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Way down we go

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Way down we go

Oh, father tell me, do we get what we deserve
Oh we get what we deserve
And way down we go-o-o-o-o
Oh, way down we go-o-o-o-o
Say way down we go
Way down we go

(Kaleo, Way down we go)

 

 

Armitage Hux had always been a pragmatic man. He did what had to be done, having no doubts, no stings of remorse, no qualms of conscience. Looking back was never an option for him. Only in this way he could send the First Order troops into battle; only in this way he had unstoppably risen to the rank of General and survived the Starkiller fiasco. Even in this moment he went on saying to himself that he had had no choice, that there had been no other way out, but - given the circumstances under which he was stranded here - Hux involuntarily asked himself whether it was not an appropriate punishment for him, who had grown up in the humid climate of Arkanis, to be trapped on this furnace of a planet.

In order to be able to travel incognito, he had left his uniform on board of the Finalizer and had taken off the civilian jacket he had worn on his arrival because of the heat, yet the shirt stuck to his body and he could almost feel the sweat coming out of every pore. Unlike First Order ships, which had powerful life support systems, the inconspicuous, small and old transporter had just enough energy from the outset to bring Hux here and ideally back from the next spaceport. The emergency landing that Hux had to initiate in order not to crash on the planet's surface had exhausted the miserable reserves and led to the total failure of all systems, including the air conditioning system.

From the beginning he had been repulsed by the thought of flying to this desert planet, but the fact that it was so insignificant and so far away from any First Order outpost that no one here would recognize him had made him throw his doubts overboard. Who could have guessed that he would have been involved into an asteroid shower on the way back from the small provincial nest, which not only caused his ship to crash, but also let all its important systems fail. He could only hope that the First Order had received the distress signal he had sent before the crash landing. Hux still had no idea about what kind of story he would make up if they found him. Not that the rescue team had a right to know what they were doing here, but the new Supreme Leader was a different matter. Kylo Ren would demand an explanation as to why Hux spent the first vacation he had applied for in years on a desolate Outer Rim planet of all places. Telling the truth was impossible, but if Ren stole it from his mind, there would be nothing he could do about it.

In order to probe his situation, Hux checked the supplies the ship had on board, but the result worried him rather than encouraged him. With the energy bars and instant meals, he could easily survive a whole week, but due to the heat and his weakened condition, the water would no longer suffice a single full day and night cycle. Not much time, considering how far away the Finalizer was, yet Hux swore not to panic. Death had never been desirable for him. Not until he had achieved his goal of being appointed the title of Grand Marshal.

For years he had endured Snoke's humiliations without complaints, to prove himself worthy of a promotion, but then Kylo Ren had killed the Supreme Leader, raised himself to that higher rank and thus successfully destroyed Hux's plans. If someone else had been taking Snoke's place, Hux would not have hesitated to pick up where he left off, but accepting Ren as his leader was impossible. Even if Snoke had often been angry and despotic, his orders had nevertheless followed a plan, while Kylo Ren's unsteady leadership style merely testified to the madness of a broken mind and although Hux vowed not to do so, he still could not prevent him from clashing with Ren over and over again.

Then came the day when Ren used the Force against Hux for the first time in front of the entire team and changed everything in hindsight. First there had been the fear of suffocation, then the pain in his neck and lastly the feeling of humiliation, which had not let him go until the end of his shift. Relieved to escape the gaze of the other crew members, Hux had stormed into his quarters at the end of the daily cycle, only to find that he was not allowed to tend to his own wounds in peace. Of course Ren hadn't considered necessary to ask the permit to come in, instead he had just burst into the room when Hux had been standing in the middle of it, wearing no more than his shorts. At first Hux had thought that the knight wanted to cause him more pain, so he was all the more surprised when he found out that it was really the opposite case.

 

"I'm sorry," Ren had whispered into the silence of the room, as he saw the pattern of hematomas covering Hux's body, looking as lost as one would never think a man built as a brick as him could ever be. "Forgive me," Ren had continued, while Hux had still been standing as if frozen and, although the General had known that it was a lie, absolution had come on his lips without hesitation. "I forgive you. " Not a word had been said after that, Ren instead had led him to bed and laid down with him. Hux had remained very stiff on the sheet, not knowing what to expect, until Ren had begun to cover the testimonies of his outburst of rage with kisses, as if he could have undone them. It was a strange, oppressive feeling and Hux had hardly dared to breathe while waiting for Ren to let go of him, but the knight had not been in a hurry. Not a single bruise had escaped him in the subdued light of the neighbourhood and when he had finally paid enough attention to each one, he had pulled Hux's shorts down and Ren's lips finally had found his sex.

Hux knew he should have defended himself, he should have pushed Ren away as soon as he could, but thoughts of his position and the dream of ascent held him back. Instead of pushing Ren away, when his body had woken up under Ren's stimulating mouth and when the knight had taken him sometime that night, Hux had surrendered to him. Afterwards they had laid silently next to each other until Ren at some point had got up, dressed in the semi-darkness of the quarter and disappeared without a word. General Hux had locked the door, taken a shower to wash off the smell of sex, sweat and Ren and had gone to bed trying to forget what had just happened. But if he had thought that it would stay with that one time, he had been wrong.

