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If I Set the World Ablaze (The Dark Can't Have Me)

Chapter Text

Screams—they penetrated every corner of the building. They melded together and formed one voice, demanding to be heard. The screams rose over the heavy bass. They beat the air harder than the kick drum. They were the lifeblood of the music.

They fed something primal inside of Kylo that beg to be released.

“They’re shaking the rafters, tonight,” Phasma said, tapping her fingers on her crossed arms. She looked as unimpressed as she always did. For a woman who managed a massively popular band, she didn’t particularly enjoy the music industry or anything that came with it—like concerts and touring.

“They’re just hoping Kylo takes his shirt off,” Ilan said, twirling his drumsticks between his long fingers. Ilan took life as it came, and nothing seemed to rattle the Knights of Ren’s drummer. He’d once taken a thrown can to the head mid-song and never lost the beat.

“Poor souls are in for a disappointment,” Edith laughed, looking at her nails as if they were manicured particularly well. They weren’t. The black polish on them was chipped, and she’d chewed them down to the skin.

Kylo growled, walking back toward the stage even though they still had another minute before they returned for their encore. The screams set him on edge. They reminded him too much of the past. It didn’t matter that these screams were a form of enthusiasm and appreciation; all screams sounded the same. They made something inside of him restless, like a caged animal.

“Ready?” Ilan asked, slapping Kylo on the back as the other band members climbed the stairs to the stage again.

“Always,” Kylo told him. He could make out Ilan’s wicked smile in the dark. The man always looked a moment away from revealing himself a predator and you his prey. For some reason, that was Kylo’s favorite thing about him. Cut from the same cloth, his mother used to say. He didn’t want to think about Leia now, though, or ever really.

“Then perhaps we should take the stage before they revolt,” Ilan teased him.

“Not looking forward to being nailed in the skull again?” Kylo fired right back.

“Not all of us have the luxury of being a moving target, or so hard-headed,” Ilan said, giving Kylo the finger as he walked up the stairs after the rest of the band.

“Should’ve learned a different instrument,” Kylo called after him.

“Should’ve joined a different band, you mean.”

Kylo’s retort was swallowed by the roar of the crowd, and he was sure that Ilan planned it that way. The man didn’t waste words just to be out done.

Taking a slow breath, and really feeling the energy around him, Kylo mounted the steps to the stage. He could feel the hum right down to his bones—the violent screams followed by the sudden hush when he took the stage. He could feel their anticipation, their energy fueling his own.

Some days it all felt very orchestrated. The encore was just as tightly rehearsed as the rest of the set, nothing spontaneous or thrilling from their end. The crowd always chanted for them to come back. The lights always blasted him in the eyes when they started back up, leaving him momentarily disoriented and questioning if he was back on that stretch of open road again, expecting to be run over instead of rescued.

But then there was the brief moment between taking the stage and starting their encore, that deep breath before jumping into the fray: the moment where he could feel exactly what the crowd was feeling, and feed on it. This was an addiction all its own, fed by a grueling touring schedule.

Kylo stood front and center, gripping the microphone in his fist and staring out at the massive crowd. He glanced over his shoulder and gave a minute nod, and then he waited like the rest of them.

Ilan didn’t leave him waiting long. He rapped the drumsticks he’d been twirling on the rim of the snare drum and everyone followed him right into the song. Kylo stood there, stomping in place as the band got going. He gripped the microphone and let the burst of energy from the crowd fortify him. He fed off their energy as they started to jump and throw themselves around to the beat.

Unlike the demanding screams of the brief intermission, the energy and volume of the crowd in the middle of a song gave Kylo such an indescribable high that he often forgot what exactly happened on stage, other than a feeling of intensity that lasted long after the end of a show.

Kylo let loose a howling cry as Edith laid into her bass—Ilan hammering away at the kick drum. The heavy beat moved through Kylo, dictating his body’s movements in a pulsing rhythm. He sang the song, but he was on another plane, existing in the music itself.

He pulled the wire to his mic until he had a long enough section of it, and with little warning he dove off the stage into the crowd, knowing without a shred of doubt that he’d be caught. And he was, by dozens of hands that supported every inch of him as he continued to sing.

He didn’t try to dictate where the crowd took him, instead giving himself up to the whim of their hands. He lay back, holding the mic up to his lips and pulling the notes from deep within himself. The crowd sang along with him as he was carried around the edge of the pit.

Hands grabbed every part of him, and were he not completely immersed in the moment, it would’ve bothered him. He was hardly aware of the hands groping his ass, mostly unintentionally. It was the feeling of floating above a sea of people the fueled this ritual.

Kylo eyed the mosh pit as he crowd-surfed, knowing that management hated when he joined. However, the dressing-down he’d get tomorrow barely flitted through his mind as he finished the verse and sent the microphone back toward the stage.

The stage hands reeled it in as the crowd passed it back.

Hands freed, Kylo dove into the pit. The energy of the music and the crowd was amplified even more in the throes for the mosh pit. Kylo threw himself at the closest person, and they collided hard before bouncing off in opposite directions.

Kylo panted as he thrashed about with the others. Half of them were so inebriated that they either didn’t realize it was him or had to do a double-take. Others were just joining the pit now that he was in it, and the swarming effect was only making it that much more violent. Kylo breathed it in as though it was the essence of life itself.

The song wouldn’t last much longer, and Kylo threw his body around with abandon, not caring that he would be covered in bruises come morning. He wanted to absorb as much of this as he could. The energy of the mosh soaked into his skin with the sweat and blood of those around him.

Kylo hurtled toward someone who was more mohawk than man, and they hit with so much force that Kylo felt his teeth rattle, even as the green spikes of hair ricocheted off in another direction.

The song came to an end, and the people slowed their thrashing. Kylo immediately felt bereft as he stood panting among the crowd. People slapped his back and told him how honored they were to have moshed with him. Others shyly watched him from just beyond the human barrier of the pit.

“Can you please return our frontman?” Edith said into his mic. “Paging Kylo Ren. Please report to the stage. Your band is waiting for piece of shit.”

The crowd laughed as Kylo was lifted up to surf his way back to the stage. Security helped him over the barrier, and he walked purposefully back to his mic.

“Nice of you to join us,” Ilan said, completely deadpan. Kylo flipped him the bird as he ran his fingers through his hair to get it out of his face. The rest of the band kept their comments off-mic, but they, too, had some choice words before slipping into the last song of the night.

Kylo held onto that energy through their last song and almost jumped right back into the crowd, but he restrained himself. When the song came to an end, he left the stage still completely full of that energy.

“You’re bleeding,” Ilan pointed out as he walked behind Kylo.

“I’ll live,” Kylo retorted, not actually knowing where he was bleeding or how badly. He couldn’t really feel it right now.

Ilan kept further comments to himself, but he handed Kylo a towel and pointed to his elbow, where the skin had probably split on impact with something. Whatever it had collided with had probably gotten the worst of it.

Kylo wiped away the blood and gave his bandmate a look of exasperation. Ilan just gave him the icy-eyed smile that he’d become known for, about three parts unsettling to one part friendly.

“Man, I saw that guy run right into you and bounce off like a tennis ball,” Ethan, their guitarist, said. He walked past the pair of them into the VIP area. He grabbed a beer as he situated himself on the couch and kicked his legs up onto the coffee table, which was littered in music magazines.

“Who wants to go out tonight?” Kylo asked instead of letting conversation focus too much on his time in the pit. Phasma would be up his ass about it anyway; no point in giving her an opening.

“Not tonight. I’m beat. This tour, man,” Ethan said, drinking half of his beer in one go.

Edith rolled her eyes. “He picked his groupie for the night already,” she said, wiping her bare arms down with a towel.

“Don’t catch anything like you did in Montreal,” Phasma said, coming into the room. Her heels clicked on the floor as she walked right into the middle of the space.

“That wasn’t my fault. The condom exploded. I literally had to eat it out of her or she might have died.”

Phasma gave him a droll look. “There were two pairs of hands between you, and yet you used your tongue, which was the least dexterous thing you could’ve used.”

“You haven’t experienced my tongue, Phas, or you’d say differently.”

“If the things it says are anything to go by, I can assure you that I would not,” she told him, turning to Kylo with a very sharp look. “Crowd surfing into the mosh pit? Do you even hear me when I yell at you?”

“I was fine. No harm, no foul,” Kylo said, dropping the towel with his blood on it.

“What happens when someone nails you in the face or you get trampled? What happens if you get more brain trauma?”

“He is not exactly fragile, Phas.”

“No, he’s reckless, and if he practically kills himself again, you’re all going to be washed up and begging me to find you a new frontman,” Phasma addressed the room.

Kylo growled. He hated when she brought up the accident. He hadn’t been reckless, just unlucky. Not to mention, jumping into a mosh pit was nothing like riding his motorcycle into a barrier, then getting dragged across the pavement. Kylo wasn’t exactly looking to relive that.

“Leave them out of this. I’m not your puppet, and threatening them isn’t going to castrate me,” Kylo told her.

Phasma took a step back. She’d always been a bit wary of Kylo, especially when he was in a self-destructive mood. She couldn’t understand him or his needs. Her job was to keep him in line and ensure that their tour went off without a hitch. It was more complicated than that, but managing the Knights of Ren really came down to managing Kylo, as he was not one to be contained in any way, and when he started to feel claustrophobic, he lashed out and did something reckless.

Like riding his motorcycle down a winding mountain with the lights off. A demon ride. A mistake. One that nearly cost him his life and his career.

“Crowd was intense tonight. Wanted to jump in there myself,” Irwin said, perching himself on the back of the couch and flicking Ethan’s ear.

“Why didn’t you? We didn’t get you a keytar for the band’s image,” Ethan retorted.

“Because Irwin actually listens during pre-show meetings, and knows that the label does not want you…”

“The label is full of shit. What’s the point in doing this if you just want us tethered to our instruments on stage. That isn’t a show. Might as well not put on a show, if that’s all we’re doing,” Edith insisted.

Kylo smiled at the way the band had his back. He’d put their careers in jeopardy enough times that they probably should’ve taken the label’s side—it wasn’t like the label had always had such strict rules. It was only after they realized Kylo’s tendency to push the limits that they actually started to enforce rules for them.

Even Phasma was just doing what her bosses told her. She’d never cared whether Kylo jumped into the crowd when this started. She likely didn’t care now, but she was the one that had the execs breathing down her neck every time Kylo stepped out of line, which was almost constantly.

The accident had done little to curb his reckless behavior; in fact, it may have gotten worse.

The band gave Phasma the business before the VIP ticket holders arrived. Kylo hated this part. He used to soak it in like the energy of the crowd, but since the accident he found it uncomfortable. He wanted to take off his show clothes because he was covered in sweat from the heavy fabric and long sleeves, but wouldn’t take it off until it was just him and the band. Even Phasma rarely got a look at the scarring that had been left after the accident.

Kylo sat in the corner as the rest of the band took care of greeting the fans who’d shelled out to meet them. Ilan hung back with him, pretending to make quiet conversation, even though he never opened his mouth. Ilan was a man of few words, though they were always thoughtful and often biting, as he had the driest humor Kylo had ever experienced.

They’d been mistaken for brothers on more than one occasion, especially in the early days of the band. However, Ilan was even taller than Kylo, and while they both had large noses, Ilan’s features were sharper and his eyes an incredibly pale blue with a dark ring around them. Edith compared looking him directly in the eye to staring down a shark, and Kylo couldn’t really disagree with her. Ilan was loyal to a fault, though, and Kylo appreciated that. Not to mention, Ilan could keep a steady beat in a warzone, so he was invaluable to the band.

“Kylo,” Phasma called, standing beside a pair of men in their late twenties or early thirties. He cringed, knowing he was going to be grilled about the band’s lesser-known songs and what inspired him to write them. Kylo’s music came from that same reckless energy that got him into trouble. It wasn’t something he liked to talk about and certainly not something he wanted to have to explain when he was feeling overcome by that energy already.

“I’ll handle it,” Ilan said, clearly sensing the mood Kylo was in. Ilan had written no small number of their songs himself, so it wasn’t a bad trade off, but he also wasn’t verbose enough to satisfy the most rabid of fans. He was, however, as steady as bedrock, and while people pushed him, he never so much as budged.

“I’m fine,” Kylo insisted yet again.

“You’re still bleeding,” Ilan said, this time pointing to Kylo’s face. Kylo lifted his hand and wiped at his right brow, where Ilan had pointed, and sure enough his fingers came away bloody.

Kylo cursed, looking around for the towel that Ilan had given him, but it was over by the gathering crowd of VIPs. Ilan waved him off and walked over to Phasma, handing Kylo his own towel as he went. Kylo wiped his face. He needed to pull himself together, or Phasma would be even more upset.

After about five minutes of avoiding his duties in order to find his center, Kylo ventured into the fray of excited fans. He posed for pictures and signed whatever people asked him to. Thankfully, most of the requests were for him to sign albums or shirts. In the past, he’d had more requests to sign breasts and asses than he could or would ever wish to count.

“Saw you in the pit,” one of the men Ilan had spoken to said as Kylo signed the sleeve to his vinyl.

“You give me this?” Kylo asked, pointing to his face where his eyebrow had been split open.

“No man, I was just…”

“It was a joke,” Kylo assured him, handing the album back to him.

The man laughed, clearly not knowing what to make of Kylo. Kylo used to be good at the whole fan interaction thing, but since the accident he’d gotten worse and worse at it. He always felt like people were staring at the facial scar, or afraid to say the wrong thing, and that made him tense. It wasn’t the scars themselves that bothered him; it was people’s reactions, the fumbling and awkward apologies. Kylo hadn’t lost his eyesight in the crash—he knew exactly what he looked like. The fact that people acted as though he had snot coming out of his nose but were too polite to mention it was beyond frustrating.

“Kylo got headbutted in a pit in Detroit, and the other guy had to go to the hospital because Kylo’s head’s so hard, so don’t take him seriously,” Edith said, sliding in to take the attention off of Kylo. Kylo felt at odds with himself. He knew he should be better at this—he knew he was better at this—but he just couldn’t find his rhythm when he wasn’t on stage.

He posed for more pictures, and he tried to be as sociable as possible as he dealt with his own inner turmoil. Alcohol was free-flowing, as were any number of other substances. Kylo had a few beers, and he did shots when the band would call for him to join them, but he didn’t go crazy.

The Knights were known for their ability to go all night long and sometimes into the next day, but a lot of that had lost its appeal to Kylo. He hated waking up and not remembering parts of the night before. His memory had been spotty since the accident, and every bit of lost time left him a little more worried that one day he just wouldn’t come back from it. Something else or his body would just work on autopilot, and Kylo would be lost in the dark forever. Yes, he’d written many songs about it; no they wouldn’t be on any albums; and he certainly wouldn’t give voice to that fear to anyone but himself.

“Let’s get back to the hotel,” Edith said softly, coming up beside Kylo once the room had cleared. It was getting late, but Kylo wasn’t ready to go to bed. He wouldn’t be able to sleep with the energy still rushing through him.

“I’m going out for a bit,” Kylo said, grabbing his backpack. The beat-up leather satchel went with him everywhere. It held the notebook he wrote his lyrics in, but it also held most of his medications: the little pills that kept his brain functioning as close to normal as he could hope for. The pills that kept the headaches at bay, and the pills that stabilized everything else about him. Kylo was a raging storm on the medications, but off them, he was a natural disaster.

“You sure?”

Kylo just gave her a look that begged her not to fight with him.

“Just be safe,” she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek as they headed out of the building. “Maybe Ilan will go with you…”

“Maybe Ilan would like to get some sleep instead of babysitting me for you,” Kylo retorted.

“The man doesn’t sleep. He sits in the corner, plugged into the outlet for an hour and he’s ready to go.”

“He’s not an electric car, Edie.”

She shrugged, giving him another kiss before taking his bag from him and tucking him into a cab. Kylo watched her and the others get back onto the bus even as Phasma stood shaking her head as his cab pulled away. He wished he could follow her rules, but they only made it worse.

“Just need to be a face in the crowd for a bit,” Kylo sighed as he sat back. He just needed to be no one for a little while. He didn’t want to be Kylo Ren, famous rock star. He didn’t want to be Ben Solo, son of Senator Organa. He didn’t want to be the spoiled rich kid rebelling against his parents on a global scale. He wanted to be no one because then maybe he could find peace.

Unfortunately, some people weren’t meant to find peace.


Chapter Text

Something was ringing. Kylo groped around his body, but he couldn’t figure out where the penetrating noise was coming from. His body ached, and he didn’t particularly want to join the waking world just yet. However, the noise did not ease up.

Slowly, Kylo opened his eyes, and the world gradually oriented itself. He was in his hotel room, but he wasn’t in the bed. He was sitting up against the bathroom wall.

Kylo blinked several times, trying to focus on the room around him, which was lit by the vanity lights, or at least a few of them. He noticed glass on the floor around him, and that’s when he found the origin of the noise. His phone was lying in the middle of the broken glass with a shattered screen.

“Fuck me,” Kylo sighed, reaching for his busted phone and trying to swipe off the alarm. It was time to take his medication. Edith had put the reminder in his phone for him when he’d gotten out of the hospital. She’d also put it into the three subsequent replacement phones he’d had since then.

Unfortunately, the screen was a lost cause and thus turning the alarm off was as well. Kylo looked up at the ceiling as he lifted his booted foot and slammed it down on the already broken phone. The noise cut out, and Kylo let out another sigh into the quiet room.

Slowly, he rose to his feet, surveying the damage around him. The glass was from the vanity mirror, which was shattered, as well as several of the lights that spanned the top of the mirror.

Kylo stepped through the damage and walked out into his room. The scene wasn’t any better out there. The chair that once was pushed into the desk was broken, and half of it was on top of the bed while one of the legs was speared through the television screen. Several of the pillows were torn open with the stuffing littering the floor like a fresh snow. Kylo turned to punch the wall at what he saw, only to find a fist sized hole already there.

“Damn it,” Kylo said, pressing his palm and forehead to the wall instead. He squeezed his eyes closed as he calmed down. This wasn’t anything new. Blackouts and missing time had become just as much a part of his life as the energy he syphoned from his crowds. However, while one made him feel alive, the other made him fear just how he was living.

Taking a steadying breath, Kylo stepped away from the wall and grabbed his guitar case from the corner. It seemed that no matter whether Kylo was in control of himself or not, he didn’t fuck with his instruments. It was a small blessing.

Kylo opened the latches on the case and lifted the lid. He ran his fingers over the guitar before lifting it up and walking out into the sitting room in the suite. He ignored the mess in here as well and found a seat on the mostly unscathed sofa.

He played a few chords before going back and tuning the instrument. He tried not to think beyond his fingers as he concentrated on his guitar. When he was satisfied with the sound—wildly out of tune—he began to play a classical tune he’d learned as a child. He worked his fingers methodically through the melody and slowly built the tempo.

Each repetition of the melody loosened up his fingers just a little. The world around him faded away as he worked out each fingering until it was smooth. His fingers ached, most likely from putting his fist through the wall in multiple places, or it could’ve been the multiple shoulder surgeries since the accident. He still played his intricate yet repetitive melodies to keep his fingers from stiffening up.

When Kylo could get through the song without hesitating and without his mind wandering to the night before—the pieces that he remembered—he put the guitar aside and went to the phone in the room. Thankfully, it, too, had escaped the destruction of the previous night.

Kylo ordered himself room service because he hated taking his meds on an empty stomach, then he went back into the bedroom. He picked through the debris to find his backpack and his suitcase. He pulled the weekly pill organizer out of the bag and checked which day it was before opening the correct little box to count the pills inside. When he was satisfied that they were all there, he closed the box and put the organizer on the nightstand.

He cleared a space on the bed and sat on the edge of it to remove his boots. He tossed them over by his suitcase and slowly stripped out of his torn-up jeans and long-sleeved shirt. When he was wearing just his black briefs, he walked to the closet and removed the plush robe that the hotel provided. He slipped it on and didn’t bother to close it as he walked back out to the sitting room.

He opened his laptop which had survived unscathed and skimmed through his usual porn sites. Nothing really caught his eye. He would’ve checked what the hotel had to offer if he hadn’t destroyed the television the night before. Having been through more hotels than anyone had any right to since he’d been touring, he’d seen what every hotel had to offer. He could write a dissertation on the porn available at hotels.

Just another thing to make his mother proud, he thought bitterly.

Kylo picked something he’d seen before. It was by no means inspiring or even creative at all, but Kylo found the man in it appealing for some reason. He was pale and slim, but he commanded one’s attention. He glanced at the time before reaching into his briefs and freeing his cock.

It wasn’t like room service was going to be fast. He’d found that no amount of celebrity made his food arrive any faster, so he’d learned to fill the time in between.

He watched the man in the video undress his partner, and Kylo just ran his own hands over his stomach and thighs. Sometimes his body didn’t respond well after one of his bad nights, but today he felt the stirrings of arousal as he teased himself.

Memories of the night before slipped back into focus as he slowly began to jerk himself off. They were more feelings than anything. He remembered feeling overwhelmingly hot inside the club he’d been in. He remembered hands all over him and needing to get air.

Kylo spit on his palm as he got going, forgetting lube, as he often did. It didn’t really matter to him. Once he got going, he became focused on the end goal rather than the ride. Kylo was vaguely aware of the man on the screen, telling his partner all of the things he planned to do to her, but more than anything he’d retreated into his own mind.

He wasn’t sure how masturbation had become a method of introspection for him, but he’d found that if he could get himself aroused his anxieties were less present.

Kylo remembered the exhilaration of the concert turning into fear once he’d been alone in his room. That fear had his fist working faster. He remembered it starting as a slight uneasiness then quickly spiraling into all-out terror. Kylo gasped as he felt his body feeding off of its own pain.

His gut tightened as he remembered the feeling of coming apart at the seams for a very different reason. His whole body tingled as he remembered the feeling of his fist going through the drywall.

There was a heavy knock on the door as Kylo got so close to the edge. He cursed as he let go of his cock. There was a second sharp knock, and Kylo sighed. The food had come faster than him for once.

Shutting his laptop, Kylo got off the couch. He wrapped his robe around himself, not even bothering to tuck his cock back into his briefs. They’d be gone in a moment, and he could get back to working out his neurosis via orgasm.

Kylo opened the door without looking, and he immediately regretted it as Phasma charged into the room looking mad as hell. She slapped several newspapers against his chest as she went, and Kylo caught them purely on instinct before they could fall to the ground with the rest of the mess.

“You are going to be the death of me. I don’t know if it’s going to be a heart attack or an aneurysm, but your antics are going to kill me one of these days, Kylo,” she said in her most businesslike voice.

“I can think of a few other ways if you keep barging into my room like this,” Kylo muttered under his breath.

“Do you think this is funny? Every paper from here to China has you on the front page! Senator’s son trashes hotel in drug-fueled rage. Fallen boy-next-door causes brawl at nightclub. Ben Solo | Kylo Ren: the modern day Jekyll and Hyde. I was woken up at five in the morning by the execs to be chewed out for you destroying another hotel room. Good job by the way; you outdid yourself this time,” she complained, looking around.

“So, I’ll pay for the room. It’s not like I’m the only one…”

“Do you realize what your little tantrums could do to this band?”

“They aren’t tantrums.”

“I don’t care what they are. The label is breathing down my neck to get you in line, or it’s my career that’s going down the drain. I don’t give a rat’s ass what issues you are working out by destroying hotel rooms, but it’s going to stop one way or another,” she told him, keeping her distance but not giving an inch.

Kylo knew that a part of her feared him and his unpredictability. She didn’t get as close since the accident. She didn’t show him her back anymore, like he was a wild animal waiting to pounce.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Kylo asked. He hated change. He hated experiencing it, and he hated being forced to accept it.

“It means that this is going to be handled by a professional whether, you like it or not.”

“I’m not seeing a shrink.” Kylo balled his fists, ready to punch another wall. He wasn’t going to tell his mess of a story to some doctor who was going to hmm and nod at the right times. He was sick of trying to face the demons inside of him. Since the accident, the coma, the months of rehab, he was just trying to make a life out of what he had.

“Not that kind of professional. We’re bringing in an image specialist. You are one meltdown away from Leia taking legal control of your life, and we all know that is not what any of us want, nor what will fix this. So, you’re going to meet with Mr. Hux, and you are going to do exactly what he says because everything is riding on this,” Phasma told him.

“And if I refuse?”

“Then kiss this band and your dreams goodbye because the label will have no trouble replacing you,” she barked back.

Kylo didn’t bother to think about it as he put his already bruised fist through the wall again, letting out a violent shout.

Phasma flinched, but she didn’t back down. “Good to see you’re on board. Mr. Hux is meeting us tonight when we get into New York. I expect you to be on your best behavior.”

“Get out.”

“We check out in forty, so get yourself together while I pay off this nightmare.”

“Out!” Kylo shouted, slamming his fist against the wall again, more to make noise than to cause damage—though he did still cause damage.

Kylo watched Phasma stride out of the suite again, looking just as put together as when she’d walked in. Kylo, on the other hand, was shaking.

The man who was bringing up his room service was standing in the hall, looking frightened, and Kylo tossed several twenties at him as he pulled the cart into the suite. The food covered the walls before he’d calmed down enough to get dressed again.


Chapter Text

Kylo isolated himself on the bus ride.  The others had been giving him looks since he’d finally appeared in the hotel lobby, ready to roll out.  They weren’t the looks that the staff gave him, but, in a way, they were worse.  His bandmates worried, and while it was nice to know that they cared, it also made him feel like a heel for putting them through his issues.

So, Kylo kept to himself in the back of the bus.  He strummed away at his guitar until his fingers felt too stiff to work out the melody anymore.  Then he read, or he pretended to read in hopes that it would afford him some privacy.

It worked, for the most part.  The band gave him as much space as was possible on the ride.  His mood didn’t stop them from having their fun or performing their rituals:  Irwin and Ethan played cards with the airplane bottles they’d taken from their rooms;  Edith read her endless supply of suspense novels;  Ilan stared out the window, or meditated—it was hard to tell the difference.

“We’ll be arriving in thirty minutes,” Mitaka, their tour manager, said as he walked through the bus.  He was a nervous fellow, who avoided speaking directly to Kylo when at all possible.  It may have had something to do with Kylo pinning him to a wall by his throat in the midst of one of his lost hours, but Kylo couldn’t exactly do anything about that when he couldn’t remember the incident.

Kylo closed the book he’d been staring at for the last two hours and looked at the area around himself.  There was an uneaten sandwich on the table that Edith had placed in front of him at some point.  There was the pad filled with song lyrics that Ilan had returned to him with notations on it.  He didn’t even remember seeing Ilan’s hulking figure move past him to drop those off, though sometimes Ilan seemed more specter than man.

Running his hand over his face, Kylo pulled himself together.  He needed his wits about him if Phasma followed through on her threats to bring someone in to get them all under control—correction: get him under control; the rest of the band did a fairly good job of staying out of the headlines.

Kylo wasn’t expecting it to be Ilan who broke the unvoiced demand for privacy, but then Ilan didn’t exactly subscribe to common social mechanisms.  He understood them all, but he chose to operate outside the most convoluted.  So, unless Kylo explicitly stated that he wished to be left alone, Ilan took it as an open invitation to join him.

However, Ilan was more dog than man in many respects.  He didn’t speak, as it invaded Kylo’s personal bubble—not that one could claim anything that personal on a tour bus.  That might have contributed to Ilan’s refusal to grant unspoken requests for boundaries that took up most of the cramped space.  He sat quietly in the seat across from Kylo, eyes shifting between the open road and Kylo himself.

“Do you have something to say?” Kylo asked, after nearly ten minutes of comfortable silence.  

Ilan didn’t speak right away, instead studying Kylo as though determining exactly what to say to him.  Most people found Ilan’s stare unnerving—his eyes too pale and sharp, leaving one feeling as though they were being dissected.  Kylo was used to it.  He often felt like Ilan could see exactly what was wrong inside of him, could see the cancer in his soul without any of the fancy schooling that his doctors had to go through.  Somehow, that was comforting.

“You don’t remember last night.”  Ilan’s voice was infuriatingly level as he said it.

“I remember plenty.  The concert, the meet-and-greet, taking a cab to a club…”

“I was with you last night, in your suite.”

Kylo blinked.  It wasn’t the first time Ilan had witnessed him missing time.  As far as Kylo was aware, Ilan was the only one of the band who ever had.  For some reason, Kylo either sought him out, or Ilan just had a supernatural sense of when Kylo was spiraling.  

“And you let me trash the room?”

“Better the room than yourself,” Ilan said, shrugging, like it was simple.  That meant he hadn’t come to discuss Kylo’s behavior;  there was something else on his mind.  

