Disclaimer: We own nothing from the Star Wars franchise and are making nothing from this story.
Summary: Follows Going Home. One child talks while another makes further repentance.
Warning(s): Mentions of past torture; spanking
Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz
It was late...late enough that Hux had fallen asleep. Luke knew he should really have gone to sleep as well, but he was still checking some items on his datapad. He didn't just have Ben and Hux to continue to train, but Rey had become his student, too. And while none of the rebels had been openly hostile to his son and nephew, it was clear they still weren't accepted. Luke was considering moving his students...and the rest of the family...to another location elsewhere on the planet, where Hux and Ben didn't have to worry about comments and suspicious glances.
Hux had been tired, the training taxing; even if it wasn't as harsh as training with the First Order had been. Because of that, he'd fallen asleep quickly. Unfortunately, tiredness didn't help in keeping bad memories at a distance. He was soon thinking of the first few weeks after he and Ben had left the Jedi school and joined their new master. It hadn't been a good situation. A nightmare, really. He began to whimper in his sleep.
Luke had kept an open link with his son, even though he was working in the main room of the quarters, so he felt it immediately when Hux began reacting to the bad dream. He instantly put the datapad aside and stepped into the bedroom, sending warm, comforting feelings through the link even as he stepped over to the bed and took Hux's hand.
Hux stilled at the comforting presence, but at Luke taking his hand, he slowly blinked awake. "Dad...?"
Luke gently squeezed his hand, sitting on the edge of the bed and stroking some of Hux's hair out of his face with his mechanical hand. "I kept the link open. I felt you having a bad dream," he said softly.
Hux swallowed, blushing faintly. "I'm sorry I kept you awake. It was just memories...I'll meditate...try not to be so loud or push my feelings on you..."
Luke leaned over and kissed his forehead. "Don't apologise," he said softly. "You're my son. I don't want you to hide your feelings from me."
"Yeah...that...that will take some getting used to," Hux admitted sheepishly. He'd learned quickly not to tell anyone when he'd had nightmares before (he wouldn't be surprised if Ben was the same way), because it gave Snoke (and anyone wanting to replace Hux) a weakness to exploit. Luke wasn't like that, he knew. But it was a habit that he would need to break.
"I know." Luke moved so he could wrap his arms around his son. "There's a lot you need to get used to...or relearn," he murmured.
"Yes, dad..." Hux mumbled against his father's shoulder as he snuggled close. "You're going to help me relearn, though, right?" he asked, almost rhetorically. He already knew the answer, but he needed to hear it said.
"Of course," Luke replied, kissing his son's head. "I love you. I'm here for you. Whether you need to relearn something, or just to talk about something you've gone through. No matter what it is...I'm not going to stop being here for you."
"So... if I told you what I'd been dreaming before you woke me...?" Hux asked hesitantly. In truth, it made him feel like a young child to need to rely on Luke for dealing with dreams he'd been having for years; but maybe talking about it would help him work through whatever issues caused him to continually dream these same dreams and he'd stop having them. Maybe.
Luke tightened his arms a fraction around his son. "I'd listen. We could talk it through. And hopefully, it would help you feel better and less likely to suffer."
"If you really don't mind..." Hux said hesitantly again, though it was obvious he needed to tell Luke of what he'd dreamed. It had been bothering him for a long time.
The link was open between them still and Luke allowed reassurance, comfort and love to flow from him to his son. "I want you to tell me," he said softly. "I want to do everything within my power to stop you suffering."
Biting his lip, Hux nodded and began to slowly tell Luke about his dream. While talking, he opened himself up to his father in the force so that Luke could see what he was talking about. Between his words and the pictures from his head, Luke soon had more than enough information to know exactly what he and Ben had gone through directly following their betrayal of him. After he'd spoken the last words about his dream, Hux swallowed hard, letting his head fall back onto Luke's shoulder. He was crying by this point, but didn't bother to wipe at his eyes. Luke deserved to see all his emotion. "I always figured we'd got exactly what we deserved because we'd betrayed you..." he said hollowly. "...I know Ben felt the same way, even though we never talked about it."
