Fandom: Harsh Realm/Mysterious Skin AU
Rating: NC-17 for explicit sex, BDSM themes, non-con, language.
Summary: Sometimes pain is exactly what you need.
He's not all that surprised when they pick him up. In truth, it's a little surprising that it hasn't happened yet. He's sleeping in a shelter made from cardboard and corrugated sheet metal, just what he could toss together the night before, and suddenly the shelter's collapsing in on him and he's being dragged out by his feet. A clout over the head, the snap of a collar around his neck, and that's that.
In some ways it's not all that big of an adjustment.
He's been on the streets for years, almost as long as he can remember. There's flashes of a world before this, a world of love and light, but that world is long gone. Now there's eating when he can, sleeping in whatever shelter he can find, getting whatever he can negotiate out of a quick grope or a blowjob. Anything. It's something to trade. You use what you have.
That's going to be a little difficult now. He's sitting in a kind of wooden pen on the floor of what used to be a warehouse, arms shackled behind his back, locked to a boy and a girl to his right and left by a chain running through their collars and ankle cuffs. The boy is crying softly. The girl is silent.
“Hey,” Neil hisses sharply at the boy. “You wanna cut that out? Givin' me a fucking headache.” The boy sniffles and then keeps on crying, and the girl glares at him.
“Think you could give him a break? He lost his mother yesterday.”
“And my heart's breaking, really.”
“Like you have one,” the girl sniffs, and proceeds to ignore him for the rest of the night.
The boy doesn't stop crying.
The next day is the auction. Neil knows how this is going to go; he's seen it plenty of times before. Poor saps, he's always thought, watching them up on the platform turning and turning, opening their mouths to show their teeth. Poor saps. Some sap he turned out to be. When you're young and reasonably attractive with no one bigger than you to watch your back, this is just what tends to happen. It's not like he didn't know.
The door to the warehouse opens with a heavy grinding sound and they all look up, twenty or so skinny young bodies of both sexes, eyes wide, apprehensive. There's three men standing in the doorway, silhouetted in the light, two large and burly and the other smaller and carrying a clipboard.
“All right,” he says, and makes a motion in the vicinity of his face which Neil realizes is him pushing up a pair of glasses. Glasses. Incredibly hard to find now, incredibly valuable. Rich people have glasses. He watches carefully.
“All right,” the man repeats, examining the clipboard. “You're all up on the block today. Behave yourselves and we'll have you out of here in no time. No crying, no resisting. I promise it won't do any good and no one's going to buy you if you're bleeding.” He nods to the man on his left. “Get them up.”
The man steps forward, reaches up to a hook on the wall of the pen, produces a key and unlocks the padlock securing the two long chains. He jerks one, the one through all their collars, and twenty or so young bodies lurch groaningly onto stiff legs, the clatter and clang of the chains incredibly loud for a few seconds. Neil looks around. No obvious way out, even if he weren't chained. The two men are big but that doesn't mean they aren't also fast. He'll have to wait. Be patient.
And if he gets sold... It won't be much worse than anything else he's had to do. Be a toy for some old jerkoff for a few days, keep his balls drained, watch for an opening. It won't be long. It can't be.
* * *
What it ends up being, mostly, is boring. He's never stuck around one of these things long enough to really get a sense of just how long they go on. The first lot is shoved up on the platform in the middle of the seedy marketplace, shivering and half-naked, and it takes fully ten minutes for someone to pick her up. Neil knows a little bit about how these things used to be done, from a book or something else, it doesn't much matter, but there's no money here now, except gold. All bartering. The girl goes for ten shotgun shells and then the next one gets shoved up and the process starts all over again. Neil watches. Maybe once he would have felt pity for them. But it's not like they weren't already in a shithole to start with. This is just another level of it. At least this way they might get fed kind of regularly. You actually might have a reason to take some kind of care of something that you paid for.
A can of gas, two gold fillings, a set of clothing, a spare tire, more ammunition. One by one the kids are herded down off the platform again and handed over to their new owners, still chained and collared like animals. Which is exactly what they are. Neil yawns, and the yawn is broken by a shove from behind, and he almost trips over his chains. One of the burly men—Neil was never able to quite tell them apart in any meaningful way—leans over and hisses foul-smelling breath into his ear. “Get your ass up there before I beat it off.”
“Lot seventeen,” the man with the clipboard is saying, sounding impatient. Maybe Neil was supposed to know that was his number. He doesn't recall being told it. He shrugs and steps up onto the platform, looking out at the motley crowd with utter disinterest.
“Fine young man here,” says the man with the clipboard. “Note the muscle tone, the healthy stance. Do I have a first bid?”
“Two cartridges,” calls someone from the back of the crowd.
There's a pause, and clipboard man looks around expectantly. “I have two cartridges,” he says. “Will someone give me three? Something of greater value?”
“Three,” calls someone else. “And a wool blanket.” Neil looks and sees that it's an older man, leering up at him and showing rotted teeth. God, please no, he thinks. Older is fine, more than fine, par for the fucking course, but he's not sure he can deal with the teeth. Especially not if the man is one of those who likes to get real cozy.
