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A General Guide to Skywalking

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The first thing he notices: his hair.

 It's against regulations. Too long. It falls over his brow and pokes into his eyes when he turns his head, disoriented. The not-so-familiar brush of sanitized linen on his cheek tells him he is in the medical center; the supervisors must have seen the state of his hair already, then. It's a minor thing, but the watertight reputation he has built for himself in the academy hasn't yet settled-

 Academy?

 And then, the second thing he notices: a hand. Not his own, carefully lifting away the strand of ginger tickling his temple.

 Hux opens his eyes. He is not in the academy medical center.

 "What." he croaks, reaching up instinctively to slap away the foreign touch. Two of his fingers twitch beside his head. Nothing more.

 "Don't move- we've cleared the atmosphere. There are no detected pursuits. Reparations are due to be completed within three standard days." the man sitting over him hesitates. "Or so they say. Somehow I suspect they don't find me an approachable enough superior to report to, general. Your technicians are waiting for you on the bridge."

 There's a smile in his voice, though Hux can't see his face properly with his blurred vision, like an inside joke too subtle for anyone else to track. Hux blinks in confusion.

 "Pursuit?" he manages. It's an important word.

 That hand again, hovering over his face as if in concern.

 "Yes. We had to launch from the planet without the supplies. They will pay, of course, for betraying us. You-" the man's voice turns sharper, "-don't you remember? You hit your head pretty hard during one of the impacts, but I was told it was a minor concussion, no more."

 A warm palm settles over his eyes.

 "You will excuse me, general."

 This is when Hux finally registers the title: general. His focus snaps into sudden lucidity, memories and information spiking in his mind like fragments of a larger story. His father's study, the academy years, boarding the Finalizer-

 The images curl back into the obscure back of his head. Hux is left reeling, and he isn't the only one, too, petrified by the blankness of his mind. The man draws in a sharp breath. Hux can see his face clearly now, in accurate detail, the way his eyes are wide and his lips are twisted in shock.

 "So," Hux says, fighting the edge of panic seeping into his sluggish awareness. "It appears I've lost some memories."

 

 

 

 "Careful, Ren. My tolerance for immaturity isn't as infinite as you seem to believe."

 Kylo leans back against the frail rails on either side of the catwalk, sweeping his eyes over the vacated engine room that it overlooks. Without the helmet, even the stale air inside the Finalizer is a pleasant touch on his face.

 "You say that to me a lot, general." he drawls, in that careless way he knows Hux hates. "It's about time you learned the concept of futility."

 Hux visibly resists the urge to punch Kylo neatly over the edge of the catwalk. Kylo doesn't need the aid of the force to read what's going on in his mind; for all that Hux prides himself in being a composed, professional man, he is laughably easy to rile up at times.

 Especially so if Kylo happens to have just demolished a sizable portion of the non-vital facilities in the central engine room.

 Hux stabs a finger toward the wreckage of wire and debris that has recently suffered through Kylo's bad mood. "I've lost officers and equipment to your ridiculous tantrums. Now I worry about losing my ship, and in case you haven't noticed, you're on that ship. Are you suicidal? This is the engine room!"

 Kylo waves a dismissive hand. Judging by the color of Hux's face, the general should be more concerned about losing one of his arteries to blood pressure than about losing his ship to an ally who, despite appearances, does know what he's doing.

 "I didn't touch the integral parts." he assures Hux.

 "You are not to touch any part of this ship, metal or human." Hux hisses, eyes blazing.

 Kylo lifts an eyebrow. "Oh? And how will you stop me? My master cares little about such trivialities, and I listen to him only."

 Hux has started pacing back and forth the narrow catwalk. "There must be something you need. " he groans. "A fancier shrine for that dusty shell of a helmet you keep in your room? A cloak that isn't a half-torn rag? Some maturity?"

 Usually, this is when Kylo loses interest in Hux's rants and leaves the scene. But despite having inflicted considerable damage on his surroundings, he is still in a sour mood, and he crowds Hux against the far end of their footing until he falls silent and looks up at him with trepidation.

 "There is a disquiet in me." Kylo says blandly. "You do not understand it. I've seen your mind- so neatly compartmentalized. It never leaves, and it whispers at me to lash out at orderly things."

Orderly things. Because that's what Hux is, a perfect, dutiful doll sitting primly atop the immaculate hierarchy of the system that Snoke has commanded Kylo participate in.