Kylo turned to the window again.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to be faced with whatever Ilan was going to tell him. 

“We wrote,” Ilan said, once again ignoring Kylo’s silent cue.  Kylo wondered what it was like to fear nothing of oneself, , to be so aware of one’s flaws and strengths that nothing anyone presented could shake his foundations. Kylo liked to believe that he was in control of his demons, but he couldn’t compare to Ilan’s outright composure when faced with his flaws. From the outside, Ilan could almost seem non-human, but there was peace behind those eyes.

“What did we write?” Kylo asked, knowing it was better to face it than let the wonder pick away at him.

Ilan picked up the pile of songs that he’d gone over for Kylo and pulled several papers off the bottom.  Unspeaking, he slid them across the table for Kylo. His words seemed to have dried up now that his goal—presumably giving Kylo these lyrics—was met.

Kylo looked at the writing on the paper.  He recognized it as his own, yet it wasn’t quite right.  It was a little too loopy, as though he’d taken his time laboring over every letter.  Ilan’s notations were all over the paper, as well, but they had nothing to do with the lyrics on the page.

The lyrics were dark, talking about being torn apart and eaten alive by one’s own mind.  Another focused specifically on the scar on his face and shoulder.  The lyrics laid out his exact feelings toward the line that bisected his face and the skin grafted onto his body.  None of it was pretty.  In fact, just reading it was making Kylo feel uncomfortably exposed.

“I wrote all this?”

“You said a woman recoiled from you when you were trying to catch a cab.  She’d been going for the same one, but when she saw your face…”

Kylo tried to remember the incident.  He had a vague recollection of a woman in a barely-there top stepping away from her friends to steal his cab from him.  He remembered the look of fear in her eyes when he gripped the door, barring her entrance.  He remembered her stumbling back, and nearly falling on her ass when he went to steady her.

Looking out the window again, he crumpled the papers in his hands and tossed them to Ilan.  “Burn them,” he commanded.  

Ilan didn’t say a word as he got up and went back to whichever corner he’d carved out as his own for the trip.  Kylo knew the pages wouldn’t see the light of day again.  Perhaps Ilan wouldn’t burn them, but he’d ensure that they wouldn’t fray Kylo’s nerves further.

Kylo was still trying to unpack what he knew from the night before when the bus pulled into the lot.  

“Let’s go. Let’s go.  Security’s waiting,” Phasma said as she climbed onto the bus.  Mitaka was rushing around, making sure everyone was prepared to disembark.  

Kylo got up and followed the rest of the band off the bus and right into the swarm of security personnel waiting to escort them into the building.  

There was a decent showing of fans outside the hotel, shouting for autographs as they slowly moved toward the back entrance.  Kylo stopped to sign a few pictures, but he didn’t hang around.

“We’re meeting in the conference room in fifteen minutes.  None of you are to be late,” Phasma told them as they stood in the elevator on the trip up to their suites.

Kylo dropped his things in his room and got back onto the elevator to go down to the conference room.  He might as well face this, since sitting in his room and brooding was proven to fix nothing but the boring hotel decor—and Phasma would definitely blow a gasket if he “redecorated” another hotel room.

The conference room was already crowded when he arrived.  Ilan was sitting as far from the action as possible, while Edith was deep in discussion with Phasma.  Kylo never quite understood their friendship since they were so completely different, but he knew it wasn’t exactly easy to be a woman in a male-dominated business and one had to make allies where they could.  They definitely had shared experiences, though, according to Ilan, their friendship stemmed more from a shared love of trying the local foods.  

Kylo shook his head and walked toward Ilan, but Phasma caught him before he could take a seat.  

“At the front... both of you,” she added when Ilan didn’t even look at her.  

Kylo watched the drummer slowly rise from the uncomfortable seat and walk toward the front of the room.  His chosen path took him past Phasma, and Kylo smiled to himself as his long-time friend nearly dwarfed Phasma, which was not an easy feat by any means.  However, at just over 6’6” and built like a Mack truck, Ilan was certainly a sight to behold.

“Don’t get fresh,” Edith called after him as he folded himself into a seat, front-and-center.  

Kylo followed the same path, taking the seat next to him.  At least they’d make a united front.  Ethan sat down on Kylo’s other side, stretching his legs out and crossing them at the ankle.  His destroyed jeans showed more inked skin than denim.  Kylo relaxed a little between the two of them.  

While Kylo had always been the face of the band and very much in control of their creative endeavors, the Knights had always been very close-knit.  They rarely argued, and despite cramped touring conditions, they never got sick of each other’s constant presence.  And that  meant that though Kylo got into a fair amount of trouble, they always stood with him.  They were the only family any of them had.

Edith took her place in the lineup, as well, and several of the technical crew filled in the row and the one behind them.  Even Mitaka took a  seat.  

“Thank you all for being prompt, for once,” Phasma said, stepping in front of them.  She pursed her lips as her eyes roved over them.  Her gaze finally came to land on Kylo, leaving no doubt that this was all about him.  “I’m glad to see most of you look mostly sober today, so maybe this will stick.”  She clapped her hands once before clasping them behind her back.

“Things cannot continue as they’ve been.  You aren’t the opening act anymore.  You aren’t a nameless group of musicians who can’t balance your sound right.  You are a multi-platinum band.  Women and men wait outside to throw their panties at you.  Children have your posters hanging in their rooms with hearts over your faces.  You cannot—you will not —conduct yourselves like a bunch of rabid dogs let loose on the world.  It has become evident that none of you are able to regulate your own behavior, so the label has hired someone to do it for you.  From now on, until you can prove yourselves capable, Mr. Hux is going to have complete control of your every move.  Hux,” Phasma said, raising her hand and gesturing to the back of the conference room.

As one, the group turned toward the door through which they had all entered.  

A man stood just within the doors.  Kylo was struck by the color of the man’s hair and the harsh way it was combed back.  He’d  seen few with hair so orange, or a look so sour that Kylo wasn’t certain he could recreate it by sucking on the most sour of lemons.  

Hux stood stiffly and walked toward the front of the room, taking the same path Kylo had walked minutes earlier.  Kylo felt like he was back in high school, and the principal had come to observe their class.  The man walked like he controlled the whole place, or he had a massive stick up his ass.  

Everything from Hux’s hair down to his shined wingtips was in perfect order, and it was bizarre when compared to the other occupants of the room.  Even Phasma showed some signs of disarray.

He, like Phasma, walked to the front of the room and studied the occupants.  His cold eyes roved over each member of the band and crew until they came to rest on Kylo.  His sour expression only increased in its potency as Mr. Hux’s eyes bored into him.

Kylo glared right back.  Hux wore his ridiculously expensive suit like a uniform, and his parade rest was better than some of the actual military brass Kylo had met in his life.  The walk from the door to the front of the room had clearly not dislodged the stick from his ass, and if he clenched his jaw any tighter, he was going to give himself a twitch.  Kylo disliked him on principle—a stance that only became stronger when Mr. Hux opened his mouth.

“I see between the lot of you, you’re wearing one whole pair of pants,” were the first words out of his mouth, spoken in a clipped accent that only added to his pretension.

“My priest has better jokes,” Ilan said, crossing his ankle over his bent knee.  It gave Mr. Hux a full view of the rather sizable hole in the inner thigh of his jeans.  That hole was notorious, since Ilan often went commando when he didn’t feel like dealing with hotel laundry service.

“And do you follow your priest’s advice?” Mr. Hux asked, eyes finally leaving Kylo to pin Ilan with derision.

“He knows better than to waste his breath.  A few Hail Marys and a sizable donation to children’s cancer research, and God will forgive just about anything,” Ethan said, stretching out in his own seat.

Ilan just grinned unnervingly at Mr. Hux, who seemed to not notice just how disturbing the gesture was; but Hux’s expressions were unnerving as well.  There was clearly something off about the man, and that was coming from Kylo, who could only account for about two-thirds of the past twenty-four hours—and the fraction was only so high because he knew that he’d slept on the floor for several hours.

“I’m not your priest.  I’m not worried about your immortal souls.  Frankly, what you do in your private time is of no concern to me, but the moment it becomes public, I will be on you like a fly on shit.  I have never met a band/celebrity/public disgrace as universally loved as they were universally loathed.  The people in this room could not maintain an image fit for rockstars.  Do you understand how difficult it is to sink so low that your behavior isn’t even fit for rockstars?  Keith Richards claimed to snort his own father’s ashes.  You have sunken below using relatives’ remains to cut coke.  Please let that sink in.”

“You’re exaggerating,” Kylo said, gripping the armrests.

“It took me three hours and an upfront cash payment just to get you into this hotel today.  You are poison.  You are destructive.  Not a single hotel in a city you are touring wants you because you are a liability.  If anything, I am being too kind,” Hux said, taking a step closer to Kylo to glare right down at him.

“This is all shit, Phas.  I have things to do,” Kylo said, pushing himself up.

“Sit back down, Kylo,” Phasma said sharply, causing Kylo to pause halfway out of his seat.

“Do you think you’re irreplaceable, Mr. Ren?” Hux asked, standing not two feet in front of Kylo.  If this was the man’s pitch, he needed to go back to school because none of what he’d said made Kylo want to work with him.

“I’m the frontman of this band.  I’m the reason it exists…”

“Everyone is replaceable,” Hux said, taking another step closer.  “Even you.”

“Is that it?  You’ve come to replace me?” Kylo asked standing his full height and now looking slightly down at Mr. Hux.

“That is entirely up to you, Ren.  I’m here to see that you don’t need to be replaced, but as it stands now, I’m not so sure they shouldn’t just replace you now and save us all the trouble,” Hux said, standing toe-to-toe with Kylo and refusing to back down.

The band and crew were out of their seats.  “You can’t come in here and threaten us,” Edith argued, but Hux didn’t even spare her a glance.  Ilan’s fists were opening and closing, much like Kylo’s, just waiting for a moment to strike.

“I’m not threatening anyone.  You are all spoiled children, who have somehow managed to avoid any real consequences for your actions, until now—”

Kylo couldn’t help it, he spun and lifted the chair he’d been sitting in.  Hux was a pompous asshole who knew nothing about consequences, and Kylo had a mind to show him.  However, Ilan and Edith and even poor Mitaka grabbed hold of him as he held the chair aloft.

“Let go, Kylo.  Just let it go.  Killing him, though I’m sure it would be a very satisfying thing, is not the answer,” Edith spoke softly as she gripped his biceps.  

Kylo snarled.  

“Do you really want to go back to living in Senator Organa’s basement, Kylo?” Hux asked, sounding completely unfazed by the display.

Kylo shouted even as Ilan wrestled the chair out of his grip.  Even without the chair, he practically dragged Edith, Mitaka, and Ethan with him as he stalked toward Hux.

“What did you say?” he asked, holding himself in a stance that announced he was prepared to throw a punch.

“I said: do you really want to go back to living in Senator Organa’s basement? Because I can assure you that that is the next stop on this tour if you don’t pull yourself together,” Hux said, holding his ground as if he truly feared nothing.

Kylo was shaking.  Despite what many believed, he had incredible self-control, which was being tested at the moment.  Kylo’s arms trembled with the effort not to take a swing.  He could easily break their hold on him and knock Mr. Hux out completely, but he knew that Hux’s words were the truth, and he also knew that Hux had accounted for this possible outcome and wasn’t frightened.

Not knowing what to do, Kylo turned around and stalked out of the room.  No one stopped him, not even Phasma.  He ignored their gazes and marched right out of the hotel.  He removed the keys to the trailer they brought everywhere, and he opened it up.  

Staring at his motorcycle, which was secured in the confines of the trailer, Kylo pushed the memories of that night back down.  He hadn’t done much riding since the accident, but he continued to drag this bike around wherever they went.  It wasn’t the one he’d crashed.  That one was sitting under a tarp in his father’s garage, waiting for the day either of them could face it again.  This one was his first bike, which he’d restored with his father on the rare occasions that Han was home.  This one was hard to look at for reasons completely separate from his accident, but it still represented freedom despite the baggage crammed into the saddle bags.

Kylo guided the bike down the ramp before putting his helmet over his head and straddling the motorcycle.  The bike came to life with a rumbling roar that made more than one person in the parking lot jump.  Kylo didn’t stick around, kicking up the kickstand and taking off for the open road.

Kylo was dead on his feet as the elevator slowly brought him to his floor.  He’d ridden his bike for hours, trying to let go of the pent-up energy and frustration that was eating away at him.  Riding was his meditation, or it had been before he’d cheese-grated himself all over the highway.  

Still, even after that, it brought him peace of mind.  

The elevator opened, and Kylo stepped out onto the floor the band had reserved.  He walked slowly down the quiet halls, listening for any parties going on.  However, the whole floor was silent.  

Kylo checked his watch as he slid the keycard into the lock.  It was barely eleven o’clock.  Had Mr. Hux really scared them that much?

Opening the door, Kylo walked into the dark suite.  He probably should’ve left a light on when he left, but how was he to know that he’d spend half of the day and into the night riding?  

Kylo was only a few steps into the suite when a light flicked on beside the couch.  Kylo froze as his eyes adjusted.  

Mr. Hux was sitting on the ornate sofa, still wearing his gray suit from earlier.  His scowl was still in place, and the soft lighting didn’t do anything to soften his sallow features.

“Why the hell are you in my room?” Kylo asked, hanging his leather jacket in the entry closet.  He didn’t bother with the how, since Phasma always had spare keys for each of their suites, so it wasn’t at all shocking that Hux would have gotten his hands on one.

“I was hoping we might speak,” Hux said, resting his hand on the armrest of the couch.

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“Conveniently, I was hoping to be the one doing the speaking,” Hux retorted, motioning for Kylo to sit on his own chair.  The man had balls, Kylo would give him that.

“Inconveniently, I would rather hear nails on a chalkboard than listen to you,” Kylo told him, walking past the sitting room and into his bedroom.  The suite had three bedrooms, though Kylo wouldn’t step foot in the other two unless he trashed his own before their stay was up.

“I realize we got off on the wrong foot,” Hux said, but Kylo didn’t fall for it.  He shut the door to his room behind him and slid a chair under the handle.  He walked into the ensuite and stripped out of his clothes.  He turned on the shower and studied his reflection as he waited for the water to warm up.

Despite the scars on his chest, side, and face, Kylo was still in excellent shape.  He hadn’t let his injuries slow him down, even when the nerve damage threatened his ability to play guitar.  He’d worked out the knots a chord at a time, until he could play their whole discography again.  

Hux’s threats still hit just a hair too close.  Kylo had been fearful of being left behind since he’d crashed his bike and nearly lost his life.  The magazines had branded it a cry for help, but it had been purely accidental.  The cry for help had been what had followed.  The injuries and the lost time terrified him in a way nothing ever had.  The thought of going home to his parents was enough to push him through the most grueling rehab.  The thought of one day losing himself completely to the fog kept him moving, kept him pushing himself to live every single moment.  Every time he woke up covered in his own blood and surrounded by destruction, Kylo was just grateful to wake up at all.

He didn’t expect some PR wizard to understand that.  Even the band had trouble understanding Kylo’s behavior these days.  Ilan came the closest, but even he couldn’t understand the inner unrest that Kylo felt.

Kylo stood beneath the hot water until it began to run cold.  He turned off the water and just stood there in the cubicle for a few minutes before wrapping a towel around his waist and walking back into his room.  He pulled the towel off and used it to dry his hair before collapsing face first onto the bed and passing out.

Kylo woke to the smell of breakfast foods.  He was disoriented as he rolled onto his back in the massive bed.  He blinked several times as he tried to read the bedside clock.  It said 8:34.  It was far too early to be up, but the smell of food was going to make it impossible to go back to sleep.

Grumbling as he got out of bed, Kylo walked to the door of his room, practically tripping over the chair he’d placed in front of it.  He carefully moved it to the side before opening the door and stepping out into the suite completely naked.

Kylo rubbed the back of his neck as he walked toward the spread of food that covered the coffee table.  

“Perhaps you wouldn’t mind putting on some clothing,” Hux’s sharp voice cut through the confused fog in his head.  

Kylo looked up to see Mr. Hux wearing another perfectly pressed suit, today in a deep blue with a gray vest beneath.  Clearly, he was behind the spread of food, which smelled wonderful.  However, his expression was not a happy one.  His eyes roved over Kylo’s naked body, and his ears were a very unbecoming red.

“It’s my suite.  Why should I wear clothes?” Kylo asked, continuing toward the table.  He tried to ignore Hux’s gaze, telling himself it wasn’t his body that repulsed Hux but the nudity itself. Despite the scars, Kylo had an incredible body.  He knew he was built like a brick house, thick and solid.  He knew that even the way he naturally carried himself spoke of power. However, that affected people in different ways.

“Because you very clearly have a guest, not to mention that staff could walk in at any moment.”

“I didn’t invite you in here, so you’re more intruder than guest.  Do you put on a fancy suit every time someone breaks into your house?  You know what, don’t answer that,” Kylo said, wondering if Mr. Hux was ever out of his suit.  He chuckled to himself as he thought about the man showering in a full three-piece suit, just lathering it up like it was his skin.  That seemed about right.

“Regardless, you have a visitor coming in twenty minutes to interview you over breakfast.  You need to be dressed,” Hux said, stepping in front of Kylo before he could get to the spread.  

Kylo glared at him.  “I didn’t agree to an interview.”  He never agreed to interviews.  They always asked uncomfortable questions, picked away at his shields until they had some sensationalized garbage to share with the masses.

“Until you show the label that you can manage yourself, I have been given full control over your activities, interviews, and even eating habits.  I suggest you show your best self or get used to the idea of being managed,” Hux told him, standing with his shoulders thrown back and his chin tipped up.

Kylo smiled at him, taking a page from Ilan’s handbook of disturbing looks.  “What makes you think I’ll play by your rules when no one else has managed to wrangle me?”

“I’m the best, Mr. Ren.  I’ve dealt with all manner of unruly clients.  I’ve rebranded some of the business’ worst degenerates.  You don’t frighten me.  Your friends don’t frighten me.  Your status doesn’t frighten me.  You can rebel all you want, but I will win any battle of wills you attempt.  Now, get dressed before you embarrass yourself in front of our guest.  It is a bit chilly in here,” Hux said, glancing down between them with a look of judgment.

“Fuck you,” Kylo growled, reaching around him and grabbing a bagel off the table before walking back into the bedroom.

“Those will be your only carbs for the day, so enjoy them!” Hux called after him.  Kylo gave him the finger before slamming his door shut again.

When Kylo came out of his room, Hux was sitting on the couch opposite a woman.  Kylo didn’t recognize her as one of the usual interviewers that Phasma tried to get him to speak to.  This woman had a shaved head and full makeup, including false eyelashes.  She wore a military-style coat over a pair of shredded black jeans and heavy boots.  She was heavy, making Mr. Hux look slight despite his best efforts to use his suit to bulk up his frame.  

The woman smiled at him as he walked across the sitting room.  Hux was busy speaking to her and didn’t look over his shoulder to see Kylo, and Kylo smiled inwardly at that.

Kylo walked over to the spread of food on the coffee table and bent to fill a plate.  He knew the exact moment that Hux turned to face him.

“What on earth are you wearing?” Hux demanded, causing their guest to burst out laughing.  

“Have you never seen a leather bustier with spiked studs before?” Kylo asked, motioning to the strapless leather corset that covered his torso.  The studs created the impression of breasts over the flat form as they protruded at different lengths.  He wore a fishnet top beneath it to cover the top of his chest and arms.  Beneath it he wore a pair of tight leather pants.  It was certainly a look.

“Who made that for you?” the woman asked, seemingly enthralled by the getup instead of appalled, as Hux was.

“A fan,” Kylo said simply before taking a bite out of a second bagel.  He could read the twitch behind Hux’s eye as he watched Kyo closely.

“Do your fans often send such gifts?”

“It depends on the fan,” Kylo said with a shrug, holding out his hand.  She took it with a smile.

“Forgive me.  I’m Monica.  I’m a friend of Armie’s, and I begged him for an interview when he told me he’d be working with you.”

“A friend of Armie,” Kylo repeated, looking over at Hux, who seemed to be on the brink of a complete meltdown.  “I didn’t take dear Armie for the type to befriend our sort,” Kylo said, emphasizing the unfortunate endearment.

She laughed, seemingly completely charmed by the way Kylo was giving Hux a hard time.  He liked her.  

“Well, we don’t have all day.  Please get on with this,” Hux said, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his breast pocket and lighting one up.  Kylo wasn’t even sure that he had a room that allowed smoking, but Hux didn’t look like he cared one bit.

“Armitage is very particular about keeping to a schedule,” Monica said, motioning for Kylo to take a his own suite.  

“I’m getting that,” Kylo replied, sitting in one of the large chairs that completed the sitting area.  He leaned forward and poured himself a cup of coffee before taking as sip and promptly spraying it across the entire spread.  “What the fuck kind of coffee is this?”

Hux rolled his eyes.  “Tea, you idiot.”

“Who the hell drinks tea?”

“I do,” Hux said, sounding completely offended.

“I brought my own coffee,” Monica said, holding up a paper cup guiltily.  

Kylo growled, getting up and walking over to one of the phones in the room.  He jabbed at the number pad and demanded a pot of coffee when the unlucky employee answered.

“You will show the staff more respect than that,” Hux chastised him.

“You’ll order me coffee with your leaf juice, or you’ll have to deal with my attitude.”

Hux glared.  Kylo glared.  Monica looked between them like she was witnessing something profoundly interesting.

“Kylo, you head back into the studio later this week.  Are you looking forward to putting together a new album?” Monica asked, breaking only some of the tension in the room.

“I hate being in the studio,” Kylo answered, perhaps too honestly for his liking.

“You prefer to be on tour?”

“Who wouldn’t?  Would you rather sit in a box and type all day, or go out and meet people and have a give-and-take?”

Hux made a sound that made Kylo truly believe he preferred the former, but Monica smiled.  “I do enjoy interviews and seeing shows.”

“You’re the one that made the final decision to break up this tour to record though, were you not?” she asked, removing a recorder from her pocket and motioning that she was going to turn it on.  Kylo just nodded.

“We’ve got the material, and we are still riding the high of the tour.  When you finish a tour, you’re exhausted.  To me, it’s the worst time to make an album,” he told her, completely avoiding his fears that he might lose himself completely before the end of the tour, or his body might fail him and he wouldn’t be able to play his guitar.  At least if they finished the album, he could say he completed that much.

Monica nodded, while Hux looked like he was examining the wallpaper just over Kylo’s shoulder.  

Kylo relaxed back into his chair as Monica asked him more questions about the tour and the band.  She kept it fairly light, not immediately asking about his medical troubles or his upbringing.  Kylo began to toy with the spikes protruding from his chest as he felt Hux’s gaze on him constantly.  

“What’s been the hardest thing for you since recovering from the accident?” Monica finally asked.  

Kylo felt Hux’s gaze very acutely as he continued to tease the hardware on the corset.  He glanced in Hux’s direction, and found his handler completely red-faced.  

“I’m just happy to be back,” Kylo said, leaving no room for further questioning along that vein.

“Will this album be rooted in your experiences of recovery?”

“No.”  Kylo didn’t know what recovery was.  Sure, his body had healed since that night, but his mind certainly hadn’t.  Even now he had phantom pains like when the grafts were still healing.  His stiff fingers taunted him as he tried to play his most beloved songs.  His mind abandoned him, leaving him in the dark, which he was forced to mask with alcohol because a drug problem was more acceptable than a brain one.

“Can you tell me a bit about the inspiration, then?”

“It’s inspired by the feeling of being torn completely in two while still pretending you’re a whole person,” he said, leaning forward menacingly.

“Well, I’m afraid that Kylo has another appointment shortly, but perhaps we can get together again soon,” Hux said, suddenly rising from the couch.  

Monica blinked up at him like he’d lost his mind, but Hux was already gathering her things for her and pushing her out the door.  So much for friendship; Kylo wouldn’t want to be called Hux’s friend at this rate.  

“You’re exasperating, Armie.  First, you fly me out here on no notice, then you act like a complete lunatic, and now you’re shoving me out the door.”

“I’ll make it up to you during the holidays…”

“You haven’t come home for the last eight.”

“I’ll buy you dinner tonight.”

“I’ll be at that concert.”


Monica glared at Hux, and Kylo couldn’t help wondering about what their relationship was exactly.

“Fine, but I expect surf and turf.”

“Whatever you want, just go,” Hux pleaded with her.

“It was lovely to meet you, Kylo,” she called over Hux’s shoulder and waved as she was pushed out the door.

Hux turned and leaned against it once she was out.  

Kylo just watched the peculiar man, still playing with the metal on his bustier.  Hux’s eyes landed on his fingers, and he immediately looked away.

“I see you are out to embarrass not only yourself but the entire label,” Hux said, standing up straight again.

“Don’t spring interviews on me, and I won’t come out in this,” Kylo said, standing up as well.  “It could’ve been much worse,” he added, walking toward his room.

“I wasn’t lying; we have another appointment,” Hux called after him.

“What for?”

“At the gym.  Phasma says you refuse to work out since the accident.”

“That’s my business.”

“I won’t have you passing out on stage because you’re out of shape.”

“Says the man who stress smoked four cigarettes during that brief interview,” Kylo retorted, walking into his room and slamming the door again.  He leaned against it and sighed.  Hux wasn’t letting up, not that Kylo had done anything completely retched yet.  

Fifteen minutes later, there was a knock on the door.  “Kylo, we need to go to the gym.”

“I’m writing, leave me alone.”  Kylo was doing no such thing.  He was actually on his bed jerking off, but he wasn’t about say that.

Kylo heard a huff from the other side of the door, but that excuse seemed to do the trick.  Hux didn’t bother him until it was time to head over to the venue.  However, as soon as Kylo exited his room, Hux was glued to his side.  He was a far more efficient assistant than Mitaka had ever been, not that that was Mitaka’s job.

Hux made sure Kylo stayed hydrated.  He gave him a protein bar an hour and a half before the show.  He stood outside the bathroom stall while Kylo used the facilities during the openers.  He even blotted Kylo’s face when he started to sweat profusely from the pre-show jitters.  No amount of complaining or crude language deterred Hux from his mission.  In fact, the more Kylo protested and the harder he pushed Hux away, the more determined Hux became.

Kylo was almost surprised that Hux didn’t follow him right onto the stage by the time they were set to start.  However, he did stand just offstage watching Kylo like a hawk.  It didn’t bother him, though.  He was shocked to find that he didn’t feel unnerved as he performed, despite Hux’s vigilance.  

Kylo fell into the energy of the set even with Hux’s unwavering stare.  He let the cheers of the crowd feed his soul, and he thrashed around on the stage, giving them the best performance he had in him.  

When the set was finished, Kylo was dripping sweat as they stepped backstage to wait for the encore.  Hux was once again pasted to his side, wiping the sweat from his face and forcing him to drink water instead of beer.  Kylo was too high on the feeling of performing to argue. He sipped his water while Hux pressed a cold, damp towel to the back of his neck, then lifted his shirt to cool his core as well.  It was all completely clinical, but it actually felt nice.  It grounded him, and by the time Hux was pushing him back onto the stage he didn’t feel completely out of control.

After the encore, the band pushed back down the stairs, and this time Kylo pushed Hux away when he came at him with a towel.  “Don’t fucking touch me,” Kylo hissed at him just outside the room they were congregating in. 

“You’re overheated.  It isn’t good for you,” Hux told him sharply.  He looked almost alien under the dim lights backstage, his pale skin stretched over his gaunt features.  The turn of his lips, however, wasn’t as disturbing as Kylo thought they should be.

“I’ve been doing this for years.  I can take care of myself.  I don’t need you to wipe my ass for me,” Kylo told him, getting in his space and practically pinning him to the wall.

“Well, I wouldn’t be here if your methods were working,” Hux argued.

“So you thought putting your hands all over me would help?  Trust me, I have plenty of fans that do that without the inflated paycheck,” Kylo said.

Hux faltered for just a moment, but it was long enough for Kylo to slip into the room and take cover amongst the band.  In truth, Hux’s attentions had felt good.  They had cooled him down and taken that dangerous edge off the energy he felt.  Hux could never know that, though;  he’d only become more insufferable.  

Kylo watched Hux enter the room and speak to Phasma for a moment before slipping out again.  He didn’t return during the hours of meet-and-greets and drinking.  However, as the last guests were ushered out, Hux reappeared.  

“Important interviews tomorrow.  No one is to spend the night out tonight,” Hux announced as the band gathered their belongings.  Kylo was too exhausted to go out anyway, but Hux’s decree made him want to.  

