Chapter 1: Chapter One
INT. DOMHNALL’S ROOM - DAWN.
DOMHNALL and ADAM are in bed. DOMHNALL is asleep, but ADAM is wide awake, watching him. He’s been watching for hours. He can’t believe that this is real. He would have never believed he could feel this happy. DOMHNALL starts to stir, opens his eyes, sees ADAM, and smiles.
Hux sets the script down on the coffee table and sits back against his couch.
He wants this role. He needs this role.
He stares for a long moment at his phone, gone unanswered for hours. He clears his throat, rubs the heel of his hand at his eyes as if to shove back the tears he refused to let fall. There’s dozens of missed calls and notifications on his phone, but he ignores them for now. Hux dials a number from memory and stands to pace the length of his living room as he waits for an answer.
Hux halts his pacing. “Poe. It’s Hux.”
There’s an awkward pause and Hux struggles to find the words, his throat all clogged up still. He doesn’t want Poe to hear it in his voice.
“Uh, so. What’d you think, man?”
Poe sounds the same as always, so carefree and casual.
“It was good.” Too much. “Good enough,” Oh, God, he’s ruined everything now. “I mean, I’d-- I’d like to be involved. In the project.” Hux’s nails dig into his palms before he catches himself, shakes his hand loose.
“Really? Really! Oh--Oh, my God, Hux, that’s great! Just-- One sec--” For a moment Poe’s voice is muffled as he relays the news to others, a man, a woman, and a dog, though Hux can’t hear them well enough to make out what they say. But they seem happy if the shouting and barking is any indication. Poe comes back. “Seriously, man, that’s so-- I’m just so happy to have you on board! It’s been a long time.”
Understatement. “It has, yeah.”
Silence again, with indistinct cheerful chatter and yapping on Poe’s end. He doesn’t know what else to say because it’s been a long time since he last even saw Poe face to face. God, this will be painful, but it will be so worth it. Hux will not let his own self-consciousness get in the way of this film.
“So, look,” Poe breezes on as if the awkward silences weren’t there, “Why don’t I text you and we work out a time for you and Ren to do a reading--”
“Ren? Ren, who?”
“Oh, Kylo Ren. Yeah, he’s agreed to play Adam.”
“Really?” What. “That’s…” Going to be a disaster. “An interesting choice.”
“Yeah,” Poe laughs, “I thought the same thing too when my agent gave me his name, but - you know - he’s really good.”
“I’m serious! He’s great, you’re gonna-- Well, you’re not gonna love him, but you guys will do great.”
Doubtful. “I’m sure.”
“Nothing’s been signed yet, you know, so don’t worry about it. I already know you’re my Domhnall, that’s not gonna change. So, why don’t we text and figure out a good time to do a reading with Ren. We can see if this is gonna work. If it doesn’t work, we’ll look for someone else, yeah?”
That’s acceptable. And it means that Poe is giving him some creative control over this. It makes the film even more his already.
“All right. We’ll try it. But I’m not making any promises, Poe.”
“No, no, I wouldn’t expect you to. Just give me your best and we’ll go from there.”
“Yes? Yes!” Poe’s enthusiasm is nearly contagious, “All right, I’ll text Ren, I’ll text you, and I’ll let you know!”
“Thank you.” The gratitude slipped out in his tone and Hux winces at it. He sounds desperate.
“No, no, don’t thank me. If you still want to thank me after you meet Ren… Well, you can do it then.” Poe chuckles.
Hux smothers a laugh into his fist. “All right.”
“All right, I’ll talk to you soon, buddy.”
Hux sinks back into his couch, some of his nervous tension finally bleeding out. He stares at the script on his coffee table, wondering if this is it. If this will be the decision he regrets or remembers.
It doesn’t matter.
Hux picks up a highlighter and pen and gets to work.
Two days later, Hux sits in Poe’s apartment.
Poe had greeted him with a brilliant smile that still set hearts racing. His hair is shorter now, but still unkempt. He’s gotten rid of that abominable beard he used to refuse to shave off, no matter how many times Hux griped. His face looks like a Michelangelo sculpture, all high cheekbones and defined jawlines. His one flaw is the slight gap between his front teeth, but his grins are so full of charm that the imperfection only seems to add to it.
Poe has a dog now, a tiny, yipping ball of orange fluff that spent most of the brief apartment tour biting at Hux’s heels and growling at him. Poe apologized, of course, claiming that Baby is usually quite friendly with guests. Hux suspects the animal just hates him and, honestly, the feeling is mutual.
The apartment is smaller than he imagined it might be, considering the level of success Poe has had lately. It has two bedrooms - one of which Poe converted into an office - one and a half bathrooms, a galley style kitchen, and an open living room. He got a tour about fifteen minutes after he arrived which was at exactly one in the afternoon as they had agreed.
They have been waiting for Kylo Ren for over an hour now and had run out of things to talk about. Poe assured Hux that Ren would be there any minute and Hux is starting to think that’s a lie. But the project is worth it, so he stays and waits.
Poe told Hux that he was single, which Hux thought was a lie. No one who was single had a bed large enough to comfortably sleep four people. All the time they had been roommates, Poe had never gone longer than a week without a lover. Not that Hux was judging, of course. It would simply be uncharacteristic for Poe to be single, of all things. He only wondered why Poe would be secretive about his partner. Perhaps it had been too long, perhaps they just weren’t that close anymore.
Hux told Poe that he was single, as well, though he was telling the truth. When he and Poe lived together, Hux never brought a companion home and never stayed out for the night. He hadn’t felt the need to at the time. That could have had something to do with his unrequited crush on Poe for the first two months they’d lived together, but Hux tried never to think of it. Since then, there had been a few prospects, but nothing serious, nothing lasting, nothing that went further than a coffee date. He told himself that this was fine.
They turned to careers then, though Hux already knew all about Poe’s. He still feigned ignorance, still asked questions just to be polite.
Poe had gone on to pursue writing after the Academy, then directing. He’d recently gotten picked up by Universal Pictures, which increased his budget tenfold. To date, he’s earned two Golden Globes and a slew of awards from Venice, Cannes, and Sundance. In a few weeks’ time he would likely claim his first Oscar. Poe wasn’t certain that he’d win, but he was hopeful. Poe is kind, but not terribly humble. He doesn’t hide that his work is among the best to come out of his generation and he speaks of his craft with pride. Hux admires that; there’s no point in being humble when you’re just good. Poe’s work is quickly curating a name for himself as the best writer and director in the business.
Hux had continued with acting, had become successful in his own right. Mostly with independent films and the like, but he’s carving a place for himself. He won awards at Toronto, Cannes, Sundance and the like, just as much as Poe. He is also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the upcoming Academy Awards. He didn't have much hope that he’d actually win, though, not this time. Not for that role. He had seen the others nominated alongside him and Hux knows that he stands no chance against them. But it will be his first time on a red carpet, at a live televised awards show, and it will be good practice for next time. He is certain there will be a next time.
They talked business for a while after that, about their hopes for the project. Universal Pictures would produce this film, with a bigger budget than Hux is used to. This meant he would get paid exceptionally well. Not that money is everything, especially not to Hux. He gets by well enough on his father's monthly stipends and the money from his independent films. But the money was certainly nice to think about. There will be press to do when they go into post-production, the kind that Hux isn’t accustomed to doing. A worldwide premiere tour with days of interviews, photo shoots, and talk shows, all alongside his co-star. His co-star that has a habit of refusing to do interviews. At all. Ever.
They had lapsed into another awkward silence, Baby sitting in Poe’s lap glaring across at Hux, when a sudden pounding on the door startled them.
Their eyes meet and Poe gives him a crooked grin before standing to answer the door, Baby right at his heels. The smile is probably meant to be reassuring, but Hux only feels dread. He has heard much about Ren, mostly from the press who are all dying to get their hands on him. Ren is part of several franchises, including one based on a popular young adult book series in which he rarely wears a shirt. Hux made a point not to watch any of them.
Hux finds himself standing to greet the man, adjusting his suit, though he can’t fathom why. Ren is only going to disappoint him, after all.
Hux doesn’t get to take him all in before Ren fills the room like a storm, brushing past Poe and Baby like they aren’t even there. He makes for Hux with sloped, broad shoulders and intense focus in his dark eyes.
“What makes you think you had the right to tell her about us?” Ren stops two feet from Hux, Poe’s coffee table between them. He looks furious.
It feels like his brain short circuits and Hux tries to remember if he's ever even met Ren before. But then he realizes--
“What? We never agreed-- Are you-- Are you ashamed of me?” Hux's voice breaks as he slips into Domhnall’s skin. He feels the anguish at the thought, stares at his Adam with wide eyes.
Ren's - Adam's - face collapses like the planet has cracked open beneath him. “No, no, never.” His hand moves, as if to reach for Domhnall, but he withdraws halfway there. “Never, I just--” The hand combs through his hair now, shaking, looking down. “I'm just not ready.”
“And when will you be?” Domhnall’s words chase the end of Adam's, almost riding over them. It brings Adam's eyes back to his own and those dark eyes look so miserable that Domhnall softens his tone. “How long am I supposed to wait for you, Adam?” He chokes on the next words, not wanting to say them. But he has to, they've been weighing in him for too long. It’s his turn to look away. “I don't know how much longer I can do this.”
Adam is shocked, rocking back on his heels, confusion burning in his eyes. Domhnall knows he understands, he just doesn’t want to. “Wha-- What the hell does that mean?”
“I think it’s clear.” Domhnall struggles to keep calm even though he feels like he will rattle apart at any moment.
“No.” Adam’s voice is hard, with a twist of desperation. “No, no--”
“No, you can’t--”
“I love you--”
“I know, but Adam--”
“You can’t just let this--”
They’re both shocked into silence by the volume of Domhnall’s voice. Adam turns red, shaking, lips pursed, jaw clenching and trying not to cry. It echoes in Domhnall and his eyes burn, bottom lip quivers. He lets out a long shuddering breath, tries to steady himself by looking away. He can’t look at Adam any longer or he’ll give in. He’ll give up and take it all back.
“You need to decide. I can’t--” He takes another trembling breath, staring down at the floor as if it’s all that keeps him upright. “I can’t wait forever. I just can’t.”
He looks up to see Adam's reaction, but Adam isn’t there anymore. Hux drops Domhnall with a long exhale, pushing down the urge to wipe at his wet eyes. He looks at Ren with a considering gaze as he watches the man leave Adam behind with a shake of his dark head.
Ren is different than what he expected. Taller, broader. Not much taller than Hux, but he has the width across the shoulders and the muscle that Hux will never have. He keeps his hair long, likely to minimize the largeness of his ears which jut out from under a dark mane. At least his face is elongated, which helps to downplay the size of his hooked nose and wide mouth. He’s swathed in black: black jeans that look too tight to be comfortable, thin black shirt, a worn out black leather jacket. He looks like a cross between a moody teenager and a punk from the ‘70s. His large, gloved hands clutch at a hat and scarf that are too thick for southern California weather.
Kylo Ren is looking him over, too, and Hux forces himself not to fidget. He knows what Ren will see: six feet, one inches tall, most of it legs and gangly arms. Straight nose, small mouth, angular jaw and cheekbones that dominate his features. He’s been told that he dresses ‘like a prude,’ at least according to Phasma. His wardrobe contains button down shirts, stiff collars and suit jackets almost exclusively. He owns exactly one pair of jeans and his shoes are almost all Oxford dress shoes. Sometimes he refrains from wearing a tie when he's feeling casual. He had worn black today too, but it's not nearly as much as Ren piled on. At least his button down shirt is white.
Ren seems to finish his assessment. He turns to acknowledge Poe, towering over the poor writer.
“He'll do.” Ren says. His voice is so much different from Adam’s, pitched lower, makes Hux think the man must be chewing rocks.
“ Excuse me?” Ignoring Hux’s indignation, Ren digs around in his pockets until he produces a scrap of paper. He drops it into Poe’s hand and the smaller man immediately tucks the garbage into his pocket. Then he’s shoving that ridiculous hat onto his head, winding the scarf around his face and leaving. The door slams shut hard enough to rattle the framed art on Poe’s walls.
“What the fuck was that?” Hux isn’t mad, he just doesn’t understand.
Poe shrugs, hands up in defense. “That’s… Ren .” Poe looks just as bewildered as Hux feels, but he’s grinning.
“ ‘He’ll do’ ?”
“He liked you.”
“He-- What? He barely looked at me, just came in here shouting.”
“Yes, that’s Ren. I heard you the first time.”
Poe is still standing there grinning, hands behind his back while he waits.
Damn it. Ren was good. It’s terrible how good he was. How easy it was to become Domhnall when Ren stepped into the room. It was like a click in his head and then he was there. Even if Ren managed to mangle most of the fucking lines, it was still damn good. Hux can see now why Poe is so excited that Ren agreed.
But it’s down to his decision. Poe had promised him that.
Hux makes him wait for it.
Poe claps his hands together, grins so wide it looks like it’s going to fly off his face. Hux smiles indulgently as Poe goes on about how amazing it all is. How he wishes he had a camera earlier, how it’s a practically historical moment, how he’s not going to let Hux regret it. Hux hands over his agent’s information on a card he keeps in a small silver case. Poe reveals that the bit of garbage Ren handed over had been his own agent’s information. Poe promises to keep in touch, to let him know when the contracts are drawn up and they’re ready to move forward.
Hux makes it two steps down the sidewalk before he’s immediately regretting everything.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
“Why didn’t you talk me out of it?” Hux bemoans into his hands.
“How could I? You didn’t even tell me about it in the first place.” Phasma sits across from him, the picture of elegance in her cream suit. Her fingers trace the rim of her teacup, an idle gesture. Hux keeps telling her it’s a dirty habit and she always tells him to get stuffed. They’re at an impasse on the subject.
“I can’t believe I have to pretend to be in love with an actual, giant child. You know he didn’t even look at me once he’d decided ?” Hux sneers.
“Yes, so you keep reminding me.” Phasma’s voice has that bored drawl to it, but that’s normal for her.
“Well, it was ridiculous.” Hux bites at the insides of his cheeks to keep from jutting his bottom lip out. “He’s hardly even a real actor! Did you know he got his start in commercials ?”
“Yes, you mentioned that.”
“You should have seen--”
He’s cut off by a young girl approaching their table with shaking hands and a scrap of paper.
“E-Excuse me, are you Phasma? Phasma Pressylla?”
Hux tunes out as Phasma’s face spreads into a glorious smile he’s only seen in photos and moments like this. They have an understanding, he and Phasma. Ever since they first became companions (he hesitates to say ‘friends’): They won’t lie to each other, won’t put on the facade of happy, sociable people to each other. It’s an agreeable arrangement.
They first met on the set of a medieval picture in which Hux had been playing one of the minor knights of a king. Phasma had been a stunt double. She rose in popularity over the fact that she was a female stunt double to a male actor. The internet had a lot to say about that, to which Phasma told them to get stuffed. She then went on to sweep the World Stunt Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. And she still did, quite consistently.
As soon as the girl is gone with her autograph and a blush riding high on her cheeks, Phasma’s smile vanishes. Hux is glad to see it gone; smiling suits Phasma just as much as it suits him - which is to say not at all.
“You were saying?”
“I’m going to regret this,” Hux sips his tea; it calms him, but only just.
“Possibly. But how long have you been whining about wanting to work on something with meaning ? With purpose?” She’s mocking him now. Phasma leans on the table with her elbows, staring him down with steely grey-blue eyes and red lips.
“Don’t throw my own words back at me,” He’s whining now. Damn her.
“You shouldn’t have said them, then.”
“What if it’s a disaster?” Hux had been trying not to say it, how worried he is. Not just about Ren, but what if he fucks something up as well? What if he ruins it?
Phasma looks about two seconds away from slapping him. “What if it’s not?”
He’d liked to think that it hadn’t occurred to him, how wonderful the film could be, but it had. He knew that he and Ren had a chemistry that would be beautiful on screen. He knew it in his bones and he hated it .
“You’re just going to have to get over it.” Phasma sits back, sipping her tea, point made.
“Yes.” He knows.
“You’re going to bring your best.”
“Yes, obviously .” Hux rolls his eyes. When had he ever brought anything less than his best?
“Because Ren is going to do the same.” Phasma is grinning around the rim of her cup. She never grins. “ And you have to be better than him.”
She has a point.
It feels better to think of it as a competition. And if this movie is going to go the way he thinks it might, he might just end up competing against Ren for several awards.
“Yes,” Hux is smirking now, too. “Yes, I will.”
The next few weeks go by in a blur.
Poe sends him the contract, just as promised. Production begins in a month. It will be tight on pre-production, but it’s the only time that works between his and Ren’s schedule. Luckily, they’ll be filming in L.A., so there won’t be any trudging through forests or deserts or snow or any other kind of extreme outdoors. The pay is the most that Hux has been offered to date, although his agent thinks they could argue for more. Hux refuses. He’s not poor as it is and he likes to think he’s above that now.
Poe sends him a text to inform him that Ren has officially signed on. Part of Hux had been hoping that Ren would refuse. He tries to remember why he’s doing this.
For the prestige. For the honor. For the art.
For the sake of crushing Ren during the next award season.
It’s all quite noble of him, really.
The day of the Academy Awards arrives before Hux even realizes it. He’s fully prepared, of course. He will present the award for Best Original Song and rehearsals go well. He has the lines memorized within the hour. He just has to hit the mark, stand close - but not too close - to the microphone and spit it all out.
The night of the show, his suit is perfectly pressed and tailored. He went with a deep, dark shade of red, because he knows how popular black suits are on the red carpet. This suit makes him stand out without being too overt about it.
He’s picked up from his home by a hired driver at a reasonable time. He wants to arrive just a little late so as to not seem too eager. He waits in a long line of black, expensive cars before pulling up at the foot of the red carpet. He takes one, deep breath before stepping out to the flashing cameras and roaring crowd.
At this end of the carpet it’s not so busy with fans or press, but mostly with staff. He waves to his fellow peers, greets and laughs with those he’s worked with in the past. Hux spies Tyranus Dooku, Wilhuff Tarkin, and even the elusive Boba Fett in the crowd. He finds himself wishing that Phasma was with him.
He’s approached by a brown-skinned woman in a long ball gown and a earpiece fitted to her head. She introduces herself as Korr Sella, his handler for the evening and explains what her job will entail: She will guide him along the press line who are each given an allotted amount of time to ask their questions before he is ushered along to the next one. He defers to her expert guidance with a practised smile.
Within ten minutes he’s parched from talking so much. Each interview is only a few questions long, sometimes lasting barely five minutes before Hux is being ushered on to the next. The questions are so rapid-fire that he feels rushed to find an answer. Fortunately, his handler came prepared and a water bottle appears in his hand before he’s done the third interview. He wonders if he can hire her to be his assistant, once he has the extra money. She steers him along the line of press to his next interview.
“Brendol! Brendol!” The man looks as breathless as Hux feels, holding a mic towards Hux’s face.
“Please, call me Hux.” He cheeks are beginning to ache from smiling so much. He notes that the man is tall - not as tall as himself or Ren or Phasma, but tall.
“Hux-- Bala Tik, Rogue One Entertainment. What’s this I hear about you and Kylo Ren co-starring in a movie together?”
The smile on Hux’s face quakes before he forces out a laugh. Poe mentioned a press release about the film going out today, but he hoped no one would notice.
“Yes, yes, that true.”
“Are you excited to work with Kylo Ren?”
“Well, I think he should be excited to work with me.” The words are out before he can really stop them, but he finishes with a laugh. Never mind that it’s true, with a laugh anything can be perceived as a joke.
Bala Tik laughs along with him, like they’re sharing a joke. “And why is that?”
Damn, this one just won’t let it go. “Well, it’s a Poe Dameron film,” Hux says it like that should explain everything and the other man nods. “It’s fairly heavy content - emotionally, I mean. I think it’s going to be much different than anything Ren has been in to date.”
He’s talking trash a little, but it feels good. Besides, if he does it with a smile then it’s harder to take him seriously. According to Phasma, his smile is ‘goofy-looking.’
His handler is tapping him on the elbow, the signal that time is up. Bala Tik rushes out a final question as Hux starts to move away.
“You think he can do it?”
“I’m sure he’ll try.” Hux departs with a wave and a smile, moving on to the next journalist feeling strangely satisfied.
He’s in the middle of a longer conversation with Sidon Ithano from the Times when there is a sudden swell of noise from further down the carpet. In a few moments, Hux sees why: Kylo Ren arrived. Late, of course; they’ve been doing a last call for interviews and photos for the past five minutes.
He’s wearing a black suit, but it could barely called formal for this kind of event. His top few buttons are open and the tie is loose around his neck. It’s a wonder the staff let him get this far on the red carpet. Hux understands why after a moment as Ren goes striding past them. He sees Ren’s handler taking two steps for each of Ren’s, their words completely ignored. It’s the press doing most of the hollering, calling Ren’s name. As if he’ll pick one of them for his first-ever interview.
Hux snorts, shakes his head. Arrogant ass.
The tap to his elbow comes again and Hux bids his farewell. He expects to be led to the next run of press but his handler leads him past them.
“I was told to get you photographed together when Ren arrived.” She explains and Hux struggles to keep his polite smile in place.
Of course, it makes sense. The press release is out, they’re going to be seen together a lot from now on. Never mind what the premiere tour will be like. He had better get used to it now.
Ren is standing with his hands clenched into fists at his sides, glaring out at the blaring flash of cameras. He looks annoyed and ready to bolt at any moment. Perhaps the only thing stopping him from doing so is the wall of people blocking the way further into the venue.
Hux comes forward and when the photographers start yelling his name, he waves, the personification of geniality. He steps up next to Ren, careful to keep a distance of exactly one foot between them.
“Hello, Ren.” He smiles up at the man only briefly before turning to face the cameras. He keeps the smile in place, hands in pockets as he lets the photographers go wild.
But Ren is stock-still beside him and Hux can feel the man looking at him. Maybe he’s shocked. Maybe he’s angry.
It goes on longer than Hux would like.
“Stop staring.” Hux mutters through his teeth. It seems to wake Ren up as he watches the man do as he’s told.
It’s awkward. They stand shoulder to shoulder and Ren is like a surly mannequin. He just stands there with his hands in fists at his side, every bit of him so tense that Hux can feel it radiating off him. If Hux hadn’t seen it for himself, he would wonder how the hell Ren ever got this far in acting. Ren lasts a whole five minutes before he turns and stomps away into the venue.
Hux follows much later, staying a little longer mostly out of spite. The lobby is quieter than outside, though not by much.
He turns to see Poe wiggling through the crowd with a smile and a drink in his hand. Oh, no.
“Hux, there’s somebody I want you to meet!” Behind him a man and woman follow along and Hux recognizes each of them. How could he not?
Rey Skywalker is beaming just as much as Poe, a skinny little thing just like Hux expected. She’s not wearing a ball gown, to Hux’s surprise, but rather a simple tan pant suit with a plain undershirt. The only embellishment is the pleated fabric of the suit jacket. It’s elegant but nothing elaborate or restraining. Hux decides that Phasma would like her, if only she didn’t look like a child with how she stares around her in wonder. Truth be told, it’s Hux’s first time in this kind of grandeur, but at least he knows how to keep it under wraps.
Finn Windu Hux knew from before he ever became Finn Windu. They had been at the Academy together - Hux, Finn, and Poe - but Finn had dropped out early. Hux had been sure that Finn would stick to daytime television forever, but now he’s up for Best Supporting Actor as well. Hux had seen the film and - though he would never admit it out loud - Finn has a better chance at winning than Hux. It’s infuriating even to admit it to himself, but it’s part of what motivates him to do better. He can’t let a dropout like Finn outclass him. Finn’s suit is a lighter blue with black lapels and a bowtie. It’s garish and loud, and yet it works for him. Just another reason Hux dislikes the man.
“Finn, I remember,” Hux shakes Finn’s hand and holds back a wince at the man’s tight grip, “but you are...?”
He offers his hand to Rey with a grin. Her grip on his knuckles is painfully tight. Hux fights down a grimace.
“Rey.” Her cheeks are flushed and it probably has something to do with the drink in her hand. “Can you believe this?”
She’s not that young, but she’s acting like an infant, staring around her with barefaced awe. And Hux doesn’t fail to notice the way Finn and Poe look at her like she’s their sun, moon, and stars.
It’s poetic and romantic and so very boring.
“Well, I haven’t been to many events like this, so I’m no judge.” Hux is still pretending Finn doesn’t exist, giving Rey the full effect of his smile.
“I’ve barely been out of London, I’ve never seen anything this fancy!”
Yes, like Hux needs to be reminded of how much of an upstart Rey is. She’s nominated for Best Actress for a role in her first feature film ever. Meanwhile, he’s been in seven and is only now getting recognition. Not that he’s bitter.
“Well, perhaps one day you’ll be lucky enough to come back.” He doesn’t mean it, there’s biting sarcasm in his voice and he can feel Poe giving him that look . Poe’s always known when he’s being a dick even while he’s smiling so charmingly. “And you, Finn, what have you been up to? How did life on the other side treat you?”
Finn’s been staring between Rey and Poe like he can’t quite believe he’s here with them. It’s downright pathetic. As soon as Hux addresses him, his mouth turns into a frown. “I got along just fine, thanks. Better than I ever did at the Academy.”
“Well, that’s good to hear, old chap.” Hux lets his accent bleed into his words a little. He claps Finn on the arm, perhaps harder than necessary. “It’s rare to find an Academy failure that still manages to make it. Good for you.”
Rey looks between Finn and Hux like she’s come to a realization. Her brow is pinched and she’s stopped smiling.
“Finn’s been doing better work than he ever did at your silly Academy.” Rey snaps. Hux is surprised. She’s tougher than she looks. He would almost be delighted at it all, if it wasn’t so pitiful. “No offence, Poe.”
“None taken.” Poe gives Hux a sheepish grin. He looks like he’s starting to regret his decision to introduce them all.
Good. Hux never asked to be introduced to Poe’s ‘friends’ like he and Poe were still close.
An awkward silence hangs in the air. Hux grabs a champagne glass off a passing tray.
“I really should be going. Need to find my seat. Best of luck to you all.” He turns on his heel, heading as far from them as he can manage.
He feels someone watching and spies Kylo Ren lurking in a dark corner, alone. Their eyes met for only a brief moment and Hux hates to think of Ren seeing the girl snap at him. So he holds the man’s gaze deliberately, mouths, ‘Stop staring’. Ren’s face transforms into a glare. Hux watches him push out of his corner, through the crowd and into the event hall. Hux can see him towering over most of the people in the room, but then he remembers he’s not supposed to care. So, he goes back to mingling, networking, placing himself in front of the right people at the right time.
The ceremony goes as expected. Hux hits his marks, delivers his line, kisses the cheek of the winner as he hands her the award. He tries not to worry too much on whether or not that will be the first and last time he touches an Oscar. He goes backstage, indulging in the wines and food tables there, chatting with recent winners. He still has a brief, dull beacon of hope that it could be him who wins, though he doubts and doubts.
Poe wins for Best Original Screenplay and then again for Best Director to the surprise of no one. His speech includes Finn and Rey in it, thanking them as his dearest friends which has Hux rolling his eyes.
The camera is on Hux when his name is read among the others nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He keeps that fond smile on his face, keeps his eyes on the stage as if the camera isn’t there. There’s a moment of silence as the presenter fiddles with the envelope. Hux struggles to quash the hope building in him. Struggles to keep the smile from falling from his face as he imagines what it would be like to feel that rush.
And then they’re calling Finn’s name and Hux claps along with everyone else, face frozen in a smile. He sits through Finn’s stumbling speech, so obviously unprepared ahead of time. It gets to the awkward point of the orchestra playing and Finn’s still talking, louder and faster. He’s beams and blows a kiss to Rey in the audience as he thanks her for her support, then he’s finally swept away, hooting and pumping his fist into the air.
Hux tries not to let the jealousy and humiliation burn for too long.
