The First Order was ruined.
Destroyed. Done for. Defeated.
It didn’t matter what word was used because it all came down to the same thing. The First Order had failed. He had failed.
Despite all of this, General Hux still stood before a console in his command center. Precious few were left at their posts and more left every passing minute. What was the point? If they stayed, they only had prison to look forward to or perhaps execution if they ranked high enough. It would be decades before the First Order could ever have a chance to rise again and he wasn’t one to begrudge his men and women their lives. As General though… he intended to go down with the ship even if his own Star Destroyer had already been blown out of the sky hours ago.
The automated reports that rapidly scrolled across his screen brought nothing but more bad news. Another capital ship crippled, another squadron destroyed, more territory conquered by the now quickly moving Resistance fighters. He stepped away from the depressing screen to watch the destruction through the viewport, unable to resist standing in the precise center. The door hissed open and between the sound of one of his remaining officers quietly gasping in shock and that distinctive, heavy stride, he didn't even have to turn his head to know who the lone man who entered was. Reflexively, he straightened into ramrod straight parade posture, hands clasping behind his back. “Come to gloat, Ren?”
“I don’t use that name anymore.”
“It’s ever so hard to keep track,” Hux sneered. “What do you prefer now? Solo? Or do they frown on using the name of the father you killed?”
Ben Solo laughed, a sound that still sounded foreign coming from him. “It won’t work, Hux.”
He shrugged. “This hasn’t been a day of victories for me.” Finally, he turned to look at the man beside him, a man Hux’d once known so well. The mask was either long gone or placed on a shelf somewhere beside the burnt husk of Vader's. He still wore all black although with far less layers and drama than his old robes. That pale face, still marred by the vicious scar from his failure at Starkiller base, looked older than it had several months ago. Older and calmer although that wasn’t a high bar to clear. “You never answered my question.”
“Are you here to gloat?”
“Are you here to kill me?”
There was a sharp intake of breath. “No.” Solo frowned. “Why would you think that?”
Hux laughed bitterly and gestured towards the nearly empty command room and the carnage visible outside. “The First Order is defeated. You Skywalkers killed the Supreme Leader. What else would be next?”
“You know about Snoke?” he asked, a note of genuine surprise in his tone.
“Everyone knows!” Hux exclaimed, making a junior officer jump. “Your loathsome little Resistance friends broadcast it to every screen they could. Three Skywalkers against the Supreme Leader, persevering despite the odds… how disgustingly heroic. The holofilms practically write themselves.” The distaste yet grudging respect for his enemy’s propaganda team had managed to slip into his voice but vanished the next moment. “Besides, we all felt his death.” Solo's frown deepened. “Something to do with your ridiculous Force, no doubt.”
“I didn’t think non-Jedi felt it.”
“Well we did.” He clasped his hands behind his back again, squeezing until it hurt. “Why. Are. You. Here.”
Solo’s dark eyes were filled with emotion as he replied, “Because I knew you’d be here.”
“And how far behind are your new friends?”
“I don’t know.”
Hux narrowed his eyes. Typical. It didn’t seem to matter if he was Kylo Ren or Ben Solo; the man was useless when it came to answering questions directly. Pivoting sharply, he began pacing the length of the room, never straying too far from the viewport. “Then you have three options to choose from before they arrive. One,” he began ticking them off on his fingers, “You take me prisoner which I’d really prefer to avoid so I don’t spend the rest of my life in a cell. Two, you let me escape although that’s a less of an option the longer we talk and the more of my ships your people destroy.”
“You would’ve already left if you wanted that.”
Hux acknowledged the comment with a nod before proceeding to the final option. “Three, you kill me.”
“Your refusal doesn’t invalidate its viability.”
Solo shook his head. “There must be another way.”
“Four was that we fly away together and never look back but somehow I don’t think your mother will let you run off with your First Order lover.” Hux’s voice couldn’t have dripped with more sarcasm if he’d tried. “So it looks like I'll be dying at your hands.”
At long last, Hux’s calm broke and he grabbed Solo’s shirt with both hands, pulling him close. “The first two weren’t options, you imbecile.”
Solo shook his head again. “I won’t kill you, Hux.” Hux released his grip on the other man's shirt, pushing him a step backwards as he turned away. Almost immediately, Solo reached out and grabbed his shoulder, spinning him back around. "Surrendering doesn't have to mean execution or life inside a dark hole. The Republic-- the Jedi are about redemption and second chances. They didn’t lock me away.”
There was no way Hux could resist rolling his eyes at the willful ignorance. "That's because of who your family is.”
“If I tell her-- My mother could—”
“What?” Hux arched a questioning eyebrow. “You think your mother will forgive all just because we used to have something? This isn’t that kind of story. Well,” Hux caught himself with a little laugh. “Maybe it is but I’m the villain in it and the villain never gets a happy ending.”
Solo’s expression and tone were so earnest that he almost couldn’t believe that this was the same person who’d once destroyed computer consoles on a regular basis when something didn't go his way. “I’ve heard your speeches before—”
“—you could convince her.”
Hux sighed. “And what would my defense be?” His expression turned cruel as he pulled the other man close. “General Organa, I know I gave the order to destroy five planets but I regret losing this war and would love a pardon and oh by the way,” Hux lowered his voice and spoke the words right into his ear, lips brushing against dark hair. It was too hard to resist weaving his fingers through that soft hair one last time. “I’ve had your son bent over every possible surface in my quarters and I know the exact sound he makes when he comes.” The words were punctuated with a hip thrust, making the other man grab him. “So how about that pardon?”
Most people would have shoved Hux away but Kylo Ren—no, Ben Solo was not most people. Instead, he pulled at Hux’s red hair, changing the angle of their heads so he could kiss him roughly. Light side, dark side… it didn’t matter. He still kissed the same and Hux was willing to put credits on the fact that he likely still fucked the same. He wasn’t sure which one of them had the sense to pull away before hands started wandering and they forgot about the rest of the galaxy. Every last officer left in the room was making a very careful study of the terminals before them, clearly uncomfortable with being witness to any of this. Perhaps on another day, Hux would have cared that his men and women were watching him act so unprofessionally with the man who used to be Kylo Ren but it didn't seem to matter anymore. Hands lingered as neither one of them felt inclined to let go of the other quite yet. “That’s the defense you’d use?” Solo asked, voice sliding towards the deeper end as it was wont to do.
“Mom doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.”
“None of what I said was a lie.”
“I know. I was there for all of it.”
It was a time for a different tactic. Hux narrowed his eyes and shoved him backwards. “This is pointless but what else should I have expected from a traitor like you?”
The corner of Solo’s mouth twitched downwards. “Why do you keep doing that?”
“Try to make me mad.”
“No, I’m trying to make you kill me,” Hux drawled. “You just don’t seem to understand how serious I am.” A large ship passed too closely overhead, making the room shake again. “And I am running out of time.” There was a long stretch of silence before Hux sighed. "I won't beg for my life and I won't apologize for what I've done in the name of the First Order. The Resistance," he couldn't help the instinctive sneer, "won't get that satisfaction from me so if you ever lov—if you ever had any regard for me, you’ll put that saber through my heart before your damned precious family gets here to throw me in a cell for the rest of my life and only let me out so they can make an example of me with a humiliating public trial for my war crimes followed by a public execution."
A direct strike shook the building but not enough to do anymore. Neither man seemed to notice, brown eyes locked with blue. "Since when do you talk about love?"
"I've asked you to kill me three times and you choose to focus on a misspeak?" Hux scoffed. "Typical."
Despite the situation, Solo couldn't help but smile lopsidedly. "General Hux doesn't misspeak. I've heard enough of your speeches."