Kylo felt shaky as he got off the bus at their hotel.  Hux was talking to Mitaka as they followed the security team inside.  Kylo was tempted to slip away, but he knew he wouldn’t make it far.  Instead, he followed the band up to their floor.  When everyone decided to congregate in Ethan’s room, he just followed them there and collapsed on one of the couches.  

He drank more as Ethan put on music, and the crew finally got to unwind.  He didn’t see Hux around, and that relieved some of the tension in him.  

Kylo wasn’t sure when he nodded off, but he woke to gentle prodding.  He opened his eyes to find Hux standing beside the couch.  He looked past Hux to see that the rest of the band was passed out on various surfaces as well.

“You will be more comfortable in a bed, I believe,” Hux said.  It was then that Kylo realized he was wearing pajamas.  

“Do you iron your PJs?” Kylo asked, still too foggy to realize what he was doing.

“I dislike wrinkles,” Hux said, sounding offended.

Kylo laughed as he got off the couch and followed a very disgruntled Hux out of the suite and back to his own.  Kylo was surprised when he watched Hux walk into the bedroom beside his own once they were in the suite.  

“You aren’t staying in my suite,” he said, following Hux to the door.

“I am.”


“I will not engage you in a childish argument.  Either go to bed and get some rest while you can, or shout yourself hoarse until dawn.  It matters little to me.  I brought noise-cancelling headphones,” Hux told him, holding the edge of the door as if ready to slam it in Kylo’s face.

Kylo narrowed his gaze, but he deflated and walked away.  It wasn’t worth the argument right now.  “Nice PJs,” he said as his parting shot before entering his own room.  He went to his case and removed the dildo with a suction bottom on it and slammed it against the wall that separated their rooms.  It stuck in place and Kylo pulled the chair he’d blocked the door with the previous night over for leverage.  

He went to the bathroom and took his clothes off before getting himself ready, then he went back to the dildo and braced one foot on the seat of the chair before sinking onto the thick toy.  It was a stretch.  He hadn’t done his in a while, but it felt nice, even if he was tired.  

Kylo took it slow, taking more and more of the toy with small thrusts.  Once the toy was fully inside him, he began to take longer strokes.  Then, as the pleasure started to build, he used the chair to give himself leverage and take the toy harder.  

He moaned as the toy brushed over his prostate, and the chair thumped as he pushed back on the toy.  His shoulder hit the wall as he ground against the toy, keeping it deeply inside him.  

Kylo’s voice cracked on a cry as he felt full.  He wrapped his hand around his own cock and began to pump it as he impaled himself on the toy.  It was loud.  It was frantic.  It felt incredible.  Kylo completely forgot that Hux was on the other side of the wall and that this was supposed to be just another war tactic.  

The toy slipped in deeply, and Kylo couldn’t control his shouts as he fucked himself against the wall.  He wasn’t sure how long he lasted before the tightness in his gut gave way to rolling pleasure, but there was sweat dripping off of him and he shook with pleasure.

Kylo collapsed to the floor with yet another thump.  The dildo wobbled where it was still suctioned onto the wall, and Kylo laughed as he watched it swing up and down, drops of lubricant falling off in the process.  Kylo’s head hit the wall as he sighed in satisfaction.  

When his eye caught the clock though, he realized it was nearly six in the morning.  Groaning, he got up and staggered to the bed, collapsing onto the sheets.  He ignored his wet ass as he gave in to the exhaustion he felt.

Chapter Text

Kylo’s alarm went off at 6:25 a.m.  Kylo nearly threw the clock across the room, but it was just out of reach, as though someone had actually gone through the trouble of moving the nightstand just a foot or so away from the bed.  Kylo was going to murder Hux.  

Getting out of bed, Kylo walked to the door and threw it open.  He once again found Hux relaxing in the sitting area, sipping what he assumed was tea.  There was another spread of food in front of him.

“I don’t get up at six-thirty,” Kylo announced as he walked across the room completely naked.  

“You will get used to it.  It’s good to have a schedule.”

“My job keeps me up until practically dawn.”

“Your job keeps you up until midnight.  Your self-destructive behaviors keep you up until dawn.  There is a difference; one that I hope to fix,” Hux told him, taking a sip from his mug.  “Please eat.  We need to head down to the gym shortly for your morning session.”

Kylo glared as he walked past Hux to the spread of food.  “What the hell is this?” he demanded as he looked at what had been set out.  There was fruit and several substances that looked thick and unappealing.  There was also a pot labeled herbal tea.  

“A healthy body starts with...”

“Bacon and eggs,” Kylo finished for him, hoping to leave no room for argument.  If only Hux conformed to such demands.

“...a healthy breakfast,” Hux insisted.

“Bacon and eggs and black coffee are all healthy,” Kylo said, turning his back on what he hoped was just oatmeal and not some distant relative of the Blob.  

“None of those rise to the level of healthy for a daily breakfast. I am in control of correcting your image, and we’ll start with cleaning up your lifestyle.  You are filled with too many toxic substances…”

Kylo just stared at him for a moment.  Considering the business he was in, he lived a fairly clean lifestyle.  Sure, he drank, often fairly heavily when the band was celebrating.  However, he didn’t snort, jab, or smoke anything other than the very occasional joint, when Ilan was feeling introspective.  However, instead of saying anything, Kylo kept his mouth shut.  Having Hux believe he was drugging himself crazy was better than the truth: that Kylo couldn’t account for his behavior.

“You will learn to enjoy this.”

“No, I won’t.  I grew up on this garbage.  I grew up with a health-conscious nanny who thought feeding me super foods would cure my behavior problems.  You want me to play your games, then I get to eat what I want.”

Hux put his foot down: “We aren’t ordering more room service.”

Kylo looked at the man, seriously looked at him.  He looked exhausted.  His hair was a mess, and his eyes were bloodshot.  He was wearing a suit despite the hour, though it looked slightly rumpled.  Clearly, his noise cancelling-headphones were ineffective when the man next door was having loud sex. Unless, he hadn’t put them on at all.

Smirking, Kylo turned to the spread and lifted the bowl of oatmeal.  He picked up a spoon as he turned back to Hux.  He tipped his head before lifting a spoonful and eating it, then he turned the bowl over and dumped the contents into Hux’s lap.

“Get me a real breakfast or you’ll be wearing the rest of it,” Kylo bellowed as he stalked back to his room.

By the time Kylo had showered and dressed in a pair of black gym shorts and a black muscle tee with the sleeves cut off of it, Hux had changed as well.  He wore a polo shirt and black athletic pants.  He looked like he was going to goth night at the country club.  

Kylo didn’t make a comment because it wasn’t worth a lecture.  After all, he really couldn’t think of an alternative outfit to the one Hux was wearing.  As atrocious as it was, it somehow fit the man perfectly.  At least, he wasn’t wearing a sweater over his shoulders.

“Are you ready to meet your bandmates?” Hux asked, checking the Rolex he was wearing—because, of course, he was.

“I thought I was going to the gym.”

“You are.  They work out in the morning.  You would know this if you got out of bed before noon.” Hux got in another jab before he turned on his heel and walked to the door.  Kylo was horrified when Hux actually picked up a black and maroon sweater from the back of the couch and tied it over his shoulders before opening the door.

“This is it.  I’m in Hell, and something else is running my body while I suffer here,” Kylo muttered as he followed Hux to the elevator.

“I have a trainer meeting us…”

“I know how to work out.”

“That may be, but he is a trainer to all of the top—”

“I don’t care who he trains.  I train on my own.  I know what works for me, and I don’t want anyone else touching me or telling me how to do my business,” Kylo said, turning and pinning Hux to the wall with his eyes.

“Must you be contrary about everything?”

“Only the things that are completely unhelpful,” Kylo retorted.  They were practically sharing breath as Kylo leaned in close, and Hux stood to his full height and refused to give so much as an inch.

“I am here to help you.  Perhaps if you would communicate with me what your preferences and needs are, then I wouldn’t be left to do this in the dark.”

“If I had my preference, then you wouldn’t be here at all.  Stay out of my way.  I don’t need a fucking life coach.”

“Clearly, you do, because this isn’t working for you.”  Hux motioned to Kylo’s person, but Kylo caught him by the wrist and held it tightly.

You lose control of your motorcycle going nearly 80 on a winding road, get dragged for over one hundred feet, and end up in a coma for a couple weeks, and you let me know how together your life is after a year—”  

Kylo almost said more, but the elevator doors opened and several more people got on.  He let go of Hux quickly, but they continued to share a glare and too much of each other’s space.  Kylo could smell the man’s cologne, despite it being very subtle.  It was spicy, and clean, and it suited Hux better than his taste in clothing.  Something deep inside Kylo tightened as they practically ground against each other simply because neither of them was willing to be the one that backed up first.

The other occupants of the elevator gave them strange glances, and then the doors opened to the floor that housed the pool and the gym, they were out of there as fast as they could be.  

Kylo finally stepped off the elevator without looking back at Hux.  He immediately noticed the rest of the band as he walked into the large workout facility.  Ethan and Edith were racing each other on the rowing machines while Ilan was busy squatting a ridiculous amount of weight.  

Making his way over, he completely ignore the man that tried to approach him.

“Kylo Ren, a pleasure.  I was thinking we’d start with some cardio then jump into a bit of a—”

Kylo stopped abruptly and looked right into the man’s eyes.  He didn’t say anything at first, just gave the man his hardest stare.  Unlike Hux, the man took a step back.  Kylo didn’t stop staring into the man’s eyes until Hux came and stood between them.  

“Thannison, so sorry, but Mr. Ren has chosen not to take on a personal trainer at this time.”

Kylo crossed his arms as the young man looked from Hux to him and back.

“Oh, no problem,” the man said with a distinct squeak in his voice.

Kylo snorted before walking away from them.  Ilan was standing beside the bench press by the time Kylo got to him.  “Thought the kid was going to shit himself,” Ilan said softly, motioning for Kylo to spot him despite the safety features that the machine was equipped with.

“Hux is a menace.”

Ilan smiled up at him as he lay back.  “He’s already getting under your skin.”


Ilan laughed and shook his head.  “He wouldn’t push so hard if you didn’t fight everything.”

“I don’t need a life coach,” Kylo told him, much as he’d told Hux.  

“But you need something.”  

If anyone knew Kylo’s situation remotely well, it was Ilan.  He’d seen Kylo when Kylo wasn’t in control.  He’d kept vigil at his bedside when he was in a coma.  He’d taken Kylo in when Kylo’s family threatened to bring him home with them.  Ilan wasn’t speaking out of his ass like Hux, or even Phasma, but Kylo still didn’t want to hear it.  He took his privacy and his autonomy very seriously.  

“I don’t need him,” Kylo insisted.

Ilan shrugged, never one to push.  He pushed the bar up and slowly brought it down to his chest.  Kylo kept his hand just under the bar in case he needed help, but he knew it wouldn’t be required.  Ilan did his set, then got up.  

Kylo went and warmed up before joining Ilan in his second circuit through the machines.  Edith and Ethan were still heatedly competing on the rowers.  Kylo focused on his own workout.  He pushed himself even though he could still feel the stretch from last night’s activities.  Ilan pushed him, too, just by doing his own thing. Kylo knew he could keep up with him if he was on his game.

When they were finished, they headed for the locker room.  As they passed the pool, Kylo saw Hux getting out of it.  Kylo actually tripped as he stopped in his tracks.  

Hux pulled himself up the ladder until he stood on the deck of the pool in nothing but a skimpy Speedo brief.  It, like his entire gym outfit, was black.  It was more the smooth, pale skin that covered his long limbs that caught Kylo’s attention.  There was also his soft belly and undeveloped chest.  

Kylo cleared his throat and picked up his speed to catch up to Ilan.  

“Something interesting happening in the pool?” Ilan asked as they stepped into the locker room.

“No, just didn’t realize it was a full-sized pool,” Kylo said, discreetly adjusting his shorts.  He didn’t know why his body was on full alert.  It wasn’t like Hux had a great body.  He was tall and lean.  There was nothing special about that.

Ilan just nodded again, but Kylo knew he wasn’t fooling him.  

“I think I’ll take a run through the park, actually,” Kylo decided abruptly, hoping to clear his head.

“Enjoy,” Ilan said, pulling his shirt over his head as he walked over to the showers.

Kylo walked back toward the door without another word; however, as he got closer, Hux stepped inside still wearing nothing but that tiny suit and flip flops.

“I suggest showering at the very least,” Hux said, giving Kylo a look of disgust as his nose wrinkled.

“I’m going for a run,” Kylo informed him, stopping himself from adjusting his dick again.  There was nothing appealing about this man, especially not his attitude.

“Let me dry off, and I’ll go with you.  I would enjoy a run,” Hux said.

Kylo wanted to tell him to fuck off, but his mouth didn’t form the words.  Hux must have taken it as agreement because he nodded and walked toward the showers as well.  Kylo sighed, just standing there for a moment as he debated whether he should wait outside or in here.  He made up his mind as Hux pulled his swimsuit down over his deceptively muscled thighs before stepping into the showers.

Walking out of the locker room like a man on a mission, Kylo practically walked right into Edith, who was about to enter the women’s locker room.  

“Looking a bit hot and bothered,” she said.

“It is a gym,” Kylo retorted, striding past her and toward the exit.  Fuck it, Hux could catch up.

Kylo wasn’t even through one cigarette as he stood in front of the hotel before Hux came walking outside.  “Smoking that defeats the point of working out,” Hux insisted as he came to stand next to Kylo.  He was once again in his unfortunate athletic wear, and his hair was combed back and plastered to his head.

“Can still outrun you,” Kylo told him, dropping the cigarette onto the ground and crushing it beneath his shoe.

“I doubt that,” Hux retorted.

Kylo didn’t wait to small talk.  He started to jog down the sidewalk toward the park, and Hux soon caught up to him.  They jogged side-by-side until they were within the park, and then Hux started talking.

“I have you scheduled for a luncheon with a  local organization.  All you have to do is show up, sign a few things, and not say anything repulsive,” Hux told him as the crossed a small bridge over a brook.

Kylo pretended he wasn’t there.

“I’ve also scheduled a haircut with a stylist since your hair is a bit unruly.  I’m not demanding short, but maybe manageable would be better.”

Kylo gritted his teeth, but he kept silent.  He focused on jogging and tried to block Hux out.  Hux was certainly doing a fantastic job of killing the boner Kylo had been sporting after seeing him in and out of that swimsuit.

“I was hoping to get another interview in before tonight’s show, since it’s your last stop before you begin recording—”

Kylo picked up his speed.  The run was going to do more harm than good if he had to listen to Hux go over his pointless itinerary the entire way.  Unfortunately, Hux adjusted to his pace.  Kylo pushed a little harder as Hux started going through information about the organization.  Hux once again adjusted, ignoring the little game they were playing.

It took nearly half of the circuit through the park before Kylo couldn’t take it a second longer and broke out into a full sprint.  Hux attempted to do the same, but clearly running and talking had tapped into his reserves, and Kylo finally lost him.  

Kylo didn’t slow down significantly until he was back at the hotel.  He went up to his room and grabbed his clothes before walking down the hall to Ilan’s room and inviting himself in.  He walked right past Ilan toward the bathroom and took his shower there.

Kylo didn’t do itineraries; Kylo ran his life organically.  When he needed to eat, he ate.  When he needed sleep, he slept.  When he needed to work off energy, he either worked out or meditated.  Kylo didn’t force his body to conform to unnatural schedules just because it was convenient for other people.  He showed up on time when it was his job to, but his time was his own...except when he couldn’t remember it.

Ilan was sitting on the sofa when Kylo came out of the bathroom.  The man looked like he was in a trance as he stared out the window, which overlooked the park.

“What’s on your mind?” Kylo asked as he sat down next to him.

“We are salmon,” Ilan said, still looking out the window.

“I thought we were sheep.” Kylo watched his friend’s profile as he smiled.  

“Despite our best efforts we return to our spawning grounds.  No matter the miles we put between us and it, they are eaten up as this preternatural force reels us back.  We are fish caught swimming against the current to return to ourselves/our families/our truths, and like a salmon we are picked off as we give all of ourselves just to make it a little further,” Ilan said, still staring out.

“Are you smoking without me?” Kylo asked.  

Ilan smiled again as he looked over at Kylo.  “I’m just recalling the first show we played here.  We slept together on a friend of a friend’s couch while Edith and Ethan shared the inflatable.  We were booed off the stage, and you had to call your father because we’d spent our last twenty dollars buying a bottle of whiskey.”

Kylo nodded. “I remember.”

“Mr. Hux wants us to play an intimate set at that club next weekend, after we finish recording for the day,” Ilan told him, stretching out his long legs.

Kylo cursed.  They’d all vowed never to set foot in the old club ever again.  Ilan had actually left with a concussion that night after defending Ethan from a drunken fan of the named act.  It hadn’t been a glorious start, but they’d gotten drunk and laughed together until morning, when they realized they were out of cash and options.  

“You got anything to drink in here?” Kylo asked, looking around.

“Don’t you have a luncheon to attend?”

“Fuck Hux’s rules.  I need a shot, or three, if I’m going to deal with him all day.”

“He’s under your skin.”

“He’s an irritating flea.  He is not under my skin, but an irritation upon it,” Kylo insisted.

“Jack’s on the bedside table,” Ilan said, once again avoiding confrontation.

Kylo got up and went into Ilan’s room.  The room was neatly made, but Kylo knew for certain that the maid service hadn’t been the ones to make it.  Equally neatly, Ilan’s clothes were hung in the closet.  

It made it easy to find the bottle of bourbon on the nightstand.  Kylo picked it up and carried it out to the sitting room.  

Ilan just shook his head when Kylo offered it to him.  Kylo shrugged and took a swig right from the bottle.  He took a second before wiping his mouth on his sleeve and putting the bottle on the floor between them.

“I want to write,” Kylo announced, walking back into the bedroom and collecting the guitar that Ilan carried around with him, as well as a pair of drumsticks and Ilan’s portable keyboard.  He carried it all back out to where Ilan was sitting, peacefully watching the world outside.  

Ilan placed the keyboard in his lap and took the drumsticks from Kylo before Kylo sat next to him again.  For a long time, Ilan stared out the window and Kylo stared up at the ceiling.  Neither of them said anything.

“Darkness creeping, never sleeping,” Kylo said, long after the average person would’ve grown uncomfortable with the silence.

“Okay, Poe,” Ilan said dryly.  However, he picked up the sticks and began to rap them against the steel toes of his boots.  The repetitive beat was energetic despite the brief string of dark lyrics.  Once Ilan had worked out a rhythm, Kylo layered his guitar over it.  It wasn’t pretty, and he hit jarring notes here and there, but they’d always worked quick and dirty.  

After only a little while, Kylo was belting out the first verse along with the chorus they’d worked out.  Ilan used the keyboard and loop station to layer the rhythm with the melody, so he could fully support Kylo.  They were lost in their element, completely engaged with the music instead of the world.

“And I wonder if I’ll ever see you again.  Or are we ships passing in the darkest night…”

Kylo hit the wrong chord and cursed as he stopped playing.  Ilan just nodded.

“Excuse me, I do not wish to interrupt, but you have an engagement to attend,” Hux said, standing in Ilan’s doorway with Phasma, who was holding the room key.

Kylo growled, but Ilan gave him a nudge.  “I’ll polish it while you’re indisposed,” he promised.  Kylo sighed, but he got up and followed Hux from the room.

“Will that be on the album?” Hux asked as they walked back to Kylo’s room to collect his wallet and jacket.  

“It probably won’t even get finished.  We were just fucking around,” Kylo told him.  That wasn’t true.  They never fucked around.  Whatever they wrote together, Kylo needed to get it out of him.  He wasn’t a scholarly songwriter;  he wrote what he felt.  He happened to be an excellent musician, as was Ilan, so they could make it work despite the impulsive nature of Kylo’s muse.

“I see,” Hux said, sounding far too serious.  It was like jamming with Ilan for no greater purpose was a complete waste.  

The luncheon was hell.  It was some rich women who had nothing better to do than stick their noses where they don’t belong.  It was the sort of group that gave to names instead of causes.  It was the sort of group that loathed his family and their politics.  However, it was also the sort of group that would be great publicity.  

“It’s so nice of you to join us today, Kyle.  Not many young men your age even know what an orchestra is,” one woman said, patting his hand.  

Kylo didn’t correct her on his name.  She’d called Hux Armand, so he assumed she was just terrible with names and not malicious.  However, he was pretty sure that she had less understanding of men his age than men his age did of orchestras.  Kylo, himself, loathed the orchestra.  His mother had forced him to go to the symphony regularly while he was growing up.  He hated the suits, and the stuffy attitude, and the cushioned seats.  He hated the sedate applause and the snobbery of the people who attended.  

For most of them, it wasn’t about the music at all.  It was about showing how many zeros they had in their bank account.  

Kylo had always prefered his punk shows because they were honest.  Maybe most of the musicians weren’t classically trained, but they played from the heart.  They gave voice to frustration, love, pain.  The people in the crowd didn’t care if you showed up in a limo or were sleeping in the alley beside the venue.  There was an honesty there.

Kylo didn’t say any of that, though.  “I grew up attending the symphony,” he told Grace, giving her a tight smile.

“Oh, how lovely.  My Bruce, rest his soul, would take me every week when he was courting me.”

Kylo was in Hell.  Thankfully, Edith had decided that he shouldn’t be left to do this alone.  She was sitting not three seats away being asked about whether she had her hair dyed professionally or done it in her own sink.  Kylo tried not to snort at the question.

“The photographers are coming around.  Please act natural...and smile,” Hux whispered in Kylo’s ear.  He’d been fluttering around the event ever since they arrived, making sure that everything ran smoothly.  Mostly, he was making sure they got enough good photos to plaster on every willing news outlet’s entertainment page.

“I either act natural, or I smile.  Which is it?” Kylo whispered back, giving Hux a tight grin.

“Don’t get smart.  Pretend this is something you normally do.  Don’t look at the camera, and kiss a few old ladies on the cheek.  It isn’t rocket science,” Hux snapped.

“I’d rather you launch me into space.”

“Don’t for a second think I wouldn’t prefer that if it was a viable option as well,” Hux said, taking a step back before Kylo could reply.  

“My Marty plays the violin.  Let me show you a picture of him,” Grace continued to talk, like Hux had never been there.

“Wonderful,” Kylo said, looking at a teenage boy in an ill-fitted suit holding a violin.  The kid looked as miserable as Kylo felt.  “Why isn’t Marty here today?”

Grace looked pained.  “His mother bought him tickets to some awful rock concert for his birthday.  Knights of Ridiculous or something like that.  She’s a poor influence on him, encouraging him to like that slop.”

The photographer definitely caught Kylo making a ridiculous face as he tried not to laugh out loud.  Poor kid probably deserved VIP tickets.

“Knights of Ridiculous?  They sound like a bad influence,” Kylo said, looking up at the banner over the lunch that clearly welcomed: Kylo Ren of The Knights of Ren.  “Would you excuse me for a moment?” he asked.

“Oh, of course, dear,” she patted his hand again as he got up.

Kylo walked into the bathroom casually, or as casually as a man dressed head to toe in black at a society luncheon could.  There was no one but an attendant inside.  

“Flask?” Kylo asked coming to lean against the counter.

The man nodded and pulled a flask from his back pocket.

“Good man,” Kylo said with a nod as he took the offered flask.  

“Saw you in Atlanta a few years back.  You guys were better than the main act,” the man said, waving Kylo off when he offered the flask back.

“Atlanta...good city.  Spent a day touring haunted houses with Edie,” Kylo said, falling easily into conversation with the man.  

The man gave him a genuine smile.  

“What’s your name?”

“Cody,” the man said.

“Here’s our tour manager’s contact info.  You want tickets to a show, you hit him up.  I’ll let him know to give you what you want,” Kylo said, glancing back at the door as he held out Mitaka’s business card.  

“Thanks, man.”  

Kylo could hear the punctuated steps of Hux’s coming toward the bathroom.

“Window ledge leads to the balcony which connects to the kitchen,” the man told him, eying the door as well.

“Thanks, I owe you.  Bring as many friends as you want,” Kylo told him handing over a fifty dollar bill and booking it to the window.  He could hear the bathroom door open as he was shuffling over to the kitchen window on the foot wide balcony.

Kylo didn’t waste time as he burst into the kitchen of the restaurant.  The occupants didn’t look all that surprised as he jumped inside.  

“Back elevator is that way,” one of the chefs said, pointing toward the other end of the kitchen.

Kylo nodded and stalked through the room.  Hux wouldn’t be far behind.  The man wasn’t incompetent.  Kylo didn’t wait for the elevator, taking the back stairs instead.  He took them several at a time but as quietly as possible.  He kept to the outer railing to prevent Hux from seeing him if he looked down the center of the well.  This wasn’t Kylo’s first escape from a fancy restaurant in a fancy hotel.  When he was a teenage, he did the weekly when his mother would drag him to events.

Edith wasn’t going to be happy about being left behind, but she was fully capable of making her own escape if she so chose.

Kylo finally relaxed when his cab pulled away from the curb.  He could just see Hux emerging from the building, shouting obscenities.  Hux gave him the finger as the cab sped up.

“Behaviors the label will not tolerate include but are not limited to: climbing out ninth story bathroom windows, leaving in the middle of publicity events, public nudity, public fornication, public urination, urinating out the window of a building in an attempt to see who can hit the tree outside, using anyone else’s toothbrush to clean the toilets…”  Phasma continued down the fifty item list as the band sat backstage before the show.  

Hux had been livid when he arrived back at the hotel.  He hadn’t let Kylo out of sight since, and that included the three times Kylo had gone to the bathroom.  Kylo could admit to himself that winding Hux up was a lot of fun.  Half of the things Hux asked for weren’t even ridiculous.  Sure, Kylo probably needed to work out more often.  Sometimes his schedule was a mess.  Sure, he could put more time into the organizations he supported—preferably organizations he actually supported, rather than rich old women’s ideas of worthy causes because no matter what the label wanted, those women were not the ones he needed to win over.  They were all good ideas, but Kylo didn’t like them being forced down his throat.  He didn’t like being forced into anything.

Kylo had worked hard to be free.  He’d worked hard to be on top and in control of his own life.  He didn’t care what the label thought.  Mr. Snoke had done wonders for their career, but since the accident, Kylo felt he owed neither his life nor his success to anyone but himself.  

“Does the label object to me taking a shit?” Kylo asked, completely interrupting Phasma’s speech.

Everyone turned to look at him.

“So long as you do so in private.”

“Tell that to Mr. Hux,” Kylo said.

Ethan and Irwin laughed, even Mitaka cracked slightly.  Hux glared at him and pointed to the door.  Kylo got up and walked out.

“You are out of control.  It is a wonder they didn’t call me in earlier.  Is there a single thing on that list you haven’t done personally?” Hux asked, standing just outside the stall door.  He, at least, had the decency to allow Kylo to close the stall after his announcement that he needed to shit.

“I was not involved in the window piss incident,” Kylo replied.  He could practically feel the exasperation through the door.  

“I suppose you will tell me that you would’ve hit the tree easily had you been involved.”

“Of course.”

“You don’t frighten me, Kylo.  You can stop trying to intimidate me with your antics.  I am the best in the business, and no matter what you do, I will be right here.”

“That’s unfortunate for you because lunch is not agreeing with me,” Kylo retorted.

Despite Kylo’s best efforts to crack the man’s resolve, Hux remained steadfast.  He followed Kylo through his pre-show ritual as he’d done the night before.  He offered Kylo water and made sure he took small sips.  He wiped up Kylo’s sweat even before Kylo really noticed its presence.  He stood at the side of the stage while Kylo performed, and while Kylo would’ve loved to deny it, it all helped to center him.

The cool towel after the show was harder to resist tonight as it almost instantly brought relief from how hot he felt.  Kylo bickered with Hux about it, but he didn’t push Hux’s hands or the towel away as Hux lifted his shirt and wiped him down.  He also didn’t complain about that hand on the back of his neck, holding a cool cloth there as well.

Once again, Kylo crashed hard after Hux’s ministrations, and by the time they returned to the hotel, he was ready to sleep.  Hux didn’t demand he return to his room immediately, but Kylo decided to turn in rather than crash in someone else’s room during the after party.

“There was a very good turnout tonight,” Hux said, in what must have been his attempt at small talk, as they entered the suite that they were sharing.  Kylo was still hazy on who cleared that demand because he wanted to send them dogshit in a bag or something equally horrible as a thank you.

“We sell out most shows,” Kylo said.  He wasn’t trying to boast.  It was just a fact that they packed their venues.  It hadn’t come easy either.  They’d toured almost non-stop their first few years together, putting their heart into every show, no matter how small and insignificant, and people kept coming back.

