded that.

The lieutenant saluted sharply as he walked passed, his boots ringing against the metal floor. So, Snoke had summoned him?  Well, it was inevitable, it had been weeks since the Supreme Leader had required a report.  Hux had hoped to have more information on the search for Skywalker before being called to audience again.

When he entered the high domed chamber, Hux wasn't terribly startled to see Ren already standing at the base of the dais.  The Supreme Leader often called Ren to him first, it was seen as a mark of favor. Hearing the Leader’s last words to Kylo made Hux wonder how much an honor being favored by Snoke really was

“…another failure,” the Supreme Leader rasped out, his clipped tone showing his displeasure.

Ren’s head was bowed but the General could deduce his mood from the rigidity of Kylo’s spine. Unless Hux was mistaken, Ren was on the verge of losing his temper.  Hux began walking forward at a brisk pace; the Supreme Leader would know he was there, the room’s sensors would have picked him up as soon as he entered and sent the information to Snoke.

“It's not a failure if I still acquire what you're looking for,” Ren’s head jerked up as he growled out his response. The distortion from his helmet took some of the heat from his words but Hux had never heard Kylo speak back to Snoke before. Damn, Ren needed to hold his temper in check!

“If I say you have been ineffective in your duties then you may take that as a fact, my Knight.  You are not yet fully trained in the ways of the dark side, are you so eager for another lesson?”  Snoke demanded silkily.

Some of the steely stiffness left Ren’s posture and Hux took an extra step forward putting him just in front of Kylo.

“I am reporting as requested, Supreme Leader,” Hux stated unnecessarily. He offered a perfunctory half bow before standing at attention, his eyes locked on the Supreme Leader.

The giant hologram shifted on its makeshift throne. Hux made sure to keep his face perfectly neutral, it would never do to allow Snoke to see anything but the perfect military man. The Supreme Leader would note the extra step Hux took, but if Hux played his role well then Snoke would see this as currying favor and placing himself above Ren. That he had placed himself on the line for Kylo Ren was laughable. And yet, here Hux was.

“I assume you have news for me, General?” Snoke swung his deformed head toward Hux, the movement oddly reptilian.  There was always something fragile about the Leader combined with a sinister aura that made many uncomfortable enough to stammer.

“Yes, sir. We've intercepted a reliable source of information that may lead to Skywalker on a planet in the Western Reaches,” Hux said haughtily. He gave a sly side look at Ren, as Hux returned his attention he caught the slight glint of amusement from Snoke. The man loved having his star pupils at each other’s throats.

“I'll retrieve it,” Ren growled, stepping up so he was even with Hux. There were times that Hux swore he could feel the Force pooling around Kylo, being bent to the Knight’s will.

“Excellent!  Excellent!  Be sure that you are successful after the trouble our General has gone through for you,” Snoke said with a deviousness that made Hux’s skin crawl.  The Supreme Leader was baiting Kylo, hoping to anger the man enough that he might give something away.

The rest of the meeting continued almost smoothly, the Supreme Leader continued to bait both them working to create friction and to foment discord between his commanders. Hux understood the theory, as long and he and Kylo were battling each other they would be less likely to turn on their master. It showed a poor understanding of the people Snoke sought to command.  

Kylo was practically vibrating with his anger, but at least Hux had focused it on him instead of the Supreme Leader. As the massive hologram dissipated, Hux turned to exit the room ignoring the still fuming Kylo. Mentally Hux had moved on, his thoughts now occupied with the necessity of commanding his ship. On a deep level it still rankled that the Finalizer wasn't his alone, that he had been forced to share command with Ren.

“Hux,” Ren shouted, his distorted voice echoing in the chamber-like room.  

Hux didn't even pause his stride, he didn't trust that they couldn't be heard here.  He wanted nothing out of the ordinary to reach the Supreme Leader’s ears.  If anything, Hux walked faster trying to get as far from the audience room as possible before Kylo caught up to him.

He didn't often believe in luck, but Hux felt as if it were on his side at the moment. He made it to the empty hallway before the air around him appeared to thicken and slow his movements.  Ren’s control of the Force was becoming finer; this was no harsh grab to immobilize him.  This showed a deft manipulation and Hux smiled at the progress.

“Dammit, Hux, you can't do that,” Ren growled through his mask as he reached the General.  “You can't control everything!”

“I wouldn't have to if you could hold your temper,” Hux responded logically.  Did Ren really not see the inherent danger in his disobedience to the Supreme Leader?  Madness!

“Did it ever occur to you that I know my part?  That I might actually know what I'm doing?” The mask bled out any emotion that might have leaked through in the Knight’s tone making him sound reasonable. A reasonable Kylo Ren, it made Hux want to laugh.

“Are you trying to get yourself killed?  Is that your endgame here?  Because that is what will happen if you begin to defy Snoke, he chose you because he can control you. He’ll raise up one of the others as the new master of the Knights if you can't conform,” Hux hissed back as anger lanced through him.

