by Belsmomaus

Category: Short Story

Summary:

Little ripples make big waves. And even a small glimpse into another person’s mind can set unforeseen changes in motion.

Hux learns this the hard way as he witnesses a conversation between Kylo Ren and the scavenger girl. Hux was livid!

He was not a damn errand boy!

*****

He’d been pleased to report the further development on the Resistance situation to Snoke – they were trapped, unable to escape, and it was merely a question of time until their fuel reserves were exhausted. Watching them squirm like that, imagining them despairing before the inevitable was tremendously satisfying.

And what did he get for it? He got sent to fetch Kylo Ren, like some lowly cadet. Or a droid. This task was absolutely beneath him!

He swallowed his rage down, bit by bit. This was a small blow compared to the attacks his pride had had to withstand these last days. He could endure it, though. And he would, his head held high, proving himself all over again if he had to. It could’ve been much worse anyway, after Starkiller...

No, he wouldn’t think of that. That base had been his greatest achievement. It had been supposed to cement his place at the top of the First Order food chain.

The failure was still too raw. He’d been lucky the Supreme Leader hadn’t... No, he pushed those thoughts away. Far, far away.

His footsteps sounded loud in the corridor as he hurried to Ren’s quarters. It was late already and he wanted to get this done as soon as possible. An endless amount of work was still waiting for him in his quarters and he wanted to get a good deal of it done while this stand off with the Resistance dragged on and then, hopefully, indulge in a few hours of sleep. He pressed the buzzer next to the door, waiting for Ren. The door seemed to mock him with its silence. He just thought about hitting the buzzer again when a muffled shout sounded from the other side: “What?”

“Open the door, Ren!” There was a short pause, then: “What do you want, Hux? I’m busy.” I’ve got better things to do as well, you-- “I’m not discussing this shouting at a door!”

Again: silence. He could almost imagine the door laughing at him. A dull, throbbing headache made itself known, as it often did when faced with Ren’s colorful personality. He’s ready to try his override code on Ren’s lock as the door suddenly hissed open. With barely a hint of hesitation he stepped inside.

He’s never been inside Ren’s quarters before. Not that he’d spared them any thought before, but, now inside, the austerity around him surprised him against his will. Before he could have a proper look around, though, Ren came out of the adjoining room in just his boots and his pants – the most high-waisted pants Hux had ever laid eyes on. His eyes widened at the sight.

“Don’t you have something to,” he waved his hand in his obnoxious co-commander’s general direction, “put on?”

That was far more than he ever wanted to see of Kylo Ren. But he would not look away either like some blushing teenager. Even if he wanted to. His eyes were drawn to that broad chest, the well defined muscles, the sheer power that radiated from that man. It wasn’t fair. He forced his eyes away, but they landed on the scar instead that ran from his face down his neck over his shoulder, long, but well-healed. He could still smell the smoldering flesh, could still feel the blood’s stickiness on his gloves from that day that seemed so far away now, more like a dream. Ren had been a total pain in the ass during his rescue, of course. That jerk should’ve been grateful...

“What do you want?” “The Supreme Leader wants to see you.”

Ren raised an eyebrow. It was still strange to see the other’s face instead of the mask. “And he sent you? Just to tell me?”

Ren’s amusement was the last thing he needed right now. Hux’ hands balled to fists, the leather creaking softly. He would’ve loved nothing more than to wipe that smug smile off of that face.

Instead he invested his energy to uphold his self-control. “Obviously Supreme Leader Snoke trusts me to make sure that you actually do as you’re told.” He knew it wasn’t true, but he was loath to admit that.

Ren chuckled. “I hope you’re better at lying to yourself than you are at lying to me.” Then he turned and vanished into the adjoining bedroom. Hux huffed, his arms crossed against the slight. There’s shuffling in the other room, he could see faint shadows of movement against the wall. “Do you need help finding your clothes?” The words were practically dripping in sarcasm. He tapped his fingers against his arms, impatient and unable to shake the unease at keeping Snoke waiting.

He didn’t get an answer, or at least not the kind of answer he’d expected.