Kylo doesn't know what it is that drives him then to press his lips against Hux's- correction, he knows exactly what it is. He has just gotten quite good at pretending he doesn't recognize its name.

"You want to know if I have something that I need. I do not." he whispers, pushing down the clotted, yearning thing in his chest the way he has done countless nights before. "But there's something I want. I'd appreciate some help clearing my mind, general. A distraction. What do you say?"

Hux glances down at the arm that has snaked its way around his waist, and Kylo sees comprehension pass in his eyes when he shifts his gaze back to Kylo. Hux's face wipes instantly of emotion. Kylo prepares to be slapped, or kicked, or possibly pushed over the rail for real.

"Fine." Hux says tersely, and it's Kylo who stumbles back in surprise, then thinks of course. He has run this particular scenario in his mind a few times before, and the only reason it never ventured out of his late night fantasies was precisely that Kylo knew Hux would agree- this means nothing to him, after all, and Kylo is not entirely hideous. The surprise is less at Hux's reaction and more at the fact that Kylo actually made the suggestion.

It's a joke, he means to say, forget about it. But instead he's kissing Hux again, pressing him flatter onto the wall with helpless enthusiasm. Hux is the one who breaks away first, leaning away just far enough to level Kylo with a calculating look.

"A night." he says. Kylo can't look away from his mouth. "And we'll see what you make of it."

Kylo nods numbly, afraid the gaping desperation in him would show itself if he dares to speak. For a moment he thinks he sees something similar mirrored in Hux's eyes, but the moment passes and Hux turns to stride out the exit.

For once, Kylo follows him without a word.

 

 

 

The man's name is Kylo Ren. He is a not-sith-not-jedi-apprentice-knight-co-commander that apparently likes to spend his time terrorizing the crew of the Finalizer and Not Doing Anything Productive. Now that Hux is an official invalid, suspended indefinitely from his duties and all but chained to his bed from the concussion, Kylo mostly seems to occupy himself with sitting sullenly beside Hux's bed and pioneering new horizons in the art of brooding. His presence in Hux's life is as difficult to place as his confusing position in the First Order's hierarchy. Hux has managed to scrape together some vague impressions left of the man in his mind. For example: pest. Asshole. Distraction. Undisciplined, impulsive, childish, insult-spitting tantrum-throwing bastard of an ingrate.

 And underneath them all, an inexplicable fondness.

 Hux can't say he is entirely comfortable with this feeling, especially when he contemplates the impossible origin of the sentiment in question. Surely his memory-intact self wouldn't have developed a personal bond with a coworker? And a figure equal to him in authority at that. It would have the potential to compromise either or both of their decisions; sentiment always ruins things.

 When Kylo enters the room at his usual brisk pace- Hux has no idea how he knows the access code to his private cabin- Hux looks up from the screen of his datapad and considers the approaching man. Kylo has a certain slouch to his posture that he adopts in Hux's presence, not unlike that of a chastened child, and his shoulders are up to his ears as if some hunching could ever make him look small or harmless. Hux waits for him to drop down on his seat by the bed before he deactivates the datapad and puts it aside.

 "I presume we used to be quite the antagonistic pair." he begins conversationally.

 Kylo takes off his helmet and shakes his hair out of his face.

 "I didn't know you had an ear for gossip." Kylo says defensively, and shuts his mouth like he regrets it instantly.

 "Not gossip." Hux nods at the datapad. "Factual evidence. Multiple reports of resource damage, done for no apparent reason, and I don't react well to indiscipline. Though it did stop a few months back."

 Kylo shrugged. "I was convinced it was counterproductive."

 "Still, we must have had some spectacular disagreements. I'm surprised that you care enough to visit me daily. Not that it goes unappreciated."

 Kylo looks at Hux at this. His face is completely expressionless. Hux watches in fascination as an uneven blush spreads on his cheeks.

 Ah, Hux thinks, a flash of intuition that crosses his thoughts. So we fucked.

 It's even less appropriate than he imagined. He eyes Kylo curiously, this time from a different angle. He can't really make out much beneath the layers of loose clothing covering Kylo from the shoulder down, but there's promise in the width of his shoulders, in the feline grace with which he moves his limbs.

 "Anyway, I was wondering if you could help me get to my office? I can't access the more classified articles from here." he says.