“Perhaps you should trust in me more,” Ren murmured, the distortion making the words indistinct.

The General could see that Ren wasn't contemplating the dangerous position he had put himself in.  Hux took one deep breath, tried to see this from Ren’s point of view but still couldn't understand what the man thought he was doing.

“Fine.  What were you doing?” Hux asked softly, his eyes boring into the black slit where Kylo's eyes should be.

“You think everything is about appearing calm and collected. That's never been me.  If I go before the Supreme Leader acting as you do, he’ll know. I understand perfectly how far and how hard to push. If I didn't it would be suspicious,” Ren explained, using his two extra inches of height as he tried to loom over Hux.

Hux thought about it, hated that he needed to concede that perhaps Kylo had a point. He ran conciliatory fingers down Ren’s arm.  Perhaps it was past time to include Ren in his plans. It was hard for Hux to divulge his secrets. How had his father managed?  

“Come with me,” Hux managed to almost make it a request.  Kylo only cocked his head at Hux’s clipped tone and gestured for him to lead the way.  After a brief internal debate, Hux chose to go to Kylo’s quarters.  They’d never gone to the other man’s rooms, keeping their assignations to Hux’s suite. It would, Hux had reasoned, make the other man feel dependent on him. So, for this it should be the opposite. Kylo should be somewhere where he felt he had dominion.

Hux was aware that Ren assumed that he wanted to rule the First Order.  Indeed, it was his birthright as the First Order had been born from the work of the Commandant.  Yet, look at how his family had been treated. A familiar sneer creased Hux’s face as the old anger surged within him. His father may have died in disgrace but Hux would see his father’s name restored the glory that was rightly theirs.

Tonight, though, Ren would learn just how deep and wide the General’s ambition ran.

When they reached Kylo’s rooms, Hux waited politely be granted entrance. It was often Hux’s nature to run roughshod over his lovers, taking what he wanted because it was his due. With Kylo he tried to keep such actions to a minimum as a way to foster a sense of trust between them.

“Enter, General,” Ren ordered, his modulated voice strangely melodic. Hux could feel Ren’s gaze on him, most likely curious about Hux’s choice of venue.

As with most things, Hux entered the room as if he owned it.  A quick glance around showed that Kylo had taken minimalism taken too far. Where Hux had nothing extraneous, Kylo had almost nothing. A single chair, a table, and a few items for basic necessities. There were two rooms that led from the living area, neither had doors. The room seemed unfinished, almost as if construction hadn't been completed here.

It was rare that Hux felt at a loss, but he did here. He tried to keep his consternation from his face, what would make Kylo Ren live like an ascetic?  Hux wasn't sure he believed anyone inhabited this barren place.

"Not what you expected?”

Hux simply shook his head, this sterility certainly wasn’t expected. It made sense, this glaring lack of anything that might offer comfort. Dark side Force users often deprived themselves to help the hate and anger flow. Through careful and extensive research Hux knew of Kylo’s background – Jedi trained then turned by Snoke to the dark.  But Hux knew something few did, how perfectly poised Kylo Ren was between light and dark.

When Snoke had informed Hux that command of the Finalizer would be shared with one of Snoke’s apprentices, of course he had protested it. Hux had argued, rightly, that a ship could only have one master. Otherwise it could be torn apart by contradictory orders and warring egos.  During that conversation, Snoke had mentioned in passing that it was in Kylo’s heritage to command. It had piqued Hux’s curiosity and he had begun compiling all available data on the Force-user.

“I suppose it suits you,” Hux finally decided. He walked to Kylo and slid the cowl of his cloak off and unclasped the forbidding mask Kylo used to keep the world at a distance. He pulled the surprisingly heavy piece from Kylo’s head and let it drop to the floor.

It always was something of a shock to see that face exposed. There was a youthfulness to Kylo’s features that belied his years. The full lips, the narrow chin, his aquiline nose, and the dark eyes that drew one in. On the whole it created a curious handsomeness, not what one expected to be hidden under the mask of a killer.

Almost as if he couldn't help himself, Ren leaned down and kissed Hux.  In their time together, Kylo had learned some refinement. This kiss wasn't harsh but it was demanding.  It was something that never failed to confuse Hux, each time Kylo initiated a kiss it was as if the other man were drowning and needed to breathe Hux in.  

As usual Hux distanced himself from the passion Ren exuded. Logic told him that everything a dark side user did had to be fraught with emotion. It was how they drew their power. Any strong emotion would do, it had nothing to do with Hux personally.  Still, it was hard to not step closer, to not lean into the kiss.  

“I thought you wanted to talk,” Hux managed to say when the kiss ended.  His eyes were locked on Ren’s slick lips. Hux hated that he enjoyed seeing the other man’s reddened and swollen lips, he despised the warm curl of possessiveness that would go through him knowing he had done that. He was above such emotional entanglements.  

