#resigned to the fact that the drugs I keep to stay alive are doing future me some damage
In the future, post captivity.
Content warnings: negative self-talk, referenced physical self-harm and alcohol use, references to past torture and noncon, v brief mention of emesis and drugging.
His fingers don't work like they used to. They're shaky and frail, and Niels can't hold down the strings long enough to play an E chord, let alone anything substantial. When he plucks at the guitar it recoils from his chemical-hardened fingers, as if to say don't touch me,and it aches.
It used to be so easy. He'd shred his way up and down whatever sparked for hours, acoustic or electric, just riding the high of note after note after note. Now it's little more than Mester Jakob while his mind substitutes the lyrics:
Little Niels, little Niels
Who are you? Who are you?
You are just a failure, coward and a liar
Bim bam bum, bim bam bum.
Still, Niels tries, and though the positioning of his arms is strenuous after mere minutes, he stubbornly slouches back into the couch to try to gain more support. It only serves to make him cramped and twisted. Frustrated he groans, shaking his left hand out to banish the pins and needles already starting to bloom there.
"Hard to be Jimi with a broken body and a dumb brain, huh…" He mutters to the four wooden elephants on the mantelpiece in Danglish. "Should have gotten him to zap me into finally learning modes."
Niels straightens, and tries again. Flubs the first transition.
Tries again. The notes are buzzing and clumsy.
And tries again. And again. And again.
It's only when Niels hears the car pulling into the driveway that he remembers he's supposed to have put dinner on half an hour ago. He swears under his breath, sets the guitar on its stand, and reaches just past the couch for his walking frame. He just manages to put the rice in the cooker before he hears the sound of the front door unlocking.
Fareeha calls from the hallway, amongst the bustling sounds of cotton shopping bags. "Hi—Esther, here, here—are you awake? Niels?"
"I'm awake, need a hand?"
"Yes, sorry—we just have a couple more bags to bring in."
After they finish dinner and while the girls study, Niels listens to Fareeha's day. She massages his sore shoulders, talking about the coffee with her mum, the business doing well, actually, the collies they saw at the park that reminded her of the one she had growing up.
Niels listens, and listens well. It's the least he can do, when he can't participate.
Weeks come and go, but he finds himself drawn back to the strings again. Somehow it's worse than last time, his perpetually aching back protesting just from sitting upright.
He shouldn't have even tried today, because he's been short of breath since yesterday, and hasn't really slept for forty-eight hours. But sometimes, between night-terrors, between the stretches in which Niels feels like he just might die at any moment, he wants to feel alive. For once.
Niels pauses the world's worst rendition of Nothing Else Matters to answer the message lighting up his phone. Graham.
hey. you free?
Literally always, Niels messages back. What's up?
levs started drinking again
Niels glances at the empty bottles of Asahi lining his desk, before he taps back. Shit. Really?
yeah. something happened. and i think were in trouble
He taps back, letting autocomplete take over where his fingers fail. That's vague. Details.
While the little "..." cycles on the screen, Niels puts the phone in the knitted pocket on the walker, and shuffles down to the kitchen. Fareeha and Esther are away for the weekend, and Clara is half-watching a movie in the living room. Niels offers a cup, smiles at her absent ja, and sets out two large mugs.
It's been good, just the two of them. While he can't keep up with his daughter's constant buzz of energy like he used to be able to, he can at least watch and encourage Clara through her karate training exercises.
Niels settles on the little beige container of liquorice tea that never fails to remind him of the Aussies. Makes that, and a mint hot chocolate. When he sits down on the couch next to Clara, the new green bubble from Graham is already nestled there, filling the bottom of the screen. There's a nervous spill in the words, a hand that it had taken years for the man to feel even remotely close to showing. Even though they'd met each other at their respective worsts.
i dont know how much I can tell you. he hasnt gotten out of bed for a couple of weeks. had to get rid of the bottles we had lieing around
And then: its bad. i dont know what to do
Niels frowns in concern. Has he been going to work?
The ellipses cycle for a long while, long enough for Clara to take notice that Niels has joined her. He gestures to the characters on the screen. "What's this one?"
"Moana, dad. You've seen it…"
Niels hums. "No, I would have remembered it…"
he punched his manager and got fired so no
Niels can almost hear Fareeha's shocked oh nej, Lev,as if she'd been right there reading over his shoulder. Can almost see Graham's jaw, clenched as it would have been as he'd typed out the words.
Well that's one way to resign.
im worried hes going to hurt himself
i think he already has
The stress must show on Niels' face, because Clara turns the volume down and huddles a little closer to him with a soft 'okay?'
He nods, and though he raises the phone out of her reading view, he puts his other arm over her shoulder. Holds her close.
We are here. How can we help?
Niels stares at the opposite wall, guitar laying flat on his lap, fingers curled loosely around the neck. It's late, but he hasn't moved to turn on the light. Can't be bothered to get the walker, or call for someone to help him. His phone sits discarded beside him, still shining its message into the dimming evening sun.
He runs the pad of his thumb over the bottom strings. E, A, D, and a soft scratching noise left in the wake of each touch.
Niels flinches when the metallic sound of it slams a memory forward—the collar, primed and whining and ready to send pain through every inch of him, the twisting feeling that he'd done something wrong, wrong, wrong—he curls his hand over the neck quickly to silence it. Feels the tightness in his chest, his throat. Curls forward with a shaky sigh.
He knows that none of them had long, really. The things they'd been through, the things they had done, could only shave years off the lifespan. And though it was always a toss-up whether they exploded or imploded, they were never going to get back the full allotment of time on this earth they had been promised. In among the myriad other things that will never be as they were, that fact is just another drop in a vast and endless sea. As is this.
Half spitefully, half uncaringly, Niels lets the guitar fall. It hits the floor with an reverberating twang, and a thud.
The bedroom door opens, and as the harsh hallway light floods inward, Niels turns his head away. The bed dips beside him as Fareeha climbs closer, creaks slightly as she leans forward to pull the guitar up, drag it safely back onto the bed.
Then, a kiss is pressed to the back of his shoulder, over the shirt. Another, and another. Slow movements, to give time to pull away.
"Dessert?" Fareeha asks. "Fruit and yoghurt."
Letting out a breath, Niels turns his hand upward for his wife to take in her own. The sight of her ring, plain gold on slender fingers, is enough to cut through the thousand voices in his mind. To bring him here, to the present, though half-steeped in the past as it always is. As it always will be.
"I should have stayed," Niels murmurs, shaking his head. "When Laura got us the gig. I should have stayed, Fifi. And then. None of this…"
He feels Fareeha tune in, hold him a little tighter. The familiar scent of her peach shampoo envelops him with the squeeze of her hand.
"I wanted you to stay," she says, voice cracking. "But I wanted you to go, too, so you could live your dream."
"Some dream it was," Niels laughs bitterly.
"You should have seen your face when she called you." Fareeha moves forward, her eyes huge and soft in the darkness. "You were so excited. I love seeing you like that."
It's been four years since he went to Australia, chasing a dream. But the dreamer is a completely different person, to the one he is today.
"I helped him kidnap them."
He watches Fareeha's eyes flicker as she catches up with the sudden information. Struggles with the nausea threatening to overtake, disgust at himself he'd thought was dormant since they'd gotten free, rearing its head and roaring once more. Pushes through.
"Sold them down the river for a piece of steak and a bed to sleep on. I… gave Graham the drugs to keep him sedated. After I helped put them both in his car. I tied Graham to the pole in that fucking death building. I made up the room that Lev was… that he was… because I thought I could still have the chance to see you again. He said that once he had what he wanted, he would think about letting me go."
The confession numbs him, but it's so laughably past too late for it to matter. The phone on the bed pulses once for attention, message still unopened despite having already been read in preview. Fareeha is a statue, long dark hair framing her face in gentle waves.
Niels closes his eyes as she takes his face in her hands. He wants to, needs to utter the last of it, but the love in her stare is intense and unbearable.
"I heard the guy rape him… that very first night. I made the bed in that room… and I still ate the steak."
It's a weightless thing, the quiet horror left behind in the wake of his words. Like so many universal truths knocked loose, scattered. If he keeps his eyes shut, Niels hopes he will never have to see the way he's let her down. Let them all down.
"You had so much done to you. All of you. But Niels… he was a monster. And you are only a man."