There was a voice. And it said something, too low to catch. But that voice didn’t sound like Ren.

Because it wasn’t Ren’s, since Ren answered that voice, the words just a tiny bit too quiet to hear properly.

Was someone else in there? In Ren’s bedroom?

Annoyed with the added complication, but also secretly curious, he got closer and peeked inside. Ren was just standing there, in the middle of the room, still shirtless, looking at the empty space in front of him with a strange focus. His head was cocked, just a tiny bit, as if he were listening for something.

Hux had no time for this nonsense!

“What the--”

He never got to finish his sentence. The words died on his lips the second Ren’s hand shot up towards him and the by now familiar pressure of the Force clamped around his body. He’s shoved backwards, helpless against it, until his back slammed against the doorframe, effectively stopping his momentum. The skin around his neck tingled as invisible fingers brushed against it and closed around it, their pressure neither painful nor overly constricting. It’s a warning. To shut up.

Hux gasped, first in surprise, then fury. He’s so done with being manhandled like a ragdoll again and again. And part of him was afraid. Who wouldn’t be when faced with a power like that without the possibility of a defense against it?

But this wasn’t Snoke, where eating humble pie was necessary to win his favor back – and possibly to keep his life. This was Ren! And he’ll be damned if he gave in to the man who was far more at fault for everything that had gone wrong lately.

He wouldn’t be intimidated by this. And he certainly wouldn’t be silenced that easily. “Let me--” QUIET!!!

The command was reverberating in his mind. Booming. Consuming. Frightening. The Force was everywhere; engulfing him, filling him, slipping like tendrils into every crevice of his mind. Holding him in place, crushing him, body and soul. He’d never felt anything like it before. This was raw power. And yet it wasn’t so much invasive as it was compelling. He wanted to be quiet. No, he was forced to want to be quiet.

You just wait! This time Ren had gone to far. He was not some weak-willed boy who’d let himself get

bullied by an emotionally unstable man-child!

So he fought against the hold on his mind. Fought to overcome the command, his lips already able to move again, and...

“-- or something you can put on?”

His eyes snapped up as the voice registered, the familiar choice of words mocking him. He blinked. Then blinked again, and forgot completely about fighting Ren’s Force-grip on his mind.

He was looking at the scavenger girl of all people.

She was there and yet she wasn’t. He couldn’t make sense of it. She was right there, standing in Ren’s bedroom, but at the same time she was also standing in the rain, soaking wet. She was staring at Ren, her expression hurt and angry.

What the hell was going on?

Ren stepped forward, towards the girl. Clearly he was seeing her, too. And she was seeing Ren, no doubt. Could she see him, too? It didn’t seem so.

“Why did you hate your father?” the girl demanded to know. “Give me an honest answer! You had a father who loved you!”

She’s crying. He could see it even through the rain.

Whatever this was – the Force? - it was eerily intimate and how the hell did this girl knew Ren’s father?

“I didn’t hate him.”

Hux’ eyes bulged. He’d never heard Ren so calm and-- open, especially not after being shouted at.

“Then why?” “Why what? Say it!”

Ugly tears ran down the girls face, her chin quivered in her anger. “Why did you kill him? I don’t understand.”

Ren had killed his father? A chill was running down his spine. They had something in common, something far more personal than Snoke or the First Order. He didn’t like it one bit.

“No?” Ren asked. “Your parents threw you away like garbage.” It wasn’t spoken and yet Hux could’ve sworn he heard a ‘too’ at the end of that sentence, coated in bitterness.

“They didn’t!”

“They did,” Ren insisted. “But you can’t stop needing them. It’s your greatest weakness. Looking for them everywhere. First in Han Solo, now in Skywalker.”

What the hell was this? ‘Psychoanalyze your enemy’-day? An intimate chat amongst Force users? Was Ren trying to flirt? What was Ren’s game here?

Ren tilted his head. “Did he tell you what happened that night?” “Yes.”

“No.” Ren shook his head against her pressed out positive. “He had sensed my power as he senses yours and he feared it.”