“You don't need to see my face to talk.  You only remove my mask when you want me,” Ren told him with a tight smile. It was predatory and pleased. Mentally Hux reviewed what Kylo had said.  It was true that most of their encounters ended in sex but mostly Hux removed the mask so he could better gauge Kylo’s thoughts. “Plus, you brought me here.  Does that mean you're ready to cede control, General?”

That made Hux give Kylo a hot glare, perhaps he had picked up on some of the nuances of Hux’s actions but, as always, Ren assumed too much.

“I had thought you might prefer to hear my plans for a new Empire,” Hux almost whispered. It was a risk, not only divulging such thoughts but trusting that Ren’s rooms weren't under surveillance.  The barb struck home, Ren’s hands lifted and grabbed Hux’s biceps and he squeezed hard. Shock was written across Kylo’s features and Hux could see as Kylo processed the implications.

“You.  I don't know if you're brilliant or insane,” it was softly said with a touch of awe. Hux gave a tight grin, mirthless and sharp.

"If I may continue?” Hux hoped Kylo picked up all the implications in his simple question.

"Yes.  But not here.  Come," Kylo said before pulling the cowl and outer robes off. In just his tunic and pants Ren seemed taller somehow, less bulky. It lent him a certain grace, not that the Force-user needed it.  Then Ren strode toward the empty doorway to the left of the room and Hux obediently followed. He had to admit, he was curious what the other rooms of Kylo’s apartments were like.

The room they entered was small and dark. There was almost no light and what illumination there was felt like it was being swallowed by the darkness of the room. The floor, walls, and ceiling were all a uniform matte black. It was completely bare save for a small brazier with its small spark of light.  As Hux crossed the threshold it felt as if the air itself had weight, as it were pressing him down or trying to force him out. This was a sanctuary and it wasn't inviting. Not to Hux.

Kylo lifted one hand and waved it elegantly.  Curious, Hux looked over his shoulder and saw a fine shimmer across the doorway… was that the Force?  Once more Hux cursed the fact that there was so little information on the Force, Palpatine had worked to eradicate knowledge of how the Force worked and could be wielded. He had wanted no untrained Force sensitives rising up against him.

That had been the fatal flaw of the Sith, their unwavering devotion to the dogma which regulated that there could be only two. It made them weak, especially in a galaxy rife with Jedi. But even the vaunted Jedi had fallen, proving that mysticism was a disease. Only the strong could hope to rule.

“What is this place?” Hux dared to ask, unsure if he would get an answer. He was used to the side of Kylo that he normally saw, the battle hardened warrior. This, well, this was different enough to shake Hux. Surely Ren didn't buy into the faith of the old Force users?

“This is where I meditate,” Ren answered and Hux hid his grimace at having his suspicions confirmed. “I remove myself from the light and work on my control. I would think that would appeal to you, General.”

“It would, if there were some proof it worked,” Hux responded smoothly, his tone full of dry wit.

"You mentioned an Empire, I believe?"

“I did. As you are aware the majority of the troopers now are ones that were raised in the First Order, infants that grew up indoctrinated in absolute loyalty and trained from childhood to be soldiers.  There are a few failures, but the programming succeeds almost 98% of the time,” Hux began. His throat felt dry and he tamped down on the insecurity he felt. This was the first time, ever, that he had spoken of his grand ideas.

“This will be a long standing area of contention, I'm afraid. I believe that the old Empire was correct in its use of clones, easier to replace even if they are costly to make.  Quicker to grow them and pre-program them.   They proved their use against the Jedi, none of your troopers have ever been faced a Force user.  You have no idea how well they’ll react,” Kylo argued, there was no menace in his words just the desire to debate. Hux felt his eyebrows rise, clearly it was time to engage Kylo’s mind as well as his body.

Hux entered into the discussion eagerly, testing what Kylo knew of training troops and tactics and was excited to find a pragmatic commander inside the Knight. Of course, he had hoped to find such hidden depths the man but Hux had been disappointed in the past and never counted on the promise of something. Although, considering his heritage it would be surprising if Kylo hadn't learned something at his mother’s knee.  There were some good ideas that Kylo presented and Hux found himself well pleased.

Slowly Hux remembered their reason for being here. He turned the conversation back to his plan. Obviously they needed to overthrow Snoke, they both understood that the only viable path to power would be to kill the Supreme Leader. Next they would need to grab the reins of power, with Hux’s name, Kylo’s power, and being the commanders of the flagship of the First Order they should be able to do so with minimum waste of life. After all, there needed to be officers to populate the ranks of the Emperor’s army. They acknowledged that there would be skirmishing and they would need to be ruthless, but with two fine military minds they should be able to manage.

Kylo looked thoughtful, he tapped one finger against his lower lip in an unconscious gesture. He was silent for a time, yet Hux could tell that Kylo was giving his words the proper weight.