The rest of the ceremony passes quickly enough. Some of the speeches are long, but Hux ignores them. He has plans to make, a future of being up there and accepting that award for himself to prepare for. He will get there, he has no doubt. He will not fail again.
Rey wins for best actress, again to no one’s surprise. Her speech is full of breathless excitement and she can’t stop smiling, marveling at her achievement. It’s so sweet it makes Hux feel sick.
He feels a little better when Ren’s name is announced in the best actor category, but doesn’t win. Instead, the award goes to a frail, old man, Sheev Palpatine.
Hux leaves before the Best Picture is awarded. He doesn’t feel like chancing upon Poe and his ‘friends’. Besides, there are after-parties to attend.
Normally, he’s not much of an after-party person. Most of them tend to be an excuse to get drunk, do drugs, and make a mess where the press can’t see. But it’s just good business to attend. Writers, directors, casting directors, and producers will be there and Hux needs to be on the radar.
He drinks, perhaps more than he should and certainly more than he usually does. But he has always been more tolerable - according to Poe - when he’s feeling buzzed.
Hux spends the evening bouncing between one party and the next with groups of people, some he knows, some he’s only just met. It tedious, though he can see how some would think it fun. He’s counting the minutes until it’s socially acceptable for him to go home.
It’s near two in the morning when Hux goes out for a smoke. All the Chateau Marmont’s balconies and patios are taken up by guests, but he's starting to feel overwhelmed. The last thing he wants is to be surrounded by fake laughter and drugged up celebrities. So he slips through the lower kitchens and out the back door. He finds a small branch to wedge the door open with, since it there’s no handle on the outside. There's a chance that paparazzi will be waiting for him, but a few pictures will be worth the time alone.
The night is cool and a breeze ruffles through the trees. He has always appreciated the flowered hedges that surrounded the Chateau Marmont. They give their patrons some semblance of privacy and fill the air with sweet aromas. The Chateau Marmont sits on top of a hill overlooking Sunset Boulevard, surrounded by green and vintage Hollywood architecture.
Hux is just drunk enough that it takes several attempts with his Zippo to get it going and get his cigarette lit. It would be embarrassing if anyone was around to see. The paparazzi are still swarming the front entrance where most partiers will get into their limos and sports’ cars and head to the next party. He supposes he should call his own chauffeur soon. He’s starting to reach the limits of his socializing for the day. He longs for the solace of his apartment; Millicent is probably hungry by now and will yowl at him for returning so late.
He’ll finish his cigarette and say his goodbyes. He’s seen enough people to last him the next month or two.
There’s a sudden sound that Hux can’t identify, that gets his attention. It sounded like a person stumbling, hitting the wall just across the street. When Hux squints he can just make out two forms in the dim streetlight. They’re both tall, though one is almost sickly skinny. Likely both male, though Hux can only make out their black outlines. Then one is pushing away from the other moving further towards the streetlamp and Hux recognizes Ren. The second wraith-like figure catches up to Ren, grabs him by the shoulder and pushes him back against the brick fencing of someone’s home.
Hux realizes with a shock that he knows the other figure as well. Snoke. No one really knows if that’s his first or last name, or if it’s even his real name at all. He’s known in Hollywood for his less than wholesome character, his grey morals, and questionable business tactics. Hux had been approached by Snoke’s agency when he first started, but First Order Incorporated had seemed the more trustworthy of Hux’s options at the time.
Somehow he wasn’t surprised that Ren would be represented by a man like Snoke.
He watches with interest as Snoke pushes Ren against the wall by his shoulder, though Ren is certainly the larger of the two. But Ren seems to shrink with Snoke before him, shoulders hunching, head dropped low. He looks weak .
That doesn’t sit well with Hux. Not because he gives a shit about Ren, of course. He was only hoping that Ren was going to be his first real competition. But if a man like Snoke can control Kylo Ren so easily, what kind of a challenge can he hope to pose to Hux?
Snoke seems to be talking intently and Ren iss nodding along, staring down at his feet. Hux watches Snoke’s hand go from holding Ren against the wall to stroking up and down the other man’s arm. It’s uncomfortable to look at and Hux glances away, focuses instead on the taste of his cigarette. When he looks up again, Snoke is pressing something into Ren’s fingers, his hand at the back of Ren’s neck. Ren’s still nodding, staring down at what he’s been given, but Hux can’t see his face from here.
He watches Snoke pat Ren’s cheek before finally stepping away and turning. Hux realizes with a start that Snoke is coming right towards him.
Snoke’s face reminds him of a viper; all sharp angles and thin lips. Especially with that bald head. Hux almost hopes that Snoke won’t see him, but considering he’s standing in front of the back door, it’s very unlikely.
But Snoke passes him by with only the briefest of nods and a lip curled into what is probably meant to be a smile, but comes off more like a snarl. Hux nods back, turning his attention to ashing his cigarette like it’s the most important task he’ll ever do. That creepy vibe Snoke seems to ooze dissipates as soon as the door shuts behind him.
Hux breathes a sigh of relief, but then he looks up to see Ren approaching him. He sees Ren shove whatever it was Snoke gave him into his pocket as he walks. Whereas Snoke seemed intent on pretending Hux didn’t exist, Ren is giving him that intense stare again. When Ren stops before him, Hux realizes with a shock that Ren’s eyes are lighter than he originally thought.
“Can I bum a smoke?” Ren’s voice is deep, husky, and slurred. He’s been drinking, much more than Hux. The suit jacket Hux has seen him in earlier in the evening is gone and his shirt is half undone, several buttons missing entirely. He sways in place, just a little, like he can’t stop moving.
Hux would almost feel bad for him if he wasn’t such an asshole.
“First of all, do you even realize those are the first words you’ve said to me?” Hux makes a point of taking a long pull and blowing the smoke out between them, up at Ren’s face. “Outside of our lines, of course.”
Ren makes no comment, just stares with wide eyes and an intensity that makes Hux want to look away, want to squirm. He manages to not do either, meeting Ren’s gaze head on.
“Second of all,” Hux continues, ashing his cigarette onto the ground between them, quite pointedly on Ren’s shoes. “I make these cigarettes myself. The paper I import from Japan, the tobacco from Indonesia, do you really think I’d waste one on you?”
Ren’s too close, right in Hux’s personal bubble and this whole time he’s only stared. It’s weird and vaguely uncomfortable and Hux hates to be made to feel that way. He’s the one who makes people uneasy, not the other way around. So Hux stares right back, smoking his cigarette like they’re the best fucking cigarette he’s ever had (which is usually true, but he plays it up in this case).
Then he notices.
Ren is smiling.
Well, not really. It’s more like his mouth got twisted or like a fish hook got caught in the corner of his mouth. It’s downright roguish and almost makes him look like a normal person, with the street lights shining in his eyes.
“Are you grinning ?” Contempt leaks into Hux’s voice.
The smile is gone in an instant, though Ren looks shocked before he manages to steel himself.
“No.” Ren snaps and this time his mouth is a snarl, not unlike the twist of Snoke’s mouth.
“Right.” Hux tells himself it doesn’t matter that he notices, or that Ren seemed upset that he did. He takes a final pull on his cigarette, turning for the door.
“So that’s a no, then?” Ren’s voice is monotone, but still somehow teasing. “On the cigarette.”
“That’s a hard no, Kylo Ren.” Hux doesn’t bother to hide his scorn, lets it drip from every word. He drops the cigarette on the sidewalk and gets a peculiar thrill from squashing it in front of Ren. He reaches for the door--
Only it’s shut.
“Fuck.” He snaps.
“What is it?” Ren’s voice is much closer than Hux remembered and it makes him shiver.
“Your agent. He shut the door on us.” Hux sighs. This means they’ll have to go around the front. Where the cameras are.
“Fuck.” Ren echoes his words.
“Right.” Hux turns to head toward the Chateau’s front when he hears a loud bang.
He whirls around to see Ren kicking and pounding on the door, bellowing indistinctly. It’s fucking loud and obnoxious and it’s probably only going to result in pissing people off more than anything.
For a moment, Hux considers calling out to Ren, telling him to stop. But why should he? He doesn’t have to give a shit about anything Ren does until the start filming. Why start stressing about it now?
So Hux turns his back on Ren and heads around the front of the Chateau. The sound of Ren shouting and pounding on the door gets farther and farther away, but doesn’t stop. As expected, the paparazzi try to swarm him and Hux puts on that smiling mask of tolerance as he tries not to be blinded by the flashing lights. He rings his chauffeur as soon as he’s inside, eager now more than ever to get home.
Just having Snoke walk past made him desperate for a shower to wash the creepiness off.
It’s almost three in the morning when Hux finally crawls into bed after showering, and feeding Millie. He’s all settled under the covers, Millicent curled up into the small of his back over the covers when his phone vibrates on the beside table. He considers leaving it for the morning, but he can’t stand to have any unread messages for that long. What if it’s important?
It’s from Bazine Netal, renowned costume designer and Hollywood gossipmonger.
so ren smashed one of the rooms. like broken windows tvs fuckin furniture. he’s wasted.
It’s probably just a rumor. That’s what Bazine is known for anyway. He can’t think of why she thought to include him in her mass text. But it doesn’t matter. It’s none of his business. Not for another few weeks, at least.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Hux wakes to the smell of bacon. At first, he thinks it’s a strange dream, but when he opens his eyes he can still smell it. Real, then. He pushes back the sheets, ignoring Millicent’s petulant meow at her resting place on his shoulder being disturbed.
He lives alone so someone must have broken into his apartment, but for what? To cook for him? It seems highly unlikely, but Hux still reaches into his dresser drawer for the 9mm handgun, thumbing back the safety.
“Hello?” He calls out, leaning over the railing of his loft bedroom. The kitchen is directly below with the living and dining room area, but he can see the front door across from the bedroom level. He sees no movement. “I have a gun. I will use it.”
There’s a sound of movement then and Hux tries to brace himself. He holds the 9mm in one hand, over the glass railing, ready to point it at whomever should appear. It’s far too early and he’s too hungover to shoot someone, but he will if he has to.
Clicking heels echo on the tile floors and then Phasma appears below him, peering up with raised eyebrows.
“Phasma.” Hux sighs out, masking his relief with annoyance. “I could have shot you.” He pulls back the gun, turning the safety back on.
“You could have.” She sounds entirely unaffected by the idea. “I made breakfast. Put some clothes on and come down.” Phasma walks back into the kitchen and Hux sighs.
It’s only Phasma, so Hux doesn’t bother trying to be decent. He pulls on an old sweater from the Academy and decides that it doesn’t matter if Phasma sees him in his briefs. She’s seen worse, frankly.
He’d chosen the apartment because he liked the openness of it, the stark modern lines, and primarily white interior design. There’s no walls to speak of, except that which closes off the bathroom from the rest of the apartment. The bathroom door is at the bottom of stairs that lead up to the bedroom. The upper loft is all open, with only a glass railing to keep anyone from tumbling off. Directly below the loft bedroom is the living room and kitchen area. He has only one couch, made of soft white fabric that is extremely comfortable to nap on. He sees no need for any additional seating since he rarely entertains guests. The kitchen doubles as a dining room with a island counter and two stools. Where there might have been a dining table, Hux placed bookshelves. They lined most of the walls in the living room, with only a break for the entertainment centre. The rent isn’t cheap since he’s centrally located in West Hollywood, but it’s just the right size for him and Millicent, and close to the most famous studio offices. Hux follows his nose down to the lower level, head throbbing and stomach reeling.
Phasma stands at the kitchen island, drinking his coffee, flipping through his newspaper, and eating food from his fridge. He would be upset except there’s a plate laid out for him, too, and in this moment he considers asking Phasma to marry him. Purely for convenience, of course.
Hux sits at one of the stools, going for the coffee first. “How are you awake this early?”
“It’s three in the afternoon.”
“Oh.” That makes sense. “How did you get in?”
“A key.” Phasma says it like it’s obvious, doesn’t even look up from the morning paper.
“How did you get a key?” He tries to be mad, but it’s hard to be when his head is throbbing and he hasn’t finished his coffee yet.
“I copied yours when we went to pick up your last bookshelf at the hardware store.”
“Why?” A few sips and he’s feeling a little more alive, considering if being angry is worth it.
“For emergencies like this.” Phasma flips to the entertainment section in the paper and turns it so Hux can read it.
BRENDOL HUX CLAIMS: “REN CAN’T ACT”
“Shit.” This is not good.
“Yes.” Phasma almost sounds amused at his expense. “Eat your breakfast and check your email.”
Hux does as she suggests, grabbing his laptop from the couch and opening his email. By the time he’s cleared the plate, he doesn’t feel so much like throwing up, at least not because of the hangover.
He has a slew of emails from his agent, his PR rep, and various entertainment news journalists wanting further comments. The original article is small, five hundred words at best, and it’s in print. But online sources picked it up and are blowing it even more out of proportion.
Pictures accompanying the article are primarily from the red carpet the night before, where Ren has been caught ‘glaring’ at Hux from multiple angles. Most of these come with a caption that claims Hux said something to Ren’s face, which is why the recluse actor looks so mad. But Hux was there and Ren doesn’t necessarily look mad , more bewildered and maybe something else...
His headache is threatening to get worse.
When Hux finally looks up from his laptop, Phasma has cleared the plates away and she’s pushing a tall glass of water his way. He downs half of it, accepts the Advil Phasma offers him, and finishes the water.
“I did not say that.” He feels the need to tell her, to defend himself even though the whole situation is ridiculous.
“Of course you didn’t. What did your agent say?”
Hux groans, massaging his temples. “She set up a dinner with Ren.”
“What?” Phasma looks genuinely surprised. “Why?”
“Apparently Snoke - Ren’s agent - called her and demanded I make a formal apology. They’ve already written one up and sent it out.” Hux is glad he wasn’t the one to draft that. He wouldn’t have been able to do it without throwing in some backhand comment that would only get him in even more trouble. “But Snoke and Ren demanded I apologize in person, too.”
“Yes, well. They’re not giving me much choice. Poe emailed, panicking, worrying that Ren was going to leave the film.”
“He wouldn’t.” Phasma looks unsure.
Hux shrugs, shaking his head. He doesn’t know for sure either. But the only way to be certain that it doesn’t happen is to meet with Ren as promised and make his apologies.
Even if they aren’t quite sincere.
But that’s what acting was for -- pretending to feel and think things that you didn’t really think or feel.
Phasma doesn’t stay long; she has training to attend for her next film. Hux doesn’t thank her for coming by and for making him breakfast, but she wouldn’t have accepted it anyway. He would have to remember to get the bill for lunch next time.
He’s supposed to meet Ren at the Fig & Olive at six. Hux would have preferred somewhere smaller, somewhere off the map, but the arrangements had been made by his and Ren’s agent. They wanted it somewhere public, somewhere the paparazzi could see them -- where most of Hollywood could see them. It’s a tactic to make it seem as though Hux and Ren are on good terms while they get ready for their upcoming project together. Hux understands and even admires their strategy, but he doesn’t have to like it.
He picks out a grey suit, a black undershirt, and a red tie. He suspects that Ren only has one colour in his wardrobe and Hux wants to be set apart from Ren.
Hux leaves with plenty time to arrive there exactly for six. There’s a small line to get in the restaurant, even though it’s a Monday, but Hux has the cab drop him off right at the front door. He bypasses the line, waving to the strangers who recognize him. He gives his name to the doorman and is let inside without any trouble.
The restaurant is tasteful, all pristine white tablecloths and modern furniture with subtle accents of green. It’s certainly busy, just as Hux expected it would be. The table the host brings him to is right at the restaurant's front windows, in full view of the waiting line and lingering paparazzi. Considering Ren’s track record for dodging the public, it’s surprising that the man even agreed to dine at a place like this.
Apparently, Ren didn’t want to be there at all. Hux waits nearly a full half hour, drinking champagne and waiting for his dinner guest to arrive. He affects an air of aloofness, like he expected this, but under the table his left hand is clenched tight, nails digging half-moon imprints into his skin. The waiter keeps coming back and asking if he’d like to order, but Hux refrains. It would be rude to start without his guest, after all.
He’s starting to consider leaving when there’s an explosion of sound outside. A car roars to a stop, tires squealing. There’s excited shouting from the line outside, then louder, more frantic shouting from the paparazzi and the sound of cameras clicking wildly. Hux can see the flashes from here and has no doubt as to who it is.
Sure enough, Ren comes stalking into the restaurant, hunched over and wearing head-to-toe black again and sunglasses after dark. He doesn’t have his leather jacket on this time, but rather a long, draping hoodie thing that looks like it came off of some runway in Italy. He has the hood of it up over a cap and the same black scarf wrapped around the lower half of his face. Not that it did him any good keeping his identity secret when he arrived.
Ren doesn’t look at him when he sits across from Hux, just pushes his hood down, tosses his hat and sunglasses on the table, and yanks his scarf off. Ren’s dark waves of hair are a mess, but he doesn’t bother trying to fix it. Hux is trying to smile, but it feels strained.
“It’s nice to see you again, Ren. Too bad that it had to be under such unfortunate circumstances.”
Ren doesn’t say anything, just watches with a blank stare as the waiter fills his glass with champagne, then shakes his head when the man asks him if he would like to order. Hux orders the house salad -- after all, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be here for long.
“Thank you for meeting with me. I wanted the opportunity to apologize about the whole situation,” Hux says once they're alone again, though he doesn’t feel alone. Not when the whole restaurant is filled with people they know by association and not when he can see the flashing cameras outside, pointed at them. The only one not looking at him is Ren. “You understand how it is with journalists, they’ll take anything you say and try to put a sensational spin on it.” Hux affects a laugh. “Well, maybe you don’t know how it is. I see now why you always refuse interviews--”
Ren’s fist slams down on the table between them, causing the cutlery and plates to rattle. Only Hux’s nails, biting deep into his palm now, stop him from flinching away, though his smile is gone.
Ren looks at him then. His gaze dark, piercing, like he already knows all of Hux’s secrets and he doesn’t care about any of them.
“Don’t.” Ren’s voice always surprises Hux, hits him like a punch in the gut.
He sits back, looks away, takes a sip of the champagne to mask his shock. The whole restaurant is paying attention to them now, the conversations around them growing hushed.
“‘ Don’t ’ what?” His eyes are pulled to back Ren’s, his face carefully blank now.
“Don’t pretend like either of us want to be here.” Ren hisses the words out low between them, baring teeth as he speaks. “Don’t pretend like we actually enjoy each other’s company. Don’t pull that fake happy shit. That’s not you, and that’s sure as fuck not me.”
Ren is hard to look away from, like he’s somehow compelling Hux’s gaze toward him.
“If we’re gonna do the movie, if we’re gonna do this shit--” Ren waves a hand to the restaurant, without looking at them. He doesn’t stop looking at Hux. “--at least we can be honest. So drop the act.”
He hasn’t called been called out like this before and it shocks him. With Phasma, Hux had been the one to decide not to put on airs after seeing the way she shut down those who didn’t like what she did or how she did it. That had been his choice, though. Not like now. It feels like Ren saw his mask, saw right through it, and tore it away.
“You’re an asshole,” Hux sighs, and it’s a relief. He feels more like himself, feels at ease in his own skin, instead of playing a version of himself for the public. Even though he’s not exactly making nice like his agent and manager told him to.
Ren’s lip starts to do that odd half smile of his, then it stops.
He finally looks away when the waiter arrives with Hux’s salad.
Hux watches the realization spread across Ren’s face. Slamming his fist on the table had gotten the attention of the people around them. It was only because Ren spoke in such a low whisper that they hadn’t heard his words. Something like embarrassment flickers across Ren’s face before it’s gone. He starts snatching up his scarf, winding it around his neck with deft movements.
What? Hux’s fork is in his hand, poised over his plate. “Leaving? Why?”
Ren gives him a baleful look, pushing his hair back with one hand and shoving his cap down over his ears. “You really want to stay?”
Hux looks around the restaurant, at all the people staring at them -- some of them people he’s met before, some he met just last night. It would seem too strange if they left now, when Hux’s food has just arrived. But they’re being stared at and it’s not just because of Ren’s outburst.
Before he can really decide either way, Ren is tossing a hundred dollar bill down on the table between them, pulling his hood up and grabbing Hux’s wrist.
“Hey--” Hux has the chance to hiss out before Ren pulls the fork from his hand, tossing it down to his plate with a clatter.
“Let’s go.” Ren doesn’t let go of his wrist, his grip firm and unyielding. Hux bristles. He feels like a child. Hux hates the touch immediately, hates how warm Ren’s hand is, but it seems he has no choice to follow so he does.
Hux has only a moment to grab his black topcoat before Ren is steering him to the front door. He realizes what the press will see once they step outside, but he doesn’t have a chance to stop it. Ren is hanging on to him like he expects Hux to run away as soon as he lets go.
There’s a car parked partly on the curb, all sleek black lines and very expensive looking. Hux gets one glimpse of it before the cameras go off and the black shapes of Ren’s bodyguards surround them. There’s shouting and flashing cameras and Hux has to duck his head just to see where he’s going. He’s glad, for a moment, that Ren has a hold of his wrist. He’s not sure he would have made it on his own through the crowd with so many cameras going off.
He feels a little sick when he realizes how they must look, coming out of this restaurant with Ren’s hand around his wrist. Lights dance in front of his eyes and he can feel bile rising up in his throat. It’s just the headache, the hangover, the flash from the cameras.
He’s ecstatic to see Ren getting to the passenger side door, opening it for Hux before he rounds the front of the car. Hux climbs in quickly, blindly, just wanting to get out of view, out of the noise and lights. The car windows are tinted as dark as the law will allow, but Hux can still see Ren’s bodyguards - three of them, their faces mostly hidden by obnoxiously big sunglasses - acting like a physical barrier while Ren makes his way to the driver’s side. Ren’s head is ducked low, most of his face obscured by his scarf and sunglasses. His shoulders are slouched forward like he would fold into himself if he could. He’s also got both hands up to give the finger.
It’s a cute tactic, one that Hux has heard of Ren doing before. At first, he thought it was just Ren being an asshole. But Phasma had informed him that most tabloids - at least the most of the print ones - weren’t allowed to print anything with vulgar gestures in it. So, by giving paparazzi the finger, Ren is making a lot of their shots useless. Some of them may still appear online, but the paparazzi wouldn’t make nearly as much money off of shots of a man with a scarf and sunglasses covering most of his face, and his middle finger up on both hands.
Ren slides into the driver’s seat, slamming the door hard enough to shake the whole car. A loud honk and a revving engine are all the warning the swarming paparazzi get before Ren’s peeling out onto the street. He didn’t even check his blind spot.
Hux struggles for his seatbelt, his breakfast threatening to come up with the breakneck speeds Ren is going at.
“Will you slow the fuck down?” he hisses. It’s not a suggestion.
Ren glances over at him like he’s only just remembering he’s got a passenger. Hux can see the conflict on the man’s face out of the corner of his eye before Ren acquiesces and the car slows to only twenty over the speed limit rather than forty. Ren takes his sunglasses off, tosses them in the center cupholders, then pulls off his scarf and blindly tosses it into the back seat.
An awkward silence falls over them, during which Hux finds himself wondering whether they’ll get there in one piece. Ren races through every yellow light he can, slams the break at every red light, and puts the gas pedal to the floor as soon as the light turns green. Hux learns to brace himself after the first turn they take nearly throws him into the door.
“Who the fuck taught you to drive?” he can’t help grinding the question out through clenched teeth. He probably shouldn’t have drank champagne earlier -- it’s not making it any easier to keep his stomach contents down.
“What do you mean?”
Hux checks to see if Ren is kidding, but he looks genuine, face open and confused.
“Are you serious?” Hux lets out a dry, unsmiling laugh. “You drive like a maniac.”
Ren blinks, stares like it hadn’t even occurred to him that there was any other way to drive.
“Nobody. Nobody taught me.” Ren finally, finally , returns his concentration to the road, frowning like he’s trying to figure out how he could be perceived as a bad driver.
“Not even mummy dearest?” Hux mumbles out, one hand clenched in a fist in his lap, while the other keeps a death grip on the edge of his seat.
Ren seems to actually be putting effort into driving more like a normal person. He even signals their next turn. Hux can see the man’s jaw working, his teeth grinding together.
“I don’t have a mother,” he finally says.
Hux huffs, but he doesn’t ask. It’s not his business. He doesn’t even know if Phasma has a family, and he never talks about his own. He’s not going to go digging through Ren’s proverbial dirty laundry.
Ren manages to bring them to their destination in one piece, though his parallel parking ends with the front right wheel of the tire on the curb. Hux leaves the car on shaky legs, but he manages to hide it well. He takes a look at the car, realizes it’s a fucking Aston Martin One-77, one of the fastest cars in the world -- and with a price tag of of 1.6 million, also one of the most expensive.
Hux might be a little impressed. He also may have a thing for cars.
“How the hell can you own an Aston fucking Martin?” He asks as Ren rounds the car.
Ren shrugs. “I asked for the fastest, most expensive car on the lot.”
He walks away.
It hurts that someone as reckless as Kylo Ren can own such a beautiful fucking car. Hux stands staring at the sleek black lines of the sports car for a few moments before he finally tears himself away, jogging to catch up with Ren.
The building they stand in front of is a multitude of businesses in one building, but Ren ignores it all and goes around the side, toward the alley between the buildings. Hux has to jog to catch up with the man’s long, confident strides.
“Should I call my agent now, tell them if I turn up dead that Kylo Ren did it?” Hux can’t help snarking as Ren leads the way down the dark alley. Just before they duck into the shadows, Hux catches sight of that crooked half-smile again.
They stop at a door with a red light above it. It’s solid black and if it weren’t for the light, Hux wouldn’t have even known it was there. There’s no handle on the outside to speak of, but Ren pounds a fist on the door. Despite himself, Hux is terribly curious. It’s all very mysterious and a little thrilling, though there’s no way he’s going to let Ren know that.
A slot in the door at about eye level slides open and all Hux can see is a pair of eyes. Ren doesn’t say anything, just waits. The slot slides shut after a moment and then the door opens.
The walls are painted black and the only sources of light are tinted red. The door man is taller and fatter than Ren, covered in tattoos, with a beard that goes nearly to his waist. Ren nods at the man as they pass by.
The bar is definitely going with the black and red theme. It’s dark, but not too crowded and the music makes Hux’s ears feel like they’re bleeding. It’s not his style, it’s full of harsh sounding screams and guitar riffs, but at least it’s not being played at a deafening level. There are tables of people eating and drinking, most of them wearing as much black as Ren is or more. Hux feels out of place with his grey suit. At least his topcoat is black.
Ren leads them past the tables to a booth covered in red velvet. The lighting is just bright enough for Hux to see where he’s going, but that’s not saying much. They sit across from each other, Hux hanging his topcoat on the wall hook beside their table.
When Hux glances over, Ren looks almost self-conscious, hands buried in his hoodie’s pockets, eyes darting around them wildly. Hux sighs.
“This is an improvement,” he says, plucking up the menu that their tattooed, pin-up looking waitress drops off.
Ren relaxes after that, though he doesn’t take a look at the menu as Hux does. Hux suspects he doesn’t need to.
The menu is all standard bar food: hamburgers and steaks, and all manners of fried foods. When the waitress comes around, Hux decides that red meat might help steady his stomach and quell his hangover, so he orders a steak -- well-done. Ren orders his medium-rare and Hux doesn’t try to stifle down a twinge of disgust.
There’s a moment of silence when the waitress leaves and they take each other in. Ren still has that ridiculous hat on and his hoodie pulled up, but he looks far more relaxed here than he did at the Fig & Olive . He sits slouched against the back of the booth, hands curled into loose fists on the table. In the dim red light, Hux realizes suddenly that Ren has moles dotting his face. He looks younger than his twenty-nine years.
“Did you really mean what you said?” Ren’s face is carefully composed when he asks this.
Hux straightens in his seat, fingers folded together in his lap. “What do you mean?”