“Yes, I’ve read up on all of the information the label could provide me.  Despite your destructive tendencies, the label is making money hand over fist, due to your popularity and ability to bridge the gap between alternative and mainstream.  However, your inability to fit into a single mould worries Mr. Snoke,” Hux said, taking off the sweater-vest he’d worn to the concert and leaving himself in just a button up with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

“It’s not an inability to fit.  It’s that we choose to fit on the wrong side of that gap.  The label wants us to play up the bad boy image but at the same time be the kids next door.  Problem is that even when I was Senator Organa’s child, I wasn’t the boy next door.  Troubled is the term they use when you make scenes at dinner parties.  I didn’t play the part then, and I’m not playing it now.  Even if I did, do you really think teen magazines are going to throw me on the cover with this face?”  Kylo motioned to the scarring where his helmet had failed to protect him.  He may have been lucky not to lose an eye, but he still dealt with his reflection every day.

“I think that you don’t know when you’ve won, Kylo.  You are successful.  You do what you clearly love.  You are not a part of that world anymore.  Yet, you still trash hotel rooms like you need to prove you’re bad enough.  Isn’t your success proof enough?” Hux asked, crossing his arms like he was genuinely interested in Kylo’s reasoning.

“I don’t trash rooms to prove I’m bad enough,” Kylo told him sharply.

“Then why?  Help me understand.”

“You can’t,” Kylo retorted, walking straight for his room and slamming the door behind him.  He leaned back against it and stared up at the ceiling.  

The following morning, Hux woke him bright and early with another grueling itinerary.  This time, he was starting his day with a morning talk show.  Hux assured him that they were the most watched morning program in their time slot, and it would be a fantastic way to show he got up before noon.  

“All you need to do is smile and play along,” Hux told him as they sat in the car on the way to the studio.

“Play along?”

“Yes, you’re a part of a segment where they’re making their favorite holiday cookies or something.”

“I don’t bake.”

“No one on these programs bakes.  They all have personal chefs.  You just have to tell them that this is the recipe that your grandmother taught you to make when you were a child.”

“My grandmother died before I was born,” Kylo retorted.

Hux sighed. “Then it’s your mother’s recipe.”

“Everyone knows Leia Organa doesn’t cook.  It would be more believable if I said it’s what I taught myself to make for dinner when my parents worked late on a campaign.”

“Which is exactly what you will not say,” Hux snapped.  It is an old family recipe, and that settles it.”

That didn’t exactly settle it because as soon as he said it during the segment, the host asked which side of his family.  Kylo had just stood there looking at her while his mouth flapped.  He could see Hux running his hand over his face out of the corner of his eye.

“The dead part,” he finally replied, and she didn’t respond.  Hux may have been having a stroke backstage.

“Well, I’m sure they’re delicious,” the host said, clapping her hands awkwardly.

“The dead part of my family?” Hux couldn’t help asking.  The color drained from her face, and her co-host looked close to losing it.

“So, Kylo.  You have a new album coming out soon.  Do you ever make these cookies while you’re working on new material.”


“What do you do…”

“I drink heavily until my thoughts and feelings are unfiltered, then I write down whatever I’m feeling, sober up and burn it.  Then we go into the studio and write an album.”  Hux was definitely having a stroke back there.  Kylo hadn’t even broken an egg yet, and this was already a mess.  “So, the first thing you want to do here, is cut the sugar and shortening together,” he squinted at the recipe in front of him.

They made it about halfway through the recipe before Kylo grew frustrated and almost started throwing eggs.  As it was, he “accidentally” spilled the vanilla extract on the host.  She’d been giving him weird looks the entire segment, and it was making him jumpy.  The co-host had actually laughed at his slip, but he wasn’t laughing when he taste tested the finished product.  

The largest audience in morning television may have now known that Kylo Ren woke up before noon, but they also knew he couldn’t even pretend to bake, and he was horrible at bullshitting.  

“Have you never baked cookies before?” Hux shouted when they were once again alone in the back of the limo.

“Is that so hard to believe?”

“You nearly poisoned him!”

“I followed the recipe.”

“This is a mess.  We’re going straight to the youth music camp.  Can you at least play nice with children?” Hux asked, sounding like he doubted it.

“I’m fine with kids.”

Hux snorted, but he dove into explaining the event rather than berating Kylo any more.

Somehow, this event wasn’t an utter disaster.  Kylo was uncomfortable the entire time, but he didn’t scare any children, and it really wasn’t the worst thing that had happened to him.  

It was actually a program for kids who wanted to learn to play instruments but couldn’t afford to.  It was the sort of thing that Kylo would support even without Hux putting a gun to his head.

Despite Kylo’s family having money, Leia wouldn’t pay for lessons for him growing up.  It was classical training or nothing, and so Kylo was left to teach himself.  He wasn’t the first musician to teach himself—poorly at first—and he wouldn’t be the last, but he appreciated programs that supported kids who either couldn’t afford lessons or instruments themselves.

Kylo spent the afternoon between performing for the kids and showing them how to play a few tunes.  The kids were super receptive, even if most of them didn’t really know who he was.  

Hux surprised him by being good with the kids as well.  He answered questions they had without sounding condescending, and he genuinely encouraged them even if they clearly had no idea what they were doing.  

Of course, the photographer never showed up to the event Kylo didn’t bomb.  As far as the label was concerned, it never happened if there wasn’t evidence.  Hux took a few pictures on his phone, but it wasn’t anything that could be published in magazines.  He did get video of Kylo playing with all of the kids at the end though, and that was kind of cool—not that he’d actually tell that to Hux.

Chapter Text

After a week or two of Hux’s grueling PR schedule, Kylo was starting to believe that working in the studio might actually be a nice reprieve from constant humiliation.  Of course, he wasn’t completely out of the woods. The label had put him up in an apartment with Hux for the time being as though he needed a babysitter at all times. This meant that Hux could harass him at all hours about ideas for “wholesome” engagements.  

Hux had also taken it upon himself to have Kylo’s clothing laundered regularly and thee apartment cleaned several times per week.  Kylo didn’t know how this fit into a PR man’s job description, but he also wasn’t about to bring it up with Hux. He tried to have as little interaction with the man as possible, which was difficult because Hux had insinuated himself into every aspect of Kylo’s routine.

It also had the odd side effect that Kylo wasn’t losing nearly as much time, which he couldn’t decide whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.  Sure, he felt less unstable, but on the other hand, he was spending the time he would ordinarily lose with Hux , and that was less than desirable.

It was a strange balance, and Kylo couldn’t help feeling more unsteady than usual from Hux’s interference.

“Kylo, drink your damn coffee,” Hux said, walking out of the bedroom in a pair of pressed pajama bottoms and a tank top.  He was carrying a dress shirt, that already looked pressed within an inch of its life, and an ironing board beneath his arm.

“What are you doing?” Kylo asked, frowning as Hux unfolded the ironing board in the middle of the kitchen.   

“Obviously, I am ironing this shirt.  Have you never seen someone iron their know what?  Never mind. You probably paid people to do this sort of thing behind closed doors,” Hux said, not bothering to look at Kylo as he set out his shirt and turned to grab the iron which was already heating on the counter.  

“Or I just didn’t feel the need to starch everything including my underwear,” Kylo retorted, picking up the massive mug of coffee that Hux had prepared for him before waking him.

“I do not starch my undergarments,” Hux huffed, taking the iron to his already wrinkle-free shirt.

Kylo gave him a skeptical look over the lip of his mug, and Hux huffed again.

“I no longer starch my undergarments,” Hux said, smiling slightly like he didn’t mind the joke at his expense.  “In my profession, imperfections are character flaws. I can’t afford so much as a hair out of place if I want to be taken seriously.”

“No one takes you seriously, Hux,” Kylo assured him, walking out of the room.

“Rock divas do not count,” Hux called after him, clearly going for exasperated but really only hitting amused.

Kylo popped his head back into the kitchen to give Hux the finger before walking back toward his room.

“You have thirty minutes before we leave for the studio.  Take your meds now, so you’re ready on time,” Hux called after him.

“I already have one mother I despise. Don’t try to compete with her,” Kylo called across the apartment as he went into the bathroom where his pill planner was set out.  He opened the AM box and poured them into his hand before washing them down with his coffee.

He walked out to the kitchen and opened his mouth in Hux’s face.  “Want to check that I took them all, Nurse Rachet?” Kylo asked, blowing his morning breath into Hux’s face.

Hux frowned in disgust.  “Charming.”

Kylo smirked, turning and walking out of the room in triumph.  

The band stepped into the studio together.  Ethan had a coffee in each hand while Edith carried her large cup and a flask at her hip.  Kylo had already drank more than half a pot of coffee in the apartment thanks to Hux. His ability to make fantastic coffee was possibly the only nice thing Kylo was willing to say about the man.  After spending a week with him, Kylo didn’t care whether his image was improving because he was certain that murder wouldn’t look good in the papers when Hux finally made him snap.

Hux trailed behind them with Phasma, speaking in hushed tones.  No doubt, they were probably plotting the next torture they’d put Kylo through.  The joke was on them though because nothing was a greater torture than working in the studio as far as Kylo was concerned.

Each of the Knights set about their usual rituals.  They tuned their instruments and performed their warm ups on their own before coming together to jam for a bit before their morning meeting.  Kylo started with the familiar melody. He played it softly and slowly while the others performed their own rituals. If nothing else, it was familiar.  It wasn’t easy to get lost in the process of it. There was so much stress simmering just below the surface, but each ritual relieved that a little bit.

Hux walked over to him after a while, and Kylo cursed as he completely fucked up the fingerings.  

“Is something the matter?” Hux asked, looking as unimpressed with Kylo’s flamboyant frustration as he always did.

“I fucked up.”

“Did you?”

Kylo just looked at him like he had a second head.  Certainly, Hux had heard how awful that had sounded.  Perhaps he was just being polite, though he rarely afforded Kylo such a courtesy—not that Kylo would want it from him.

“Just leave me alone while I warm up.”

“I have some important things to run by you before you begin for the day.  It won’t take more than a moment,” Hux insisted, taking a seat on the amp beside Kylo.

“I’m busy right now.  I don’t have time for your itinerary bullshit,” Kylo told him tensely.

“I need you to confirm enga—”

“Get the fuck away from me while I work,” Kylo shouted, standing abruptly.

“Dude, you don’t fuck with him while he’s going through his rituals.  We’re all gonna have to start over now,” Ethan complained. Ethan looked pissed off, and Edith took a sip from her flask as they both reset themselves.

Phasma came over before Hux could open his mouth and practically dragged him away as Kylo stood panting from how angry he was.  His fingers felt too stiff when he sat back down and tried to work out the melody again. Just as Ethan had said, he had to start the whole process over again.  He had to block out everything as he concentrated on the melody. He closed his eyes, and focused every molecule inside of him on the way his fingers bent and strummed.  

When he opened his eyes after finally working up to speed, he saw Hux standing in the corner on his phone speaking animatedly to whoever was on the other end of the line.  Kylo continued to play as he watched Hux angrily speak to whoever it was. It was amusing to see the man’s anger directed at someone other than him.

The way the veins in Hux’s neck bulged when he was angry was fascinating.  The hue of red-pink that overtook his cheeks clashed horribly with his too styled hair.  

Kylo hardly realized that he’d increased the speed of the melody beyond what he’d played since the accident.  Still, he watched Hux lay in to whoever had had the misfortune of calling him after their argument.

Hux abruptly ended the call, and Kylo realized he’d lost his focus on the melody despite continuing it through the call.  He slowed it once again and finally stopped to look at the others.

Ilan gave him a look conveying that he wished to get this over with.  Kylo just nodded and got up to meet with Snoke.

They sat and discussed what they’d already discussed a dozen times, but they worked out the details of what they wanted before getting down to work.  Kylo hated the whole process from having to talk about his vision to actually performing the tracks.

It was bad before the accident, but now it was almost unbearable.  The first thing that got to him was going into the recording booth.  He felt trapped like when he was in ICU. They’d restrained him in the hospital because he kept pulling his tubes out and straining his stitches and grafts.  Since then, any sort of confined spaces or restraints made Kylo feel trapped and anxious.

Kylo could see Hux once again talking on his phone as Kylo stepped into the booth.  He wished Hux was there to offer him water like before a show, but studio time was sacred.  It was better that his irritating shadow kept his distance. Kylo needed to just push through this, so they could get back on the road.  He didn’t need to feel comfortable. He just needed to get this over with, and he’d never have to do it again. Retirement was a balm on his troubled mind as he found his place.

The rest of the band did their parts with ease.  Edie and Ethan had always been comfortable in the studio.  Neither minded doing take after take until they had the sound they wanted.  Ilan was the music.  He would play anywhere or anything.  Ilan played most of the random instruments they threw onto album tracks.  The man was a prodigy. He could play any instrument you put in front of him, including wine glasses.  If they ever broke free of the label, he was going to be the one who produced them... if .  

Kylo couldn’t just slip into studio mode like the rest of them.  He was a live performer. Even his writing process was often done on the fly.  There was no denying that Kylo was a superior musician and a true showman, but the drudge of recording went against his nature.  He didn’t enjoy listening to himself and picking it apart. He absolutely hated other people listening and picking apart his performance or songs, and to have to face Hux’s judgment on top of everything else seemed like a cruel form of torture.

Still, Kylo put on his headphones and adjusted the mic.  He breathed slowly, pushing himself into the zone where he could do this with detachment.  The first song they were working on was easy. They’d been performing it live for years, but it had finally been chosen to make it onto an album.

Kylo listened to the band, waiting for his moment to come in.  He let himself get lost in Ilan’s drumming. Closing his eyes, he let his mind go to the various hotel rooms and buses that they’d jammed in together.  There was no studio, no judgment. It was just them and the idea that was sparking between them, and Kylo started to sing.

Nothing could touch him as he envisioned them sitting together on the couch, going with what felt right.  Time didn’t mean anything as Kylo worked, losing himself completely.

“Alright, let’s regroup,” one of Snoke’s chosen producers called into the booth.  

Kylo snapped back to reality.  It was jarring, looking around the studio and remembering that he wasn’t alone.  His eyes met Ilan’s across the studio, and he could see the subtle pride there. And then he noticed Hux standing beside Snoke’s man frowning at all of the equipment.

When the band took a short break and listened to some of what they’d done, Hux was close by offering Kylo water and a towel.  He did it silently, and he didn’t actually touch Kylo, but his actions were appreciated...not that Kylo would ever admit it.

Kylo cringed as he heard his own part.  It was awful. He’d missed as many notes as he’d hit, and the timing was atrocious when mixed with the rest of the band’s sections.  It sounded like he was just as in his own world as he’d felt while recording.

“Is that what it will sound like on the album?” Hux asked after the playback.  

The whole band looked at him oddly, and Kylo felt his face heat.  Had the man really gone for that low of a blow? It sounded like shit, but implying that that was the best they had was beyond insulting.

“Fuck off,” Kylo growled.

“No need to be crude.  I’ve never been present for this sort of process before,” Hux snapped back.

“Even you have to be able to tell that it was hardly in tune, I missed notes, the singing was out of key…”

Hux’s face got a little red as Kylo listed off the things he found wrong about the song.  It probably wasn’t nearly as bad as he was making it out to be, but he could hear every imperfection.  It was just another thing that got to him while recording. Kylo knew what perfection sounded like, and it drove him mad when they couldn’t produce it.

Ilan elbowed Kylo in the ribs before he could lay in to Hux any more.  He gave him a look that said they would discuss it once they were alone, and Kylo just shook his head and walked away.

“Need a smoke,” Ilan said, getting up and walking out of the studio.  

Kylo got up and stalked after him.  Fresh air would be good.

Ilan had a joint out before the door to the alley was even closed.  Kylo walked over to a cluster of crates from the bar next door and pulled a couple to sit on.  Ilan sat down on the crate Kylo tossed him and leaned against the wall. He lit the joint and held it in his lungs for a long moment.

“He’s such an asshole,” Kylo complained, opening and closing his fists repeatedly.

“It’s his job to be.  Nothing gets done if you aren’t a hardass,” Ilan said, breathing out the smoke and smiling faintly.

“He fucked up our warm up.  He acted like that take was the best we could do.  He’s an asshole,” Kylo raved, pacing instead of sitting on the crate he still held.

“He’s tone deaf,” Ilan said, placing the joint between his lips again.


“He’s expression didn’t change at all when you hit weird notes.  He just nodded along the entire time because he was focused on watching you do your job.”  Ilan always spoke like there was no hurry. He let the words wrap around Kylo like the tendrils of smoke around him.  

“That’s impossible.  It was horrible.”

“Don’t you think he would have said that if he’d known?  The man is nothing if not direct in his insults. Smoke?” Ilan said, holding out the lit joint.

Kylo shook his head and finally sat down on the crate he’d been holding.  “Of course, they’d hire someone who doesn’t know the first thing about music.  This has to be a joke.” Kylo put his head in his hands.

“It’ brilliant, though likely unintentional.  Isn’t it a little freeing to know that no matter what you do in there, he will see it all the same?”

Kylo sat up and stared at Ilan. “How would that be comforting?”

“You could shriek the entire album, and he’s still going to bring you that fucking towel and a drink.  He’s still going to call you on your bullshit, and he’s still going to consider you the dirt beneath his shoes whether you lay down the best album ever produced or a steaming pile of shit.  He’s constant. You’re in a storm, violent and unmoored. He is a rock. He’s going nowhere, no matter what you hit him with. I’d hold onto him instead of avoiding him,” Ilan rambled.

“You want me to embrace him?”

“Just stop looking for reasons to argue with him.  None of us want to be in the studio, but we’re going to be here a long time if you let him get under your skin over nothing.”

“He’s an asshole.”

“As are you, but we still show up,” Edith said, pushing open the door to join them.  “Jesus Ilan, we’re never going to finish if you’re too high to keep beat.”

Ilan smiled, eyes closed and relaxed.  “No such state exists, Edie.”

Kylo smiled as he stood and plucked the dwindling joint from between Ilan’s lips.  “Let’s go before my fingers freeze up,” Kylo said, admitted aloud his physical troubles for the first time.  It wasn’t that the band didn’t know he struggled with his dexterity since the accident. They just never spoke about it.

Hux was inside still when they returned, but he didn’t make eye contact with Kylo.

Kylo made an effort to not seek out arguments with Hux while they were working in the studio, but it was impossible.  The man was impossible.

“You need to eat something.  Your blood sugar must be getting low by now.  You’ve been working for eight hours without a snack,” Hux said, holding out a tray of fruits and nuts.

“What am I, a rabbit?  Get the fuck away from me,” Kylo growled smacking the tray out of Hux’s hands.

Hux gave him a pinched expression.  “Your attitude, which is abysmal on a good day, is significantly deficient when you are hungry.”

“Fuck off!” Kylo shouted, still hearing all of his mistakes on repeat in his head.  Hearing Hux nagging him was only making the intrusive thoughts that much worse.

Kylo stood up, feeling completely disoriented and stalked out of the room toward the bathrooms.  He splashed water on his face as he stared at his reflection. His hands shook as the notes from the song they were working on kept playing and jumbling up in his brain.  

His reflection was gaunt and tired.  He looked like he hadn’t rested in months, and Kylo was starting to suspect that was the truth.  Despite sleeping nightly, he hadn’t felt rested in ages. The only moments of peace he found where when his consciousness faded, and he was left blank.  The destruction he caused in that fugue, though, was terrifying.

“Kylo, open up,” Hux shouted from outside the door.

“Leave me alone,” Kylo shouted, but the door opened anyway.  

Hux stood there with a key in his hand and a frown on his face.  “Self destruction isn’t going to get this record made,” he said. “Come sit down and eat something before you do yourself some real harm.”  Hux just waited in the doorway for him, looking as pressed and perfect as ever. It was infuriating.

Kylo considered being stubborn and staying where he was, but he was dizzy and exhausted.  He walked out of the bathroom to the lounge and collapsed onto one of the couches.

Hux brought him a whole host of things to eat, and Kylo began to pick at them, too tired to put up a fight.  The food was delicious, and Hux had the decency to keep his mouth shut while Kylo ate. He just sat across from him and played with his phone.  Kylo didn’t understand how he could constantly work on it, but Hux was married to his work. Unfortunately, Kylo was part of that work for now.

“Thank you,” Kylo said grudgingly when he’d eaten his fill.

“You’re welcome.  Can I get you anything else?” Hux asked without even looking up from his screen.

Kylo shook his head, feeling suddenly exhausted.  His eyes closed before he could tell whether Hux had seen his response.  The world and work faded away as sleep took him.

He dreamed of Hux.  His steady hands stroked his arms and covered him in a blanket.  He spoke soothingly to Kylo as his hands explored is body. Kylo felt safe in his care, and he fell even deeper into sleep.

“Kylo, we’re done for the day,” Hux’s voice roused him from his sleep.

Phasma and the band were standing across the lounge, but Hux was knelt in front of him.  Everyone’s eyes were on him, and their expressions ranging from bored to concerned.

“What happened?”

“You’ve been asleep for hours.  Let’s go grab dinner,” Edith told him.  Tugging her leather jacket into place and trying to sound unaffected.  Kylo could see through the act, but he appreciated her attempt at casual.

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

Ilan snorted, shaking his head and walking out the door.  The rest of the band looked down at their feet before following him.


“I wouldn’t let them.  You needed the rest,” Hux admitted.  He also tried to look cool.

Kylo glared at him, but he kept his mouth shut as Ilan’s words came back to him.  “Let’s get out of here,” Kylo said, sitting up and pushing to his feet. He didn’t let Hux help him, unwilling to trust him that much, but he didn’t argue as Hux packed up their things and headed out to the car that was waiting for them.

They didn’t go to dinner with the others despite the invitation.  They never went out after recording. Hux had a very strict schedule that he kept Kylo to, and Kylo found it easy to follow Hux’s schedule than fight about it.  Not to mention, Hux ordered really good food for dinner every night. Kylo didn’t know how Hux new the best food places everywhere they went, but that was one thing he wasn’t going to complain about.

They always ate together in silence, but Kylo didn’t mind the silence.  Kylo glanced up as he dug into his Pad Thai. Hux was tucking a napkin into his collar as he arranged his utensils perfectly.  It was ridiculous, but Kylo had his own rituals. He’d nearly chewed Hux’s head off for interrupting the ones he had in the studio, so he made an effort not to comment on Hux’s peculiarities.

“Ilan forced illicit substances into my briefcase this afternoon if you are looking for something to take the edge off after dinner,” Hux said stiffly as he tucked into his own meal.

Kylo nearly choked on his mouthful at Hux’s admission. “What did he have to threaten for you to agree to harbor illicit substances for me?” Kylo asked casually, giving his full attention to his meal.

“I do not negotiate with stoners,” Hux said, taking a mouthful of food.

Kylo laughed, shaking his head as he took another bite.  Once he had finished chewing, he looked up at Hux with a small smile.  “So, you just accept whatever they offer you?”

Hux rolled his eyes.  “Let’s be honest here.  Anything that helps you mellow out is a good thing.  I would accept tranquilizers from a zookeeper if they promised me they’d slow you down without killing you,” Hux told him.

Kylo actually found himself laughing at that.  “That doesn’t sound very professional of you,” Kylo told him, straightening up and looking directly at Hux in challenge.

Hux rolled his eyes.

“You’ve smoked before,” Kylo said.

Hux folded his arms over his chest.

“You have!”

“It’s hardly shocking. It’s legal in plenty of places,” Hux argued.

Kylo grinned.  “How do I know you didn’t sample Ilan’s stuff?  Did you know he owns a farm out on the west coast?  He distributes the best stuff out there.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Would you like to?” Kylo asked, not really sure why he was offering.  Sure, he was curious as to what Hux would look like after smoking Ilan’s weed, but he also just wanted to relax, and Hux looked like he could use a little relaxation as well.

“Do I seem like the type of person who would smoke up with you?”

“Is that a yes?” Kylo asked.

Hux huffed, but fifteen minutes later they were both sitting on the couch as Hux meticulously rolled a joint.

“Christ, even your joints are ironed within an inch of their life,” Kylo grumbled, pulling the joint out of Hux’s hands, licking the paper and sealing it down.  “Pass my lighter,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Excuse me if I don’t want it to fall apart halfway through.”

“That isn’t even a thing. You’re just anal.”

“I am particular.”


“Light it yourself if you’re going to be an asshole,” Hux shot back, holding his lighter out of reach.

Kylo grabbed him around the waist and reeled him in, snatching the lighter out of his hand and bringing it to the joint he held between his lips as he continued to grip Hux to him.  He toked it as it caught and took a deep breath of it. “Ilan is a god among men,” Kylo proclaimed as he let the smoke settle before handing the joint to Hux.

Hux looked between the joint and Kylo skeptically before taking a hit himself.  Kylo smiled as he released the smoke in a series of smoke rings. Hux rolled his eyes as he held his own lungful.

“Not even a cough,” Kylo said impressed.

“I’m a heavy smoker.  I can handle a little weed,” Hux told him, sounding completely offended.  “This is good though,” he admitted, looking at the joint like it would tell him its secrets.

“Like I said, Ilan is a god,” Kylo said, snatching the joint and placing it between his lips as he leaned back against the couch.  

They passed it back and forth as they both slowly loosened up.  Kylo was feeling completely relaxed as he rose from his seat and grabbed his guitar from the corner of the room.  He began to strum away on it, singing anything that came to mind as Hux continued to smoke the remains of the joint.  Hux seemed content to listen quietly without comment as Kylo played.

“Ilan did this on purpose,” Kylo said between melodies as he waited for Hux to roll them a second joint.  

“How so?” Hux asked, sounding almost unrecognisable as he lounged on the couch.  Even his hair looked relaxed, somehow getting loose from the copious amounts of gel in it.  A stray tendril fell over his forehead, making Kylo want to tuck it back into place.

“He wants me to be less of an ass to you.”

“Why would he want that?”

“He’s a pacifist.”

Hux laughed, failing miserably as he tried to light the joint.  

“He thinks I need people who care about me.”

“He’s right.”

“Yeah, but you aren’t one of them,” Kylo said, shrugging as he reached over to steady Hux’s hand.  

Hux just looked at with a frown as he handed over the still unlit joint.  “I think I’ve had enough,” he admitted.

“One more for both of us,” Kylo said, easily lighting it and taking a deep breath.

“No, I think I’m going to turn in.  Don’t forget to take your medication,” Hux said, patting Kylo on the shoulder and pushing himself up.

Kylo watched him walk out of the room, biting his lip as he felt Hux’s absence like a blow.  “Fuck,” he cursed under his breath as he picked up his guitar and started to strum an old folk tune he’d loved as a child.  He hummed softly around the joint as he let himself get lost in the music.

Chapter Text

“I’m not doing it again,” Kylo shouted, throwing a water bottle across the room.  He wanted to throw the hack of a producer across the room, but he assumed that Hux would not approve of that, and Hux already looked like he was fit to smother someone in their sleep.  

“It’s not quite right.  It needs more pep…”

“I’m not some pre-teen poptart.  We are a punk band. We don’t do pep!” Kylo wasn’t even sure what he threw this time, but he caught Ilan wincing out of the corner of his eye, which made him believe it was his cell phone.  He really needed to stop throwing those.

“Kylo.” The producer could not have said his name with more condescension if he’d patted Kylo on the head afterward.  

“Fuck off .”

“Kylo, I need one more.  That’s all there is to it.  If you’d do it properly the first time, we wouldn’t be in this mess, but you—”

Get out. ”  It wasn’t Kylo who said it in such a deathly serious tone.  Everyone turned to see Hux standing behind the producer with his phone in one hand and his other in a fist.  His voice was quiet, but it left little room for argument.

“Excuse me?” the producer asked, rounding on Hux.

“If you know what is good for your health and your career, you will leave immediately.  I have spoken with Snoke himself, and he will confirm it. Now, please escort yourself from the premises.  If that is difficult for you, I will have one of the security personnel show you how.”

The producer looked about ready to explode, but Hux just tapped his foot and pointed toward the exit.  “Post haste,” Hux said, and Kylo almost broke out in laughter.

Kylo had to admit, Hux was entertaining when he wasn’t focusing his ire on Kylo.  Even Irwin was laughing his ass off in the corner as Snoke’s hand-picked producer fumed.

“Snoke will be hearing about this.”

“If so, then you are an even greater idiot than you’ve already proven yourself to be because Mr. Snoke will not be very forgiving of your inadequacies, but do what you feel necessary,” Hux said, stepped out of the man’s way and shooing him along.

“What was that?” Kylo asked once the man had left.

“What?” Hux asked as innocently as someone who looked like the spawn of Satan in an argyle sweater could.