“You’ll need the Knights of Ren when we face Snoke but I won't waste them needlessly. We will need to expand the Knighthood once we have power, they can help with policing and policies as well as with training the troops to defend against Force users,” Kylo finally said. He was clearly expected an argument but Hux only nodded.

“No, their use far outweighs any advantage we would gain by sacrificing them,” Hux agreed.  “We’ll need such loyalty to stamp out the Resistance.  Although if we could recruit some of their tacticians it might prove useful.  Realistically we have to find a way to subsume them into the Empire or they’ll forever be a thorn in our side.”

“You should know, I have family in the Resistance,” Kylo finally told Hux, his face pale. Was he truly worried that Hux would repudiate him? Or did he think he was confessing a sin?

“I know,” Hux responded simply. Color flushed into Kylo’s cheeks and the air in the room seemed to crackle with static.

“You know?” Kylo demanded softly, menace evident in every line of his body. Apparently Ren assumed his past was shrouded in mystery. For some it might well be, but knowing Kylo's age and knowing how strong he was in the Force; well, it was easy to extrapolate. Especially since Ben Organa disappeared just as Kylo Ren began making his name.  Hux always had been good at putting disparate pieces together.

"I had suspicions and after reading your records it was obvious.  Few are willing to discuss General Organa’s missing son,” Hux answered.  “Are you planning on defecting?”

The anger which continually simmered in Kylo exploded then and Hux found himself Force pushed against the wall as an incensed Kylo Ren stalked toward him. Hux did his best to keep his face blank, unsure of where this would lead.

“Never.  Leia rarely had time for me.  Rebuilding the Republic ate up much of her time and when her husband was around she was besotted with him,” Kylo growled, the flush spreading down his neck and disappearing into his black robes.  Ren’s shoulders hunched in a way that belied his words though.

Wisely Hux kept silent. That didn't sound like the sentimental mother that Snoke had described but clearly that was how Ren interpreted the events. Hux had no memories of his own mother, his father had taken Hux under his wing at an early age to get the boy he’d been ready for greatness. It wasn’t his place to judge.

It wasn’t Hux’s place to draw out Kylo’s conflicted feelings about his mother.  It certainly wasn’t his place to try to understand how the Supreme Leader was using those feelings against Kylo.  If Hux was right, eventually it wouldn’t matter.  It would matter, however, how the new Empire chose to deal with the head of the Resistance.

“You don't know what it was like, they were always on me, always worried that I'd hear the call from the dark side. It was my life, I should have been allowed to live it instead of being a test subject for their new Jedi order,” Kylo shouted, his voice deep and full of timeworn emotion.

Eventually, Ren would need to face the specter of his mother.  But until then, old ghosts would haunt him.  Hux could do nothing to aid him.

“I don't care about your family, just where your allegiance lies,” Hux ground out.  He made sure that Kylo had his eyes focused on him, could see that Hux was telling the truth.

Abruptly, the invisible constraints that held him were gone and Hux stumbled forward. Kylo reached out to steady him, or so Hux thought, but then the other man drew him close and enfolded him in an embrace.

"Everyone has always wanted me for my connections, for my power, for what I could bring them. Why do you want me?  Which reason is it for you?” Kylo demanded brokenly.  Hux stiffened, he’d never considered what the isolation Snoke had placed on Kylo had done to the man. Was he to offer comfort?  No.  Truth would be best; Kylo didn't need platitudes, he needed to know that he was worth something more than the value placed on him by others.

“I want a strong right hand, a leader who will help me consolidate the power of the galaxy into a new Empire that will last the ages. I want you to fulfill your potential and be what you were meant to be – a force to be reckoned with,” Hux said evenly, keeping his arms at his side. He would not coddle Ren; whatever crisis this was it had to be worked through by Kylo.

Ren kept his head bowed for long minutes and Hux wondered what was going on in the mess that was Kylo’s head. There were times when Kylo was a complete mystery, his thoughts and motivations seemed beyond Hux’s ken.  

As abruptly as Kylo had taken hold of him, Hux found himself released. There was a steadiness about Ren now, as if he’d been missing a piece and had just managed to find it.

"Why do I feel like you're manipulating me like the rest?” Kylo asked, his head held high.  Pride Hux understood, they both had it in spades.

“Everyone manipulates everyone else.  You know what I want from you; so ask yourself what do you want?” Hux rebutted shrewdly. This could be their breaking point, but no matter. If he had to move forward without Kylo then so be it.  It would be harder to consolidate his power base and would require the elimination of Ren as well as Snoke. If they broke faith with each other here, everything Hux had divulged would be used to convict him.

Kylo circled around Hux. The dimness made it seem more menacing than it should have been. Hux felt his back straighten, his head lifted, and his eyes focused on the far wall.  He knew he was being judged and his posture told Ren that he would not be found wanting.