He can guess what Ren means, but he wants to hear him say it.
Ren’s lips curl into a sneer, “That you think I can’t act.” He’s trying to keep his face blank, but his words are hissed out between clenched teeth.
“Oh, that.” Hux sighs, reaching a hand out to straighten the silverware on the table, arranging them into neat, parallel lines.
He waits until the waitress brings their drinks to the table -- a water for him and a beer for Ren -- before he speaks.
“I told you, the press just blew it out of proportion--”
“So what did you really say?”
Hux can’t help the glare that crosses his face. He despises being interrupted and Ren seems like the type to speak before he’s really thought his words through.
“I said that working on Poe Dameron’s films is a challenge--”
“And you don’t think I can hack it?” Ren hisses out, his jaw clenching.
“I don’t know anything about you.” Hux waits for another interjection from Ren, but the man just looks at him. “I know you’re in that terrible teenage girl fantasy trash.” Ren’s face doesn’t change. Good. At least he knows it’s garbage. “I know that you have barely any classical training--”
Ren outright rolls his eyes, trying to disguise it by turning his head out toward the bar.
Hux continues. “I know that most of your work is about your body rather than whatever talent you may think you have. I know that you don’t have much experience in these kinds of films, ones that require real work rather than just taking your shirt off and getting oiled up.”
Ren’s hands have gone from loose fists to clenching, white-knuckled. He had asked for this, really. He wanted to be shown the ‘real Hux’, without all the niceties. He wanted truth.
“So really, no, I don’t know if you can hack it. For all I know, agreeing to do this with you could be the biggest mistake of my career.”
They fall into a tense silence, Ren glaring out over at the bar like he’s looking for someone to fight, the muscles of his jaw clenching and twitching erratically.
“So why are you doing this?” Ren’s gaze snaps back to him suddenly, and he leans forward, eyes wide and lips baring teeth. “If you think I’m so inferior, why even bother?”
Hux is taken aback by his viciousness, by the intensity in his gaze and the raw, barely repressed anger. He doesn’t want to answer, but he’s worried about what Ren will do if he doesn’t.
“Because we were good.” He can see the answer surprises Ren in the way the man flinches back before his eyes narrow. He doesn’t understand, but he won’t admit it. Hux sighs.
“We were good. At Poe’s, in that farce of a read-through.” Understanding spreads across Ren’s face. “You got most of the lines wrong, you were breathing in all the wrong places, but…”
Admitting this feels like he’s pulling out his own teeth.
“You were good.”
Now it’s his turn to look away, to study the bar patrons like they have the cure for cancer written across their foreheads. “Whatever else you might think about me, I do want to make this film. I want it.”
He needs it, but he isn’t about to say that.
Ren seems placated, maybe a little bewildered, but his hands relax so Hux takes that as a good sign. He goes silent then and Hux doesn’t try to fill the quiet with needless chatter.
Hux takes ten minutes to check his phone, replying to texts from Phasma asking for an update on how terrible the dinner is going. He tells her to expect to see him in the paper again tomorrow morning. Hux always knew to expect that from this career path, but he does bristle at the idea of his face being splashed across the tabloids, particularly with Ren. However much they may do well on film together, he still doesn’t like the idea of being associated with the man outside of their work.
Their food arrives and - considering the ambience of this place - Hux is surprised to find that it’s actually good. Not the best he’s ever had, but better than he expected.
“Is it because of the gay thing?” Ren asks, suddenly, as if no time has passed in their conversation.
Hux gasps, inhales his food, has to cough and slam his hand against his chest to keep from choking. His face burns red.
“What gay thing?” he hisses. Now it’s his turn to snarl, to lean in.
“You're gay, right?” Ren looks perfectly innocent, like he doesn’t know why Hux is making a fuss. But the aloof way he carries himself, the way he takes a gulp from his beer, tells a different story, like he’s trying to convey that he doesn’t realize the implications of what he just said. Like he didn’t just pull the ground out from under Hux.
“I’m--” The urge to lie is instinctive, ingrained into him like a reflex. But Ren is looking at him like he’s waiting for it, like he’s daring Hux to be dishonest. Hux looks away first, concentrating very hard on cutting his steak. “What does that have to do with anything?”
He can see Ren do that stupid, crooked grin before it’s smothered down. “Well, we are playing the male leads in a romantic drama about two men falling in love. I wondered, since you’re in the closet, if that made you feel…” He searches for the right word, sipping at his beer, picking up his steak knife and twirling it through his fingers. “Connected to the story.”
“Keep your voice down,” Hux snaps because he can’t help it. He can’t stop looking around like someone with a camera will bust out at any moment and out him right here and now.
Ren waves a hand dismissively, steak knife cutting through the air between them. “Nobody’s around, they can’t hear us. That’s why I come here.”
Hux doesn’t say anything, just continues eating. Waiting.
Ren finally cracks, hasn’t even been moving while he waits for Hux to answer him. “So? Is that it?”
He’s not going to let it go.
“No.” Hux bites out. “And how about you stop asking, because it doesn’t matter. I’m signed on, I’m doing it, and my reasons are my own.”
Ren looks pleased -- or as pleased as he can without that roguish grin on his face. It’s like he enjoys rattling Hux.
He probably does .
“It doesn’t bother me, you know.”
Hux’s hands grip tight around his utensils, looking to the ceiling in exasperation. He tries to withhold the urge to stab Ren in the hand.
“ What doesn’t bother you?”
“The gay thing.”
“‘ The gay’-- Jesus Christ.” Hux drops his fork and knife, becoming worried he might actually use the latter if Ren opens his mouth again. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Just thought-- thought maybe you should know.”
“I told you to stop asking about it.”
“I didn’t ask anything, I was just telling you--”
“Look.” Hux’s voice is louder than he intended and he has to pause for a moment, teeth grinding together. He tries again, quieter this time. “Look. I don’t want to talk about it. Ever. No questions, no statements, nothing. You got it?”
Ren’s face is a storm, his lip curling, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
Hux’s laugh is forced, bitter, without any kind of joy. “Right.”
The waitress is nearby and he catches her eye, signalling for the check. His food is barely finished and he almost regrets leaving, but he can’t be here any longer.
“What are you doing?” Ren says.
“Leaving.” Hux is standing, pulling on his top coat as the waitress walks over. He hands her a credit card, watches her process it, scribbles a tip that will bring the total of the bill over one hundred dollars by one penny. Just so he and Ren are even.
“You’re an asshole,” Ren hisses out, then downs most of his beer and slamming the bottle down on the table.
“Yeah, well. You started it.” Hux mutters, just loud enough for Ren to hear. He turns on his heel and leaves without looking back.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
After the dinner fiasco, Hux returns home. He answers messages from his agent, his manager, and Phasma. He tells them that the dinner was horrible, that he has confirmed Ren is officially intolerable. He tells them to expect Snoke causing a shitstorm over it again. He spends most of the evening nursing a headache and reading a book on human cadavers, then falls asleep with Millie curled up on his shoulder.
He wakes at ten in the morning, which is an improvement from the day before. He feels better, rested, the nausea and headache from yesterday finally gone. He’s anxious to be productive, to go to the gym, to get back into his normal routine. But he knows he should check the news first so he can mentally prepare himself for the day.
His laptop lays on the floor where he left it. Checking the entertainment news tells him exactly what he feared: Hux and Kylo Ren are front page news.
Photos of the two of them at Fig & Olive are everywhere, from every angle, capturing every moment. Most of them feature Ren holding on to Hux’s wrist and opening the car door for him. Speculation abounds about the nature of their relationship, especially with Ren clinging to him in nearly every photo. Ren’s face is almost entirely hidden by his carefully chosen accessories, but Hux is in full view. At least the news from the day before about Hux’s comment seems to have been wiped out by this show of ‘bromance.’
It boggles Hux that Ren knew, without ever asking, without any kind of a hint, that Hux is gay. It’s his most carefully kept secret. Those that he has been close with know, though he only suspects that. No one has ever said it out loud. No one has ever asked him. But Ren hadn’t even phrased it as a question. He just knew it to be fact and he didn’t care.
Hux knows that there are places where people don’t care about sexuality, but Hollywood is certainly not one of them. Even when the majority of Hollywood’s most brilliant minds are something other than straight. Without the right kind of body of work to support them, anyone who came out found that work dried up. That or be pigeon-holed into certain roles because of his sexuality; he already gets type-cast enough as it is. Hux doesn’t like it, doesn’t like hiding his sexuality, but he enjoys his work too much to pursue anything else, and he has come too far to turn back now.
How Ren knew is an utter anomaly. Hux hasn’t had a romantic partner of any kind in years. And it isn’t like Hux was especially like the stereotypical white gay male that his industry likes to perpetuate. How could Ren have possibly known with such certainty? The question eats away at him as he cycles through pictures of him and Ren. At least it seems that Poe’s film was going to be successful as usual; Hux can’t help noticing how well he and Ren complemented one another in the photos.
Hux’s phone rings and the caller ID has his throat drying up.
“ Hux .”
Suddenly, it’s hard to breathe. “Father.”
“ Do you remember what I said about keeping a low profile with your-- lifestyle? ”
“Yes. Yes, of course, I do.” How could he ever forget?
“ Then what’s this I see about you going to dinner with some man?”
“It wasn’t like that, Father--”
“ Good. Then it won’t happen again, will it? ”
“ I won’t have you putting my legacy - all I’ve worked for - in jeopardy, do you hear me? ”
“ I said, do you hear me? ”
“Yes, Father. I’m so--”
The line abruptly goes dead in Hux’s hand.
Hux tosses the phone back to the couch, staring forward blankly. He waits for the shame, the humiliation, the urge to break something, to pass. Millicent curls into his lap, purring and nudging at his chin. He gathers her up into his arms, buries his face into her fur. She keeps purring for as long as it takes him to remember how to breathe again, for the wild tumult of emotions to pass. He’s not sure how long he sits like that, but he can either stay home and wallow all day or he can do something. Anything.
Hux skips breakfast and goes straight to the gym. He runs until his legs are shaking, until he can barely keep himself upright and then he runs some more. He’s dizzy by the time he finally gets off the treadmill, and berates himself for skipping a meal. But he couldn’t do it. The idea of eating made him feel sick to his stomach, even though the hangover is long gone. He pictures what Phasma would say if she knew he was punishing himself like this and resolves to eat something solid when he gets home, whether or not he feels like it.
The weeks before filming begins are blissfully busy, keeps Hux’s mind preoccupied entirely. Pictures of him and Ren stay the hottest news for a few days before speculation over a possible break up between Finn Windu and Rey Skywalker takes over and then they’re mostly forgotten. He tries not to pay too much attention to it, turns inward to his preparations for filming.
He and Poe go for dinner. They spend the entire night discussing their ideas for Domhnall. His motivations, his personality, his appearance. Poe asks him to grow his hair out. The beard, too. Hux despises when his hair gets any longer than his ears, hates having to deal with a beard, but he’s done it before. At least his hair grows quickly, hopefully he’ll have enough for Poe’s people to work with when they get started with production. He knows that when he’s so clean-shaven he looks younger than his 32 years and he’s often asked to look a little older. The beard usually helps.
They discuss Domhnall’s physique too. They agree that he’s meant to be waifish, like something out of a fairy tale. But he shouldn’t be emaciated, shouldn’t be lacking in muscle definition. Poe admits that part of the reason he wanted Hux for the role was because of his already lithe body. So Hux agrees to keep up his fitness, but to stay away from packing on any more muscle. His morning stretches and going for runs should be enough to get the body type they picture for Domhnall.
During their meeting, Hux refrains from asking about Poe’s ‘friends,’ Finn and Rey. Partly because he doesn’t care and partly because he knows that Poe wants him to ask. Still, he can’t help but notice that Poe is more morose than Hux has seen him in a long time.
The weeks leading up to filming are full of exercise, table reads, costume fittings, costume and makeup tests, and more exercise. At first, it feels difficult to accomplish any of it because he’s hounded by the paparazzi. They follow him anywhere they can, perhaps hoping to get another glimpse of him with Ren.
But Hux goes out of his way to avoid Ren as much as possible.
Until they start filming, Hux sees Ren only for brief moments at the time. The most amount of time he spends with the man is at the table read, though he is careful to look anywhere but at Ren. Ren’s growing a goatee. It looks good on him, makes him look older, though Hux feels ashamed to admit it even to himself. His father’s words knock around his head still.
When the table read is over, Hux is packing up his things when he sees Ren and Poe talking out of the corner of his eye. Or at least Poe is trying to talk to Ren and Ren is ignoring his words and trying to slip past him. Hux can see the man heading toward him from the corner of his eye.
He leaves so quickly he forgets his journal with all his notes on Domhnall and the script. Afterward, he texts Poe and everyone else at the table read to see if it’s been found, but no one has. This means either Ren has it and or it’s well and truly lost, and Hux will have to rewrite most of it from memory. Considering Hux has been avoiding Ren for so long, he’s not going to give in now, so rewriting it is.
After a while, the paparazzi seem to realize that Hux isn’t that interesting without Ren around and taper off, though he still sees them from time to time. He’s glad, then, that he always makes a point to dress well, since his face makes a cameo appearance on entertainment sites almost daily. His manager seems excited to see it, though Hux does miss the days when he could walk to his gym without men with cameras following him around.
He and Phasma meet for their weekly coffee engagements still, for which he is grateful. He doesn’t tell her, but he appreciates her presence. He once toyed with the thought of asking her to be his ‘beard’, but he couldn’t bear the thought. Not that she might be insulted or reject him, more that he couldn’t bear to add another lie in his personal life. It was enough that he got paid to do it, he didn’t need to be doing it in his spare time as well.
That was one thing he and Ren could agree on, at least.
The first day of filming, Hux is picked up by a large, black SUV that will take him to the studio. It’s five in the morning, though his call isn’t until seven, which means he’ll have enough time to settle into his trailer and complete his morning exercises. He climbs in with his coffee thermos, his perfectly pressed suit, and his travel bag with any and all essentials he might need throughout the day. He feels rested and ready, but he does not expect to see Ren sitting in the other rear passenger seat.
Hux almost flees then, considers asking to be picked up once Ren is dropped off, but then he notices that Ren is fast asleep, or is pretending to be. So he shuts the door and they’re off.
Ren looks like someone rolled him out of bed and bundled him into the car; he’s wearing black sweatpants and a ratty black hoodie, his hair hidden under that ridiculous hat and eyes covered by sunglasses. The only colour on him is the white cord of his earphones that appears from under his cap and goes into one of the hoodie’s pockets. He seems incredibly small with his hands tucked in and his body curled towards the door, but it’s probably because this is the first time Hux has seen the man resembling anything close to relaxed.
It’s only a twenty minute drive, but Hux spends that time trying to acclimatize to Ren’s presence. He wonders if he should clarify to Ren that he needs to keep his sexuality a secret, but he fears having Ren ask why. Not that it’s any of his business, and Hux would tell him so, but still. Hux doesn’t want to face that question. No, if Ren was going to tell anyone, he already would have. At least Ren has enough humanity to know what that could do to someone like in their line of work.
Hux promises himself that he will be the epitome of poise, that he will not worry about what Ren may or may not do with the knowledge he possesses. He will focus on his work, as he always has, and on bringing his best. He hadn’t forgotten his promise to Phasm to beat Ren in the next awards season.
They’re nearing the studio when Ren suddenly sits up, so quick and so completely awake that it startles Hux into looking at the man. His facial hair is fuller than the last time Hux saw him. He wonders if Ren was surprised to see Hux with a full beard. Ren is pulling something out of his pocket, a book that’s almost too big to fit.
“You forgot this.” Ren sounds tired, voice flat and dull. He passes it Hux’s way without looking at him.
Hux would have preferred the thing to be lost forever than to end up in Ren’s hands.
He snatches it from Ren’s hands, flips through it quickly. There’s some things that are out of place, some pages he’d folded that are unfolded, the ribbon bookmark not in the same place he’d left it. Otherwise, it’s untouched, but it’s clear that it’s been riffled through
“You read it,” Hux accuses.
Ren shrugs a shoulder. Hux guesses that it’s supposed to be his answer.
It’s not like there was anything terribly personal in there, simply character observations, notes on facial expressions and tones and body language to use, but perhaps it’s due to his connection with the character that Hux feels personally invaded.
It’s on the tip of his tongue to tell Ren off, to ask what he thinks, to demand an explanation. Instead, Hux settles for a muttered out, “Asshole.”
“You’re welcome.” Ren huffs. Then they’re pulling up to the studio and Ren is climbing out with a duffle bag slung over one shoulder.
Hux has to take a moment to try and remember how to be okay. He’s overreacting. It isn’t a big deal for Ren to look through the journal. It’s nothing, in the end. Just work. He and Ren are going to be getting much more up close and personal than just a silly book very soon. He needs to be okay with this now.
“Sir?” A voice from the front. The driver is turned around in his seat, looking at with him with concern. “You all right?”
“Fine.” Hux doesn’t have the energy now to be polite, to be kind, to put on his public facade. He gets out and gets to work.
He’s directed to his trailer first, where he will be collected from when it’s time to begin. Until then, he has an hour or so to prepare. He spends much of it running lines, making sure that he has all of it down because he knows how Poe Dameron films are done. This will be more like a dance while one happens to be acting, rather than a film in the traditional sense. It will require concentration and all the stamina Hux can muster.
There’s a speech by Poe once they’re ready to start rehearsals. He welcomes everyone, thanks them all for the hard work they’re about to undertake, so on and so forth. It’s the usual rallying call and Hux claps along dutifully with the rest of the cast and crew. Poe makes a point to single him and Ren out, of course. Hux waves, digs up a smile. Ren doesn’t even move, arms crossed over his chest, staring at the ground while everyone stares at him. The smart, more experienced crew probably already know they will have a diva on their hands.
The set is truly something to behold, reminding Hux of his days on the stage. Much of it is on wheels, bits and pieces that can be assembled and reassembled on a whim, like a puzzle. Poe pulls him and Ren together to show them how it will work. Poe is in his element, cool and confident as he lays out his vision for them. It all boils down to a central idea: make the movie look like one continuous shot as much as possible. Ren looks like he wants to set all of it on fire, but at least he seems to be paying attention.
Hux, for his part, can feel the excitement rising, that drive to do well, to be exceptional at this role. It will be a challenge, but he relishes the idea of it. Even the thought of working with Ren can’t dampen that.
They soon get to work, familiarizing themselves with the set, with their steps, with where the camera will be and when. Ren does focus, pushing his hood back so he can see better. It really does feel like a dance, with him and Ren at the centre of it. Poe and the camera director - a large, round faced man he calls Snap - circle around the two of them, with Poe showing them where to step next, when to stop, where to look, what kind of emotion or expression he wants from them at a particular moment. They go through the motions a couple times, each of them asking questions of Poe, of Snap, and - eventually - of each other. It’s a relief to find that Ren can act professionally, at least some of the time.
The first time Ren grabs him by the elbow, Hux nearly shoves him off. But it’s only brief because Ren’s grip is firm, but loose, like he’s waiting for Hux to shake him off. Instead, Hux follows the gentle pull until he’s placed where Ren intended and, yes, this will work better for the shot. Poe’s eyes nearly bulge out of his face with excitement, his hands up to form a frame, showing Snap exactly where he wants the camera.
To Hux, it feels like a riddle; he has all the pieces, he knows how it works, he simply needs to execute the plan. Ren is a solid presence beside him, quiet, attentive, but Hux can feel the same energy off of him too, the eagerness to accomplish the task laid out before them. Good.
Finally, when Poe seems satisfied, when he looks like he’s too keyed up to continue, he asks for Ren and Hux to be swept away by hair and makeup and costuming.
“But in this moment, it’s not anything to him. He doesn’t feel anything yet. It’s just--”
“Infatuation, yes.” Ren is saying, shoulders hunched and hands shoved into his pockets as he strides beside Hux. “Yes, but that’s what this whole story is about, the love at first sight crap.”
“Infatuation isn’t love, Ren.” Hux scoffs, shaking his head. They’re walking with a couple interns to the hair and makeup trailer and they’ve been talking the entire way.
“No, but it’s the start. At least, for them it is.”
Ren seems to be waiting for a response, his upper body turned towards Hux as they walk, gazing across at him without even watching where they’re going. But Hux is startled by the realization that he managed to be around Ren for almost a full two hours without a spark of indignation.
Hux waits until the interns guiding them have gotten a little ahead before he stops and, as he expected, Ren stops as well.
“Why did you read the journal?” Hux doesn’t know why he’s asking, but the words just spill out.
He watches as Ren finally looks away from him, watching the backs of the interns who are still unaware that they’ve lost their charges, “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? I don’t believe that.”
“Well, I don’t care what you believe--”
“You don’t just pick up someone else’s things and start rifling through them--”
“I didn’t know whose it was, how was I to know--”
“Well, then why didn’t you contact me? You could have told me instead of waiting so long--”
“If it matters so much to you, maybe you shouldn’t have left it lying around.”
“Really? Really ? That’s your excuse. ‘It was there so I took it?’ How old are you, twelve?”
“Don’t.” Ren steps in and suddenly he’s dangerously close, drawing up to his full height, fists clenched at his sides. Hux lifts his chin, waiting for Ren to strike, to act, “Don’t patronize me.”
Then he’s stepping back and turning away to storm off in the opposite direction.
“Ren. Ren! We have work to do. Don’t be late!” Hux calls after the man, not caring if he draws the gaze of the crew around them. Let them see Ren behaving like a petulant child.
Hux watches as Ren’s intern goes jogging after the man. Good luck to the fellow, he’s certainly going to need it. His own intern pulls up beside them, and they say something but Hux ignores it. Luckily, they take the hint and the rest of the trip to the hair and makeup trailer is blessedly silent. Perhaps a little empty without Ren there to take up so much space, but quiet. Hux supposes he should be glad for that.
Hair and makeup do their work and Hux allows himself to drift as they buzz around him. He shouldn’t have asked Ren, shouldn’t have expected an answer. He supposes he let his guard down when Ren so open with him before, but that was about work. That was to be expected. But why was Ren being so cautious when Hux asked about the journal? Perhaps he felt some kind of guilt? That seemed unlikely. Either way, Hux doesn’t know why he keeps bothering with Ren. It could be some kind of curiosity to learn more about the man that so few ever got close to.
Ren did arrive late to hair and makeup and the poor crew had to fly into a rush to get him ready. Luckily, Hux was nearly finished so they could devote more people to Ren. Hux can’t help watching the man out of the corner of his eye, wanting to say something. But Ren has his earbuds lodged in his ears and the music is loud enough that it carries in the small room. A little spike of rejection goes through Hux’s chest, but he smothers it. There’s no time for this. He has work to do.
By the time Bazine arrives with their costumes, Hux is ready and Ren is nearly there. They’ve kept Hux’s hair long, longer than he’d like. It almost reaches his jawline and has been fluffed up so it’s thicker than he can ever recall it being, but apparently it fits the instructions that Poe has passed down. At least they trimmed his beard down so it’s closer to the skin of his face and doesn’t look so wild.
Hux does his very best not to pay attention to Ren, but it feels like he has some kind of second sense for the man. It seems there’s not much work they had to do on him, just cleaned up his facial hair and arranged his hair so that it covered his ears.
The costume Hux is given is unlike anything he’d ever pick for himself, but it’s so utterly Domhnall. He can feel himself settling into character with all this on, can feel his mind starting to get into that hyperfocused mode he often finds himself in when there’s work to be done. While Bazine makes minor adjustments, picking the right accessories, consulting with hair and makeup and Poe’s representative, Hux drifts away. His mind is on the set, repeating over and over the steps he’ll take, where he’ll look, what he’ll say, how he’ll say it. He’s ushered into the closed off section of the trailer to change, a bundle of clothing in hand before he even realizes that Ren is already there.
And Ren’s pulling off his shirt, revealing toned, solid muscles and shaking his hair out of his eyes.
Hux’s mouth dries up, staring at the wide expanse of bare tawny skin dotted with dark moles. Ren turns and Hux looks away, moving to leave.
“Get changed. We’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up.” Ren’s looking at him and there’s a challenge in his gaze, like he’s daring Hux to be in the same room as him. Like this. With bare skin and eight-pack abdomens and Herculean arms.
Well, Hux never has been one to back down.
So he tilts his chin into the air and arranges his costume on the hooks on the wall. He takes his suit off with care, folding and hanging each layer of it as it’s taken off. He can feel Ren watching him as he unbuttons his shirt, though Hux keeps his focus on his hands.
He feels uncharacteristically self-conscious as he pulls his undershirt off. He’s always been pale, with trademark ginger freckles speckling his skin. He doesn’t have the same kind of muscle tone that Ren has, he’s always been lithe and coltish, his muscles more compact. He watches Ren’s eyes drag down the length of his body and he wonders if Ren enjoys what he sees. He doesn’t know why, but it matters to him that Ren would want to look at him.
He sees Ren’s face and has a moment of triumph to find Ren staring intently. His gaze is intense, eyes wide and fixed on Hux’s chest. It’s embarrassing and Hux has to resist the urge to cross his arms. It reminds Hux of the way Ren had stared when they were on the red carpet, except now it’s even more unsettling; Ren’s gaze is so focused that it almost feels like a physical touch, one that makes warmth spread in the pit of Hux’s stomach.
“You’re staring again, Ren.” Hux’s voice draws Ren’s eyes up to his face.
“Ren, are you done? Come, we must get you finished.” Bazine’s voice startles them back to reality.
“Better run along, Ren.” Hux says, pulling the shirt of his costume over his head to hide his face when Ren hurriedly does the same. “Wouldn’t want to you to make us late.”
Ren is glaring as he stomps past Hux so hard the trailer shudders around them. But when he passes by, Hux can see the tips of his ears poking out from his hair and they’re bright red.
The buoyant mood lasts for about thirty seconds after Ren leaves and Hux remembers that he’s not supposed to be encouraging anything. That he shouldn’t even be entertaining the notion of having Ren’s eyes on him, let alone anything else. Not only could it potentially ruin his career, but his father’s voice is still ringing in his ears. So he resolves not to let that happen again, not to consider anything more than a professional relationship with Ren.
Not that he ever would, of course.
They get lucky; Poe Dameron may be a savant, but he is also not known for being the most methodical of directors. He prefers to fly by the seat of his pants, as the phrase goes. When Ren and Hux arrive on set, Poe and Jess Testor are arguing about something to do with the boom mics. Ren and Hux spend nearly thirty minutes in their respective chairs, with hair and makeup and Bazine still fussing around them to make sure they’re completely ready when the call comes.
By the time the cameras are finally rolling, Poe looks about ready to pull his hair out because it’s midway through the day and they should have started ages ago. But then the call for quiet on the set goes out and Poe calls out, “Action!”
Domhnall trudges up the stairs with a red cup in his hand, dodging a pair of drunks that go laughing loudly down. He keeps going up, one hand tucked into the pocket of his jeans and the other keeping his drink tight to his chest. Luckily, the upstairs floor isn’t as busy as the raucous party below, he might actually be able to get a moment of silence as long as the bathroom doesn’t have a pair of lovers in it. Unlike the first three doors he tries.
Eventually, he finds the right door and stumbles in only to reel back.
“Oh Jesus, I’m sorry--” Domhnall is hurrying to get out, to shut the door when a voice stops him.
“Oh, no! I wasn’t--”
The man sitting on the toilet stands suddenly and Domhnall - for the first time in his life - is glad to see the man still has his pants on.
“I wasn't--” The man rubs his hands on his thighs, like they’re sweaty with nervousness and his forehead and cheeks have turned bright red.
Domhnall snickers, because it’s silly, to find such a big, handsome man hiding out in the bathroom at a party. He feels bad for laughing, but the man is chuckling too, ducking his head.
“Did you need to--?” The man gestures to the toilet, remembering his manners.
“No! No, I was just looking for somewhere to, uh--” Domhnall runs a nervous hand through his hair, “--hide out for a while. I guess.” He laughs, because he always does in situations that make him nervous, make him shy.