“Ten gallons of gas,” pipes up a new voice, and a faint gasp runs through the crowd. Ten gallons of gas is unspeakable wealth. Neil scans the sea of faces, wondering in a vaguely flattered kind of way who could think he's worth so much.
The man stands out from the rest of them, in that he's dressed in clothing that hasn't yet degenerated into rags, though it looks well-worn. And he stands out in that he looks like he's eaten decent meals for the past few weeks, and he looks like he's actually bathed at least once in the last few days.
Clipboard man clears his throat. “Ten... gallons?”
The man nods, arms crossed over his chest and smiles placidly. It's the smile of someone who's used to getting what he wants. It's the smile of someone who usually doesn't have to try very hard to get it.
“Well,” says clipboard man. He clears his throat again. “Anyone care to challenge ten gallons?” And Neil sees the man's eyes narrow slightly, though the smile doesn't waver. It's a waste of time, and everyone there knows it. No one's going to take that bid on. No one could.
“Sold,” says clipboard man, and he nods to one of the guards standing to Neil's right, ready to head him off if he tries to make a pointless break for freedom. The guard lifts the chain strung through Neil's collar and jerks it, pulling him off the stage and almost dragging him off-balance. Neil winces and shoots the man a glare. “Watch it, asshole.”
“You don't need to do that.” Neil turns and it's the man—his new owner, he thinks with wry amusement—holding out a leather-gloved hand for the chain. “I can take him from here.”
Neil looks him up and down. This might not be so bad after all. In addition to being rich and reasonably clean, he's not too bad to look at. Maybe kind of a long nose, downturned mouth, but everything taken together isn't unpleasant at all. And he's big. Not huge, not like the guard, but clearly powerful.
The guard growls and hands over the chain. “What about the gas?”
The man nods to the side of the warehouse, to a large red plastic container. “Right there.”
The guard blinks at him. “You put that there before the auction.”
“It's not like I was gonna lose.” The man grins. “C'mon, hand him over. I don't wanna stick around here too long. Not a fan of the smell.”
“Hmph.” The guard looks hard at him. “How the fuck do I know it's not just water?”
“Give it a sniff.” The man shrugs again and takes Neil's chain. “You'll see.”
The guard stalks over to the canister, unscrews the lid and inhales deeply, and when he looks back up at them he nods. Grudging. Neil gets the sense that he'd been hoping for a fight, and maybe an excuse to have onto a lot that clearly brings in the big bucks.
“Great,” says the man briskly, and Neil finds himself being pulled again. Not as hard as before, but he still grasps at the chain and hisses protest. The man looks back at him with a slightly raised eyebrow and a faint smile.
“You coming, or what?”
Neil gives the man a look. “Maybe don't pull so hard.”
“I won't. But you better come.” The man drops his hand to his side, lifts his jacket, and Neil isn't surprised at all to see a pretty hefty gun strapped to his hip. “Just 'cause I paid ten gallons for you back there, don't think I won't drop you.”
They start moving again, a little more slack in the chain, out through the crowds and towards the outskirts of the market. Neil watches the man. He'd been hoping for a chance, had expected one to be pretty forthcoming, but now he's just not sure anymore.
“So who the fuck're you, flashing gas like that all over the fuckin' place?”
“I have means,” says the man, even and calm. Ahead of them is a car, a big one, a black humvee, and despite the wear and the mud caked on its wheels, Neil knows what it used to be.
“You're not from around here, are you?” He grins, a little uncertainly. He hadn't bargained for this. Might work out in his favor. Might be big trouble. “You're from inside the fence.” And someone big enough that he can come out here and mingle with the dogs with impunity. Not too many like that. Though he's heard stories.
The man smiles. “You're gonna find out, aren't you? No more talking.” He opens the passenger door and inclines his head. “Get in.”
* * *
The ride feels longer than it probably is. For most of the way it's the same as everywhere: country roads broken by ruined buildings, burned towns. Neil hardly even sees it anymore. But then they come to the fence, and he stares out the window at it, eyes wide.
It doesn't actually look that impressive. He'd been imagining something higher, wider, more barbed wire, armed patrols. Guard dogs. Something. The man reaches into the glovebox and pulls out a small black box, aims it at the fence and pushes a button. A section of the fence wavers, hums slightly, and vanishes.
Neil blinks. “How the fuck did you do that?”
The man turns faster than Neil can be ready for, closes his hand in a vice grip under Neil's jaw. It hurts, teeth jammed against the insides of his cheeks, and he whimpers in surprise and pain. He could fight, maybe, try to get the gun...
“No,” says the man, low and patient, like he's talking to a misbehaving child. “Don't do that. Really, don't. I can make you very sorry for it. Listen, this is how things are going to work from here on: you'll do what I say, when I say it. You won't talk back. You won't argue. You won't try to get away from me. If you do any of these things, I'll punish you.” He leans in, and Neil smells sweat and soap and something else, some deeper musk, and for the first time since being dragged out of his shelter and thrown in chains he feels a little bit afraid.