“You just fired our producer,” Ilan pointed out, lighting a joint right there in the studio.

“I did no such thing. He proved himself incapable of the job requirements, and I simply showed him the door,” Hux corrected him, looking around the room as though to challenge them to question him further.

“And who’s going to finish making this album with us?” Edie asked, crossing her arms and looking between Kylo and Hux.

“I am sure you will think of something, or I can actually call Mr. Snoke if you’d like…”

“Ilan will do it.”

“Ilan will do it,” Ilan parroted Kylo’s words, before taking a long drag from his joint.  “Ilan fixes all of our messes.” Ilan walked past the group, bumping them out of the way with his massive frame as he went.  “Ilan needs a drink, and you need to get your ass back in the booth and do that track again because it was for shit.” He looked directly at Kylo, openly challenging him.

Kylo sighed, nodded and followed him back toward the booth.  He could hear Hux muttering behind him, but he couldn’t tell what he was saying.  He could only guess that it was less than flattering.

The rest of recording was brutal.  Hux and Phasma spent most of the time on their phones, presumably holding off Snoke from sending in another label-approved team by assuring them that things were going swimmingly.  Things weren’t exactly going swimmingly though, and the strain in both of their voices had to be evident as they spun their lies.

Ilan wasn’t exactly a gentle taskmaster.  It wasn’t so much that he was punishing, but they had fallen behind due to their previous producer’s opposing vision for them.

“This is bullshit,” Edith complained as she sat across from Kylo in the lounge.  “He’s been in there for 32 hours straight. If he wasn’t tripping when he went in there, he’s got to be now from the sleep deprivation alone.”  

“He just gets in his own head when he’s making music,” Kylo told her, tapping his fingers against the seat cushion to keep them loose just in case Ilan asked them to actually play something.

“What is he even doing in there?” Hux asked, sounding completely bewildered by the whole thing.  Ilan had walked into the sound editing suite around 8am the previous day, and he had not emerged since.  At least, they didn’t think he had because they’d all left around 9pm and only returned at 8am to find him still there.

“He’ll listen to everything as a whole and separately, then he’ll make notes.  Then he’ll tweak things and go through again. Or he hates everything and is going through every song we’ve ever written and piecing together a different set of tracks he wants to record,” Kylo explained.  His foot began to tap along with his fingers as he tried not to let the anxiety get to him.

“And you’re going to let him?”

“Better him than the douche we had before,” Irwin said, walking in with a takeout box.  He passed around everyone’s order and was just sitting down when Ilan emerged, looking the same as he had the day before.  He didn’t even look tired.

“How’s it going, bigshot?” Irwin asked, punching Ilan lightly as Ilan took the sandwich they’d gotten him out of the box.

“I think it’s finished.  Might need a few little tweaks, but it sounds good...,” he said, collapsing onto couch.  His huge frame actually bounced Edith and Hux who’d been sitting on opposite sides of it as he landed.

Kylo smiled, feeling the massive weight he’d had on his shoulders lift.  His fingers were a mess from the stress of being in the studio combined with the need play almost constantly to either record or stay loose.  He could feel them twitching even as Ilan promised they wouldn’t record anything else until after their next string of gigs.

“This calls for a celebration then,” Edith proclaimed, climbing off of the sofa and heading for the little kitchenette attached to the studio.  She came back with her arms full of bottles of champagne and a wide smile. “Off your asses, boys. We just made an album.”

Kylo’s bandmates groaned and grumbled about exhaustion as they slowly rose to their feet, but everyone took their own bottle and quickly tore off the foil.  Irwin was the first to shriek as Ethan made quick work of the foil and thumbed the cork off directly at Irwin.

“Christ, what are you doing?” Hux shouted as Edith was the next to fire her champagne cork, laughing maniacally as she got Phasma from halfway across the room.  Phasma narrowed her eyes at her, but she did not verbally reprimand her.

Irwin quickly fired back at Ethan who tried to hide behind Ilan’s imposing frame, but Ilan was too quick and stepped out of the way just as Irwin thumbed off the cork.  Ilan turned and aimed his own cork at Kylo, nailing him directly in the chest with the cork and then a stream of champagne. Kylo gave him a small smile as he turned and aimed his bottle at Edith before pivoting at the last second and firing at Hux instead.

“You could kill someone with that,” Hux shouted, immediately rubbing his shoulder where the cork had hit him.  His entire cardigan was covered in champagne, and he was clearly revving himself up for a brutal tongue lashing, but it was completely worth it to see his shocked face as he’d been hit.

The whole band was in good spirits as they drank what was left in their bottles, bringing out more for Phasma and the rest of the crew to enjoy.  Kylo couldn’t fight his smile. They’d managed this even with all of the setbacks.

Ilan was sitting in the corner, taking turns between smoking and sipping his champagne.  He looked content as Kylo approached him.

“How’s it sound?” he asked as he leaned on the wall beside Ilan.  

“Different...but it needs to.  We aren’t sixteen tagging along on someone else’s tour, and we aren’t twenty-three letting loose because we can,” Ilan said, holding out his joint for Kylo, but Kylo shook his head.  

“What are we now then?” Kylo asked, taking a long drink from the bottle he was holding.  He looked around the lounge, watching Edith, Irwin, and Ethan argue over something stupid as they accidently spilled champagne on each other.  

“We’re piecing it together.  Nothing’s set in stone…”

“So we sound lost.”

“Sounding lost isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Everyone feels lost sometimes,” Ilan spoke around the joint that was still between his lips.

“Maybe you need to lay off the drugs a bit,” Kylo said, plucking the joint from Ilan’s mouth and placing it between his own lips.

“I won’t even go into the list of things you need to lay off, but self destruction in general would be a good place to start.  Sometimes you just need to let yourself be broke for a while before things can be fixed. What do we do with broken bones? We put a cast around them and leave them alone because poking at them won’t fix shit.  It’ll just make it worse.”

“Thanks for that profound message.  I just wanted to know how the album sounds,” Kylo retorted.

“Broken.  We’re lost, and we’re fucked up.  It’s not just you; it’s all of us.  We’re all dealing with shit, and that’s going to be our sound until it isn’t, and no amount of pep or remixing is going to change that.”

“And what if we never get better? What if this is it for us?”

“Then we go out being honest.  There are a hell of a lot of worse notes to end on.”

Kylo nodded, unsure if he believed that, but he trusted Ilan.  He trusted all of his bandmates. They were in this together, and Ilan was right.  They all had their shit to deal with. Kylo wasn’t so self involved that he didn’t notice Ethan’s poorly hid addiction or Edith’s worsening neuroses.  

Kylo’s attention was diverted as Phasma stood up and Hux quickly followed, dabbing at the champagne running down the button up he’d worn under his cardigan.

“Not to break up this touching party, but you have a show tonight, so I think management would appreciate it if you were still capable of getting on stage and playing your instruments,” Phasma told them all.  She still held a bottle in her own hand, looking like she had no intention of giving it up.

Boos filled the lounge, but everyone slowly began to clean up the mess they had made.  Kylo passed the joint back to Ilan and walked over to Hux who was trying to orchestrate the clean up effort.

“Do you even know what it means to unwind?” Kylo whispered in Hux’s ear as he came up behind him, practically pressing his body to Hux’s back.

“Of course, I do it every evening with a cup of tea and a book,” Hux retorted, pointing to a puddle of champagne on the coffee table that needed cleaning.

“Someone really needs to remove the stick from your ass, so you can live a little.”

“If this is your idea of propositioning me, I would greatly appreciate it if you kept such things to yourself,” Hux said, stepping away from Kylo and picking up one of the empty bottles.

Kylo rolled his eyes but got to work helping the others clean.

Kylo pulled his hair back into a messy bun as they exited the stage.  His body was thrumming. The crowd had been electric, and he hadn’t been able to stop himself from throwing himself onto them.  It had felt amazing to move with the pulse of the crowd as their hands carried him.

He could see Hux scowling from his usual spot, but Kylo ignored it.  Hux wouldn’t know that feeling if it landed on top of him. Not to mention, there was plenty to celebrate tonight, and he wasn’t going to let Hux rain of his parade.

“You could’ve been injured,” Hux pointed out, thrusting a bottle of water under Kylo’s nose and beginning to towel him off.

“I’m bigger than just about anyone in that crowd,” Kylo retorted.  He felt too alive to let Hux bring him down.

“They can still drop you,” Hux pointed out.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a pessimist?” Kylo asked, getting as close to Hux as he could.

“My job is fixing other people’s messes.  Even Mary Poppins would see rain clouds if she did what I do for any length of time,” Hux insisted, clinically pulling up Kylo’s shirt and wiping the sweat that covered his torso.  Kylo honestly couldn’t blame him for that outlook when considering what he was doing.

“Getting cheese grated on the highway didn’t stop me.  I’m not really concerned that the crowd will suddenly collectively decide to let me land on their heads,” Kylo said, grabbing the towel from Hux and walking away.

Hux followed close behind him.  Kylo hadn’t doubted that he would.  Just his presence, which Kylo had been becoming more and more used to, gave him an outlet for some of the unused energy coursing through him.  

However, as had become custom, Hux left Kylo to his post show rituals once they were backstage.  Hux went and made his calls to his people to get the band into the headlines but only in the best light.  He called the label to update them on the situation. He called...Kylo wasn’t actually sure who Hux was always talking to or what for, actually.  He just knew that once the band cracked open a few post show drinks and started mixing with those lucky enough to shell out for a backstage pass, Hux vanished for close to an hour.

Kylo wasn’t entirely surprised by it.  After all, nothing about Hux’s uniform of a button up and tie covered by a matching sweater screamed parties backstage with the band...unless that band was actually a string quartet, and they were serving aged wine instead of cheap beer.

It didn’t settle well with Kylo though, which only served to anger him.  He’d never been dependent on anyone when touring. The band supported each other, but that was it—them against the world.  Kylo refused to let Hux sneak under his shields and implant himself against Kylo’s will. He didn’t need anyone, least of all a stuck up company man sent to police his behavior.

The energy just seemed to snowball after that.  He felt slightly out of control as he greeted people.  He kept himself tightly restrained, but he could feel the energy fraying at his resolve.  Each new person who spoke to him passed off some of their own anxious energy on to him. He could feel the nerves of the women who asked for a picture, and it twined with his own.  He could feel the exhilaration of the man who got to ask him all of the questions about his favorite songs which had probably been stewing in his brain for too long.

Kylo felt it all.

“Let’s go,” Hux said, standing just beside Kylo.  “We’re holding up the bus,” he added when Kylo just stared at him.  Ilan was standing in the doorway just beyond him, looking as reserved as ever.

“I think I’ll head to the bar,” Kylo said, needing to relieve some of the energy he was feeling despite having lost some time.

“Regardless, you need to come back to the hotel.  You can’t go out in that shirt. You’ll be arrested for public intoxication.”

Kylo looked down at his shirt, and he got a whiff of himself.  Clearly, someone had either poured or spilled an entire beer on him.  Hux was unfortunately correct about not going out in this.

“Honestly, you smell repulsive, so I would appreciate it if you would get on the bus now,” Hux told him, giving him a look of disgust.

“You mean you don’t want to get a towel and dry me off?” Kylo teased him, stepping close until they practically shared each other’s breath.

“It is neither my job nor my desire to assist you when you pour an entire beer over your head just to be contrary.”

“You just assist me when I’m sweating like a pig,” Kylo retorted.

“You passing out from overheating and dehydration would be detrimental to yourself, the band, and your image.”

“Whatever you tell yourself to justify putting your hands all over me.”

Hux scoffed and turned on his heel.  “You have two minutes to get on the bus, or we’re leaving without you,” Hux said, walking out of the room.

Ilan stepped aside to let him pass, but his eyes remained on Kylo.  “Under your skin,” was all he said once they were alone.

“Shut up,” Kylo said, walking toward Ilan and punching him in the arm as he walked past him.  Ilan shook his head and fell into step with him.

Kylo was still teeming with energy as they stepped into the hotel room.  Kylo went straight to his room and peeled off the wet shirt. He went into the bathroom and wiped himself off to relieve some of the stink of beer.  He stepped out of the bathroom and pulled on a fishnet shirt followed by a cut up muscle tee.

He pulled on a pair of fingerless gloves and hooked his wallet to his jeans.  It probably wasn’t a good idea to take the bike out after a minor blackout, but he needed a bit of freedom.

“I don’t think it would be a good idea to go out tonight,” Hux said, standing just outside his bedroom door.  He’d taken his sweater off and was just wearing his button up with the sleeves rolled up. Even his tie was undone and just hanging over his shoulders.  Somehow, he still didn’t look casual or relaxed.

“Is that your expert opinion?” Kylo asked, still advancing.

“Yes, it is.  As someone looking out for your image, I don’t think it prudent to go out when you’ve already shown yourself to be in a volatile mood.

Kylo growled as he stalked right into Hux’s space.  “Is that it? You get off on bossing important people around?” he asked with barely a six inches separating them.

“I would hardly consider you important if that’s what you were imply—”

Kylo cut off his words with a punishing kiss.  Hux’s mouth was still open as he tried to finish his statement, which made for an awkward meeting of mouths.  However, Kylo was undeterred. He cupped Hux’s face and held him close until he caught up with the proceedings.  

Hux’s mouth snapped shut, almost taking part of Kylo’s tongue with it.  Luckily for Kylo, he was quick to react.

“What are you doing?” Hux asked, pulling back enough to wipe Kylo’s saliva from his lips.  

“Kissing you.  Has no one ever done that before?”

“Certainly not while I’m insulting them for being a spoiled star who thinks too highly of himself,” Hux retorted.

“Just shut up and kiss me, and I’ll reconsider going out tonight,” Kylo bargained.

“I suppose I should feel honored by your interest…”

“Do you always have to have the last word?” Kylo asked, annoyed that Hux was still talking inside of kissing him.  

“I try to.  It clears the air of whatever excrement is frothing from your lips at the time,” Hux told him primly, hands lost somewhere between them in an awkward dance brought on by not knowing where to put them.

“Fuck you,” Kylo said, pulling Hux back in and silencing further argument.  

Hux didn’t fight it though, and he kissed Kylo back with a hunger Kylo was not expecting.  Soon Hux’s hands were firmly gripping Kylo’s shirt as he pressed his tongue into Kylo’s mouth in an unexpected tease.  He pawed at Kylo’s chest and nipped his bottom lip.

Kylo growled into the kiss, and he gripped Hux around his narrow waist.  He backed Hux into the two feet of wall between their bedroom doors and then lifted him off the ground.  

Hux’s legs wrapped around his hips either out of habit or because he didn’t trust Kylo not to drop him on his ass. His arms tried to wrap around Kylo’s shoulders, but Kylo caught his wrists and pinned them to the wall on either side of his head.

Kylo could feel himself spiralling.  The tension between them was unraveling fast enough to leave his head spinning, and the pent up energy from earlier was trying to burst out of him.  He tried to remain in control, wanting to know exactly where this would lead.

“At least, let me undo our pants,” Hux demanded when Kylo pulled back for air.

“Don’t speak.  Don’t want you to ruin this,” Kylo barked, but he let go of Hux’s wrists and cupped his ass instead.

“Like you have anything better to say,” Hux grumbled as he unbuttoned his own slacks and unzipped them.  

Kylo didn’t say anything in reply but he pressed his mouth to the crook between Hux’s shoulder and neck and bit him enough to smart.

“Fuck,” Hux cried out as he bucked against Kylo.  

“I plan to,” Kylo said roughly before sucking hard at the spot he’d just bitten.

Hux let out a wail as he groped at Kylo’s waist, searching for his zipper.  He dropped his legs from around Kylo’s waist and reached between them, tugging open Kylo’s pants.  He wasted no time tearing them down Kylo’s thighs, which was impressive due to how tight the pants fit him.  He did the same with his own which pooled at his ankles. He kicked them and he shoes off before practically jumping into Kylo’s arms again.

Kylo pinned Hux to the wall, growling as he rubbed his straining erection against Hux’s.  Hux buried his fingers in Kylo’s thick hair and tugged his head to the side, so he could suck a bruise into Kylo’s own neck.  Kylo retaliated by tearing open Hux’s shirt which sent several buttons flying and tearing a significant portion of the expensive fabric.

They kissed passionately as Kylo stepped away from the wall, taking Hux with him.  While Hux didn’t weigh enough to warrant much concern, his height was enough to put Kylo off balance.  He stumbled and knocked a vase off a chest of drawers on the side of the sitting room.

Kylo seated Hux on it and pushed him back until he was lying across it, sending more decorations scattering.  Kylo pressed his lips to Hux’s pale chest, kissing his way down it to his soft stomach. He took the waistband of his briefs between his teeth and pulled them down with a growl.

Hux cursed under his breath as Kylo tore them off his legs and tossed them over his shoulder.  

Kylo didn’t think as he sank to his knees and roughly guided Hux’s feet to rest on his shoulders.

“Jesus, what are you doing?” Hux practically shouted as Kylo wasted no time burying his mouth between Hux’s cheeks.  

“What does it feel like I’m doing?” Kylo asked without actually moving his face from Hux’s ass.  That earn him a moan even as Hux’s knees wiggled back and forth in indecision. “Just relax.”

“Christ your tongue is huge,” Hux remarked awkwardly as Kylo pressed it against him.  

“Maybe shut up too.  You aren’t exactly waxing poetic up there,” Kylo told him as he used his thumb to stimulate Hux as well.

Hux didn’t quiet down, but his exclamations made less and less sense as Kylo worked him open with his mouth.  For Kylo it was a delight to have his partner laid out and at the mercy of his whims, but he wanted more. Pulling back, Kylo wiped his mouth before pulling a nearly limp Hux into his arms again.  

Hux quickly revived and pulled Kylo into a bruising kiss as Kylo stumbled back, knocking into another wall and sending a painting to the floor.  Hux didn’t even seem to notice as he moaned into Kylo’s mouth.

“I’ve been up at night for days thinking about this since you put on that damn show against the wall,” Hux admitted as he tugged at Kylo’s shirt, leaving massive tears in the fishnet.

“I knew you were listening, you pervert,” Kylo snapped, slapping Hux’s small ass.

“Like you weren’t demanding to be noticed,” Hux retorted, gripping a fistfull of Kylo’s hair and pulling hard.

That sent all sorts of fireworks off in Kylo’s body, and Kylo dropped Hux and spun him to face the wall.  He shoved down his own pants and ground his erection between Hux’s pert ass cheeks.

“Notice this?” he asked, pressing Hux’s face to the wall as he rubbed against him.  Hux pressed back into Kylo as well, and they were locked in a pleasurable war of wills until Kylo reached around Hux and gripped his cock firmly. “Should fuck you right here, making you face the wall,” he growled, stroking Hux’s cock with his rough palm.

“Is that all you’ve got?  You call yourself a rock god, but you’re not inventive enough to have anything other than frantic sex against the wall?” Hux taunted.

Kylo roared, spinning Hux to face him and actually throwing him over his shoulder.  He carried Hux, who was kicking like a madman, over to the couch and threw him down on it.  Several pillows went flying into other objects as Kylo manhandled Hux to drape over the back of the couch as he knelt on the cushions.

Kylo reached down into the side table and removed the lube he used when he watched porn on the television...when Hux was briefly out of the room.  He popped it open and poured a healthy helping onto his hand before slapping Hux’s ass.

“Fuck you!” Hux growled, squirming against what Kylo assumed was a stinging ass.  However, his growl soon became a breathy moan as Kylo squeezed the reddening cheek.

“You like it.”

“Shut up.”

Kylo smiled as he pressed a finger into Hux without warning, and he was surprised by how hungrily Hux pressed back to meet the digit.  Hux moaned as Kylo dragged his finger back out before pressing it a little deeper.

“You’re practically ready for me already,” Kylo said, pushing a second finger in beside the first and watching Hux fall apart as he was stretched open.

“Been fucking myself practically raw since you insist on walking around completely naked when you have goddamn morning wood,” Hux growled, gripping the couch so hard his knuckles were turning white.

“That’s not very professional,” Kylo taunted again.

“Neither is fucking yourself against a wall for your neighbor to hear,” Hux retorted, pushing back against Kylo’s thick fingers.

“What did you think about while you were fucking yourself?” Kylo asked, moving his fingers inside of Hux.

“Is that really relevant?” Hux asked.

“Absolutely.  I want to know exactly how much you need my cock,” Kylo told him, pulling his fingers free and getting off the couch.

“Where are you going?”

“To get condoms unless you want me to raw it.”

“Christ no.”

“Right, so tell me what you thought about.  Better yet, where do you keep your toys?”

Hux’s eyes widened.

“Don’t be shy.  I just had my tongue in your ass.”

“They’re in my personal bag.” Hux sounded worried despite readily giving the information.

“Go get them while I get condoms.  I want to see what you looked like when you did it.”

Hux was a very amusing shade of red as he actually got off the couch to gather his dildo.  Kylo jogged into his own room and pulled several condoms from the large box he had in his bag.  Hux was sitting on the couch with a frankly impressive dildo resting in his lap.

Kylo looked at him then at the coffee table, and in one fell swoop he knocked everyone clean off the coffee table and grabbed Hux’s dildo.  He firmly pressed it down on the top of it and pointed to the table.

“Up.  Want to see you fucking yourself,” Kylo told him.

“Absolutely not.”

“You heard me doing it the other night. My turn.”

“You volunteered that little show.”

“I’ll make it worth your while,” Kylo promised.

“And what do I get for this?”

“You’ll have to wait and see,” Kylo told him.

Hux got up though, and he climbed onto the coffee table and knelt over the thick toy.  

“So, what did you think about?” Kylo asked.

Hux frowned, but as he got positioned he began to speak.  “I mostly thought about you taking me on stage. Bending me over an amp or something,” Hux said, sinking down onto the toy.

Kylo smiled.  “Crowd watching or in private?”

“I never thought about the audience, just about how hot and sweaty your feel against me when you manhandled me,” Hux told him.

Kylo got up and stood in front of Hux.  “Suck it while you fuck yourself,” he told him, holding his cock to Hux’s lips.

Hux didn’t hesitate to wrap his lips around Kylo’s cock.  It felt amazing, and Kylo could feel his balls give a small tug.  He fucked Hux’s mouth as Hux eagerly took every thrust he gave.

Kylo looked down at Hux rising and falling on the toy like he’d done this a thousand times.  He could see every muscle in Hux’s legs working to bring him closer to climax. Kylo never would have imagined the stiff professional persona Hux usually wore would melt away into this.

Kylo pulled his cock free of Hux’s mouth and knelt on the table as well, bringing their cocks just close enough to wrap his fingers around them together.  He stroked them as Hux continued to inch up and down on the dildo, moaning loudly like he’d lost all control. Kylo was feeling similarly.

Reaching around Hux, Kylo pressed his fingers where the dildo disappeared inside him, and with some coaxing he managed to get a finger in alongside it.

Hux moaned and writhed in Kylo’s arms, spilling over their bellies.  He shook almost violently as Kylo removed his finger and guided the dildo out of him.

“You love being filled up,” Kylo noted, rubbing Hux’s stretched hole.

“Like you don’t.”

Kylo smiled and kissed his cheek.  “If you’re good, I might let you stick a finger in my ass while I come in you,” he told him.

“You’re repulsive.”

“Says the man who just got off on being spitroasted by me and a dildo then being stretched to the brink.”

It was Hux’s turn to shut Kylo up with a hungry kiss that unbalanced the both of them and actually took out one of the legs of the table.  The side of the coffee table met the floor with a thud before they went tumbling to the floor as well.

Kylo pulled Hux on top of him and rubbed his still hard cock to Hux’s aching hole.  “Whenever you’re ready,” Kylo told him, rolling his hips so Hux was left with no doubt about what he was referring to.

Hux grabbed the fist full of condoms that Kylo had dropped on the sofa and he tore one open.  Kylo almost came as Hux managed to put it on Kylo’s cock using just his mouth. Kylo cursed softly before grabbing Hux by the hips and guiding him to kneel over his cock.  

“Going to make me do the work?  Typical,” Hux complained.

Kylo thrust up into him instead of dignifying that with a verbal response.  Hux gasped and gripped at Kylo’s chest which was still covered in fishnet. Kylo didn’t let up either.  He rocked his hips up into Hux steadily, aware of nothing but the needy sounds Hux made and the beautiful way his body moved.

The adrenaline wasn’t going to let Kylo last long, but it didn’t seem to matter as Hux’s eyes practically rolled back in his head every time Kylo brushed his prostate as he rotated his hips while inside Hux.  

Hux reached over and picked up the bottle of lube and coated his hand before reaching back and pressing a finger between Kylo’s cheeks.  He gave Kylo a pointed look when Kylo opened his mouth to say something, and Kylo snapped it shut again. He moaned loudly as Hux worked a finger into his ass as he continued to ride Kylo for dear life.

They were both dripping with sweat as Kylo’s balls finally tightened and he spilled into the condom as he held Hux firmly against him and ground up into him.  Hux panted loudly and buried two fingers deep inside Kylo massaging his prostate the whole time, until they both collapsed in a pile of limbs and bodily fluids.

Kylo woke with a weight on his chest and an awful tightness in his back and the old injuries he’d suffered in the accident.  When he groaned to let the world know just how displeased he was with this development, the weight on top of him shifted. An equally displeased groan replied to his own, and Kylo’s eyes shot open at the same time the mass on top of him began to scramble.

“What the hell?” Hux demanded as his long limbs came dangerously close to crushing bits of Kylo that he deemed very valuable.  “, no, no, no,” Hux said as he got to his feet at looked around the suite. “What have you done?” he demanded.

“What have I done?  You were on top of me.  How would I have don’t anything?” Kylo asked, taking in the destroyed state of their shared space.  

You !” Hux seemed incapable of forming words as he continued to assess the damage.

He probably would’ve looked more terrifying despite how physically unimposing he was, if it was not for the condom that had adhered itself to him during the night.  The condom was stuck, like the world’s worst tail, at the top of Hux’s small ass and clung to the crease between his cheeks. It shook when he moved.

Kylo was feeling a bit proud of how thoroughly fucked Hux looked with his messy hair, hickies, and noticeable limp.  Kylo didn’t usually stick around long enough for a morning after, but if this is what his partners usually looked like the next day then he was doing a fine job.

“Look at this place.  This is hundreds of dollars worth of damage,” Hux practically shouted.

“That was hundreds of dollars worth of sex too,” Kylo told him.

“You broke the coffee table!”

We broke the coffee table,” Kylo said, pointing to the lopsided table with Hux’s dildo still suctioned onto it.  Kylo reached out and pushed the head of the fake cock down and watched it bob back up.

Hux made a sound of frustration that even Kylo was impressed by.

“You can’t just trash a room because you’re horny.”

“You told me to stay in.  If I’d gone to the bar, I might not have trashed this place.”

Might ...might not.  You are a grown man.  You can’t just go around breaking things because you don’t give a fuck.”  Hux was pacing back and forth, and Kylo let him. Hux was being an ass.

“This can never happen again.  This…” he motioned between himself and Kylo, “...this was a mistake.”

That raised Kylo’s heckles.  He pushed himself off the floor despite how his body protested the movement.  He walked toward Hux, standing his full height and stopped right in front of him.

“Don’t worry, Hux.  It won’t happen again.  I only stick to one night stands.  No need to go there again. It’s not like it was life changing,” Kylo said, standing completely still.

Hux’s entire face turned red, and Kylo could practically see the smoke pouring out of his ears.  “You are an immature, spoiled child. Don’t think you’ve won this. I won’t be bullied,” Hux told him, turning on his heel and marching toward his room.

“You’ve got something…”

Hux spun to glare at him.

“A tail,” Kylo said pointing to Hux’s ass.  It was a good view despite the condom. Too bad it was attached to such an irredeemable asshole.

Hux stretched to see what Kylo was pointing to and made a sound of disgust as he tore it off of his ass and walked back up to Kylo.  “You disgust me,” he said, slapping the used condom against Kylo’s chest. It fluttered to the ground since it couldn’t adhere to the fishnet that sort of covered Kylo’s chest, though Hux had tore it practically to shreds the night before.

Then Hux stalked back to his room and slammed the door.  Kylo actually laughed when the vibrations brought another painting to the floor.

Chapter Text

When it became evident that Hux was not coming out of his room anytime soon, Kylo decided to leave the vicinity and let him cool off.  He also didn’t want Hux to see him meeting with a therapist. So, he wandered down to Ilan’s suite and banged on the door until the other man opened it.

Ilan looked like he’d been up for hours doing yoga or something equally relaxing.  He wore a loose shirt and pants, and his feet were bare.

“Can I come in?” Kylo asked when Ilan didn’t immediately step out of the way.