Niels doesn't know what to do, how to react, save from give his phone to Fareeha for her to read. She tilts her head, hair rushing forward to brush his arm as she reads Graham's text.
Four words, but there's a hopelessness in them that Niels feels down every grate and crack of his bones.
they are pressing charges
"Oh nej," Fareeha breathes. "Oh… oh, nej."
The next day, Niels puts the Yamaha in its case. Slides the case under the bed.
but what if we were pure gold all along? jj maybank (chapter 1)
Summary: After the assumed death of their best friend, the Pogues are falling apart at the seams. With Pope and Kiara getting closer and JJ left with nowhere to go, he finds himself left to his own devices. Feeling lost and rejected, his luck seems to turn when he meets Scarlett - a Kook who doesn’t treat him like shit and has an affinity for partying. JJ gets sucked into her world as she promises to help him forget.
How much longer can he keep running from his demons? And what happens when he starts sharing a bed with one?
Warnings: depictions of violence, child abuse, angst, sexual content, drug use, underage drinking.
Author’s note: Hi all, this is my multi-chapter fic I’ve been working on. My oneshots & Rafe series have taken off so I thought it was time to share this one too. Let me know what you think!
Word count: 1.7K
READ THE PROLOGUE HERE
the one where pogue promises are bullshit
“You mean she can’t hang out with us at all?” JJ asks Pope over cereal late the next morning. It feels almost insulting to John B to be doing something so irritatingly normal but hey, a boy’s gotta eat and he sure as shit won’t be getting breakfast at home.
“Nope. Parents got her on lockdown,” Pope answers solemnly. “They freaked out after the whole running from the cops thing. Not to mention, they’re not keen on Kie ending up like…” Pope trails off as JJ looks up at him sharply.
“They could still be alive man. We don’t know.”
JJ’s sure Pope looks at him with pity as he replies, “Maybe. But I mean, JJ, the Phantom in that storm…Shoupe said it himself, they took an open boat into a tropical depression. I just don’t see how they could still be a-alive.” Pope chokes on the word alive as if it were poison and he sucks in a deep breath as tears fall down his cheeks and JJ can’t take it anymore. He pushes back his chair, the metal legs scraping against the floorboards as JJ rises from the table abruptly.
“I’m going out,” he says as he feels the walls closing in and he just needs to get outside before its too overwhelming and goddamnit he’s sick of crying, will it stop sometime soon?
“JJ-“ Pope starts to rise from his chair but JJ waves a hand at him to sit back down, not looking directly at Pope in case, God forbid, he sees just how broken JJ feels.
“Nah man, it’s fine. I just need some weed. I’ll see you later.”
And with that, JJ makes his way out the front door alone, his feet heavy and his heart heavier still.
JJ’s been staying at Pope’s house for a week now and he can’t help but think he’s the only one struggling. He still hasn’t seen or spoken to Kie who, according to Pope, is still on strict lockdown, and Pope has thrown himself into studying and finding loopholes for other scholarships that would let him interview. This leaves JJ with not much to do but wander aimlessly, not going too far just in case his dad decides to come looking for him.
Pope joins him on the back porch one night where, despite strict orders from Heyward to not get up to any mischief in his house, JJ is surreptitiously pulling on a joint, the smoke curling outwards into the un-seasonally cool evening.
“Mind if I take a hit?”
Lost in his thoughts, JJ jumps at the unexpected interruption. “Shit man, you scared me. Sorry, I know your dad said not to get up to anything but I just feel like garbage and –“
“Nah, I know. I get it. Pass it here,” Pope replies, sitting down next to JJ on the worn steps. JJ passes him the blunt, the corner of his eyes crinkling in a rare smile.
“Coming back to the dark side, are you?” After Pope’s outburst around the time John B and Sarah went missing, he vowed not to get like that again.
Pope coughed as he blew out the smoke. “Ha, no. I wanted to talk to you about something.”
JJ takes the used stub and crushes it under his boot. “Uh oh. That’s never good.”
“It’s fine. More than fine. They’re letting me interview for the scholarship position again.”
“You’re kidding. Bro, that’s awesome,” JJ replies sincerely, clapping his calloused hand on Pope’s shoulder. “I mean it. Good for you. How did you manage to convince them?’
Pope smiles at him. “I told them about John B and Sarah. They figured two friends going missing at sea counted as ‘extenuating circumstances’.”
“Means they agree it was fucked up and they’re letting me off the hook.”
“Hmm. Well, that’s great man.” JJ smiles. “Why did you want to talk to me about it this way?”
Pope sighs. “I’m just preparing you. I’m gonna be pretty busy trying to figure out how to answer their questions. I wanted you to know now so you don’t think I’m trying to ditch you.”
JJ nods solemnly. “I appreciate it. Thanks.”
Pope stares at him for a moment. “Do you think your dad is gonna come looking for you?”
“I don’t think he’ll try anything with your dad around.” JJ scoffs. “I’m pretty sure he was always scared of him.”
Pope nods and before he gets a chance to reply, his phone lights up with a new text and he steals a glance. JJ is sure he looks happy about whatever it was.
“Hey, I gotta head out and pick my dad up. Are you good here?”
“Yeah man, I’ll see you later.”
Pope claps him on the back as he bounds down the steps and in the darkness, leaving JJ alone to battle with his conflicting emotions.
On one hand, he’s overjoyed at the prospect of at least one of them having a decent future, considering his was pretty shot to bits and he had no idea what Kie was thinking, but on the other hand…on the other hand, JJ couldn’t help but feel jealous and a little hurt that Pope had something else to focus on other than the fact that one of his best friends was dead.
JJ remains sitting outside for longer than he realises, contemplating rolling another joint to keep him company and scuffing his boot in the dirt, willing himself to stop feeling so fucking emotional all the time.
After a while, JJ is brought out of his own head a second time as the sound of the front door closing causes him to jerk his head up.
JJ stands and makes his way through the back door, stopping abruptly when he realises he can hear Pope’s parents voices, but not Pope himself.
JJ gets the sinking feeling that Pope was lying to him, and he edges forward to make out what the hushed voices were arguing about.
“….and the longer he’s here, the more danger we’re putting our son in.”
“What do you suggest we do then? You know we can’t let him go back home. That boat was his father’s and I know what Luke is capable of. I’m worried for the boy.”
“He can’t stay here…”
“Last time I checked, Luke was scared shitless of me and-“
“You’re not 30 anymore baby, and he’s unpredictable - he could have a gun. JJ needs to leave, go into foster care or something, but he’s not staying here whilst we risk our family.”
A loud, resigned sigh. “Fine, I’ll talk to the boy.”
JJ’s heart races and he breathes heavily, nostrils flared and hands curled into fists. He turns slowly towards the back door, opening it quietly, praying that Pope’s parents don’t hear him leaving, their words echoing in his ears.
“…the longer he’s here, the more danger we’re putting our son in.”
“He can’t stay here…”
“…he needs to leave…”
JJ kicks the wheelbarrow as he crosses the yard, out of anger or fear he’s not quite sure, and ignores the searing pain in his foot. He was used to feeling like a burden, so why did this hurt so much? He wanted to be angry at Pope’s family, and he figured he was a little bit, but he also understood. He wouldn’t want to put Pope in any more danger than he already had.
JJ rounds the corner and runs straight into Pope, who has the decency to look a bit ashamed of himself. JJ can’t help himself as he narrows his eyes.
“Picking your dad up, huh? What were you really up to?”
Pope opens his mouth to stammer out a response but before he can come up with another excuse, JJ notices something in the glow of the street light.
JJ curses and moves Pope’s collar to reveal a dark purple bruise. Pope’s eyes widen as he steps back, faltering under JJ’s cool gaze.
“Is that a hickey?” JJ manages to ask through gritted teeth, his jaw clenching. “Have you been sneaking off to see Kiara?” JJ’s angry, sure, but he’s also hurt because why doesn’t Kiara want to see him and why is Pope lying to him and why does nobody want him?
Pope clears his throat. “I’m sorry man, we’ve just started going out and she needs me and-“
“You’re going out now?”
“I mean yeah, she did kiss me and everything and it just kind of escalated from there-“
“And what about ‘she needs me?’ What about me, bro? What happened to us Pogues sticking together?”