“I can do anything I want to you,” the man murmurs. “You're mine, bought and paid for, and if you vanished off the face of the fucking earth no one would miss you. So think about that. And think about how you might wanna keep me happy.”
I'm getting the fuck outta here, Neil thinks. I'm getting out and you can suck on that and your ten fucking gallons. But he nods. Better to go along for now. For now.
“Good.” The man releases him and sits back, apparently satisfied, and for a moment Neil almost believes that maybe he's bought it. Maybe he might let his guard down.
But that's probably too easy. He looks out the window again, the collar heavy around his neck, and watches as the gate flashes back into being, receding into the distance.
* * *
It's a city. It's a city like he can't even clearly remember seeing, like he only recalls in quick, hazy flashes. Tall office towers lit up like something magic. Wide, clear streets. Trees, parks, sculptures and lit fountains. People walking unafraid, well-fed, well-dressed, shopping and going out to dinner. Laughing. Neil presses a hand against the window and stares, and he only stops when he feels the man's eyes on him. He feels weirdly violated, like he's been seen naked, only being seen naked is never something he's had that much of a problem with. He sits back in the passenger's seat, reaches up and fiddles with the collar. It's starting to chafe.
They pull up in front of one of the taller towers and then into a parking garage, up and up, turning and turning until Neil's head is spinning faintly. Suddenly he's aware of how hungry he is. Wherever the asshole is taking him, at least he'll probably feed him at some point.
Finally they stop, the man parks, gets out, opens Neil's door. Neil's tight, coiled, ready to kick and run for it, but before the man even opens the door Neil sees the gun pointed at him and the spring stays coiled.
“Ah-ah.” The man smiles again, that same entitled, satisfied smile. He gestures slightly with the gun barrel. “Out. Walk to the elevators.” He glances at the chain. “Carry it yourself.”
There's something humiliating about it, being in the middle of all this splendor, riches out of some kind of fairy tale, dressed in a torn t-shirt and ripped, dirty jeans and sneakers with holes in the bottoms, walking to the elevators. Walking where anyone can see. The chain clanks faintly in his hand and suddenly he doesn't care what else the man does to him, as long as he takes the fucking collar off.
He stops in front of the doors and he feels the gun press lightly into his back. “Push the button.”
“Down or up?” Neil asks dully.
“Up.” The man's tone is still so even, so patient. It would almost be reassuring if the situation were entirely different. Neil looks up, watching the numbers over the elevator door count to their level until it dings open. It's warmly lit, almost restful, and Neil steps in and leans back against the wall, glancing up at his captor as he pushes the button for the twenty-third floor. The top floor. The man is looking at him carefully, with greater interest than he's yet shown, and again Neil feels a tickle of apprehension.
He hadn't been kidding. He really can do anything. Neil's always known that, it's always been true, but it's never seemed quite so close before.
Neil hesitates, then nods. Maybe if he's tired the asshole will shove him onto a cot or something and leave him alone.
“You can sleep soon.”
So he guesses he has to take that for what it is.
The elevator dings open again into a long hallway, more warm lighting, warm colors, everything warm. It's almost enough to make Neil feel how tired he really is. He's gently prodded down the hallway to the door at the end, which the man opens with a keycard before gesturing him inside.
Inside it's even richer. A spacious foyer opens into an even larger living room. It's almost too large to take in all at once and Neil stares over it, eyes wide. White leather chairs. Thick carpet. A stone fireplace. Strange, spindly black sculptures on the mantle. Huge plate glass windows. It's an even bigger room than he'd initially thought, because further in is a dining room with a long table, dark wood and a brass chandelier, and even further back he can see what looks like part of a kitchen. He's seen the ruins of homes like this. He's never seen one whole and intact and lived in.
“You like it?” Neil glances up at the man, struck by the pleased tone. The man is happy that he's so impressed. It's strange and unexpected that he would even care, and it throws him off slightly. Every time he thinks he might have his footing, that happens.
“Yeah,” he says, more than a little uncertainly. It seems best to agree as much as he can. Think about how you might wanna keep me happy. “It's great.”
“Yeah,” says the man, and laughs a little. It's not entirely a pleasant laugh. Again, he feels something prodding into his back, but it's the warmth of a hand rather than cold gunmetal. “Bedroom. That way.”
He's starting to get inklings of something, something nasty. He should be relieved—this is one thing he knows he can take and suffer through without too much trouble—but he's not. There's something else going on here, under the surface. Something dark. Maybe dangerous. Most people, they just want him for as long as it takes to get off, a blowjob or, if there's absolutely no way to get out of it, a quick fuck, all panting and clumsy thrusts, and then they want to throw him away. They don't want to see him anymore. He's no longer useful to them.
This isn't like that. The man wants him for more than that. If it were all about a quick fuck they could have got that over with in the parking garage.
The bedroom isn't so much of a shock after the rest of the place. Huge bed, white sheets, everything still in that honey colored wood. But the bedframe catches Neil's eye. It has posts. More than that, there's rings attached to the tops of the four posts. They're wooden as well, and if he wasn't looking hard they might just fade into the background. But they're thick. Strong-looking. Neil stares at them, so captivated by the images spinning into his head that he doesn't notice how close the man is until the chain jerks hard, yanking a choked, surprised noise out of him, and he's being shoved face-first into the mattress, bent over the end of the bed, and he knows what's coming and he squeezes his eyes shut. Nothing worse than any other time. And yet somehow it is.
