Title: Going Home
Disclaimer: We own nothing from the Star Wars franchise and are making nothing from this story.
Summary: Two runaways brought home.
Warning(s): Mentions of torture, spanking; AU; major spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens; minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz
Han looked at Ben, trying to read his son's face. Ben had just asked for his help to do something; and even if Han didn't know what, he couldn't deny his son anything. "Yeah. Of course." He took a step closer, hoping this was a good sign.
Ben couldn't believe how quickly and easily his father moved to within killing range, just on the suggestion that he needed his father's help. It would be easy now; stabbing him through with the lightsaber. Ending Han's life and removing his weakening influence from Ben's life forever. He was sooo close. Ben was seconds away from doing it when he remembered a night many years before; when Ben was still innocent and hadn't yet made his choice to follow the dark. The look on his uncle's face. Ben couldn't fully remember the words Luke spoke, but he would never forget the look on his face. If he did this now...he would justify that look and prove Luke right. At least if he waited to kill Han on the field of battle, when he wasn't defenseless and trying to help Ben, Luke couldn't claim he'd been right. Not totally anyway. "He's not right. I wasn't bad then...even if I am now. He's not right..." he choked out, before shoving his way free of Han's all too comfortable arms and running. He was out of sight before Han would have a chance to do anything to stop him.
Han's confusion was nearly enough to hold him in place; would have been, if Chewie hadn't given him a none-too-gentle shove in the back to get him moving. He didn't know where Ben was. He couldn't keep his promise to Leia...but his son's words rang in his mind. "Who wasn't right?" he muttered.
Chewie growled softly and hurried him, Finn and Rey along.
"Yeah, you're right," Han said and muttered under his breath, "I've gotta get hold of Luke."
Luke puttered around the abandoned Jedi training grounds, occasionally helping the caretakers when they'd allow, the rest of the time meditating or hunting. He didn't allow himself to touch the force. He couldn't bear to feel all that he'd lost due to his arrogance.
The Falcon came in to land on the planet, expertly flown by Han and Chewie. While it was important for Rey to have a teacher, Han and Leia's first priority had to be to find their son. If he hadn't gone back to Snoke...and both were certain he hadn't...then he was in serious need of his family.
But something had happened at the academy. Something neither Han or Leia were aware of.
As soon as the Falcon landed, Han was leaving the ship, searching for his brother-in-law.
Luke had seen the ship as it flew toward the island, even if he didn't see it land. "Han..." He sighed and prepared himself for his brother-in-law to confront him. Truthfully, he had expected this years earlier, when Ben had first fallen.
Han had asked Chewie to stay on the ship, so he was alone as he approached Luke. He stopped in front of his brother-in-law. "We need to talk."
Luke nodded. "You're right. We do..." He motioned for Han to follow him back toward his dwelling.
Han followed Luke, fighting back the urge to start demanding answers straight away.
Luke stepped back to allow Han to enter, then followed closing the door behind them. "You want answers..." he said blandly, though his inner turmoil was clear.
Han nodded, turning fully to face Luke. "What exactly happened between you and Ben? He said something that made me think you didn't tell me and Leia the whole story."
"I realized he was falling to the dark side, but I wasn't strong enough to pull him back..." Luke frowned as he thought back on that night long ago.
"He said you weren't right." Ben hadn't specifically named his uncle...but there was no one else Han could think he might have meant.
"I confronted him the night everything fell apart. I told him I could sense the dark in him...that he needed to renounce it...come back...let me help. But it was too late...he'd caught me watching him with fear and I had my saber and he thought I was going to execute him then and there. I wasn't- I'm ashamed I did think of it briefly- but I wasn't going to do that..." Luke looked away guiltily.
"You didn't tell either me or Leia that." While Han could understand the guilt...he wondered if so much heartache could have been avoided if he'd known the truth then.
"I didn't see how it would help. I failed Ben. I failed him completely. Knowing the exact moment I failed him most would have only hurt you both..." Luke sighed.
"I need your help to find him," Han said quietly.
"I can't help. If he doesn't want to be found, he won't be. He certainly won't want to be found by me," Luke disagreed quietly.
"I've let my son disappear out of my life. The first time I saw him again, he asked for my help and then ran away from me," Han said. "I'm not going to pretend that didn't happen. And you're the only one strong enough to find him."
"You saw him?! And he asked for help?! And he didn't kill you?!" Luke's face was shocked...and then guilt filled regret took the place of the shock. "I was wrong..." he whispered. "...There was still good in him fighting the bad... I should have seen it..."
Han took a step closer to his brother-in-law. "No matter what else has happened, he's my son. Your nephew. You need to help me find him."
"How can I help, when it is my fault he was lost?" Luke turned guilty eyes onto his brother.
Han didn't point out that he thought Ben wasn't really lost. Maybe close to it, but there had to be good left in him. "I need you with me on this, Luke." He reached out for his brother, placing his hand on Luke's shoulder. He squeezed gently and then pulled Luke closer to him, moving over to the bed in the dwelling.
"You'd be better off without me..." Luke disagreed. He notably didn't pull away, though, letting Han pull him.
Han didn't say anything, figuring he wouldn't get through to Luke by speaking, and sat down on the bed, gently pulling his brother over his lap and then baring him.
"Han!" This time, Luke did protest, but it was more a resigned whine than an actual disagreement. He reached down and grasped Han's ankle.
"You made a mistake in how you dealt with Ben, but hiding away here isn't doing anyone any good." Han lifted his hand and brought it down in a firm swat that he then repeated.
"It's keeping me away from the force. It's keeping me from making worse mistakes..." Luke said, still not fighting.
"Or keeping you from making things right." Han swatted down to Luke's thighs and then started over from the top. "Keeping you from reaching out to Ben and giving him a chance."
"I didn't realize there was still good in him..." Luke lamented. "I cut myself off from the force and couldn't feel him..."
"Cutting yourself off was a mistake." Completing the second circuit, Han began a third, going a bit harder and faster. "I don't pretend to know everything about the force, but I don't think living like this...a part of yourself cut off...is good for you, Luke."
"It... it's not..." Luke admitted with a tear-filled voice. "It wasn't good, and I missed you and Leia and Chewie...and I missed Ben..." Luke gulped. "...And I missed that there was still good in him. So much lost time. I'm sorry Han. I failed everyone." Luke began to cry, going limp over Han's knee.
Han didn't waste any time in bringing the spanking to a stop, replacing Luke's clothing and then tugging his brother into his arms, hugging him tightly.
"I failed him...I should never have let him go...I'm sorry, Han. I lost our boy..." Luke cried quietly, even as he held his brother with a death grip.
Han tightened his embrace around his brother. "You made a mistake. But it doesn't have to end there. We can find him together...bring him back."
"You think we can? That he will let himself be found?" Luke's hope was wavering, but there all the same.
"We need to try," Han replied. "I'm not going to leave him alone. Not anymore."
Luke nodded quickly in agreement. "He's been left alone long enough. Let's bring him home..." His voice was gruff.
Han smiled and hugged his brother close for a few moments. "The Falcon's ready to fly whenever you are."
"I don't have much to bring," Luke admitted, as he quickly grabbed a bag and threw essentials into it. He was ready in minutes and motioning Han to lead the way to the Falcon.
Han quickly led his brother to the Falcon and, once they were both on board, he quickly joined Chewie in the cockpit, trusting Luke to let them know as soon as he received any sense of Ben.
Hux was frustrated. No... he was beyond frustrated. He'd seen Ben running away from the battle and heading toward his ship. The other man looked angry. He also looked conflicted and scared. That was never a good combination in Kylo Ren. It hadn't been a good combination in Ben Solo, for that matter, but it definitely was not a good combination in Kylo Ren. Not willing to just let the young Sith Lord loose to play havoc with the plans of the empire, Hux put on a bout of force speed and caught up to the aggravated Kylo. "You act as if you failed an important mission and either are avoiding telling the emperor, or trying to find a way to make everyone else as miserable as you..." he said snidely.
Kylo growled, "I failed, and I have no intention of informing Snoke because he will insist I return to try again. Since I have no intention of completing this particular assignment..."
Kylo shrugged, as if it was of no importance, but Hux could feel the force being drawn to the other man like a blanket. A malevolent blanket that could be used to wrap him up in hell, if he pushed the Sith any further. "Fine. Then let us both run off. Since I would be the one to feel his wrath if you did not return." He shrugged as well and ignored Kylo's dirty look as he sat in the co-pilot seat.
Realizing Hux wasn't going to leave, Kylo pouted. "Fine. Just be quiet while I think of the best place to go."
"Whatever you say..." Hux snorted and ignored yet another dirty look thrown his way.
Luke might not have drawn on the force since he'd lost Ben, but when he opened himself up to it, it was easy to draw on the force and send out a thin, barely noticeable tendril across space, seeking out the sense of his nephew.
It had been a long time since Luke had drawn on the bond that existed between him and his padawan, but it was still there. If Ben hadn't been so emotionally distracted, Luke knew his presence would have been felt; as it was, he was able to reach inside the ship his nephew had taken.
Realising Hux was with Ben, Luke quickly cloaked himself in a tighter shield. Ben might not notice his presence; but Hux could, if he wasn't as emotionally distracted as the other youngster. For now, he let his mind linger in the ship...waiting to see the coordinates the two would follow.
Hux had just about been ready to question Kylo again in his acerbically condescending manner (that never failed to set the other man off in a childish tantrum; that was always amusing) when he thought he felt something. When he stopped to actually concentrate, though, he felt nothing. He never had been as strong in the force as Ren. It was why he had been sent to the troops, instead of into the emperor's elite guard, once he, Ben and the other padawan that had left the Jedi order burning arrived to Snoke's side. If he were honest with himself, it was at that point his and Ben's relationship had changed from best friends/almost brothers to barely tolerated rivals. Hux was too jealous of being 'left behind' when he'd only changed sides for Ben. And Kylo? He had no clue why the young Sith avoided him, unless it was because he knew every weakness and how to exploit it to make Ren lose face.
He almost said something to Ren about feeling something, but Kylo was too distracted to feel it himself; especially since it wasn't there anymore and was likely a figment of Hux's imagination. If Hux knew which buttons to push to get Kylo to lose control, Kylo was almost as good at finding Hux's and making him feel inferior. So he kept quiet and didn't mention it.
Kylo was too agitated and confused to note anything at that moment. Not only did he miss Luke's probing, he was broadcasting rather broadly his discontent and feelings. He glanced at Hux and in that moment, Hux knew.
"Damn it, man! SHIELD yourself. If he is looking, you'll lead him right to us! You know he'll have no mercy if that occurs!" Hux couldn't help the fear that speared through him when he realized Kylo was too distraught to protect them from Snoke's probes.
Luke was careful to keep himself shielded, as he focused on maintaining the link with Hux's and Ben's ship. If Ben started shielding himself and Luke was linked with him, he'd be thrown out of his nephew's mind and an attempt to breach him or even Hux would clearly broadcast Luke's presence.