“JJ, I’m sorry man, Kie’s parents don’t want her seeing you and I don’t want her getting into any more trouble-“
JJ interrupts again as he shoves Pope away from him, his blue eyes icy as he struggles to contain his anger. “Yeah man, whatever, I get it.”
JJ stalks past Pope, muttering “unbelievable” under his breath and heading straight for his bike.
“JJ, please,” Pope starts but JJ holds up a hand to silence him, as he hops on his bike and speeds away without looking back.
Pogues don’t leave each other behind, huh? Bullshit, he thinks as he speeds away.
JJ finds his way to The Chateau without even thinking, almost as if muscle memory brought him here. He stops his bike out front and heads inside, smiling tersely at the fondness he feels for the place. When his own home wasn’t safe enough, which was often, he felt most at home here with his friends, stealing food from John B and crashing on the futon after keggers.
His throat burns at the thought of John B, at the thought of the Pogues, at the thought of the fact that Pope’s been screwing Kiara and lying to him about it and why the hell is that their priority right now?
JJ walks slowly down the hallway, noticing how the place has been completely trashed and stripped bare thanks to those square groupers and now the cops. God, all of that seems like centuries ago. How did they manage to end up here?
JJ barely makes it to the back of the house before a familiar voice makes him stop in his tracks and his blood run cold.
“Boy, if you’re in here I swear to God I’m going to kill you!”
Looks like dad came looking for me after all.
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OHOHOHO IT TURNS OUT I CAN STILL WRITE SHIT LIKE THIS
Clement and Cathal, as always belong to @ihaventwritteninsolong
Wren has a bad time and! I finally get to introduce a new character!!! Cain’s future BF is here!!!!! I swear there will be a piece actually introducing him to Zander and Wren and a piece on how him and Cain became a Thing but!!! This felt appropriate to just throw him in here.
Word Count: 4476 words
CW: Uhhh, Person used as a target, dehumanization, some noncon touching (non-sexual), creepy whumpers, brief mention of drugging
Zander had warned him about the parties. He’d warned him about all the people, just as awful and ruthless as Cain, and warned him that they were very likely to be made entertainment for the other handlers. Even warned him that he was more likely to be targeted, they’d surely show much more interest in the new obedient dog rather than Zander.
He really shouldn’t have been surprised that he was right, but it was still terrifying being chained to a wall in one of the more populated rooms, people wandering in and out, some lounging around just to watch the show. His arms were cuffed above his head, the chain tossed over a hook that was too high up for him, forcing him to stand on his toes to release the strain on his shoulders. Strangers came and went, most commenting on him, some touching him, commenting on how he was so well behaved compared to Zander. He hated that, but he kept his mouth shut as he knew he should, not wanting to give any of these people a reason to hurt him.
Being surrounded by strangers was bad, but the people he did recognize weren’t making him feel any better. Clement was there of course, sitting in one of the comfortable armchairs while Cathal knelt at his feet. Wren always felt a pang of sympathy every time he looked at Cathal, he’d felt bad ever since they first met but it only got worse after he had to actually experience Clement. He couldn’t blame Zander for attacking him every chance he got, he wished he had that kind of bravery, wished he was ready to suffer the consequences that came with it, just for the chance to knock that smug look off the bastard’s face at least once.
He wished Zander was there at all, he had been at first but Vanessa had kept him close, intentionally away from Cathal all night. At some point he had seen her lead him away, and nobody else seemed to notice or care. Zander didn’t look right when they left, and Wren didn’t doubt that Vanessa had likely slipped him something, the thought further making him sick with worry.
By now he was used to Cain, even somewhat used to Clement, he had a fair idea of what to expect from them, it was Cain’s fucking boyfriend that he wasn’t so sure about. He had met Nicholas Fairfax exactly once before, and he only needed that one meeting to know he was so much worse than Cain. He didn’t like the way he looked at him, he didn’t like the way he spoke about him and other pets, and the fact that Zander wasn’t there to protect him this time only made him more nervous. He just hoped that his relationship with Cain would keep him away from him- Away from Cathal too for that matter. Zander had always been the safest person in the room, even if his attempts didn’t usually end how he wanted, he still tried to protect them, and the fact that he was gone, especially when Nicholas was around, it gave Wren a horrible feeling.
He should’ve known that this wouldn’t be the worst of it though, he should’ve known that these bastards would make it worse. He saw the darts and his blood ran cold. He knew what they planned, he knew it was going to hurt, and though he wanted to scream and cry and beg he couldn’t seem to find his voice. He stared at them with wide eyes, vaguely listening to what Cain was saying.
“Oh, it was Nicholas’ idea.” He was telling Clement, seeming very happy about this fact as he picked up one of the darts. “He’s hung up so nicely, he’d make a perfect target.” He said, turning his attention to Wren. He didn’t give a warning, he didn’t have to, Wren watched with wide eyes as he drew back, seeming to try and aim before throwing the dart.
Wren flinched when the dart hit the wall, far too close to his ear for comfort. He closed his eyes, trying desperately to block out all the sounds around him, all the people laughing, encouraging this cruel game. Cain’s punishments were one thing, and at least he could defend himself in a fight, but this was different, this was just a sadistic game meant to entertain others. He was less than a person, less than a dog, just an object, a target for them to use.
“You should at least try to hit the target.” Clement told him, rising from his seat and taking the dart Cain handed him. Cain was scowling, clearly unhappy that he’d missed, even more frustrated by Clement’s comment. Wren hoped desperately his aim wouldn’t be any better, but he still braced himself for it to hurt, eyes squeezed shut so he wouldn’t have to watch.
He didn’t have to wait long, a sudden pain pierced his ribs and he cried out, jerking against his restraints. It took all his courage to open his eyes, but as soon as he looked down to see the dart sticking out of him, the pain suddenly got so much worse, the panic hitting him hard as tears filled his eyes. He frantically looked up at the men who were just sneering at him, laughing at his pain. Other guests of this fucked up party were gathering now, dragging their pets with them, and Wren wanted nothing more than to be far, far away from here.
“Fuck, let me try again.” Cain said, snatching up one of the darts. He seemed determined to do it right this time, but even Wren could tell he was horribly off point, and that thought comforted him. At least, it did until Nicholas stepped in.
“Let me help you, darling.” He said gently, taking his wrist and correcting the direction he was aiming. Wren could tell he surely wouldn’t miss this time, and the thought forced a whimper from his throat. “Try it like that, it should land perfectly this time.” He told him, pressing a kiss to Cain’s cheek before releasing his wrist. Watching them gave Wren the opposite of the feeling he got from watching Zander and Cathal, watching a pair so horrible be soft and gentle with each other almost made him angry.
Cain seemed much more confident in this throw, and the dart lodged itself in his chest and caused him to scream, eyes screwed shut in pain. Tears streamed down his face and he didn’t even try to hold them back, he knew that it would only get worse from here. The next dart came soon after that one, he cried out when it stuck in his shoulder, just adding to the pain he was already in. Each slight movement, each breath hurt, and he knew that crying would only make it worse but he just couldn’t stop.
“Pup, look at me.” Cain ordered, and he reluctantly forced himself to open his eyes, looking at Cain through tears. He was grinning, Wren knew it had to be bad if he looked so excited. “It wouldn’t be fair if we kept you to ourselves over here, you don’t mind if we let everyone else take a turn, do you?” He asked, and it took Wren a moment to realize Cain actually expected an answer. For a split second, he considered saying he would in fact mind quite a bit, but he decided he didn’t want to make anything worse for himself tonight.
“N-no suh-sir, I… I d-don’t mind…” He whimpered.
“Thought not! You’re always such a good boy, Wren.” He laughed, and the praise only served to make him feel more miserable. He looked away from Cain, trying to look anywhere else in the room just to distract himself.
He briefly glanced at Cathal, and as much pain as he was in, as terrified as he was, he couldn’t help but be thankful that it was him they were hurting rather than Cathal. He knew it was still a possibility, knew they might want them to trade places, and he decided that he wouldn’t let that happen. Zander wasn’t there, so Wren would take up the self sacrificing responsibility if he had to, he couldn’t stand to see Cathal endure the same torment he was suffering.
The momentary distraction meant he was entirely unprepared when the next dart was thrown, trying his best not to scream when it stuck in his arm. His hands clenched into fists and it was a struggle to not give up and let himself just hang by his arms.