By the little pieces he got so far he could puzzle together that Ren was talking about Skywalker, his former mentor. The girl had to be with him, which was far from ideal, but somehow his focus wasn’t on the girl. It hadn’t been since he’d first spotted her. Somehow, his focus was on Ren. Ren liked to shroud himself in mystery, but this strange conversation here was like a peek behind the curtain at the man behind the mask. He’d seen and learned more about his co-commander in the last few minutes than in the last few years. These glimpses were far too tempting to--

Images flooded his mind all of a sudden, like recalling a memory, only it wasn’t his own.

He’s waking up to a flickering light, the sense of danger tingling his nerves. A man was standing above him, Skywalker, his lightsaber raised, ready to strike. He could feel the confusion, the fear, the betrayal that coated that memory, that moment. His weapon flew instantly into his hand. Lightsabers clashed. He reached out his hand, grabbed for the power that vibrated through the very air itself and the whole building came down on Skywalker.

Hux gasped and blinked against the confusion as the images suddenly stopped and he found himself in Ren’s bedroom again, pinned against the doorframe, forced to witness an impossible conversation.

Those were Ren’s memories!

And what memories they were! The man who’d called himself a jedi, oh so pure of heart, trying to murder one of his pupils in his sleep. Hypocrite! Coward!

“Liar!” the girl shouted, not so sure of herself anymore. She must have seen the same thing he did.

Ren stepped closer to her. “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. Only then can you be what you’re meant to be.”

And suddenly the girl was gone. Ren’s hands dropped to his side and the relentless grip of the Force around him simply vanished. Hux sagged, his knees a bit weak. His hand went instinctively up to his neck, the other fingered restlessly against the edges of the hidden knife in his sleeve.

His eyes never left Ren.

Rage was running through his veins, cold and dangerous as ice. He hated the Force! Hated having it used on him.

And he was confused. By all of this. The things he’d learned. The very conversation he’d witnessed. What had happened here? And how? Why? Questions and demands were running through his head, a total chaos.

He hated chaos even more than the Force.

What did you just do to me? Was this real? How does this work? Who is she? Who is she to you to open up to her like that? Never – never – throw me around like that again!

What came out of his mouth, though, was something completely different. He didn’t know where it came from. And he wished to take it back the second it left his lips.

“How old were you?”

Ren just stood there, rubbing a hand across his cheek. He stared at his wetly glistening fingers, clearly distracted. Was he-- crying?

“Fifteen.”

He got an answer! Never in a million years had he expected that. Certainly not a civil one. Or an honest one.

“Why? Wait-” Ren looked up, turned and frowned at him. “You saw that? All of-- “ Hux just stared at him. Too stunned to act. That hadn’t been intentional?

“That wasn’t supposed to--” Ren mumbled barely intelligible, before he stopped. This time, when he fixed his gaze on Hux, it was with his usual closed off air of superiority.

It was like ice water, catapulting Hux back onto familiar terrain. Once there, he found his legs back at once and snarled: “Does the Supreme Leader know you’re chatting with the enemy? Upon his ship?”

“That’s none of your business!”

“You just made it my business!” Hux tossed right back. He stepped away from the wall and drew himself up to his full height, taking comfort in the air of authority of that posture to hide his bewilderment. “Not by design.” Ren turned away from him and opened a panel in the wall, revealing a surprisingly tidy wardrobe. Hux had been sure to find it messy.

He took a breath, decided to let this topic go for now and ask the more important question. Calm and demanding. “Why?”

Ren pulled something black out and closed the panel. He turned, his eyes on Hux, looking at him as if he were a riddle that needed solving. “She’s powerful. It would be stupid to not at least try to get her to embrace the dark side. A waste of potential. She would make a powerful ally.”

Yeah, just what I need. Yet another powerful Force-user...

“Snoke is waiting,” he said, sounding impatient, although he’d forgotten all about it until right this moment.

Ren threw on a tunic and buckled his belt, still eyeing him with that strange scrutiny. “How did you do that?”

Hux frowned. “Do what?” He didn’t do anything. And yet he knew what the other meant and he didn’t like that Ren had to ask him. So instead he went for the most acidic tone he could manage: “You mean standing pressed against the wall? Immobile and barely able to breathe?”