“You fucked him,” Ilan said.  It wasn’t a question, nor did it give away a hint of what he thought about it.

“Are you fucking psychic now too?” Kylo asked, looking down at himself like he’d forgotten to put pants on or something before leaving his room.

“Not psychic.  You two were so loud that the entire floor knows,” Ilan told him.

That was not good.  That was probably the worst news he could’ve gotten.  Other than the fact that Hux completely looked down on him when his own behavior hadn’t been exemplary the previous night either.  Two to tango and all that.

“So are you not letting me in because I fucked Hux?” Kylo asked.

“No, you may come in.  I just thought we should get that out of the way.”  Ilan stepped aside, motioning for Kylo to enter.

Kylo nodded, walking into the suite.  Clearly, Ilan had guessed that he’d be coming over because there was enough bacon and eggs on the table for about four people.  Kylo stiffly walked over to the spread and helped himself to a heaping plate.

Ilan did the same and took a seat opposite him.  They ate in silence until something in Kylo’s back protested the chair he was sitting in.

“Spasm?” Ilan asked without even looking up from his meal.

“Yeah, the physical therapist is coming up in an hour or so,” Kylo said, trying to find a more comfortable position.

“I’ll set up the table,” Ilan said, putting his plate down and getting up.

“You don’t need to.  I’ll be fine.”

“We need to be back on tour tomorrow.  Can’t perform if you can’t stand up.”

“I’m fine.”

Ilan didn’t reply, but he went and got the foldable table anyway and set it up in the corner of the sitting room.

Kylo laid down on the table silently and let Ilan try to work some of the tension on out his muscles.  Ilan’s hands were wonderful as they dug into the area in his back responsible for most of his pain. It all radiated from there.

“Remember when we would steal your parents’ beer and get drunk in my garage?” Ilan asked out of the blue.

“You mean, do I remember how we came up with this band?” Kylo asked, gripping the sides of the table as Ilan really worked on the muscle.

“Do you remember how we thought being in a punk band would just be free alcohol and more sex than we could handle?”

Kylo laughed.  “I think we got more of both freeloading off of my parents,” Kylo admitted.  He cringed as Ilan’s hands brought pain equal to the relief he’d feel when it was over.  “I definitely saw more shows back then. I hardly even get to watch the openers anymore,” Kylo said, pressing his face to the table.

“Remember our first tour, when we were the opener, and we’d sneak out and get completely trashed then dance in the pit through the main set every night?”

Kylo grinned.  That tour had cemented the whole journey.  They’d somehow managed to talk a reasonably popular band into letting them open for them on a leg of their tour, and it had been the freedom Kylo had needed from his family and the addicting lifestyle of the road and attending shows almost nightly.  It had been just the right combination to tempt him away from his family’s best laid plans.

Back then if someone had told Kylo that music would feed his most self destructive tendencies, he would have laughed and told them that was the whole point.

“We were not puppets of a label back then,” Ilan said, finally easing up on the pressure.

“You think we should split with them?  Is that what the trip down memory lane is about?”  Kylo really wasn’t surprised. Ilan had never seen eye to eye with the label.  The man liked being told what to do even less than Kylo, and he had enough business and music sense to know when the label was just dicking them around.

“I think that the label’s demands are not good for you.  This tour has been pushing you before you’re ready. This album is—”

“You think I can’t handle it?” Kylo asked, pushing himself into a seated position because he refused to be vulnerable.

Ilan just shook his head.  “You can handle the life, Kylo.  You have handled it better than any of us.  But no one can do everything you’re being asked to do, as well as maintain your health without being expected to fail.  You nearly died, and less than six months later they had you doing events. You have memory loss, physical injuries that are still healing, and nerve damage.  None of those are going to get better if you run yourself into the ground.”

Kylo shook his head and got up.  He pulled his shirt on as he walked to the door.  He knew he was being dramatic, and he also knew he was going to regret not seeing the PT, but he couldn’t stop himself.  

“Fuck this.  I’m fine. I can handle it,” he said, walking out the door and practically right into Hux.

Hux looked down his nose at Ren.  His expression was pinched as he held out a folder for Kylo.  

“What’s this?” Kylo barked at him.

“This is the bill for damages,” he said, then he handed over another folder.  “And this is your itinerary for the day. Do put on something other than that.  We’ll be in public for the duration of the day.”

“It’s my day off,” Kylo said, looking up at Hux.

“People who trash hotel rooms as well as their reputations do not get days off, Mr. Ren.  Now, hurry along because our first engagement is in less than two hours,” Hux told him, turning on his heel and walking away from Kylo.

Kylo cursed under his breath as he opened the folder to see what tortures Hux had cooked up for him.  Hux was clearly a sadist because everything on the list sounded painful.

The first thing on the list was a radio interview.  Kylo didn’t know how Hux had managed to pull strings on a Sunday morning in order to arrange for Kylo to go to the studio, but it was actually a bit impressive.

Kylo went back to the room and rummaged through his things for a pair of torn up black jeans.  To be an ass, he pulled on the destroyed fishnet shirt from the night before. He also pulled on a pair of fingerless gloves and a leather jacket.  

The ride to the studio was tense.  Hux didn’t say a word to him as he poked angrily at his phone, no doubt putting together a harshly worded email.  That seemed like something Hux would do. Kylo kept his comments to himself though. His back still hurt, and he was irritable.  However, he knew that pissing Hux off would only lead to greater headaches.

“Remember, you’re excited for the new album.  You’ve been pouring your heart and soul into and can’t wait to share it.  You love touring because it gives you an opportunity to meet many of your fans.  You love hearing about how music changed their lives because it has changed yours.  Okay, let’s go,” Hux said, getting out of the limo.

Kylo opened and closed his mouth.  What a bunch of pureed shit that was.  He followed Hux into the studio and waited until they got to him.

Sitting down in the studio, he looked at the two hosts and gave them a forced smile.

“Today we have a special treat for our listeners.  Kylo Ren of the Knights of Ren is here with us in the studio.  Kylo, welcome. How does it feel to be recording a new album?” the host asked.

Kylo looked at the man then at Hux who was standing just outside the window of the studio.  His glare let Kylo know there would be consequences for going off script.

“I am excited.  I have been pouring my heart and soul into it,” he repeated Hux’s words verbatim.  At least his memory was cooperating at the moment.

The host gave him a strange look, but rolled with it.  “That’s great, man. It must feel good to get back in the saddle after all you’ve been through…”

“I love touring because it gives me an opportunity to meet many of my fans.  I love hearing about how music changed their lives because it has changed mine as well,” Kylo continued with the script in the most monotone voice possible.  He could see Hux turning red from the corner of his eye, but he refused to look in that direction.

“Um, that’s great, man.  The Knights of Ren are definitely a treat to see live.  What do you guys plan for the rest of your tour?”

Kylo was out of Hux’s bullshit, and repeating it again would probably only make the host pissed off, so Kylo when for blunt honesty.  It was tempting to goad Hux, but Kylo just didn’t have the energy for it.

“Honestly, we grew up going to shows.  We’d get drunk and mosh all night, go home with blood on our clothes.  Most of the time we wouldn’t know if it was ours or someone else’s. We loved the music you could just lose your mind to, throw your body around until someone had to pick you up off the floor.  That’s what we wanted to do when we started touring. It’s different now. Most of us can actually play our instruments now. Sometimes we try to stretch ourselves as musicians, but our shows still go all out.  If you can come to our show and not be in danger of being sucked into the pit at any time, we aren’t doing it right.”

“So for you, it’s all about the audience.”

“No.  It’s all about us.  I put on the show I want to see.  I fuel the crowd I want to be a part of.  I dive into the crowd every chance I get. You don’t jump into a shit crowd.  You jump into the one that’s going to pull you right into their excitement.”

“So touring is a selfish act.”

Everything about making music is a selfish act.  We’re selfish, we expect people to not only listen to what we say but care about it.  We expect people to come out to get covered in beer while we do permanent damage to their eardrums.”

Kylo could see Hux was on the phone now, he looked like he was about ready to burst.  He half expected Hux to come barrelling in and stop the interview at any moment. He didn’t though.

Kylo gave honest but unacceptable answers to most questions, then the host opened the lines up to callers for a couple minutes.  One caller asked if Kylo was seeing anyone, and out of the corner of his eye he saw Hux whip around, phone still glued to his ear.

“No.  There’s no one special in my life.  Just me and the band,” Kylo answered, more to dig at Hux than because he ever really fueled speculation about his love life.  

That was about the time that Hux gave the signal that they needed to get going.  The host awkwardly wrapped things up, and Kylo walked out of the studio with a furious Hux practically skittering beside him as he tried to control his frustration.

“Do you want to tank your career?  Is that it? Would you like to ruin everything just to punish me?” Hux demanded as they sat in the limo again.  Kylo was only just restraining himself from pouring a large drink. Hux, on the other hand, was helping himself three...make that four fingers of scotch.

“I built this band from the ground up.  I’ve written hundreds of songs. I’m not a face for the label to peddle their wares through.  I am a multi-platinum musician who got most of his fans by touring nonstop for years. I’ve poured more blood and sweat into this band’s success than the label ever will. Trashing rooms isn’t going to lose me fucking fans, Hux.   Pull your head out of your ass. The whole fucking tour is sold out. The only reason the label wants to clean up my act is because they need a new mainstream act to compete with The Resistance and whatever other hip bands are winning Grammys these days. The label is spending far more money on cleaning up my image than it has ever lost on my behavior.  Just give up .  I’m not changing, and your threats won’t work.  You’ll be replaced long before I will,” Kylo told him, sitting back and looking out the window.

Hux snarled beside him, but he kept his thoughts to himself.  Kylo was grateful for that.

The problem with being at war with Hux was that the little ways he’d insinuated himself into Kylo’s routine had suddenly dried up.  Hux didn’t share the suite with Kylo anymore, and he didn’t order breakfast to be ready when Kylo woke up. Kylo hated to admit it, but Hux’s “health conscious” breakfasts really weren’t so bad.  Instead, now he arrived just as Kylo’s alarm went off, and shouted for him to hurry up until Kylo emerged from his room.

Hux didn’t try to jog with Kylo anymore.  Instead, he had invested in a fucking Segway that he actually chased Kylo with.  As if running beside a man on a Segway wearing a tailored suit wasn’t bad enough, Hux insisted on transporting it in Kylo’s motorcycle trailer.  

“It’s not going in there,” Kylo insisted as he stood panting in the parking lot of the hotel.  

“You have no say in the matter,” Hux insisted, leaning forward and moving toward the ramp.

“It’s my fucking trailer!”

“And this is a necessary piece of equipment.”

“I will smash it.”

“I will just requisition another,” Hux informed him, disappearing into the trailer on the Segway.

Kylo stalked into the hotel angrily.  

It didn’t stop there either.  Hux found ways to constantly be in Kylo’s business while also being distant.  It was like dealing with his parents all over again. Hux was never far away, but he made it clear that he was not there for Kylo’s benefit.  It was simply an agent of the label’s.

Then there were the shows.  Hux didn’t go to shows anymore.  He coordinated interviews and meet-and-greets before and after, but he was nowhere to be found while the band was performing.  That was the worst part. Kylo came off stage jittery and feeling manic, and Hux wasn’t standing there. It only further angered Kylo because he despised the idea that he relied on anyone.  

Yet, Hux always showed up at the end of the night to forbid Kylo from going out and relieving some of the pent up energy and frustration that was eating away at him.  

Kylo wasn’t sleeping.  He was forgetting to eat, and Hux was pushing him to exhaustion with all of his “image boosting” events.  Kylo wasn’t sure if this was a calculated attack or if Hux just didn’t realize or care that Kylo was rapidly unraveling.  

Kylo strummed away at his guitar, forcing his fingers to work even though they were stiff and tingling.  He was so focused on his task that he didn’t notice Edith walking toward him, and he rarely missed anything.

“This isn’t working,” she said, pulling a chair up to sit right in front of him.  She straddled the back of it and stared at him with all too observant eyes.

“What isn’t?” Kylo asked.

Edith glared at him.  “Don’t play coy. You’re more wound up than a ball of yarn, and the suit is smoking like a chimney.  I think he’s going to need to glue his phone to his ear pretty soon because he’s always on it.”

“We have nothing to do with each other,” Kylo said, stopping his attempts to play.  He tucked his hand behind his guitar, hoping she wouldn’t notice the tremor in it.

“Bullshit.  I get it. I’ve woken up in bed with plenty of people who I shouldn’t have, but other than that time I woke up naked with Ilan and had no recollection of the previous night, it hasn’t affected the band,” she told him, shaking his knee with her hand.

“This isn’t the same.”

“No, it’s not.  However, it’s affecting all of us. So either apologize or fuck him again.  I don’t care which it is, but the tension is ridiculous. The man’s eye twitch is so distracting that it’s throwing off Ilan’s beat.”

“Nothing throws off Ilan’s beat,” Kylo grumbled.

“Exactly. It’s that bad.”

“Shut up, and leave me alone.”

“Not a chance.  You’re stuck with us, kid.”

“Fuck you,” Kylo told her.

Kylo was just stepping out of the recording room to fix a couple last minute things when his phone started to go off.   The band paused as they heard Leia’s ringtone.

“I wouldn’t answer that,” Ethan said, shoving his hands into his pockets and giving Kylo a serious look.  Ilan shook his head, letting Kylo know that he agreed with Ethan.

Kylo reached into his pocket and looked at the ID even though Leia was the only one with that tone.  He pressed the reject button and shoved it back into his pants.

“Wise choice, man,” Ethan said, slapping Kylo on the back and walking out to the area they smoked in.  The rest of the band followed him, but Kylo stayed behind and sat down with his guitar. He started to play something that had been gnawing at him for days.  The melody was dark and moody, but it was elegant compared to much of what Kylo wrote.

Kylo could sense Phasma still in the studio, but she was clearly keeping her distance.  He’d been volatile lately, so he wasn’t really surprised. Poor Mitaka had bore the brunt of his moods because the man didn’t have to sense to avoid him when he was feeling raw.

Kylo’s phone began to ring again as he worked out the melody.  He cursed as he put his guitar aside and pulled out his phone. He threw it onto the couch cushions and picked the guitar back up.  It rang three more times while Kylo played.

Kylo picked up on the fifth call. “What, Mother?” he asked as he accepted the call.

“Charming as always, Kylo,” she said, injecting her usual attitude into it.

“I’m not coming home.”

“You sound like a petulant child,” she told him.

“I’m a rock star, we’re all petulant children,” he snapped.  

“Kylo...this has gone on long enough.  Come home.”


“How long do you think you can keep doing this?  You’ve hardly recovered, and you’re all over the place destroying hotels and getting into fights.  Is this to punish us? Is this because we weren’t there for you enough? Come home, and we can get through this,” she said, sounding earnest.

Kylo pulled at his hair with his free hand.  He gritted his teeth and practically crushed the phone he was holding tightly.  “This has nothing to do with you and dad. Not every fucking thing has to do with you.  I’m doing what I want, and I’m not coming home.”

Something moved in the corner of Kylo’s eye, and he turned his head to see Hux trying to back out of the room.  It made his blood boil that Hux was here to witness this. It would probably just give him fodder for his attacks.  Hux had probably been taking notes.

“Ben…” Kylo could hear the pause as she realized she’d slipped up.  “Kylo you aren’t fourteen anymore. Your father and I can’t come pick you up when you run out of money.  You need to come home before this gets worse. You need to—”

“I’m handling it,” Kylo snapped, glaring at Hux who had met his eyes as his mother went on again.

“That’s bullshit, and we both know it.  You aren’t handling anything. You’re running.  You were running when you got into the accident, and you’ve been running ever since.  You can’t run forever. It’ll catch up with you eventually, and then what’ll happen?”

“I’ll handle it!” Kylo shouted into the phone before throwing it across the room and watching it shatter against the brick wall.  Kylo rounded on Hux, but the man looked calm as ever. “What the hell are you looking at?” he demanded.

“More paperwork,” Hux said dryly.

Kylo could almost appreciate that humor Hux found in his behavior, but he was too angry at the moment.  He needed to get out of there. He needed air and somewhere to clear his head. He didn’t care that it was exactly what his mom was talking about.  He couldn’t deal with anything until he had a clear head which, thanks to her, he did not have at the moment.

Getting off the couch he was sitting on, Kylo stalked across the room to where Hux was standing.  He didn’t say anything as he pushed past the other man, shoulder checking him as he went.

Hux didn’t say anything which was both surprising and preferred. He also didn’t try to stop Kylo, whether because he realized Kylo needed to cool off or because he was afraid of how Kylo would react was hard to determine.

Kylo walked right out of the building with nothing but his wallet and his leather jacket.  He walked down the streets of the city, pushing past anyone who wasn’t giving him enough space or walking fast enough.  After several blocks, Kylo descended into the subway and waited for the next train to come. He wasn’t sure where he was headed, but destination didn’t matter.  He just needed to get out.

Kylo stepped onto the crowded subway and stood with the hood of his jacket pulled up to hide most of his face.  People didn’t bother him. Most of them didn’t even give him a second glance. That was just the way of things here.  Usually, Kylo liked being just a blank face in the crowd, but today even that didn’t alleviate the feeling of the walls closing in on him.  

Kylo itched to text Ilan.  Ilan would know every hardcore show happening in a fifty mile radius, and he’d probably know half of the band of whichever show Kylo chose.  For someone as antisocial as Ilan, the man knew music and he knew musicians.

Kylo got off at the next stop and wandered around until he found a convenience store.  He walked inside and bought a prepaid phone. He stood outside trying to set it up without smashing it, and once he had it up and running, he opened a message and typed in Ilan’s number. The only phone number he had memorized.

—I need a show.  Anything hardcore.— Kylo texted Ilan, knowing he could trust the man to keep the contact just between the two of them.  He looked around himself, trying to get a sense of where he was, but before he could even find a street sign, the phone vibrated.

Hux is frantic.  He’s asking everyone where you might have gone.

Ilan didn’t even ask for clarification as to who the unknown number belonged to.  He also didn’t give Kylo the answer he was looking for.

—Hux can suck my remaining nut. Need to get lost in a show—

Hux sucking your nut is part of what got us into this mess.

—Shut up—

—Don’t get you panties in a twist.  I was sending out feelers. Buddy of mine says there’s a show, down in the Bowery, that would be just what you’re looking for.—

—Thank you. Keep the General off my trail, would you?—

He’s smart enough not to have asked me.

—Asshole thinks he knows us—

That asshole is currently tearing the city apart to ensure you are safe.

—Shut up—

The truth is not the enemy.

—Don’t make me break this phone too.—

I hold no power over your actions. If I did, I would have you speak to him, but for now I will keep your secrets.  Text me if you need anything.

Kylo waited for the text with the address and details about the show.  He looked up as he got his bearings, and he noticed people were giving him wary looks.  He shook his head and made his way back to the subway, heading down to the Bowery.

The venue was a hole in the wall, but the crowd inside looked lively even if the band wouldn’t be on for another hour.  The bouncer took one look at Kylo and waved him inside without word. Clearly, the man was a fan and not just the muscle.  Kylo could appreciate that. He’d covered the door a couple times back when they were starting out. He wasn’t as big then as he was now, but even then he’d been intimidating.

Kylo walked up to the bar and ordered a beer.  He stood there with his hood up as people came into the bar and ordered drinks before the show started.  He didn’t make eye contact with anyone. He didn’t want to be recognized. He just wanted to be in a crowd and lose himself to the music.

Growing up in the city, Kylo had attended a lot of shows in closet-sized venues.  He’d spent his teens sneaking out and going to shows with Ilan. He remembered coming home with bruises and blood on his clothes and having to face his mother the next morning.  It had been worth it though. It had been the one thing that made him feel free.

No one bothered Kylo as he stood to the side of the bar, nursing his drink.  Music was playing in the stage area, some local group trying to get their start, but the main event hadn’t started yet.  It was getting close to ten o’clock, and the place was packed. People were keeping the bartenders moving as they got a beer or two before the show.

Kylo noticed the shock of red hair as soon as it entered the building. It wasn’t just any shock of red hair, but the gelled into submission helmet that Hux wore in place of a full suit of armor.  He didn’t know how Hux had found his location, but sure enough the man himself was walking into the bar still wearing his pressed slacks and sweater from earlier. It was like he had a tracker on Kylo and could pinpoint his exact location at any time.

Luckily, Kylo had seen him before he saw Kylo, and Kylo faded into the sea of people with his shoulders hunched and his hood up.  He moved with the crowd into the stage area and found himself a dark corner to wait in until the band got going. He made sure he had a view of both the bar area and the exit as he blended into the shadow.

The band took the stage shortly after Hux’s arrival, and the crowds quickly moved toward the stage.  The New Imperials were just what Kylo was looking for. Their music was heavy, and their fans were more than happy to throw themselves at each other.  

Kylo glanced around for Hux before joining the fray.  The entire venue almost seemed to be a mosh pit, and Kylo easily lost himself in the music and the movement.  He lost the hood after only a minute, but no one noticed who he was or cared. They were looking for the same thing he was. Release.

Kylo happily collided with bodies, taking a lot of the impacts so as not to simply bowl smaller individuals over.  He threw himself at the edges of the pit where people more than happily shoved him right back into the fray, and he dipped to pull a few people to their feet when they lost their footing.  

It was euphoric.  The only things that mattered were the music and the movements of his own body.  He hardly felt it as elbows and shoulders rammed into his chest, sides, or back. It was like a berserker’s rage, but it was focused into the act of moshing.  It was the closest to truly letting go that Kylo ever experienced. No drug could replicate the freedom of throwing oneself bodily into the pit and riding the wave of it.

Red .

Though Kylo’s brain was hardly registering anything, he noticed red.

The next pass through the pit, Kylo clearly saw a Hux shaped blur hurtling past him.  Kylo nearly stopped dead in the middle of the pit. He’d forgotten about Hux. He’d forgotten about the phone call or his blow up.  It all came back as Kylo watched Hux moving in the pit.

Kylo had expected Hux to avoid the pit at all costs.  He’d thought it was safe to go in, but clearly Hux was more determined than even Kylo imagined. However, the longer Kylo watched him move, the more he believed this wasn’t Hux’s first time. The man moved naturally, bouncing from place to place.  He carefully maneuvered so that he only collided with those who wouldn’t do him serious damage, and he was clearly aware of where Kylo was because he was slowly moving closer and closer with each pass.

“Get out of here before you hurt yourself,” Kylo bellowed over the music as Hux finally ended up moving beside him.

“I would say that same to you.  You have work tomorrow,” Hux reminded him, and it infuriated Kylo.  Of course. Hux was here because Kylo was his meal ticket. He didn’t care about Kylo outside of how Kylo affected his work, and right now Kylo was a liability.

Kylo saw red for a whole different reason as he pushed off of one person and threw himself right toward Hux.  Hux dodged him gracefully though.

“You need to come back to the hotel.  You need to calm—”

They were off in different directions again.

The third time they passed, Hux held his arm out as though to grab Kylo but someone else hurtled through them and knocked into Hux sending him back several steps.  Hux recovered quickly, but not quickly enough as the flow of the pit shifted without him.

Kylo watched Hux stumble as another person collided with him, and Kylo could practically feel his own teeth rattle at the impact.  The guy who hit Hux had clearly targeted him because Kylo watched him come charging back right for Hux. Kylo couldn’t change his own direction to head the guy off, and he actually winced as Hux was brought to the ground by a studded shoulder to the back.

Kylo growled and stopped his movement.  He could see a pair helping Hux to his feet even as the guy set himself up for a third pass.  Kylo didn’t know what was up his ass, but he didn’t like it. Hux clearly didn’t fit with the rest of the crowd, but no one else had taken offense to it.  Everyone else was here for the same reason Kylo was. They wanted release. They weren’t looking for fights, just to blow off steam.

Moving against the crowd, Kylo diverted people as they pushed past him.  His eyes were on the man headed straight for Hux who was valiantly trying to stand upright despite having clearly had the wind knocked out of him.  

Kylo stepped in front of Hux at the last moment, and absorbed the full impact of the man heading for Hux.  Kylo grunted as the studded shoulders of the man’s jacket dug into his chest, but he didn’t budge. The man bounced off of him almost comically before falling on his ass from losing his balance.

No one around them rushed to the man’s aid as he glared up at Kylo until he realized who he was looking at.  Kylo could see him mouthing several profanities before saying “I’m sorry” several times. Kylo didn’t listen to the man as he grabbed him by the collar and lifted him up.  

“Get the fuck out if you don’t want to see exactly what I think of guys like you,” Kylo shouted into the man’s ear as he held him above the ground.  Without waiting for a response, he dropped the man and turned to Hux who was looking unimpressed.

“I don’t need a protector.”

“You don’t belong here,” Kylo shouted back.

The song ended, and they both lowered their voices as they got in each other’s space.

“You think you’re the only one who went to shows?  I could do this all night,” Hux insisted, though he winced as he straightened up.  It looked to Kylo like his ribs were giving him trouble. Kylo couldn’t really blame him as his own chest ached where the man had hit him.

“I don’t want you here,” Kylo said, choosing honesty over any other argument he could come up with.

“No one ever wants me around. I’m used to it.” It was matter-of-fact, but it was one of the most depressing things Kylo had ever heard a man say.  

Kylo snapped his mouth shut and just looked at him for a long moment.  The music started back up as they stared at each other, and then as if they came to a silent truce, they both rejoined the motion of the crowd.  Kylo didn’t know what they had actually concluded, but he gave Hux his space and Hux gave him his.

This lasted several more songs before Kylo decided that Hux had suffered enough.  He was clearly huffing and puffing with every movement, and Kylo could see a bruise forming on Hux’s cheekbone.  He didn’t know when he got the shiner, but he’d clearly paid his dues.

Kylo easily maneuvered himself to head straight for Hux, but inside of colliding with him, he pulled Hux tightly against his body almost protectively.  “Need a drink,” Kylo said in explanation before guiding Hux out of the pit with little difficulty. People let him by perhaps because he stood above most of them and was as wide as a bus, or perhaps because they too recognized him.

“I’m fine,” Hux insisted as they stepped outside.

“I said I needed a drink. I said nothing about your state of being.”

“You didn’t have to,” Hux said, reaching into his pants’ pocket and removing a half crushed pack of cigarettes.  

“I don’t give a fuck what you think. I’m getting a drink,” Kylo said, taking off down the sidewalk for a bar that wasn’t as packed as the venue.  He was still feeling relaxed from the show even with Hux following hot on his heels.

Kylo was surprised when Hux silently fell into step with him.  He didn’t say anything about earlier in the day, and he didn’t say anything about Kylo breaking the no crowds rule.  He just let Kylo be. It was almost unnerving that the man wasn’t rambling about meetings or events.

Glancing at the man next to him, he was surprised by the amount of swelling on Hux’s face.  However, the man didn’t seem bothered at all by what was going to be a nasty bruise come morning.  Despite having nothing to do with Hux getting hit, Kylo felt guilt creep in.

Kylo turned into a dive not far from the venue, more to get out of the cooling night than because it looked worth stopping in.  Kylo didn’t bother to check to see if Hux was following as he pushed the door open and walked into the sparsely attended bar.

Zeroing in on a quiet corner, Kylo walked across the tacky floorboards.  He pulled out a chair and kicked the one next to it.

Hux slipped in beside him, wincing as he eased himself down.  He still didn’t speak as Kylo flagged down the bartender, who looked like he’d been there since the building was built a hundred years earlier.  

Kylo ordered two shots and a pair of beers to go with them.  Hux just looked tired beside him. Kylo wasn’t sure what his plan was, but he was curious enough to ride this out.

When the bartender brought their drinks back, Kylo pushed Hux’s into his hand and raised his own.

“What are we toasting to?” Hux asked quietly.

“To getting punched in the face,” Kylo said, looking pointedly at Hux’s swollen cheek.

“I’m not sure which one of us got it worse, the literal or the metaphorical,” Hux said, lifting his own shot and knocking it back smoothly.  Kylo watched his Adam’s Apple bob as the whiskey slid down his throat, and he tried not to think about their night together. That pale throat was distracting.

“I’ve never minded bruises,” Kylo said, taking his own shot and sliding the empty glass across the bar.  

Hux laughed softly, but it sounded bitter.  

“Why did you come looking for me tonight?” Kylo asked, tearing at the napkin beneath his beer.

“It is my job to ensure that you do not make a mockery of the record label…”

“Bullshit.  You don’t get paid to follow me into a mosh pit.  You jumped right in there with me like you’d done it a hundred times.”

“What makes you think I haven’t?” Hux asked, looking up from his own drink.