“Oh come on pup, you screamed so nicely for them” Nicholas said, sounding disappointed in his subpar response. Nicholas stepped aside to let the next person try, a stranger this time who looked way too excited to be doing this. He wished that begging would work in this case, he would gladly beg and cry until he lost his voice if he meant he wouldn’t have to endure this any longer, but he knew that wouldn’t fly. If anything it would only encourage the sadistic guests, and he didn’t need to give them any more reason to try and hurt him.
He resigned himself to this fate for the night, and just prayed that he’d make it out alive. He wasn’t sure if a dart could kill him, but he still wanted to avoid anything that sharp near his heart or his eyes. He didn’t want to be forced to do this, but he preferred it over having to watch Cathal or even Zander used as a target. He saw them hurt more than enough, he was more than happy to bear that burden for once. He just hoped they decided to keep him as their target.
The whole night had been anxiety inducing, but when wasn’t it when Cain was involved? Cathal tried to be good, tried to keep his eyes on the floor to avoid watching what they were doing to Wren- each scream, each round of laughter made him sick just to hear. He rarely even glanced up, and when he did he tried to keep his eyes on Nicholas.
He wasn’t sure how dangerous he was, and he didn’t want to find out, but he felt the need to make sure he stayed away from him, make sure his attention was directed anywhere but at himself. His stomach sank when he glanced up once to see the man looking directly at him, grey eyes piercing into him and causing him to freeze up where he sat, just praying he wouldn’t come near him, but he should’ve known he wouldn’t get that lucky.
Cathal had to resist the urge to lean away when Nicholas knelt down in front of him. He didn’t want to deal with another stranger, first Cain, then Vanessa, he always got hurt and he didn’t know what this one would do to him but he didn’t want to find out either. Clement gave him a look though, as if silently reminding him to obey, and he knew better than to do otherwise.
“Tell me, how much did you pay for this one?” Nicholas asked Clement, though he grabbed Cathal’s face as he spoke, one leather gloved hand tilting his head to the side as he spoke, as if examining him. Cathal tried to follow his movements, tried to be as well behaved as he possibly could be.
“Nothing at all, I picked him up myself.” He told him, and Nicholas nodded.
“I should’ve known, he doesn’t exactly look like he’d sell for much anyway.” He said, leaning in to get a better look at his eyes. “Well- maybe for these pretty eyes, honestly I’ve seen a lot of dogs but I haven’t come across one like this yet… eyes like these can make up for his less… desirable features, lets say.” He smirked, stroking his thumb over the scars decorating his jaw.
“Oh, those?” Clement said, disdain clear in his voice. “He wasn’t like that when I found him, stupid thing just destroyed himself when he ran away.” Nicholas laughed, for the first time looking to Cathal and actually addressing him.
“You really are a stupid puppy, hm?” He said, the words enough to bring tears to Cathal’s eyes, face heating up with shame.
“I-I… I’m suh-sorry…” He whimpered, he didn’t even know what he was apologizing for, he just prayed it would be enough to satisfy the men.
“You’re sorry?” Nicholas laughed. “Oh, he’s not very smart but he’s certainly adorable.” He told Clement.
“Isn’t he? I think that’s the only reason I keep him around, really. Not much use aside from being a fucking lapdog.” He sneered, and Cathal knew no matter how much he hoped for it, Clement had no intention of keeping him safe from this man. “He’s always been more of a decoration than a person anyways.”
He took a quick, shuddering breath, and Nicholas looked back at him, almost delighted to see his lip trembling, tears rolling down his face.
“Does it normally do this when you talk about it?” He asked, his grip on his chin still tight, forcing him to face them even when he wanted nothing more than to hide his face away.
“Yes, but honestly he does it constantly.” he said, rolling his eyes. “Frankly, he never seems to fucking stop. It’s pathetic.” He said, giving Cathal a disapproving look that made him want to run away and hide.
“Hmm, you must have quite a bit of patience. I would never tolerate such a pathetic dog, not unless he had any other uses.” Nicholas said, finally letting go of his chin and getting to his feet.
“Doubt he does, the stupid fucker can’t even read.” Cain said almost casually while he focused his attention on Wren, not even noticing how Cathal shrunk back at his words, wishing he could’ve begged him not to tell Nicholas about that.
“He can’t even read?” Nicholas almost laughed, looking to Clement. “That’s impressive, how did you even manage that?” He asked, looking far too interested in this fact.
“I didn’t even have to do anything, the poor stupid thing forgot all on his own.” He motioned for Cathal to come closer to him, and he was quick to obey, sitting at his feet and obediently letting him run a hand through his hair, biting hard on his lower lip to contain his cries. He didn’t want to risk punishment if his sobbing interrupted the men, he just wanted to be good, to get out of this without being hurt just this once.
“It’s only a pet, it’s not as if it really needs to read.” Nicholas said. “I’m sure it’s for the best he forgot.”
“It really is, I’m sure he’d just end up hurting himself if he tried too hard.” He said, and suddenly his hand tangled in his hair, yanking hard and startling a cry out of Cathal. “Now, if only he’d forget about Cain’s stupid mutt, he just can’t seem to stop thinking about him…”
“Oh, he’s bothering you too?” Nicholas asked, and Cathal couldn’t help but wonder what Zander could’ve possibly done to warrant the man’s irritation.
“He’s absolutely infuriating.” He sighed, looking to Cain, who was busy removing darts from a trembling, crying Wren. Cathal tried to keep his eyes down, tried not to look at the boy who was still bleeding after being used as a target. “Honestly Cain, you need to get better control of your fucking animals.”
“Excuse me?” Cain asked, plucking at dart from Wren’s arm, causing the boy to whimper in pain. “Animals? No, Wren is a fucking delight, you mean animal.” He snickered.
“Oh I’m so sorry.” Clement said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “I forgot, you have at least one decent pet. He hasn’t made nearly the impression that fucking beast has, he’s so much easier to forget.”
“Aw, you hear that Wren?” Cain said teasingly, removing a dart that had hit him near the shoulder. “You’re forgettable. At least that’s better than being a fucking annoyance, huh?” He said, and Wren probably couldn’t have responded even if he wanted to.
“Love, can you bring me one of those?” Nicholas asked, and Cain seemed to brighten at the pet name, Wren all but forgotten as he came back over to him, handing him one of the darts. Wren’s blood was still covering the point, it made Cathal sick to see it. “Could I borrow your puppy, Clement?” He asked, and Cathal’s blood ran cold.
He knew better than to beg, he knew better than to even hope for Clement to say no, but it still hurt when he told Nicholas to go ahead, how he seemed almost amused at whatever he had planned. Nicholas ordered him to get to his feet, and once Clement removed his hand from his head he did so, albeit slowly, shaking as he stood.
“So sorry for excluding you from all the fun.” Nicholas told him, sparing a brief glance at Wren, before holding out the dart to him. “How about you give it a try?” He said, and his smile made it clear that he really didn’t have a choice.
“Y-you- you want me to th-throw this… a-at him…?” He asked softly, looking between the dart and Wren. He knew he should’ve taken it but he couldn’t seem to find it in himself to do it, couldn’t move his hands to accept the object.
“I’m ordering you to throw it at him.” He said, and when Cathal still didn’t move to take it, he simply grabbed his hand, placing it in his hand for him.
“Go ahead darling, surely even you can manage to throw a dart.” Clement told him. He reluctantly turned to face Wren, but he just knew he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t even bring himself to properly hold the dart, or even lift his arm.
“N-no- no no no p-please, I can’t…” He whimpered, trying to take a step back, but Nicholas placing a hand on his back stopped him, caused him to freeze up immediately, words still spilling from his mouth. “No no no no, I-I can’t- can’t h-hurt him, please I’ll do any-anything-”
“Good, then you’ll do exactly what I’m telling you to.” Nicholas interrupted. “Go on and throw it, you just have to hit him once.”
He finally looked directly at Wren, something he’d been trying so hard to avoid. His shirt was stained with blood in multiple places, blood was running down his arms and the sight nearly made Cathal lightheaded. Still, despite all the blood, despite the pain he was so clearly in, he smiled weakly at Cathal.
“H-hey, it’s okay, I’ll be fine… Just throw it, okay?” He said, and Cathal slowly shook his head, still unable to bring himself to do it. “You can do it, i-it’s only once, go ahead…” He encouraged him, and Cain laughed.