“Yeah, uh, that was my plan. I’m Adam, by the way.” The man - Adam - steps forward, offering a large hand. Domhnall shakes it firmly, his smile going so wide it crinkles his eyes at the corners.
“Domhnall. Don’t even ask how it’s spelled, it doesn’t make any sense in American.” Adam’s grin makes laugh lines on his cheeks and warmth spreads through Domhnall at the sight of it. Everything about Adam captures Domhnall’s attention, but it’s only his smile that makes it difficult to breathe.
Adam is still holding his hand when he asks, “Would you like to join me, Domhnall?”
“Well, since you asked so nicely.” They both laugh and Domhnall finds that he can’t stop smiling, can’t stop looking into Adam’s dark eyes.
They fall quiet for a moment, standing a foot apart with silly grins on their faces.
“You’re still holding my hand, Adam.” Domhnall says quietly.
“Oh? Oh!” Adam drops it quickly and then they’re both smiling bigger again, laughing. Adam steps aside to let Domhnall further into the bathroom and as the door shuts, they can’t seem to take their eyes off each other.
For a moment, it’s just Ren and Hux standing there with a fake bathroom built around them and they hold that gaze. Hux feels like he’s suspended in limbo, unable to look away, but he’s not Domhnall anymore and he can see that this is Ren before him.
The crew stirs on the other side of the door, an explosion of sound as they each hustle to reset everything.
Ren takes a deep, sudden breath and Hux has to turn away as he sheds Domhnall for the moment. He’s the one to open the door, to be greeted by Snap and a woman with rosy skin and angular eyes rigged with a steadicam. She had been following Hux all along the hallway along with a boom operator who had the arduous task of holding the mic close enough to catch all the sound while keep it out of the camera shot. Poe is dashing up the stairs to meet them.
“Guys! Guys! That was great, you did so well!” He’s clapping them on the shoulders, beaming. “I think we got it. We’re gonna run it a few more times, just to be sure, but that was amazing! Amazing!”
They spend the next hours doing it again and again. It only takes a few more takes before Poe is satisfied and they are able to move on. Luckily, with such a mobile set, it’s likely that they’ll be able to get at least two more scenes done before the day ends. It’s thrilling and challenging, just as Hux hoped for. But it also becomes incredibly crucial to get everything right. Because of the nature of Poe’s vision - one seemingly continuous shot - any mistake, even the smallest of missteps and they have to start over from the very beginning of the scene.
Poe wanted to shoot one of Ren’s scenes while they had the party sequence still set up. Hux is waiting for the next scene, another between Domhnall and Adam and he’s truly grateful for the break, that his first scene went so well. Ren had changed his lines nearly every time they ran the scene, like he could remember the general gist of what he was supposed to say, but the exact words escaped him. It hadn’t thrown Hux off, luckily, and in some takes he had even found himself adding something in. With Ren before him, pushing his limits, testing him, Hux found that he settled into the character of Domhnall more and more comfortably with every take.
Ren is walking through the house party with a man, a friend of Adam’s, the one who convinced him to go party crashing. Hux is watching what the camera sees, though he had declined the headset so he can listen in to the audio. Jess - the woman in the steadicam rig - is following close behind Ren and they’re weaving through the extras the fill the floor. It all looks to be going to plan.
Except that this is will be the thirtieth take and it’s starting to get late. Hux isn’t even sure why he’s still here anymore, they aren’t going to be able to get to his scene today. They’ve had to restart the scene so many times now; sometimes it’s for something small, like the script supervisor noticing a prop appearing in Ren’s left hand in one take, then seeming to materialize in his right in the next. Or something bigger, like an extra taking the wrong step, nearly crashing into Jess in the process. Nearly damaging hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment. Or when Ren is the one who misses a step, who stumbles over his lines, who loses Adam long enough that Poe has to shout cut and they try again. And start over from the very beginning.
It takes forty-five takes before Ren finally snaps.
Honestly, Hux didn’t think those rumors could be true until he saw it for himself. One moment, Adam was there, talking earnestly with his friend about how much he’d just like to get over his ex, how much he’d like to be happy - really happy - with someone again and then Ren is tripping over the words and it’s not on purpose. Hux can see Poe in the corner of his eye, dropping his head into his hands and groaning quietly to himself.
Ren stands as soon as he word is said and the crew starts to bustle, resetting everything, yet again. He should be getting in position, should be getting touched up, but he strides past Bazine and her minions so quickly he almost bowls her over. Her shocked cry of indignation draws the gaze of those nearby and Hux, well, Hux is finding that he can’t help but be painfully aware of Ren at all times.
Most of the crew is watching when Kylo Ren walks over to the nearby crafts tables, stocked with dishes and snacks and drinks. There’s one loud roar that rattles Hux’s bones before Ren is sweeping his arm across the table, scattering dishes to the ground. He bellows again, using one hand to completely overturn the table, nearly sending it flying into the attendants nearby.
Hux doesn’t remember standing and everyone around him is frozen in shock as Ren begins to grab everything within reach, throwing it about the studio. It’s only when Hux realizes that he’s going for anything breakable, anything that will shatter beneath the force of his frustration, that he speaks.
“Ren!” Hux’s voice carries well, his authoritative shout shocking Ren to a halt immediately.
He doesn’t remember moving closer either, but suddenly there’s only a few feet between him and a huffing and puffing Ren, his shoulders heaving with the gasping breaths of his rage, hands clasped into fists at his side. He’s literally shaking with fury. But Ren’s eyes are blown wide open, like he can’t believe someone would interrupt him.
Hux can’t look away. He just watches Ren’s face, not bothering to conceal his disappointment. There’s a flash of embarrassment, of chagrin, but it’s only a flicker before contempt takes over. The man’s lip curls in an animalistic growl before he turns his back, storming out of the studio like a dark cloud.
Poe sends them all home after that. He apologies profusely, promises that he’ll make up for it and Hux believes him. Poe would try to buy the whole crew a house, if he could. He’s always had that bleeding heart, nurturing side.
Hux leaves the set alone.
He wonders if Ren would have kept going, if Hux hadn’t called out to him. How much would it have taken to calm him? How far would he have gone? Was it some kind of countermeasure, to make sure that he didn’t harm someone? Was his frustration borne out of other people’s mistakes or his own? Considering that Ren’s final breaking point had been one of his own making, it’s safe to assume that Ren takes his own mistakes much more seriously than he takes the mistakes of others.
There’s a picture of this man - this Kylo Ren - beginning to form in Hux’s mind. He’s reckless, talented, malevolent, handsome, wrathful, intelligent. It’s a dangerous concoction, one that Hux tells himself over and over again he should not get involved with. Kylo Ren is none of his business, outside of the work they must accomplish together. Kylo Ren is not worth his time.
Except when Hux falls asleep that night, he dreams of Kylo Ren upending that table. He hears himself call out Ren’s name and he thinks he knows how this will go. Except that Ren is striding towards him this time and when he gets closer, Hux can see that his skin has turned inky black under the neckline of his shirt, under the cuffs of his sleeves, all the way to his fingers. The closer Ren gets, the further the darkness spreads up the man’s neck until it’s nearly consumed all of his face.
And then he’s reaching for Hux with those ink black fingers and Hux thinks that he should move, that he should run away, but he doesn’t. Ren’s fingers are scalding hot on his skin, but Hux just turns his face into them, tilts his head back and welcomes Ren’s lips when they press against his own.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
It’s day nine of filming and they’re behind schedule.
Poe is trying very hard to keep everyone’s spirits up, to boost morale, but even he is looking haggard. Technically, they have a month to complete filming, but every day that they fall behind could wind up pushing filming longer, could end up costing the studio money and studios hate - above all else - films that go over budget.
It’s unlikely that Poe would lose funding from the studio, he’s too good, too important for them to risk losing to their rivals. But Hux doesn’t bother to comfort the man with that; Poe being stressed means he’ll try harder, he’ll push harder to accomplish their goal. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that there’s still some kind of rift between Poe and Finn and Rey, but Hux doesn’t even want to dive into that barrel of lovesick monkeys. They’ll figure it out eventually.
(Of course, he dreads having to step in. To have to explain to Poe that it’s okay to love more than two people when everyone is aware and consenting and adults? No, that’s a nightmare for another time.)
Every day Hux goes home exhausted down to his very bones. He barely has time to check his messages, to formulate some kind of coherent reply before he’s passing out on the couch with Millie’s fur in his face. He’s not getting proper sleep, but he manages to eat regular meals and exercise. It’s all out of a necessity, of course, to keep his body in pristine condition. As mentally worn down he feels by the challenges of the film - and of working with Kylo Ren - at least his body is functioning.
Working with Ren is sometimes good, sometimes an utter disaster. In the morning, when Ren and their transportation picks him up, they don’t speak. They’re both too tired for that. Hux learns that Ren doesn’t come alive until Poe is shoving them into costumes, running through their steps for the day, showing them where the camera will be, what he needs from them for the shot. It’s the challenge that wakes Ren, pulling him out of his grogginess to a man who’s almost giddy to get started.
All Hux needs is a coffee or two and he’s awake, but he can understand the thrill Ren gets from his work.
They have spare time, between resets of the set and set changes and a thousand other small details that are beyond them. Most of their free time is used to memorize lines, at least on Hux’s part or to shove in headphones and ignore everyone, like Ren does. They sit next to each other in chairs with their last names printed on the back, ignoring one another until it’s time for their scene and only running lines when Poe forces them to do it for sound checks and the like. But one day an intern bustles over to them with an armful of re-writes and they have under ten minutes to learn it all for filming. Ren almost always just ad libs his way through it, no matter how many snide comments Hux makes about it, but they still have to learn the new changes in time. They accomplish that and much more in the scant time they’re given and Hux realizes that - as long as it’s about work - they almost get along.
Eventually, this leads to conversations about something other than work. It always starts off stilted, awkward, almost feels strange to be speaking to each other out of character. And Ren is always the one to initiate it, asking about the book Hux is reading with a disinterested tone of voice. But once Hux tells him what it’s about (he’s still not sure why he elaborated on it), Ren is telling him about similar stories he’s read, authors that he enjoyed, even asking for recommendations. His voice usually keeps that monotone, bored drawl, but he doesn’t stop talking.
Sometimes he even almost makes a joke.
Hux is starting to think that Ren might like him. Not like like him, of course. Probably not, anyway.
But he certainly speaks to Hux more than he speaks to anyone else, besides Poe. Hux notices that Ren never says thank you to the people from crafts who bring him energy drinks and food and anything else he thinks to demand. Hux has to bite his tongue more than once to keep from snapping at Ren to at least acknowledge their crew’s work. That would feel too familiar, too intimate.
Hux is starting to think that he might like Ren, too. Maybe a little more than he should. Maybe not the way he should.
The realization came during his weekly dinner with Phasma. Of course, they’re both usually so busy with filming and such that they’re eating together over Skype. But they are both creatures of habit and spending time together had become habit.
He, as usual, was complaining about Kylo Ren.
“And! He’s constantly making shit up as he goes. It works, I mean, it works for the scene but it’s so frustrating. You know, I spend all this time making sure I have every word memorized, every fucking step and then he blows on to set and makes it look like it’s the easiest thing in the world. It’s ridiculous! And then--”
“Hux, it’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to you talk, but it’s been nearly fifteen minutes since we sat down and all you’ve talked about is Ren.” Phasma’s face looked smug, knowing.
“What? No, it can’t have been--” He checked the time on his laptop. Oh. “Oh. Phasma, I’ve been rude.”
Phasma waved an elegant hand. “It’s all right, I understand. You enjoy working with Ren.” She said this casually, like it’s not the most absurd thing she’s ever said.
“I do not! He’s utterly insufferable, however talented and intelligent he may think he is, and--”
Phasma stared at him, one eyebrow raised pointedly.
Hux rushed to change the subject then, kept the conversation entirely on Phasma for the rest of their call. And all calls since then.
He struggled to sleep that night because he couldn’t help pondering over Phasma’s words and they resonated a little too true for him.
Because he can’t help but notice how handsome Ren is. Only at certain angles, naturally. Some times his nose looks too big for the rest of his face and sometimes he pushes his hair back and Hux gets a glimpse of those big, dumbo ears. But even that can’t take away from the way his eyes capture the lights from their set so easily, shining greens and blues and reds through all the flecks of brown and gold. Or the intensity that seems to radiate off of him, that seems to permeate everything he does. Or the quiet intelligence he hides behind that abrasive attitude of his. Or the out and out stacked body that he wields like a weapon.
It’s just an infatuation, a passing fancy. It will pass, Hux tells himself when he wakes from nightmarish dreams of Kylo Ren and his lips.
It helps to think of the first day of filming, of Ren’s howls of rage while he flipped a fucking table. Ren had been completely out of control then, a human tempest of fury. Hux hadn’t been afraid because he understood something that the other crew had failed to realize: Ren had restrained himself. He could have taken his anger out on the set, could have torn it to pieces and it would have been easy. Sets were made to be broken down, after all. But he had moved away from the crowd, had moved away from the set of a multimillion dollar film and found a table to toss.
It was almost comforting to Hux that Ren at least wouldn’t damage anything terribly important.
Not to say that the days after the first hadn’t been free of drama. There were crew members who made the mistake of sleeping together, extras who got into fist fights, costume malfunctions, catering mistakes, and about a thousand technical problems. And that didn’t even include the filming.
On most films, you have maybe one or two cameras set up and you can try as many times as you like until you get it right.
With Poe Dameron, it reminds Hux of his time on the stage back in London. You have to get it right in one take. You have to get it right because, if you don’t, you just wasted seven minutes of film and now you get to start all the way from the beginning again. It can be the smallest thing - one stumble in a line, one misstep, one distraction - and it’s all gone.
It’s challenging and there are some days where Hux considers shooting himself in the foot just for the excuse to not finish. He never follows through, of course. The film is too important to him.
So he often settles for gouging his nails into his palm. Poe doesn’t notice, Hux’s hands aren’t shown in any extreme detail for anyone to notice. Hux suspects that Ren knows, though he hasn’t said anything to stop Hux from doing it while he’s apologizing for messing up, for ruining the entire take.
Ren probably doesn’t say anything because he does the same. Not in the same way, he has to be more dramatic about it. He slaps himself in the face, almost like he’s trying to wake himself up though it’s not entirely gentle. Once, after nearly ten minutes of a take had been wasted by one slip up, Hux even witnessed Kylo Ren bashing himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand. The crew gathered around him looked on in horror for that one.
Hux doesn’t say anything as long as Ren won’t.
They get through eight whole days of filming without killing one another, come out of those days with something akin to tolerance of each other (and some helpless pining that Hux will never admit to out loud).
So, day nine is when it all goes to shit, obviously.
Mid-morning and this take has been a disaster. It’s, by far, the most technical, hardest that they’ve done thus far and Hux is already feeling burnt out. They’ve been at it for hours already, starting earlier than usual with the hopes of being able to catch up. No such luck so far and Poe had eventually called for a break when Hux and Ren started arguing over whose fault it was that they lost the take.
But it really starts with Ren and an energy drink. He consumes them by the case, which is - apparently - kept in his trailer. By now he’s got the interns trained so that they stand by waiting with a fresh one, waiting for Ren to snap his fingers at them so they can bring it forward. This time, it’s a young man with a head jet black hair who is barely taller than Ren’s shoulders.
Hux is seated beside Ren, a book in his lap that he hasn’t been reading. Normally, it would calm him, but now the words blur together. He’s still going over their last take step by step in his mind, trying to see where it was they had messed up, where he had gone wrong, or if it truly was all Ren’s fault like he originally thought. He notices the sweating intern approaching them, and tries to remember the man’s name just to give himself something else to think about. He prides himself on knowing them all, even the interns, but this one escapes him.
“What is that?” Ren’s voice is dark, threaded with feigned curiosity.
Mitaka. That was the man’s name.
“Uh-- It’s-- Uh, the drink you requested, s-sir.” Mitaka must have drawn the short straw. He’s trying hard to put on a brave face, but the sweat is giving him away.
Hux sees what’s wrong immediately: Mitaka has the wrong drink. The energy drinks that Ren always has come in an black can with acidic green claw marks and the one the intern is holding is blue and red. Hux almost pities the man.
“The ones in your trailer ran out, sir and we-- I couldn’t find anywhere around the studio that had them. I--”
Ren is up in an instant, knocking the can from the man’s hands so hard it goes flying across the room, smashes against the farthest wall leaving a spatter of energy all over the wall. Mitaka lets out a yelp, cradling his injured hand to his chest. But Ren doesn’t seem to care; he gets up and bears down on the young man, hands clenched into tight fists at his side. He doesn’t speak, but he crowds into Mitaka’s space until the man backs up against the crafts table so hard several items fall off. Kylo Ren is a hurricane of wrath with Mitaka at the centre.
This is getting dangerous.
Hux’s voice is casual, deadly calm, and he’s not even watching the unfolding events anymore. He’s got his head down, eyes blankly scanning his book like this whole fuss isn’t even happening.
“Y-Yes, Mr. Hux, s-sir?”
“Let’s assume the next time Kylo Ren requests something, you will stop at nothing to acquire it.”
“But, sir, I--”
“You will look all over hell and creation to find that which is required.” Hux looks the man in the eye now, makes sure that he understands the kind of situation he’s in. Ren is just waiting for an excuse to hit something.
Hux looks back at his book but he’s paying careful attention despite all his effort to look like he’s doing the opposite. Ren’s still seething in Mitaka’s personal space and Mitaka is still sweating, trying not to move.
“ Now , Mitaka.” Hux tosses out and that spurs the young man into motion. He manages to slip past Ren, though he knocks several more items off the table in his effort to do so. As soon as he’s clear of Ren’s arm length, he’s running across the studio. Hopefully, to track down Ren’s ridiculous energy drink.
He can’t remember any of what he’s read, but Hux calmly turns a page in his book as the crew goes back to work, whispering like if they talk too loud it will set Ren off again. Which is entirely likely.
Hux almost expects that Ren will stomp out again, but instead he returns to his seat, flopping down in it. Hux had the forethought to grab Ren’s headphones out of his bag and he has a moment to wonder if the man will be upset with him for doing so, but it’s too late. He’s already holding them out, staring down at his book resolutely. He can feel Ren looking at him for a long moment before the man takes them.
“You’re an asshole.”
“And you shouldn’t hurt the interns. They’re not covered by the studios’ insurance.” Hux says as Ren shoves the headphones into his ears. The music is thunderous, but at least with his headphones in Ren won’t hear what the crew will say about him, won’t have any further reason to intimidate anyone else.
Of course, Hux thought that was the worst that it could get.
He was horribly, completely, utterly, undeniably wrong.
Adam and Domhnall walk side by side down a stark white hallway. They’re both quiet for now, but it’s a comfortable, shy kind of silence. Every so often, one of them will look to the other, smile, look away, blush, and repeat. Finally, Domhnall stops at a white door.
“So, this is me. I mean, this is my place.” He’s adorably awkward, lithe fingers gesturing to the door.
“Yeah-- Uh. I had a great time.” Adam hides his hands in the pockets of his jacket, like it’s all that’s stopping him from reaching out to Domhnall.
“Oh, me too! Me too, definitely!” Domhnall’s smile looks like it will fly away if he grins any wider. There’s an awkward pause before they both laugh, quiet and shy. Domhnall is fiddling with his keycard, debating, biting his lip. “Do you-- I’d like to do it again. Sometime. If you want?”
Adam’s smile is serene, blissed out, content just to be in Domhnall’s presence. “Yeah. Yeah, uh, of course. Please.”
They both laugh again, not realizing they’ve been inching closer and closer as they spoke.
There’s a moment, when they look at each other, where they hold their breath, wondering if this will be it. If this will be their moment.
A door slams down the hall and they both jump apart, blushing and carefully not looking at each other.
“Goodnight, Adam.” Domhnall smiles, swiping his keycard and pushing the door open, turning away.
There’s a too-long pause and Hux panics. Did Ren forget his line? How fucking hard can it be to say ‘Goodnight, Domhnall’? Are they going to lose the entire fucking take, yet again? But then he feels a hand gripping his elbow and a pull then he’s pressed against the door and Ren’s lips are pressing against his.
It’s soft, chaste, sweet, like Adam is waiting to be pushed away. But Domhnall kisses back, leans into it, his hand a fist in the fabric at Adam’s shoulder.
Then Domhnall pulls away, face flaming red, fumbling behind himself for his door, grinning, unable to look away from Adam.
“Goodnight, Adam.” He shuts the door a little harder than he should, perhaps.
Adam can’t bring himself to move yet, can’t believe how lucky he is, can’t believe that he could have ever felt like this again.
“Cut! Guys, that was amazing !”
As soon as Domhnall hears Poe’s voice ring out across the set he rips the door open.
Ren is standing there, looking a little shell shocked, a little pleased, a little smug.
Poe is striding towards them, the biggest smile on his face, his eyes gleaming with pride and excitement.
Hux ignores them both and marches past them, his chest a tight bundle of nerves that feels like it will explode. He can hear Poe calling after him, even Ren’s voice, but he tunes them out. He needs to get away .
He flees to his trailer and locks the door, heading for the bathroom. He feels like it’s hard to breathe, like he’s flying apart at the hinges.
Breathe. It was going to happen eventually, he always knew that. They are going to film the first kiss scene in a few days, for Christ’s sake. But he would have been able to prepare, he would have had the time. He could have put his own silly feelings aside and focused on the role. He was supposed to have time.
Breathe. He should have expected that from Ren. Ren is always ad libbing, always trying to throw Hux off. Trying to challenge him. He knew that Ren was notoriously unpredictable and that is part of what made him good at this. He should have expected it, but he hadn’t and he hadn’t been ready .
Breathe. It wasn’t him that kissed back. It was the character, it was an attempt to make sure they didn’t lose the take to Ren’s recklessness. But that’s only partially true because he can still feel the heat of Ren’s hands on his hips and he’s afraid if he licked his lips he might taste some trace of the man there. He wanted it then, he had given in to it. Just a little, just for a moment.
But it was enough.
A loud crash shakes the trailer around Hux and he forces himself up from the small space he’d wedged himself into. He bursts out of the bathroom, expecting to see Poe or Bazine or perhaps even an intern, like Mitaka.
“I broke your door.” Ren is standing there, holding the handle to Hux’s door in his hand. He doesn’t even look ashamed.
“ ‘Broke my door’ ? Is that all you have to say for yourself?” Hux crosses his arms over his chest, like that will keep him contained.
Ren looks genuinely confused, then matches Hux contained rage with unbridled indignation. “I’ll pay for the fucking door--”
“You think this is about the door? Christ, you are a smart one, aren’t you?”
Ren’s lip curls into a snarl and he looks ready to leave. Then a flash of clarity crosses his face and the snarl turns into a leer.
“This is about this kiss, isn’t it?”
Hux raises his chin, defiant. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“It was going to happen, you know it--”
“So, that doesn’t mean you can just--”
“Were you always going to react this way? Have a big gay freakout and storm off?”
“I-- I did not freak out! I wasn’t prepared, you can’t just do that without someone’s--”
“Oh, please. You liked it, you’re just upset that you liked it--”
“That’s disgusting and you’re an utter prick . You don’t know what I like--”
“I know you like me.”
Hux sputters to a stop and Ren is staring at him with an annoyingly smug grin.
“I-- Tolerate you more than I tolerate others.” Hux said, hurriedly.
“You like me.” Ren moves closer. Hux takes a step back for each of Ren’s steps forward.
“So? It would be absurd of me not to form some kind of connection with my co-worker when we have to spend so much time together. We have formed a kind of bond, I’ll admit, but-- Stop that!”
“Stop what?” Ren knows very well what. He keeps coming closer, keeps pushing into Hux’s personal space, forcing him to step back and back. Hux refuses to look away from Ren’s gaze, knows that - like the beast he is - he’ll take it as a sign of weakness and strike.
Hux still doesn’t know if that’s what he wants.
Because Ren’s right and he should have known that the man would see right through him, would know. Ren always seems to know things about people, like they were open books for him to peruse at his leisure. Hux had experienced that piercing knowledge before and he isn’t keen to do so again.
But Ren is bearing down on him and Hux can feel his back hitting the back wall. Ren’s arms come up on either side of Hux, framing him in and he’s reminded again of just how much more broad Ren is than him, how much more space he takes up.
With Ren this close, thinking becomes very difficult. Hux can still remember the warmth of Ren’s lips on his and he can’t help but look at them, smirking and full and they’re probably going to be the ruin of him.
In for a penny, in for a pound.
Hux surges forward, closes the distance, presses his lips to Ren’s. He has one brief moment where his muscles feel like they’re locked in place, like he’s waiting for Ren to shove him away, to feel that familiar sting of rejection.
But then Ren’s arms wind around his waist and he’s looping his own around the man’s neck and they’re pulling each other close.
He can feel every bit of Ren’s body hard up against his own and it’s - unfortunately - better than anything he’s dreamt up. Ren’s lips are soft, but demanding, moving against his own with uninhibited fervor. Hux opens his mouth to it and then Ren’s tongue is moving against his own and it’s warm and wet.
Ren shoves him back against the wall, like they need to be closer, tighter together, like he wants to make Hux a part of him. It’s intense, all encompassing, makes Hux feel like he’s someone to be desired. Like Ren really wants him.
He’s got one hand in Ren’s hair, tugging and pulling while the other snakes down the back of the man’s shirt, just pressing the flat of his hand there and enjoying the feel of Ren’s skin against his own. Ren seems to have the same idea because he’s shoving his hands under Hux’s shirt like it’s an offense to him, like he’s inches away from ripping it off. Hux suspects that only their mutual need to keep their lips locked together, to keep exploring whatever they can touch and lick, stops Ren from doing exactly that.
There’s a commotion from the door of the trailer and Hux shoves at Ren.
At first, he doesn’t budge and Hux can see him considering whether or not he’ll obey. But Hux can hear Poe cursing, can hear him yelling to someone about Hux’s door being broken and he shoves at Ren again.
“We’ll continue this-- discussion later.” Hux hisses out, low.
Ren does that infuriating smirk again, like he doubts there will be any discussing at all. And he’s probably right.
When Poe enters the trailer, Hux can still feel the blush on his cheek, but he’s managed to smooth out his costume and his hair. He’s standing with his back still up against the wall, but Ren is sitting on the couch, a pillow in his lap and looking for all the world like the cat that ate the canary.
Awkward silence fills the room while Poe’s eyes glance between the two of them.
“Everything okay in here?”
“Yes, Poe, I’m sorry for earlier--”
“Oh, no, don’t be! That was great, I’m just glad we got it all on film!” Poe remembers himself for a moment, remembers that no one but Ren knew that was going to happen. “I mean-- Are you guys-- uh, are you guys okay?” He gestures between the two of them.
“Yes!” Hux says, perhaps a little quickly. He tries again. “Yes. We’re fine. I was just a bit surprised, I’m sure you can understand.”
Poe likely does. While they were roommates, they didn’t share much, but there were some things that Hux hadn’t been able to hide, like panic attacks and the way he reacted to sudden touches.
“Yeah, yeah, buddy. I understand, it’s no big deal really.” Poe has always been kind, always understanding even if he didn’t know the whole picture. “Would it--Is it okay if I use the footage? I get it if you don’t--”
“No, it’s fine. It was good, it should be used.”
“I know you don’t like--”
“I said it’s fine, Poe.”
Ren is glancing between the two of them like he’s trying to figure something out, like he can’t get a read on them or what any of this means. Finally, something that went over his head. Hux almost grins at the man, but he forces himself to look away before he can give into the urge. Good. Let him flounder for once.
“Okay, well, great job, you two. Seriously stellar work out there! I got somebody coming to-- What happened to the door anyway?”
Hux doesn’t even bother trying to explain it to Poe. He just looks at Ren. Who still looks completely shameless when he plucks the door handle up from the couch and tosses it to Poe.