“Because the most dangerous thing about you is that tie you wear that looks like it’s millimeters from choking you to death.”  Kylo did note that the tie was MIA tonight. Instead, the collar of Hux’s button up was undone beneath his sweater. It only gave Kylo a better view of his throat.  Kylo couldn’t deny that he had an urge to wrap his fingers around Hux’s throat just to see if it would fit as perfectly as he felt it would.

Hux scoffed.  “You think you know everything because, what, you front a rock band?  You constantly tell me that I know nothing about you and where you came from, but you assume you know me.”

“No, I don’t assume anything.  I just don’t care where you came from,” Kylo corrected him.

“Then why ask?”

“I just asked why you came to get me when you didn’t have to.”  Kylo sipped his beer, keeping the cool aura around him.

“They are connected,” Hux said, leaning back into his seat and wincing again.

Kylo reached forward without thinking and slipped his hand beneath Hux’s sweater.  He felt Hux suck in a sharp breath as he placed his palm over Hux’s ribs.

“What are you doing?” Hux hissed at him, tensing beneath Kylo’s touch.

“Checking your ribs.  You wince every time you move.  It’s the most emotion I’ve seen you show since we met,” Kylo retorted, pressing gently to check for breaks.  “I’ve broken enough ribs in my time to know how to assess them,” he added when Hux didn’t look convinced. He didn’t mention that this really wasn’t the best way to assess them, but Hux wouldn’t know that.

“Stop it,” Hux hissed.  

“Why?  Are you ticklish?” Kylo asked, finding it amusing that Hux would be sensitive to a light touch.

“No, of course not” Hux scoffed.  The man was particularly talented at conveying his disdain with a little puff of breath.  “It’s just…” he paused as Kylo wrapped his fingers over his ribs on his right side. He shuddered, and Kylo could detected color rising in his cheeks.   

“It’s just what?” Kylo asked when Hux didn’t finish his sentence.  He leaned in until he was so close to Hux that they were practically sharing breath.

“Must you be so demanding?”

“That’s not an answer,” Kylo retorted, smiling at how frustrated Hux was getting.

“It’s just that the last time someone touched me like this we were in the middle of having sex, and it’s quite distracting. Not to mention, how disastrously things ended that time,” Hux snapped, though he kept his voice low enough that no one else could overhear him.

Kylo leaned back and really studied Hux.  “Is this turning you on?” he asked, pulling his hand back not because he was appalled, but because he was pretty damn shocked.

“You’re caressing my side beneath my clothing, what were you expecting?”

Suddenly Kylo’s mind was filled with a plethora of bad ideas—most of them involving Hux naked and moaning in Kylo’s arms.  He didn’t know where it all came from, considering how frosty their interactions had been, but he was very interested in getting Hux back to his hotel room.

“How did you find me tonight? I know Ilan didn’t say anything, so how did you do it?” Kylo asked, seemingly changing the subject completely.

“I have contacts all over the city.  I called all over to see if you showed up at their establishment…”

“The bouncer.”

“He was told to look out for you by his boss,” Hux confirmed.

Kylo cursed and sat back.  

“You’re only as good as the people you know in this business.”  

Kylo shook his head and drank the rest of his beer.  “Let’s go back to my place,” he said.

“I thought you were looking to escape.”

Kylo turned to him and leaned in close again.  “Either we go back to my place and fuck, or we get even closer to you admitting you give a fuck about me, and I’m not prepared to deal with that tonight.  I came out to get bruised and bloody, and if I can’t do it in the pit then sex is the next best thing,” Kylo told him, lips practically brushing Hux’s skin as he spoke.

“What’s so terrifying about people caring about you?” Hux asked, not giving an inch as usual.

“Why bother asking that when you know who my mother is?  My father?”

“Everyone’s parents fuck them up…”

“Maybe I just can’t take another disappointment.”

“But you want to have sex with me?  Didn’t you say the last time was disappointing?”

“Why does everything have to be a fight with you?”

“Because if someone doesn’t call you on your shit then you’ll just keep acting like this.”

“Just give me tonight.  You can psychoanalyze me tomorrow.  Just give me tonight.”

“Are you begging me to sleep with you?” Hux’s voice had an amused quality to it.  

“I will beg if it will speed this along,” Kylo said, feeling the itch beneath his skin.  

“If so much as a pillow is displaced, I will make your life hell.  You haven’t even seen a fraction of the torture I can bring upon you.  You thought I found you impressively fast? Well, I can ruin your week or month just as fast.  I’ll have you cooking Thanksgiving dinner on national TV while discussing your family traditions with a celebrity chef who doesn’t even know the difference between evaporated and condensed milk.  Do you understand?” Hux asked, sliding his hand up the inside of Kylo’s thigh.

“Only if you promise to leave some bruises,” Kylo retorted.

“I’ll call a cab,” Hux said, standing up just as his fingertips were getting to the peak of Kylo’s thighs.  Kylo growled as Hux walked away, leaving his beer mostly full and Kylo’s erection in a similar state. Kylo drank down the whole thing in a matter of gulps before tossing several bills onto the bar and following Hux out.

Chapter Text

“I’ve replaced your phone,” Hux said as they entered Kylo’s room.  

Kylo’s eyes were immediately drawn to the brand new phone resting on the table in the entryway.  

“I took the liberty of activating it and placing it in your room since I thought it would be safer here.  Edith set your alarms for your medication. Ethan donated the shatter-proof case,” Hux explained.

Kylo grunted, picking it up and shoving it into his pants pocket.

“You don’t mind that they care,” Hux said softly.

“You go through what I have with them, and you can care too.  Now, lose the sweater if you don’t want me to tear it off of you,” Kylo told him, walking back toward the bedroom.

“And if I don’t mind you tearing it off?”

“Then get on the bed and wait for me to take my medication,” Kylo said, walking through the bedroom to the en suite.  He heard Hux scoff, but he watched him toe off his shoes and climb onto the bed out of the corner of his eye.

Kylo walked into the bathroom and immediately saw the pill planner on the vanity where he’d left it that morning.  He braced himself on the vanity instead of immediately picking up the pills. He stared at himself in the mirror. His hair was lank from sweat, and he still had the glow of exertion.  

Looking into his own eyes in his reflection, Kylo shook his head and tilted it from side to side.  His reflection moved with him, but Kylo continued to stare like at any moment it might make a face at him.

“Are you planning to come back out here, or should I fuck myself for you?” Hux’s tone was annoyed coming from the bedroom.

Kylo grabbed the pill container and poured the numerous prescriptions into his palm before walking to the doorway.  Hux was sitting on the edge of the bed pantsless. He was actually folding his pants along the pressed creases as he sat in just his sweater and a pair of argyle socks and garters.  Kylo could hardly keep a straight face as he brought the handful of pills to his mouth and tossed them in. He choked on them briefly as he swallowed them dry.

“Just how many pills do you take,” Hux asked, looking horrified as Kylo coughed one of them back into his hand before retrying.

Kylo didn’t mention that he was choking because Hux looked silly.  He wanted to get laid after all. “I stopped counting. Just fill up the planner according to the bottles and swallow them when the alarm goes off,” Kylo said, shrugging his shoulders as he walked over to the bed.

“Do you even know what you take, or what it’s for?  What if someone replaced your pills with something else?  What if there are interactions?” Hux demanded. He sounded far too concerned for Kylo’s comfort.

“No one really knows I’m on any of these things.  Who’s going to change out my pills anyway?” Kylo asked, wrapping his hands around Hux’s waist and actually tossing him onto the center of the bed.

“I wasn’t finished getting undressed,” Hux insisted, reaching for the garters holding his socks up.

“Leave them,” Kylo ordered, pressing himself between Hux’s legs and pinning him to the bed.  

Now you’re impatient,” Hux huffed, gripping Kylo’s bicep through his sleeve.  

“I never claimed to be stable,” Kylos said, kneeling so he could grip the front of Hux’s sweater.  Kylo tore it from the collar down Hux’s chest, and he could hear Hux gasp in shock.

“What are you doing?” Hux demanded as Kylo gave his button down the same treatment.

“You said I couldn’t trash the room, but you said nothing about destroying your hideous wardrobe,” Kylo growled as he pulled Hux up and pushed the shirts down his arms.

Before Hux could shake off the shirt, Kylo wrapped the sleeved around his wrists and tied them behind his back.

“Kylo,” Hux warned.

“I’ll let you go.  I just want you to stay put while I get you ready,” Kylo insisted, tearing away Hux’s boxers easily.  

“I’m completely capable of sticking my own fingers in my ass. I don’t need help,” Hux told him.

“I’m sure you’re great at fucking yourself, but tonight it’s my job,” Kylo retorted.

Kylo caught Hux rolling his eyes, but he let Kylo flip him onto his belly and spread his legs.  Kylo smiled as Hux lay spread eagle on his belly, socks and garters on his legs, and tied up with his own sweater.  He pulled his brand new phone out of his pocket and snapped a picture as Hux wiggled to get comfortable.

“Your ass is pale,” Kylo noted, slapping it and smiling as it immediately grew redder.  

“All of me is pale,” Hux ground out.

“Not your face. Right now that’s purple.”

“Because you are about as romantic as a bull.”

“I was referring to the black eye, but if you want romance, all you had to do was ask,” Kylo said, leaning down and running his tongue along Hux’s spine.  

“Licking isn’t romantic.  Toddlers lick toys they don’t want others to play with.”

Kylo laughed, pressing his body over Hux’s and licking the side of his face.

“I will murder you in your sleep!”

“I’ll take my chances. First, you have to get out of the knot I made of your sweater.”

Hux groaned and tried to buck Kylo off, but Kylo wasn’t easily moved.  At his own pace, me moved down Hux’s body until he was hovering over Hux’s ass.  He leaned in and gently bit Hux’s right cheek. Hux went completely still.

Kylo pressed a kiss to the other cheek and gently spread Hux.  He ran his fingers between his cheeks and rubbed at his hole gently.  

Hux shuddered with each new touch.  

“I could eat you out for hours like this,” Kylo said, teasing Hux’s rim with his index finger.  

“I think your definition of the act and mine vary if you think that’s what you’re doing,” Hux said, clearly trying to remain in control despite the fact that he was tied up and facing Kylo’s undivided attention.

“My mother would say you avoid intimacy with sarcasm,” Kylo said, continuing to tease.

“I really don’t want to hear about your mother while you perform sexual acts on me.”

“I don’t want to hear from my mother period, but I never get that wish.”

“Well, please don’t take that out on my asshole.  Either stick your damn tongue in it or keep your damn mouth shut,” Hux insisted.

Kylo smiled.  “You’re impatient in bed.”

“If I wanted to be bored to death, I would’ve stayed in my own room and watched fundraising on public television.”

Kylo slapped Hux’s ass again before finally leaning in and pressing his tongue to Hux’s hole.  He was pleased when Hux let out a low moan, pressing back against his mouth. Kylo held his hips down and pressed his tongue more firmly against Hux’s hole.  

He let himself get lost in the action of pleasuring Hux.  He reacted to each sound and squirm Hux made, changing the pressure and movement of his tongue constantly.  Like being in the movement of the crowd, Kylo gave himself over to what felt right.

Kylo wasn’t lying when he said he could go for hours.  When he got in a zone, no matter what he was doing, he could just keep going despite fatigue.  It was how he managed such a grueling touring schedule and practices and recording. Kylo could tune out the discomfort he felt in order to achieve his goals.

Currently, his goal was to make Hux come from just his fingers and mouth.  Judging by the way Hux was panting and grinding his cock against the sheets, Kylo decided he was pretty close to getting there.  

Kylo used his hand to rub Hux’s back and ass as he sat up and reached into the nightstand to collect a bottle of lube.  He poured some onto his hand and more straight onto Hux’s ass before pressing his index finger inside Hux.

Hux whimpered kicking out with his foot.

“What do you want?” Kylo asked, pulling Hux back to kneel with his face against the covers.

“I want you to fuck me already.”

“Not until I decide I’m ready,” Kylo told him.  Kylo liked to play with his prey. It wasn’t somethin he often got to indulge in when he fucked groupies or men he picked up at the bar.  Those were fast and rough fucks, and he didn’t spare the time or thought to explore their bodies. They were just a means to an end, but when he had the opportunity, Kylo liked to give himself over to his whims.

“And when will that be?”

“When you’re loose and crying because I’ve wrung your balls dry,” Kylo retorted, pulling his finger free and pressing two into Hux instead.

Hux groaned as Kylo crooked his fingers forward, searching out Hux’s prostate with incredible precision.  Hux cursed as Kylo reached between his legs and stroked him with a slick hand as he continued to fuck him with his fingers.

Kylo bit his lip as Hux whimpered and began to shake.  He felt Hux’s ass tighten around his fingers, but he didn’t stop his movements until Hux’s body finally sagged.  

Hux moaned as Kylo removed his fingers from his ass and carefully untied his wrists.  Hux was actually pliant as Kylo moved him onto his side.

Kylo wasted no time, positioning himself to rest his head on Hux’s inner thigh and letting Hux drape his other leg over Kylo’s shoulder.  


Kylo took his spent cock in his mouth, and Hux stopped talking.  He didn’t do anything but gently clean away the release that still clung to it.  Then he just let his cock rest in his mouth, careful not to overstimulate Hux. there would be time for another round, and hopefully another round after that.  Kylo was in no hurry.

Hux’s breathing was a bit erratic until he got used to Kylo’s mouth on his sensitive skin.  Once Kylo felt Hux completely relax, he slowly worked his fingers into Hux’s ass again. It was slow and gentle, but Hux responded immediately.

Keeping his promise, Kylo wrung two orgasms out of Hux before he even considered fucking him.  Hux wasn’t quick to recover either. Kylo spent over an hour building him back up between orgasms.

“Still want me buried inside you?” Kylo asked as Hux lie on his back sweating after his second orgasm.

“Just do it already,” Hux sighed.  

Kylo shook his head.  Only Hux would be adversarial when it came to sex.  

“I want you on your hands and knees,” Kylo told him.

Hux growled, but he pushed himself up and got into position.  Kylo decided that this had more to do with Hux being stubborn than Hux actually wanting more.  However, Hux surprised him when he pulled Kylo in for a passionate kiss before he could position himself behind him.

“You make sure your partner is too overcome with pleasure to get close to you,” Hux said, letting Kylo go.

Kylo gave him a hard look as he positioned himself behind Hux.  He couldn’t even deny that without it sounding completely false.  Kylo growled, gripping Hux’s hip and lining himself up.

Hux cried out as Kylo thrust into him a little more roughly than he intended, though hours of pleasure caused little resistance.  Hux cursed, reaching back and gripping Kylo’s hand to stop him from pulling out.

“Did I hurt you?” Kylo asked.

“No.  Just don’t move,” Hux growled, squeezing Kylo’s flesh.

“We can stop.”

“Just shut up and stay still for a moment.  I just came twice, and I feel like a circuit being overloaded.”

Kylo shook his head but said nothing about how apt the analogy was.  

Finally, Hux released his hold on Kylo and let Kylo pull back and sink in more gently this time.  Kylo rocked into Hux slowly at first, trying to once again build Hux back up despite how tired they both were.

Hux started to meet him thrust for thrust, and he gripped the sheets tightly as he took everything Kylo gave him.  They were both into it when Hux pulled away.

“I want to sit in your lap,” he insisted when Kylo knelt back and sat on his heels.  He didn’t wait for an answer before straddling Kylo and lining himself up before sinking onto Kylo’s cock again.  He wrapped his arms around Kylo’s shoulders and began to rise and fall on him.

Kylo gripped Hux’s hips to keep him steady, but Hux demanded all of his attention.  Kylo was forced to look him in the eye as he rode him, and Hux kept his attention by dragging his nails down Kylo’s back and across his shoulders.  

It was intense, not just physically but because he felt like he could tell exactly what Hux was feeling.  It made his own pleasure that much stronger, and in no time at all they were both on the brink of losing it.  

Kylo tipping over the edge first, growling as he bucked up into Hux at the same time he pulled Hux down into his lap.  He could feel Hux tighten around him, and it pulled his orgasm from him even as they held eye contact. Kylo could tell the exact moment Hux joined him, and he felt closer to Hux in that moment than he’d felt to anyone in years.  It was intense and a bit uncomfortable as they both slowly came back down.

Neither spoke as they collapsed onto the covers in a mass of tangled, sweaty limbs.  Kylo didn’t have the energy to clean himself off, but he wasn’t entirely surprised when Hux limped over to the bathroom and came back with a damp washcloth.

The last thing Kylo remembered was feeling Hux wiping come off his spent cock.

Kylo woke to someone pulling the sheet out from under him.  He groaned and rolled with it, effectively trapping the sheet beneath him once again.  He heard someone curse softly, and he opened his eyes to see what was happening. Maybe Ethan had come in to prank him and it wasn’t going as planned.

It wasn’t Ethan who greeted Kylo as he woke, but Hux.  Or Kylo thought it was Hux, but his back was turned, and he wasn’t wearing a sweater; in fact, he wasn’t wearing anything.  Scratch that, he had on a pair of socks and was attempting to wrap the sheet around his thin waist.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Kylo asked.  It wasn’t that he’d forgotten the night before. No, for once the previous night was indelibly marked in his mind.  He just hadn’t expected Hux to stick around this long.

“I am trying to...use the bathroom,” Hux said, turning so that the sheet wrapped around his hips as he moved.

“Do you plan to use the sheet to wipe your ass?”

“What on earth? Of course not.”

“Then why are you trying to drag it off the bed?” Kylo asked, propping himself up on his elbow.

Hux looked like he didn’t have a good answer at first, or perhaps he was unwilling to admit his real reasons, but his shoulders deflated and he gave the sheet another small tug.  “You destroyed all of my clothing last night,” he said.


“I have nothing to wear.”

“It’s not like I wasn’t well acquainted with your body last night.”

“I would prefer that the rest of the floor didn’t also become well acquainted with it.”

“Ah. You were trying to sneak out.  Stealth leaves something to be desired then,” Kylo said, giving the sheet a sudden tug and pulling it free of Hux’s body.

“Dammit, Ren!”

“Did I do that?” Kylo asked, suddenly noticing a dark bruise over Hux’s ribs.


Kylo scooted to the edge of the bed and grasped Hux’s hand, pulling him back and practically into his lap.  “Did I do this?” he asked again, caressing the dark purpling over Hux’s side.

“No, of course not.  I got this at the concert.  The man elbowed me there,” Hux brushed Kylo’s fingers away and tried to get up.

“I should’ve kicked his ass.”

“I don’t need anyone to fight my battles for me, Ren.  You don’t even like me, so I see no reason for you to be up in arms over a little bruise,” Hux insisted, finally getting a hold of the sheet and pulling it free.  Hux quickly folded it in half before wrapping it around his waist.

“Just wanted to know I didn’t do it,” Kylo grumbled, getting off the bed and walking to the bathroom.  

“Why?  You specifically asked me to mark you up last night.  I would figure you enjoy it both ways,” Hux said following him into the large bath.

“I’m not abusive. I don’t just knock my partners around because I enjoy being knocked around,” Kylo insisted, grabbing his pill planner and realizing it was Sunday which was the day he had to refill it.  He opened the vanity drawer and pulled out the large bag of pill bottles and began opening them up and placing a dose in each cube.

“Exactly how many bottles are in there?” Hux asked, reaching for the large bag.  

Kylo didn’t stop him.  He just counted out his pills, giving that all of his focus.

“Are these anti-psychotics?” Hux asked, holding up a bottle.  His eyebrows seemed to be trying to retreat into his hairline, and Kylo wished he could do the same.  He hated talking about his medication.

“You have eyes. Read the label,” Kylo grunted.

“Why are you on anti-psychotics?”

Kylo sighed, looking up from his task.  “They put you on those when you experience auditory and visual hallucinations,” Kylo told him.

“Which you do?” Hux asked, sounding surprised though less judgmental than Kylo was expecting.

“I was...after the accident.”

“But not now?”


“Are you still taking them?”

Kylo shrugged.

“Have you seen a doctor about them recently?”

“I’ve been on tour.”

Hux looked like he was incredibly constipated as he looked from the bottle to Kylo.

“You should be seeing a doctor regularly to make sure your doses are stable and that none of these interact,” Hux insisted, picking up another bottle.  

“I handle my medications,” Kylo said firmly, opening a bottle and dropping a pill into each cube it belonged in.  “I know exactly what I take and how it interacts. I know this may surprise you, but I take my health seriously,” Kylo told him warningly.  He pinned Hux against the vanity and pressed his hips against him to hold him in place. “If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t do what I love.  So, don’t act like I’m some spoiled brat that needs everything spoon fed to him. I know the price I’ll pay if I fuck up.”

Hux met his eyes stubbornly.  Despite his clear discomfort with being practically nude in front of Kylo this morning, he wasn’t letting himself be physically intimidated by their proximity.  “Hallucinations. What other symptoms started after the accident?”

Kylo could’ve cursed at how perceptive the man was.  “It’s none of your business,” Kylo snapped.

“Do you have uncontrollable rages?”

“You aren’t my fucking doctor,” Kylo shouted, slamming his fist on the vanity.

Hux shut his mouth immediately.  

“Stay out of my problems,” Kylo snapped, though he kept his voice lower this time.

“I’m sorry. I’m trying to understand.  I would like to know if there is a medical explanation for your behavior because we’ll change our—”

“We’ll change nothing. You aren’t my keeper.  I handle myself.”

“Yes, I understand. Kylo Ren, the lone wolf.  I’ll just leave you to it then,” Hux said, pushing past Kylo.

“You don’t need to leave. We can have shower sex,” Kylo called after him.

“I have work to do,” Hux said.

“At least let me give you something to wear,” Kylo insisted, stalking after Hux and going to his bag.  He pulled out a large sweatshirt and held it out to Hux who was already pulling on his slacks which were the only article of clothing Kylo hadn’t destroyed.

Hux sighed, taking the offering but saying nothing else as he pulled it on and walked out the door.  Kylo cursed at how they were right back at square one. Every step forward they seemed to make was followed by multiple steps back.

Kylo didn’t know why he was standing outside Hux’s hotel room with takeout.  Okay, he did, but he wasn’t sure how he decided this was a good plan. Hux was already getting too close to things that Kylo didn’t want coming to light.  It was only made worse by the way he sounded like he gave a shit.

Looking at his phone to check that it wasn’t early enough to be considered anything but a booty call, Kylo knocked on the door.  He waited impatiently, glancing up and down the hall to make sure no one was around. He didn’t need the band to go sniffing into his sexlife any more than they already were.

Hux didn’t answer right away, and Kylo was considering forgetting the whole idea.  However, before he could walk away, the door opened. Hux stood in one of the plush hotel robes, clean shaven and looking dashing despite his level of undress.

“Can I help you?” Hux asked, sounding skeptical to find Kylo at his door.

“I thought we could fuck like last night,” Kylo told him, stepping past him into his suite despite not being invited.

“And what inspired this thought?” Hux asked, closing the door and turning to face him as he looked around the modest suite.

“I’m horny, and last night wasn’t terrible, so I thought we could do it again.”  Kylo didn’t understand what the big deal was.

“I thought you didn’t do repeat business,” Hux noted, folding his hands behind his back in a parade rest.

“I can see you’re still upset about that,” Kylo said, crossing his arms.  “It’s not like you didn’t talk shit that morning.”

“Despite your best attempt at seduction, I cannot sleep with you right now,” Hux said.

“Why not?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m going out,” he told him.

“You have a date?” Kylo demanded.

“Hardly. It’s a work function.”

“At eleven at night?”

“I’m in PR, Ren. It’s hardly a nine-to-five. You are welcome to join me if you’d like. I was given a plus one…”

Kylo grunted.  “Absolutely not. I’m horny not desperate,” Kylo told him.

“Suit yourself, but I would appreciate it if you would let me get ready,” Hux said, walking past Kylo  toward the bathroom.

“We can be quick.  You could even fuck me.  A reach around is all I need right now,” Kylo said, following behind him.

“You’re right. You clearly aren’t desperate, Kylo,” Hux said dropping the robe and beginning to dress himself in the suit he’d had hanging in the bathroom.

“Fuck you. I just want to get off and go to sleep.”

“I happen to know you are particularly skilled at taking care of your own needs, so I will have to pass on this opportunity,” Hux said, buttoning up his shirt.

Kylo growled and stormed out of the room.  He felt like an idiot for even coming to Hux in the first place, especially after Hux’s questions that morning.  He’d just felt so good all day after what they’d done. He thought perhaps another round would be good for him.

He went back to his room and drank a couple beers while working on music.  He worked out the stiffness in his fingers while he waited for Ilan to show up, and together they fine tuned some of the more recent things Kylo had written.  

It often felt like sparring when they worked together.  Kylo would put something out there, and Ilan would counter it.  They would go back and forth until their ideas blended into something cohesive.  Usually, the process eventually just turned into jamming together. Neither of them would speak as they played guitar, trading ideas through their music.

By the time Ilan put his own beat up guitar back in its case, it was nearly three in the morning.  Kylo walked with him to the door and punched him in the shoulder as he left. Ilan gave him the finger, but a subtle smile played on his lips.

“Try to remember this one in the morning,” Ilan told him, walking down the hall.

Kylo was the one to flip him off this time.  He closed the door and went to his room. He stared at his bed for several minutes, but he was still feeling wound up.  He glanced at the clock and wondered if Hux was back yet and if he was more in the mood now.

Instead of getting ready for bed, Kylo walked down the hall again toward Hux’s room.  He knocked on the door, hoping Hux wasn’t asleep and unable to hear him. Once again, an answer was not quick in coming.  Kylo decided he should just take Hux’s advice and get himself off.

He turned to go back to his room, but as he did so he saw Hux walking down the hall.  He looked relaxed. His tie was undone and hanging over his chest. He carried his suit jacket over his arm as he approached Kylo with a sardonic look on his features.

“Have you been out here all night?” Hux asked, sounding just relaxed enough that Kylo could tell he’d had a few drinks.

“I actually just got here.  I was working all night,” Kylo told him, balling his hands at his sides.

“What exactly does working entail for you, Ren?” Hux asked, stepping right into his personal space.

“Working on music and lyrics with Ilan,” Kylo said, not giving an inch despite how close they were.

“I see.  I thought it might involve trashing a studio or making a disgrace of yourself in public like a true rockstar,” Hux said.

“You wish that’s what you were doing, don’t you?” Kylo whispered, leaning in to speak right into Hux’s ear.  “I saw the way you moved last night. Your stupid sweaters and schedules can’t hide that you’re at home in the same places I am.  So go ahead and pretend you think I’m worthless, but I’ve put in years of late nights and early mornings to get here,” Kylo said, leaning back to gauge Hux’s reaction.

“Why are you here, Kylo?”

“I still want to get laid, and despite your abundant shortcomings, you’re the best lay I’ve had in awhile,” Kylo admitted.

Hux sighed, sounding tired.  “I want you to ride me then,” he said.

Kylo paused.  He wasn’t particularly fond of that position.  He didn’t like how vulnerable it made him feel.  His partner could see all of him, the worst of his scar, and exactly how everything affected him.  He hadn’t felt comfortable enough with a partner in ages to enjoy himself like that, but he hadn’t tried it with Hux—Hux and his stupid moments of what sounded like genuine concern.

“Fine, but I’m blindfolding you with that tie,” Kylo said, tugging the solid red tie from Hux’s neck.

“I can’t guarantee I won’t fall asleep that way.”

“Trust me, I’m anything but boring,” Kylo said, plucking the keycard out of Hux’s hands and opening the room.  He pulled Hux inside and immediately began to undress him.

“No destroying my room either,” Hux warned as Kylo unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it down Hux’s arms.

“Shut up before you ruin this,” Kylo said, leaning in to kiss Hux.  Hux kissed him back sloppily, leading Kylo to wonder just how much he’d had to drink.

Kylo unbuttoned Hux’s pants and shoved them down before letting Hux tug his shirt over his head and completely strip him as well.  They fell into bed, and Kylo let Hux work him open with deft fingers before pushing him onto his back and blindfolding him with the tie.  

“I half suspect you are switching places with someone else while I wait,” Hux said as Kylo adjusted himself over his hips.

“Wouldn’t let anyone else fucking touch you,” Kylo growled, slowly lowering himself onto Hux’s cock.  He groaned as he felt himself stretch around Hux.

“You’re awfully possessive for a man who wants nothing to do with me about 20 hrs out of the day.”

“If you had any sort of stamina, I could lower that to twelve to sixteen hours a day, but you’ve proven yourself to be useful for only about two,” Kylo said, sinking down completely and shifting his hips.

Hux moaned once Kylo was fully seated, and he brought his hands up to rest on Kylo’s hips.  “I spend at least twelve hours a day making sure you don’t do something completely reprehensible, so please excuse me if I’m fucking exhausted at four in the goddamn morning,” Hux snapped, rocking his hips up into Kylo.