“That’s cute! The pup is trying so hard for you, puppy, just do it already.” He told him, and Cathal finally, hesitantly raised a shaking hand.
Even if he was throwing it at a real target, he didn’t have much confidence. He’d never done this before, certainly didn’t think he’d be any good at it, and all he could really hope was that it wouldn’t hurt Wren too much, not even thinking to aim when he drew back, finally throwing the dart at him.
Wren flinched, already a habit from the night’s events, but the dart didn’t hit him, instead getting stuck in the wall close to his arm, too close for comfort really. They both sighed in relief once they realized he hadn’t been hit, Wren thankful to escape pain and Cathal thankful to avoid hurting him. The relief was short lived though, Cain once again speaking up just to mock him.
“Damn, you can’t even throw a fucking dart right?” He snickered. “I know you’re stupid but fuck!”
“I’m just impressed you even put up with keeping such a stupid dog around.” Nicholas said, attention finally off Cathal as he spoke to Clement. “He must be so much trouble to deal with.”
“He’s more difficult than he’s worth, that’s for sure, but at least he’s cute.” Clement laughed. Nicholas smiled, affectionately slipping an arm around Cain’s shoulders as he spoke.
“Well, I suppose a cute enough puppy would be worth all that.” He said. Cathal hoped they were done with him, hoped he could finally retreat back to Clement, but Nicholas glanced at him. “Oh, puppy, you know you’ll have to try again, right?” Cathal’s eyes widened, his heart sinking immediately. He slowly shook his head, wishing so badly he could get out of this.
“No-no, no please I-I threw i-it like you said I ca-can’t- can’t do it again…” He whimpered. “I don’t-don’t want to h-hurt him…”
“It’s really cute that you think we even care what you want.” Clement sneered. “Nicholas gave you an order, I think it’s in your best interest you follow it.”
“If you had hit him the first time this wouldn’t be a problem.” Nicholas sighed, leaving Cain to hand Cathal a second dart. “Just do it right this time, understand?” He told him, speaking sternly. Cathal whimpered as he took it, hesitantly turning to face Wren again.
He wasn’t even sure he could do this a second time, he felt sick after the first miss, and his hand was shaking so much as he attempted to to aim away from Wren. He hoped that would work out, hoped he would be so far off the mark they’d give up, getting ready to draw back and throw it. Before he could though, he was suddenly grabbed, a leather clad hand gripping his wrist tightly.
“I suppose we can’t really expect you to be smart enough to aim correctly.” Nicholas smiled at him, a sadistic grin that made him sick. “Let me help you, puppy.” He pulled his hand in the direction he wanted, assisting him the same way he had for Cain, forcing him to aim directly at him. He forced himself to hold back his tears but it was a struggle, and when he tried to pull his arm back Nicholas just tightened his grip. “Just like that, you should hit him just fine now.” He said once he was satisfied, releasing his wrist and stepping away.
Cathal knew that if he missed he’d just have to do it again, knew that this would continue until they were finally satisfied. He felt guilty for almost hoping he’d do it right this time, if only to avoid having to try again. He drew back, throwing the dart in the same direction Nicholas had positioned him, and his stomach turned when Wren cried out, a strained scream through clenched teeth when the dart embedded itself deep in his left shoulder. Judging by the way their owners were laughing, he must’ve done “good”, and he felt dizzy, finally falling to his knees.
He couldn’t hold himself together any longer, not that he’d been doing particularly well at that before. Tears freely ran down his face and his shoulders shook as he sobbed, hugging himself tightly. He felt sick to his stomach, he could hardly breathe, and though he felt just as pathetic as they kept saying, he couldn’t stop.
“You’re fucking crying again?” Cain laughed. “It’s not like you hit anything important, calm down.”
“He is kind of cute when he cries though, isn’t he?” Nicholas smiled at Clement. “As pathetic as it is, it’s kind of growing on me.” He laughed.
“Well I think it’s fucking annoying.” Cain said, going to Wren and roughly yanking out the dart Cathal had just thrown, causing Wren to let out a choked sob. “Honestly, it’s not like you made him hit his fucking boyfriend.” He sneered.
“Cain-” Clement started, warning, and Cain rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, yeah, I know, calm down.” He told him, approaching Cathal. “I’m just saying, he shouldn’t feel all that bad, it’s not like it even really hurts!” As he said this, he suddenly plunged the sharp point into Cathal’s arm. He screamed, startled by the sudden stabbing pain, and though he instinctively jerked away from Cain it didn’t change the fact there was a dart in his arm, and it hurt. He reached up to remove it, but Cain was quick to smack his hand away.
“You might want to leave that there, keep you from losing more blood. I’m sure Wren over there is feeling pretty dizzy about now.” He snickered, and Cathal sobbed as he lowered his hand, unable to escape the sharp pain.
He didn’t even try to control his crying, he couldn’t even if he’d wanted to. He was already wracked with guilt from being forced to hurt Wren- god, he didn’t want to hurt anybody. He didn’t want to be the reason someone got hurt, he didn’t want to be responsible for that pain, and no matter what Wren had said, it didn’t change the fact that he had hurt him. His own physical pain mixed with that guilt, he desperately wished that he was home, that he was anywhere but there, he was so tired of all of this.
He jumped when an arm circled around his shoulders, still careful to avoid disturbing the dart stuck in him. Clement knelt down beside him, pulled him close and allowed him to hide his face in his chest.
“I-I’m suh-sorry, I’m s-sorry, I can-can’t stop crying…” He choked out in between sobs, and Clement gently rubbed his back.
“I know darling, I know…” He said softly. “If you weren’t so pathetic this wouldn’t have had to happen, you know that, right?” He said, and Cathal nodded quickly, hoping that compliance would earn him more comfort. Clement pressed a kiss to the top of his head, and he tried to focus on that feeling, tried to focus on that small bit of compassion rather than the pain he was in.
He had hurt Wren, and he felt so awful about it. Cain had stabbed him, and he was in so much pain, he was bleeding and he knew it would eventually get worse, but Clement was there, Clement was always there to comfort him, even when he’d been bad, even now when he was just a useless, crying pet.
He reminded himself that he was lucky to have Clement there, to hold him, to comfort him. After all, if he wasn’t, then nobody else would, nobody else was allowed to, and all he wanted right now was just a little bit of kindness. He was lucky Clement was there to offer that. Or at least, that’s what he told himself.
Violent delights (Chapter four)
Summary: First Order!Poe x reader series (ongoing). Chapters 1-3 available here. Taglist open.
Author’s note: Chapter 3 was smutty. Have we all recovered? This is significantly less smutty, but stick around. You have my assurance that things will heat up again in future chapters. Also, if you’ve ever wondered what the Morning After the Night Before with FO!Poe might be like? You’re about to find out. As ever, reblogs appreciated, comments and asks very welcome. I LOVE to hear what you think (what is the point without you?)!
Warnings: (18+ only) restraint / imprisonment (canon-typical), language, sexual references, choking (con and non-con), torture references, drugging references, bondage references. Um, being stepped on (idk). Let me know if I missed any.
Taglist: @aussiefangirlwolfy @localashe @fictionalcharactersownme @a-somehow-functioning-dumbass @itsamedeemoney (let me know if I missed you or you’d like to be added). @tintinwrites I’m taking the liberty of tagging you - hope that’s ok?
The Commander lures you from your slumber with the soft press of a kiss on your mouth, the seductive skim of his tongue along your bottom lip. His scent ensnares you; that undertone of caustic, First Order soap masked by his potent, rousing musk. Stirring, you hum as -impossibly gentle- he ghosts his lips along your cheek, your jaw, mouths at your pulse point. “Time to go, sweetheart.” he coaxes, his balmy breath trailing to the shell of your ear. And then you can practically hear the shark smile, the glisten of teeth as he whispers: “Hux is waiting for you.” His words are soft-spoken, but with the precision of his threat they become as intrusive as an alarm resounding in your head.
It is quite the wake-up call.
You inhale sharply, instantly alert, but before you can react he yanks your hands, your bound hands, wresting you violently from the bed. He jolts you forwards and your knees collide harshly with the hard floor, your continuing momentum throwing you down on to your elbows. You are immobile for a moment, hissing-in air, until the jarring pain in your joints abates. And then, in an instant, he is looming over you, pressing his polished, heavy-tread boot down on to the side of your face.