“Ah.” Poe grins as he catches the handle, tossing it up in the air idly. “Well, I got somebody coming around to take a look at it. We’re back on in ten, fellas!” Poe pulls a phone out of his pocket, checking it and shaking his head. “Lighting again, I gotta run, but I’ll see you soon!”
Hux has the sneaking suspicion that Poe is just using his phone as an excuse, but at least it means that Poe leaves.
There one brief, shining moment of relief before Poe’s head pops back in.
“Oh, and Hux? Your belt’s undone.” Poe leaves with a wink, eyes gleaming with mischief.
Hux fumbles with his belt, scrambling to put himself back together. Ren must have undone it while they were-- doing whatever it was they were doing. Which they shouldn’t do again, especially now that Poe knew. At least Hux could trust Poe not to go spilling it to the press or, even worse, his father. Well, maybe the old Poe that Hux knew wouldn’t have, but Hux doesn’t know anything about the man that Poe is now. Great. Just great .
He can feel Ren looking at him as he tries to process what happened. He kissed Ren. Well, Ren started it. It was his fault to begin with. Yes, Hux had wanted it against his better judgment, but in the end it is all Ren’s fault.
He blinks and Ren is standing before him and he’s got that look in his eye like he’s going to pick up right where they left off before they were interrupted, he’s already reaching for Hux’s face.
“Hey, no! No!” Hux’s finger goes up between them like that can fend Ren off. It does surprise him to a sudden halt.
“‘No?’” Ren is incredulous.
“No. That--” Hux runs a shaking hand through his hair and the words are already getting stuck in his throat. He doesn’t want to say it, but he has to. For both their sakes. “That can’t happen again.”
Ren blinks, rocking back in surprise. He seems to collect himself, then he’s peering at Hux like he’s trying to read into his mind, trying to find the truth. But Hux means it, they’d promised from the beginning not to lie to each other.
And it really can’t happen again. It cannot. They both have too much to lose if it got out that they had any kind of a relationship outside of what they portray on screen.
Hux knows the exact moment that Ren sees it, that Hux is being truthful. That he means it.
It would feel better, perhaps, if Ren said something. Anything.
Instead he looks sad for an instant before he schools his face into an impassive mask. He turns his back to Hux and walks away, only his heavy footfalls giving any indication of how upset he really is.
For his part, Hux has to press a balled up first to his lips to keep from calling out, calling Ren back. He just watches him walk away and tries to convince himself that it’s better this way, even though he feels hollowed out.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Hux expects wrath from Ren, but instead he gets stony silences and cold shoulders.
When they work together, it’s as if nothing has changed. They’re both talented, they’re both professional, when the cameras are rolling, they’re able to keep it together. They still make mistakes, they still have to start over and over more than they would both like. But Poe seems pleased with the work they’re able to churn out.
The scene for Adam and Domhnall’s first kiss is changed to fit the kiss that Ren snuck in, but even in filming that, it’s as if nothing happened. Ren is perfectly behaved with the cameras rolling, drops his hands and steps a foot away from Hux as soon as Poe calls, ‘Cut!’ It’s like Hux doesn’t exist to Ren when the cameras aren’t rolling.
Ren doesn’t look at him, doesn’t speak to him unless it’s work related, and Hux begins to feel like a walking void. Not that he needs Ren to validate his existence he just… felt better when he had Ren’s attention, when they talked, when they sat in long, barely comfortable silences. But this is for the best, he keeps telling himself. It’s too risky, it’s dangerous, it’s foolish.
It’s better this way.
But Hux can’t ignore the empty feeling in his chest when he remembers that kiss - the real kiss - and the way Ren’s body fit so well against his own and how hard his heart beat in his chest to have Ren’s lips against his own.
He wanted it. He wants it now, but what he wants and what he needs are very different things.
Perhaps it would be easier if he didn’t know that Ren wasn’t coping very well either. It seemed like - without Hux - Ren was even more volatile, which Hux would have never have thought possible. But Ren was a short fuse, blowing up at every little thing. He used to try and keep from destroying the set, from destroying anything that would cost the studio money or labour, but it seemed that had gone out the window.
He liked to smash things, to throw them across the room and scream when something didn’t go his way, when a take was ruined by one small mistake. Poor Mitaka seemed to be a target, more often than not. Not for the throwing, thankfully - Ren seemed to get enough satisfaction out of the glass shattering on the studio's walls. But Ren took to using Mitaka as a verbal punching bag and everyone kept looking to Hux, like he had some kind of magic solution to it.
And he did, technically, but he was afraid. So he left the room, looked away when Ren went on one of his rampages.
It’s only been a few days and Hux tells himself that it will get better. That they’re already halfway through filming and they’re almost back on schedule and within a few weeks he’ll be done with Ren. There will still be press, still be tours to do, but he’s an actor. He can pretend to be that happy-smiley person to promote the movie and then he can be done.
The thought makes him feel tired.
The day of the sex scene has to be the most awkward day on set that Hux can remember ever having in his entire career.
Sex is always awkward to film. Sheets have to fall just the right way, sometimes it’s a body double because it’s not in your co-star’s contract to have nudity. It’s always awkward when there’s people watching you pretend to have sex with someone.
Hux hadn’t really considered just how much worse it’s going to be when you’re filming it all in one shot.
They spend half the day rehearsing, which is essentially Poe telling them to make out, to paw at each other, to make their way to the bed while he lines up where he wants the cameras, the mics.
It’s agonizing enough, but Hux’s goal had been to stop kissing Ren. To put all that behind them, carry on with the show and get away from each other. But now they were being - quite literally - thrust together.
And then they started filming and it just got worse.
Ren’s lips were damned dangerous; every time they kissed Hux felt like he was going to tip over the edge. Like he was going to give in and take it all back. He could feel the flush that made his cheeks scarlet and he felt too warm.
Maybe it would be better if this was one sided, but Ren was right there with him.
Every time Poe called a cut, Ren would back away like he’d been burned, staring at Hux with dark intensity that seemed to radiate from him. He was blushing too, his cheeks seemed stained with it and when they would start the cameras rolling again, Hux would feel the man’s heart flutter under the palm of his hand.
It’s been five hours since they started filming and everyone is exhausted.
Five hours of making out with Ren, with tumbling into bed with him and there’s a part of Hux that hasn’t tired of the thrill of it yet.
There’s another part of him that’s just tired.
They can’t get it right. Poe seems like he’s on the verge of pulling a Kylo Ren and throwing something.
“Guys, guys, guys.” Hux and Ren have a swarm of costume and makeup minions swarming around them, resetting their clothing yet again. “You’re-- Okay-- You’re just--” Poe takes a moment, closing his eyes, his palms pressed flat together almost in prayer as he searches for the right words. Hux struggles to stay quiet, hates letting Poe down like this, especially because of something personal.
“Where’s the passion?” Poe blurts out, eyes open, hands reaching out to grasp at their shoulders. “Hmm? Where’s-- Where’s the love? This is your first time together, you’ve got all this adrenaline built up and-- I’m not-- I’m sorry, guys-- I’m just not seeing it.” Hux tries not to flinch at that. He’s been letting Poe down, he’s been letting the whole crew down. He’s letting his own emotion get in the way of his work.
“We’re doing our best--” Ren’s on the defensive immediately, of course. Hux rolls his eyes.
“Yeah, I know! I know, but-- You can do better.” Poe’s voice is sincere. “I know what you guys are capable of-- we all do. I need to see the passion . Please.”
Poe walks away and Hux stands still as the fussing over his clothes and clean up on his make up continues. The truth is, he knows what he needs to do to get that passion, he’d just been hoping he could fake it well enough to avoid doing it. It seems like that wouldn’t be the case.
Ten minutes later, Ren is shoving him against the door and Hux has his arms wrapped around the man’s shoulders and Hux gives in. He taps into that well he’s kept bottled up since the first time he kissed Ren and does what feels good, feels right.
He puts the passion, the need, the desire he’s been repressing into the kiss and into the touch of his hands to Ren’s hair and back, up under his clothes. He shivers under Ren’s touch, and he can feel Ren responding too, can feel the difference in the way Ren clings to him, pushes their bodies together, fingers clutching and digging into whatever he can grab.
Hux forgets about the crew, about the cameras, about anything besides this feeling. Piece by piece, Ren strips him bare and Hux returns the favor in kind until they’re both down to undergarments and they’re falling into bed.
It’s hard to remember if he’s supposed to be under the sheets or if he has any lines when he’s got Ren pressing between his legs and he can run his hands over Ren’s flesh and dig his nails in to hear Ren hiss out his pleasure.
It’s all biting and kissing and pulling and fingers digging into skin and Hux could get lost in the thrill of it. He wants to--
“ Cut! ”
Ren stills above him and Hux opens his eyes, meets the man’s gaze. He’d almost forgotten where they were, what this really was. Looking up at Ren, Hux wonders if it really is better this way, to keep himself from something he wants. Someone.
“Brilliant, guys, just brilliant! That is what I’m talking about. That’s a wrap, people, wrap it up, wrap it up!” Poe’s voice booms over them.
Ren pulls away quickly then, and Hux misses his warmth immediately. But someone from costumes is holding open a robe for him and Hux tries to convince himself that it’s a suitable replacement for Ren’s body heat.
He looks up to in time to see Ren storming off set, without even waiting for Poe’s usual end-of-day feedback. Hux feels a desperate ache shiver through him and tries to push it down, to concentrate of Poe’s words.
It’s better this way. That’s what he decided and that’s the truth. They’ll only hurt each other in the end.
The days march on and every time Hux sees Ren he feels that yearning, like there’s a phantom part of him aching to reach out to the man. It’s fine when Ren isn’t around, but considering how much they are working together, it’s impossible to go more than a few minutes without seeing him.
They’ve been filming for almost ten minutes of one long continuous shot and Hux thinks they’re going to get it this time. But then someone’s phone starts going off and there’s a collective groan from the crew.
“Cut!” Poe shouts and it’s one of the rare times that Hux can remember seeing him look almost mad. “All right, whose phone is it? Doesn’t ‘quiet on the set’ mean anything anymore?”
Hux is about to agree when the ringing comes again and he realizes it’s coming from his own pocket. He always keeps his phone on him, but it’s always silent, he doesn’t even put it on vibrate in case the boom mics pick it up.
There’s only one reason his phone would actually ring when it’s on silent.
Hux scrambles for his pocket, striding off set immediately, his face white as a sheet, his heart thundering in his ears. He can’t even be embarrassed because he’s already worried.
“ What did I tell you about making a scene?”
Hux can feel everyone’s eyes on him as he retreats to a hidden corner. Vaguely, he can hear Poe calling for a break, his voice filled with concern, though he doesn’t follow behind Hux.
“Let me explain--”
“ I’m being told that you’re in some kind of queer film, is that true? ”
“No,” Hux lies, trying not to listen to the little boy in him panicking at the act of lying to his father, “I didn’t--”
“ You gave me your word that you would never let your sickness get out, that you would keep quiet. ”
“I told you I wouldn’t, didn’t I?”
“ Don’t you take that fucking tone of voice with me, boy.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just--”
“ You better stop these silly rumors from spreading-- ”
“ Or I will end your career-- ”
“ I will make certain you never work again, am I understood? ”
“ Am I understood? ”
“Yes. Yes. I understand. Fath-- Hello? Hello?”
He’s shaking by the time he hangs the phone up, but at least he’s made it somewhere relatively private. The sun’s just beginning to set and he’s outside the studio doors and he’s blissfully glad that all the crew are inside because he can’t stop shaking.
It doesn’t matter what he does, he can’t ever make his father happy. Hux has been trying to tell himself for years that he doesn’t need his father’s validation, he doesn’t need his approval, but every call from the man feels like it sets him back. He’s worked so hard to stop feeling like such a failure, but every call makes it all fall apart.
He just needs a moment. Just five minutes and then he’ll be okay.
Of course, that’s when Ren shows up.
Ren only stops talking because Hux is turning away from him, trying to hide the tear tracks on his face and the way got his arms crossed over his chest, fingernails digging into his forearms hard enough that he can feel the bruises forming. Good thing they got the nude scene over with today.
“I need a moment, Ren. Christ, can’t you take a fucking hint?” Hux spits, pacing away from the man. It’s quiet behind him and he assumes that means the man is gone. The thought doesn’t make him feel any better - makes him feel worse, somehow - but then arms are coming up on either side of him.
“What are you--”
Ren’s arms wind around him, his huge hands wrap around Hux’s wrists and, at first, Hux worries that Ren is going to try and pry his hands away, to make him stop hurting himself. But he doesn’t. He just holds onto Hux’s wrists, the length of his body pressed up behind Hux.
For a moment, he can’t relax, he goes tense and he’s still trembling. But Ren just stays there, a warm, firm, unrelenting body up against his own. And then it’s comforting and Hux finds himself sinking into it, letting loose the long breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
He can feel Ren’s chest against his back, his fingers are grasping tight, and he can feel that giant nose pressed against the nape of his neck, letting out gentle puffs of air. Hux forgets that he’s supposed to be angry at Ren, forgets that Ren’s been giving him the cold shoulder, forgets about his father, forgets to dig his nails into his skin, forgets everything except for that touch because he hadn’t known he needed it until this moment.
He’s not sure how long they stay that way, but Hux can feel the heat of the sun disappearing behind them and he watches their shadows get longer and longer. Eventually, Ren lets go, steps back and Hux turns to him.
Ren is staring at his shoes, arms crossed against his chest and shoulders hunched over. He pointedly avoids Hux’s gaze and Hux is grateful for it, turning his eyes to the setting sun instead.
“Are you-- What happened?” Ren’s voice is full of cautious curiosity. “I mean-- You-- You don’t have to say--”
“My father--” Hux tries to find some other way to explain, but he doesn’t want to. The words get stuck in his throat so he just lifts a shoulder in a shrug.
But Ren seems to understand anyway because he doesn’t say anything more. They’re quiet for a long time, but it’s not uncomfortable, not strained, not like how it has been lately.
“Poe said to take your time.”
Hux nods. Poe would, he knew very well what Hux’s father could be like.
It occurs to him that he should probably thank Ren as he trails a bit behind when they finally make their way back into the studio. But he’s still not entirely sure why Ren had done it in the first place. When Hux had been so cruel to him, had tried to shove him away, Ren had responded with silence and rage, but then he had been there when Hux felt like he was going to fall apart. It didn’t fit the image of Ren that he had built up in his mind.
Makeup says nothing about the tracks on his face, they just set about repairing it and by the time they’re done, Hux feels steady again. The last time his father had called he had nearly run himself into the ground, hadn’t wanted to see anyone he knew for the entire day. Now, he actually felt okay, felt capable of continuing on.
After that day, things shift.
Ren doesn’t talk to him at first, not outside of their lines or work, but he doesn’t try to pretend that Hux doesn’t exist any more. He doesn’t walk away as soon as Hux enters a room, he doesn’t move away when Hux sits nearby. He stays.
It’s pathetic how much Hux is happy to even have that back.
When they finally start talking again, it’s stilted, awkward. But it feels good to talk again, to share that companionship and eventually it gets better between them. Hux starts to believe that maybe they can keep it like this, that they can ignore the attraction, that they can be something akin to friends.
But it’s hard to disregard his affections when the majority of their scenes together involve kissing and touching and nothing but tenderness for each other. It’s harder and harder to pull away from Ren’s touch each time and Hux is beginning to feel like a man lost in a desert looking for water.
The trouble is that he remembers what it was like to feel like this. He’s felt it once before, but never quite like this. Back then it was one-sided, though he didn’t realize that at first. Back then, he would have given anything to have his affections returned. But with Ren, Hux is the one pushing him away.
They’re better off as friends. He knew what Ren could be like, he’d seen that temerarious personality in full force and he knew that it could hurt him. Ren could be hurtful, terribly so, and he is thoughtless about it. Most times, it’s intentional, meant to push people away, but he doesn’t do that to Hux.
He wanted Hux around. Wanted whatever Hux would give him.
And Hux couldn’t do it.
For now, at least, Ren seemed to forgive him, seemed to make his peace with the line Hux had drawn. It’s still a struggle, on both sides, when their characters give their affection so freely and they have to pull away as soon as the shot is finished.
But it’s for the best. Ren may even thank him for it, some day.
They’re days away from the last day of filming and tensions are high.
Production is still behind. Not by much, thankfully, but just enough that the producers are starting to get anxious. Enough that everyone, right down to the interns, is starting to feel the pressure.
That’s the moment that Snoke decides to make an appearance.
Hux’s agent stopped by every few days or so and called every day to make sure that her client was happy, as was her job. But, until today, Snoke hadn’t so much as phoned. When Hux asked Ren why, he’d gotten a shrug in return, couldn’t see Ren’s face with his hood pulled up. When he’d asked if that bothered Ren, he’d gotten silence.
So Hux expected joy from Ren to see Snoke when the man - if he could be called that - slithered onto set. Snoke arrived with two bodyguards from the same company that protected and stalked Ren about the set. Hux had learned their company name was The Knights and, while he appreciated the medieval nod, their silent presence unnerved him constantly. At least Snoke had the decency to wait until they weren’t filming before he made his presence known. It was like a ripple effect throughout the crew, Hux could see the way they gave the man wide berth, like they were afraid to come too close. If half of what Hux heard was true, they were wise to do so.
The moment Ren saw Snoke approaching with his escorts, every muscle in his body tensed up. Hux watched Ren stand up, pushing back his hood, his spine ramrod straight. Curious.
“ Ky lo.”
Hux never heard Snoke speak before, his voice is raspy, quiet, but had a strangely menacing undertone. He found himself drawing his shoulders back, sitting up taller in his seat. There’s an aura about Snoke that commanded obedience.
There’s a note of reverence in his voice that Hux has never heard before, and that draws his eyes to Ren. The man’s eyes are lowered, his head bowed slightly in deference to Snoke. It’s disturbing to see someone so passionate, so boorish as Kylo Ren acting like this.
“I wondered if you would have a moment to speak--” Snoke’s eyes slide over Hux and he has to repress a shudder before they move back to Ren. “--in private .”
Ren opens his mouth - no doubt to answer in the affirmative - before stopping. He looks to Hux with a question in his eyes, one that Hux is proud he can easily read.
“Go on. They’ve still got to figure out what’s wrong with the mics. You’ve probably got thirty.”
Ren nods, looking relieved and leads the way past Snoke and the Knights to his trailer. When Hux looks to Snoke again, the man is staring at him, a look of barely contained fury flashing across his face before he turns on his heel, following Ren off the set.
The relief around the set is tangible once Snoke leaves. For his part, Hux doesn’t like the look Snoke gave him. Like he was doing something so terrible by giving Ren information. It takes him a while, but eventually Hux realizes what disturbed him about it.
Permission. It seemed like Ren was asking him for permission to leave then, to know that he could have his moment of shrouded privacy with Snoke and he had looked to Hux for that.
The whole thing has so familiar a sting to it that Hux follows after them before he really realizes what he’s doing.
Outside Ren’s trailer stand those two Knights, guarding the door like they’re expecting an ambush at any moment (considering Snoke’s shady connections, Hux wouldn’t be terribly surprised). Hux ignores them even as he reaches past them to knock on the door, but one of the Knights grasps his wrist before he can do so.
“No visitors.” The Knight’s voice is a dull baritone.
Hux yanks his wrist out the man’s grip, “ Excuse me? ”
“Kylo Ren is not taking visitors.” The other’s voice is lighter, brash. It would almost be pleasant if they weren’t - quite literally - standing in Hux’s way.
“I heard, I just don’t believe it. Stand aside.” The authoritative tone comes out easily and he revels in the way the Knights twitch, like they are struggling not to just obey. But they still didn’t budge. “Fine.”
Hux pulls his phone from his pocket, keying in a number and holding it to his ear. There’s a beat of awkward silence as he stands there watching the Knights look at each other nervously. The trill of a ringtone going off can be heard inside the trailer.
“ What? ” Ren snaps when he picks up the phone.
“Come outside, your goons won’t open the door.”
“ Goons? You mean Drago and Kista? ”
“Sure, if that’s what you want to call them.”
“ I can’t-- ”
“We have ten minutes to learn new lines from the latest re-write.”
Ren sighs on the other end of the line and Hux hears a muffled conversation. Even over the phone, the faint echo of Snoke’s voice sends an unpleasant shudder through him.
As for the Knights, they look at each other with barely veiled panic behind their hoods and sunglasses.
Hux hears a click and then a dial tone. He hangs up, hoping that it means Ren will do as he asked.
But when the door opens, it’s Snoke standing there coming down the steps and stopping right in front of Hux. Ren is hot on his heels.
“I’m sorry, Snoke.”
“I don’t need excuses, Kylo.” Snoke replies, speaking to Ren but staring at Hux. Hux meets his gaze, struggling to hold back a sneer of distaste. Everything about Snoke makes Hux’s skin itch. “Just give me results. Show me what you can do.”
“Yes, Snoke--” Before Ren can even finish his capitulations, Snoke is striding away, the Knights he brought trailing after him.
Ren’s face is a mess of shame and regret as he watches Snoke walk away and that feels familiar too. His gaze falls on Hux and the irritation he’s become accustomed to is back.
Hux ignores the question as he steps through the trailer door, pushing past Ren and concentrating on anything but the way his skin warmed at even the slightest brush of Ren’s body against his own.
He hears Ren sighing and shutting the door behind him as he steps into the man’s trailer. It’s a damned mess, of course, though Hux honestly isn’t surprised to find it so. Disgusted, yes, but not at all surprised.
There are takeout containers all over the small table and the couch, clothes tossed hurriedly into one corner, the bed at the back of the trailer looking as though it has been hastily made. Hux is trying to find a clean spot to sit when Ren speaks up from behind him.
“So? Where’s the re-writes?”
“What re-writes?” Hux steps away immediately, putting some distance between the two of them under the pretense of clearing a spot to sit on the small couch.
“What--? The re-writes-- The ones you made me cut my meeting with Snoke short for!”
“Oh, they aren’t ready yet.”
“What-- What the fuck? You lied to me?” Hux can hear what he’s not saying, can hear the accusation that he broke his word.
“Technically, it wasn’t a lie - per se - since there will be re-writes. I just don’t have them. Yet.” Hux doesn’t look at Ren, gingerly sitting in the space he’s cleared. He wants to pace, but the room is too small for that.
“Why?” Ren is seething now, hands clenched tight at his sides, his words hissed out between clenched teeth as he towers over Hux.
“I needed you to get rid of Snoke.” Hux makes a careful study of the room around him, as if what he’s done is insignificant (and it is to him). He tries to ignore the number of beer bottles scattered around when something catches his gaze.
“Get rid-- Where the fuck do you get off--”
Ren stops when he realizes what Hux has been starting at. A small pile of plastic bags, each one an inch in diameter and filled with white powder. He’d almost mistaken it for a pile of garbage. On the front is a sticker bearing a symbol that Hux - unfortunately - recognizes.
It’s star-like, with each point of the star ending in an arrow-like point and surrounded by a hexagon.
Hux picks up one of the little bags. “Why do you have this?”
Ren looks surprised before, in an instant, he’s closing the distance between them, snatching the dimebag out of Hux’s hand.
“I don’t-- Snoke gave it to me.”
“None of your business--”
“You’re bringing Sith to our set, to our movie, Ren. You are making it my business.”
Ren’s eyes are blown wide, his hands clenched into tight fists at his side. “I sell it for him.” Ren speaks through clenched teeth.
“You sell-- Jesus fucking--” Hux has to pace now, launches out of his seat to stride the length of the trailer.
“I don’t sell it here-- I don’t know why he brought it now, I never use when--”
“You use too? What the fuck , Ren--”
“Fuck-- No, I don’t! I’m not a fucking Sith-addict, all right? And I don’t do it when I’m working, I’m not an idiot!”
“Clearly you are! Do you know what this shit does to people, Ren? People die from this!”
“Those people are morons who don’t know what they’re doing--”
“And you do?”
“Oh, fuck off!” They’d been shouting, but now Ren’s voice booms through the small space. He steps in, close enough that Hux can feel his breath with each word. “What do you care? Huh? Why the fuck do you care?”
“Because I--” Care about you . Hux stops, looks down at his clenched fists, takes a deep breath. It’s supposed to calm him, but he’s shaken. “--I know what men like Snoke are like. He’s using you.”
Ren laughs, but it’s cruel and biting. Hux fights the urge to flinch back. “What the fuck! You don’t even know him-- you barely know me !”
“I’ve seen men like him before, trust me, I know exactly what he’s like.”
“You don’t know jackshit.” Ren looms over him, sneering. He shoves past Hux towards the back of the trailer, nearly barreling him over in the process. “Get out.”
“Do you feel like he’s the only one who understand you? The only one who gives a shit?”
“Get out--” Ren stops, his shoulders heaving.
“Does he tell you to prove your devotion to him? Is that why you sell it, why you use? To make him happy with you?”
“I said get out--”
“I know how--”
“How it feels ?” Ren turns, spits the words out with disgust. “You don’t get it! No one does! Snoke practically raised me, he took care of me when no one else--” Ren stops, raw pain flashing across his face before the fury takes over, the muscles in his jaw ticking. “Get the fuck out.”
Hux nods. He’ll go this time. At least it seems that Ren got his point. “Just… Be careful, Ren.”
He goes, shutting the trailer door behind him. He only gets a few paces away before he hears something smash against the walls inside and wonders if he should turn back.
Ren made it clear his presence wasn’t wanted. Hux keeps walking.
When Ren returns to set just in time for the next scene, Hux fully expects to be ignored again. He’s even managed to mostly prepare himself for it.
Instead, it’s as if their fight didn’t even happen. Ren seems completely unfazed, if a little bit more snappy than usual. There’s only one small incident of Ren throwing his chair at Mitaka, but at least nothing gets broken in the process.
The next morning goes by in the usual fashion, except that Phasma sends Hux an email with a link in it and a note of support.
He sees why she included one when he opens the link.
BRENDOL HUX HAD AN AFFAIR WITH AN OLDER MAN!
The article is full of sordid details, most of it hearsay and barely any sources. The writer claims it came from an anonymous tip.
Still, he can feel his throat clenching up, can feel himself struggling to breathe. He’s barely done reading the damned thing when his phone rings and his father’s familiar number appears.
“ Save it, Hux. The situation is being handled, though why I should have to keep doing this for you, I don’t understand .”
“Yes, I’m sorry, Father. It won’t--”
“ Don’t try and tell me that it won’t happen again, we both know that’s a filthy lie. ”
“ I don’t have time for excuses, boy. I am getting sick of cleaning up your messes for you. ”
“I’m-- I’m sorry.”
“ Sorry’s not good enough. I better not have to call again, Hux .”
“Yes, Father--” The words are barely out before the dial tone is echoing in his ears.
It feels like the world is moving in slow motion, the sickening thought that word got out, that someone knows. How? How could anyone know? It was buried, Father had seen to that.
He’s not sure how long he sits there, staring down at the phone in his lap before he realizes someone is calling to him.
“Hux? Mr. Hux, sir? Are you okay?”
“Yes?” It sounds like a question. He takes a deep breath, tries again. “Yes, I’m fine.”
The intern doesn’t look so convinced, but he leaves anyway.
Father said it would be taken care of. Let his lawyers worry about it. For now, Hux has work to do.
And Hux throws himself into work with more zeal than usual because it helps him forget. It takes only hours before the article is taken down and the writer is making a grand apology for his slanderous words. But during those hours, the article still spreads to other news outlets, they sensationalize it to all hell, even after it’s original writer takes it all back.
It could have been worse, Hux tells himself all day as he tries to immerse himself in his work, tries to ignore the way the crew look at him. He succeeds, for those moments when he gets lost in his character, but the impending panic always creeps back. He’s never been so glad to have a day end so he can go home and curl up as small as possible and just let it all wash over him.
When he gets into the transport that will take him home, Ren is already there.