But Ren stayed infuriatingly unperturbed. “Connect with our Force bond?”

With what?

“Don’t you dare put this on me! You were the one forcing your bloody Force on me!”

After a few more moments of silent frowning on Ren’s part, the man finally moved, striding right past him towards the door.

Hux, still fuming inside – and anger he understood, so he concentrated on that and not on all the confusing other things – acted on impulse. As soon as Ren was next to him, his hand shot out and clamped around the other man’s arm. Ren looked down at him, unimpressed and on the verge of getting annoyed. Leather touched fabric. Their eyes met; so much closer now. And suddenly, out of the blue, he wondered how that face must have looked at fifteen. With fear and hurt shining in those eyes.

His voice was hoarse as he finally spoke and it lacked the authority he’d been aiming for: “Never choke me again!”

Ren had the audacity to smirk. “That wasn’t choking!” ***

He ticked the latest engineering report from his list and opened the next topic. A personal message from Chancellor Rhk’to from the planet Krognor, asking personally for forgiveness for yet another delay to the talks about an alliance that they’d arranged a month ago. He had sensed my power. And he feared it.

Hux shook his head. He made a note to send Captain Peavey to Krognor, a few days early, if only to give that impolite dick a fright for his impertinence.

Next was the budget plan from the last meeting of high ranking Order personnel, where they’d decided how to best distribute their funds to new projects. The last changes had been added and needed his final approval.

Skywalker looming above him. Lightsabers clashing, energy cracking.

He stretched the fingers of his right hand, every muscles tensed to its limits. Then slowly, deliberately, he curled them until he closed his hand into a tight fist. He took a deep breath. Then opened the next topic on his datapad.

A list of overly rich sponsors that had expressed their doubts in the profitability of their funds since the destruction of Starkiller Base. He matched their names to star systems, wishing he could just wipe them out of existence with said weapon. Three of those systems were too far away for now, so he forwarded the information to the closest ship in range. But one of them was close enough. He’d have to get Phasma pay them a visit and reinforce their belief...

Fear. The shock of betrayal. By the hands of his mentor. The basic instinct for survival. Rage. “Dammit!”

Hux slammed the datapad onto his desk and jumped to his feet, his hands running through his hair in utter, mind-numbing frustration. He couldn’t work like this! “Damn you, Ren!”

His head sagged. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, then his eyes. Maybe it was for the best to just give in to his exhaustion and leave this whole infuriating mess behind. Put a lid on it. Shut it away. The whole strange encounter. The cryptic questions. The things he’d learned about Ren.

Sleep would probably do his tired mind some good.

Within barely ten minutes he finished his fresher routine and crawled beneath his blanket. He was out before he’d properly settled his head on the pillow.

He woke up. Something was wrong. Green light flickered. He turned only to look up at a grim, bearded face and a glowing lightsaber. What was going on? Why would he attack? He reached out on instinct, saw his blaster next to his clothes in the corner, but it didn’t move. He was helpless.

“Why did you hate your father?” Skywalker asked.

“I didn’t hate him!” he shouted back, his heart hammering in his chest. He knew the jedi would see right through his lie.

“It’s your greatest weakness,” Skywalker said and raised his lightsaber, ready to strike. Only it never came. Instead he was falling. And falling. “Why did you kill him?” It was the voice of the girl. No, it was Ren’s. Neither, and yet both. The sudden impact jolted him, left him breathless. He’s surrounded by broken droids and shipwrecks. Ren was sitting on one of the bigger chunks, cross-legged. He sneered, reached out and Hux was pulled towards him by an invisible grip around his neck, right until he was only inches away from Ren’s inquisitive face: “They threw you away like garbage, too?”

He woke up with a start. Something was wrong. “He had sensed your power and he feared it.” It was Ren. Ren was in his room.

He whirled around, hand reaching for a weapon on instinct. Someone was standing above him. But it wasn’t Ren. He knew that bearded face, always so very disappointed. But this time, his father held a lightsaber in his hand.