Luke wasted no time in transferring Hux from the bed onto his lap, wrapping his arms tightly and protectively around his son. The knowledge of what he and his nephew had gone through was painful, but he focused entirely on Hux and keeping himself open to his son, the warmth, love and affection still flowing between them. "You didn't deserve that. You didn't deserve to be hurt," he whispered. 'I wish I could take away the memory of that pain,' echoed through the link between them.
Hux held onto his father tightly. "I know you do. You're helping now. Ben had it worse than I did. I wanted to help him...at first...before I realized trying to help him made Snoke treat him even more horribly. I started having to either ignore him completely, or act as if I no longer liked him and was competing with him; just so Snoke would leave him alone. I don't know that he'd ever admit that to Aunt Leia or Uncle Han, though..." He paused. "A lot of my bad dreams are because I always felt like I'd deserted him...and we were all that we had, once Snoke got us... I felt...still feel...so guilty about leaving him with that horrible creature..."
Luke gently stroked his son's hair, tightening his hold on Hux. "Both of you were trying to make the best of a situation you only realised was bad when you got into it. Ben does have his parents...and you have me. The family overlaps, but I'm entirely devoted to you and helping you. Just like your aunt and uncle are with Ben."
"I know, dad..." Hux smiled, cuddling closer. "They'll help Ben as much as he'll allow, anyway. I can't help worrying about him, though. He got very good at keeping things inside and not sharing; at least with me. That seems to have changed since his mom and dad got him back, but I just hope the new attitude of being open with them lasts..." He sighed. "I know I plan to tell you anything you want to know...even if I'm embarrassed or ashamed by it, knowing you know will help me do better, I think..." He looked up at Luke uncertainly, needing to know if that was the right way to handle things, since he hadn't shared like that in so long.
"Telling me is exactly what you should be doing," Luke promised, stroking the side of Hux's face. "I won't be angry or upset with you. I won't be ashamed or regret becoming your father. I'm never going to stop being grateful to have this second chance with you."
Hux smiled brightly at that, wrapping his arms more tightly around his father and holding on. "I love you, dad..." he whispered. Stifling a yawn, he snuggled a bit more. "...Can I stay with you the rest of the night?" he whispered.
Luke kissed his head. "Of course, son," he whispered back. 'It helps me, too, to hold onto you,' he added through their link.
Hux smiled, snuggling as close as possible before kissing his father on the cheek. "I can walk now, if you want to go back to bed..."
Luke stroked Hux's hair as he helped his son to stand, keeping a tight hold of him as he guided him through to his own room to settle them both on the bed. "I love you." He said the words both out loud and in his son's head.
"I love you," Hux repeated the same way, words and in mind, as he snuggled close, letting his head rest on his father's chest. "Goodnight, dad..."
"Good night, son." Luke wrapped his arms tightly around Hux, kissing his head, cradling his son close. He kept the link between them open as he fell asleep, not holding back his love and care for Hux flowing through their bond.
It was habit for Poe to wake early, even if he didn't actually have anywhere he needed to be urgently. Figuring he might meet Finn for breakfast and then meet some of his fellow soldiers for training, he washed up and then began dressing.
Ben was an early riser as well; although most of his rising early had to do with not being able to sleep much at all and wanting to be ready the moment Snoke called for him (since the Sith Lord could pick any hour of the day to call on him and if he wasn't ready, the punishment was swift and painful). Unfortunately, the habit of not sleeping long, if any, was not the only bad habit he'd developed in his time away from his family. He'd also developed the habit of just barging into whatever room he planned to go to (except for any room Snoke considered his, of course). When he decided to see if his 'older brother' wanted to train with him later, he didn't even think to knock on the door before he just opened it and strode in.
Startled by the door suddenly opening, Poe turned automatically, which meant his bare torso, with the scars left over from Ben torturing him, were in visible view. He barely noticed them anymore, the presence of his little brother and Ben's return to his old self enabling Poe to move past what had happened between them. "Ben. You need something?" It hadn't been that unusual for Ben to walk in without knocking before leaving for the academy. Neither had been overly modest in front of the other.