Usually he’s not. Usually, he’s picked up by one of the Knights driving his overpriced - and probably unloved - Aston Martin and when Ren takes over to drive, they leave tire tracks and the smelt of burnt rubber behind. But this time he’s in the SUV that they share together every morning and he’s awake .
Hux decides he will ignore Ren, just pretend that it is his usual day for as long as it takes for him to get home. But he can see Ren fidgeting in the corner of his eye and he wouldn’t care except that Ren never fidgets. He stretches out his legs, pulls them close, his hands clench and unclench in his lap, he keeps clearing his throat. Finally, he starts jiggling his leg until Hux thinks about using the pen tucked into his breast pocket to stab Ren in the thigh.
“Stop that.” Hux hisses.
“Don’t tell me what to do.” Ren snaps on instinct, clenching his hand over his knee. But he finally ceases the annoying bouncing.
Hux gets a few moments of peace, of stillness before the transport pulls up outside his apartment and he gathers his bag, opens the door, already planning out an evening of curling up in his bed and ignoring all outside contact while he can when Ren’s hand closes around his wrist.
He turns. Ren is staring down at his hand like it betrayed him and Hux tries to ignore the warm press of the grasp.
For a long moment, neither of them say anything.
“What is it, Ren? I don’t have all day.” He has very important panicking and moping to do, no he has to add trying to forget the way he feels when Ren touches him.
“It was Snoke.” Ren’s eyes flick up to his, boring into him.
It takes Hux a moment to process the words, to understand the words, to understand what they really mean.
“Snoke? Snoke leaked to the press-- How did he--?” Hux fights down the nausea that threatens to overwhelm him, blinks past the way his vision starts to blur. Ren’s grasp on his arm tightens, becomes a focal point. “How?”
“I don’t know. Snoke, he--” Ren shakes his head, jaw clenching. “He knows a lot of things about a lot of people.”
“I don’t know. He doesn’t like you, he doesn’t like that I--” Ren cuts himself off, his fingers around Hux’s wrist tightening, just a little more.
A horrifying thought occurs to him: Kylo Ren knows, now. He knows that it’s not something some pathetic journalist made up. He knows that it’s real and that it happened and that what they’re saying about Hux is true--
Hux wrenches his arm out of Ren’s grip.
“He doesn’t want to lose control of you, that’s why.” Hux snarls. He starts to gather his things again, but his hands are shaking.
“He-- What? He doesn’t control me!” Fury takes over Ren’s voice. Good. He knew that Ren wouldn’t like to hear that, even if it was the truth. Hux can deal with fury. He can’t deal with affection .
“Oh, Kylo Ren,” Hux laughs it out, but it’s a bitter sound. He steps out of the vehicle, turns to meet Ren’s eyes. “For someone who has seen and done so much, you are incredibly naive.”
He slams the door on Ren before the man can respond, but he still hears the roar from within the SUV as it pulls away from the curb.
Ren lasts almost a full day of giving Hux the silent treatment before he finally cracks.
Hux is standing at the crafts services table, forcing himself to eat because he couldn’t the night before and watching Ren work. He’s been at it for a good hour, keeps slipping up, keeps stammering in the wrong places, forgets his lines or adlibs them so terribly that Poe keeps calling a cut to reset and try again. Finally, finally , Ren gets the scene just right and they can move on, but almost as soon as it’s done, Ren comes stomping Hux’s way. He’s all sloped shoulders and clenched fists and Hux wonders if he should be bracing himself for a fight. He would almost welcome one at this point.
Ren stops far too close, his beak of a nose nearly pushing into Hux’s.
“ No one controls me, but me. Not Snoke, not you , not anybody.” The words are hissed low and sinister between them. “Got it?”
It’s strangely comforting to know that Ren had been listening, even if it is just a little bit. It’s enough for now.
“Whatever you say, Ren.” Hux answers calmly, keeping his eyes on Ren as he pops another grape into his mouth. “Can you hand me a napkin?”
Ren’s hand moves to get one from the table, even though his eyes don’t leave Hux’s. But he catches himself, his hands form into fists and his lips curl up into a vicious snarl.
He’s not even surprised when Ren knocks the plate out of his hands, sending various fruits flying at the crew lingering around before he storms off the set.
His hands sting a little, but Hux can’t keep the smug grin from his face.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
It takes three days for the gossip to die down.
Hux spends most of those days throwing himself into work, eating only the bare minimum (i.e., only eating when Phasma calls him to ask him if he’s eaten, which she does three times a day), and chain smoking. It’s not perfect, but it makes him feel like maybe he’ll be fine.
It helps him to remember why he got into this business in the first place. It’s not just that he’s good at it, but he enjoys it as well. He enjoys becoming someone else, living another person’s life. Sometimes they’re happy, they’ve had some troubles, some trials, but they get their happy ending. Sometimes they’re worse off than he’s ever been, the story ends terribly for them, and for Hux it’s like a release. Secretly, he likes the stories that end in mayhem.
Acting became a kind of therapy on it’s own from the moment he realized he had an aptitude for it and he pursued it with burning need from then on.
So he uses acting as an escape from his own problems, as a way to cope with them. It helps that those days are filled with scenes that are especially challenge, that push both his and Ren’s limits to the brink.
Where Hux flourishes under the pressure, Ren is constantly on the edge of exploding. Almost every take that fails, Ren is looking for something to throw, marching around with clenched fists and a glare for anyone who tries to speak to him. Their last days on set are quickly approaching and everyone is working themselves to the bone to get the project done on time.
The day of the wrap party comes much faster than Hux anticipated.
They finished filming right on schedule, though the studio wasn’t giving them much choice. Poe keeps whispering to himself about how he wishes they had more time, that they could do so much better with more time. But time is literally money to these people and they finish what they can. Every scene is filmed and now it’s on to post-production for Poe and his film editor, Ackbar.
When the last take is done and Poe announces, “That’s a wrap!”. The usual cheers goes up from the crew. Hux smiles his way through the many congratulatory handshakes with the crew, and even Ren’s mood seems less sullen than usual. They’ll be called in to do ADR - to clear up any dialogue that came out a garbled mess - but they’ll be done for a while until the promo tour starts and they get closer to the film’s release date. For now, they can relax.
At least, Hux plans to. He’s not sure if Ren will go straight from this to something else and part of him wants to ask, but part of him is worried what the answer will be.
Because he can’t stop thinking about that kiss and he can’t stop thinking about Ren’s arms around him, and Ren’s hands around his wrists and he catches himself staring sometimes. And he can’t help wondering if Ren thinks about it too.
The wrap party is held in the studio and starts almost as soon as the important - that is, expensive - equipment is cleaned up. Crafts outdoes themselves, as they are expected to, and someone from set construction found some green, red and blue Christmas lights to string up. Soon enough, there’s music thumping through the speakers and the celebration begins.
They’ve all been working almost non-stop twelve hour days for a solid month, and yet, everyone finds the energy to drink themselves silly.
Poe invites Rey and Finn, much to Hux’s relief. At least he won’t have to deal with Poe going around moping anymore. When he’s drunk enough - and everyone else is - Poe makes the mandatory speech, stuttering and blushing his way through it. He’s never been good at the big speeches, he’s usually better when it comes to dealing with smaller groups of people, but he tries and that’s what matters to the crew.
Usually, Hux would be excited to see filming end, to get started with the next step of the film. But now he’s filled with an unusual sense of sorrow, sad to see an end to this experience. He’s worried too, for what will come next. He had been hoping for an opportunity like this for years now, to stop all the lies and finally just be , but now that the time is coming he’s hesitating.
And he knows he’s going to miss Ren.
They’ll see each other again, but it won’t be like it was before. They won’t have whatever strained camaraderie that they’ve managed to piece together since the Kiss Incident. And Hux will have to let go of any lingering feelings, purge them out of his system. Try and get back to normal.
Perhaps that’s why he drinks a little more than he usually does, a little more than he has in years.
He can’t help but be aware of Ren, of the man’s presence hovering on the edges of the party. He’s honestly surprised that Ren is still around. There’s a photographer going around, taking random shots of the crew and Ren is sure to be in the background of some, all broody with his ridiculous Italian hoodie pulled up over his head.
Hux really should have brought Phasma along. She probably would have been able to stop him from drinking so much, but she was too busy filming some superhero movie to attend.
Because Hux is starting to feel reckless. He can’t seem to quit staring at Ren and he’s barely listening to the people talking to him and all he can think about is that kiss and how much he liked it, just like Ren said. But he can feel Ren watching him too, even if he can’t see the man’s eyes with that infernal hood in the way, he can always feel Ren’s gaze and he likes that too. More than he knows he should.
Time for a smoke.
There were some smokers outside the studio, even though they technically weren’t supposed to be smoking on the property, but they would get away with it this time, for the party. Hux waves, slurs out a thanks to the people who congratulate him on the wrap, and continues around the building, all the way to the back where no one is likely to look for him. Not for a while anyway.
He’s leaning against the steel walls, head tilted back and staring at the moon. It’s full and tinged red with a red circle around it. Caused by ice crystals in the clouds capturing the moon’s light and reflecting it, but his mother always used to call it a bad omen.
Speaking of bad omens.
Hux turns, sighing out smoke in a thick cloud. “Ren.”
Ren must not have anything in his closet but black. He’s layered his leather jacket over that ridiculous hoodie and he looks like a model out of some gothic magazine. He’s the exact opposite of anyone Hux has ever liked before, but that doesn’t diminish the way Hux’s heart speeds up at the sight of him.
It’s probably just the alcohol.
Ren’s standing there like he’s not sure what he should do, like he came here with something to say and now he’s losing his courage.
Hux steps forward, holding out his precious hand-rolled cigarette towards Ren. The surprise is clear on Ren’s face, but he closes the distance between them, reaches forward and takes a drag.
There’s something intimate about watching Ren’s lips close over the end of the cigarette, one that Hux made himself with painstaking care, one he just had his own lips on. He feels light-headed with the thought-- no, it’s just the alcohol in his system. It’s making him poetic.
Ren breathes out smoke between them and he is staring at Hux with that intensity again, like he can read every thought Hux has before he’s even had it. Sometimes Hux wishes that were true, that someone could see inside him half as well as Ren seems to just so they would know .
He should leave before he does something foolish.
Ren’s on him before he can even think up an excuse to slip away. The man’s hand wraps around the back of his neck like it’s the easiest thing in the world and then Ren is kissing him, chaste, almost shy, almost sweet.
Hux feels like he’s broken, shattered into little pieces by that kiss. He’s been wanting it so badly, wanting this and he gives up, just a little.
He steps into the circle of Ren’s arms and presses back into the kiss, harder, demanding more. And Ren is happy to give, over eager and crowding Hux into the wall so he can press their bodies together.
The kiss is fierce, full of need that’s been held back for too long. It’s teeth and tongue and too much temptation. He can taste tobacco and alcohol on Ren’s tongue. It overwhelms him and Hux can barely breathe by the time he’s able to pull away enough to speak.
“Ren…” Hux sighs out against the man’s mouth, ready to argue that they should stop. Before they both do something they’ll regret.
“What?” Hux’s brain stutters, confounded for a moment.
“Call me Kylo.”
“Oh.” Ren’s eyes are glaring down at him, intense and tracing over his face, lingering on his lips.
“Do you--” Ren - Kylo - hesitates, frowning, but he pushes onward anyway, “Do you have a name you’d-- prefer?”
It’s kind of him to ask. Hux almost hates him for it.
The corner of Kylo’s mouth tilts up, the barest hint of a smile.
“You want me to call you ‘Shut up’?”
“Shut up.” Oh, God. He’s going to regret this.
“I heard you the first time, you--”
“Don’t have to keep--”
“Repeating it, I was just--”
Hux kisses him again, biting at Kylo’s lips in retaliation, until the man moans into his mouth and Hux shudders with it.
He doesn’t want to think anymore, he doesn’t want to worry, he doesn’t want to live with the fear hanging over his head. He just wants this, wants to feel like he’s precious, like someone finally wants him back, like he could be happy.
There’s desperation in the way Kylo kisses too, like he needs it just as badly. His fingers are very nearly claws where they dig into Hux’s hips, like he is afraid Hux will run away. But this feels different than before, this feels like a turning point. Before, in his trailer, Hux had been afraid, hadn’t been sure if he wanted it, hadn’t been sure if he would allow himself this.
Now? He feels like he could destroy the whole galaxy if it meant he got to keep this.
There’s barely an inch of space between them and Hux can feel the hard press of muscles, Kylo’s thigh pushing between his legs. He gasps into the kiss when Kylo slots their hips together and Hux can feel how hard Kylo is already. And now he’s finally got some friction against his own aching cock. His hips stutter forward, grinding against Kylo and they both moan. Kylo breaks away from the kiss and Hux lets out another groan of disappointment to have Kylo’s mouth gone from his own, a groan that quickly turns into a gasp of pleasure when Kylo’s lips relocate to his neck. He’s all teeth, nipping and pulling at Hux’s skin in a way that’s not quite gentle, but it feels too good for Hux to stop it.
Hux is a mess of shivers, one hand buried in Kylo’s hair as though to keep him in place while the other shoves under the layers of clothing Kylo wears. He seeks skin like he’s drowning for it, nails scraping against the skin at Kylo’s hips. If possible, Kylo presses even closer in response, letting out a low groan of his own.
A door slams in the distance and Hux can hear the sounds of distant laughter and pounding music.
Kylo just grunts in response, apparently too busy fumbling with the buttons of Hux’s shirt while licking and sucking at his jawline to form a proper response.
“ Kylo. ” Hux tries to push some of the breathlessness out of his voice.
“ What? ”
Abruptly, Kylo’s hands and mouth leave him entirely, though he’s still pressed close. His arms come up to either side of Hux’s head, bracketing him in against the wall. Kylo hangs his head, groaning into Hux’s shoulder before he pushes off the wall.
For a moment, Kylo’s back is to him and Hux can see how his shoulders are tense, nearly pulled up to his ears, his hands balled into fists at his side.
“Yeah, yeah, we should stop. ‘ We shouldn’t be doing this .’ I’ve heard it before, remember?” Kylo says, spinning to face Hux with a snarl on his face.
Hux can’t help laughing, but it only makes Kylo’s glare deepen.
“I was going to say we should go back to my place, but--”
“You’re probably right, we shouldn’t be doing this, I suppose I’ll just--” Hux pushes off the wall, feigning indifference as he starts walking back towards the door.
He doesn’t get more than two steps before arms circle around his waist and he’s pulled up against Kylo’s front, shivers at the feel of solid muscle and the contained strength of the man.
“My car’s parked around back.” Kylo murmurs against the nape of Hux’s neck and this time Hux has to repress a shudder. Kylo squeezes tight, teeth nipping at the skin above Hux’s collar before he pulls away suddenly, his warmth gone and Hux turns to see him striding away fast.
“Haven’t you been drinking?” Hux calls after him.
“So?” Kylo says over his shoulder, his steps never faltering.
The drive to Hux’s apartment is quiet. The only words spoken are when Hux gives directions to his place. The closer they get, the more nervous Hux gets, realizing that Kylo will be the first person to visit his apartment, other that Phasma and Millicent. Hux has to sit on his hands to keep himself from attempting to touch Kylo; he’s always wanted to do something risqué in a fast car, but knowing Kylo Ren that would only result in disaster. Still, the idea of putting his mouth on Kylo while they race down the street is enough to leave Hux flushed.
Kylo keeps a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel, his gaze hyper-focused on the road ahead of them. Except for those brief moments when he can’t seem to help but dart his gaze over Hux and each time it burns like a physical caress over Hux’s skin.
Hux has a parking spot he’s never used, but he’s glad for it now since it is underground parking and, therefore, well hidden from the outside and any paparazzi that may be lingering about. They take the elevator up from the basement and it’s so quiet between them that Hux is beginning to wonder if he imagined it all. If maybe the lingering heat of Kylo’s body was just a dream.
They’re five floors away and he’s watching the numbers tick up, very carefully not looking at Kylo, as if acknowledging the man’s presence will make him disappear. Suddenly, Kylo is pushing into his space, shoving him into the corner of the elevator, hands threading through his hair and tilting his head back. It’s just the confirmation that Hux needed. He goes willingly, meeting Kylo’s mouth with his own on instinct, his own hands fisting into the fabric of Kylo’s ridiculous hoodie and tugging him close.
He’s almost getting used to the hard press of Kylo’s body against his own, all firm lines and clenching muscles. It feels just as good as ever, but achingly familiar now. It fills his body with warmth, floods the pit of his stomach with heat and leaves him breathless.
Kylo’s kisses he could never get used to. He kisses are filled with fire, desperation, like Hux will slip away from him again in an instant and he wants to leave an impression, wants to prove why Hux should stay.
At this point, Hux isn’t sure he could ever leave.
The ding of the elevator arriving at it’s destination is the only reason they stop, pulling away from each other slowly.
This close, Hux can see all of Kylo’s freckles speckled across his face, less dense than his own. His eyes are blown open wide and Hux can see the tints of green in his brown eyes. Kylo gazes back at him and Hux’s own yearning is reflected back at him.
This is it. His last chance to turn back, to change his mind because if they go any further, Hux isn’t sure he can stop himself. Not once he’s finally got it in his grasp.
Kylo’s hand slides down, fingers circling around Hux’s wrist. He pulls firmly, leading the way out of the elevator just before the doors close on them.
Hux is pulled into Kylo’s arms, the man’s hand slipping to the nape of his neck to drag him forward into another heated kiss that makes Hux’s knees feel weak. Kylo’s fingers twist into his hair, tugging hard enough to make Hux groan into the man’s mouth, enticing Kylo to let out a pleased hum. Hux realizes suddenly that they’re standing in the middle of his apartment building’s hallway, that anyone could step outside and see them, but with Kylo’s teeth tugging at his lip, he can’t bring himself to care.
“Where?” Kylo mutters between kisses.
Kylo grunts his acknowledgement before his lips disappear and Hux has to bite his lips to resist scolding Kylo for stopping. But then Kylo is giving him that half-smirk, half-snarl and he’s bending down and at first Hux thinks he’s going to paw at his ass right here--
“ Kylo! ” Hux shouts as the man hauls him up into his arms and Hux is forced to wrap his arms around Kylo’s neck to keep from toppling them both over. He locks his thighs around Kylo’s hips, thankful that his long legs allow him to link his ankles together at the small of Kylo’s back. And Kylo lifts Hux like it’s effortless, barely letting out a huff of exertion before he wraps one arm around Hux’s waist to keep him in place, his other hand bracing the curve of Hux’s ass.
“Kylo, put me down.” Hux says as calmly as he can, staring down at Kylo and they’re both so tall that this should be awkward but Hux feels a strange thrill to be looking down at Kylo like this. He can’t help wondering if Kylo will still be able to smirk like that when Hux is riding his lap--
“Don’t tell me what to do.” Kylo has said it before, but now there’s warmth in his voice as he dips his head forward to nuzzle at the exposed skin at Hux’s collar and Hux shivers in Kylo’s arms.
Hux keeps trying - half-heartedly - to get Kylo to put him down as they start moving down the hall. Only half-heartedly because Hux finds he likes this display of strength from Kylo; he always knew that Kylo was stacked, had seen the tightly packed muscles he kept hidden under his ridiculous hoodie. But he never really considered that Kylo would have the power that accompanied them.
He’s pressed up against a wall suddenly and Kylo is saying something, but Hux can’t bring himself to care when he’s got his mouth on Kylo’s skin and Kylo’s body pressed so tightly up against his own. He’s seriously reconsidering ever letting Kylo put him down, not when it feels like Kylo won’t ever let him go.
“ Keys, Hux, where are your damn keys?” Kylo’s voice is a breathless murmur against the shell of Hux’s ear.
Considering the vast amount of films they have between them, one would think they could coordinate opening a damned door, but it takes far longer and much more fumbling than Hux would like to get it open. And no matter how many times Hux tells him, Kylo refuses to put Hux down.
But the way that Kylo slams him against the wall is completely worth it. Kylo’s mouth is back on his with unrelenting force, nipping and biting and sucking until Hux feels like he can hardly breathe. He’s panting, trying to give as good as he gets and it seem to work if the way Kylo grinds against him is any indication.
One of Kylo’s hands gropes at Hux’s collar and then there’s an awful ripping sound, followed by the sound of buttons hitting the floor.
“That was Armani! ”
“Shut up,” Kylo murmurs against his skin.
Any further protests Hux might have made die on his lips when Kylo’s mouth moves along his chest and closes over a nipple. Kylo sucks almost brutally hard, making Hux cry out and arch forward into his mouth. His tongue flickers over the hardened nub, teeth scraping and Hux can’t help the desperate moans that leave his mouth. He buries his hand in Kylo’s hair, nails scraping against his scalp and holding him firmly in place.
Heat pools in the pit of his stomach and he’s achingly hard now, but there’s too many layers of clothing between them. Kylo’s body is plastered so tightly to him that Hux gets some relief, some friction, but it’s not enough. Every so often, Kylo’s hips stutter forward and Hux can feel the length of him brush against his ass, but it’s not enough.
Kylo’s hand pulls at more of Hux’s shirt, sending more buttons scattering until the whole expanse of his chest is laid bare. His fingernails dig rivets into Hux’s skin, the burn making him hiss and squirm in Kylo’s arms.
“Put me down-- ” Hux’s voice is husky, barely recognizable even to his own ears, not with the way he moans out the words.
At first, Hux doesn’t think that Kylo will listen, but then they’re spinning away from the wall and crashing down on the couch. Now that he doesn’t have to hang on for dear life, Hux immediately shoves his hands up under Kylo’s clothes, dragging nails over the ridges of Kylo’s abdomen and revelling in the pleased growl he gets in return.
Kylo sits up on his knees abruptly and Hux would feel disappointed at the loss of contact except then Kylo is yanking his hoodie and shirt off with hard, quick jerks and Hux gets to admire the view. The sight of Kylo’s broad chest, all toned muscles and freckled skin makes Hux lick his lips, already wanting the taste of Kylo’s skin on his tongue. He has a strange sense of vulnerability staring up at Kylo with his thighs rucked up on either side of the the man’s hips.
Hux meets Kylo’s hungry gaze and his mouth goes dry. He remembers suddenly that there are a thousand and one reasons why he shouldn’t be doing this, why he should be running away. But, like this, he can’t think of a single one.
He reaches up, fingers trailing along the reddened marks his nails left across Kylo’s washboard abs, watching the way Kylo’s body quivers under his touch. That’s all it takes for Kylo to descend upon him again, dark hair falling to shroud them in as Kylo claims his lips again, all harsh bites that reduce Hux to a shivering mess beneath the man.
There’s still too many layers of clothes, but Hux makes quick work of opening the front of Kylo’s pants and dipping his hand inside. His fingers wrapping around the hot, hard length of Kylo’s cock makes them both moan. The skin of it is silky smooth to his touch, bigger and longer than any cock he’s ever had his hands on before. That should probably worry him, considering what it is they want to do or, at least, what Hux wants, but instead it sends a thrill up his spine.
Kylo moves above him, arms bracketed on either side of his head, their foreheads pressed together as Kylo’s hips thrust forward into Hux’s hand with a growled out, “ Fuck. ”
“That is the idea.” Hux snarks, earning a rather vicious bite where his neck and shoulder meet. The pain is sharp, has him crying out loud, has his whole body tensing up and arching up to try and find some friction, some relief. He tightens his grip around Kylo’s cock in retaliation, twisting his wrist in such a way that makes the man let out a cry of his own.
Kylo’s body pulls away from his hand and Hux immediately misses the heavy, hot weight of him but then Kylo is wrapping his mouth around Hux’s other nipple. His tongue flicks hard and it’s such a new sensation that Hux can’t help the wanton moans that slip out of his mouth. No one had ever done this for him before and he had never considered that such a thing could feel this good, but it does. Hux’s hand is a tight fist in Kylo’s hair, pushing the dark locks back so he can see where Kylo’s mouth is latched to him. There's a flash of teeth before they graze against the hardened nub and tugs at it in a way that’s just shy of painful.
Then Kylo is tugging at the waistline of Hux’s pants and Hux hadn’t even felt him open them, but he lifts his hips to allow Kylo to tug it and his underwear up and off. He waits to feel the press of Kylo’s body over his again, but Kylo starts licking and biting a path down Hux’s stomach, nipping at the sharp angles of his hips. When Hux cants his hips just so, the leaking tip of his cock brushing against Kylo’s chest and he mewls, needing the touch, the relief that only friction can give him.
But Kylo keeps moving down until his face is over Hux’s cock and he has to use his hands on Hux’s hips to stop him from trying to arch up into him. Hux’s hands dig into the backs of Kylo’s just to keep himself from trying to pry Kylo’s grip free. Kylo’s eyes find his through the fringe of his hair as he moves down and Hux sucks in a breath, waiting to feel the wet heat of the man’s mouth.
Instead, Kylo starts with his thighs, nuzzling at them before leading a trail of bites up towards his groin. Hux waits again, cock hard and leaking against his stomach as he waits for Kylo to use his mouth, but all he does is tease. He leaves teeth marks and bruises all along Hux’s inner thighs and Hux shudders to think of how long they will last, little reminders of this moment peppered along his skin.
“ Kylo ,” Hux can’t help whimpering out, a plea in his voice.
It’s only when Hux feels like he’ll shake apart with the need and anticipation building him that Kylo licks a long strip up the underside of his cock with the flat of his tongue. His mouth closes around the head of Hux’s cock, suckling at it, tip of his tongue licking up the precome that leaks out.
Hux’s voice sounds too loud when he cries out so he brings his hand up, covering his mouth to smother his moans and whimpers. His other hand buries in Kylo’s hair again, unable to resist tugging at the strands hard, trying to resist the urge to push the man’s head down and make him take more.
It’s sloppy, all slick and wet sounds as Kylo sucks and drools and licks at Hux’s cock like he’s starving for it. He swallows down as much of Hux’s length as he can and it’s nearly too much for Hux to handle. He feels strung out on the sensations, has to bite at his fingers to stop himself from crying out so damn loud.
Kylo’s mouth disappears only for a moment before it’s back on Hux, this time with a wet finger prodding at his hole. It’s too many sensations at once, it’s been too long since he’s felt like this--
“S-Stop-- Kylo, wait--”
Kylo’s mouth pulls away from Hux’s cock with a lewd, wet pop that makes his dick twitch. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Hux huffs out in a breathless laugh, “It’s just-- if you keep that up, this is gonna be over too soon.”
Kylo gives him a triumphant grin as he moves up Hux’s body, nipping along Hux’s ribcage until they’re face to face again. Hux doesn’t hesitate to press his lips to Kylo’s, but he can feel the man above him go tense for a moment. Only a moment and then his mouth opens to Hux’s and Hux can taste himself on Kylo’s tongue. He can’t help pulling Kylo’s tongue into his mouth and suckling on it. In response, Kylo grinds down on him, the rough sensation of his cloth-covered cock rubbing along Hux’s hypersensitive length making them both groan.
“I want to fuck you,” Kylo mutters against Hux’s lips and it’s part-warning, part-plea.
“Yes. Yes ,” Hux sighs out, his hands scrambling down to push Kylo’s pants off his hips.
It takes some work, but they manage to get the offending garment off and away and then Kylo is bearing down on him again. Hux can feel Kylo’s cock lined up along his own, sliding against him and they moan together at the sensation. Kylo’s hips thrust forward almost instinctively, like he can’t help it and Hux can hardly blame him. Even with just this, it feels too good, if feels overwhelming.
“Lube?” Kylo rasps out.
“Upstairs.” God, Hux might actually cry if Kylo stops.
Kylo grunts at that, leaving biting at Hux’s shoulder before he pulls away. Hux expects him to go upstairs and start making a mess of things to find the lube, but instead, Kylo just leans over to their discarded clothes, Hux’s legs still wrapped around his waist nearly pulling them both off the couch. Kylo ignores Hux’s indignant cry as he searches through the pockets of his hoodie, then his jeans before he finds what he needs.
“Is that-- You keep lube in your pockets?”