“It’s the only way to become what you’re meant to be.”

Brendol lunged. Hux ducked away, his arm covering his head. The lightsaber burned into his back, sharp and stinging. He screamed. It felt suspiciously like a folded belt.

“You had a father who loved you.”

He blinked. Pried his arm away and looked. His father was gone. It was Skywalker who stood over him again, holding a belt in his hand. It was glowing green. “So why did you kill him?”

Hux startled awake, panting heavily.

For a terrifying moment he’s sure he’ll open his eyes to see Skywalker above him. But he’s alone. In his bedroom. Trembling and sweating, but blissfully alone. His comlink was beeping. Shaking his head to clear his mind from the unwelcome remnants of his nightmare he reached over and activated it.

“Yes?”

“Lt. Stynnix, Sir. E-Deck just reported intruders. They’re taken into custody as we speak. It’s the Resistance, Sir.”

“I’m on my way.”

Now wide awake he scrambled out of his bed and hurried into his uniform, all thoughts on Skywalker and Ren forgotten. If he wouldn’t have been so distracted, he would’ve been grateful for that.

***

It’s utter chaos. Alarms blared all around. Officers, stormtroopers, droids, they’re all scurrying through the corridors, shouting orders, whispering questions. There’s hectic everywhere. Some people are bleeding. Hux barely registered any of it as he became one of them, hurrying through the ship. Or what was left of it.

It happened again. Again.

One moment he’d been watching the pathetic little ships of the Resistance being blown to pieces one by one, the whole thing more satisfying than he could’ve ever imagined. And the next everything had turned to dust.

And yet a small part of him had to admit that jumping to hyperspace right through their flagship was one hell of a badass move. He snarled at that part.

He remembered the stunned silence on the bridge the few seconds before the inevitable, as everyone had known what was about to happen, but that they could do nothing but watch. Remembered the shockwave that had thrown them all of their feet. The horrible screeching of metal. The equally stunned silence at realizing that they were still alive. And then chaos had erupted. He’d bellowed order after order: damage report! Seal any bulkheads that didn’t seal automatically! Contact the Finalizer! What’s the state of the engines? The fuel tanks? The hyperdrive motivator? Everything that could still cause a chain reaction if it exploded. Evacuate the ship! Get the wounded out first!

It was all a blur now. He had left the second he’d remembered Snoke. This wasn’t his ship, it was the Supreme Leader’s flagship. Snoke was on board and he needed to make sure he was okay. Needed to make sure he got off the ship as soon as possible. He doubted he’d survive the consequences otherwise.

This part of the ship was closer to the areas that had been vaporized. Smoke was wafting through the corridors, wall panels were twisted and sparks were raining down here and there. Most of the personnel had already left the area, just a few wounded still dragged themselves along to safety.

Hux ignored them. The doors to Snoke’s throne room still worked. He hurried through-- and faltered in his steps. He was looking at a massacre.

Completely unprepared he simply stared, overwhelmed – and yet unsurprised that this whole mess could get even worse. The destruction all around had nothing to do with that desperate Resistance stunt that had crippled them. This was something entirely different. Slowly he set one foot in front of the other, his eyes roaming the whole room, taking it all in.

Snoke was dead. Cut in half. The pretorian guards scattered across the floor, either dead or unconscious. He couldn’t tell. The interior destroyed. Still smoldering gouges everywhere. The smell of blood and burnt flesh hung heavy in the air. His stomach churned. Snoke was dead. Then he spotted a familiar heap of black. Only now did he realize that he’d been searching for Ren from the moment he’d laid eyes on the scope of destruction in the room. Hux quickened his pace, stepped around a definitely dead guard and stopped.

Ren was lying on the floor, just as all the other bodies around, but he was clearly breathing. Unconscious then, no wound that he could see. And so very, very vulnerable. It would be so easy, getting rid of him once and for all. Ridding the Order of the influence of the Force. And the galaxy would be his to rule.

It would be so easy.

Hux looked down at Ren. He reached for his blaster.