“What do I want?  Curious,” Ren repeated Hux’s last words with a strange lethargy. “I want to know this isn't some ploy of yours, General.  You seem to think I can't be trusted, yet you're willing to share this seditious scheme with me.  That would make you as foolhardy as you believe me to be.”

Hux barked out sarcastic laughter.  “Ren, I trust you to a point. I think you lack control but there is no doubt that you are one of the most powerful men in the galaxy.  I doubt even Skywalker has your ability with the Force. How many times do I have to ask you to aid me? Will you or won't you?”

“Is that all I am to you, Hux?  A partner, a powerful man to help secure you an Empire?  Is that it?” there was something dark and vicious that lurked in Ren's words.  How it vexed Hux that so often Kylo could render him unsure of what path to take. As it was, he had no idea of what Ren was looking for.

“I don't know!  Is that what you want to hear?  I don't know what you are to me. I know I need you, isn’t that enough?” Hux fired back as he wiped a hand across his tired eyes. Truly, he had no sure idea of how to secure Kylo’s loyalty. He had thought that the seduction would be enough.  He had erroneously thought that Kylo would be easier to sway.

Kylo came to stand in front of Hux, one hand curled around Hux’s cheek and the soft leather of his glove rasped against the faint stubble. “Don't you feel anything at all?”

Hux snarled then, his teeth bared in a feral manner. Hux felt his heart pounding, Kylo's pinky was on his neck and the man could most likely feel the tripping beat of his traitorous body.

“You shred my patience.  You chip away at my control,” Hux admitted. If he was going to damn himself, he might as well admit this as well. Nothing and no one else could get to Hux the way Kylo did. A slow smile spread across Kylo’s full lips, it softened his whole face.

With his hand still against Hux’s cheek, Kylo leaned in to kiss him. It was sweeter than the earlier one and Hux’s eyes slid closed of their own accord.  It was true, what he’d said. Only Kylo Ren made him feel as if he were losing his vaunted self-restraint. Hux would never give up his dreams of imperial rule, but there were things he'd be willing to forfeit to secure Kylo’s cooperation. In order to keep Kylo with him. It was dangerously close to weakness.

Kylo lipped at his mouth, then with gentle hands tilted Hux’s head so he could nuzzle behind his ear and suck at the tender spots on his neck. Without conscious thought, Hux slid his arms around Kylo and pulled the other man closer.  He was pleased to feel that Kylo was already half hard. They always affected each other like this, if in nothing else their passions complimented each other.

Kylo moved his hands, running them over Hux’s back in an urgent caress. Giving in to his instincts, Hux wrapped his arms around Kylo’s neck and allowed his body to lean towards Ren’s heat. It was rare that Hux ever let his partners take the lead and this was the first time in their time together that Kylo had initiated a tryst. Hux had started to wonder if this would truly be the way to winning Kylo’s cooperation. If it meant nothing to him…

Nimble fingers slipped under Hux's jacket which pulled his shirt free from his breeches.  Kylo let his hands skimmed over the flat planes of Hux’s back and Hux sighed at the contact. It was easier to pretend that he hadn't lost control of the situation if his eyes were closed.  It was true, what he'd said to Kylo. Only Kylo made him feel as if he’d been set adrift.

Slowly, with more care than Hux thought was necessary, Kylo divested him of his garments. The carefully pressed pieces were dropped to the floor, forgotten and unheeded under the soft onslaught of touches and caresses. Kylo had become far more refined in their encounters, he had learned how to wield gentleness as effectively as he had cruelty.  It made their encounters heady, Hux was never sure which Kylo he would encounter.

Once Hux was bare, Kylo pulled them both down to the floor.  Along the way Kylo had removed his own clothing but Hux couldn't remember it happening. He had to pull himself together, he never let sexual encounters affect him so.  He was the one in command, there was never a point where he would be seduced.  The concept was too alien, too foreign. A lesser man might have found it frightening.  

Kylo wasn't allowing Hux the space he needed to try to wrest supremacy of the situation back into his hands. With a sweetness that Hux hadn't expected, Kylo set about mapping his body.  Brushed lips and fingers over each mole, each scar, each imperfection on Hux’s skin. It was hard to concentrate on anything but the desire that made his bones feel as if they were liquid.

Once Kylo had touched reverently almost everything on the front of his body, Hux found himself rolled onto his belly and the process was repeated. He couldn't help but groan at the feel of Kylo’s body pressed against his back as the man nosed at the back of his neck.  Ren was propped up on his elbows, his lanky frame pressed from chest to ankle against Hux and his body heat was overwhelming. Hux allowed his head to fall forward to the floor, his vaunted will power was long gone.

As Kylo made his way down Hux’s back, he was forcibly reminded of their first encounter. How Kylo wanted it to be full of pain and violence. The tables had turned; now Hux craved some ferocity, just a touch of pain to help clear his head.  Or if Kylo would just focus some attention on Hux’s aching cock, he might be able to throw off this lassitude that Kylo had created.