Apart from to tell Han which coordinates to follow, Luke didn't pull away from the two youngsters. He watched Hux and Ben; their interactions and their feelings as it was just the two of them. Han would focus on Ben. Luke knew that much.
It would be his responsibility, as he was no longer hiding, to draw Hux back.
"Kylo!" Hux nearly screeched into the other man's face, before slapping him.
Kylo jerked back in surprise, turning angry eyes onto Hux.
"SHIELD...YOUR...SELF!" Hux ground out, not relaxing until he saw the understanding in Ren's eyes. He could feel when Ren's shields went up. Hopefully, it was soon enough to keep Snoke at bay.
"We're here," Kylo said, in a subdued voice.
Hux looked at the coordinates. "Dagobah?" He frowned. "There is absolutely nothing here...why Dagobah?"
"Because there is absolutely nothing here..." Kylo said, with a hint of amusement. He kept his family history with the planet to himself.
"They're on Dagobah." Luke pulled back to address Han.
Han nodded and input the coordinates. "You think we might face any attacks from Hux?"
"Leave Hux to me. You focus on Ben." It would be easier, that way. Easier to draw the two youngsters back, or so Luke hoped. He sat in quiet meditation, focusing his thoughts and trying to plan for every eventuality, until they reached the planet.
After landing, Kylo had hidden the ship using the planet's natural cover, then began walking. Hux had no clue where he was going, so reluctantly followed. "I don't suppose you want to tell me where we're going?" He snorted.
"Master Yoda had a home here. If we find it, there may be supplies we can use," Ben answered softly, his mind back on the ship, where his father had left himself wide open to death- because he wanted to help Ben. His father still loved him. How, Ben couldn't fathom, but he still loved him.
"Assuming something big, hairy and carnivorous hasn't moved in..." Hux muttered.
It took several hours and by the time they had reached the tiny dwelling, they were both exhausted. They quickly bathed in a nearby stream, washing their clothing and hanging it by the fire they'd made. They'd then bundled up in the quilts that Hux had found in a trunk in the home and eaten a snake that Ben had managed to kill. Neither of them were happy about eating it, but until they had time to forage and hunt, it would keep them alive. Bathing and eating complete- and traps set up to alert them if someone was sneaking up on them- they locked the door to the hut and bundled up to sleep, one on each side of the fire.
Han and Chewie had landed the Falcon expertly. Chewie wasn't too happy when Han asked him to stay behind on the ship, but after a bit of persuasion, the wookie agreed, with the promise that he'd be contacted on the comms if they did run into any any danger.
Luke used the Force to track down the two youngsters. He didn't really need to, as there wasn't another place they could go. When he and Han reached the dwelling, he didn't waste any time in reaching out with the force...checking for traps, but also on the condition of the two youngsters.
Han waited, impatiently, wanting nothing more than to reach Ben's side.
Hux had set the traps, knowing that they would catch any non-force sensitive intruders. He was relying on Kylo's shields alerting them to Snoke arriving. Neither of them had thought there would be need to watch for any other force users. No one else would be looking for them, after all. And Kylo would get more rest only focusing his shields against Snoke. Neither of them wanted a tired and grumpy Kylo.
As a result, when Han and Luke snuck past Hux's traps, there was nothing else to alert the two younger men of their visitors. They stayed soundly asleep, unaware of potential danger or conflict.
Reaching the hut's door, Luke very quietly used the force to pick the lock. On his guard with a simple force shield, in case either of the youngsters reacted badly, he opened the door and stepped into the hut, Han following slowly behind.
Hux was immediately awake, years of living in bunks with other soldiers that wanted him out of the way of their career goals giving him an instinct for when his sleeping quarters had been infiltrated. Kylo didn't move from his slumber and Hux had a moment of being infuriated by that until he saw the pain on the young Sith's face. Apparently, Kylo was in a battle to keep Snoke out of his head and away from learning their location. It would be up to Hux to protect against the intruders. And hope he didn't need his once-friend's help.
He quickly jumped up, regretting for a moment that he'd washed his clothing, as facing an enemy in nothing but your skin did not generally spark fear. He grabbed his blaster and pointed it toward the door, standing tall despite his undress.
Kylo Ren expelled a pained growl of anger, the silent struggle he faced clear.
Luke held his hands up, stepping out of the shadows so Hux could see him clearly. "You're not in any danger." He spoke calmly and clearly, but with a hint of worry in his voice as he looked at his nephew and his former student.
Han edged round Luke, hearing the sound from his son. "Whatever threat you think you need to defend yourself against, kid, it's not us," he said to Hux...but his attention was clearly and fully on Ben.
Hux blinked as he saw the concern in the eyes of the two older men. While he wasn't as convinced of his safety with them as they seemed to imply he should've been, he did know one thing. "If Snoke breaks his shields, he'll find us; if he doesn't find a way to kill us without moving at all..." he blurted to Luke.
Kylo groaned again, clearly struggling to keep his master away.
Luke nodded and moved to Ben's side, though he placed a hand on Hux's shoulder and squeezed gently, sending a warm feeling of acceptance and concern through the force to him; a reassurance that Hux was just as important as Ben. And then he moved fully to his nephew's side, reaching out to wrap his own shields around the ones Ben had in place.
Han was quick to move to the other side of his son, wanting to make sure he was one of the first things Ben would see.
Kylo would have been mortified at the whimper he gave as suddenly, Snoke was cut off from him and he was able to focus on the pain the old Sith had caused. He blinked and hesitantly opened his eyes, seeing his father immediately. He saw Luke seconds later and closed his eyes again. "You came after me..." He sounded entirely too surprised at the fact.
Hux wasn't so sure it was a good thing that their first master had come for them. Only the fact that Kylo seemed at ease and not afraid kept him calm. He shifted to try and keep hidden, suddenly even more aware of his nakedness.
Han wrapped his arms around Ben immediately; what he'd wanted to do since the last time he'd seen his son. "Of course I did," he whispered to Ben. "I let you go once. I'm not doing it again."
Luke stood, making sure the shields were firm around Ben, and then removed his Jedi cloak, draping it around Hux.
Kylo grasped onto Han tightly, hiding his face against his father's chest. He'd pushed the man away and run earlier. He couldn't bring himself to do so again.
Hux watched the family reunion quietly, feeling a bit envious. "Thank you, Master Skywalker," he whispered, as he wrapped the cloak around himself.
Relieved Ben wasn't pushing him away, Han tightened his embrace around his son. "I've got you," he whispered in Ben's ear, the reassurance for himself as much as for Ben.
Luke squeezed Hux's shoulder gently once more. As close as he'd been to his nephew, he'd also felt something of a bond with the student who'd become Ben's best friend. He'd never been quite sure if Hux had felt the same, so he'd always held back from showing the same kind of affection.
Hux glanced at the hand on his shoulder and swallowed. He'd not been as strong in the force as Ben, but Luke had trained him all the same. That training had stopped when he'd left with Kylo, Snoke not believing he was strong enough to merit the effort. "I should have stayed with you..." he muttered.
Kylo heard Hux and clutched Han more tightly. He was fairly certain it was obvious they both should have stayed with his uncle. "I'm sorry..." he managed to say to the room at large: Luke for the betrayal, Hux for dragging him along in his folly, and finally his father for being someone that caused shame instead of pride. He was grateful he'd seen sense in time to not kill the older man.
"It isn't too late," Luke said softly; though talking to Hux, he knew his words would also carry to Ben's ears. "It's not too late to come back...to me." This time, the words were entirely to Hux. Ben had Han...and would have Leia, too. Luke wanted to make it clear to the other youngster he had someone too.
"I know, kid." Han kissed the top of Ben's head and stroked his hair. "I love you." The words were simple and sincerely meant.
"You'd take me back after everything?" He couldn't help the skepticism. He glanced toward Han and Ben before turning to fully face Luke. "I wasted a lot of time..."
Kylo shifted to sit up, letting the quilt fall so he could hold onto Han more easily. "I love you too, daddy...I'm so sorry. I couldn't do what he wanted...I shouldn't have even thought of it..."
Luke kept his flesh hand on Hux's shoulder, while his other arm wrapped around the younger man, giving in to that urge to hold him. "I want you back," he replied. Deciding to be completely honest, he continued, "I always felt a bond with you...different to the one with Ben, but still just as intense."
Han sat on the mattress so he could pull Ben onto his lap and hug him tightly to himself. "I'm not going to let you go again," he whispered firmly.
"Everything good was lost that night," Hux admitted. He didn't pull away, indicating he welcomed the affection. "I lost you, I lost Ben, I lost the force...it was the biggest mistake of my life."
Kylo didn't even blink at finding himself on his father's lap. He hid his face against Han's shoulder and shivered. He'd dropped the quilt and it was obvious he was just as clothing challenged as Hux was. It was a chilly night.
"You haven't lost me," Luke said, letting his arms wrap tighter around Hux. "And you haven't lost the force, either. You did make a mistake...but it's one that can be dealt with and that can be moved past."
Han could feel Ben's shivering and he retrieved the blanket, wrapping it around his son without letting Ben leave his embrace.
Hux let himself lean into Luke. "How, Master?"
Kylo gripped the front of Han's shirt and snuggled. That could be the only word for it.
Luke gently touched Hux's cheek, looking into his eyes. "I'm going to punish you. And I'm going to forgive you." His voice was calm and reassuring, holding warmth and affection.
Han stroked his son's hair. "I love you," he reiterated. He heard Luke's words to Hux, but kept his attention focused on Ben.
Ben heard his uncle's words as well. "It was all my fault..." he whispered.
Hux heard Ben but answered Luke. "I suppose your punishments haven't changed too much since I ran away?" He smiled crookedly.
Han pressed a kiss to Ben's head. "I think we'll be handling your mistakes, kid," he said, calmly but with a loving note to his voice.
"Not at all." Luke smiled at Hux still holding onto him.
"I'm counting on it, daddy..." Ben said softly.
Hux snorted softly. "Hand? Or should I go cut a switch?" His voice was accepting.
Han held his son tight for a few more moments, needing to feel that he had Ben in his arms, and then he carefully settled his son over his lap.
Luke shook his head. "I've never used anything other than my hand and I'm not about to start now," he said.
Kylo found himself relaxing as soon as he was in position. For the first time in forever, he felt like everything was right and he was where he belonged, with his family. Even if he couldn't sit right for the rest of the night, it was worth it to be brought back home. Reaching down, Ben grasped his father's leg.
Hux wasn't unaware of what was occurring with Han and Ben. He'd mentally prepared himself for a huge backlash...a temper tantrum of epic proportions. When it didn't occur, he was reminded that Kylo didn't become so mercurial and prone to tantrums until Snoke had got his hooks into his friend. "I failed him as much as I failed you..." He sighed softly, before shifting closer to Luke so he could be punished.
Han gently stroked Ben's lower back, drawing his son close and tight against his stomach. "I've got you, son," he said, his voice soft and soothing, before he lifted his hand and brought it down in a firm swat that he then repeated.