His pants tear when the man yanks them down his thighs, not even wasting time with unbuttoning them, and Neil thinks You bastard, that was my only pair. But then there's a wet, spitting sound, and slick fingers are prying his ass cheeks apart and forcing their way into him. He whines, choking the sound in the sheets. The fingers are withdrawn in a few seconds but he barely has time to be relieved before he's being rent apart by something much bigger, stretched open far too soon and he cries out, lifting his head and trying to squirm away.
“No,” the man hisses, jerks the chain again, and he feels a hand braced on his shoulder as the man thrusts, again, again, merciless. It hurts, hurts like it's the very first time, but it's already starting to ease a little. He does know how to do this. Sink into something, don't resist, let it wash over you and it'll be done the sooner. And it is soon, no more than another few moments before the man is arching against him and coming with a hard grunt. And then Neil's expecting him to pull out and away, just like the others, but he doesn't. He bends over him, still buried in his body to the hilt, leans over and brushes his lips against the back of Neil's neck. “Just wanted to get you fresh,” he murmurs, and laughs quietly. “Fresh-caught.” Then he does move away, pulling out with a soft groan. Neil doesn't move. He's aching, sore, bizarrely close to tears. And tired. Beyond tired. He's lying face-first on the softest bed he's ever felt, unimaginable luxury all around him, and all he wants is to be back in his shelter on the right side of the fence.
There's a sound on the other side of the room, then he sees a flash of metal blades and he's pulling back instinctively, but the man hooks a finger under his collar. “Hold still.” And the collar is sliding off. Fingertips linger at his throat.
“There's a bathroom over there.” Neil lifts his head, confused and still hurting, and the man is nodding to the other end of the room. He's zipped up, looks perfectly clean and unmussed like nothing even happened. “Clean yourself up.” He pauses, and again, the smile—only it's not quite the same smile.
It looks like it might be meant to be reassuring.
“Take all the time you need. Don't bother with the window, though. Remember, we're twenty-three floors up.”
Somehow he gets to the bathroom. Like everything else, it's huge, all gleaming tile and gold-tinted fixtures. There's a gigantic tub set into a raised platform that he might have been more interested in at any other time, but right now the smaller shower stall in the corner looks more inviting. Neil steps in, turns on the water until it steams, sinks down to the floor and tucks his knees up against his chest.
None of this makes any sense. He wonders where his mother is, the mother he'd walked away from years ago. He wonders if she's alive.
He wonders if he's going to die here.
He's almost asleep when he shakes himself, stands with an effort and turns off the water. At least he feels clean, and as he steps out of the stall and towels himself off, the aches have faded and more than anything else he's exhausted. He could try to stay in here—he's betting the door has a lock—but something in him has bent and warped. Maybe even broken, a little. Part of the mechanism that lets him fight. Right now, fighting seems like too much work for too little payoff. He walks back into the bedroom, towel around his waist, and the man is lying on his side on the bed, reading. He looks up.
“Thought you drowned or something,” he says, with a tiny upward curl of his mouth. He lays the book down. “C'mere.”
Neil stands and stares at him. The man sighs. “You remember I said I'd punish you? I don't actually want to do that. It's a fucking chore. Any pain I make you feel, I want it to be because I want it. Not because you fucked up.” He taps the book with his forefinger. “That said, don't think I won't beat your ass black and blue. Come. Here. Now.”
Just get through it. Except that doesn't apply anymore. There's no clear end to this. Neil is starting to realize that there may be no end at all. Slowly, heavily, he walks over to the bed and stops in front of the man.
“Good.” The man reaches out a hand and runs his fingertips down over Neil's chest, his ribs. When he gets to the towel he simply tugs it off and lets it fall, sitting back a little and taking in the rest. Finally he nods, as if satisfied.
“You'll do. Good pick on my part.” He bends down and pulls a small metal box out from under the bed, opening it. “Hold out your hands.”
Leather cuffs, two of them, and the man affixes them to Neil's wrists with tiny padlocks. “We'll leave your ankles for tonight,” he says, pulling out a coil of slender rope and putting the box away again. “Get on the bed. On your back.”
I'll fight tomorrow. Neil closes his eyes as he does it, almost as though he doesn't want to have to watch himself. I'll fight when I don't feel like this anymore. But the bed is so soft and yielding under his tired back that he has to bite back a moan. Even then he doesn't completely stifle it, and when he slits open an eye he sees the man grinning at him, and he feels a flash of hatred.
But just a flash.
Like this, he could be asleep in seconds, but he feels the man taking his wrists and doing something with the cuffs and the rope. He can't quite see what it is, even when he opens his eyes and cranes his neck, but when the man pulls back again his wrists are bound to the right post, stretched up and over his head, not taut but firmly enough to be useless to him. He can't even turn over.
“Okay,” says the man, crouching over him. “Good.” And he starts to undress.