“You’re welcome,” is Kylo’s only reply as he flicks open the cap of the small bottle.
Any reply Hux would have made after that is cut off, Kylo pushing at the back of Hux’s knees, bending him in half.
“Hold.” Kylo’s tone leaves no room for argument and Hux would complain if he didn’t know what it was that the man was planning. He holds his legs up and apart, feeling far too exposed.
The lube is warmed from being in Kylo’s pocket this whole time, but it still makes Hux gasp when he feels it dribble along his hole. Then Kylo’s thumb is there, rubbing at the tight ring of muscles and slowly pushing his finger inside.
“ Fuck , Hux you’re tight,” Kylo groans out as his finger works inside Hux. It’s ridiculous really because Hux masturbates regularly, he has a dildo in his bedside drawer that is used often enough. But Kylo seems to be enjoying it as he works his finger in and out of Hux’s hole, stretching him open.
Still, it takes longer that Hux would like for Kylo to work up to three fingers. It doesn’t help that Kylo found his prostrate and has been making only random, sweeping passes around it, keeping Hux on the edge of sanity.
“K-Kylo, fuck, I swear to God, you better fuck me soon or I’m kicking you out.” Hux finally growls out. He’s shivering, trembling and sweating from all this build-up and Kylo just laughs, nipping at Hux’s raised calf.
Kylo moves away again, this time to retrieve a condom from one of his pockets and Hux is relieved that he didn’t have to bring that up.
It’s not long before Kylo is pressing the lubed head of his cock against Hux’s entrance and they cry out together as he slides carefully, slowly inside. Kylo trembles above him, his hands on the back of Hux’s knees as he pushes in. Hux appreciates the restraint that Kylo shows now, realizing with a start that this is the first time he’s taken a real cock in a long time.
Soon enough, Kylo’s buried to the hilt inside him and they are both gasping, shuddering as Hux’s body adjusts to the intrusion.
Kylo looms over him, hands gripping so tight they’re sure to leave bruises on his skin, staring down at Hux with something like awe on his face, like he can’t believe this is really happening. He starts to move then, short, shallow thrusts that make Hux’s mouth fall open.
It builds up slowly, Kylo’s hips gradually picking up pace, his cock pulling out of Hux’s hole in longer and longer strokes. Hux tries to cover his mouth again, tries to block the needy cries that are getting louder and louder, but Kylo’s hand grabs his wrist in a flash of movement, pinning it down beside his head.
“Don’t you fucking dare, Hux. I wanna hear you,” Kylo growls out, his hips snapping brutally hard in a form of retaliation.
Hux can feel the heat pooling in the pit of his stomach, can feel that burning heat and need building in him as Kylo keeps up a punishing pace. He never seems to slow down or let up and eventually he’s pounding into Hux with unrelenting force.
“Yes, like that, yes, ” Hux pants out, clutching at Kylo with his free hand.
It’s fucking exquisite, perfect, feels so good that Hux never wants it to end. Kylo is merciless, pushing Hux’s body to just the right angle that the head of his cock brushes against Hux’s prostate with almost every thrust. And Hux gets loud, unable to look away, his mouth wide open and spilling out sobs of desperation. He’s so close, can feel his balls tightening up almost painfully.
Kylo bends forward then, forcing Hux’s body to fold in half and the new angle has Hux’s cock trapped between their bodies. Hux can feel it rising, knows that he won’t last much longer, even though he never wants this to end. His free hand digs rivets into the skin of Kylo’s bicep, clawing at Kylo like a lifeline.
“Come on, fuck, come on, baby,” Kylo gasps against the shell of his ear, his hand reaching between their bodies to wrap around Hux’s cock.
Two quick, tight strokes and Hux is coming, shouting his pleasure as his body pulls taut in Kylo’s arms. It feels like something snapped and ignited, burning him from the inside out in the best way. His orgasm overrides his other sense until all he can do is feel .
When he comes back to himself, Kylo’s still moving within him, letting out a steady chant of, “Fuck, fuck, fuck. ”
Kylo’s hips stutter, then he’s slamming deep inside Hux’s body, twitching and letting out a loud shout of his own. Hux is so sensitive, he can feel Kylo’s cock twitching inside him as he comes. Just when Hux thinks it’s done, Kylo starts thrusting again, long, languid strokes as he continues to unload.
Eventually, Kylo slows to a stop, slumping down on Hux when his arms no longer seem capable of holding him up. Were it anyone else, Hux might have complained about the weight on him, might have put up a fuss. But Kylo’s body fits so perfectly, so naturally against his own that it’s almost a comfort to have Kylo pressed against him.
After a while, Kylo slips out of him and Hux shivers at the sensation. Kylo moves away from him and Hux can dimly hear him pulling off the condom. He thinks to tell Kylo where the trashcan is, to get a towel to clean them both up, but then Kylo is back, wrapping his arms around Hux’s waist and shifting him onto his side. Kylo slides in between the couch and Hux, cradling Hux tight and close to his front. Hux is too sated, too comfortable to nag at Kylo.
He’ll worry about it in the morning.
At some point in the night, they ended up in Hux’s bed, though if someone were to ask Hux exactly how it happened, he wouldn’t be able to answer. All he knows is that Kylo woke him up for round two and then later round three and when Hux had fallen asleep draped atop Kylo’s chest, he remembers wondering how the hell he was going to walk the next morning.
When Hux wakes, the first thing he checks for is the time. Normally, his alarm goes off at seven in the morning, but when he opens bleary eyes the entire alarm clock is gone.
Frowning, Hux looks around, but there’s no Kylo in sight and no sign of his alarm clock anywhere. He tries to ignore the pang in his chest at the idea of Kylo slipping out some time in the night, but then he hears the faint sound of the telly and the clink of utensils coming from downstairs. He gets up, pulling on the nearest pair of pajama pants he can find, wincing at the ache every little move causes him. It’s been a long time since he’s felt like this.
Hux limps his way down the stairs, heading first for the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth. He’s already got some stubble coming in, but he can wait to shave until later. It almost feels normal, to hear the sound of someone else moving about in his home, but he still can’t quite wrap his head around it. It’s strangely comforting, but at the same time so foreign to him that he feels off balance.
He’s shocked when he sees himself in the mirror: the skin around his collarbone and shoulders is a mess of teeth marks and bruises, with a few reaching as high as his jawline. Jesus Christ, he’s going to have to wear some very high collared shirts to cover this up. Possibly even some make-up. He looks like someone mauled him and that’s only accounting the ones he can see in the mirror. When he looks down, Hux catalogs dozens more scattered across his chest, hips, and inner thighs. At least those can be hidden under his clothes.
When he emerges from the bathroom, Kylo is standing at the kitchen sink in his briefs, rinsing out his used bowl. He seems completely at ease with his nudity and it makes Hux’s throat go dry to watch the muscles of Kylo’s back flex and move. Millicent - the traitor - peers at him from where she sits perched across Kylo’s shoulders.
“You’re still here?”
Kylo turns at the sound of his voice, taking in Hux’s limp with a smirk before turning back to his task. “Should I not be?”
“I don’t know, I just assumed--”
They fall into a terse silence, Hux leaning against the counter beside Kylo while the man goes about washing the bowl he used, presumably to eat Hux’s food.
“...Did you feed my cat?” Hux stares at Millie’s bowl, some remnants of her apparent breakfast still left over.
“She wouldn’t shut up until I did.”
“...And how did she get on your shoulder?”
“She wouldn’t leave me alone and I was trying to eat so--” Kylo shrugged the shoulder that wasn’t currently occupied by Millicent, who didn’t seem eager to jump down from her perch any time soon. Kylo’s shoulders are broad enough that Millie sits there without effort, a task that would have been impossible with Hux’s thin frame.
“And my alarm clock?”
Kylo points wordlessly to the trash bin at the end of the counter.
When Hux opens the lid, his alarm clock laying on top, smashed into pieces.
“What the fuck, Kylo!” Hux exclaims.
“I couldn’t find the snooze button!” Kylo yells right back, on the defensive in an instant.
“So you decided to break it?”
“That wasn’t my fault,” Kylo fumes, “I tried to pull the power plug out from the wall and it went flying over your stupid railing! Why the fuck would anyone get up at the asscrack of dawn anyway!”
“You’re buying me a new one.” Hux’s tone leaves no room for argument.
“Whatever.” Kylo crosses his arms, leaning against Hux’s countertop and looking like a sullen teenager.
There’s evidence of the night before scattered all over Hux’s living room floor, pants and shirts and underwear scattered about. He can see the indent in the couch where Kylo had been sitting before and he feels a rush of warmth shiver through him thinking about the things they did there.
“Your face is red.”
Hux is startled into looking at Kylo, sees the man’s cocksure grin. He can feel the heat of his blush on his skin, he’s been aware of when he starts to blush, but Kylo pointing it out just makes it worse. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He turns to the fridge mostly as a distraction and cool his heated skin.
“Poe called you,” Kylo’s voice moves behind him and Hux is relieved to hear him moving away, “He said we start ADR in a month or so depending on how long it takes to finish editing.”
“What?” Hux snaps, slamming the fridge door shut as he turns to Kylo.
Kylo sighs from where he’s spread out on Hux’s couch, the length of him dwarfing the sofa. “Poe said we start ADR--”
“I heard that. Did you answer my phone?”
“Oh, that? Yeah,” Kylo says, laid back on Hux’s couch, flipping through channels of nonsense on Hux’s television, and casually answering Hux’s phone apparently.
Hux stomps forward, picking up Kylo’s stupid hoodie from the floor and hurling it at the man as hard as he can,“You’re such a prick, you know that?” Hux hisses out, stomping past Kylo. He needs to shower, he needs to get his life back to normal. He probably should never do this with Kylo again, it’s already proven to be a huge mistake.
“All I did was answer the phone!” Kylo shouts at his retreating back and Hux ignores him, going upstairs to gather fresh clothes, wondering why he hasn’t kicked Kylo out yet. He should have done it last night after the second or third time, but he had gotten comfortable . He had let himself enjoy it too much, the sex and just the feeling of falling asleep with Kylo wrapped around him. He’d made this mistake before, hadn’t he? When would he ever learn?
When Hux turns away from his dresser, Kylo is standing at the top of the stairs, face full of confusion, “I don’t get, what’s the problem now?”
Kylo’s blocking the stairs, but Hux tries to slide past him only to have Kylo step directly in his way, apparently refusing to move until he answers. “Poe knows you were here --”
“So?” Kylo throws his hands up in exasperation. Hux tries to walk by again only to be blocked.
“ So , he knows about us, Kylo! He knows that--” Hux can feel himself blushing again, the nails of his fist biting into the palm of his hand, “-- something happened between us--”
“So what?” Kylo’s expression goes from one of clouded confusion to fury as fast as ever, “Are you ashamed of me? Of what we did?”
“No,” Hux says quickly, Kylo’s words finally forcing Hux to look up and meet his eyes. It’s the truth. He’s not regretting what they did, only that he didn’t try to stop it before it went too far. “What if he goes to the press, Kylo? What if he decides this is the perfect opportunity to amp up the movie by telling everybody that we’re together?”
“Are we?” Kylo almost perks up at this, “Together?”
“That’s not the point ! I’m not--” Hux has never liked to admit this, can’t meet Kylo’s gaze anymore when he speaks of his weakness, “--I’m not ready to be fucking outed, Kylo.”
This time, when Hux tries to get by, Kylo doesn’t stop him.
He turns the water on far hotter than he should, but the sting of it settles his nerves, just a little. He should have spoken to Poe after the first time, but it was so hard to catch Poe alone and what could he say if he did?
There’s a gust of cool air as the shower door opens and Hux sighs, eyes rolling.
“I don’t believe I gave you an invitation,” He says, without looking in Kylo’s direction, picking up the shampoo. It’s plucked out of his hands by Kylo’s long fingers and when he tries to turn to tell Kylo off, a hand on his shoulder keeps him facing the shower wall. “What are you doing?”
Kylo gives no answer, but then his hands start massaging at Hux’s scalp, working the shampoo through his hair gently. Slowly, the tension eases out of Hux’s body as Kylo works the lather into his hair. It’s strange to Hux, no one’s ever done this for him before. Taken care of him.
As long as he can remember, he’s had to look after himself. When he was five, his father decided he needed to become independent as soon as possible, needed to become a man. His mother would try to help him tie his shoes, or fix his hair, or wash his hands, but Father would scold her. Eventually, Hux refused to let her help him at all, just to prove to his father that he could do it.
And now he’s standing here, letting Kylo rinse the shampoo out of his hair, letting Kylo’s hands guide him and take care of him and it feels strange, unfamiliar, makes him nervous. But he doesn’t want it to stop.
“We shouldn’t do this,” Hux says, even as he leans back into Kylo’s front.
“Maybe,” Kylo reaches for the soap, starts working it into a lather on Hux’s chest.
“It’s a bad idea, for both of us,” He’s said the same to himself many times.
“Maybe,” Kylo’s voice is a quiet murmur beside his ear.
“What if it’s a mistake?” He says it so quietly, he’s not even sure that Kylo heard.
They’re both silent for so long that Hux is sure Kylo didn’t hear him.
“What if it’s not?” Kylo says like it’s the easiest thing in the world and Hux realizes then that it is. To Kylo it is - whatever they have, what they are to each other - is simple.
Nothing has ever been that easy to Hux and it baffles him that Kylo can be so unconcerned with everything that go wrong. They both have so much to lose. But what if Kylo’s right and what if this - them - is right? What if it works and they can find some kind of happiness with each other? Would Hux be able to live with himself if he just threw it all away?
Hux turns in Kylo’s arms and, this time, Kylo doesn’t stop him.
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
Most days, they’re at Hux’s apartment because it’s cleaner and the paparazzi are less likely to camp outside. At first, it’s about the sex and Kylo is insatiable. He’s not much younger than Hux and yet he can’t seem to help himself; even just the slightest cant of Hux’s hips seems to set him off. And Hux will gripe about it before and after, but secretly he loves it, loves being wanted, loves the way that Kylo makes him feel.
Phasma finds out purely by accident.
Having Kylo around becomes so familiar that Hux doesn’t think much of it anymore (except at night when he can’t seem to fall asleep and he’s wondering how he could ever be so lucky). Phasma’s been filming out in the desert and they haven’t Skyped in weeks due to the time different, so when his laptop starts ringing, Hux answers the video call without thinking about it.
“ I swear, don’t ever let me agree to film in a fucking desert ever again. I have sand in every single crevice-- Is that Kylo Ren? ”
“What?” Hux looks over his shoulder and-- fuck , Kylo is digging through the kitchen cupboards in his underwear. Hux buries his head in his hands, “Oh, fuck.”
“ Why is Kylo Ren wandering around your apartment in his underthings, Hux? ” Phasma’s voice is sickly sweet and innocent.
“You didn’t see anything--”
“ Actually, I saw quite a lot ,” Phasma cackles.
There was a tiny part of Hux that was afraid for Phasma to find out, like she might suddenly take back all the times she’s reassured him that she didn’t care about his sexuality or his gender or any of that. Like she might decide their companionship isn’t worth it anymore. But after a few comments about how long she had been waiting for something to happen, about how many people owed her money, and some inappropriate questions that Hux refused to answer, he realized that she was happy for him, though she never said it. It was a relief, to know that at least one person he knew approved.
Hux’s worries about Poe turn out to be nothing. There’s not a peep about them being anything more than co-stars from the tabloids. Now and then, Hux thinks that he should thank Poe for that, but he can’t bring himself to do it, to actually acknowledge his relationship with Kylo out loud to someone else.
Sometimes, Kylo insists on going out to eat. Together. In public. It strains Hux’s nerves to do it, to be seen - and potentially photographed - with Kylo, worried that it could be taken the wrong way. But Kylo promises to be on his best behaviour, promises that he won’t do anything to endanger either of their careers or to out Hux and he’s so sincere about it, so determined that Hux agrees.
And it goes well, the first few times. There’s paparazzi that follow them, but Hux has gotten just as adept as Kylo when it comes to dodging and concealing himself from them. Besides that, Kylo usually has one of the Knights - Snoke’s bodyguards that look more like mercenaries - travel with them and they help keep the paparazzi at a respectful distance. It’s still stressful and Hux usually feels like hiding away forever when they finally get home, but it gets better each time.
His father calls, twice.
Hux lets it go to voicemail.
Eventually, his father stops calling all together.
They’re heading into a bar that Kylo has been swearing up and down that Hux will enjoy when the nearly bump into a group of people.
Poe Dameron, Finn Windu, and Rey Skywalker. Finn has an arm slung around Rey’s waist and his hand is laced with Poe’s and it only takes Hux a glance to put it all together.
“Hey! Hux! Buddy! How ya doin’?” Poe’s been drinking, that much is obvious when he reaches out and gives Hux an awkward one-armed hug without letting go of Finn’s hand.
“Uh-- Good, Poe. Good, and you?”
“Great, just great! Hey, you remember Finn and Rey, right?” His voice is too loud for the small bar’s doorway, booming and carries across the room. Luckily, the music is loud and most of the bar patrons are just as drunk as Poe.
“Yes, yes, of course, I do,” Hux pastes his happiest smile on as he nods to the two. Finn nods back, trying to look tough, but he’s swaying on his feet a little. Rey is glaring and Hux is honestly surprised she’s not glaring at him.
“Rey.” Kylo says, voice tight and cold.
“Ben.” Rey says, just as glacial.
Hux is startled into looking at Kylo, watching the man’s face twist into a sneer, “That’s not my name.”
“It used to be,” Rey looks just as vicious as Kylo though she has to tilt her head back to meet his gaze.
Used to be? What does that mean? How do they know each other?
There’s a thousand questions Hux could ask, but Kylo’s hands have turned into fists and he’s got that look on his face.
“It was great to see you, Poe, but we better get going.”
“Going?! You just got here! We were leaving, but let me buy you two a drink! Kylo sure looks like he could use one, huh, buddy?” Poe punctates his sentence by clapping Kylo on the shoulder and Kylo’s face looks more murderous than ever.
“Okay, we’re leaving.” Hux doesn’t even try to be polite anymore, just grabs Kylo by the wrist and turns right back out the way they came. As soon as their outside, he lets go and starts heading back towards the parking lot, not even looking to see if Kylo is following him.
They drive back to Hux’s place in tense silence and he’s burning with curiosity. He wants to ask how Kylo know Rey, why she called him ‘Ben’, why they seem to hate each other. But somehow that doesn’t feel like it’s any of his business. Whatever this thing between them is, it doesn’t entail spilling their life stories to each other. No, Hux determines that he’ll put it out of his mind. If it’s important, if Kylo wants to, they’ll talk about it. But Kylo’s past is his own and is no concern of Hux’s.
If Kylo is rougher than usual, leaves more bruises than usual, and moans louder than usual when Hux returns the favour, Hux puts that out of mind too.
“What are you doing?” Hux hisses as they walk down the sidewalk, side by side. Kylo’s hand is a light grip on his elbow that makes Hux’s skin itch.
“What--? Walking?” Kylo is utterly baffled, but his hand doesn’t move. It was only supposed to be a quick walk to the grocery store, but it’s daylight and Hux and see a camera-wielding man snapping at them from far off. What do you mean?”
“Stop touching me, we’re in public--”
“What the fuck--” Kylo’s hand drops, but now he sounds angry, “I’m touching your elbow --”
“Well, stop. What if someone sees?” What if they catch it on camera? They probably already have and the thought makes Hux’s stomach heave. He resolutely keeps walking toward their destination.
“Heaven forbid someone should see me touch your fucking elbow--” Kylo mutters under his breath.
“What if they think--”
“Who cares what anyone thinks?” Kylo stops, his voice loud enough to draw attention from those who pass by. “Who gives a shit?” Kylo steps in close then, finally lowering his voice, “You know before you, the only thing I worried about when I walked down the street was the fucking paps stalking me, now I gotta add on worrying about if I seem too gay when I’m walking down the street with you?”
“Kylo--” Hux is glancing around frantically, trying to see if anyone else heard Kylo’s words. But then Kylo turns his back and he’s walking away, “Where are you going?”
“Fuck off, Hux.”
Hux is left standing there watching Kylo disappear into the afternoon crowd, not knowing what to do. What does that mean? Does that mean fuck off for good? That whatever they have is over? What if Kylo got sick of waiting for Hux to come out of the closet, got sick of dealing with it? Or does he just need space? The thought of Kylo not wanting anything to do with him makes Hux’s throat clog up, makes it suddenly hard to breathe and he starts moving back towards home. Maybe Kylo will come back, maybe he won’t. Maybe this is the last time Hux will ever see him, maybe he’s finally fed up.
Kylo is there when Hux walks in the door, sitting on the couch, jiggling his leg. Hux tries not to think about the relief that floods through him just to find Kylo there as he sits down on the other end of the sofa.
“I’m not ready, yet.” It’s as close to an apology as Hux can manage.
“It's just-- I've never done this before, you know--” Hux gestures vaguely between them.
“What? Had a boyfriend?”
“Yes. Well, no. Kind of,” Hux takes a deep breath, “You think of me as your boyfriend?”
“Yes.” Kylo says it like it’s obvious, painfully so.
“...Okay.” That should probably scare him, to have it said out loud even if it’s just the two of them, but Hux feels a kind of security in that. They lapse into silence again before Hux feels the need to speak again.
“When my parents - my father, actually - found out about me, he wanted to kick me out.” He’s never told anyone this before. Hux focuses his gaze on his hands, clasped tightly together in between his knees. “But that wouldn’t have looked good in the papers, so he let me stay. The day I turned eighteen I was gone. My father made it very clear that he would cut me off if I came out, if I was caught with anyone, if I gave even the slightest inkling of being anything other than straight. I was young and scared, I didn’t want to disappoint him, I didn’t want to lose whatever dregs of his approval of me remained. I was just grateful that he let me join the Academy, that he let me pursue something that made me happy, even if he never took it seriously. He still expects me to take over the family business, even though we haven’t really spoken since I was sixteen. He calls still, but only when I’ve done something wrong, when I’ve jeopardized his legacy.”
Hux looks to Kylo now. “You remember when he called? When we were working?” Kylo just nods, brows and mouth pulled into a tight frown. “It’s always like that with him. Always.” Hux feels his throat clogging up, struggling to get the words out. “I wish I could be like you, Kylo. I wish it could be so easy for me. I want that, you know? I want to be out and I want to be myself and I want to stop caring so much about who will see and what they’ll think. But I’m so afraid of losing everything I’ve worked so hard to build that I--” He can’t continue, can’t find the words and just shrugs.
Abruptly, Kylo gets up and Hux tenses, waiting to hear the sound of the door slamming. Instead, Millicent is deposited into his lap with an indignant meow. He looks up in time to see Kylo sitting on the couch again, tapping away at his phone.
“What are you doing?”
“Ordering a pizza.”
“What?” Some of the tension bleeds out of Hux’s shoulders, though now he’s just confused. “Aren’t we going to talk about this?”
Not that he wants to. It was a relief to get that out, but he feels drained, physically and emotionally.
Kylo sighs, “What’s there to talk about? You’re not ready to come out.” He sounds frustrated by it, but resigned all the same.
It’s always so easy to him.
So Hux pets Millie and Kylo picks out some inane action movie. For a while, they sit a foot apart, don’t even look at each other. Eventually, Kylo grabs Hux by the nape of his neck and pulls him in close, settling his arm around Hux’s shoulders. The warmth of Kylo’s body is reassuring, makes it easier to breathe and Hux thinks that one day he could do it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day he can have the freedom he hopes for.
The next day, Kylo’s got a photoshoot for one of his teenage heartthrob movies and Hux has the apartment to himself. He keeps to his routine, exercising and feeding Millicent and general household chores. It should probably bother him that he finds an absurd amount of Kylo’s things scattered about, a shirt mixed in with his laundry, a toothbrush that’s not his own, socks shoved in the drawer next to his own.
He’s considering what this means for their relationship - for their apparent boyfriend status - when his phone starts ringing. The number isn’t one he recognizes, but it could be about work so he answers.
“This is Hux.”
“ Hello, sir, I have Senator Leia Organa on the line for you. May I put her through? ”
“Leia Organa?” Jesus, the state senator? The one probably running for president next year? “Uh, yes.”
“ Please hold .”
Hux’s mind is still buzzing, trying to figure out what the hell this all means when the line picks up.
“ Hello, Mr. Hux, this is Leia Organa. I wondered if I might have a moment to speak with you? ”
“It’s just Hux.”
“ Hux, then ,” There’s a smile in her voice. “ I’m calling about my son, Ben? You would know him as Kylo Ren .”
Holy shit. Holy shit .
“Uh, yes. What about him?”
“ I was wondering if you had a phone number for him. I got yours through a mutual acquaintance of ours, but it seems that tracking Ben - Kylo, I’m sorry - down is much more difficult. I hear that you two are close? ”
Well that’s putting it one way. “Yes, we-- We are.” He thinks about telling her more, but it seems that she already knows more than she’s letting on.
“ Well, I don’t want to take up your time, I hope you can help me. I’d hate to have to ask the head of C.I.A. to track down my own son’s phone number .” She laughs and Hux forces out a chuckle with her, but he can tell she is very much not kidding. She’ll certainly make a formidable president.
So he gives her the number because it seems like the way that will cause the least amount of trouble for all parties involved.
“ Thank you, Hux. I appreciate your cooperation. Have a good day. ”
Hux answers back just as politely on instinct and hangs up in a daze.
He thinks again about asking Kylo about his family, about Leia and Rey and his old name, but that still feels like too much. Even after a month of seeing each other, Hux would still rather wait for Kylo to open up - like he had yesterday - than pry.
Hux keeps busy for the rest of the day, so much so that he can almost forget the slew of questions he has.
Kylo had said he would text when was on his way over, but Hux receives no such warning when his door opens and he glances away from the stove to see Kylo letting himself in.
“Hey, how’d the shoot go?”
In answer, something crashes against the cupboards to his left, shattering to pieces.
“What the fuck!” He looks on the ground to see Kylo’s cell phone, smashed into bits from the wall. He looks over to see Kylo standing in the living room, shoulders heaving and eyes blown wide open. “What the fuck, Kylo?”
“My mother called me today.” Kylo’s voice is low, almost dull but his hands are shaking, curled like claws at his side, like he’s ready to rip apart the world with his bare hands. “She invited me to dinner .” His lips twist into a snarl around the words as he stalks forward.
“And how does that warrant throwing your fucking phone at me?” Hux is forcing authority into his voice, holding his ground like that will make him feel braver because he’s seen Kylo angry, he’s seen Kylo’s wrath but it’s never been like this.
Kylo’s never scared him before.
“I didn't throw it at you, I threw it at the wall--”
“Because you had no right!” Kylo screams and it’s like instinct for him to reach for a nearby glass and hurl it across the room. It smashes against Hux’s fridge door and he flinches as the shards of glass crash to the floor. “What makes you think you had the right to tell her about us? You had no fucking right!” He’s shaking, face burning red and Hux feels like his throat has dried up.
“I didn’t tell her, she already knew that I’m your--”
“My what? My boyfriend? My partner ?” Kylo’s laugh is bitter, sarcastic and it hurts, more than Hux expected it would. Hux has to fight back another flinch, but his chest aches. “You don’t even want to acknowledge me in public . You’re too fucking scared to even touch me .”
“Is that what this is about?” He advances forward and his hands are bunched into fists at his sides, nails digging into the skin hard enough to hurt. But the pain doesn’t help this time. “Is that what you want from me?”
“I don’t want fuck-all from you.” Kylo’s face is twisted into a snarl, cruel.
And it hurts. It hurts so fucking much that Hux forgets how to breathe, forgets he’s not supposed to cry. His hands are shaking when he digs the heels of his hands into his eyes. Kylo keeps going.