Luke's attention was fully on Hux, even if he was aware of his brother and nephew. He gently guided his charge to the other mattress, taking a seat and settling Hux across his lap. While this was the first time he was punishing the youngster fully naked, it was far from the first time they'd been in this position.
"I know, daddy..." Ben's voice was tight with guilt and regret. If he hadn't been positive that Han had him- and wasn't letting go- he didn't think he'd be able to accept what was happening. It was hard to accept when he did know. The first smack still caught him by surprise, even if he was expecting it, and he let out a tiny yelp of pain before he managed to stop himself.
Hux had gone with Luke with no protest. He'd been in this position often when a young, mischievous padawan. Granted, he'd always been dressed (even if his pants got lowered in back), but that didn't really change anything; like Ben, the lack of clothing allowed Luke to see how unkind the intervening years had been to him. Being a member of Snoke's troops did not lend itself to kindness or mercy.
Han kept his grip on his son tight and firm, keeping in contact with Ben even as he settled into a pattern of swats, going down to Ben's thighs before starting over from the top again.
Luke adjusted Hux's position a bit and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in the first firm swat that he then repeated. It was hard to see the marks left on his student's body; harder still not to forego the punishment and just move straight onto comfort.
Kylo was unable to stay relaxed for long; even if he felt he deserved every swat, he couldn't help but tense up. He'd spent too many years in the 'dark' not to feel as if he should be fighting Han; so instead, he found himself fighting reactions that had been trained into him since he'd left his uncle's training and gone to Snoke. Fighting the temper tantrum that wanted to burst out of him.
He whimpered and gripped Han's leg more tightly as he fought down the urge to react in a spectacularly volatile way. "Daddy..." he nearly begged, hoping Han knew of some way to help him to overcome the urge to fight his father and give in and accept the help he needed.
Hux supposed that he should be grateful he'd never truly caught Snoke's eye the same way Ben had. The Sith hadn't managed to warp him the same way he'd done the younger Solo. He wasn't unscathed or unchanged by any means, but he was able to accept the correction he knew he deserved and he was able to submit to Luke without fighting himself. He only tensed up at the swats because they stung and because they made him feel childish. He barely made a sound at the first swat and that was more to acknowledge that he felt the swat than because of discomfort.
Han let his other hand rest gently on Ben's lower back, rubbing gently, drawing his son in tight against himself. "I love you, Ben." His voice was firm. He might not be a Jedi, but he held nothing back. He continued to swat, his hold tight on his son. "I've got you. No matter what you've done, I'm not going to leave you alone anymore. I promise."
While he couldn't touch his student and have it be a comfort with his mechanical hand, Luke shifted the sleeve of his other arm up, so he could press his arm against Hux's back, using that way to touch him, while he continued swatting with his other hand, reaching Hux's thighs and then starting over from the top. "I'm sorry I didn't fight to keep you with me before, Hux, but that's changed."
"I know..." Kylo whimpered softly, "...I'm trying to not fight you...I'm trying..." He bit his lip and squeezed his father's leg even tighter. Only Han's tight grip on him kept him in place, though. If he had not been able to feel the strength in his father's hold on him, he would have forced himself loose and attempted to get away.
Hux felt Luke's arm and, knowing the extra effort that the man had to take in order to offer that bit of comfort, he relaxed further, grunting softly when Luke started over and swatted already heated skin. "I'm sorry I ran...I'll do better this time..." he promised softly, closing his eyes against the sudden wetness that surprised him.
"I know, son." Han gently stroked Ben's lower back, even as he began a third circuit of swats, going a bit harder and faster. "I'm proud of you." His voice was low and very intense.
Luke kept his arm in place, for that skin-to-skin contact, even as he began a third circuit, going a little bit harder and faster. "I know. I've forgiven you for running. I just want you back with me," he said softly.
Kylo closed his eyes at those words. It had been such a long time since anyone had said they were proud of him. Snoke never indicated pride in anything he'd done; only derided him when he'd fail as being weak and useless. Those words broke something inside of him. Kylo didn't want anyone to be proud of him; he didn't need anyone's approval, after all. Ben? Ben did want and need approval and the fact his father was giving it after everything that had been done against him? Ben slumped over Han's knee and began to cry. Not the loud caterwauling of a tantruming child, but deep, silent sobs of someone deeply ashamed of themselves; someone accepting the truth and not attempting to hide any longer. He was Ben Solo; Han Solo's fully repentant child and needy little boy. He wasn't Kylo Ren. Not anymore.
Hux could feel the moment Kylo broke and the sudden lack of tension in the dwelling was enough to cause him to lose the control he had over himself. He hadn't been fighting Luke at all, but all of a sudden, he wasn't able to hold onto his emotions either and he began to cry. Not sobbing; but crying all the same and he didn't try and hide it from Luke. "When can I come home?" he asked, in a watery voice.
Han wasted no time in gathering his son into his arms and on his lap, hugging Ben tightly to himself and kissing his head. "I love you. I've got you. I'm never going to let you go again." He kept repeating the words, over and over.
Luke had rarely been able to continue a spanking past tears; and the fact all he wanted was to hold onto Hux prompted him to stop the spanking and gather the youngster into his arms, hugging him tightly. "As soon as possible." Stroking Hux's hair, he didn't hold anything back; he allowed the full depth of love and affection he held for Hux flow from him to the younger man; not holding anything back like he had done in the past.
Ben just grasped onto Han desperately, as if afraid if he let go, Snoke would somehow pull him away and he'd lose his father again. Lose himself. Lose everything. And he kept silently sobbing, his body shaking from the emotion pouring out of him.
Hux widened his eyes at the show of affection- the force of the feelings he could feel pouring off of Luke- and he closed his eyes tightly, burrowing against the older man. He never had been overly demonstrative in his affections, but at this moment, he needed the physical proof that he was wanted and that he was safe and wouldn't be going back to the monster he'd served for entirely too long.
Han hugged Ben tightly to himself, stroking his hair and back soothingly and affectionately. He kept repeating the words to his son, half-afraid that if he let go of Ben, he'd lose him once more. That was a pain that had nearly crippled him the first time.
Luke wrapped his own arms tightly around Hux, his mechanical hand gently holding the back of the youngster's head; his other stroking over Hux's back and shoulders.
Hux recovered first. While his betrayal had always sat heavily on him, he hadn't had the familial connection that Ben had with his uncle and father. He actually felt closer to Luke now than he had when he was originally Luke's padawan. He couldn't help but think if they'd had this connection at that point in time, he would have never left. Still, he had it now and he was grateful Luke was able and willing to give him another chance. Was willing to help him. "Thank you, Master Skywalker..." he said quietly, after clearing his throat. He glanced toward where Ben was still sobbing and clutching onto Han like he'd die if he lost his grip. He winced, then looked back up at Luke. "M...maybe I can get dressed and go find us all something to eat?" he hesitantly offered. While it was obvious Han had thoroughly punished Ben (he'd glimpsed a bit of the younger Solo's reddened backside before quickly averting his eyes), it was also equally obvious that Ben was still suffering guilt. He didn't particularly want to be present if Han had to turn Ben over his knee again. Ben would thank him later for going outside.
Ben just continued to sob and grip onto Han. He had so much guilt...too much to be erased with one spanking. And not all of it was related to how he'd treated his father anyway. He didn't know if he'd ever feel right again. Maybe he was just too broken to be saved.
Luke nodded, letting his hand linger for a moment or two on Hux's shoulder before he handed his student his own comm. "There shouldn't be any dangers here, but if there is...or if you run into something you're not expecting...there's no shame in asking for help."
Han didn't release his son, even though he couldn't help but feel concerned over the amount of sobbing Ben was doing. He continued to gently stroke his hair and back, whispering soft words of love and reassurance to his son.
"Yes, master..." Hux smiled crookedly, the motion unfamiliar to his face but feeling right all the same, and quickly grabbed his clothes from beside the fire and dressed. Luckily, everything was dry. It didn't take him long to slip out of the hut with a phaser and the comm unit.
Ben sobbed for a few minutes more beyond Hux leaving the dwelling before he was finally able to regain control over his emotions and just cling to Han quietly, sniffling every so often. He felt like everything was right between him and his father now. He'd been punished (maybe not as harshly as he thought he'd deserved, but then again, a punishment was never decided by the recipient and Han thought he'd had enough). Han wasn't letting him go and didn't seem disgusted by the neediness he'd displayed. "I love you, daddy..." he whispered. "...Thank you for letting me come home."
Han pressed a kiss to his son's head. "You are so important to me. I love you so much, son," he whispered. "I can't do anything but let you come home...bring you home with me." He let his hand stroke gently over Ben's hair.
Luke moved a bit closer and carefully placed a hand on his nephew's back. While Ben didn't seem scared of him, he didn't want to spook the youngster. He used that touch to strengthen the shields, as well as to just touch his nephew.
Ben snuggled a bit more with Han, but when he felt Luke touch his back, he looked up at his uncle with sorrow-filled and guilty eyes. "I'm sorry, uncle Luke...what I did...what I caused...I'm so sorry. I don't know how you can ever forgive me..." he whispered. It was obvious he was still weighed down by guilt for what he'd done to his uncle. He shifted slightly in his uncle's direction, giving Luke a questioning look as he bit his lip. Things were right with his father. Would his uncle help him make things right with him?
Luke wrapped his arms around Ben, somehow not too surprised when Han very carefully shifted his son onto Luke's lap. "I made a mistake, too," Luke whispered, stroking Ben's head. "I made you fear me."
Ben immediately wrapped his arms around Luke as his father shifted him onto his uncle. "I should have trusted you..." he whispered. "...You were my master, but more importantly, you were my uncle...my family. I should have trusted you..." His voice broke and he swallowed hard in an attempt to not begin crying immediately.
Luke wrapped his arms tightly around his nephew, exchanging a look of silent communication with his brother. Pressing an affectionate kiss to Ben's head, he then gently moved his nephew over his lap, settling him in place.
It said something to the level of guilt Ben felt that he didn't fight Luke positioning him. He'd felt guilt about what he'd done to his father and Han spanking him had helped immensely with easing that enough that he felt he could be part of his father's life again. He was hopeful that the same would happen once his uncle punished him. So, even though he was still sore from Han spanking him, he didn't fight Luke putting him in place and instead reached down to hold onto his uncle's leg. "I'm sorry, uncle Luke," he whispered, his tone completely broken and near hopeless.
"I am too, Ben," Luke said gently. "But I've forgiven you. I hope you can forgive me for my mistakes." He stroked his nephew's lower back and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in a swat that, although firm, was still tempered.
Ben was still sore from the spanking he'd received from his father, so even though the first swat was tempered, he couldn't help but whimper at it. He didn't try and move away, though. Instead, he relaxed slightly, indicating that he truly needed his uncle to punish him, not just forgive him. He needed to feel like Luke had taken control and was able to handle him; because if Luke wasn't able to take control and handle him, what hope did he have that Luke would be able to keep Snoke away? Snoke was a lot more powerful than Ben was... or so the Sith Lord had indicated at every possible chance.