 Kylo is apparently so stunned by this that he doesn't remember Hux is not to leave the room until they're out the door and down the corridors, at which point Hux starts sweating and swaying a little on his feet. No inconvenient tender feelings that used to be, then, if Kylo's taken aback by such a trivial request for help. It was just a fling. The thought should be a relief; somehow, it settles as an ache. He ignores it firmly and concentrates on making his way forward, leaning against Kylo every few seconds to fight off the nausea and the pounding headache. He feels strangely bare without the uniform he only saw himself wearing in the picture on the personnel list. Kylo trails him with silent disapproval, making stormtroopers march by twice as fast with the force of his masked glare.

 He stands outside Hux's office while Hux collects a few items from his desk, sometimes relying on uncertain recognition and sometimes picking things up by pure guess. The struggle back is even less pleasant than the journey before. Just a few feet to his room Hux stumbles and almost falls on his face, an embarassing slip of focus, and he expects to have another bump on his head to show for it before he's stopped mid-air by an invisible force.

 Hux looks toward Kylo when he's set gently back on his feet and sees the awkwardly outstretched hand, not poised to reach out and catch but spread as if to direct something unseen.

 "Uh." Kylo says.

 "Was that your doing?" Hux exclaims. He snatches up Kylo's gloved hand and examines it closely, frowning when he can't find anything unusual about it. Kylo tolerates the groping for a while, then abruptly starts to quake with laughter.

 "What?" Hux says, dropping the hand. He was trained as an engineer before he decided to fully devote his efforts to the command track, a section of his life that he most clearly remembers, and no one can blame him for thinking it strange to see someone manipulate physics without equipment assistance.

 "Nothing, nothing." Kylo says, breath coming in short blasts through his helmet. "It's just that you've never been so impressed by my use of the force before."

 "The force?" Hux is possibly failing to suppress the excitement in his voice. Kylo steps ahead and presses in the access code, then steps aside to help Hux in.

 "How about you lie down first, and I'll show you."

Hux lies down. Kylo doesn't show him anything, though, which is likely due to the fact that Hux throws up twice on his way to the bed and has to redirect himself to the sanitizer-shower. He lies on his back and stares miserably at the ceiling while Kylo hurries out the door to fetch a medbey officer or twenty.

 

 

 

 Hux's holo-projecter rattles in its socket. the discarded blankets ripple on the floor, the light fixtures flicker unsteadily over their heads, and the rest of the room jerks minutely in time with Kylo's thrusts. Kylo barely even notices any of it. He can feel Hux rolling his hips back against Kylo's own, and if he has attention left to spare for anything other than that, he'd rather use it on straining his ears for the barely-there hitches in Hux's exhales.

 "Would you-" Hux begins to say, and doesn't continue for a while as Kylo does something extraordinary to his prostate.

 "Would you stop that." he grits out sometime after, when they've settled back into a more languid pace.

 "Stop what?"

 "The force."

 Kylo runs his hand over the sleek planes of Hux's back. "You promised me release. Release doesn't involve stopping what is natural to me."

 "You'll break my datapad." Hux grunts.

 Kylo flicks a finger, raising said datapad from where it was clattering around on the desk and making sure to wave it obnoxiously in Hux's line of sight before he deposits it on the rumpled coat Hux left on the floor.

"Satisfied?"

Hux answers by tightening himself obnoxiously around Kylo, who doubles over with an undignified yelp and loses all ability to access human language. He pretends he can't sense the smirk expanding inside Hux's mind and reluctantly gives in to the pleasure washing out his thoughts.

 

 

 

The next time Kylo comes, Hux is flat on his back. Or his side, whatever, he could be standing on his head for all he knows. The world tumbles queasily around him as he makes an incoherent sound of greeting toward the general direction of Kylo's looming figure.

Kylo doesn't bother with a chair and sits directly on the bed. Hux fights another brief battle with the urge to wretch as the surface dips under the added weight.

"Not any better?" Kylo asks, more voice than visible shape in the two percent light. Hux groans when he leans closer presumably to check Hux's state, shifting the bed again.

"Careful." he garbles out, and Kylo goes rigid beside him.

"What did you say?"

"You're moving the bed."

"Oh. Sorry. I thought you- something else." He springs up and backs away from the bed. Hux silently curses him as the bedsprings bounce violently.

"No-sit." he slurs, wriggling his fingers to communicate his discontent on the turn of events. "Talk. It's nice."

Kylo lowers himself obediently onto the sheets again. "What about?"

"Anything."

"Ah- I had a conversation with my master today. There were mentions about you. And I oversaw the engineers reconstruct the air circulation system in section 3B." he pauses, "And, I ate lunch."

Another pause. Hux can practically hear Kylo frantically wracking his brain for something to talk about.

"Or you could read me something." Hux prompts, deciding to be merciful for once. "Ten percent light is tolerable. Patrol manual for alpha shift, it's on my datapad."

The datapad flies into Kylo's grip and the light brightens to just this side of bearable. Hux pulls the sheets over his head and listens as Kylo recites the checkpoints and the emergency contact routes. He leans his forehead against the warmth of Kylo's thigh, faint through the fabric and familiar from some forgotten part of the past. If this were mine, he thinks. But it's not. He doesn't know what exactly this is, if Kylo comes to him every day and sits on his bedside from pity, or from curiosity, or from a desire to see him back on his feet as soon as possible so he can take back his duties, but it is not from Kylo being his.

Knowing this would be easier, Hux thinks, if the hand that settles on his temple weren't so gentle. If the voice that read to him weren't so soothing and earnest, as if speaking of something completely different from a droll protocol, something sweet, something fit to whisper to a lover.

Hux allows himself to wonder as he slowly falls asleep.

 

 

 

"Adequate timing, general. We've secured all the rebels save for two."

The holo connection that flickers to life is just unstable enough to show that the 'secured' rebels are violently and decidedly dead behind Kylo's cheerful form, bodies lined neatly against the charred wall of the parliament. Kylo has made sure of the angling.

He can see Hux squint on the other side, either attempting to count the total number of heads (it will be difficult; some of them are not in one piece) or experiencing a sudden migraine at the news.

"I thought," his fury is almost tangible through the tinny audio, "You would capture as many as possible so they can be interrogated."

"I'm doing that." Kylo says, in a tone intended to convey complete and utter sincerity but which ends up more petulant than anything else.

Hux draws in an audible breath. "You have two left."

"I was not ordered to bring any of them alive aboard the Finalizer, only to make an example of them."

This is childish, Kylo knows. This may even be infantile. Doubly so considering the reason behind this perhaps excessive show of violence, which is that some tasteless idiot had the bright idea to shear off Hux's glorious hair and leave his head looking like a badly mowed lawn.

Kylo has serious opinions about hair. He would bathe his grandfather's helmet in flowers and glittery perfume before he admits this, though.

But suspicion is slowly dawning in Hux's expression even as Kylo recalls how it felt to bury his nose in Hux's ruffled bedhead as they cuddled, grimly counting how long it will take for him to be able to do that again without being pricked on the face by the short strands.

"Is this about- tell me this isn't about what I think it is." Hux says incredulously. It's possible that Kylo gave himself away with extensive complaining the night before he was dumped on the sand-covered city of Nauleen.

"This isn't about what you think it is." He tells Hux, hoping the power of his glower reaches Hux through the mask and the many years of galactic void between them.

Kylo is mildly worried about the condition of the vein erecting itself in a line of blue on Hux's forehead. That useless lieutenant Mitaka is standing nowhere close enough to catch him if he topples over.

"I didn't know it would be so sandy here." Kylo blurts out, hoping to distract him. "I hate sand. It's coarse and rough and, uh, irritating, and it's getting everywhere-"

"It's you, then. Enjoy your stay among your kin." Hux cuts in acerbically. He shuts down the holocomm.

 

When Kylo finally leaves on another mission after a few lonely nights aboard the Finalizer, during which Hux repetitively shuts the door to his face at each tentative approach, he brings Hux pudding. From Arkanis. Hux immediately recognizes the dessert from his home planet and rolls his eyes so hard that his eyeballs probably face the back of his head before they roll back to squint contemptuously at Kylo. Granted, Kylo should look ridiculous brandishing the delicate container like a war trophy with his clothes spattered liberally with blood. But business is business, and Arkanis just happened to be on the return route from said business. So it's not like Kylo went out of his way to deliver this particular olive branch. Really.

Hux does take the pudding. And the tiny spoon perched on it with the little silver sparrows dancing on its handle. Kylo doesn't miss the quirk on Hux's mouth before he turns to instruct a nearby technician on something, and retires to his quarters knowing he has been forgiven.