And again he saw Skywalker looming above him. Again he saw the flickering light of two lightsabers, heard their humming and the angry crackling as they clashed. Smelled the electric charge in the air.

Again he felt the fear. The hurt. The betrayal of the one person who should have his back.

His hand dropped before it even touched the blaster.

He couldn’t do it.

And in that moment he hated himself, hated Ren for showing him. But that didn’t change a thing. He couldn’t do it.

Unwilling to think about the implications he stepped closer instead, his mind stuck in hyperdrive, trying to formulate a plan while unable to process anything properly as it rushed by at lightspeed.

There’s a soft grown. A twitching hand.

Ren was waking up. He pushed himself into a sitting position, his eyes looking around, dazed, until they focused on him.

Hux had no time for this. “What happened?”

Ren stood up. Disheveled and sweaty. “The girl. She killed Snoke,” he stated while quickly searching the room with his eyes. “She must have escaped.”

Hux raised an eyebrow.

The girl. Killed Snoke. And all the guards. And knocked you out.. sure...

“This is terrific!” he snapped. “The ship is falling apart and we’re leaderless! The--” Order needs guidance now. Strength. From both of us.

“We’re not.” It took Hux an embarrassingly long second to grasp what Ren was saying. You can’t be serious!!! YOU??? This isn’t how it’s supposed to be! Ren’s head snapped his way, his dark eyes burning into him as if he’d heard that thought. Invisible fingers closed around his throat, unyielding and with enough pressure to make him gasp for breath. His hands shot up on their own accord, grabbing at his throat, his uniform, but there’s nothing he could do to stop it.

Ren sneered. “Careful Hux, that your ambition doesn’t contradict your new Supreme Leader.”

The hold against his neck twitched. Hux struggled against it, forced air through his constricted airways into a heaving chest.

That wasn’t choking. Ren had said as much, but he’d been a fool to believe otherwise. He’d been a fool to believe that Ren wouldn’t dare seriously hurting him. But now Snoke was gone and no one would put a check on him.

“Stop!” It was pressed. Hoarse. And it was certainly not a plea. But it also didn’t sound like an order.

Ren’s eyes narrowed. And to Hux’ utter surprise the pressure around his throat receded. The stinking air tasted glorious as he gulped down eager breaths, his eyes never leaving Ren. He forced his posture into some semblance of control and dropped his hands at his sides again. The invisible fingers were still there, no pressure, just lying there, a silent reminder.

“Then say it!” Ren looked wild with his hair all over the place, yet his voice was calm, as was the look in his eyes.

Hux gritted his teeth. He knew that sometimes it was wiser to retreat. “Long live the Supreme Leader!” The words tasted like bile on his tongue.

The Force-grip around his throat lifted completely. “The Resistance?” Ren asked for an update. Hux growled. Wonderful, Ren wouldn’t like this one bit.

***

He’s on Crait, together with a small army and a giant battering ram to end a bunch of maybe 40 people. He should be on the Finalizer, seeing to the rescue of the Supremacy’s crew, organizing the technician groups that were sent to stabilize any critical systems in the ship’s wreck to prevent a catastrophic explosion. He should see to the salvaging of weapons and equipment.

Not stand here, watching Ren mobilizing their whole arsenal to follow a tiny bunch of rebels who had literally nowhere else to go.

But it was Ren now, who gave the orders. He shuddered. He should’ve just shot him right there and then. And yet--

He rubbed a gloved hand against his neck. Ren had stopped choking him the second he’d asked him to. There was no time for this now. He shook his head and dropped his hand and watched the pathetic attack against their cannon. It was almost funny to watch. Until they got help out of nowhere. Another ship.

And Ren, who’d given surprisingly calm orders up till that moment, completely lost it. “Blow that piece of junk out of the sky!”

But it didn’t sound like yet another crazy tantrum. This was personal, somehow. Deeply personal.

Hux turned to his men and backed that order. “All fighters!”

The speeders quickly peeled off after that ship was out of the picture, chased away by a group of TIE fighters. Everything was quiet out there now, the white surface of the planet broken up by the fighting. The deep red salt underneath made it look as if a massacre had happened already.