It is quite the Morning After.
“G’ morning to you too, darling,” you simmer as your face crushes against the cold, unyielding floor, your ass sticking up into the air.
“Are you going to behave yourself?” he asks, curtly, as his boot pushes down more insistently, forcing your jaw slack, a trail of drool beginning to course down on to the cool tiles. You treat it as a temporary moment of respite, a chance to haul in a deep, centering breath. To observe that he’s redressed you in your sullied Resistance clothes, boots and all. You brace against the stun-cuffs at your wrists, against his foot; testing your restraints, testing him. You find no hint of weakness. “Are you?” he snarls.
You make a reluctant noise of compliance, the mention of Hux still causing blood to pulse rhythmically in your ears like a muted siren.
“Good. Get up.” he orders, unpinning you, and you clamber to your feet, scouring the commander’s face for any whisper of feeling; any hint at all of internal conflict which might indicate he would think twice before handing you over. You draw a blank. The siren in your head does not relent.
“I’m getting the hint that you don’t want me to stay for breakfast, Dameron. How about you call me a TIE and I’ll be on my way?”
That fucking crescent smile. A bat of his eyes. “Come on, rebel. What did you expect?”
He’s right. Surely you knew it would come to this? And yet you still srutinize his overcast, sunless eyes as if he might be your lighthouse. As if he might guide you through the rolling sea of panic. As if his eyes -alight with that gunmetal glint- could call you home across unforgiving seas. But his expression meets you and it’s bleak; detached. He’s not your light. Once again he’s the dark side of the storm that will spell your desolation. Your stomach flips as if you are being subsumed by a crashing wave.
He’s in control. You submitted. You remember submitting vividly. Your core clenches around that memory.
“You didn’t think I would keep you safe much longer, did you?” he questions.
“Safe?” you scoff.
“Have I hurt you?” he asks pithily, managing to sound affronted.
Where do you begin? Drugged, slapped, fucked, cut. “You know you-”
He interrupts, rephrasing his question, eyes fervid. “Have I hurt you in ways you didn’t like?”
No. No, you admit. Not yet.
But the General will.
Somewhere through the haze of panic, the trauma of being torn so harshly from sleep, the memories of the night before which cavort in and out of your head, your self-preservation instincts finally begin to kick-in. You cling to this newfound lifeline, cycling through your options, systematically.
Seduce, bargain, blackmail, beg, fight. And he must sense that you land on “fight” as your body coils itself like a snake preparing to strike.
He raises a finger.
“Ah-ah.” he warns, imperiously. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Don’t you want to find out where Hux is keeping Barret? Aren’t you burning to know?”
A final option. Comply.
Bile rises up in your throat. Barret. You avert your eyes from the commander as your face burns in an admission of guilt. You haven’t thought about Barret once. You were too preoccupied getting the fuck of your life from the First Order commander who drugged him. Who drugged you. Your breath seethes in and out of you, but -in truth- you’re only angry at yourself.
“He might be a little worse for wear,” Dameron continues, unmoved, “you know, from the torture... but he’s alive, for now. And I hear he’s really worried about you.” His tone is purposely flippant, his wolf eyes hooded, goading.
You feel sick. Ashamed. But you jut your chin at him, as defiant as possible in the face of resignation. “Take me to Hux. I’m not going to beg.”
The commander leers fiendishly, knowingly, knives hidden in his smile. “You only beg for my cock then? Not for your friends’ lives?”
There’s nothing but truth in his razor-sharp words, and he can see that they cut you. You could muster something in retort, you could attempt to fight or rage, but it would be futile; it wouldn’t change how much of a monster you apparently are, would it? Maybe pain, a slow end, is as much as you deserve.
“Don’t get me wrong, sweetheart,” he sings, his buoyant tone contrary to everything you are feeling. “I’m all for the begging. I like my needy little toy.” The pad of his thumb rises to your lips, brushing each in turn. Predictably, even this wretched morsel of touch evokes a dark desire in you. How is he so capable of overriding all your better instincts? Flooding you with it.
Yes, you could say something, try and retort, but instead you just look at him, dragging your eyes over his lips, his hair, his uniform, his body, his crotch. Until his nostrils flare. Until he begins to squirm under your intense study. Until -you imagine- the blood pulses to his length. You swear, somehow, that you can almost feel the throb of lust in his body.
And then, you give him a tight-lipped, knowing smile. A self-satisfied quirk of your eyebrow. “I’m the needy one?”
Neither of you are locked in this tryst alone. Both dragged down by it. Perhaps... perhaps you shouldn’t castigate him for this. Perhaps he simply stirred the beast which had been in you all along. That’s it. You could hardly blame him for tipping you into darkness -could you- if you had already come so close to the edge by your own volition?
A long breath seethes out of him, and he wrings those damn leather gloves. His eyes darken. “Get to the refresher, now, scum.” he says coolly, no doubt reasserting his authority. You side-eye him, huff a breath out. It’s not as though you could forget that you’re presently at his mercy. If he has any.
So, you oblige. You let him lean you up against the counter, hands positioning your hips. You let him spread your thighs astride him so he can nestle there. Your bound hands pinned uselessly between your warm bodies. You let his hand still your head as he washes your face with a damp cloth, his jaw set. You let him gently fix your hair. You feel awash with unease. Despite this closeness his touch feels... ceremonial. Like he’s preparing you for a ritual slaughter; preening you as a pretty prize for the General. You suppose he enjoys the power play of being the one to get you ready. After all, why would he allow you even a scrap of control? He decided when you woke, how you woke. He’s decided everything which has happened since. It’s meant to be destablising, you understand. Well, it’s working. You feel a distinct lack of stablity.
You grimace as, next, he coats a toothbrush with paste and holds it out to your lips. You look at him questioningly, mildly humiliated. And then he’s saying “open”, voice laced with honey, looking right at you from beneath his lashes, his eyes like tractor beams. You despise yourself for the fact it turns you on as he controls your jaw with his hand in order to work the toothbrush over your pearly teeth. Seriously? Even this? He commands you “spit”. He says something about if you had more time he would make you open your pretty mouth and have you swallow instead.
Then, he caresses you with a single, gloved finger. He runs it deliberately along your jaw, his touch like a fuse line running along your skin, possessing the power to combust you. And with him here, between your thighs like this, all you can think about is last night. Him writhing on you, hot and animal. You remember how you opened eagerly for him and welcomed him in, his length gliding into you thick and urgent. All you can think about is how you want him again. You become lost in your body, in the echo of his brutal thrusts.
“Oh. One more thing.” his teeth flash white as he takes his aftershave in one hand, clasping your bound limbs in the other. He spritzes his scent on to each of your pulse points in turn. So that you smell like him. Then, his hand travels up your neck, and he squeezes. Lightly. Ardently. His thumb traverses circles on the fading bite marks he trailled down to your collarbone. He hums in satisfaction as you mewl for him, unconsciously offering your throat to him like dazed prey. He swallows thickly, settling his firm gaze on you. He shakes you, to be sure you listen. “When he touches you like this, don’t forget who you belong to.”
You avert your eyes from him, from your captor. Your lover. The gesture, his words, trailing a slow, liquid heat all the way down to your core.
“So needy, sweetling,” he confirms, with relish, slapping you lightly on the cheek with his open palm.
Seduce, bargain, blackmail, seduce, beg, fight, comply, seduce. You cycle through your options again.
He removes himself from the junction of your thighs, seemingly unaffected. It leaves you lacking. He turns, somehow composed, and sweeps towards the main room, where you intuitively know you’re expected to follow. “Ready to meet the General?” he throws casually back to you.
A final option. Panic.
You stall there momentarily, still reeling from him, from everything. But as you gather yourself you notice the shaving blade, glinting on the counter; your true lighthouse in the storm.
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” you respond, surreptitiously pocketing the blade and catching-up to him.
He gives you a sly once-over. “Not afraid to meet Hux?”
You shrug, almost light-heartedly, but your words drip with vitriol. “From one First Order dick to another.”
You are shocked as his face splits into a fleeting, perfect smile. It lingers in his eyes even as he clips a chain to your stun cuffs, so that he might easily lead you. Then he gives it a tug -his eyes finally lit, dancing- as if he’s thinking about how else he might make use of you all bound like this. “You know, if you weren’t scum I feel like we could be good together, baby.”