Hux whimpered again as just the slightest edge of teeth and nails scraped against his lower back. It made his hips arch and for a bare moment Hux rutted against the floor.  Any friction at this point was welcome. Anything that might relieve the pleasure that was quickly becoming unbearable. Is this what Ren felt all the time?  

Then the faintest pinch of teeth into one ass cheek and Hux’s breath ghosted out of him.

“More,” Hux rasped out, his throat dry as paper.

“Later,” Ren whispered into Hux’s skin.  It sounded like a promise.

No relief now, though. Nothing but torture as Kylo used his tongue to taste a path down from the small of Hux’s back to his perineum.  The heat of Kylo’s mouth quickly cooled which made Hux gasp and shiver.  A low keen escaped his throat and he could feel the low rumble of laughter against his posterior.

With firm hands, Kylo urged Hux up onto his knees, his torso and head still against the floor. Then Kylo began a systematic campaign to wreak the General, to strip his hard won pride from him, to make Hux beg for mercy, for relief.

It began with Kylo's tongue as it swept across the sensitive flesh of Hux’s testicles.  Strong hands held Hux’s hips steady as Kylo used his mouth to take Hux apart. His swirling tongue that laved and twisted against superheated skin, that made obscene whimpers rise from Hux’s throat, that made his fingers try to find purchase in the smooth flooring. For long suspended moments Hux forgot everything.

There was just Kylo.

There was just desire.

Hux was trapped by his desire, there was no thought to him, his existence was focused solely on Kylo Ren and how his body felt. When Kylo pulled away, Hux cried out in denial. His body was bereft, it needed Kylo to finish what he’d started.  It needed completion, release.

Through the haze of lust, Hux swore he could feel the tell-tale signs of Kylo wielding the Force. The way the air thickened, how it pooled with electric potential around Ren.  How it seemed harder to breathe, although Hux would never admit it he found it arousing. Hux panted, trying to get air into his lungs, air that might clear his head.  

He had almost managed to pull clear when two slick fingers breached him and Hux mewled.  At the intrusion any and all clarity vanished. Hux writhed, his hips moving of their own accord, as Kylo continued his onslaught.

Because Kylo moved with such grace, there were times that Hux forgot how tall and strong Ren was.  With no perceptible effort he flipped Hux onto his back, a predatory gleam in his eyes.  For a moment, a mere heartbeat, Hux felt strangely exposed.

“I want to see you,” Kylo said needlessly with a slight shrug. Hux curled his upper body upward, his hands latching onto Kylo’s shoulders and tugged the other man close.

Hux closed the gap between them with a punishing kiss, full of teeth and bruising hardness. Just as he pulled back he felt Kylo slide into him; all that hard, hot length just instantly sheathed within.  Hux threw his head backward as he cried out, his fingers dug deeply into Kylo’s firm shoulders.

He was on the cusp of begging which made Hux flush with embarrassment when Kylo began to move.  Long, slow strokes; they felt infinitely deep.  Small needy noises escaped Hux, they made Kylo’s lips part as if hearing Hux so debauched was pleasurable to Kylo.  Never faltering in his rhythm, Kylo leaned forward and scraped teeth over the tendons in Hux’s neck, across his collar bone.  

"Yes, harder.  Please,” Hux gasped out.  Kylo made a satisfied sound against Hux’s neck before sinking his teeth into the pale skin at the juncture of Hux’s neck and shoulder.

Hux’s whole body stiffened, his vision whited out for a moment, and then he was coming.  The pleasure seemed almost unbearable, how it shook every part of him.

Still, Kylo kept up his steady pace, never faltering. As the aftershocks zinged through his body, Hux was entranced at the strength and mastery Kylo had over his body.  He reached out with tremulous hands, stroked over the flat planes of Ren’s pale chest, skimmed fingers over battle scars until Kylo cried out as his own orgasm overtook him.

Hux expected Kylo to collapse on him but the man surprised him, he planted his hands on the floor and held himself carefully above Hux.  The General could feel the fine tremors in Kylo’s arms and leaned up to place a gentle and mostly chaste kiss on Kylo’s lips.

“In here, it's always safe to talk,” Kylo finally said, his bangs had fallen forward and were obscuring his eyes. “This is my heart, my center.  Nothing can enter here that I don't want.”

“Will all our planning sessions end this way?” Hux had to ask, a rueful smile on his face.  There was an answering quirk of lips from Kylo but no other rejoinder.  Truly, Hux hadn't expected one.  There had been something different about this encounter, perhaps it had just been because it had taken place in Ren’s sanctuary. There was nothing to worry about.

In one smooth play of muscle, Kylo rose to his feet.  Hux thought that there was an almost playful air about the man but he didn't have long to ponder the significance of the fact. Hux was just about to stand as well, he should dress and leave. Kylo swooped down and, before Hux could even think to struggle, had lifted the General in his arms.  He did it without visible effort and carried Hux easily to the doorway of the meditation room and beyond.