Luke kept his other arm across Ben's back, letting bare skin rest against bare skin the same way he had with Hux. He continued bringing his hand down to Ben's thighs and then started over from the top again. He still kept the force tempered; and at the same time as spanking his nephew, he opened himself to Ben...as he had with Hux...letting his nephew feel his love and care and affection.
Ben couldn't help but begin crying immediately as he felt his uncle's love for him. How had he ever thought Luke didn't care? How had he ever thought joining Snoke was the best idea? How could he be so stupid?! "I'm sorry, Uncle Luke...so so sorry...I was bad...what...what I did was wrong...so wrong...was evil!" he cried.
'No, Ben.' Luke spoke in his nephew's mind. 'Not evil. Hurting. Confused. Lost. Alone. I understand how lonely you were. How scared. I love you. If you were truly bad, this would not be possible.'
Ben continued crying, lying limp over his uncle's knee, accepting the punishment because he needed it. He needed to feel like he was paying for what he'd done in some way. So many dead. 'Should have trusted you...should have trusted daddy...should have trusted momma...shouldn't have trusted Snoke...'
'It wasn't your fault,' Luke repeated, still swatting, focusing more swats to his nephew's sit spots and thighs. 'I know the lure of the dark side. You made a mistake, but by taking that step to turn away...to not do what Snoke wanted and murder your father...you turned away. You allowed us to find you.'
'I couldn't kill daddy, Uncle Luke...I just couldn't...' Ben began to cry harder as his sit spots and thighs were targeted, but he still didn't move away. His actions had led to many innocent lives being ended. He didn't know how he would ever make up for that. He didn't think he could. What he could do was accept whatever punishment his uncle gave to him without fighting.
'I know. Because you are good. You made a mistake in following Snoke and pulling away from me and your father. Your mother. Taking Hux and the others with you. But making a wrong choice doesn't mean you are bad. Or evil. Or beyond hope.' Going a bit harder and faster, Luke continued, 'If it meant any of those things, you would have carried out Snoke's orders without hesitation. You would never have turned and run rather than drive your lightsaber through your father's chest.' The open link between them meant Luke could see exactly what Snoke had ordered his nephew to do.
'I love daddy and momma...I love you...I couldn't...' Ben went completely limp and just sobbed, the feeling that he'd failed everyone still strong, but the knowledge his uncle still believed there was good in him helping him let go of the hopelessness. His uncle had to be right; he'd been right about everything else important. "...Sorry...so sorry..." he finally voiced aloud.
Luke immediately stopped spanking and wasted no time in gathering his nephew into his arms on his lap, shifting enough to allow Han to hold their boy as well. Luke stroked his hair and kissed his head. "I know, but you're forgiven. And loved," he whispered.
Ben snuggled close to Luke, craving his uncle's affection as much as he had craved his father's. He reached over and tangled a hand in Han's shirt, needing his father to be close as well. "I'm forgiven?" he asked both men in a shaky, tear-filled voice.
Han wrapped his arms tightly around Ben, so his son was sheltered between them, and kissed his head as well. "You're completely forgiven," he promised.
Luke stroked Ben's hair. "Forgiven and loved," he promised.
"Love you both so much..." Ben whimpered and snuggled as much as he could with both older men. "Love momma too...wanna 'pologize...make things right with her..." he whispered. That would have to wait for later, though. He'd completely worn himself out with his sobbing and he'd been worn out before. He blinked his eyes wearily. "...Should get dressed..." he slurred, suddenly noticing he was naked. He was too tired to move, though.
Han reached out, allowing Luke to transfer Ben onto his lap, and picked up the blanket, draping it around his son and kissing his cheek. "You need to rest, son. You're safe. I've got you."
"Okay, daddy..." Ben whispered, curling up tight against his father and closing his eyes. He was asleep within moments.
Han held Ben close, gently stroking his hair.
Luke stood up. "I'll go and see how Hux is doing." While he could have easily reached out with the force, he wanted to check on the youngster with his own eyes. He stepped out of the tiny dwelling.
Hux was stood far enough from the hut to give privacy, but close enough that he could quickly get there if he was needed. He glanced up as Luke stepped out. "He going to be alright?" he asked quietly.
Luke nodded, stepping over to Hux and placing a hand on his shoulder. "He's sleeping now. How are you feeling?" he asked softly.
"Like my whole life just got turned over. Like I haven't slept for days. But overall, I just feel...relieved." Hux sighed softly and handed the comms back to Luke. "I caught a pheasant. I'll need to clean and dress it, but it should feed all four of us without any problems..."
Luke put the comms away. "I'll help you," he offered. "After we've eaten, I think you could do with resting for a while as well." He gently squeezed his student's shoulder.
Hux nodded at Luke's words. "Yes, master. I will." He began to prepare the bird for cooking, Luke's help making the work go faster.
Luke helped with preparing the bird, staying close to Hux. "Will you tell me what's happened to you since I lost you?" he asked softly.
Hux gave Luke a surprised look before nodding. "Of course, master," he answered, in a pleased voice. He began to talk, telling Luke everything, good and bad.
Luke listened to Hux, giving the youngster his full attention. He asked gentle questions to better understand what had happened to Hux.
By the time Ben woke again, dinner had been cooked and Hux and his uncle were plating it and passing it around. He looked up at his father, who was still holding him tight. "I'll get dressed now..." He waited for Han to let him go.
Han nodded and let his son go, stroking Ben's hair gently and sitting back slightly. He'd already sent a message to Chewie, so the wookie wouldn't become concerned, and his friend had had no trouble finding food.
It didn't take Ben long to dress and he quickly moved back to his father's side. Now that he was with his family, he didn't ever want to leave them again. He couldn't help but notice Hux was behaving nearly as clingy with Luke. Not to the point of sitting on the older man's lap like Ben was doing with Han, but close. "This is a good bird, cousin." His voice was serious, but the impish gleam in his eye was teasing. He was glad Hux had chosen to lean on Luke. He became more and more pensive as they ate, however.
Hux noticed. "What's wrong? I thought you liked the meal?" His normal acerbity was missing from his tone.
"I need to see momma..." Ben whispered, not looking at anyone.
Han gently squeezed Ben's shoulder. "Once we've finished eating, we can return to the Falcon. You two kids can rest up while we head to the base."
Luke stuck close to Hux. This would be his first time seeing his sister since everything that had happened. The thought of seeing her before would have filled him with dread...now, he was entirely focused on the youngster he'd drawn back to him.
Hux nodded at Han in acknowledgement of the words, since Ben seemed lost in his thoughts and barely moved beyond shifting closer to Han when his shoulder was squeezed. "Yes, sir..." he said deferentially; like a boy would to his best friend's father, instead of like the general he was in his own right. He gave a crooked smile to Luke. "Master Skywalker...I..." He swallowed, not sure how to ask if he was going to be imprisoned. He'd been responsible for many of the deaths on the resistance's side, after all. And his defection was rather sudden and unexpected, even to himself. They likely wouldn't trust him at all. Him or Ben. Even if Han and Luke were there vouching for them. And if what he'd heard about Luke disappearing and Han staying as far away from Leia as possible was true, it was possible that the older men vouching for them would just put the older men under suspicion.
Luke placed his hand on Hux's shoulder, gently squeezing. "There are likely going to be people who won't trust you...either of you...who you will have to prove yourself to. But I'll make sure both of you will stay with us and won't be imprisoned." He knew Leia and Han would never let Ben be locked away. And he wouldn't allow Hux to be.
Hux relaxed noticeably and nodded. He believed Luke; wanted to believe him. "I'll do my best to prove your trust in us isn't misplaced..." he said quietly.
"I will too..." Ben said, having heard what Luke said and Hux's response to it. "I'll do everything possible to make up for what I did wrong and prove that I can be trusted now..." He looked at his uncle and his father, a promise in his eyes.
"I know you will," Han said quietly, gently clasping his son's shoulder. "You took the first step on your own, enabling us to find you. I know my son. And I know you're back with me." He pressed a kiss to the top of Ben's head.
Luke sat quietly, an idea in his head; one that he wasn't certain he should speak out loud, not wanting to embarrass Hux in front of Han and Ben. Using the force, he gently touched the youngster's mind, opening a link between them. 'Before you and Ben left the academy, I wanted you. Not as an apprentice, but as my son. That hasn't changed.'
Hux shot a startled look toward Luke, his eyes wide and his mouth dropping open slightly before he clamped his lips closed and swallowed hard before blushing. It had been a long time since he'd used the force, but he closed his eyes and opened himself up to it, seeking out his old Master and, from what had just been said, possible father. 'I never knew...how did I not know?'
"When will Chewie get here?" Ben asked softly, with a hint of nervousness. He knew he owed his honorary uncle an apology as well. He'd be lucky if Chewbaca didn't turn him over his knee and spank him, just like his father and uncle had. (And like he suspected he would need his mother to do when he finally saw her again. He'd hurt so many...) If Chewbaca did feel that need, Ben wouldn't argue. He couldn't rightly say he wouldn't deserve it for what he'd done to the family. And if it helped him feel able to mend his relationship, then it might be necessary with him as well.
Luke wrapped his arm around Hux's shoulders, responding openly and honestly. 'You didn't know because I pulled back from telling you. I thought I had time...time to let you get used to the idea. I never wanted to risk scaring you off with how deeply I cared about you.' Of course, he'd lost Hux anyway. And losing both of them had been hard. He could be grateful that Hux had gone with Ben, giving him this opportunity for a second chance.
"A few minutes," Han answered, gently squeezing Ben to him. "I figured you'd want to see your Mom as soon as possible. I know she wants to see you too," he added. "She asked me to bring you home...I can't tell you how happy I am that I can do that."
'I wish I'd known...I...maybe I would have been brave enough to not run instead of giving in. Maybe I could have talked Ben out of running...' Hux sighed softly to himself. Wishing such things didn't really change anything now. And he didn't want to make Luke feel badly. But part of the reason he'd run was because Ben was going; and Ben was the only person he felt any connection to, so he'd had no reason (that he'd known of) to stay.
Ben nodded, letting his head fall onto Han's shoulder. "You succeeded. You won. You got me back..." he whispered, for once thankful that his father's take-charge, 'I'm right, do as I say', attitude had worked on him. If he ever felt tempted to fight against his father in the future, he hoped Han would pull him up short and remind him of this moment. Going his own way had been a horrible, terrible, awful mistake. He'd rather Han stop him with whatever means he had available than make a mistake so monumentally bad again.
'I should have told you. I'm sorry I didn't. I'm sorry I let my own fears leave that distance between us.' Luke wrapped his arms tighter around Hux, almost ready to pull the youngster onto his lap. "But I love you. And I want you. I still want you," he added, saying the words out loud so Hux knew they were still real. That Luke wasn't prepared to hide anymore.
Han gently stroked over Ben's hair. "I love you." His voice was soft, but no less intense because of that. His arms were tight around his son; a protective shield, as if he could protect his son's physical body as much as Luke was protecting Ben's mind.