 

 

 

By the time Hux has recovered enough to be sitting up without being in danger of vomiting out his intestines all over the floor, Kylo has become a comfortable presence in Hux's private room. Like just another piece of furniture. That periodically stares at Hux with enormous sad eyes and brings him various sweet things that the ship shouldn't even have in stock.

 "Will you cut it?" Kylo asks, hovering before the door and watching Hux fiddle with his hair like the incredible creep he has revealed himself to be.

 "Yes, of course. I can't imagine why I let it be this long in the first place." Hux says irritably. His fingers must know how to gather up and tie his hair, but the memory isn't there to guide them.

 Hux has grown far too used to Kylo's noiseless movements to flinch when he feels fingers close around his wrist. They brush through his hair and slips the hair band over it, once, twice, and fall to his shoulders when it's done.

 "I like it." Kylo says absently, close enough that Hux can feel the warmth radiating from him on his back. Kylo clears his throat. "I mean- because I liked it. You kept it long because I liked it."

 "I grew out my hair like some old republic damsel just because you liked it?" Hux says in disbelief. His father was right: affection has to have some element of mental impairment in it.

 "There were a lot of things you were willing to do because I liked them." Kylo says, in that unreadable flat voice of his, "Or perhaps it's more accurate to say, there were a lot of things you were made to do because I liked. You had just as many that you did because I hated, though, and all of them you did by your own will."

 One of Kylo's hands slip down and cradle Hux's, turning it so the palm is exposed. Hux can see pink crescents carved on it in the shape of his fingernails, little scars marring his skin.

 "You did this to annoy me." Kylo murmurs, raising goosebumps on Hux's nape with his breath.

 "I don't understand."

 Kylo lets go of Hux's hand and takes his usual spot beside the bed, averting his gaze. "Oh, it's simple. Power. You hated me, I wanted you, there was an agreement made for a balance aboard the Finalizer. You endured me well, general. Myself and all of my whims."

Hux blinks at him, taken aback by this assessment. "I hated you." he repeats slowly, a frown creasing his eyebrows. "And what exactly do you think, if I may ask, was the nature of our interaction before the accident?"

Kylo stands abruptly, turning his back to Hux so his face doesn't show.

"We fucked." he says flatly. "And there was that one time I told you that I loved you. You never forgave me for that."

He's out of the room before Hux can utter a single word. Hux realizes the relationship they had- if it can be called that- was indeed the only kind of relationship someone like himself should be capable of: the fucked-up kind.

 

 

 

Kylo does not mean to say it out loud.

They're on La'sau, a planet of multiple coexisting civilizations whose allegiance to the Fist Order is yet fragile enough to require constant maintenance. It's the first in a long list of worlds that Kylo and Hux are to visit over the course of the next half year or so, friendly visits to not-so-friendly planets that could turn from extravagant soiree to target practice on each other's backs in the blink of an eye. The situation on La'sau currently is the former, and Kylo pretends to listen to the indecipherable blubbering of a vaguely amphibian politician while Hux is immersed in a heated group discussion about hydraulic cylinders and engine malfunctions.

The indistinct puddle of puss-colored jelly in the corner, which is apparently a planet-famous musician that plays music with its body parts, receives a round of applause as it ends its song with a low, mournful note. The crowd scatters and Kylo snatches another slim flute from the passing servant, desperate to get inappropriately drunk as soon as possible so Hux will kick him out to go faceplant on the bed.

It's just his luck that the alcohol mixing in his blood makes his tongue that much looser. Hux is wearing a close-fitting black suit with subtle hints of red symbolizing the First Order, and the entire galaxy is clearly conspiring against Kylo as the lighting is perfect for Hux's pale lashes to draw faint shadows under his eyes. Add that to the lopsided smile that Hux sends his way, and Kylo really can't be blamed for blurting out "You're lovely." in the middle of the thankfully empty balcony.

"What?" Hux says, dumbfounded.

"Not objectively!" Kylo almost shouts in despair, "Just to people like me. That love you."

Kylo would give his life, his force-sensitivity, his heritage, and the remains of his grandfather's helmet for the ability to go back five seconds in time. He watches as Hux slowly straightens his back, a flash of comprehension passing his face before an impenetrable blankness replaces it.

"It'd be better if," he begins, and pauses, "I didn't hear that."

He did. And really, Kylo expected this. He just didn't expect it to sting so much.

"Right." he manages.

"I'll," Hux falters, looking very carefully composed as he turns toward the hall.