Then there’s movement beneath the smoke. Ren stepped closer to the transparisteel window. Hux followed.

It’s one person, alone on the white and red plane. Hux knew that face. Had seen it before. In his dreams. In Ren’s memory.

“FIRE CANNONS!! I want that bastard DEAD!” The shout rang through the cockpit, the officer to his right scrambled to comply.

The shout had been his own. The sudden rage behind those words surprised even himself. And yet the hissing of clashing lightsabers filled his ears.

The ships cannons engaged. A salve of four consecutive hits blew the whole area around Skywalker’s position to smithereens. Fire bloomed, salt burst and got catapulted everywhere. Smoke filled the plane.

“Enough!” he ordered, this time calmer. His rage soothed by the sweet notion of Skywalker’s body in pieces. His breaths came a bit faster now as he watched and waited impatiently for the dust to settle. Ren’s gaze was practically burning a whole into him. He ignored it.

Finally the smoke dissipated and-- “That’s impossible!” Not even the Force could do that, right? Skywalker was still there. Mocking them.

Ren ordered the ship to land, wanted to confront his old mentor himself. Hux couldn’t hold it against him and yet it was a stupid idea. He stepped right in front of Ren and said as much. And got pushed out of the way, like someone would push an annoying little tooka aside with one’s foot. Hux stumbled, braced himself against the backrest of Major Stridan’s seat. Huffing in barely suppressed anger he watched Ren leave the ship, one hand at his neck. Ren hadn’t gone for his throat at all, this time. He stepped back to the window and looked out at the plane before them. At Skywalker. And Ren who made towards him quickly.

Hux shook his head. He had a bad feeling about this.

***

The Resistance was gone. Of course they were. Skywalker had been nothing but a diversion. One they’d known Ren wouldn’t be able to resist.

Hux left the stormtroopers to search the rest of the base, but he doubted there’d be anything of use. He stepped through the door into the control room, where Ren wasn’t raging as expected, but kneeling on the ground, staring at his own hand as if he’d seen a ghost.

“We’ll find them. And we’ll find Skywalker. He’ll get what he deserves.” It still simmered inside him, this rage he couldn’t explain.

Ren didn’t look up. “Skywalker is dead. I felt it.” Hux was surprised that he didn’t doubt those words. Not long ago he would’ve. Dead. The news was at once gratifying and unsatisfactory.

He looked down at Ren, the new Supreme Leader of the First Order. The man he hated. Or so he’d thought. But something had changed between them. He couldn’t put a finger on it, but it was there. A shift towards-- something else.

Snoke was dead. And they had to go on. Had to make it work.

She’d make a powerful ally.

The memory was suddenly there, out of nowhere. Ringing in Ren’s deep voice in his mind. And he looked down at the man again, looked closer this time. There was more to the Force-

user than he would’ve thought, that much he’d learned. Right now, Ren looked lost. Looking up, confused, afraid. Lightsabers clashing. The hurt of betrayal. Your parents threw you away like garbage, too. Standing over an unconscious Ren, his first instinct for his blaster.

Maybe Hux had went about this from the wrong angle this whole time. The angle Snoke had wanted him to see. But he’d be stupid to not even try. A powerful ally. It would be a waste of potential...

A different angle. Quite literally. He gazed down at Ren and reached out his hand towards him, palm up. Held it where the other could see it.

“Then let the past die and let’s worry about the future.”

Ren tilted his head back, looked up towards him, slowly. His eyes were narrowed. Questioning. Suspicious. But his eyes, these dark eyes, could hide nothing. Not his surprise. Not his confusion. Not his astonishment. It was the most vulnerable Hux had ever seen the other man, including the rescue on Starkiller. And there was a peculiar intensity in his gaze, as if he were really seeing Hux for the first time. Or maybe he was seeing more than one could with one’s eyes. Maybe he was rooting around in Hux’ mind again.

For once he didn’t really care. Let him see.

A small smile spread on Ren’s lips and he placed his hand in Hux’, letting him pull him to his feet.

“Very well, then. The future it is-- Grand Marshal Hux.”

The End