Ben had turned enough to close the door behind him, so when he turned forward again to answer Poe's question, the first thing he saw was the scars. And he lost his ability to speak. His eyes had widened fractionally before his face filled with guilty anguish. He swallowed hard, but couldn't seem to get his mouth to work, let alone get his voice to form any words; he ended up standing there, his mouth opening and closing like a landed fish. Just staring at the scars on his brother's torso.
Poe wasn't unobservant by any means and he very quickly realised what Ben was staring at. He didn't waste any time in pulling his shirt on over his head, covering up the scars, and then he reached out, wrapping an arm around Ben's shoulders and drawing him into a tight, brotherly hug.
"I'm sorry..." Ben finally managed to get out, in a shaky, tear-filled voice, as he huddled against his brother. "...I'm so sorry..." HIs body was tense, and he was only seconds away from bolting from the room and hiding from Poe, only Poe's tight grip on him keeping him in place.
Poe tightened his embrace around his brother. "I already forgave you for this," he said softly. "When this happened, it wasn't you. I've got my brother back. I finally have my brother back."
"I hurt you..." Ben whimpered like a dog that knew he had done something wrong and was used to being beaten for any infraction. "I tortured you...how can you forgive me? I don't think I can forgive myself...!"
"Because I love you. Because you're my brother. Because you turned away from that path and came back." Poe tightened his embrace, wanting to take away that guilt and pain from his brother. "You came back to us, Ben. You aren't that person anymore." But even as he held onto Ben, he remembered the peace that had descended on his brother after their family members had responded to his behaviour. If turning his little brother over his knee would get rid of that guilt...
Ben wasn't able to focus on Poe's words, too focused on the image in his head of the scars that he'd put on his brother. Scars that shouldn't have been there; wouldn't have been there if he'd never strayed from the right path. He began to struggle to get away from Poe, whimpering and apologizing the entire time.
Poe didn't let go of his brother. He made a quick decision and kept his arms tight around Ben as he moved over to the bed. So long as Ben didn't try to use the force to get away, Poe could hold him easily...and he took a seat, turning his brother over his knee.
Ben stilled immediately at the change in position, taking in quick breaths as he tried to calm down. He noticeably didn't attempt to get off of his brother's lap, though. "I'm sorry, Poe..." he said; so softly, it wouldn't be heard if Poe wasn't listening closely. "...So sorry..." His voice was contrite, full of guilt, and also a tiny bit of hope. If his brother was willing to take him in hand, to spank him for what he'd done wrong, maybe...maybe he could make things right with the older man.
"I know you are, but nothing's changed between us. We're still brothers. I still love you. And I've already forgiven you." Poe stroked Ben's lower back, tightening his hold on his brother, and then bared him.
"You've forgiven me...but I can't forgive myself..." Ben said brokenly, deciding that being honest with his brother was the best course of action. When he felt Poe bare him, he let himself go limp so that he could accept whatever his brother decided to do.
"That wasn't you, Ben. Your actions now prove that." Resting his non-dominant hand on Ben's lower back, Poe lifted his other hand and brought it down in a firm, stinging swat that he then repeated.
"I...I..." Ben choked on a sob as the spanking began and reached down so he could hold onto his brother's ankle. "...I wish it wasn't me...so I wouldn't remember everything so vividly..." He sounded defeated and his tone was full of self-loathing.
Poe settled quickly into a pattern of swats, going down to Ben's thighs before he started over from the top again. "Every member of your family has forgiven you and loves you. Why do you think that is?"
"Because they're good and I don't deserve them!" Ben sobbed, not even trying to keep the tears in. He felt too guilty and overwrought about the scars he'd seen. He wasn't even trying to squirm away from the swats, wanting to feel his brother's hand cause him pain; because he knew it would only be a fraction of the pain he'd caused his brother.