“Ren…” he growled out in warning.  There was a tremor in those broad shoulders that might have been repressed laughter.  

In a few long strides they were in Kylo’s sparsely furnished bedroom. Nothing but a pallet for sleeping, upon which Hux was unceremoniously dropped. He scrambled for a moment to get up but when he was halfway up, Kylo fell onto the mat beside him.  

“Stay,” it was almost a question. Kylo’s voice was that perfected flat tone, it must mean something for Hux not to leave. It was rare for Ren to stay with him, they never overindulged so there wouldn't be any harm to give into the whim.  

Hux didn't say anything, he simply curled onto his side and waited.  Ren pulled the thin blanket over them before he tugged Hux closer to his side. Just this once, it wouldn't hurt.

Chapter Text

Planning and careful recruitment strategies had them ending here.  On the desolate world where Snoke hid himself, where the Supreme Leader imagined he was safe.  There were troops here to protect him, men and women whose conditioning made them absolutely loyal to the Supreme Leader. They were a necessary sacrifice and for once Hux found himself agreeing with Kylo’s support of clones. Those they could have pre-programmed to betray Snoke. These were good soldiers that they had to slaughter.

It had taken months of careful paper shuffling to get here. The tedium of rearranging officers, promoting those who were; well, would be loyal to the new Empire.  Enterprising individuals who were poised around key members of the First Order. Individuals who would, once they were victorious, offer the upper echelon of the First Order two options – join the fledgling Empire or follow Snoke into death.

They had lost Starkiller Base.  Kylo had lost the girl that was Force sensitive.  They had both known when Supreme Leader Snoke called for Kylo to return, to finish his training that they must step up their time table.  When they had arrived with a full battalion of Stormtroopers it had announced their obvious betrayal.

Here, in the heat of battle all those precautions faded into nothingness. They were swept away by the fire and the blood, in the swift flow of commands to protect their flanks, to hold the center, and to push forward. There was no room for anything else.

Through the general haze of the planet’s atmosphere the brightly glowing laser blasts flew by them, subtly deflected by Kylo and the Knights of Ren. Wave after wave of their storm troopers were working on overwhelming the defenses around the crumbling temple Snoke was in.   Somehow, Kylo and Hux found themselves back to back here working to find a way to get into the old stone building. Snoke's control of the Force was formidable but Kylo assured him that the barrier was weakening.

In the distance he could hear Phasma ordering the troops into defensive positions, soon they would need to repel any loyalists to the Supreme Leader as Hux’s squad entered the temple to finish this. Hux lifted his blaster again, took careful aim, and fired off several quick rounds. All he had to worry about was keeping Ren safe and undistracted.

“Lower the damn barrier,” Hux growled under his breath as he sent off another volley of shots.  

It was eminently foolish for Hux to be here, but he knew that for him to command the respect necessary he must be a part of the final battle with Snoke. This was his kingdom to make and take, he must be military commander enough to drive this final blow against the Supreme Leader. If Hux died here, it only meant he lost. If that happened his life was forfeit anyway. Better to die like this.

“No more thoughts of death.  Barrier’s down.  Lead the charge, your excellency,” Ren rasped out. It had taken some work for him to lower the Force built barrier, nice to see it hadn't eroded Ren’s humor. Hard to tell with the mask in place, but Kylo had been using royal epithets for Hux in the past weeks as a gentle promise and tease. Only in private, though.

“Alpha unit!  To me,” Hux shouted and motioned the troops forward.  

He and Kylo jogged forward surrounded by their men. On the periphery the other Knights spread through the building as Phasma secured the rear, keeping them as safe as possible. Inside the temple, the light was dim and the stone gave off a wet chill. Combined with the persistent haze it was unwelcoming and offered too much protection for enemy troops.   Hux kept his gaze soft, looking for patterns and anything out of place.

"It's mostly clear, I can't sense anyone around us. It's in the amphitheater that we’ll have to worry,” Ren said suddenly.  Strangely, Hux felt himself relax and he reached out to grip Kylo’s shoulder in a momentary show of assurance.

The troopers poured into the amphitheater ahead of Hux and Ren. The giant half circle of a room gently sloped downwards to a giant stone dais that held Snoke’s marble throne. He was surround by a cadre, Hux assumed they were the best, of troopers ready for battle.  The Supreme Leader’s men were fresh; his men weren't but Hux still had faith in his people.

“You're the insignificant General who thinks to defy me?  I made you, Hux,” Snoke roared, his sibilant voice carried by the excellent acoustics. “My loyal Knight, strike down this traitor!”

Kylo stood to his full height, he was just to the right of Hux and from the corner of his eye Hux saw him reach for his lightsaber.  There was a brief frisson of doubt, was Kylo truly wed to his cause? The blood red blade illuminated and flashed in front of Hux, so close he could smell the ozone-like tang that leaked from the blade.  Was this the end?  Had he come this far only to fall to Kylo Ren?