"Go." Kylo finishes for him, and doesn't wait for Hux to obey before striding out of the balcony himself, searching for the nearest exit. Because fuck the flimsy little glasses served here, he needs a bucket.

 

 

 

Hux knows the way to Kylo's room. After five days without seeing so much as a shadow of Kylo he walks out of his private cabin, meaning to ask the nearest officer, but he finds that his legs are furiously carrying him to Kylo on their own accord. Which is understandable, because furious seems to be the default reaction of his body to the man's emotional idiosyncrasies.

 Standing in front of his destination and prepared to kick down the door, Hux makes another discovery. He knows the password. Of course he does.

"I don't love you." he says bluntly, barreling into Kylo's room with no socially correct gesture of greeting whatsoever. He takes a moment to watch the hurt bloom on Kylo's expressive face before he continues, "But it appears that, at some point in our acquaintance, I did."

 He looks down at his feet. It's a difficult thing to imagine himself indulging in something so irrational, so potentially dangerous. But it is a different thing entirely to feel, and Hux feels this easily, with certainty and reluctant wonder: he loved this man.

 "And I know I must have been happy, being loved." he says softly, barely registering the door slide shut behind him, "Being loved by you."

 It's the amnesia that is his excuse. He knows he would never allow himself to be say this out loud with a working mind, his past self or his future recovered self, and it is this thought that pushes the words out of his mouth, that this may the only chance to offer Kylo his honesty.

 "I believe I owe you." Hux says, standing straighter. Kylo appears to be frozen somewhere between standing up and sitting down, attention fixed on Hux. "I chose to conceal when you chose to admit. I'll give you one thing you want, freely, without holding back or wanting anything in return. Ask."

 He's practically begging Kylo to ask Hux to love him. If Kylo has even an inkling of understanding on Hux's thoughts, he will know: Hux has already given, and this is merely him asking not to be refused.

 But when Kylo opens his mouth, the words that tumble out of it aren't what Hux expects.

 "Forgive me." he rasps, his voice breaking at the very first syllable.

 "What?"

 Kylo steps closer. Standing toe-to-toe with him with barely a foot of space between them, Hux realizes with a startle that Kylo's eyes are welling up.

 "Forgive that- that I loved. That I love. Forgive me for making the first suggestion, when I knew you wouldn't refuse, for approaching you the second night, and the night after, and-"

 Hux puts a hand over Kylo's mouth. The babbling stops immediately, and Hux shivers to feel the touch of Kylo's lips on his skin.

 "You're a bigger idiot than I thought." he marvels. Kylo's eyes narrow. Hux feels the tug of the force pushing his hand aside.

 "No, listen." he snaps. "You are an idiot. A blind, incompetent, stupidly emotional idiot. As any manner of insinuation seems unable to infiltrate the density of your skull, I'll assume I'm speaking to an aging sarlaac and say this as simply as I can: I loved you. I could love you, now, and continue to do so, if you asked. I most certainly wanted you to approach me. I welcomed it, I think, though I was perhaps afraid of it. If you believe that you've forced anything on me, you've misread me all along."

 He stops there. His hand drops away limply. Kylo catches hold of it and holds it to his lips.

 "But then, perhaps you're not the one to be blamed. I am an accomplished liar." Hux mutters. Then he says, in a louder voice, "Oomph." as Kylo flings his arms around him and squeezes with the strength of an extremely agitated wrench. Hux feels his feet leave the ground and wants to protest, but even he can acknowledge that there are more important things going on now than saving the leftover shreds of his dignity.

"Say something." he says, after a while. Kylo doesn't. Or maybe he can't. Hux's legs dangle over the floor as Kylo stalks over to the bed with Hux attached to him.

"Have you degenerated to a savage Wookie?"

"Wookies are smart." Kylo mumbles. He's crying. They sprawl in an ungraceful tangle of limbs on the bed that smells of Kylo, and a blanket flies over their heads as Kylo resumes his attempt to squash the life out of Hux.

"That's your input to this conversation? Wookies are smart?" To his horror- or perhaps to his utter bewilderment, as things are with Kylo- Hux feels a smile twitch on his mouth.

"Lights, zero percent." Kylo says, "And shut up."

 

 

 

"Ah." Hux says, shrugging off the officer tending to his shoulder and turning to face Kylo. "I take it the matter's already been taken care of, then, if you're here."

