Fandom: Harsh Realm/Mysterious Skin
Summary: Tom joins Neil and Mike's merry little band, and doesn't entirely understand what he's gotten himself into.
Note: This is both a bit of a sequel to Devotion and a little birthday quickie for thetinydemon. Happy birthday, bitch.
Tom Hobbes doesn't question the collar, not at first. He's too busy questioning everything else, not with his mouth but with his eyes, wondering and doubting and looking around with such a wide gaze that Mike cuffs him on the back of the head and tells him to stop staring before his eyeballs fall out on his cheeks. Neil doesn't talk much to him. It's not that Mike's forbidden it--it's not the kind of thing he'd do--but there's something about Tom that's deeply bemusing, and encourages close observation. He's so nice, so shocked by what he sees around him. It's novel. Neil watches him, occasionally says something with a wry edge to his voice and a smirk to go with it, and when he gets Tom to blush all through his rather prominent ears, it sends an interesting jolt of pleasure through him.
But there's more to him than that. Mike hadn't left him for dead. Mike had gone back for him when, as far as Neil can tell, there was every reason to leave him in Santiago's tender care. So one night, when Mike's on watch and Tom is sleeping fitfully by the fire, the dog by his side, Neil approaches through the darkness and drops to his knees where Mike is sitting.
"Who is he?"
Mike looks at him, eyes glittering dully in the firelight. "Dunno what you're talking about."
"Don't fuckin' bullshit me. He's someone. Someone important. You got no other reason to keep him around. He's not that cute."
Mike reaches out, quick and hard, and grips Neil's jaw in a hand like a vise. "Watch your fucking mouth." But he's smiling, and after a second he releases his grip. It hurts, but other things hurt much worse and Neil rubs it away, feeling no resentment.
"So who is he?"
Mike hooks a finger into the ring on the collar and pulls Neil a little closer. The smile has faded into something thoughtful, something a little distant. "You're right. He's important."
"Is it somethin' to do with that hermit?" He's not sure why he asks that, other than some instinct makes it seem right. The hermit, months ago, the smokey, dim hut, the immense book.
Again, there's a faint tugging at the corner of Mike's mouth, and another tug at the collar. "I'll tell you more later. 'S nothing to worry about right now." His fingers are working at his fly, pulling it down, and Neil's eyes latch onto it like iron to a magnet.
"I might be getting sleepy," Mike says with a lazy grin, hand moving up to the back of Neil's head and pushing it down, gentle but insistent. "Why don't you see if you can keep me up?"
And then Neil's far too distracted to notice Tom turn on his side and face them, his eyes open and widening. But Mike notices, and he's still grinning.
* * *
"So what is he? Your slave?"
Tom spits the word out with real anger behind it and behind his eyes. Mike looks placidly up at him and goes back to skinning the rabbit they've managed to catch.
"I guess that's one word for it. Pretty ugly one, though, if you ask me."
"It is. It's an ugly thing, Pinocchio." Tom is standing with his arms folded over his chest, one boot vibrating, and Mike can't tell if it's nervousness or anger or some combination of the two. "He's just a kid. And you... I dunno, somehow I got the idea that you were better than that."
Mike throws back his head and laughs. It feels like the only sensible response. Tom is so green, such a babe in the woods, but he'd thought that might be starting to change.
And not looking too closely at why he isn't crazy about the idea of that happening.
"You don't get anything," he says, grinning back up at Tom and watching the flush rising in his cheeks and ears. "I mean, that's okay, 'cause I'm fucking used to that by now. But you really do not. Get. Anything."
Tom stares at him for a few moments, jaw clenched and working, and for an instant Mike thinks Tom might take a swing at him. But finally he spits, "Fuck you, Pinocchio," turns on his heel and stalks back into the trees.
Mike shrugs and cuts off the rabbit's head.
* * *
"Gonna have to try harder than that." Neil's goading him, tugging against the ropes that bind his wrists over his head, the tree branch creaking lightly. Mike steps forward, smiling that thin, knife-edge smile, belt swinging in his hand, his other reaching out to trail light fingertips down Neil's chest and ribs. Neil shudders faintly, twists, still grinning.
"C'mon, Sir. That really the best you got?"
Mike's fingers close on a nipple and pinch, twist, pull, until Neil's eyes are watering even through the grin. But he doesn't moan, doesn't gasp. It's a game, and he's not letting Mike win that easy.
A warm afternoon, no one for miles, not that they know of. Tom's on watch, given some bullshit excuse about bathing, and it's an excuse that he probably doesn't believe for a minute. But it doesn't matter. And they will bathe, eventually. After they do some other things first.