“Those are practiced. This is... this is different.” Hux glanced down at the screens that kept refreshing with more bad news as the Resistance took control of the base. Spotting a stormtrooper helmet on the security cameras was fast becoming an exercise in futility. “Your Resistance will be here soon.” It finally occurred to him that some of his officers had endured, loyal to the end. Straightening, he stepped away from Solo, addressing them all for the first time in what felt like ages. "Resistance soldiers will take this base within the hour. I suggest that you all make your way to the hanger and evacuate while you still can. The First Order thanks you for your service."
One young lieutenant opened his mouth, perhaps to protest but was quickly silenced as another lieutenant dragged him away. Several saluted before they left which he acknowledged with a nod. Silence returned as the last woman left the room, doors hissing shut behind her.
None of it seemed to matter to the Jedi Knight who’d turned away to gaze out the viewport. The General’s assessment of the situation hadn’t been wrong. More and more Resistance ships were landing on the planet’s surface and it was only a matter of time before they found their way to the control room. “Why do I have to kill you? A blaster in your hand would work just as well.”
Hux twitched. “It’s undignified. And messy.”
“And unbefitting of your status.”
“Don’t mock me.”
“I would never mock a general.”
Something about the tongue-in-cheek remark made Hux give up. Hands curled into fists as he leaned heavily on the console, shoulders rounding. “I can’t argue with you about this anymore. Either end my life or leave me. Please.”
Please was not a word that Hux had often said over the years. Please was not a word that he had ever said to Kylo Ren. Please was a word that caught his attention now. The former Knight of Ren shifted over so their shoulders were just brushing. “This is really what you want?”
A strangled laugh managed to fight its way out. “Of course it isn’t. I don’t want to die here. I want to live. I want to leave a legacy. I want to push the Supreme Leader aside and truly rule the First Order. I want to conqueror star systems by the dozens and bring the galaxy to its knees before me.” His back straightened again at the mere thought of the fantasy, tone reflecting reality. “But I won’t. Not in this life time.”
Silence hung between them for long moments before Solo finally broke it softly. “Okay.”
A sigh of relief escaped Hux’s lips. “Thank you, Ben.” The name felt foreign on his tongue despite sounding so close to the surname he’d said more times than he could count but calling him Solo or even Kylo didn’t feel right in that moment.
The name got half a smile out of him despite the circumstances. “Is there uhhh anything that you…”
“Fast and painless would be preferable,” Hux answered, knowing where the stumblings were headed. He should have felt a sense of impending doom now that the man beside him had said that he would kill him and yet it felt like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. There were no responsibilities or expectations left to fulfill or fail; just these last few minutes of his life.
Ben nodded, brown eyes fixing him with an intense stare. “Hux, I—”
He shook his head and then cut him off completely by kissing him again. They’d never discussed anything remotely resembling feelings when they’d keeping each other’s beds warm and this was not the time to start. For those moments, they forgot about everything else in the world except for each other. Hux wove his fingers through Ben’s hair, pulling hard enough to make him moan even as Ben wrapped his arms around him, pulling him close and sliding his hands low. Any other time, he would’ve begun paying more attention to the other man’s neck, marking that pale skin with his mouth, but this wasn’t any other time. This was the last time. He didn’t know if it was some sort of Force trick but it felt like that prolonged kiss conveyed everything neither of them had ever been willing to voice. It was almost enough to make him change his mind. Almost but not quite.
“Make it quick,” Hux murmured as they pulled apart, touches lingering. His fingers left that dark hair, slowly trailing down his cheeks and pausing briefly to trace the scar before dropping to his sides. Ben merely nodded, slowly reaching for his lightsaber. It was too slow for his tastes (why was he hastening his own death) and so he grabbed the other man’s wrist, instantly regretting it as he saw the expression on Ben’s face. He was stupid, so stupid for asking him to do this. He’d listened the night when Kylo had told him about killing Han Solo, unable to look anywhere but the floor, and now here he was asking him to do the same thing again. “It’s okay. This isn’t like before.”
Ben took a deep breath, steadying himself before he could reply. “I know.”
The last thing General Hux heard was the sound of a lightsaber igniting as it went straight through his heart.