Hux blinked as he heard the words out loud. In front of the other two men. He glanced toward Ben and Han. Ben was wrapped up so tightly against Han, he was almost an appendage of the older man. Hux couldn't help but smile crookedly. He looked back at Luke. "If you mean that, then...I will try and behave like a good son should..." he said softly, his words a way of promising to cooperate, not cause difficulty, and to leave the empire behind.
Ben continued to snuggle against Han. "...Love you, daddy..." he whispered. "...Missed you so much. Didn't even know it till now how much I missed you..."
The sound of the Falcon hovering overhead could be heard.
"I mean it." Luke stroked Hux's hair. "And when we're back home, I'll make you officially mine. My son." He heard the sound of the Falcon and, after another tight hug, stood and helped Hux to stand as well; though he had no intention of letting his son go.
Han kissed Ben's head. "You're here with me now, son," he whispered against Ben's hair. "The Falcon's here. It's time to board. To go home."
Ben carefully extricated himself enough that he and Han could stand and follow Luke and Hux out of the dwelling. Right before leaving, Ben sent a push of the force toward the fire and snuffed it out so that there would be no risk of the hut burning and causing a fire in the surrounding trees. When he walked out, Chewie had got the Falcon close enough to the ground that he could send down a ladder so they could climb up to the ship, since there were too many trees for the Falcon to actually land. He gave Han an impish look. "Need a lift, Pop?" he teased, before wrapping an arm tightly around Han's waist and force jumping them up and onto the Falcon's deck, by-passing the ladder all together. His impish grin turned apologetic and ashamed when his gaze fell on Chewbaca. He swallowed hard. "Hello, Uncle Chewie..." he whispered uncertainly.
Hux stared up at the Falcon where Ben had jumped with Han and sighed. "I've got a long way to go before I can do that..." he said wistfully to Luke, before looking at the ladder and sighing again.
Luke tightened his arm around Hux and kissed his head, feeling secure in giving the youngster that affection now that Hux knew how he felt and wasn't resisting him. "I'll train you, son." 'Look after you. Take care of you. Love you,' echoed through the link between them. Wrapping his other arm around Hux, Luke copied his nephew's actions, leaving the link between him and Hux wide open so what kind of strength and force was needed could be clearly seen by his son.
Han didn't let go of Ben until his best friend stood and walked over to them; and then grinned when Chewie hugged his nephew tightly, giving a low growl that said, 'I missed you and I love you'; with an echo of, 'But you're still in trouble'.
Ben blushed at Chewie's words, but didn't say anything. Instead, he wrapped his own arms tightly around the Wookie and burrowed close. He'd always felt safe and loved with Chewie. "I love you too, Uncle Chewie. I missed you so much..." he whispered; loudly enough to be heard, but softly enough that it was obvious he was affected by the quick forgiveness. "And I deserve to be..." he added, pressing closer and closing his eyes. He tried not to think about the fact it would be a third spanking in such a short period of time, but he wasn't going to argue or protest.
Hux paid close attention to what Luke was showing him through the force, wanting to remember it for later. "I look forward to learning from you again...father." 'And everything being your son entails...' he added through the bond that was re-forming and strengthening with each communication between them.
Chewie hugged Ben tightly; or as tightly as it was possible to do so without his strength threatening to crush his nephew. Looking at Han, he made a questioning growl.
Han nodded. "Yeah. Thanks. They're both going to need to rest. And I'm sure Ben'll appreciate getting his old bunk back." He grinned affectionately at his son.
Luke tightened his arms around Hux, hearing Han and Chewie's communication, and stroked his son's hair as he quietly sent through the link, 'Do you want to stay with me, or share the bunk with Ben?'
Hux narrowed his eyes, thinking about the question. He watched Ben holding onto his Wookie uncle. The young Sith looked dead on his feet; like if he didn't get to bed soon, the Wookie would have to carry him. He also saw how concerned Han was and he knew that the older man would most likely want to stay with his son when he wasn't directly piloting the ship. 'I think I'll stay with you. Ben needs some time alone with Uncle Han and...Uncle Chewie.' He added the Wookie into the mix hesitantly, not certain if he could call him Uncle as well. '...Plus, it will give us time to bond more...if you want?' He looked at Luke, a question in his eyes.
Ben's mumble toward his father was unintelligible, more due to him hiding his face in Chewbaca's furry chest than because of anything else. Which was as much of an agreement as anything. If Ben truly didn't want his old bunk, he'd have told his father.
Luke smiled and kissed Hux's head. 'I want that. I want to spend time with you. I want you.' He never wanted to risk his son feeling unwanted, so not only did he keep reiterating through words how he felt...he didn't hold it back from their link. His love, care and affection kept seeping through, like water overflowing. 'And Chewie is your family now as well,' he added, making it clear how much Hux was accepted and would be by all of them.
Han let his hand rest on Ben's back and turned to face Luke, nodding to Hux. "You taking care of your kid?"
Luke nodded and smiled. "I'll take him into my bunk." He didn't say anything about Han and Chewie taking care of Ben, but he knew it would happen.
Hux smiled at the kiss and the words, then smiled at Han and Chewie before shifting closer to Luke. "No time like the present?" He couldn't stop the yawn from escaping.
Ben giggle-snorted, his bone-deep weariness causing his friend's words to strike him funny and then he was having to hide his face against Chewie again to keep from breaking into hysterical laughter.
"When was the last time you slept? Beside at the hut?" Hux asked Ben in worried amusement. He'd known Snoke was riding the First Order hard; there was more than one time, he'd feared the Supreme Commander would take exception to how he was handling something and would kill him with the force. He hadn't stopped to think about the fact Ben had been with the insane Sith pretty much all day every day for weeks before he'd done his runner.
Ben mumbled something unintelligible again, though Chewie could likely hear it.
Chewie repeated his nephew's answer to those around.
Han sighed and gently squeezed Ben's shoulder. "Then now is the perfect time to catch up on that rest. Come on, kid. Me and Chewie'll stay with you."
Chewie didn't waste any time in sweeping Ben into his arms, just so he could carry his nephew to the bunk. He lightly patted Hux's shoulder on the way past, a low growl indicating his acceptance of the other youngster in his family.
Luke kept his arms around Hux as he guided his son towards his own bunk, almost like he was afraid that if he wasn't touching Hux, he'd lose him again.
Hux smiled at Chewie's show of welcome, then chuckled at Ben's feeble attempts to walk on his own, a muffled, "Chewie..." following the Wookie and his 'cargo' down the hall and into the bunk. Once Han was inside and the bunk door closed, he turned toward Luke and followed the older man into their own bunk area. 'What should I call you?' he asked through their bond, working to strengthen his ability in mind-speak. 'If you are to adopt me, should I continue to call you father? Or do you prefer a... less formal... address? Or maybe you prefer me to stick to Master Luke when in public, since you will also be my teacher?'
Luke moved over to sit on the mattress, gently guiding Hux to sit on the bed next to him and wrapping an arm around his waist. 'I'll be your father first and teacher second,' he answered in the same way, encouraging his son to continue using the mind-speech. 'I want you to call me whatever you feel fits best. I won't be upset or belittle you for using a less formal way of addressing me.'
Hux leaned into Luke, not quite used to constantly showing affection, but feeling it was necessary in the first few hours of having decided to become Luke's son that they be able to bond in this way. 'I like calling you father...I might slip and use a less formal address if being punished and hoping that it will get me leniency...' he teased through their link, hints of impish amusement being directed toward Luke.
Luke smiled at the teasing, relieved to see that Hux's time with Snoke hadn't broken his spirit and changed him the same way Ben had been changed, and gently pulled his son onto his lap. 'I'm as hard on you as you need me to be, son. And I won't change things suddenly on you without warning.' He'd seen the evidence of old injuries on Hux's body and it saddened him to know how much his son had suffered, no matter the choices he'd made.
Hux turned serious eyes onto Luke, his father, and nodded, before giving a tiny smile. 'I know. You are fair and only do what is necessary to teach me to be better...'
Luke gently stroked his cheek, letting his mechanical hand hold onto the back of Hux's head, almost cradling his son. 'And now that I have you...have you back with me...I'm going to make sure you never doubt your position in my life. My son.' Being able to say that clearly made him happy and he didn't hide that happiness from Hux either.
"Thank you..." Hux finally said aloud, everything finally catching up to him and making him feel more deeply than he had let himself feel for a very long time. He let his head fall onto Luke's shoulder and snuggled closer. The gentle affection combined with the day's past events catching up to him again caused him to tire and he closed his eyes against his will. Soon, he was asleep in Luke's arms...a show of trust that he wouldn't have thought possible before Luke caught him.
Luke moved just enough to make sure Hux was comfortable without risking waking him or moving his son from his arms. He settled Hux in place and just held him, watching his son sleep.
As soon as they were in the bunk, Chewie carefully placed Ben on his bed, one furry paw smoothing his nephew's hair out of his face.
Han sat on the bed, careful not to sit on his son, and took one of Ben's hands. "While you get some sleep, I'll send a message to your Mom. If you wake up before we arrive, I'll get her on the comms again so you can talk to her," he promised.
Ben settled fairly quickly once his uncle had put him into bed. He turned his face into Chewbaca's paw, nuzzling against the Wookie, before sighing in drowsy happiness. He gripped Han's hand tightly, as if afraid that the older man would disappear if he didn't hold on. "Okay, daddy..." He turned back toward Chewbaca. "I really am sorry, uncle Chewie..." he whispered contritely. He knew the Wookie had forgiven him and loved him, but things still felt unfinished between them and he wanted to make things right.
Chewie gave a soft growl, gently stroking his nephew's face, careful not to hurt him. He knew. He loved Ben. And once his nephew had rested, he was due a trip over Chewie's knee.
Ben gave a trembling smile at his uncle's growl, letting his eyes fall closed. He was soon fast asleep again, the trust he had in his family to protect him and not harm him allowing him to completely rest instead of the fitful rest he normally got due to never trusting Snoke not to hurt him.
Not leaving Ben's side, Han kept hold of his son's hand as he used the comms to contact Leia...letting her know their son was coming home. And that they had a nephew, too.
Poe had been speaking with General Organa-Solo when Han's message came through. He'd tried not to eavesdrop, but it was difficult; she hadn't yet dismissed him from the chiding she'd been giving him for disobeying orders (he'd had good reason, damn it) and so he didn't feel right just walking off to give her privacy. When he heard about Ben, though, he got very nervous and agitated. He hoped the dressing-down wouldn't last much longer. He needed to go back to his bunk and think.
The sense of relief that Han was coming home and bringing their boy back was nearly overwhelming for Leia. Being on opposite sides had been more painful than she'd expected; and the fact that Luke was coming as well...and was bringing Hux, who he'd chosen to adopt...meant that not only would she have her family back together, but that the First Order would be dealt a crippling blow. Maybe no one else needed to die.
Focusing on Poe once more, Leia noticed the nervous agitation and gentled her tone from how she'd been chiding him. "I trust Han. If he says Ben is himself again and not our enemy, I believe him."