Neil doesn't want to look, but it's not like it's exactly easy to look away, and he's not sure what kind of a reaction closing his eyes would get him. He gets the sense that the man wants him to watch. And it's not like it's a bad show. His muscles aren't especially large, but they're toned, well-defined, and there's a kind of weathered look to his body that Neil has always liked in men. It's a body that's seen action, pocked here and there with small scars and not so small ones, and high on the right side of his chest is a square of dark discoloration. It doesn't look like a scar. He can't quite figure out what it is, but before he has much time to wonder the man's pants slide down and his dick bobs free, half-hard and thick and glistening slightly in the low light. Neil stares at it and in spite of everything, the tiredness, the pain, the flash of hatred, he feels a twinge of want.
The man isn't even looking at him anymore. Not at his face, anyway. His gaze is locked firmly between Neil's thighs, and he reaches down, palms him gently. “There we go,” he murmurs, flashing Neil a dark smile. “See? This isn't so awful.” His hand is moving slowly, expertly, and none of the men who've had him in cars and bars and back alleys and filthy shelters have touched him like this. Neil lets his eyes flutter shut and this time he doesn't even try to stifle the moan. Fuck it, he deserves to feel a little good. After all the rest of this shit, he'll take it, and that's one thing that can't be taken away from him.
“Good,” the man says again, something unmistakably encouraging in his tone, and his hand slips away, not giving Neil time to gasp a protest before his mouth replaces it. Neil moans again, louder, and at least he can move his hips, bucking up into the heat and the wet and groaning deep in his throat when the man takes him effortlessly. It's better than it should be. It's also shorter than it should be, no more than a couple of minutes, and Neil's arching his back and coming with a rough cry, wrists tugging at the rope, received and held and swallowed.
“You're a loud one,” the man says huskily, sliding back up the bed and wiping his mouth, still wearing that dark smile. “Have to try a gag on you, Next time, maybe.” He stretches out beside Neil, reaches down and pulls the covers up over them both, and Neil realizes with mixed confusion and horror that they're going to sleep like this. He's going to sleep in a bed with this man, and he's going to do it tied down.
Fucking hell. 'Just get through it' is not even kind of working anymore.
“You're a skinny little thing, too,” the man murmurs, fingertips sliding over Neil's ribs. “Gotta fill you out a little.” Food. So at least that's something to look forward to. “Get some sleep. You got a big day tomorrow.”
That doesn't sound good, not at all, but he's too tired to be afraid anymore. The man leans over and the lights click off and Neil's close to sleep again when he whispers one thing into the darkness. The first thing he's said in about an hour.
“What do I call you?”
There's a pause. “My name's Mike,” the man says finally. “But you'll call me Sir. Until I can think of something better.”
Neil sleeps, and in his dreams his collar is made of gold.
* * *
He wakes to looseness in the stretch of his arms, and it takes him a few seconds to remember why his arms are stretched, why that discomfort when the bed is so soft under him. And he remembers: Mike, Mike fucking him, Mike sucking him off, and the cuffs. And today is supposed to be a big day. He opens his eyes, still sticky with sleep, and stares up. Mike is untying his wrists from the bedpost. He doesn't have time to close his eyes again before Mike glances down and sees him, and smiles.
“You're awake. Good. Was thinking I might have to get creative.” He finishes untying the rope, pulls it out of the cuff rings and coils it in his hands, laying it aside. “Course, I'll probably have to get creative anyway.”
Neil lowers his arms, trying to work the stiffness out of them. He has no idea what time it is, but the curtains are open in the wide windows across the room, and sunlight is pouring in. He's long used to not caring about the hours or the minutes, anyway. Slowly he sits up, glancing at Mike and feeling a coil of apprehension. He could make a break for it now, maybe. He could run for the door, maybe get it open before Mike can get to him and then...
And then what? He's naked except for the leather cuffs on his wrists, and he's in the middle of fucking Santiago City. He'll be lucky if he gets out of the building.
He looks up again, and Mike is shaking his head and smiling, clearly amused. “I wouldn't,” he says quietly. “You know I'd catch you. You got it real nice here. You wanna find out what it's like when it's not so nice?” He reaches out and traces a fingertip down to the point of Neil's jaw. “Plenty of people in the detention centers downtown, they'd love a piece of your ass.”
Neil jerks his head away, and immediately Mike's fingers close hard, pinching at his jaw, painful. He's not even surprised by it now. But he can't just take it. Even though he knows he probably should.
“I can't trust you,” Mike says, mouth twisting slightly. For an instant he looks almost disappointed, and Neil feels a strange stirring of some entirely new emotion. He doesn't know what its name is, doesn't even know if it has a name. What he knows is that he doesn't want Mike to look like that.
But then it's gone, like a flash of insanity, and he stares back again, defiant. “No, I guess you fuckin' can't.”
Mike slaps him. It's blindingly fast and then blindingly painful, the hard impact of an open palm across his face, then a hot flush and a tingling all through him. He winces in spite of himself, eyes watering.
“You call me 'sir',” Mike says, and what surprises Neil about it is how angry he isn't. How calm he sounds. “Whenever you talk to me, you call me that. And you respect me. I don't care why, but you better find a goddamn reason.”
He slides back and off the bed, still naked as well, and he picks the coil of rope up off the bedside table. “On your feet. Don't make me tell you twice.”
There's a few seconds where Neil's still considering. On his feet, sure, but what to do once he's there? He could try to hit Mike over the head with something, maybe one of the lamps. He could try to make it to the kitchen and get a knife. Neil has never killed anyone, but he's seen men die, and he thinks, if it came down to it, he might be able to do it himself.
But Mike looks at him, and Neil finds himself getting to his feet, standing with his cuffed wrists at his sides, and there's something about the way Mike is looking at him that makes him feel like a bug pinned down in a display case.
“Turn around,” Mike says. “Face that post.” And he points to the right post at the foot of the bed. “Hands up by the ring.”
Neil does it. It feels almost like a bad dream, like one of those nightmares where you watch helplessly as your body moves entirely out of your control. It walks itself down into the basement when you know there's something down there with sharp teeth and eyes that can see in the dark.
Mike ties him. Wrists up against the ring at the top of the post, arms stretched over his head. He's expecting to be fucked again, maybe hoping for it because he knows that at least he can get through that all right, but from behind him there's a rummaging sound and the clink of metal on metal, and then a whistling sound and a sharp pain like a bee sting against his thigh. He yelps, he can't help it, and when he looks down he sees a reddening welt standing out harshly against his pale skin. He stares back at Mike, and Mike is smiling at him, swinging the belt looped loosely around his hand.
“You need to soften up a little,” he says, and the belt hisses through the air again, and this time Neil yells, stumbles forward and almost falls. His bound wrists take his weight, and he's just getting his feet again, gasping with the pain, when Mike knocks him back down. This time there's no pause and no reprieve; five hard blows in quick succession, each one marked by a rough cry. His knees buckle under him and for a few seconds he hangs by his wrists until the pain in them gets him back to his feet. When he hears the whistling again he tries to dodge away, but it's pointless, clearly pointless, and this time his ass takes the strap. He's not sure how many times Mike hits him. He loses count after six. At the end of it he's half hanging by his wrists again, eyes stinging with angry tears and his skin absolutely on fire. Dimly he's aware that Mike is breathing hard, and it doesn't sound like it's just the effort.
The breathing gets nearer, harsher, and he feels the heat of bare skin against his own abused flesh. He whimpers, immediately ashamed of it, and Mike's hand slides around to cup his face.
“You call me 'sir',” Mike hisses. “You get that now? You better fucking get it, or there's twenty more where that came from.”
“Yes,” Neil chokes, tears and rage and shame burning up hot and big in his throat. “Yes, sir.”
“Good boy.” Neil can hear the smile in his voice. He pulls away abruptly but in a second or two he's back again, and slick fingers are pushing their way into Neil's ass, stretching him until he moans. At least he's using lube this time, Neil thinks, and then Mike's thrusting into him and he tries not to think any more.
* * *
Like the night before, it doesn't last very long, and Mike leaves him tied while he showers and dresses, pausing only to give Neil's ass a quick smack in passing, a smack that hurts about ten times more than it would have normally. Neil leans his head against the bedpost and closes his eyes, trying to cut off information coming in from the nerves in his lower body, but suddenly Mike is untying him and pushing him to his knees. He goes willingly enough. His legs are tired and he doesn't feel like being beaten again. In the few seconds he manages to glance up, he catches a glimpse of an olive-colored uniform. Military. Guard. Figures.
“You're gonna stay here today,” Mike is saying, retying Neil's hands behind his back, and from there to the post again. “I have to go to work. When I get back, you better be here. Right here. It won't be very nice for you if you aren't.” He reaches down, tilts Neil's face up to his own. “You got that?”
Neil nods sullenly, and Mike's hand tightens, eyes narrowing. “I said, you got that?”
Neil winces. “Yes, sir.”
“Good.” Mike bends again, setting down two bowls. Neil stares at them. One's full of water, the other of what looks like dry cereal. He stares up at Mike, incredulous, though why it should really be so surprising on top of everything else... maybe it shouldn't be.
He's been treated like an animal since he got here. Maybe it stands to reason that he's expected to eat like one.
“Be good,” Mike says, and actually pats him on the head before he turns to go. Neil stares after him.
Mike turns, looking slightly irritated. “What?”
Neil glances back at where he's tied, then at the bathroom door, suddenly an impossible distance away. “What if I gotta take a piss?”
Mike shrugs. “You better hold it. That rug wasn't cheap.” And he's gone.
The day passes. At first Neil is bored. Then he's uncomfortable; lying on his side isn't the most accommodating position with his hands bound behind his back, when he lies on his stomach he can't breathe, and lying on his back is just outright impossible. He can barely move more than a half foot in any direction. He watches the patch of sun on the floor move and move, and after a while he leans back against the foot of the bed and dozes.
When he wakes up he's hungry, and as much as he hates every single thing about it, he bends down on his knees and eats from the bowl, drinking messily, unable to wipe his face. He sits back again, frustrated, and at least there's no one else here to see. But Mike will know what's happening. And that's part of it. It has to be. It's not just about the pain and the control. Mike wants him humiliated. Degraded.
Neil's known a few men like this, and all of them have been dangerous. All of them have basically been fucking psychopaths.
This is not going to end well. He has to get out of here.
He looks around the bedroom. He can't see a lot from where he is, and he can reach even less than he sees. He tries to stand; his hands are bound too low down. He can hardly even crouch. He tugs on the bed, without much hope, and indeed there's no way the bed is moving. The post is thicker than his thigh. He thinks he might be able to break it if he had a sledgehammer. Or an ax.
He slumps back against the bed, half-heartedly trying to feel for the knots, but the cuffs limit how much he can move his wrists and his fingers barely brush them. There's no way he could get them loose that way. There's nothing sharp to rub them on.
He sighs, closes his eyes, and tries to push back the fear. Maybe if he's just patient, like he'd planned originally. Maybe if he just tries to keep Mike happy. Maybe eventually he'll get a chance.
Keeping Mike happy is turning out to involve more than he's used to doing.
Eventually he supposes that he slips into another doze, because when he opens his eyes again the light looks like late afternoon and there's a fullness in his bladder that's hard to ignore. Shit. He looks again toward the bathroom door, but there's no way. When will Mike be back? Another hour? Two? He's not going to piss himself. Mike's done a lot of things to him so far, but he's not going to do that. He's not. It occurs to him suddenly that maybe this is exactly what Mike wants, for him to piss on the rug so Mike has another excuse to punish him, but that doesn't even make much sense. Mike doesn't need an excuse to punish him. Mike can do whatever the fuck he wants to him.
He moans quietly, drawing his knees up against his chest and squeezing his eyes shut. He'll hold it. He has to.
Mike had told him to.
He's not sure if it's minutes or hours later, but he hears the sound of the door opening and he straightens up, pulling at the ropes, eager in a way that, later, he'll wonder about. Right now, all this means is that this torture might be ending soon. He strains forward, and after what feels like far too long, Mike steps into the room and stares down at him, at the half empty bowl and the drained water bowl, and once again Neil sees that cruelly satisfied little smile.
“You probably want me to untie you. Don't you.” It isn't a question, and Neil's fairly sure it's not meant as one, and he pulls at the ropes again, teeth bared in frustration. He nods. Speaking feels a little beyond him. He's not sure that he trusts himself to not say something that will just get him hit again.
Mike drops into a crouch. “Beg me.”
Neil stares at him. Mike inclines his head slightly.
“You heard me. Don't play dumb. Beg me to do it.”
Neil shakes his head, though it's not exactly denial. He's supposed to keep Mike happy. What Mike wants seems to be changing constantly. The very ground under him feels unsteady and shifting. How do you find your way through something when every frame of reference is removed?
“Please,” he whispers, hanging his head. “Please. Sir. Please untie me.”
“There you go.” Mike reaches behind him and Neil feels a flood of relief, and then an increasing sense of urgency. “That wasn't so hard, right?”
But he doesn't answer. As soon as the rope comes loose and he feels his wrists free he's up and moving, into the bathroom and standing over the toilet and sighing with relief as he lets go. He stands there a long time, and when he feels ready to turn he's not surprised to see Mike leaning in the doorway, watching him. He almost snaps something about privacy, but then it occurs to him: he doesn't have any privacy anymore. None. Maybe when Mike leaves him for the day, and even then it isn't real privacy because he isn't free.
Everything in him seems to collapse together and his head drops, shoulders slump, and for something like the hundredth time he wonders if he's really going to break this easily. How much is an act and how much is more real than he'd ever want to admit?
He doesn't know. He's tired again.
“Come here,” Mike says, holding out a hand to him, and he goes without a word. He's not sure what he's expecting, a blow or maybe for Mike to just flip him onto his belly on the bed and fuck him again, but instead Mike reaches up and cups his cheek with one hand, astonishingly gentle. “I realized while I was gone,” he says. “I don't even know your name. I think I should.”
Neil stares up at him. He's been avoiding eye contact as much as he can, partly out of pure discomfort and partly out of a feeling that Mike wouldn't like it, might regard it as a challenge, but in the shock of the moment he's forgotten himself. “Uh... It's Neil,” he says, and he says it as though he himself isn't so sure. He clears his throat and looks down again. “I'm Neil.”
“Neil.” Mike pronounces the name carefully, thoughtfully, slipping his hand up Neil's face and into his hair, and Neil finds himself leaning into the touch with a slow, distant horror. He shouldn't like this. This is something to be tolerated until he gets a chance to run. “I like that.” He smiles. “You can keep it.”
And even that's not surprising. Of all the things Mike's done so far, giving him a new name wouldn't even be the worst. And yet he finds himself feeling grateful, that he's been allowed this. He tries to battle the feeling down but it rises anyway, slow and warm.
“Neil,” Mike says again, and he tugs Neil lightly against him. He's solid and warm in ways that Neil hasn't really noticed before now. This is something he could take a kind of comfort in, at any other time. Someone he could let himself enjoy. “Today was a test. You passed. From now on I'll come home in the middle of the day and you can do whatever you need to. Okay?”
Neil nods, and again, that gratitude. Mike's hand tightens in his hair, pulling his head back. “When I do something like that for you, it's a gift. It's to make your life easier. You should thank me.” Another tug, a little sharper. “Thank me.”
“Thank you. Sir.” And this time it's not as hard as it was. Mike releases him and turns away.
“Get on the bed, on your back. I wanna have some fun before dinner.”
* * *
Neil tugs at the ropes binding his wrists to the bedposts, but it's just experimental. Any hope he'd had of being able to get loose died the previous night. Mike is good with knots and the ropes are strong, and if he's going to get away at all it's not going to be while he's tied.
His arms are stretched, one cuff tied to each post. There's a rope around his neck, tight but not tight enough to strangle him, and the long, loose ends of it extend to his legs, crossed indian-style and pulled up so his ankles hover almost over his chest. His ankles are cuffed, the ends of the rope looping through the D-rings and holding them up, his spine curved and his ass lifted and exposed. He's never been stretched like this before.
It doesn't actually feel horrible.
Mike takes a second to stand back and look, thoughtful, like he's trying to think of ways the position could be improved. Part of Neil is rankling under the scrutiny, sullen and resentful. But only part. Another part is waiting, apprehensive. But not really unpleasantly so.
“I think you're fine like that,” Mike says finally, bending and pulling another box out from under the bed, this one larger and covered in black leather. He opens it and lifts out something black and bulbous, and Neil gasps lightly. He knows what that is. He's seen things like it before. But sex toys aren't exactly commonplace outside the fence and he's never had one used on him.
Mike reaches over on the bedside table and picks up a tube full of clear gel—lube, Neil realizes after a second—uncaps it and squeezes some onto his fingers. “I know this is big,” he says, nodding to the plug. “So I'll go slow. But you'll take it.” He reaches down and Neil feels Mike's slick fingertips against his asshole, circling lightly before he presses in, and Neil's breath hitches, his eyes slipping closed.
This isn't like before. Mike's going slow, careful, not just plunging into him but taking his time. Neil whimpers softly, more out of confusion than pleasure or pain, because just what the fuck is this going to be, anyway? Kind one minute and cruel the next? Is there any kind of pattern to it, anything he can use?
“You're fine,” Mike murmurs, slipping a second finger into him and scissoring them, stretching him wider. When Neil manages to open his eyes again his gaze meets that smile. “In fact... you stretch pretty easy. I think you're ready.”
No, please, Neil thinks, looking at the thick base of the plug, but he's not going to beg that way. He's already collapsed more completely than he would have ever thought possible, but he's not going that far. He's going to grit his teeth and take it and if Mike's looking for him to start crying and pleading for mercy, well, then, fuck him.
But he yelps as the plug enters him, slick and huge, thicker than any cock he's ever taken. He feels himself widening around the bulb, more, and he thinks he has to tear soon, tear or it'll be over, and then abruptly the thickest part is inside him and the pain eases, replaced by an incredible fullness.
“Fuck,” he whimpers, arms pulled so taut against the ropes he knows he'll be sore later. But he'll be sore all over. It doesn't matter very much.
“Good,” Mike whispers, and Neil feels something jump in his middle at the words. Mike slides his slick hand upwards, cupping Neil's balls gently. His gaze drops to the rope around Neil's neck. “If that gets too tight, you have to tell me. If you die on me...” He shrugs and smiles. “It'll be kinda fucking inconvenient.”
Oh, fuck you, Neil thinks, but it's not even new. The hand gently cupping him, kneading him... that's a little new, and he moans, giving up any idea of trying to hold it back. If he's going to make it through this, if he's going to have a prayer, he's going to have to take the good where he can find it. And if this is the good he gets, it'll have to do. He tries to press up against it but the position he's in almost completely immobilizes him, and he sags back in frustration.
“Want more?” Mike's fingers are curled around his dick now, working him slowly, just enough to get him simmering. It's like Mike just knows, knows what's going to be too much and what's just enough.
What does Mike do, that he would know that?
Neil bares his teeth and doesn't answer, and immediately Mike's hand is gone and Neil's left hard and achingly frustrated, straining at the ropes. “Fuck!”
“You want more, you ask for it.” Mike's hovering over him, his eyes dark in the late afternoon light, and Neil stares back up at him with hatred burning in his gut. “You'd be amazed what I'd give you if you ask the right way.”
“Would you let me go?”
Mike laughs quietly. “No. Sorry, I'm not going that far.” And he slaps Neil's ass, hard, so hard Neil gasps. “And you're forgetting something.”
“Sir,” Neil hisses, spitting out the word, and Mike nods.
“There you go.” He leans down and his lips part around the head of Neil's cock and slide down and down, pushing a high, helpless sound out of him, but just as quickly the heat and the wet is gone.
“You haven't earned this,” Mike says, straightening up again as Neil watches him, strained and helpless, face burning with anger. “I'm gonna have dinner. We'll see what you get, after.”
And of course Mike's just going to leave him like this. Of course he is.