From that day on, each time Ren had lost his temper he had gone to visit his General at night. Sometimes he apologized, sometimes he even let his body speak and once, when he had hurt Hux especially badly, he had cried too, while Hux had been holding Ren's head on his lap and saying comforting yet empty words to him until the knight had felt under control again. What had never changed was that they had had sex every time. Whether it had been because of Hux's injuries, Ren's guilty conscience or whether the knight really had felt inclined to act in that way, Hux could not say, but in fact Ren had never been rough in their love play, only sensitive and tender. Unquestionably, Hux had always known it would have been right to kill Ren instead of reassuring and forgiving him, but Hux had never found the strength to use the blaster hidden under his bed. Even when Ren had started to no longer redress after the act of love, but simply fall asleep next to Hux, his arm draped over his waist as if he had wanted to bind the man to himself in his sleep, the General had merely laid still each time, waiting for a new daily cycle to begin.

The weeks had passed and with time Ren had started to come to Hux's quarters even if he hadn't abused the General before. In fact, the number of times in which the Supreme Leader lost control had substantially dropped, but Hux had not allowed himself to believe in an end to his own martyrdom. He had known Kylo Ren for too long to give himself up to the hope that the Knight of Ren could really change. Weeks turned into months and Hux had got so used to the nocturnal visits that he even had managed to fall asleep next to Ren at some point.

The circumstances were far from perfect, yet Hux had found himself accepting his strange relationship with Kylo Ren and dealing with it the way it was - until the day Hux had found out that he was pregnant. His mother, who his father had sent away as soon as Hux was only a few weeks old, had left him this legacy that Hux would have gladly given up. Hux had never heard the name of her species until, during puberty, he had suddenly suffered from bleedings from places where he was not supposed to have any and had been secretly examined, in fear and shame, by a med-droid at the academy. He had never told anyone the results, especially not his father, who already saw nothing but disappointment and weakness in Hux anyway. Knowing that he had inherited this from his mother as well as his physique would have only led Brendol to despise his son even more than he already did.

Although Hux had known since then that he had the ability to carry children, the realization that he was expecting a child from Kylo Ren had still been a shock; after all, he had been taking suppressants since years to prevent this very case. It would have been impossible to have this child, even if trying to ignore the fact that the First Order was at war. His own loveless childhood had been bad enough and even if he would never do to the child what Brendol had done to him, neither he himself with his hunger for power, nor Kylo Ren with his outbursts of rage were the ideal parents, which is why from the very beginning only one possibility came into consideration for Hux: he had to end the pregnancy as soon as possible before the first signs became visible and he would not tell Kylo Ren a word of it.

Getting a few days leave from his post had not been easy, since the still critical situation in which the fleet found itself. Finding a clinic outside the First Order’s area of influence that also performed abortions on humanoid men and did not ask unnecessary questions had been even more difficult. For someone in his own position, the meager medical centre he had finally chosen had not made a very trustworthy impression, but - as he could not be choosy - Hux had swallowed his concerns about hygiene and staff training and had undergone the operation without any long hesitation. Although only a small bacta patch on his lower abdomen was evidence of the cut that was healing there, the doctor had tried to force him to stay at least one night in the clinic, but Hux had immediately refused. He had been too worried about being seen by someone who knew who he was.

Even now, when he thought about the abortion, he felt no regret about what he had done. To his eyes, it had not yet been a human being or a child, just a pile of organic tissue. A lump of cells that could have cost him everything he was and worked so hard for. Not only it was better for him the way it was; God alone knew what Kylo Ren would have done to the child if he had ever got his hands on it.

Angry at the thoughts that flashed through his head, General Hux rubbed his sweaty face. His skull felt like something inside it was thumping, he was hot, his lower abdomen was aching and he had the certain feeling that the pads in his pants were wet with blood. He may even had a fever, but this could not be determined with certainty without any kind of medical equipment in that goddamn freighter. Even worse than his health was the thought that his only hope to get out of this thing alive was the man who had caused him all his misery.

Watching his water supply decrease made the general tired, so he finally decided to leave the ship as soon as the night cycle began on the planet. In his opinion, he had wasted more than enough time waiting for help, so he would now have to work on a plan B in case the First Order had not picked up his signal. Before the crash, he had seen on the radar a settlement located a few miles west. During the day, the sun would have roasted him long before he reached the place he had seen, but by night he might have had a chance and with a little luck the beings who lived there would not only have water, but also an intergalactic radio. While waiting for night-time, Hux tried to close his eyes a little, but the heat, the blood loss and the tension made sure that there was no restful sleep. When the night finally came, he felt even more miserable than before, but he hoped that the cooled air outside would do his aching body good. Carefully he wore his jacket and took his blaster, a flashlight and the rest of the water supply before opening the hatch.