Poe reflexively rubbed at where Ben had focused most of the attention while torturing him. The physical torture, at least. The mental had been something else, all together. He swallowed hard. "I... I know you believe him. I won't cause problems, General..." he finally whispered.
"Poe..." Leia gentled her tone further, able to see the reactions the news was causing the young pilot. "I understand the pain he caused you. I don't know how he feels about it now. But from what Han says, this isn't an enemy we're dealing with, but a boy who's finally been forced to see the path he went down."
Poe nodded briskly and swallowed. "If he's showing genuine remorse, then bringing him home is best. I'll try not to make things difficult..." He smiled weakly. "...It's not like I haven't made mistakes that hurt innocents myself..." He tried not to, of course, but sometimes just being around him was enough for trouble to hit people.
"I know he hurt you, Poe, and I'm not discounting that," Leia said. "But I know how close the two of you were before he went to the academy. If he's remorseful for his actions now, then he will also be remorseful for his actions involving you." Han hadn't gone into detail, but Leia couldn't help thinking, from what he'd said, that he'd turned their son over his knee. It was starting to make her think of another way she might be able to get through to Poe.
"I'm trying to believe you, General, and I'll give him a chance," Poe interjected quickly. "Am I dismissed?" he asked hopefully. Leia had been chiding him for quite a while before the news came in and he was hoping to get away before she started again. He'd messed up badly, but had managed to avoid accepting responsibility for the mistake so far.
"No." Leia sighed. "You've put me in an awkward position here. Your actions did cause people to get hurt. I have two choices here. I can either demote you...put you on restriction...or use a more personal punishment."
Poe blinked in shock. "But General! We're short-handed as it is! You can't afford to have me not working...and I use my down time to motivate and encourage my troops...restriction would just hurt the resistance! And if I'm demoted, you'd be down another leader!" Poe protested. He wasn't sure what a 'personal' punishment would involve, but it seemed like it would be the least harmful to the resistance.
"I'm aware of that," Leia said. She wasn't sure how Poe would take her next words; she cared about the young man...had done ever since he and Ben had formed their friendship. "As an official punishment would likely cause more harm than good, it seems to me you're choosing the more personal one. Which would be a spanking."
Poe's mouth snapped shut at those words and he swallowed hard. A spanking...he had not expected that, truthfully. But the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. It had been her order he disobeyed; much like a stubborn child ignoring a parent's admonishment not to climb up the steep face of 'ghost maker' hill. He'd never learned the true name of that place, as the local moniker was so much more descriptive, and he'd never forget Han and Leia's reaction when he and Ben had climbed up and down- at night- and somehow got away without a scratch and crowing about it. His own mother was on her death bed by that point and he was lashing out in the only ways a child could; his best friend stubbornly and loyally sticking to his side. He took in a quick breath and shook the memory from his mind, focusing once more on Leia. "Where do you want me, General?" His voice was subdued, apologetic and accepting of her decision. He'd already cost the resistance more today than they could afford to pay. He wouldn't add any more to the tally they paid because he was too proud to accept the correction he deserved.
Leia pushed back enough from the desk to leave enough room. "Come round to me," she directed. The sharpness of her voice when she'd been chiding Poe earlier was gone now; his quick acceptance meant that she could be more gentle with him. At least verbally.
Poe swallowed again but immediately obeyed, moving to stand by her leg. The unbidden memory had evoked a response in him that nearly an hour of chiding hadn't. He'd compared his actions of today with those from so long ago and realized his reasons now weren't any better than his reasons then...and it hurt. He'd thought he'd grown up. He'd thought he'd matured. To find out he hadn't got as far as he thought was disappointing to him. The fact he knew he'd disappointed Leia hurt worse. She had become his mother when his own mother lost her battle to the illness. That he'd disregarded her position and opinion so easily... Blinking back tears, he lowered his breeches without her asking, then carefully bent himself over her lap, gently lowering himself until he was in position and hopefully not causing her discomfort. "I'm sorry..." he said softly, his voice higher and clearly showing the internal distress he was now feeling.
"I know." Leia let her hand rest gently on Poe's lower back, her other hand lifting and falling in a firm smack to his backside that she then repeated. "You're better than this. I know you're better than the decisions you made today."
Poe closed his eyes tightly at the reaffirming admonishment. Leia had perfected the art of making you feel like you could move mountains, while also making you feel all of three feet tall for not attempting to. He knew she was right, though. "Yes, Ma'am..." His voice wobbled. He hated disappointing people, but disappointing Leia? That always hurt; a physical ache that brought tears to his eyes every time. He could feel them sliding down his cheeks at that moment. He'd managed to avoid disappointing her for several years now (at least as far as he knew), but today, he'd done a spectacular job of doing so. He was surprised she'd let him keep his underclothes up, considering his actions. Then again, he was already close to breaking just being in this position. He cleared his threat and sniffled loudly. "...Sorry..." he whispered again.
Leia completed a full circuit of the firm swats before she paused to completely bare him. "I'm more than just your General, Poe." As she talked, she began a second circuit of swats, going down to his thighs before starting over from the top. "I'm your family. I care as deeply about you as if you were my blood...my second son. And you owe me more respect than you showed today."
"I... I know... You're right..." He choked on a tiny sob, even as he began to squirm; not hard- he was trying to cooperate and hold still- and wriggle in tiny little half aborted movements that showed his struggle. "I did...disrespect you...didn't mean to, but I did...so, so sorry..."
Leia tightened her grip on him as she began to go a bit harder and faster with the swats. "I know. And I forgive you. I love you. I expect you to take this experience and learn from it, as I know you can."
Poe felt himself relax at Leia's words of forgiveness, his need to squirm away disappearing at the knowledge he hadn't ruined his relationship with the older woman. He went limp, accepting the punishment. At the same time, he began to cry vocally. The tears weren't loud, but they could be heard. "I will...I will learn, Momma..." he reverted back to the childhood term of address without thinking. "I'm sorry...I love you...didn't mean to hurt...dis'point you. Was dis'bedient no good reason...sorry..."
Leia brought the spanking to a stop and gently moved Poe's clothing back into place before she shifted him into her arms, cuddling him on her lap, arms tight around him. "I love you," she repeated. "I know you'll do better."
"I will..." Poe all but promised. "...Don't wanna disappoint you..." he whispered, as he managed to calm his tears down to just quietly streaming down his cheeks. "I love you, momma." He sniffled and couldn't stop himself from snuggling close like he had when a child and Leia had first stepped in with him. "Do you really think we have Ben back?" His voice was hopeful this time. It had hurt when his best friend had turned on them all.
Leia tightened her arms around him in response. "I love you," she reiterated, stroking his hair, even as she said quietly, "Han's been convinced. You heard him mention Luke has taken hold of Hux and plans to adopt him. I think both of them have come back to us." Stroking Poe's hair, she continued, "I'm not telling you how to feel about Ben. But give yourself the opportunity to talk to him."
"I will, Momma...I want to believe he's back. I want my brother home again..." he whispered, continuing to snuggle. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to be Leia's son; not many knew that she had taken on a parental time with him when he was younger. It had been too long. "I miss being...this..." he said hesitantly.
Leia kissed the top of his head. "I do too...but we don't need to keep a distance between us," she said softly. "You're still as much my son as you ever were."
"Can... can we have lunch together? Wait for daddy and Ben to get home?" he asked quietly, easily falling into his place as son as if he had never left it. It was clear he wanted to be brought back home too...even if he hadn't left in the same way Ben had.
"Of course." Leia stroked his hair gently. "And your dad'll be pleased to see you too," she promised.
"I hope so..." Poe sighed. "He'd have swatted me good for disrespecting you like I did..." He sounded sad at realizing his father would have been just as disappointed as his mother.
"And you would have deserved it." Leia kissed his head to take any sting out of her words. "But you've been punished and forgiven for it."
"Thank you, momma..." Poe snuggled some more. "I love you."
"I love you too." Leia wasn't prepared to let go of him any time soon, just happy to hold onto him.
When Ben woke up, he looked around nervously...disoriented.
Chewie and Han were still in the bunk, Han's hand gripping his son's. Noticing Ben was awake, Chewie touched his nephew's face with a paw, giving a questioning growl.
"How are you feeling, son?" Han echoed Chewie's concerned question.
Ben blinked and gripped Han's hand tighter, while pressing his face into Chewie's paw. "Much better, sir..." he said hesitantly. "Grateful it wasn't a dream..."
Chewie growled softly. It wasn't a dream.
"You're here. With us. With me." Han gently squeezed his shoulder. "Your mother knows you're coming home. She wants to see you as soon as possible."
Ben blinked back tears of relief. "I can't wait to see her..." he admitted, in a whisper.
Chewie growled softly, brushing some hair out of his nephew's face, asking Ben if he was hungry...or wanted to get the spanking out of the way first.
Ben turned guilty, sorrow-filled eyes onto his uncle. "I want to be right with you, uncle Chewie..." He sniffled.
Chewie's response was one of love and forgiveness, even as he lifted his nephew, settling Ben in place over his knees and then baring him.
Knowing this was going to be his son's third spanking, Han moved to hold Ben's hands in his...to provide comfort through touch.
Ben couldn't help but whimper- even if he wanted...needed...his uncle to punish him- and he held onto his father's hands tightly. Chewie was one of the few beings in the universe still bigger than him who could make him feel like a little boy just by standing next to him. Being over his uncle's knee? Bare? He was a child. He was small and weak and needed protection. His father and uncle were providing that protection and direction and he was relieved. "I'm sorry, uncle Chewie," Ben apologized. "I was so bad and tore everything and everyone apart and I'm sorry..."
Chewie's response was to tell his nephew he wasn't bad; he'd been very naughty and there were still people who he'd hurt that he'd have to face. But Ben wasn't bad, and he was still deeply loved. Chewie swatted in time with the words, using the smacks as an emphasis.
His uncle's hand was large, hard, calloused...and it hurt every time it landed with unerring accuracy. It didn't take long at all for Ben to begin squirming helplessly over the Wookiee's lap and crying softly. His uncle's hands hurt; but they were also a comfort, warm and loving even as they dealt out deserved discipline. Ben didn't regret his very sore bottom. He regretted that he'd made it necessary for his family to all give him a very sore bottom. "I love you too, Uncle Chewie!" Ben finally sobbed, before giving into more vocal tears. His bottom felt so hot and ached.
He could only imagine what he might look like, but couldn't find it in himself to be embarrassed. Each swat made him feel closer to Chewbaca, just as the spankings his Uncle Luke and his father had given drew him back into their grasp and pulled him tight to them. He wanted that closeness. He needed to be drawn back.
Chewie continued to swat, but only for a few more before he pulled his nephew into his arms, hugging Ben tightly and stroking his hair. The growls were soft, loving words of love and forgiveness as he held his nephew close...reiterating he was happy to have Ben back.