Poe completed the second circuit and began a third, using his other hand to push Ben's shirt up out of the way so his other hand could rest on his brother's bare skin, stroking and rubbing with one hand even while his other smacked. "Do you remember before you left with uncle Luke to the academy? Do you remember how close we were?"
Ben's breathing hitched as he tried to calm enough so that he could answer Poe. "Y...yes, sir..." He sniffled, letting out a mournful sob. "...I didn't want to leave you...!"
Poe began focusing more swats to Ben's sit spots and thighs, even as he continued speaking. "We were best friends before we became brothers and I... I remember lashing out when I was a child and grieving. I remember my best friend deciding that, if he couldn't talk me out of getting into trouble, he'd get into that trouble alongside me simply so that I wouldn't feel alone."
Ben's breathing hitched again as he listened to his brother. He remembered that time and remembered feeling that it didn't matter what Poe did, they would always be brothers. Was it possible Poe felt the same way?
"I wanted you to be happy..." he said in a tiny voice, Poe's words finally breaking through with the help of the stinging swats to focus on. "...You really forgive me?" This time, the hopeful tone indicated that Ben might actually be able to accept what he was being told.
"I really forgive you," Poe promised. "I love you. You're my brother. And I am so happy to have you back. I missed you, kid. I missed you so much, it hurt not having you around. Not having you in my life. Far worse than any physical pain could have hurt."
"I'm sorry, Poe!" Ben went boneless over his brother's knee and his sobbing became more like gentle crying, relieved and accepting of what Poe said. "I love you..." he whispered.
Poe stopped the spanking and wasted no time in gathering Ben into his arms, hugging him on his lap. "I love you," he repeated, tightening his embrace. "I've got my best friend...my little brother...back."
Ben snuggled as close as possible, unashamed to show how much he needed the affection from his brother, his state of half-dress not phasing him either. "Thank you for being my brother, Poe..." he whispered.
Poe hugged Ben tighter to himself, needing to hold his brother as much as Ben needed to be held. "Thank you for coming back," he whispered. "Thank you for bringing my brother back to me."
Sniffling softly, Ben burrowed closer to his brother and just held on. Several minutes later, he let out a tiny sigh. "You were going to go somewhere, and I interrupted you..." he said, in a sheepish tone.
"I was only going to get breakfast," Poe answered. "But this...you...were more important."
Ben gave Poe a crooked grin. "I'll get out of your hair and let you go eat, then...I remember your appetite. I'm flattered you gave up food for me..." he teased gently, an impish look in his eye.
Poe smiled at the teasing, happy to see his brother return to his more impish nature. "Well, kid, I'd give up everything for you." He was smiling, but his tone was entirely serious. "You don't have to get out of my hair," he added. "We can always eat breakfast together. And I know you were coming in to see me about something." His tone was gently encouraging.
Ben's eyes widened, and he turned red as he remembered he had come with a purpose in mind. "Oh! Yeah! I...um..." He got a bashful look on his face. "I was wondering if we could train together later...like we used to before I went to the academy..." Poe, being older than Ben, had actually been teaching Ben various things. "You made a good teacher..." he finished with a whisper.
Poe's smile grew wider and he hugged Ben a bit tighter. "Of course. I missed that, too. Why don't we eat breakfast with Mom and Dad...maybe invite Uncle Luke and Hux, too? Then we can figure out the best time."
"Okay..." Ben returned the tight hug before smiling and then standing up and fixing his clothes. He then waited for Poe. "Are you ready to find them now?"
"Yeah, kid." Standing, Poe wrapped his arm around his brother and guided Ben to the door. "Sounds like Mom and Dad are awake now," he commented, hearing voices in the main room. He led Ben out of the room to join the rest of their family.
Ben snuggled closer to his brother as they entered the main room and smiled as he saw his mother and father in a hug of their own. His Uncle Luke and Hux were sat at the dining table already, discussing something funny, if the look on Hux's face was anything to go by. His Uncle Chewie was at the stove. Knowing how his actions had torn everyone apart, seeing his family together and happy was a balm to his soul.