“Did you ever stop to think about what I wanted?” Hux keeps his hands pressed to his eyes, like somehow that will stop this from happening. “Did you ever stop to think that maybe I don't fucking want to talk to her--”
“I don’t understand that! I can’t--”
“You don’t have to fucking understand it--”
“You only have one mother in this life--”
“I don’t have a mother! She abandoned me! She left me!”
“You told me when you first met me that you don't have a mother--”
“You know, the last time I remember actually being happy I was six years old?”
Hux is shocked into silence. Kylo just looks at him, that terrifying, impassive look barely masking the rage.
“My mother became the youngest state governor in history when I was four, maybe five. My dad--” Kylo scoffs. “He was the worst. At least when mom was around, I felt like a person .” Kylo’s eyes zero in on Hux and he starts moving forward until he’s right in Hux’s space, crowding him against the counter with his mere presence. “But she was always gone and he didn't know what to do without her around.” Kylo starts moving then, advancing closer and forcing Hux to take a step back with each step he takes forward.
“Even when they were together all they did was fight.” Kylo advances. Hux retreats. “She wanted him to stay home, to raise me, but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t stand to be around me.” Advance. Retreat. “When he was home I was always trying to get his attention, trying to get him to play with me. He’d leave as soon as he could get another job.” Advance. Retreat. “Most the time he was driving from one end of the country to the next, just so he wouldn't have to come home. Come home and have to see me . His own son. ” Hux is backed up against the wall beside the door now.
“I was thrown into boarding school as soon as they could get rid of me. The only time I felt like they gave a flying fuck was when I would get myself expelled.” Kylo’s arms come up on either side of Hux’s head, trapping him there. Hux keeps his chin held high, doesn’t back down from Kylo’s gaze even as his heart leaps into his throat. “They're the ones that decided to bring me into this world and then decided they didn't want me anymore when it just got too fucking difficult for them.” The rage, the pain, it radiates off of Kylo in waves and Hux can see the way the man shakes with it. Like he can barely contain it. “So no. I don’t have a mother. I don’t have a father. I have no one .”
Kylo’s hand flies forward in a fist and Hux clenches his jaw, prepares for a blow. But instead Kylo’s fist punches the wall beside his head and Hux can feel the drywall give way. If it hurt, Kylo gives no outside sign of it, not even a flinch.
“You never fucking asked. You never ask!” Kylo is snarling into Hux’s face now, hissing it out through clenched teeth.
“You don’t give a shit about me. No one does--”
“You should give them a chance!”
“They’re trying to fix it now, can’t you see that? They’re trying to make--”
“What? Make up for lost time? Make up for what they did to me? For leaving me? Fuck them and fuck you. They left me-- ” Kylo’s other hand raises, like he’s going to rip apart the wall with his bare hands, like that will make anything better.
Hux screams, roars, shoving at Kylo’s shoulders as hard as he can. “You think you’re the only one that’s ever been hurt? You think you’re the only one who’s been abandoned by the people that were supposed to love you?” He watches Kylo go stumbling back, shocked to his core. Hux has never done this before, he doesn’t do this . “You have a family , Kylo - yes, they screwed up. But they’re trying now. They’re trying so hard to get you back. And you’re going to throw it all away! You have a family that loves you and wants you. And you won’t even give them a chance. I would give anything--” Hux is broken, shaking, struggling past the phantom pain that lances through him, “At least they want you.”
Kylo looks taken aback for a brief, shining moment before his lips curl into that cruel snarl. “Oh, poor Hux.” Kylo hisses out, hands curled into claws. “Daddy hates fags , but he still sends you money--”
“Get out.” He can’t keep looking at Kylo, can’t stand to be around him any more. It hurts too much.
“Get out, Kylo.” Kylo was supposed to understand, Hux was going to tell someone, going to finally tell someone--
“You don’t get--”
“Get the fuck out of my house, Kylo. ” Hux screams it into the air between them and Kylo seems frozen by it.
Just one glance, a glimpse of Kylo’s face. He’s surprised, genuinely and truly, like he didn’t ever think that Hux would throw him out, that it would go this far.
“Leave.” Hux stares past Kylo now, keeps his gaze on the wall over the man’s shoulder.
Hux can feel Kylo’s hesitation before he snarls out, “Fine.” He moves past Hux and he can hear the rustle of Kylo putting on his absurd jacket. “You’re just like everyone else. Everyone always abandons me. Always.”
“Fuck you, Kylo Ren.” Hux says, but by then the door is slamming shut behind him and Kylo is gone.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
Hux doesn’t remember much about the rest of that night. He remembers lying in bed for hours, staring at the ceiling. Sometimes there would be tears, sometimes he would scream into a pillow. At one point, he tore the sheets off the bed and threw them over onto the lower floors because they still smelled like him.
Later, Hux took it all back upstairs and very carefully remade the bed with them, then started the process all over again. Sob. Stare. Sleep. Scream.
He doesn’t remember much about the three days that follow their fight. He pulls himself out of bed on the second morning and goes straight to the gym. He runs and runs until he can’t feel his body anymore, until it seems like he can’t feel anything. It doesn’t help because it doesn’t take away the overwhelming hollow feeling left in Kylo’s absence. In knowing that Kylo is gone.
It hurts. He had started to trust. He became weak, grew close with Kylo more than anyone in his life. Phasma knew, she knew that something had happened in his youth, something he never spoke of. But she didn’t know the details, she knew better than to ask, and Hux never planned on telling her. But Kylo-- He wanted to tell Kylo. Maybe not now, maybe not for months, but the idea that there was someone he could tell had been worth so much to him.
He was weak to think so. He grew sentimental. His father warned him about making connections with people, about letting anyone get too close. Of course, then he had been talking about the business he hoped Hux would take over one day. He grew up believing that his only purpose was to see to the well-being and longevity of his father’s legacy. But Hux had turned his back, had thought he knew better. He thought his father was wrong and that was his first mistake.
He had been used, broken, and discarded. Father said it then, that Hux shouldn’t have been surprised. That he should learn to expect that if he continued with his lifestyle choices. They had taken everything from him, everything but his art, his career. It was all he had left, all he was allowed to keep in the aftermath. And then he had sworn he would never do it again, would never let anyone get that close. He should have known better. It could be excused when he was younger, when he was innocent. But now? History repeating itself. He should have known better.
He always knew what Kylo was like. Reckless, volatile, a beacon of destruction. Hux hadn’t thought that he could fix Kylo - there was nothing about him that needed fixing - he only found companionship with Kylo. It was different, so different, than Phasma. It felt like a puzzle finally coming together, like their messed up lives could be better if they just had each other. And it was better, for a little while.
But Hux should have expected the fallout. Just when it got hard, just when it started to get real, Kylo had to break it. Kylo had to break them, break Hux, because he didn’t know what else to do. He didn’t know how to be happy. And, really, neither did Hux.
So this is probably for the better. They never could have made each other happy, the past month was just a fantasy. A false hope.
He only leaves the gym when he faints the second time and someone is there to see it. The trainers had been staring at him, had told him to take breaks, but he’d ignored them. When they started talking about ambulances and hospitals he agreed to go home.
He doesn’t sleep, he can’t. He can’t lay in his own bed, can’t bring himself to change the sheets. There’s evidence of Kylo everywhere. He found one of Kylo’s shirts mixed in with his laundry and he couldn’t touch it. He’s not even sure how it got there, but it’s there and he doesn’t know what to do. One part of him wants to rip in into the fabric, wants to burn it and let that be it. But he can’t bring himself to do it, to lose this one last attachment that he has. He doesn’t want to lose the little pieces of Kylo that he has left.
He ends up on the couch, trying not to think of Kylo sitting here, hurt and frustrated, but still willing to open his arms for Hux.
On the third day, the sun rises and he can’t remember the last time he ate. So he does, something small, something to keep him upright at least. He tries to find his routine again, goes for a run because he doesn’t want to go back to the gym. Doesn’t want to raise any more suspicious. He runs for hours, until he feels like he’s going to throw up and then he runs some more.
When he finally drags himself home, Phasma is there. She takes one look at him and sighs. She says nothing, she doesn’t judge, just hands him a glass of water and a plate of food.
She leads him upstairs and he wants to tell her that he can’t. But then he sees that she’s changed the bedsheets while he was out. There’s relief mixed in with the ache that threatens to swallow him whole. He peels off sweaty clothes, tossing it well away from Kylo’s shirt--
Or where it had been.
Hux looks around, searching for it because it was right there, on the floor in the corner of the room with the rest of his clothes. It’s gone now.
“Where--?” His voice is dry, comes out in a rasp, barely even sounds like him.
“It doesn’t matter. Come on, into bed.” Phasma turned down the bedding, her face impassive and patient. A mask.
“No-- It’s important--”
“Not right now it isn’t. You need to sleep, Hux--”
“No, I need that back where it belongs--”
“He’s gone, Hux--”
“I need it--”
“ I love him !”
He screams it into the void between them.
It’s the first time he’s said it about Kylo to anyone. And he didn’t realize how true it was until now.
He saw a future with Kylo. It wouldn’t have been easy, it would have been hard work. But he had wanted it. He had wanted that with Kylo.
And now it was lost. Likely for good.
“I know,” Phasma’s mask slips and she looks sad. Not pitying, just sad. “Come to bed, Hux.”
He goes. Phasma covers him, then she sits on the edge of the bed. He drifts to sleep with the unexpected comfort of her presence.
Phasma stays with him for a week.
She forces him to sleep, forces him to eat regularly, forces him to call his manager. She forces him back into a schedule. Wake up, breakfast, exercise (sparingly, carefully, under Phasma’s sharp eyes), snack, work, lunch, work, a movie, dinner, hygiene, and bed. Always in that order, always at the same time. Some might find it overbearing, find it stifling, but Hux feels like himself again. Discipline. Order. Regimen. It still leaves him too much time to think, to remember and he still falters, but he finds himself again.
When he calls his manager, she’s furious. Apparently people worried, looking for him. His manager had claimed a family emergency in order to get Hux’s auditions and filming rescheduled. He’ll have to remember to give her a bigger holiday bonus than usual. He hadn’t even noticed his phone was dead, can’t remember the last time he checked it. There are no messages from his father. There are no messages from Kylo.
Phasma tells him about Kylo in halting words. According to the papers, he’s been arrested at least twice that the press is aware of for drunken disorderly, for driving under the influence, for destruction of property, for possession of a controlled substance, for a thousand other things that Hux stops listening to. A part of him hopes that it’s because this - because of him - that Kylo is getting into trouble. That maybe Kylo regrets leaving as much as Hux regrets telling him to go, in his darker moments. But Phasma doesn’t like to talk about Kylo, doesn’t want to tell him more and he doesn’t want to think more about it.
After a week, Hux feels better, feels like he can pretend to be okay. It takes some convincing for Phasma to leave, but she has work to get back to, work that she put on hold for him. He cannot allow that to continue, cannot allow her to give up something so important just for him. Eventually, she goes. He doesn’t thank her, but he calls the florist he knows she favours and pays for lilies to be delivered to her daily for the next year.
An hour after she’s left, Hux considers calling her back. His apartment feels empty now. Like there’s a black hole where Kylo used to be. Phasma filled it for a while, but without her it’s a gaping void. Millie’s there, his little orange shadow, but now she makes him think of Kylo too. He feels that hollow ache in his chest that makes him dizzy sometimes, that threatens to overwhelm him. But he can’t let it. He has plans, he has a life, he won’t let all of it go to waste over this.
Phasma calls every day to check on him, to make sure he’s still following the routine. And he is. He sticks with a schedule, he gets back to work. He even goes to an audition. Doesn’t get the part, but the attempt was made and that feels like a big step forward. The hollow feeling is still there, especially at night when he can’t sleep because it feels like he can’t breathe without Kylo there beside him. Sometimes he worries it’s true, that Kylo was the air in his lungs and now he’s lost it. He can usually get through that by himself, though, shove it all down even if it doesn’t get any easier as time goes on. But he can get out of bed, he remembers to eat and bathe and take care of himself. He gets better.
And then Phasma gives him the news.
Han Solo is dead.
He didn’t even know that Han Solo was Kylo Ren’s father until he gets the paper. Senator Leia Organa is splashed across the front page, her official statement on the incident is brief, but heartfelt. Han hadn’t been her husband for many years, but they were frequently seen together and rumors were always flying about their on-again-off-again relationship, even after over thirty years.
And there’s Kylo. There’s only a small bit about him, about his estranged relationship with his parents, about changing his name from Ben Organa-Solo to Kylo Ren, about the rumors flying around about his relationship with co-star Brendol Hux. Of course, Kylo couldn’t be reached for comment, but the picture is a rare one. Kylo’s face isn’t hidden and he looks furious about it. He’s surrounded by paparazzi in the background of the photo and all six of his bodyguards form a protective circle around him.
The hollow space in Hux’s chest throbs; Kylo looks like he hasn’t slept in days. A part of Hux is vindictively pleased to see it, but most of him aches in sympathy. He almost wishes there was a way they could fix things, that they could make it right.
But they were doomed from the start. They always had been. It’s better this way.
Hux wakes up to the sound of banging on his front door. A glance at the clock tells him it’s nearly three in the morning.
“Hux! Hux -- Let go of me! -- Hux, open the fucking door!”
Hux sits up in bed and he has to force himself to breathe, to think.
Does he really want to do this? Does he really want to go through this again?
“Hux! -- I said, let me go ! -- Hux, please .” Even through the walls between them, Hux can hear the desperation.
He’s planning on ignoring it -- it’s better this way , he tells himself -- he finds he can’t after he hears Kylo shout, “ No ! Fuck you, Drago!” And then there’s a flurry of movement, grunts of pain, and the sickening thud of fists hitting bones and skin.
Hux dashes down the stairs and scrambles to open the door.
Kylo’s arms are held by Drago and Anson, but it’s not doing any good. If anything, it gives Kylo the leverage he needs to lift his legs and kick Nomar square in the chest with both feet, sending the Knight flying down the hall. Kylo is obviously drunk, barefoot and barechested, a black eye forming, his face and shoulder oozing blood. He’s thrashing in the other Knights’ arms before Nomar even hits the ground. His elbows and fists are wild and it’s only because the Knights are plainly trying not to hurt Kylo further that he’s making any kind of headway with them.
All movement in the hallway stops as soon as Hux raises his voice. The Knights’ heads all swivel to him and all the fight seems to leave Kylo as soon as he sees Hux.
Hux can feel their bewildered gazes on him, but he can’t tear his eyes away from Kylo. The hollow space in him pulses.
Kylo’s despair is written plainly on his face, like he doesn’t even feel the cut that cross his face and down his shoulder. He surges forward toward Hux. But the Knights hold fast to him. Immediately, Kylo is snarling, struggling to throw them off again, ready to start the fight all over even though he’s plainly suffering.
“It’s all right!” Kylo stops, but the Knights hang on to him still, waiting for Hux’s word. “It’s all right. Let him go.”
He hadn’t really planned on saying that, he still doesn’t know why he is now. He decided that it would be better for them both if they never crossed paths again. And now here he is turning back on that choice just because Kylo is here .
But he can’t stand the hollow ache in his chest, he can’t stand seeing Kylo like this.
So when Kylo stumbles toward him, Hux doesn’t move away. Kylo’s arms wrap around his shoulders and Hux lets him, stands there as Kylo buries his face in Hux’s neck and clings tight to him. He can feel the blood seeping into his shirt, warm and wet.
“Hux, oh god, Hux I’m so sorry.” He had dreamed about hearing those words, he spent sleepless nights wondering what he would do if he heard them. Now, all he can do is stand and let Kylo cling to him. It’s only when Hux feels the way Kylo trembles that he wraps his arms around Kylo and pulls him in close, resting his chin on the skin of the man’s shoulder.
Even as broken as Kylo is - even as shattered as Hux feels - none of it matters when he’s got Kylo’s arms around him again.
“I killed him, Hux, I killed him.” Kylo whispers into Hux’s skin.
Hux doesn’t know what he means by that. Surely not Han? The news said it was an accident. Hux looks to Drago who just shakes his head. Even with their hoods and sunglasses, Hux can see the indecision wavering across the Knights’ half-hidden faces. They were probably told not to let Kylo near Hux.
Hux imagines if they tried to pull Kylo away from him now, he might not be able to stop himself from lashing out just as Kylo had done moments before.
But before he can, the Knights come to a decision, wordlessly. Nomar is the one who hands Hux a card with their number on it and a solemn nod. They won’t be far, of course, and it’s strangely reassuring to know that when Kylo leaves again at least there will be others to look after him.
The Knights head down the hall to the elevator and Kylo doesn’t even seem to notice their absence. He just clings to Hux, shaking and wet tracks on his cheeks.
Kylo won’t stop saying it. “I killed him. I killed him. ”
The story comes out in pieces, a puzzle that Hux assembles over a period of three days.
The cut is a gift from his cousin, Rey Skywalker. Kylo had attempted to storm into his mother’s home that night, drunk and brandishing a broken bottle. Rey fucking Skywalker had forced him out the door, had tousled with him and came out the victor at the cost of the great wound Kylo now bore.
That night, and every night that Hux asked, Kylo refused to see a doctor about it. He let Hux treat it, let him apply bandages, but every time Hux suggested stitches and medical treatment, he always got the same response.
“It’s what I deserve.”
After their fight so many days ago, Kylo hit rock bottom and then went even further. He nearly overdosed, went to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Without Hux, Kylo went back to his old ways. Went back to Snoke.
Because self-destruction is easy.
But he never forgot their fight, couldn’t stop thinking about what Hux said. His moment came when he was in jail and Snoke wasn’t answering his calls and he couldn’t call Hux and he was ready to plead guilty, to confess everything and let them throw him in jail. Let him rot.
Han had been the one to bail him out.
Self-destruction is easy, but redemption is harder.
Han had taken him home, back to his own apartment, didn’t even say a single judgmental word. Just took Kylo home, stood awkwardly in his living room, asked if he wanted to order a pizza. He didn’t stay for long, just saw Kylo fed and in bed and then left.
It was surreal and it was the first evidence that Kylo had in years that his parents had more than a passing interest in him. There were always phone calls and emails and letters that he ignored. But it was different to be so low and have Han be the one to reach out.
And Han came back. Every day. Sometimes, he even brought the family dog, Chewie, with him. The dog had been around as long as Kylo could remember; his parents had gotten the massive Mastiff mix when Kylo was quite young and the dog had been his father’s constant companion ever since. It was rare to see Han Solo without Chewbacca at his side. Kylo suspected that Han hadn’t told Leia that he was the one to bail Kylo out, hadn’t told her where he was going every day, but Leia always just knew things.
(“I remember - once - I snuck a cookie to bed. I was so, so careful about it. I didn’t spill a single crumb. I even rearranged the other cookies in the jar so it wouldn’t look like one was missing. Next morning, there’s a note on my pillow saying I’m grounded. Mom was already gone.”)
Han was there for the withdrawal, for the DTs, the vomiting, the fever, all of it. Kylo went only a few hours at night without seeing his father and Chewie and he couldn’t figure it out. He couldn’t reconcile the man he grew up with - the man who made him feel ignored, unwanted - with the man who was here now. Who tried now.
Which was why Kylo had to lash out the first chance he could.
When he was finally aware enough, he demanded answers. Demanded to know why, after all these years, Han suddenly decided to pretend to give a shit.
Han looked so hurt that Kylo almost wanted to take it all back. But he was too stubborn, too pig-headed. And Han kept promising to make up for it, to make things better for their family. Kept promising that things would change.
And what proof did Kylo have that it was even possible? A few days with Han acting like his nurse and suddenly he was supposed to believe that Han was better now? That Han was going to be the father he needed?
But he didn’t need a father. Not anymore.
So Kylo told Han this. He didn’t need Han anymore. He never had. He could go the rest of his life without ever seeing Han or Leia and it would still be too soon.
Han looked devastated, so much so that Kylo had almost taken it all back. But he couldn’t forget the years he went wanting a father - a mother - so badly only to be overlooked by them both. Let Han know how it felt to be abandoned for once.
Han left that day. Scarcely an hour later he was dead.
The doctor’s said it was the heart attack that did it. He was dead before the car even hit the tree.
That was probably meant to be some kind of comfort, but Han still died. He was still gone and there would be no coming back from that.
Kylo didn’t attend the wake, the funeral, nothing.
“I can’t go.” Kylo whispers into the dark of the room, the night before the funeral. Kylo is on his back with Hux’s shoulder pressed up against his. Hux lost track of how long they’d been lying like this, in the darkness. “I can’t .”
“You don’t have to.” Hux whispers back, though the thought of Kylo not attending made sorrow echo through him.
“But you don’t have to.” Because he didn’t. There isn’t anything that Kylo has to do. Only what he wants to do.
“I’m responsible for it, Hux. I said those things to him--”
“It needed to be said.”
“That doesn’t make it okay, that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.”
“You had no control over what--”
“I killed him. I did it. I upset him, I--”
“It was an accident, Kylo.” Hux rolls onto his side, stared at Kylo’s profile. He can’t see the man’s face in the dark, but that’s probably for the best. He reaches out, wrapping his hand around Kylo’s wrist.
“But it was my fault--”
“Even if it was - which it’s not - you can’t change that now.” Hux’s voice is sharp, “It’s done. Nothing you do or say can fix it, how you feel doesn’t matter because it won’t bring him back. It happened, he’s gone, and now you have to keep going.”
He hears Kylo breathe, deep and slow like he does when he’s trying to hold it all in, trying not to cry. His hand feels warm where it’s still wrapped around Kylo’s wrist, holding loosely like he’s waiting for Kylo to shake him off.
“How?” Kylo’s voice is a croak.
Hux’s isn’t sure. But he can’t tell Kylo that.
“When I was fifteen, I fell in love with an older man.” It’s easier to say it into the dark, when they can’t see each other.
He feels Kylo tense beneath his hand.
“He was a business partner of my father’s. I grew up seeing him come to the house for parties that my parents would hold. For my father, it was an opportunity to show off all we had, all our opulence. And he would parade me around like another trophy, another possession. People would croon at me, how much I looked like my father, the shoes I had to step into. But Silas--” He chokes on the name, can’t remember the last time he said the name out loud.
Kylo’s arm shifts under his hand and Hux expects him to pull away. Instead, he feels fingers reaching for his own, intertwining. Lending strength.
He takes a deep breath, continues.
“Silas actually made me feel like a person. He didn’t talk over me or down to me, he made me feel like I was one of the adults. I suppose that was his intention.” Breathe. “By the time he took me to bed, I was convinced that I was an adult, that I was choosing to do it. I was lying to myself. He would always say that if I really loved him, I would do more with him. I would give myself to him, completely. So I did.”
Breathe. Kylo’s hand tightens in his.
“I was fifteen. I wasn’t ready, I didn’t know what I was doing. I thought I was in love with him, I thought he loved me. He enjoyed that, I think. Having this simpering lovesick brat desperate for his approval. Hanging on to his every word, his every move. I had to hide it from my parents, of course. Not only was Silas another man, but he was also my father’s business partner, older than me, and married to a very kind woman. The scandal would be enormous. But sometimes, it was like he wanted to get caught. He always wanted me to meet him in his office so we could-- I never wanted to, but he could be so convincing, he would say that I must not love him enough . I had to prove it to him, I had to do what he wanted. I was so afraid of losing him. The one person who made me feel like I had value as a person and not a legacy.
“He left me when I got too old for him. It was cold, harsh. He started to pull away from me, ignore me, talk over me like I wasn’t there. I think he enjoyed that too. Slowly ruining me, reminding me that no one cared about me, that no one ever would.
“My father catching us was part of his plan too, I think. Silas had wanted to break from the company, wanted to make his own way. He threatened to tell the press about me, about how I had begged for him. And it was true, I couldn’t deny any of it. So Father gave him the money, bought his silence. I never saw Silas again. It felt like someone had ripped off a piece of me and burned it in front of me. I blamed myself for losing him, and I was lost without him. I didn’t understand then, what he’d done to me. Not really. I tried-- I--” This is hard to say too, to talk about the day he woke up in the hospital, still alive. Still breathing. “I gave up, for a while. I went back to being daddy’s little robot, but I hated it. I didn’t want it. I wanted a different life, away from my father’s legacy, away from all the reminders of Silas.”
Hux falls quiet, lost in memories he’d spent so much time repressing, burying down deep where they couldn’t find him.
“And? Do you feel better now? How did you do it?” Kylo breaks the silence, demanding, impatient as ever.
“I know you’ll hear that a lot, but it’s the truth. It’s a harsh truth.” Hux learned that the hard way. “I wish I could tell you that there’s a method, that there’s one thing you can do that will make it all feel better. Make the pain go away, make it easier to sleep. It won’t be simple and you’ll hate it, but eventually it will get easier. You’ll wake up one morning and find that you haven’t thought about him in hours. And that will hurt a little, you’ll feel like maybe you’re forgetting. But you’re not. That’s just healing. It will always hurt, just a little, but eventually… You just learn to live with it.”
Kylo falls silent for so long that Hux begins to think that maybe he fell asleep. He untangles his hand from Kylo’s and sits up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. He’s been sleeping on the couch while Kylo stayed, but he doesn’t mind. Kylo needed the comfort more than he did at the moment.
“I’m sorry.” Kylo’s voice startles him into stillness.
“I know.” He keeps his back to Kylo, feeling the way the bed shifts when Kylo turns to face him.
“Do-- Do you forgive me?”
“Yes. I did. I do.” Hux wants to tell him that he forgave Kylo the moment he opened the door. He waits, for another question, for Kylo to pull him close, but there’s nothing. It’s only when he moves to stand that a hand wraps around his wrist.
“Stay.” Kylo begs, “Stay? Please?”
Something in his chest expands, like he can breathe - finally, finally - and he feels like he’s been waiting for those words since Kylo left that first night. He turns to face Kylo then, nodding.
Chapter 10: Epilogue
Rogue One Entertainment and host Bala Tik were on the red carpet for the premiere of Poe Dameron’s latest sci-fi romance Starkiller Base at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Before the film, we spoke with the cast and guests walking the red carpet. Poe Dameron arrived in style with his partners: Rey Skywalker, holding Dameron’s hand while his arm looped around Finn Windu’s waist.
RELATED: Dameron to direct his lovers, Rey Skywalker and Finn Windu in next film!
We asked director and writer Poe Dameron how this work stands out from his previous films.
“Well, you know, we really tried to do something different. I mean, I always try to bring something new to the table, to do something that not very many other people can do or are willing to try. I was really lucky to have Hux and Ren along with me, who wanted to share in that experience with me and bring something new that audiences would - hopefully - enjoy!”
Brendol Hux and Kylo Ren star as Domhnall Gleeson and Adam Driver, the film’s romantic protagonists. The Starkiller Base tells the story of two soldiers caught on the wrong side of a galaxy spanning war. When the two meet, sparks fly and it’s love at first sight, but how far will they have to go to protect their love?
The film is already being praised by critics for its innovative use of storytelling, cinematics, and minimalist set design.
Brendol Hux and Kylo Ren were the last to arrive, to the shouts and screams from the watching crowd. Rumors of the duo’s relationship have been flying wild since before production for Starkiller Base began.
CLICK HERE to view our photo gallery of Hux and Ren!
Rogue One Entertainment reporter Bala Tik can officially confirm that the two are a couple!
When asked about the challenging content of the film, Kylo Ren - once famed for never participating in interviews until his Vanity Fair tell-all after the death of his father Han Solo - spoke up.
“It was challenging. It was all shot as one continuous shot, you know, and getting that right was difficult. But we worked hard - everyone - and I think that comes across on film.”
TEN THEORIES: How did Kylo Ren get his scar?
“We would go shot for minutes, these long shots that would last for ten minutes. And then one thing goes wrong, one misstep, one stutter and you’ve lost the whole take. Back to square one.”
Ren still seems shy to talk, but not with Hux around. Throughout our interview with the pair, Ren’s hand always remained on the man’s back.
But the real excitement came when Ren was called away and he leaned in to give Hux a kiss on the cheek!
When asked if the two were officially a couple, Hux only had this to say, smiling: