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Ren’s shuttle was back. General Armitage Hux had to admit that Ren was nothing if not efficient. It was something that he would grudgingly give the man credit for, even if Ren was a tantrumming manchild with an aesthetic that could be charitably called second-rate Vader. (Third-rate, if Hux was being honest. Darth Vader would probably be insulted to be associated with Kylo Ren)

Ren walked down the hallway — practically stormed down it, if Hux was to be more precise. And Poe Dameron, Commander Dameron of the Resistance, was with him. In cuffs. 

”Well, I have to give you credit, Ren,” Hux said. “You actually brought him back. How exactly was the excursion to Tuanul? Did you drown any widows and orphans while you were there?”

He swore Dameron actually stiffened — was that guilt he sensed? Of course Dameron would feel guilty. After all, compassion grew in him. Like a cancer. Or a fungus. Either way, something unpleasant. Hux couldn’t say he ever understood that. It wasn’t even a matter of the First Order being mustache-twirlers; the Resistance really was that bad. Snoke had told him what they did to their prisoners...

”Bold talk,” Ren retorted, “From a man approving an imitation Death Star.”

”Oh, very witty, Ren. I’m just amazed that you actually captured the pilot without succumbing to sentimentality.” A beat. “Though you could have just gotten it over with and read his mind on Tuanul. Then killed him." 

Dameron stiffened again. Good, Hux thought. He had to be reminded he wasn’t the biggest rancor in the pit. Not that he was particularly big anyway. Short, delicate-looking — he looked practically fragile next to the towering Ren. 

”Or do you not have the stomach for it?” Hux sneered at Ren. “Is he that pretty? You want him for yourself — a pretty thing to possess? You want to have him? Something from your past, something unresolved?”

Dameron glared at him. “You’re mistaken,” he said. “I’ve never met Ren in my life. I doubt that he’s met me. I mean nothing to him, he means nothing to me,” and Hux swore he saw Ren go rigid, "And you’re talking bantha shit.”

Hux almost felt laughter bubbling up inside him. Not nice laughter, but definitely laughter nonetheless. “You really don’t know, do you, Dameron? I assume General Organa didn’t let some things reach her replacement’s ears...?”

”That is enough,” Ren said. Hux had to give Ren credit; he didn’t know whether Ren was being protective of Dameron (well, before the interrogation) or trying to defend his own ego. Who knew regarding Ren? He was notoriously capricious. 

"You have no place in this story, Dameron,” Hux said. At least getting one last jab in at Dameron would be satisfying. “You’re nothing more than a copy. A replacement. General Organa keeps you around for entertainment, no doubt, maybe a bit of aesthetic appeal, but certainly not because you’re useful, not because of anything other than to numb the pain of a lost — ”

“That’s enough, General,” Ren said sharply. “He is mine to do with as I please; you have no place in this."

“You don’t have the stomach,” Hux said. "I doubt you could ever inflict the sufficient amount of pain on the man who was the love of your life.”

”You are lucky,” Ren growled, “That Snoke favors you, or I would have killed you myself."

”Sibling rivalry?” Dameron snarked. He sounded a bit shaken, but like he was trying to get back to his old quips. "I understand. Not easy trying to please the old man, is it?"

Oh, Hux was going to make this painful. Intentional or not, Dameron had brought up memories of Hux’s father. Not that he missed the foul creature, but nonetheless...

”I will break you,” Hux hissed. 

”The stormtroopers will handle him,” Ren growled. “He is not for you.”

***

Ren did leave him to the stormtroopers. Idiot, Hux thought. Even listening to the snarky commentary through the walls, Hux wished the stormtroopers would do him a favor and cut Dameron’s tongue out, tape his mouth shut, anything. He was truly irritating. Spunky, and irritating. 

***

Ren came back. Hux watched as he disappeared into the interrogation room, closed the door with a wave of his hand, and then...

Muffled voices. Defiance, at first. And then, thankfully, screaming in pain, begging for Ren not to drag up his worst memories, demanding to know where “Ben” was —

Dameron had to be reminded he wasn’t the biggest rancor in the pit. 

Muffled voices. Ren, sounding softer, more subdued. Then the door opening, a brief view of Dameron battered, bloody and unconscious (had Ren knocked him unconscious?), and Ren. 

At least he knew how to get results. 

”It’s in a droid,” Ren said evenly. “A BB unit.”

”Well then,” Hux said, “If it’s on Jakku we’ll soon have it.”

”I leave that to you.” Ren said. 

Hux doubted he knew whether to be angry that Ren had showed him up or at least grateful that Ren hadn’t let sentiment get in the way. Either way, victory was within their grasp...and Hux would not kriff it up.