Mike releases Neil's nipple and Neil allows himself a breath of relief, and something more than relief. Something more aching, more needy. He's already hard, has been for a while, and naked as he is, there's no way to hide it. Mike's hand slides down between his legs, teasing for a few seconds before his hand grasps and squeezes, firm, stroking him from base to tip, and now Neil's can't hold back a moan. Small, soft, but he can't stop it, and he bares his teeth at the satisfaction spreading over Mike's face.
"What the fuck're you doing?" Mike slaps his face with the leather loop, not hard but hard enough to send prickles over his cheek. "You gonna bite me? You're gonna get bit right back." Another slap, harder, his other hand still jerking roughly at Neil's cock. Neil's legs are spreading, entirely of their own accord, and this time the moan is practically a whimper.
He can't let Mike win that easy. But in the end, Mike will win. Because he always has.
"You like that? You want more?" Mike leans in and kisses him, quick and rough, sucking at his bottom lip so hard that it hurts before it's released with a wet pop. His cock is released at the same moment and Mike steps back again, the belt whistling through the air as he swings it slowly back and forth. Neil's eyes watch it like following a pendulum.
"You should beg," Mike murmurs. "And you should make me buy it." The belt swings down across Neil's thigh, too soft yet to really hurt, too soft for Neil to feel anything but the impact. But it still shivers all through him, shivering into his spine and down into his dick, and instead of twitching away from it he twitches toward it, breathing hard, the ropes tight around his wrists.
"I don't hear anything." Another swing of the belt and this time it's harder, and Neil barely has a second to catch his breath, the sting of it buzzing in his head before there's another and another, Mike methodically laying crimson stripes down his thighs, and when Neil instinctively turns away, over the meat of his ass. Each blow is dragging a reluctant wince out of him, but the pain is surging higher into something else, the warm thrum of endorphins moving into his blood, his cock hard and aching at every soft breath of air.
"Please..." he whispers, and the belt hits his ass with a sharp crack, sending his spine into an arch and his mouth open in a silent yell as he tries to process it.
"Don't scream," Mike murmurs. "Or I'll have to gag you and that isn't nearly as fun. But I still don't hear you."
"Please," Neil says again, his voice barely above a whisper, a teasing grin spreading over his face in spite of everything. "The fuck's the matter, you goin' deaf?"
Mike shakes his head, smiling again, and the next blow practically knocks Neil's legs out from under him, sending him swinging on the ropes with his arms screaming in their sockets and his skin feeling like it's on fire. Still he stays quiet, and still, somehow, his dick is standing up hard and throbbing, begging for attention even if he won't. Mike holds back, waiting, giving him a chance to get back to his feet, and once he's there it starts all over again.
"Mike--" he gasps. He doesn't even know how much later it is. It might be hours, it might be a few minutes, but his skin is burning and his cock is burning and he can feel himself weakening at last. "Please. God... okay, please, fuckin' touch me."
"I am touching you," Mike breathes. He's not panting but by now he's getting close, and with the kind of strange clarity that always comes to him at this point, Neil sees sweat beading on his forehead in little glistening droplets.
"No, I--" He half laughs. His wrists are raw, his arms aching, his legs throbbing and covered with ugly welts, but he's not just saying it. He wants it. Mike is too far away. Contact from the end of a belt isn't enough. "My dick... want your hands... please..."
"There you go." Instantly the belt is dropped and Mike is stepping forward, smiling and pleased, reaching out to hook a finger into Neil's collar, the other stroking gently down his sweaty cheek. "What's that word again?"
"Fuckin' please," Neil gasps, and Mike kisses him, reaching between them and closing a merciful hand over Neil's cock. It's quick and hard, no gentle buildup and it's treading the line of painful. But Neil's hips roll forward and he whimpers, all coherence lost, tilting his head back and dragging in hectic breaths as Mike pulls him to the edge and topples him over with a flick of his wrist, hard and shuddering and leaving him limp and gasping.
Mike's head is turned, his eyes focused on something outside Neil's field of vision. Neil notices it slowly as perception filters back in beyond his own pain and weariness and endorphin buzz. Mike is grinning just a little, a small, wicked grin. Neil turns his head and pulls in a slow breath.
Tom is there a few yards away, still half hidden behind the tree, his face and ears a blaze of red. he opens his mouth and for a moment Neil's sure he'll say something, but he turns abruptly and walks away again, shoulders hunched and head down.
Mike shakes his head slightly and seems to lose interest, supporting Neil on one arm as he unsheathes his knife and reaches up to cut the rope. But as he lays Neil down and gently rubs the feeling back into his wrists, Neil's thinking about Tom's flushed face, his wide-eyed stare, and where his hand had been an instant before he had remembered himself and pulled it away.
So things are always a little more complicated than they seem.