Ben snuggled as close to Chewbaca as he could. "Love you, Uncle Chewie...love you so much...so sorry..." He calmed much more quickly this time; the other two spankings, and now this third one, finally helping him feel as if he could be forgiven. Things weren't hopeless, and he could reunite with all of his family.
A hesitant knock on the door interrupted his musings.
"R-2 says we are nearing the base..." Hux's hesitant voice called through the door.
"Thanks, kid." Han gave his son a reassuring smile as he stood, gently clasping Ben's shoulder. "If you need to take a few minutes more, come and join us as soon as you're ready," he said gently.
Chewie hugged Ben tighter, his growl asking if his nephew was ready to join the others, or if he needed to stay here a bit longer.
Ben smiled at his father. "Thanks, daddy." He glanced between Han and Chewie. "I think I'd like to stay a little longer...if you don't mind?" He looked up at Chewbaca.
Chewie's growl quite clearly said, 'Not at all,' as he tightened his arms around Ben.
Han smiled and stroked his son's hair. "Come out as soon as you're ready."
Ben gave Han a bashful smile as he snuggled against Chewie. "Okay, daddy..." He watched his father go before hugging Chewbaca more tightly. "Uncle Chewie...do you think dad will stick around the base now that he's got me back? Or will he and you start going on runs again?" he whispered.
Chewie hugged his nephew tightly, responding with soft growls. Han didn't want to leave Ben again. Had no intentions of doing so. They'd spoken while Ben had slept and his father had been clear that, wherever Ben was, Han would be. By extension, so would Chewie.
"I'm glad..." Ben whispered. "I need you both..." Cuddling a few more moments, he finally stood and fixed his clothing. "Time to get ready and face Momma..." he said, with a very nervous but crooked little smile.
Chewie affectionately ruffled Ben's hair and then waited for his nephew to exit the bunk first, following him out.
Waiting for the Falcon to land and the hatch to open felt like a hundred years; and then it was open and he realized they were going to walk down into the resistance base and suddenly, it felt like everything was moving too fast. He believed his father that Leia wanted to see him...but she wasn't the only one on the base. What if the others decided he and Hux needed executing? What if Leia wasn't allowed to make the decision? Ben gave his father a terrified look, not able to make his feet move.
Han responded immediately, wrapping his arms tightly around Ben. "It's going to be all right," he promised quietly. "I'll look after you...take care of you. If you can't be here, I'll take you somewhere else."
Ben visibly relaxed at his father's words. He'd be okay. His daddy would make sure of it. So would his uncles and momma.
Hux found himself relaxing once Ben relaxed. He'd been more worried about his cousin's state of mind than what he was facing.
Luke gently squeezed Hux's shoulder, sending his son reassuring feelings of love and warmth through their link.
Han still kept hold of Ben as he began to walk down into the base. He spotted Leia almost immediately. Poe was with her and Han's quiet sigh was one of relief. The way they stood so close together made it clear that his other son had come home. He just hoped Poe would feel able to forgive Ben as well.
Ben saw his mother and Poe immediately. The look on his face went from nervous anticipation to apologetically hopeful and regretful in seconds. It was obvious he was sorry for what he had done, the shame radiating from him...especially when he looked at Poe. He had tortured his brother. How could that be forgiven?
Leia didn't waste any time in moving over to her son and husband. She didn't hesitate. Seeing the look on Ben's face, she immediately reached out to wrap her arms tightly around him.
Ben couldn't help himself. As soon as his mother was holding him, he began to sob. Guilt filled, gut wrenching sobs.
Poe's eyes widened, and he backed away to give them room, moving to stand next to Hux and Han. "Looks like she was right. He is sorry..." he whispered.
"We both are..." Hux acknowledged, just as softly.
Leia hugged Ben tightly to herself. "I love you," she whispered to him. "I know you're sorry. I forgive you. I love you," she kept repeating, over and over.
Han gently grasped Poe's shoulder. "Good to see you're back with us too, kid," he said gruffly.
Luke let his hand linger on Hux's shoulder, just letting himself touch his son. He kept the link open between them, in case his son needed to reach out to him.
Ben just held tightly and cried, every so often whispering, "I'm sorry," and, "I love you, momma..."
Poe grinned impishly at Han. "Been working for momma for a while now. Just...didn't acknowledge that's who she was till recently. I didn't want people thinking she was playing favorites, even if she wasn't worried about that at all." Poe's smile turned rueful. "I'm not gonna hide it anymore, though. Hiding it made it to easy for me to forget the right way to act. The right way to treat her. I don't want to forget again." He sighed softly. At Hux's curious look, he elaborated. "I disobeyed several direct orders because they weren't what I thought was best to do. It was very disrespectful." He looked ashamed of himself and couldn't help but glance at Han, a little afraid of what his father would say.
Hux reached up and put his own hand over the hand Luke had in his shoulder. He spoke through their bond. 'Our leaving hurt everyone in more ways than I thought...'
Leia hugged Ben tightly to herself, murmuring soft words of love and forgiveness in his ear, kissing the top of his head.
Han raised his eyebrows at that. "Do we need to have a conversation, kid?" he asked Poe directly. While he was certain Leia had responded to Poe's behaviour, especially given the decision his other boy had come to, it wasn't the first time he'd had a discussion with Poe about the lack of respect...although the last one had been quite a while ago.
Luke gently squeezed his son's shoulder. 'Both of you are important parts of our lives; and even if you didn't know it, you were then too. It was always going to hurt.'
Ben, knowing his mother had trained a little with his uncle, sent out a tentative thought. 'I made things right with daddy and uncle Luke and uncle Chewie... May I... can I make them right with you...?'
'I was so blind...jealous and blind. I'm sorry...' Hux gave Luke a sad smile.
"I had a discussion with Momma..." Poe couldn't help but reach toward his backside, before realizing what he was doing and quickly stopping himself with a wincing blush. "...But I know I was wrong," he whispered, "and you've talked to me too many times about respect and my know-it-all behavior..." He sighed. "...If you think we need a discussion, too, I won't argue." He looked up at Han, wondering if he was going to get his father back as well as his mother and brother.
Leia tightened her embrace at the words and sent a thought back to her son. 'I don't need to spank you to forgive you and love you, but if it will help you to feel like you can accept those things, then we can go to our quarters now.' She used 'our' deliberately; she wasn't planning to let either of her sons, or Han, out of her sight now.
Luke kissed Hux's forehead. 'If you can forgive me for my mistakes in not drawing you to me earlier, I can forgive you. Easily.'
Han's first instinct was to tell Poe that being punished by Leia...by his mother...was enough. But the truth was, Poe had always been a bit like him. A hotshot. And Han had had to call him out on respect a lot more than either of them had been happy with. He wrapped his arm around Poe's shoulders, drawing him in tight. "You know what I expect from you, so I'm going to remind you of how you should treat your leader. Especially when she also happens to be your mother."
Ben's relief was obvious. While he believed that she forgave him and loved him without needing to punish him first, he also knew that he needed her to punish him so that he could feel like she was in control again...was his mother again... and so things could be like they should have been. 'Thank you, momma...'
Hux leaned into Luke. 'Then we are both forgiven and can be family. Will I share quarters with you?'
Poe winced, but nodded in agreement. "Yes, sir..." he said softly. "I do not know if momma plans for me to move to be with you, her and Ben...but since I still have my own quarters at the moment, we can go there for you to...remind me." He swallowed hard, then whispered, "I regret needing to be reminded. But I am more than glad you are home to do the reminding, daddy..."
Luke wrapped both arms around Hux, holding his son close. 'That's what I intend.'
"Me too, son." Han hugged Poe tight a moment and then glanced towards Leia. "I'm going to have a little chat with Poe in his quarters. We can come and meet you when we're finished." He gave Ben a reassuring, affectionate smile.
Leia's smile was warm and happy as she looked at her husband and other son. "Poe, I think it would be best if you moved back in with your father, brother and I..." Still holding onto Ben, she turned to Luke. "We've had quarters set aside for you...big enough for you and Hux to share." She smiled warmly at her nephew. "They're next to mine...I can show you to them."
Ben blinked at her words, but instead of throwing a tantrum that he would be sharing his parents with Poe again (which Poe had expected, to be honest), he looked worriedly at Chewbaca. "Where is Uncle Chewie staying?" His voice was hesitant. He still felt uncertain being back home and forgiven, even if he believed they all forgave him.
"With us, too...the quarters are more than big enough," Leia replied reassuringly,
Ben snuggled close, behaving more like the young child who hadn't wanted to leave home than the battle scarred man he'd become. "Good..." he whispered, before shifting enough for his mother to lead him home.
Chewie stroked Ben's back, growling softly. He'd give his family some privacy to deal with this and then join them later.
Leia motioned for Luke and Hux to follow them as she began leading Ben to their quarters, keeping her son close.
Han gently squeezed Ben's arm as his son passed and then turned to Poe, waiting for his other son to lead the way.
Poe nodded at Ben and Leia as they passed, then glanced at his father and motioned him to follow, leading him to where his current quarters were. It didn't take long and soon he was opening his door and stepping back to let Han enter first.
Han walked into the room and turned around to face his son. "Do you want to tell me what happened?" Even though it was phrased as such, it wasn't really a question.
Poe paled slightly, not wanting to see disappointment in his father's eyes any more than he'd wanted to see it in his mother's. "We were fighting a destroyer. It was an important target to eliminate...they would not be able to use it against the resistance if it was eliminated. Even so, Mother had decided the risk was too great. Had ordered a retreat. I was positive that the destroyer could be taken out. I disobeyed her order. We destroyed the...destroyer..." He paused. "...But lost nearly all of our fighters in the process. It was too high a cost. She was right, and I was an idiot to question her. But I was a worse fool for disrespecting her." His look towards Han was full of shame. "She demoted me, as she should. But instead of imprisoning me for treason, she spanked me. And forgave me. I can't help feeling I got off easy..." His smile was sad.
Han stepped forward, placing his hand on his son's shoulder and pulled him into a tight embrace. "I know why she didn't imprison you. The same reason she wouldn't imprison Ben. Not now. Making a mistake or a poor choice doesn't make you a bad person." He kissed Poe's head. "You need to trust your leaders; that they're making the right choice. You know there were people who didn't have to die."
"I know..." Poe's voice was rough. "I know I'll never be able to make up for what I did. They died because I was too proud and cocky."
Han kissed his head. "You make up for it by learning from your mistakes and making the better choice next time." He led his son over to the bed, taking a seat and gently tugging Poe across his lap.
"Yes, daddy..." Poe whispered. "With momma's and your help..." Poe let his head drop forward and wrapped one hand around Han's leg, while bracing himself against the floor with the other.
"I love you." Han rubbed his back gently and then bared Poe, tightening his hold on his son before he lifted his hand and brought it down in the first hard smack that he then repeated.
"I know..." Poe said, with a tiny huff, as the sting was immediately felt. He'd watched Han and Leia interact for years before things had gone wrong; he'd emulated his father in every way possible- he couldn't help answering in that way.