Kylo tosses the medic away from Hux with a wave of his hand. Hux tilts his head, eyes instantly turning to slits.

"I told you to stay aboard the Finalizer." Kylo seethes.

"And send you alone to handle the negotiations and the manual labor? Nonsense."

Kylo can barely resist throttling Hux there and then, which would be rather counterproductive to the reason he warned Hux off accompanying Kylo in the first place, which was to keep him safely out of the bloody mess that Vas-A-Raas turned out to be.

"I knew they would turn traitors. I sensed it, by the force."

"Then you should have reported to me. It's not my fault that I didn't act on information that I haven't heard."

Hux turns away, dismissing Kylo without a word. Kylo is having none of it this time; he tugs Hux back around with a hard grip on his shoulder, not caring that the officers around them are starting to fidget nervously.

"You don't want to hear anything from me these days!" he hollers, "You're avoiding me, and it's fine, I get it, you don't want to-"

"Shut up!" Hux screams. It's the first time that Kylo's heard him raise his voice outside of a speech. His face is a furious red. He takes a few calming breaths as Kylo stays silent, struck speechless by this slip of control.

"We'll land briefly on Vas-Laes for repair and supplies. Hopefully they haven't decided to make the same mistake as their neighbor civilization did." Hux says without inflection, as if Kylo isn't standing there trembling with the need to either chuck Hux out of the nearest airlock or put his arms around him and squeeze until he understands that he is to stay safe. "You, Ren," Hux continues, daring Kylo to defy him with his eyes, "Are dismissed. No reports are necessary until after Vas-Laes."

He storms off the bridge. Kylo means to follow him, but his thoughts are battling in the chaos of his head, tell him you're sorry, tell him you're not sorry, you love him, should you apologize? and he can't figure out what he should say to make things right. He retreats to his room, in the end, and decides that the next time he faces Hux he'll just let out all of his thoughts, show them to Hux as they are and beg forgiveness for being what he is.

 

But the next time he faces Hux is when he's recovering from the concussion he acquired in their escape from Vas-Laes. Kylo can't make Hux understand what he doesn't even remember.

 

 

 

The nightly cuddling quickly becomes a routine. As does the kissing. And the sleeping-tangled-and-too-warm-together. And, essentially, the million other things that Hux never expected himself to have.

Naturally, this is when Kylo feels the need to question things. Silently and while lying completely motionless beside Hux. But if soulful staring had a sound, Hux's eardrums would've longs since been shattered to pieces.

"What is it this time?" Hux finally asks, eager to get this over with already so he can freely cuddle a warm and sleeping Kylo.

"I've been thinking," Kylo says slowly, and doesn't say anything else for a while. Hux is almost on the edge of falling asleep when he continues, "That you should know it's fine if, you know, when you get your memories back, you don't want to do this anymore. Because knowing things happened and actually remembering them are- "

  Hux throws a pillow over Kylo's face before he can further interrupt his rest with the nonsense. He burrows further into the space between Kylo's arm and torso, breathing in his scent. "Hmm. An interrogation's in order, then, to decide if you'll be worthy of my continued attention when I remember."

 Kylo's side vibrates against Hux's shoulder when he laughs.

 "Besides, it might help me remember." Hux adds, when Kylo makes no move to comply.

 "What do you want to know?"

 Hux considers his options. "Do you remember when you fell in love? Is there a particular moment?"

 "You really think knowing that will jog your memory somehow?" Kylo says, amused.

 "No, but it could be motivation." Hux yawns. "To recover as soon as possible so I may recall that moment and laugh myself silly at your sentimentality."

 Kylo shifts and pulls Hux closer against him. "Well, if you must know, there was this time you shot a blaster at my face..."

 

 Hux wakes in increments, submerged in the unnatural dark that comes with sleeping aboard a battleship in the middle of space. The first thing he notices: not his hair. Not a hand, either, but a puff of exhale tickling the tip of his nose. He blinks open his eyes and sees Kylo's face inches from his own, slack in sleep, hair mussed adorably over his cheek and neck. Hux props himself up onto an elbow and contemplates the situation.

 Kylo eventually stirs beside him, groping blindly at Hux's waist until Hux gives up and lets Kylo drag him down again. He smiles, lifts his head just enough so it is level with Kylo's ear, and murmurs:

 "Careful, Ren. I don't usually go for a second try like this."

 Kylo's eyes snap open.