“I’m certain that if you didn’t have something to annoy you constantly, then you might just explode, so honestly I’m keeping you alive by being this way,” Kylo insisted, rising and falling on Hux again.

“You are completely deranged.”

“You probably shit diamonds from how tight you’re constantly clenched.”

“If I shit diamonds, I wouldn’t have to deal with your constant bullshit.”

Kylo was panting as he felt himself getting close.  Verbally sparring with Hux was just as much a turn on as riding him was.  

“So, you admit you’re just completely useless then,” Kylo said, squeezing around Hux’s cock and groaning as he felt his stomach tighten.

“Like you’re a good judge of character.”

“I’m a very good judge of character.  You just don’t like that I’m not impressed by your resume.”

“Please, you wouldn’t know what a resume was if it hit you in the face,” Hux retorted, grinding up into Kylo more wildly.

Kylo braced himself on Hux’s chest and let himself take what  he needed. Hux couldn’t see him as he rocked and writhed on his cock.  It was exhilarating just to move freely, seeking out what he wanted to feel.

Kylo felt himself tip over the edge, and he felt Hux right there with him.  Both of them were loud as they hit their peaks and slowly came back down. Kylo collapsed next to Hux, but didn’t let him take the blindfold off.

“Give me a few minutes, and we’ll go again,” Kylo told him.

“Give me a few minutes, and I will be asleep,” Hux retorted.

“Then take your own fucking blindfold off,” Kylo said, rolling onto his side and facing away from Hux.  He wasn’t angry with him, but he didn’t particularly want to look him in the eye at the moment.

He thought he’d fall asleep easily after sex, but within an hour, he was feeling the itch again.  Perhaps it was the vulnerability he’d felt that kept him going or the need to test the new position out again.  He wasn’t sure, but he rolled over to nudge a snoring Hux.

“What?” Hux growled as he tried to move away from Kylo’s insistent hands.

“I need to get off again.”

“Are you kidding me?” Hux asked, opening his eyes and looking over at the clock on the nightstand.

“Never mind, I’ll just jerk off,” Kylo told him.

“No, it’s fine.  Just don’t expect much participation,” Hux said, stifling a yawn.

“It’s not like you ever participate much,” Kylo retorted, rolling onto Hux and stroking his cock.

“I’m sure you’d find fault with it if I did,” Hux said, stroking Kylo’s thighs as Kylo got him going.  

Kylo laughed, opening the lube back up to go for another round.  He was halfway impaled by Hux’s dick when he felt a rush of adrenaline.  He tried not to feel self conscious as Hux watched him. He tried not to pay attention to the way Hux’s eyes roved over his chest and down to his aching cock.  

He watched his cock flag as he fully seated himself.  The same anxiousness that had kept him up was now working against him here.

“Close your eyes,” Kylo ordered.

“If I close my eyes, I’m falling back asleep.  It’s not like I haven’t seen you naked repeatedly,” Hux said, running his fingertips over Kylo’s chest.

Kylo growled, throwing himself into the movement.  He closed his own eyes and threw his head back and pushed himself toward the edge.  If Hux wouldn’t close his eyes then Kylo would. Hux was nothing more than a talking sextoy.

“You’re trembling, and you’re dick’s barely hard. Are you sure you’re—”

“Shut up,” Kylo practically barked the order, snapping his hips forward and grinding himself almost painfully against Hux’s body.  Kylo’s whole body felt like it was coming apart at the seams. All of that anxious energy was just begging for somewhere to go, and Kylo had nowhere to put it.

Gentle hands touched Kylo’s chest, and it felt like a burn as the moved slowly downward.  “Kylo…” Hux’s voice was soft but never hesitant. “You’re hurting yourself,” Hux added when Kylo staunchly refused to open his eyes or acknowledge him.

Kylo didn’t know what Hux was talkin about.  He didn’t feel hurt. He was just coming apart.  There was a difference.

“Kylo, stop.  You’re hurting yourself,” Hux said again, firmly this time.  He wrapped his hand around Kylo’s wrist, and Kylo’s eyes flew open.

Kylo’s fingers were dug into his own thighs, creating cuts with his blunt nails and causing him to bleed.  Kylo blinked at the red on his fingers and smeared on his skin, and he felt a tiny bit of relief from the pressure inside of him.   Like if he could just drain enough of his blood, he might fit inside his own skin comfortably again.

“Kylo.   Kylo ,” Hux shouted finally, but he sounded like he was underwater.  

Kylo could hear a roar in his ears as the world began to fade away.  He clawed at himself and Hux for a moment, trying to hold on, afraid of where he was going, but as quickly as the panic rose, it disappeared.  And with it, so too did Kylo.

Chapter Text

Kylo woke up in pain.  His back was completely tight, and the rest of him wasn’t much better.  He opened his eyes but quickly closed them when bright light blinded him.

“What the fuck?” he groaned, covering his face before slowly opening them again.  He immediately realized he was outside, lying on the ground.

Flashes of that night nearly a year ago flooded his mind, but he quickly realized he wasn’t actually injured.  

Kylo sat up and looked around himself.  He was lying in a field not far from the road.  His bike was parked about five feet away like he’d ridden it off road and just gotten off here and collapsed.  He couldn’t remember riding his motorcycle; he couldn’t even remember getting on it.

The last thing Kylo remember was fucking Hux and starting to feel ill.  

Cursing to himself, Kylo dug around in his pockets for his phone, but he couldn’t find it.  It would be just his luck if he was stranded out here without the damn thing. He slowly got to his feet and staggered over to his bike.  He opened the saddlebags and sighed in relief as he saw his phone.

Picking it up, Kylo lit the screen and was a little surprised to see it still had forty percent battery.  He was also surprised to see over fifty messages from the band and Hux. Kylo didn’t bother trying to read any of them before sending a message to Ilan.

—Need a lift—

He didn’t have time to read anything because his phone immediately started ringing.

“Where are you?” Ilan’s voice was rough through the speaker.

“On the side of a country road.  I think I’m in a corn field,” Kylo told him, looking around.  It was definitely a corn field, and it was surrounded by other corn fields.  It was certainly not the most idyllic place he’d ever woken up, but he also could not say it was the worst.

“Turn on your location and find out then send it to me,” Ilan told him gruffly.

“What’s up your ass?” Kylo asked, doing as he was told.

“You’ve been missing for 18 hours.  We were about five minutes away from calling the label and your parents,” Ilan said through the line.

“Sending you the location,” Kylo told him.  He closed his eyes and hoped Ilan wouldn’t look at it before they hung up.

“Bumfuck Pennsylvania?  Are you funcking kidding me?”

“That isn’t the name of it.”

“You’re in a goddamn corn field in the middle of PA.  It’s going to take me six hours to get there.”

“You can test out that new playlist for the tour bus,” Kylo told him gruffly.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.  Don’t go anywhere.”

“I’m in a corn field. Where would I go?”  Kylo certainly wanted to go somewhere, literally anywhere other than a fucking field.

“Just fucking meditate or something.”

“Just hurry up,” Kylo growled into the phone.

Ilan hung up on him.  Kylo hadn’t experienced Ilan’s anger focused on him in over ten years.  The last time he’d felt Ilan’s wrath was when he was fourteen and Ilan was sixteen.  He’d insulted Ilan’s girlfriend, and she’d broken up with Ilan over it. Ilan had given him a fat lip, and he’d given Ilan a black eye.  Edith had given them both a dressing down.

Kylo pulled his bag out of the saddle bag as well.  He opened it and looked for the emergency doses of his meds and quickly swallowed them down.  Then he pulled out the notepad and pens he had in the backpack. He ignored the waning light as he sat down on the ground and began to write.

No one messaged him as he sat there waiting.  Ilan had probably told them to let him conserve his battery.  So, it was just Kylo and his thoughts. It was not one of his favorite pairings these days.

He remembered when he was a child, and his parents sent him to live with his uncle for the summer.  His uncle had had a farm, and he tried to get Kylo to meditate and find purpose in mucking out stalls and doing repairs.  Instead, Kylo had felt unwanted and his mind was constantly filled with ideas of doubt.

By the time his father had come to get him at the end of the summer, Kylo had believed that his parents truly didn’t want him around, and he’d made himself scarce thereafter.  

This solitude was trying in a different way.  Kylo couldn’t escape the fact that he had no idea why he was here.  He had no recollection of what made him drive like a bat out of hell away from the city.  It was terrifying.

Music had grounded Kylo when he’d felt untethered.  Ilan had gotten him into guitar when coming over to beat the shit out of each other had gotten old.  Kylo had started writing lyrics even before he could play a half decent tune on the guitar. At first, it had just been incoherent strumming to screamed lyrics that rhymed poorly and had hardly any rhythm at all.  

It had been meager beginnings, but screaming had felt good, and putting those screams to music was almost socially acceptable. Going to shows and screaming along with other people who were feeling as lost as he was became a therapy of sorts, and losing himself in the pit had somehow become a salvation.

Of course, his mom had forbidden it when Kylo started to come home bruised regularly.  She’d lost it when he started coming home with tattoos that Ilan’s buddies did for him.  However, the farther Kylo fell from grace in his parents’ eyes, the closer he felt to being a person who could look in the mirror and not feel like screaming.  

Contrary to popular tabloid theories, Kylo didn’t hate his parents.  He didn’t hate that his mother was a politician or even that her career came before just about everything else.   He didn’t hate his father or his father’s crappy brand of parenting.

Kylo just couldn’t be the person his parents would’ve liked to see him be.  He couldn’t take feeling like he was being torn in two. Ilan had been right.  Kylo was constantly bombarded by the desire to be someone his parents could be proud of and the need to do the exact opposite of what that would entail...and often enough neither of those options were what he really wanted.

So, he kept his distance.

He’d gotten lucky with a record deal.  Everything had been fine until the accident.  They’d all been on top of the world, but one stretch of highway tore it all to pieces.

It wasn’t the injuries or the pain that left Kylo reeling.  It was the fact that he couldn’t definitively say whether he’d blacked out for the first time before or after he’d lost control of his bike.  Kylo couldn’t remember anything from that night, other than waking up in the middle of the road and being unable to get up. He remembered trying to get up, but falling back onto the asphalt, blood dribbling down his face.   He remembered wondering if a car would come around the bend and finish the job. After that, it was all a void for weeks.

Kylo looked up at the way the golden light of the evening washed over the endless rows of corn.  It was peaceful here, maybe that’s why he chose it. Kylo wished that he could find any sort of peace in himself.  He was too afraid that even a moment of happiness, just a second of letting his guard down, and the world would go dark, and he’d never wake up.

Picking up his pen, he started writing.  He didn’t bother to make it catchy or keep a tune in mind.  He just let it flow. He let out all of the worries he’d kept deep inside him for years.  He let out the fears he’d had since the accident. He let out the pain he’d felt every day since.  

Kylo’s hand ached as he wrote it all out, feeling safe in the quiet solitude of the corn fields.  Kylo’s ass was numb by the time the sun began to set, but he scrambled to his feet when an old pickup truck pulled over at the side of the road where he’d veered off.

Kylo’s mouth hung open as his uncle got out of the vehicle and started walking down the path he’d made on his bike.  

“I hope you’re okay,” he heard his uncle mutter as he got closer.  Finally, he stopped in his tracks when Kylo came into view. “This is unexpected to say the least,” Luke said, giving Kylo a once over.

Kylo grunted.  “It wasn’t exactly planned,” he retorted, but it had to be.  He’d had to have known exactly where he was driving when he’d set out last night.

“You alright?”

“I don’t think so,” Kylo admitted.

“Let’s get your bike onto the back of the truck and get you up to the house,” Luke told him, sounding as level as he always did.

“I can’t...I’m waiting for Ilan,” he said when his uncle gave him a confused look.

“Well, call him and give him the address, and he can meet you there.  It’s going to get cold out here as soon as the sun goes down, and you could probably use some dinner,” Luke insisted, motioning for his truck.

Kylo nodded, not knowing what else to do.  He slowly walked his motorcycle back to the road and they used planks in the back of the truck to make a ramp for the bike.  Kylo got into the passenger side and stared at the fields as Luke drove a while down the road before turning onto a long driveway.

“Han says you never came back for the old bike,” Luke said as they traveled over the bumpy driveway.  The shocks on the truck had long ago become ineffective, and he felt every pebble they traveled over.

“He’s right,” Kylo said, unwilling to explain why.  For some reason, he felt ten years old all over again.

“He says your old guitar is in the garage too.”

“Nothing gets past him.”

Luke actually laughed at that.  “To what do I owe this visit?” Luke finally asked as they walked from the garage to the front of the small ranch house.  Luke had always lived simply, and Kylo often thought he could’ve liked it here if not for the circumstances of his arrival.

“Madness,” Kylo said, walking inside and being hit by how little everything had changed.  Maybe that was why he’d come. Luke lived outside of the whirlwind of his family’s life. Stepping onto the farm was like stepping out of time, and Kylo could breathe for what seemed like the first time since he’d woken up in the hospital.

“I like your new music.  That new single you released was fantastic.  I like to meditate to it,” Luke told him, leading the way into the kitchen and pointing to one of the stools at the kitchen counter.

“I don’t know too many people who meditate to punk rock, Uncle Luke.”

“They just aren’t at one with the universe. I could meditate in the middle of a tornado.”

“You probably shouldn’t try that around here. You might end up in Oz,” Kylo told him, taking a seat and watching Luke pull things out of the refrigerator.  He texted Ilan the address, and his best friend texted back that he was still hours away along with several expletives.

Luke kept up light conversation as he prepared food for both of them.  When he had made two delicious looking sandwiches, he took a seat beside Kylo and dug in.

“I came to see you while you were in the hospital,” Luke said after he’d finished about half of his sandwich.

“I wasn’t aware,” Kylo admitted.  He hadn’t spoken to his uncle in years before the accident.  His parents had never mentioned Luke coming to see him while he was asleep.

“You were still in a coma.  Ilan told the nurse I was family, so they let me in,” Luke told him.

“Ilan never mentioned it.”

“He’s smarter than anyone gives him credit for...except perhaps you,” Luke said, taking another bite of his sandwich.

“Why’d you come to see me?”

“Because you’re my nephew, and you had nearly died.  You think I didn’t stay awake a thousand nights wondering if I’d done things differently while you were here that things might have been different?  Every day, I wonder if I was just as complicit in pushing you away as your parents. They asked me not to tell you they were getting divorced. They asked me to look after you while they tried one last time to make it work...for your sake.  They were hoping you’d have a good time on the farm away from their constant fighting, and maybe you’d come back to a better situation...then Han moved out. I never blamed you for pushing me away, Kylo. I would’ve done the same,” Luke told him, pushing his plate away.

Kylo pushed his own plate away.  “A lot of good that does me now,” he said, running his fingers through his hair and tugging at it.

“You have to forgive yourself for the things that you had no control over.  We all carry our burdens, but we can’t possibly carry the world’s,” his uncle said, taking both of their plates and cleaning them before putting them in the dishrack.  

“I don’t think about Han and Leia…”

“Don’t take me for a fool, Kylo.  I may be a lot of things, but ignorant isn’t one of them.”

“Like you can talk.  You’re out here in the middle of nowhere, avoiding everything.”

“Maybe I am, but I wouldn’t wish the same for you.”

Kylo shook his head, staring out the kitchen window at the darkened fields.  Neither of them spoke while Luke brewed coffee and poured them each a cup.

“I’ve been losing time,” Kylo said out of the blue.  Like in the corn field, he felt like he just needed to get it out of him.   Maybe if he admitted it here, it wouldn’t follow him back to the real world.

“Losing time like feeling you’re running out or…”

“Yes and no.  I feel like I’m running out of time, but it’s because I’ve been having blackouts since the accident...or maybe before.  I can’t remember.”

Luke didn’t say anything, but Kylo knew he had his full attention.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines...I don’t remember any of it.  I just know how I felt before it all went black,” Kylo admitted.

“Have you told your doctors?”

“I stopped going.  I couldn’t stand anymore tests that got no new results.  I started touring instead. Figured if I could die at any moment from some undiagnosed complication, I might as well go out doing what I wanted to be doing.”

“Does the label know?”

“They don’t even let me crowd surf when they believe I’m in perfect health.  They’d probably have me cryogenically frozen right now if they knew what was going on.  They’d thaw me out in a few years for a comeback album then right back into the freezer,” Kylo said, staring into his coffee.

“And the band? Your parents?”

“Ilan knows.  He knows when I’m not me too.  Hux is getting suspicious.”

“Who’s Hux?”

Kylo’s mouth snapped shut.  He’d forgotten that Hux wasn’t actually a part of the band or his family.  He’d just been so much a part of everything lately, especially a part of Kylo’s daily routine.

“He was hired to fix my PR problem...he might have fixed my dry spell instead.”

Luke shook his head.  “Is he good to you?”

“When I’m not being awful to him, he has his moments.”

“I think you should take a walk out in the corn,” Luke said, standing up and walking to the back door.

“Why?  You hoping to murder me?” Kylo asked, though he followed his uncle.

“No.  I walk through the corn some nights, just wandering.  You walk out a hundred feet and you feel like you’re the only person in the world.  You walk another hundred, and the solitude really sinks in. Another, and you start to wonder which way leads back home even though you know you’re walking in a straight line.  You go out far enough, and you understand what real loneliness is. You can push corn away all you want, but there’s just more behind it. You walk out there long enough, and you don’t want to push the people who stand by you away anymore because no one wants to be left with nothing but corn,” Luke told him.

“Sounds like you’re sick of being a farmer.”

“It’s not farming that I’m sick of,” Luke told him, pointing to a trail that led into the corn fields.

“I already woke up in a corn field once today.  I think I’ll pass,” Kylo told him.

Luke smiled at him.  “It must be difficult fearing personal connection while also being afraid of losing it,” Luke said, walking back inside.

Kylo didn’t follow him.  He reached into his pocket as the door shut, and he pulled out the list of his fears.  Right there at the bottom he’d written:

          I don’t want to lose myself.

“A car is here,” Luke said, coming into the sitting room where Kylo had been watching an old movie with Luke’s dog.  

Kylo groaned as he got his stiff body off the couch and followed his uncle out to the front porch.  Ilan was just getting out of the passenger side when Kylo got out there. Kylo frowned as the driver opened their door.

“He was adamant,” Ilan said as Hux got out of the car, looking like a six hour drive had done nothing to calm his fury.

Kylo cursed under his breath, but Luke clearly caught it judging by the amused look he was giving Kylo.  “That Hux?” he asked, pointing as Hux crossed the distance from the car to the porch in long, angry strides.

“What gave it away?”

Luke laughed, stepping in front of Kylo and opening his arms.  “Ilan, so good to see you again,” he greeted, blocking both men from getting to Kylo.  It was only a temporary reprieve, but Kylo appreciated it. “And you must be Hux. Kylo has told me so much about you,” he added, turning to take Hux’s hand before Hux could get a word in edgewise.  “Welcome to SKywalker Farms.”

Ilan was giving Kylo a look that said they’d be having a very interesting conversation while Hux’s eyes were all over Kylo as though looking for some sort of injury.

“I know everyone’s anxious to get back to the city for some reason, but it’s late, and you are welcome to spend the night.”

“That’s very kind of you, Luke,” Ilan said, still glaring at Kylo.  

“Let’s take a walk in the corn,” Kylo finally spoke.  

“We could just talk here.  You shouldn’t—”

“I was speaking to Ilan,” Kylo said to Hux.  Hux’s mouth snapped closed, and now he was glaring too.  “We should just get this out of the way,” Kylo added.

Ilan walked right back down the steps.  “Fuck the corn. I’ll knock some sense into you right here,” he said, pulling his sweatshirt off and leaving himself in only a black tank top.

Kylo stepped around his uncle and walked down the stairs.  Ilan was on him as soon as he stepped off the bottom step. He punched Kylo in the ribs before spearing him to the ground.  

Kylo elbowed him in the back as the hit the dirt.  He quickly rolled them and got a jab in to Ilan’s jaw as Ilan brought his arms up to block.

Ilan bucked him off and jumped to his feet, meeting Kylo with a punch that Kylo dodged.

Neither of them paid attention to Hux or Luke as they got out their frustrations in a flurry of kicks and punches.  They were familiar enough with each other’s style that less than half of their attacks actually landed, but the ones that did were intense.

“Stop this right now,” Hux shouted, coming down the steps.  Kylo noticed him out of the corner of his eye, but Luke got a hold of him before he could do something stupid.  

“Eighteen fucking hours,” Ilan hissed as he put Kylo in a headlock.

“I called you as soon as I was conscious,” Kylo retorted, elbowing him in the ribs and escaping the hold.

“And what if you were hurt or dead?  Last time you went off in the middle of the night on a bike, I got called to the hospital,” Ilan came right back with a punch to the gut...both literally and figuratively.

“Well, I’m fine.”

“Don’t give me that shit. You haven’t been fine in years,” Ilan shouted, failing to block a punch the snapped his head to the side.  He spat out blood before tackling Kylo again.

They wrestled more than punched once they were on the ground, but they traded barbs until they were both too tired to fight anymore.  They ended up with Ilan on top of Kylo, but Kylo having him locked up with his legs.

“You can’t keep doing this.  It’s killing all of us. The band doesn’t say anything, but you think they haven’t noticed.  They stand by you, but they’re worried too,” Ilan said, pounding his fist on Kylo’s chest as though he could literally hammer it in.

Kylo looked over to where Hux and Luke had been, but they weren’t there anymore.  Slowly, they got to their feet and stumbled inside. Luke’s dog came bounding for them, but he calmed down when neither of them showed any aggression.  

Luke was in the kitchen, brewing more coffee, but Hux was nowhere to be found.  Kylo let it go. He didn’t have the energy for another fight, and he was sure his fight with Hux would be even worse than the one outside.  Hux might not hit him physically, but he had no doubt that Hux could hit him where it hurt most.

“Why don’t you go out on the back deck?  I’ll start a fire in the pit, and you can relax around it,” Luke offered.

Ilan grunted, but he walked out the back door and made himself comfortable in one of the handcrafted Adirondack chairs out there.  Kylo took a seat in the one furthest from it.

“Hux came to my room last night in nothing but boxers.  He practically broke down the door because it took me a minute to answer,” Ilan said after it became clear that Luke wasn’t planning to join them, and that the coffee had been strictly for himself...and maybe Hux.

Kylo didn’t say anything.  

“He said you got up and walked out in the middle of sex.  He asked you what was wrong and you told him you had to go.”

“Did I say anything to him?” Kylo knew Ilan would understand his meaning.

“If you did, he didn’t mention it.  He said you didn’t sound right though, and he was worried.”


“It’s not.  It’s like the other night.  He called every contact he has...when nothing came of it he started trying to have your phone traced.  He was a mess. Took it harder than Ethan or Irwin. I think he took it harder than Edith.”

“None of them had a orgasm ruined because of it,” Kylo retorted.

“He kept muttering about never forgiving himself if you got hurt.  I don’t think he gave a shit about the sex.”

“I’ll talk to him.”

“Oh, I know.  He’s driving you back tomorrow while I ride your bike.  Chafing my ass for six hours will be worth it not to be in that vehicle.”

“Why’d you bring him?”

“I’m lucky he brought me.  As soon as you texted me, he was mobilized.”

Kylo let his head fall back against the chair.  The next thing he knew, Ilan was giving his shoulder a gentle nudge.  

“Your uncle has me set up in the guest room, and you’re in your old room.  You should get some sleep.”

Kylo nodded, not questioning anything as he got up and went into the house.  He walked down the hall to the room he’d spent that summer in all those years ago.  

Stepping inside, he wasn’t entirely surprised to see Hux’s sleeping form on the bed.  The light was still on, and Kylo could see the dark circles under Hux’s eyes. He pulled the covers up, and stepped back, planning to take the couch with Luke’s dog.

“Don’t you dare leave,” Hux mumbled without opening his eyes.

Kylo froze where he stood.  

“I didn’t think you’d want to share a bed, especially a twin,” he said.

“I don’t want you out of my sight.”

“I can’t be in your sight if your eyes are closed.”

“Then lying beside me will have to do, and don’t even think about getting a boner because I will finish what Ilan started,” Hux told him, scooting to the opposite edge of the bed to make room for Kylo.

Kylo removed his shirt and his jeans before climbing onto the too small bed.  Both of their feet hung over the end of it, and there was hardly enough room to lie front to back.  Kylo draped his arm over Hux’s hip, and Hux twined their fingers, clearly not trusting Kylo to stay without being tethered somehow.

Kylo drifted off only to be woken by Hux shaking.

“You okay?” Kylo asked, wrapping his arm more firmly around Hux.  

“Fuck off,” Hux mumbled.

“Whatever,” Kylo said, yawning against the back of Hux’s neck.  

“Do you remember any of what we did?”

“I guess Ilan spilled the beans then,” Kylo groaned.

“Not willingly.  Six hours is a long time to put up with my questions.”

“Six hours is a long time to put up with you period, but if he told you, it’s because he thought you should know, not because you pestered him,” Kylo informed him.

“You should’ve told me.”

“I haven’t told anyone other than him and my uncle.  It’s not about you.”

“Do you remember?”

“Yes. I remember all of the times we fucked.  It wasn’t some fucking alter ego or something.”

“Even the time we trashed the place.”

“Especially the time we trashed the place.  I can’t get the fucking image of you riding that dildo out of my goddamn mind.  If I was more talented, I’d write a song about it, but I don’t know anyone with enough talent to make that anything but ridiculous.”

Hux grunted, but Kylo told himself it was his way of trying not to laugh.  

“I made you an appointment with a neurologist.  If you don’t go, fine, but...I can’t wonder if every time I sleep with you whether you’re all there or I’m forcing myself on you...or if you’ll fly off the handle.  And I can’t take another day like today. I book interviews, massage people’s image. I can’t solve what’s wrong here. Only a doctor can.”

“I know.”

Hux was quiet for a long time, and Kylo thought he’d finally fallen asleep.  Then he started talking again, quietly.

“I was a part of the scene growing up in London.  Punk rock was going to save us all. Until I got into one too many fights, and my father made it clear what a disappointment I was to him and the family name.  He sent me to America to go to school here since he didn’t think me worth sending to a British institution. I went into PR as a final fuck you to him. I could turn even the worst fuck up into an exemplary citizen.  Sometimes I forget that I used to be more comfortable in the crowd than backstage.”

“You should join the crowd once in a while during the set.”

“You aren’t going to save me either, Kylo.”

“Who saves I’m trying to?”

Hux laughed softly.  “I’ve been in the crowd before.  When I stopped helping backstage, I went out in the crowd a few times just to see what all the fuss was.  Still don’t understand it.”

“Well, you’re tone deaf, so I’m not surprised.”

“I suppose there’s that too.”

“Are you still pissed?”

“I am going to be angry for the foreseeable future, so don’t even think about breaking the boner rule.”

“Of course not.”

Hux grumbled, but he’d stopped shaking, so Kylo took that as a success.

Kylo woke as Hux climbed out of bed.  The morning light was shining through the sheer curtains, and the smell of bacon wafted in from down the hall.  

“Going down to tell my uncle to eat healthier?” Kylo asked, rolling onto his back and scratching his chest.  

“I have manners, unlike some people.  I would never tell a man what to eat in his own home.  I simply do not sleep past seven...ever,” Hux said, picking up the shirt he’d worn the night before.  

Kylo shook his head and rolled onto his stomach.  “Just gives me more room on the bed,” he mumbled into the pillow.

“Like you didn’t take up most of the room anyway,” Hux huffed, but it sounded almost fond.

Kylo lifted his arm just enough to flip Hux off.

His peace and space only lasted about five minutes before his uncle walked into the bedroom.  “Armie is attacking the bacon like a vegetarian throwing away six years of clean living,” Luke said, standing in the doorway.

“Asshole,” Kylo grumbled, pushing himself out of bed.  He followed Luke down to the kitchen in just his boxers, and sure enough, Hux had a pile of bacon on his plate that even impressed Kylo.  “Are you seriously going to eat all of the bacon just so I can’t have any?”

Hux looked up at him innocently.  “I shared with Ilan before he left.”

Kylo sighed, resigning himself to the pot of oatmeal that was simmering on the stove.  It really wasn’t worth the argument with Hux. He filled a bowl and took a seat beside Hux, digging into his disappointing meal.  At least, he was used to disappointment at this point.

However, after a few minutes, Hux placed exactly two strips of bacon on a napkin and pushed it over to Kylo’s bowl.  Kylo tried not to smile, but he couldn’t help it as he took a bite from one of the strips.