Kylo gave an indecipherable scream and leaped forward toward the stone stage, using the Force to push himself farther and faster than normal.

Hux was shocked when Snoke blocked Ren but a swath of the Supreme Leader’s men were decimated by Kylo. Hux orders his own men forward, to engage the enemy as he made his way to the central battle, constantly firing into the fray.

It seemed to happen in slow motion, such a cliché and yet it was the truth.Hux had looked away, firing into the melee around him, when he turned back Ren had stumbled.  As he watched, Kylo fell to his knees, one hand thrust outward in a counter to whatever Snoke was doing. Even though the old man was wasted and weak looking he was powerful in the Force and Kylo had been struggling against the attacks.

For one horrified instant, Hux was certain that Kylo had lost.  Ren fell backward, his helmet hitting the stone with a metallic clang.  His left hand remained raised, still wielding the Force.  His right hand was outstretched, the deactivated saber held limply in his fingers.With an athletic tuck and roll, Hux ducked toward Kylo’s side. For a moment he was more worried about the Knight than the battle, an unconscionable mistake.

Ren was doing his best to hold Snoke immobile in a Force grip. In return, Snoke was Force choking the life out of Kylo. Hux wasn’t sure how much longer Kylo could hold onto consciousness.

He didn't even think about what he was about to do. Hux let his fingers tangle briefly with Kylo’s as the General’s palm connected with the hilt of Ren’s distinctive saber. All officers knew how to wield a sword; how different could this be?

Once he had lifted its slight weight, the blade ignited and the excess energy that funneled out the side vents gave off a furious heat. The blade seemed weighted down, as if gravity pulled at the energy of the lightsaber and the vibration coming from it made Hux’s arms numb. How did Kylo wield this damned thing?

The damaged whine from the weapon caught Snoke's attention and the deformed head swung toward Hux.  The General swung his arms back, trying to find a stance that would let him use the lightsaber effectively. Everything seemed tinged red from the blade as Hux thrust forward with all the power he had.

He had expected resistance, to have his attack blocked or parried. Instead the glow of the blade was quenched in the meat of Snoke's body and the old man wailed out a sonorous death cry.  That quickly and it was over.  Hux was frozen, dumbfounded.  He’d barely done anything.

Black robes seemed to envelope him as Kylo Ren wrapped his arms around Hux from behind, Ren’s gloved hands wrapped around Hux’s wrists and pulled gently.  Together they yanked the lightsaber free, as soon as the blade cleared the body, Kylo's hands slid forward and took the weapon from Hux’s nerveless hands and stepped back to deactivate the saber. Once the lightsaber was extinguished the room seemed darker and a hushed silence fell.

Hux reached out with one booted foot, tapped at the corpse in front of him.  He didn’t even realize he was holding his breath until his lungs began to burn.  He wasn’t sure what he expected.  Perhaps for Snoke to move, to reach out and grab him.  Hux narrowed his eyes, he should feel elated not worried that this was some strange trick.

Kylo, acting rashly and decisively, ignited his blade again and neatly removed the Supreme Leader’s head.  Hux breathed a sigh of relief.

From the outer reaches of the amphitheater his troops started a victory cheer that rang around them.  Hux turned his head, he reached out to remove that damn mask.  Surely Ren wouldn’t complain, wouldn’t try to stop Hux from seeing his face.  They’d won.  Hux pulled the heavy piece from Kylo’s head and let it drop to the marble before leaning in and taking a victory kiss.  Ren’s breath caught, surprised at the act most likely.  Hell, Hux had surprised himself with it.

When he stepped back he noticed Ren had one arm clamped tightly to his side.  That’s right, he’d been wounded, earlier.  That must have been Snoke how outmaneuvered him.

“Medic!” Hux shouted, his hand up as he waved a trooper over.

“It’s nothing.  Less than a scratch, tend to someone who needs it,” Kylo growled unhappily.  

“That’s not for you to decide,” Hux glared at the trooper until he inspected Kylo’s side and taped up the wound until they returned the ship to have it properly looked at. Ren bore it with something like aplomb.

“Sir, all troops have reported in with the all clear,” one of the faceless soldiers delivered the message.  Hux nodded to show he’d heard the woman and murmured an indistinct thanks.

They’d done it. 

“Let Phasma know, we need to round up the last of Snoke's men and send out the victory signal,” Ren reminded him, pride stamped on his features. Hux shot him a dark look full of promise for such insubordination.

Hux grabbed a handheld comm unit and radioed Phasma.  “Captain, if you'd be so kind as to secure the area so I can contact the Finalizer with news of our victory?”

“Very good, sir.  Congratulations, Emperor Hux,” Phasma sent back, the first to use his new title. Perhaps a tad early yet still gratifying.