"I'm not leaving again." Han wasn't entirely certain Ben knew that; but he'd make sure both his sons knew and believed that. "I'm sticking with you, your brother, mother...for good. No more runs that'll take me away from any of you." He settled into a pattern of swats, going down to Poe's thighs before starting over from the top.
"Really?" Poe blushed at how childishly needy he sounded at the promise. He was an adult, for crying out loud. He shouldn't need his father constantly with him to feel okay. But Han's promise eased something he didn't realize needed easing. And then Han started smacking already reddened skin and Poe couldn't help but whimper and begin to squirm.
"Really," Han confirmed. "I'm going to stick around for good." He completed the second circuit of swats and began a third, going a fraction harder and faster.
"Okay, daddy..." Poe whimpered and began to squirm more frantically, before he went boneless and cried softly over his father's knee. "I'm glad you're coming home," he whispered, sniffling and just letting his father see how sorry he was for his behavior; and how relieved he was to have his father- his family- back.
Han finished the spanking and wasted no time in bringing Poe up into his arms and on his lap. "I'm never leaving you again...you or Ben," he promised, kissing his son's head. "I know you'll do better next time. I know you'll learn from this and grow."
"With you and momma beside me, I know I can..." Poe snuggled close, still crying, but with tears of relief instead of guilt or pain.
Han tightened his embrace. "I'm more than happy that you've come home too," he said softly. "I know Ben's going to need his family around him...I also know how much he hurt you. He's sorry. I pulled him back, but I couldn't have done that if he hadn't chosen to take that first step himself."
"I...I could sense he didn't want to hurt me...when he was doing it. I'm glad he stopped fighting the light..." Poe swallowed and snuggled closer. It would be difficult facing his brother. But he would do it. Because his parents needed him to and he needed to. He'd missed his brother.
Han tightened his arms around his son. "I know this isn't going to be easy, kid. I know he has a lot to make up for. He knows that too. Just take it a step at a time. Don't force yourself to feel one way or the other." Stroking Poe's hair, he continued, "I know you made a mistake, son...but I'm very proud of you."
Poe nodded. "Okay, daddy. I'll try..." He finally stood and fixed his clothing. "Should...should I pack up? Move now instead of later?"
Han nodded, standing as well and gently squeezing his son's shoulder. "By the time you've finished packing up, it should be okay to head to our quarters. I'll help you..."
Leia kept a tight hold of Ben as she headed to their quarters, indicating the ones that had been set aside for Luke and Hux. She noticed her brother didn't stray far from his son and kept touching Hux; almost as if he couldn't quite believe he had him. She knew the feeling.
Stepping into their quarters, Leia gently kissed Ben's forehead. "I'm glad you're back home," she whispered.
Ben smiled at his mother, wrapping his arms around her tightly. "I'm glad I'm home too..." he whispered. "I am so sorry for what I put you through..."
"I know. And I forgive you. I love you." Leia tightened her arms around him and then led him over towards the bed.
Ben eyed the bed with trepidation, knowing what was coming and dreading the moment his mother had to punish him. At the same time, he knew he deserved it and actually needed it to bring him back to his mother; just as he'd needed his father and uncles to punish him and draw him back to them. "I love you too, mommy..." Ben's use of the highly childish form of address showed how nervous and needy for his mother he was.
Leia squeezed his waist as she reached the bed, taking a seat and gently drawing her son across her lap. When she bared him, she could see the evidence of the spankings he'd already taken and she placed her hand on his lower back, rubbing gently, pausing enough for him to tell her this wasn't necessary. If he felt he didn't need her to spank him, she wanted to let him say that. His bottom was red and when she gently touched it, it was still quite hot to the touch.
Ben whimpered at the touch, but didn't ask for her not to spank him. He needed to feel like he'd submitted to her; just as he had the older men in his family. He needed to feel her draw him in and make him her child...her boy again. Spanking was the only way he could think of that he could allow that to happen quickly. "Please, mommy..." He couldn't ask her; didn't know how to put what he felt into words, but the pleading tone was clear and when he opened himself up to her through the force, he hoped she'd see and understand.
"I love you, Ben." Leia stroked his back gently and lifted her other hand, bringing it down in a smack that, although firm, was more stinging than truly hard. She didn't want to hurt her son, but if this was what he needed... She steeled herself and began delivering the firm smacks down to her son's thighs before starting over from the top again.
And just like that, her words of love had him crying. The day had been long, eventful, and tiring. He felt lighter and more guilt free than he had in years and soon, the guilt he felt between him and his mother would be eased. He wasn't fighting in the least and it only took one circuit before he was just boneless over her lap, fully accepting the punishment. His relief was clear, just as his tears were. "I love you, mommy...so much!" He cried quietly.
Leia couldn't bring herself to continue, when all she wanted was to hold onto Ben and feel that her son was safe and wasn't trying to kill her or the rest of their family. She truly believed he was sorry and regretted what he'd done. She stopped the spanking and gathered her son into her arms, hugging him tightly to herself.
While he'd needed Leia to spank him and assert her dominance over him, Ben didn't need to be in agony to feel like she'd done so. When Leia pulled him up, he quickly wrapped his arms around her and held tight. "I'm so sorry, mommy...I love you! I want to come home! I'm so sorry..." He held as still as possible while hugging her, because moving caused his bottom to hurt, and he tried not to cry too hard. He'd deserved every swat and didn't want her feeling bad about giving him what he deserved.
Leia hugged Ben tighter to herself and kissed his head. "You're home," she whispered. "I'm not letting you go again. I love you so much."
At those words, Ben began to sob. "I love you, mommy. I'm sorry. I love you!"
Leia stroked his hair and pressed another kiss to the top of his head, then reached over and opened one of the drawers next to the bed. "I'm going to put you back over, so I can rub some ointment in and help with the pain," she said softly.
Ben blushed darkly. "Moooom..." he semi-whined, embarrassed, but not wanting to seem as if he was arguing. Being over her lap having her smack his bare backside in punishment didn't embarrass him; having her rubbing ointment in did, though. He wasn't sure why, especially since the ointment would help him feel better.
Leia touched his cheek. "I know it's embarrassing, but from what you said, this has been your fourth spanking. I want to make sure you don't feel any more pain." Her voice was soft, filled with love and concern.
"I can put it on myself..." Ben said hesitantly.
"But you're not going to," Leia said, her tone serious...nearly stern. "I'm worried about bruising and swelling. I'm going to make sure you don't have any lasting effects or pain."
Ben looked down at the stern tone. "Yes, mommy..." he quickly agreed, still blushing, but not wanting to argue or disobey. Wiping at his eyes, he looked up again. "O...over your lap?" he whispered.
"Yes." Leia gently stroked the side of his face. "I love you. I don't like seeing you in pain," she said softly.
Nodding quickly and briefly, Ben carefully turned over her lap again.
Leia picked up the ointment and began to carefully rub it into her son's backside, being as careful as possible not to cause him any unnecessary pain.
Ben held still and tried to remain quiet, although he wasn't able to keep from whimpering every so often. "I love you, mommy..." he whispered.
"I love you too, Ben." Leia's voice was quiet, but very intense. "I can't tell you how happy I am to have you home. To have you back. To be able to touch you and hold you."
"Feel like a little boy again, with you taking care of me..." Ben sniffled, his voice calming and sounding more happy.
"I want to take care of you," Leia replied, continuing to rub in the ointment, making sure it covered every inch of his bottom and thighs. While she knew he'd needed this, it was hard to see the evidence of that pain.
"Thank you, mommy...it feels better already." Ben sighed softly, the pain easing allowing him to relax.
"I love you." Leia continued rubbing the ointment in with one hand, while her other stroked gently over Ben's back; just keeping the physical contact with her son.
Ben sighed again. "...Love you so much, mommy. Thank you for letting me come back home..." he whispered.
"It was always open for you to come home," Leia said gently. "I never felt right without you here." She finished rubbing the ointment in and carefully replaced Ben's clothing.
"I was a little fool...wasted so much time...hurt so many people..." Ben carefully stood and held onto her tightly. "I never want to leave ever again."
Leia wrapped her arms tightly around her son once more and kissed his head. "You can work to make up for the past. The most important thing is that you took that first step."
"Thanks to daddy and Uncle Luke catching me..." Ben admitted. "I was never so glad to be caught."
Leia kissed his forehead. "I'll make sure we aren't separated again...any of us," she promised.
Ben continued to snuggle close. Soon, however, there was a hesitant knock on the door. The rest of the family checking on them, most likely. Ben just gave Leia a cheeky smile and didn't move. He didn't care if everyone else saw him cuddling with his mother.
Leia's smile was affectionate and loving. She tightened her hold on Ben as she called softly, "Come in."
Han opened the door, giving a quick grin as he saw Ben cuddling with his mother, and waved Poe in after him. "How are you doing, kid?"
"Momma took care of me, so I'm doing fine..." Ben smiled, almost bashfully. He didn't elaborate how she'd taken care of him, although the fact he was sitting a bit more comfortably than four spankings should have allowed probably clued Han in. That and the fact that Ben called her Momma instead of Mommy (showing he was more emotionally stable) gave more evidence he was in a better head space than he had been.
Poe chuckled softly. "Mom's good at taking care of us..." he agreed quietly.
"I've got both of my sons back, so you can expect a lot more mothering from now on," Leia said. She still held Ben, but her next words were addressed to Poe. "Do you have everything you need?"
"Yes, ma'am..." Poe smiled at Leia before shifting close to Han. "Would you like me to arrange for dinner to be brought to our quarters? I'm assuming we will wait till tomorrow to announce Ben and Hux's return to the rest of the base..."
"I know that is what I would prefer," Hux said, as he and Luke followed Chewie into the room. "A night with just family...reconnecting...I never thought I'd get a chance like this, so..."
Chewie growled an agreement.
Han wrapped an arm around Poe's shoulders. "Sounds good to me."
Luke smiled. "Me too." He let his hand brush gently over Hux's shoulder. He hadn't been idle while they'd been waiting; he'd very quickly taken care of officially making Hux his son.
"Yes. Eating here would be better," Leia said. While she didn't have any problems cuddling Ben on her lap, she adjusted her position to allow him to get up if he needed or wanted to.
Ben glanced around the room at all his family, feeling extremely blessed and lucky. He didn't bother moving. If Leia needed him to stand up, she'd let him know. He was through trying to be aloof and withdrawn in front of his family. The more they saw him needy and like the child he often felt like, the less likely they'd step away and let him make foolish mistakes...and he had a lot of bad habits to unlearn. He needed all the help he could get. He looked at Poe. "You're the only one I haven't made things right with..." he said hesitantly. If Poe indicated it was needed, he'd let his older brother spank him too...he was hoping it wouldn't be needed, though.
"I think our parents and uncles took care of my grievance with you... We're okay, kid..." Poe smiled, walking over and clasping Ben on the shoulder gently but firmly. "But I reserve the right to make it difficult for you to sit if you need a reminder later, so don't forget." He smiled gently, teasing, then pulled out his communicator. "I'll just order our food now..."
Ben laughed quietly and gave a relieved look around at his family. It was so good to be home.