It was pleasant to feel the fresh breeze on his heated skin. Although no cloud obscured the sky, the night was so black that he could hardly see his own hand in front of his eyes. Obviously, the planet had no moon and the stars were so far away that they could only be guessed as tiny dots in the sky. Glad to have a lamp, Hux switched it on before locking the freighter and beginning to march towards where the settlement had to lie. The terrain was an impassable mix of rocks and sand, which made only slow progress and when he turned around after about a hundred meters, the darkness had already swallowed the freighter, so that it did not differ from the rock formations of the surroundings.

Hux did not know how long he had been walking when the wind increased, but it seemed to him like an eternity. Whipped grains of sand burned in his eyes and hit him like fine needles in his face, so Hux raised the collar of his jacket as well as he could and buried his free hand deep in the pocket of his jacket. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to leave the freighter, but he had already gone too far to turn back now. Stressed, Hux blinked at the sand in his eyes. If his calculations were correct, the settlement was behind the next hilltop, but while he was still trying to spot a possible glow in the darkness, his foot suddenly stepped into the void. Without realizing it, he had reached the edge of a cliff. He lost his balance, slipped and fell head over heels down the slope where he hit a big rock. Pain exploded like a grenade in his back and back of his head. Hux tasted blood and sand in his mouth, then reality slipped away from him and he plunged into deep unconsciousness.

 

***

 

The first thing General Hux noticed when he came to his senses again, was the feeling of lying on a soft mattress. His eyelids could hardly be opened, his body was as heavy as lead and he could feel something pulsing in the back of his head, which made it extremely difficult for him to stabilize the blurred image in front of him. "You were lucky: numerous bruises, a concussion, and two fractured vertebrae," he suddenly heard a voice to his own right, prompting him to turn his head in this direction, only to find Kylo Ren standing by his bed with his arms crossed and his face still turned towards the wall. Watching the med-droid and the devices that kept beeping and buzzing, Hux deduced that he was probably in the infirmary of the star destroyer. "You could have been dead. Why the hell didn't you stay in the freighter?"

Hux coughed dryly in an attempt to answer, but his voice was little more than a whisper until, at Ren's beckon, a med-droid carefully let Hux drink something from a glass while supporting at the same time the redhead’s head with a metal hand. "My water supply was running low and I didn't know if my distress signal had been received."

Confused, Ren frowned. "Distress signal? The Finalizer never received a distress signal."

Now it was Hux's turn to be confused. "No? Then how did you find me?"

"I felt you in the early morning while I was meditating," Ren replied. "You were in pain. That's why I sent out a rescue party to find you. "

Of course Ren had been an unintentional onlooker during Hux's operation.

"But how is that possible?" the General asked.

"If the bond between two people is strong enough, it is sometimes possible if one of them is solid enough in power to feel it" Ren explained calmly.

"What bond, Ren?" Hux snarled. "We sleep together. It's hard to call that a bond."

An injured expression scurried across Ren's face as he heard those words, then he replied: "I thought I had made it clear in the last few months that you meant something to me.”

"By beating me and then crying on me?" Hux relentlessly counterattacked.

Hearing those faults mentioned, Ren's shoulders sank involuntarily down. "I tried to change," he replied soundlessly. "Since the first time I laid my hand on you, I could feel your pain. This has never happened to me before, so I knew there had to be something special between us. Since then I've been working on becoming a different person. Not always with success, I admit, but I meditate whenever I can to control this bottomless rage within me and in the last weeks I have always been in balance".

"Forgive me if I don't give you a medal for it," Hux replied, not willing to forgive Ren so easily. "I have seen your control, Supreme Leader. I was there when your lack of self-control earned you that very title. "

For a moment Ren glared at him and Hux thought he would start feeling invisible fingers around his own throat, but Ren suddenly changed the subject: "By the way, where you were then, what did you want on this insignificant planet anyway?"

"A friend from my academy days had problems and I helped him to deal with them, but then I suddenly felt unwell and I had to be treated in the clinic there because of an appendicitis breakthrough," Hux told the lie he had elaborated while he had been waiting in the freighter. Sure, it was risky to mention the Medicenter, but Hux was not so stupid to believe that the First Order med-droids had missed the surgical scar on his abdomen.

"You're lucky we found you in time. The internal bleeding and infection caused by those bunglers working at the clinic would have killed you in a few hours. " The look Ren threw at him as he spoke burned onto Hux's face, so he quickly looked away.

"I still feel weak," he replied and rubbed his face in an attempt to escape Ren's watchful eyes. "I think I should get some sleep."

"Yes, you should. Get some rest." As Hux slid deeper among the pillows, Kylo Ren got up and made as if he wanted to leave the room but, as he reached the door, he stopped and turned around again. "By the way, I know your medical records, and I know you haven't had an appendix since you were young. I may have made mistakes, but if you hadn't trusted me before, I wish you had been honest with me at least now. "

Without waiting for Hux's reaction, Ren crossed the open door and disappeared out into the corridor. Several minutes after his departure, Hux was still staring at the place where Kylo Ren had stood, unable to grasp a single clear thought.