Absurd, isn’t it? He’s about to march you off toward probable death. But suddenly you’re smiling back. “Maybe if you gave up the Order.” you look him up and down, eyes roving aprovingly over his tamed curls, across those pressed lapels at the expanse of his chest, down to those polished, unforgiving boots.
“Let me guess. You want me to keep the uniform.”
He bites his lip, teeth snagging on the plump flesh, and you wonder if you might jump him then and there. Instead, you share an evanescent moment of affinity, an intimation of your weakness for one another. A moment where you both perhaps wonder, what if? What if?
Then, he wrests you from the room, marching you down the long, sparse corridor of the First Order ship. He leads you along by the chain and you follow almost gladly in his wake, the wake of his storm. As you follow, you are positively enthralled by his raven curls, his measured, majestic stride in motion. You recall the first time you saw him stalk down that street, dark and devastating, weaving almost gleefully through the choas and bloodshed. Arresting. Formidable. For some inexplicable reason the memory warms you, perverse as that is. Look at how far you’ve come.
As he leads you, you hardly register the contemptuous looks of the others you pass, as they realise precisely who and what you are. What you do notice is the way the crowd part for him, the reverant fear and respect he inspires. And that makes you glow with the most peculiar pride. He -this powerful man- had craved you, caved for you, taken you, said you belong to him. Not only that, but he had welcomed your imperfect darkness, tasted it, caressed it, drank from it. It disturbs you to think you have never felt more seen.
It already feels too soon, when your journey is complete. If only you had more time. You arrive at a metal door, and the commander swiftly dismisses the Stormtroopers standing guard. They turn on their heels and when the corridor is clear and quiet, he stands outside with you for a moment, toe-to-toe, his hands tugging yours taut towards him. If an onlooker didn’t know better, they might say you were exchanging vows, the scene practically matrimonial.
He stares deeply, uncomfortably into your eyes. “So about last night, sweetling.” he starts.
No, you’re not letting him do that. Not now. “No,” you protest firmly.
The commander looks at you curiously. Amused. “Oh, so you do have some limits, after all?”
“Take the cuffs off me.” Your request is plain, his compliance improbable, but you can’t help blurt it out as you face the reality of meeting the General. The General you know wants you dead. Or worse.
“Honey...” He leans in close to you, excrutiatingly close, diverting his lips to the shell of your ear. “I’ll take the cuffs off you when you’ve been good.” He lingers there, reaching one hand down into your pocket, reclaiming his shaving blade. “And you’ve been very, very bad.” You practically whimper, from his proximity, from the rasp of his hot breath on your cheek, from the fact you are now all alone without any lifeline at all. He leans back from you slightly, rocking his weight on to his heels and smoothly concealing the blade in his own breast pocket. You wish you could wipe that maddening smirk off his face.
“Hey, come on.” he says soothingly, reaching out to stroke your cheek. For the first time, probably long overdue, you flinch away from his touch. “Listen. Whatever happens next, just go with it. It might even be fun.” He gives you a surreal wink, the briefest flash of white teeth. Then, he presses a sudden, crushing, closed-lips kiss on to your mouth, just before the door slides open. It is almost as if he has wed you in the archway of a First Order corridor, claimed your allegience. But you remember with clarity that he’s made you no promises. No vows.
You turn, to see an open, bare, and expansive room, Hux stood in the centre, facing away from you. Arms clasped behind his back.
You are spiralling, into an abyss. Into a place that’s hopeless, and the only thing you find to cling on to is this thrum in your veins, this oscillating darkness. You let it embrace you. Baptise you. Calm you. A deep, centering force. It allows you to draw just enough power to smooth your face, dull your panic. To stand taller as if a taut rope is coiled like a corset at your stomach. You submit -you’re getting so good at that- and you feel the darkness bind you and hitch you up in its beatific bondage.
Bolstered, you suddenly you have the nerve to venture into the space, your voice surprisingly loud, impassive, even before Hux has turned to you.
You want to be majestic. Fearless. Ruthless. Like him. You will be.
“How long have you been standing like that for effect, Hugs? Ten minutes, twenty minutes? Did you try out a few different poses?”
He turns, his face already scrunched-up in distaste as if he’s sucked on bitter fruit. He’s already so unlike Dameron, you realise. In fact, you’re not sure how he dare call himself superior to your sweet, forbidden fruit, at all. Out of the corner of your eye, you even catch Dameron looking at him with disdain.
Nevertheless, Hux stalks towards you as if he owns the room. In your periphery, you see the commander circle to the side of you; to get a better view of the proceedings, you suppose. Hux attempts to tower over you, looks down his nose at you. This close, he smells astringent. Still that caustic, First Order soap, but without any of the warming, tantalizing musk. He cycles through all the classic intimidation tatics. But it’s not working, you realise. You’re not scared of him. You see through him. He’s lost. Desperate too; to prove himself.
As soon as the General sucks in a breath to speak you get in there first. “I’m ready to roll my eyes, so let me know as soon as you’ve finally landed on a comeback.” you snark.
He exhales slowly, already looking mildly perturbed.
“This is one of the problems with the Resistance.” he says to no-one in particular, beginning to circle you, his hands clasped behind his back. His beady eyes fix on you from beneath the brim of his hat.
“Oh, Hugs. The circling. Do they teach this in villain school? It’s making me dizzy.”
Hux only smiles thinly, tiredly. “Commander Dameron, perhaps you’d like to formally introduce our guest to her stun cuffs?” Hux’s eyes tic towards the commander, who -you think- finds himself having to quickly scrub all trace of amusement from his face.
He meets your eyes, just for an instant. “Clicker’s broken, General.”
“What do you mean the clicker’s broken?” Hux spits, voice already trembling with rage. Whether his rage is for you, or for Dameron, you’re not quite sure.
“Clicker’s broken. Very unfortunate.” He purses his full lips, his handsome face pinched into business mode.
Hux seethes, his hand flailing out towards your throat. You eyeball Dameron as he chokes you, and you swear you see his tongue flick out over his lips. But Hux’s grip is crushing, actually suffocating. The tightness in your chest becomes like fire. You begin to see spots.
“With respect, General,” Dameron interjects, “you might want to skip ahead to the next part?”
Hux sneers, as if he doesn’t very much appreciate the commander telling him what to do. Still, he drops you, and you collapse to your knees, coughing and heaving the air back into your lungs, spluttering on the floor at the General’s feet, as if prostrating yourself for forgiveness. Oh, now you are pissed off. You don’t kneel for this man. This whiny, cruel, snivelling wretch. How dare he touch you. As your anger intensifies, you feel that dark force vibrating under your skin once again. You summon more of it. Gather it deep inside until you think you can even hear the drone of it in your blood, in the marrow of your bones.
Hux is not the most powerful one in the room. Not by far. Hux should be afraid of you.
You recover, implausibly quickly. You stand. You bring yourself face-to-face with the General. You brace yourself for whatever he is about to subject you to next, at Dameron’s behest. But there’s no way you could see what Hux says next coming.
“Whilst it is more than apparent that you have some residual... insolence to be drilled out of you,“ he starts to address you, uncomfortably, “be assured we can take care of that. We can teach you the proper way to behave, if you’re willing to learn, to be disciplined. All the same, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the First Order, Commander.”
What in the.... All you can do is look on. As if you are floating above your own body.
“Commander Dameron tells me we have a new recruit. That you were swift to betray your band of rebels,” Hux continues. “So, tell me. Are you ready to fall to your knees and renounce the Resistance?”
You had imagined the most fantastical tortures and mindfucks that the commander might concoct for you, but, well-played Dameron; you certainly didn’t see that coming.
It looks very much like you need a new list of options.
“So,” the general prods, “will you pledge your allegience?”
Before you answer, you bite your lips to stifle a laugh of disbelief. But really, it’s quite simple. You know exactly what to do.
You turn towards the commander.
He looks at you, his eyes practically glowing, and then in unison you both tilt your heads towards Hux, enjoying his obvious confusion as his eyes flit between you.
You can no longer hold back your own resplendent shark smile as you hold you hand out to your commander. “Give me the blade, darling?”
Maybe this would be fun, after all.
Violent, yes; but delightful.
Dose of reality
Post 7x09. Coulson bot needed a pep talk after the events of the time loop and who better to deliver one.
He may not be projecting emotions like a human but Melinda knew something was off.
Daisy had all but thrown herself at each of them. They'd all been killed. Coulson and Daisy had watched it happen over and over again. Enoch broke the cycle. It was a lot to absorb at one time. She couldn't imagine having to experience it first-hand. So she watched Daisy and Coulson carefully. Throughout the explanation, Daisy talked while Coulson sulked. His features were pinched. Clearly, he was bothered by the whole thing but the way he was hugging the wall sent out warning bells for everyone to back off.
Going quiet had been an indication of Phil's stress for as long as she'd known him. She supposed the LMD was no exception. Isolating himself wouldn't solve anything. The only way to deal with this would be to confront him head on. When she spied him heading away from everyone, she made her move. If she went around the lab she could cut him off. It was the best opening yet. She went quickly and made it to the next set of doors just before he did.
Upon seeing her, he halted. By the deep frown on his face she knew he was displeased. Every interaction before this point had been the complete opposite. Any other time he'd been desperate for even a shared glance between them. Now was more like a great disappointment at the sight of her. It was all the confirmation she needed.
When it became clear that he wasn't going to be making any attempts at conversation, she began her own. "Wanna tell me what's going on with you?"
His jaw pulsed. "Not particularly," he answered stubbornly.
"I can't help if I don't know," she said, fastening him with a withering stare. She could wait all night if she had to.
"You died. Seven times I watched your bones crack under Enoch's hands and I was powerless to stop it. And now he's gone for good so. I don't know, May. I don't know what to say, what to feel, what to do....None of it was real." He shrugged, feigning disinterest. "Like everything else around here so..." Abruptly he cut himself off like he meant to flee.
She remembered their time inside the lighthouse. When he'd come clean about how he'd been feeling. "I would turn to you," he'd said.
It was jarring to witness one of their own die. She couldn't give him all that he wanted, but she could be here for him. "But it was real to you."
"You should be with the rest of them." He gestured behind him, dismissing her openness.
"And you shouldn't?" She asked curiously, wondering what he was trying to say.
"How could I? They're celebrating being alive." A dull haze had settled over his eyes.
"You helped make that happen," she reminded him.
"What could I do? Drink a beer that I don't need? Thirst...breathing...feelings...It's all programmed into me." He shrugged.
That was true and had been ever since the moment he'd been turned on. So why was this an issue all of the sudden? "Where is this really coming from?"
His jaw set in a stubborn line as he hesitated to give her an answer. "The same thing that happened in that time storm will happen when all of this mess is over. Time will pass as it normally should. Years will go by and each of you will grow old, but I'll stay the same. You'll die and I'll still be here. What then?"
It was an answer that she didn't have. And frankly she couldn't say with confidence that any of them would make it back to their correct time. "Let's just make it through the next hour before thinking about the future."
"There's always another crisis. Another mission. I'm not supposed to be here. This isn't real. I don't want to be like this anymore." He spoke rapidly.
The words sounded too familiar. Like he was giving up just as Phil had in the beginning of the end. Feeling her own anger rise up, she shook her head. "You don't quit. Not now."
"Why not? As I recall you've been pretty hellbent on me not being around." He said, tone cold as ice.
She blinked, feeling like he'd delivered a punch to her gut. This was a rare habit of his. Lashing out when he didn't know how to handle a situation. Like he had when he thought she was hydra and again when she criticized him for acting suicidal. He would bottle up his feelings for so long until they all came out explosively. Always like a hard rain full of knives. She'd learned long ago not to take it personal. Now was not the time for a fight, so she brushed off his insinuation. "We need your help," she challenged.
"No, you don't." He shook his head. It was clear that he'd already made his choice.
"We do. Who better to help us with Shield's history against the chronicoms?" Was he just going to leave them hanging when that was his entire purpose in the first place?
He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know....the zephyr," he said flippantly.
"This isn't the time for jokes."
"It's the truth. I'm nothing more than a glorified computer. I existed inside a TV for over a year," he tossed back.
"This is a team," she said slowly. "We-"
"You're right. But I'm not a part of it."
All he was doing was feeling sorry for himself. She wasn't going to entertain this. "We rely on you. All of us," she emphasized. If he disappeared again on Daisy. All of this had already been hard enough on her. They just experienced something together that no one else could ever truly understand. "What about Daisy?"
"You're not listening to me. Phil Coulson is a part of this team. But that's not me," he stated firmly.
Melinda was taken aback by the harsh nature of his tone. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I mean...it's time to stop pretending that this is normal." Hesitating, he took a deep breath. "You know I used to catch myself wondering what happened between you two in Tahiti. For me that time is nothing but a blank."
She looked at him sharply. Tahiti. And Phil. She heard her own voice sleep-laced and content ask, "What are you doing?" "I like watching you sleep," Phil had said back. They had both chuckled and went back to drinking their wine and simply being together. The reminder brought a heavy ache to her chest.
"But then I finally realized that's yours and his. I have no part in that," he told her.
She opened her mouth, but no words came out. She found that she couldn't argue. The memories of Tahiti were hers alone. She didn't think she would ever be comfortable sharing with him.
"I'm not him," he said, clearly resigned to that fact. "My last memory. Real memory where I had emotions not fed by ones and zeros by Simmons was when Aida had you. I can still feel the desperation he had to find you. And so I'm sure you feel the same way about him."
Her jaw pulsed. "There's nowhere for me to find him. He's dead," she snapped. She'd accepted that. Phil was gone and she wouldn't try to replace him with anything. Not with Sarge and not with an LMD.
"And I'm here, but I'll always be second to him in your eyes. You want me around, but need to keep me at arm's length and that's worse than any death sentence." His voice cracked. "I will never blame you for that. How could I?" He looked down, blinking away watery eyes. "Did he tell you how it felt to kiss your LMD? How the knowledge that she wasn't real ate away at him? How devastated he was?"
Phil had told her some of it. One night, as they shared the leftover Haig, it came out.
"Come on. It can't be that bad." She smiled, reclining back on her chair. She watched him. He'd grown solemn.
"I kissed her," he finally said.
Many things had floated through her mind at the time, but never that. She always just assumed her LMD had tried to murder him like he'd said.
"I had no indication that she wasn't you. No hint. All the while Aida and Radcliffe had you drugged and messed with. You could've been....dead and I would've had no idea. I'm so sorry Melinda." His eyes were teary as he finished.
She got up and sat on his lap. Feeling his solid form underneath hers. His hands automatically wrapped around her waist, yet he still couldn't look at her. "I don't blame you," she told him. "They messed with you just as much as they did with me."
Her hands went to his face. "Phil. Look at me." She swallowed hard. "It wasn't your fault. The past is the past. All that matters is that we're here now. Okay?"
"Okay," he quietly said in agreement.
She leaned forward and kissed him, pouring her heart into it. To show him what the real thing felt like. His hands roamed her back. Both of their bodies were warm from the drink. The heat of the night swirled around them. Shortly after, he broke away panting hard. He struggled to catch his breath. Concerned, she watched him steadily. Sometimes they got carried away and forgot. His eyes had stayed closed. All he could do was draw air into his lungs. After some time his breathing normalized. "Sorry," he said, all too apologetic.
"Don't be." She shook her head.
At first she thought she was imagining his hand in hers, but she looked down and it was there. Only it wasn't Phil, instead it was the LMDs. Warm and gentle all the same. The perfect duplicate of Phil. There was no indication that he wasn't really Phil and that was the part that killed her.
"This..." He delivered a light squeeze to her hand. "...will never be what either of us want." Only allowing them a small fraction of contact, he dropped his hold on her.
At the beginning she wanted him gone, but over time she realized she would rather have the LMD here than not at all. If he could help then who was she to deny him? But now he wanted to take himself out of the equation. "So what...you just want to give up?" She told herself she wouldn't morn him - a decoy with a simulated personality, yet here she was. Despite every instinct to hold back, a tear broke from her lashes and rolled down her cheek. It was all too much. She pushed it away hard. All of her pent up anger came out then. "No. I already went through this before. You want me to watch you die again? For what the tenth time?"
Taken aback, his mouth opened, but nothing came out.
Two could play at this game of his. She would give him what he wanted. The cold hard dose of reality that they both were facing. "This might not be what either of us wants but it's all we have. You can either sit here feeling sorry for yourself or you can do some good. Your choice."
With that, she sidestepped him and walked off.