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A Dish Of My Own

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Frozen in place, Gavin could only stare in mute horror at the bottle. Ryan's words echoed in his head, drowning all thoughts.

You killed the king. You killed the king. You killed--

Gavin straightened to meet Ryan's eyes, his own emotions deadened. He didn't hear the orders, time seeming to move far too quickly and all too slowly for his mind to keep up with. His arms were taken, pulled behind his back, a thong of leather tying them in place and preventing any attempt to move. He couldn't even think, let alone move, but that didn't stop Ryan. He turned to look over his shoulder when he felt hands on his back, pushing gently; Jack.

His eyes were unfocused, only recognizing the man due to the beard and glasses glinting in the torchlight. A hard shove against his lower back made him stumble forward, almost pitching towards the ground face first but for Jack catching him and arresting the fall, but it didn't matter. It just didn't matter.

Allowing himself to be steered without resisting, he was marched around the throne to the door leading to the servants' quarters. He noticed only dimly that the door was iron now, and there was no lever or pressure plate on the inside, and iron bars delineated even smaller cells inside. He was unceremoniously dumped on a small cot made of metal, his hands stilled tied, and the door closed behind him. There was no leaving. Not without any sort of tools, which, he noticed, he no longer had.

A small flurry of panic sent him into a fit of action, twisting and writhing on the bed to attempt to get free of the restraints, to get at least a small knife. He had never felt more naked in his life, for all the furs and clothing he wore. He just needed a weapon, anything at all, even a rock. All be succeeded in doing though was rolling off of the bed and hitting the floor hard enough to make his head reel in pain and the world to tilt around him. He lay there, facedown, and sniffling hard.

When the door closed, he was left in utter darkness. He tried to raise himself up, managing to roll onto his side, but there was nothing. The iron door was closed fast, the metal sheet too thick to let even a sliver of light in.

Hopeless, he began to cry.

---

The moon's light was slanted and the torches doused before Ray slipped out into the night, leaving a sleeping Jack in the slum that was the new servant quarters. The night curled around him protectively, a soft snowfall further aiding him by obscuring his form in the darkness. The iron door was little obstacle to Ray, picking the lock quietly with many paranoid looks over his shoulder, closing it almost the entire way, but not quite, to make sure he could get out.

He heard soft sounds coming from the furthest corner, sidling over to see Gavin on the floor, crying. “Gavin!” Ray hissed. “Gavin!”

Gavin's head only slowly turned to face Ray, his wet face shining in the tiny strip of light afforded by the crack in the door. He sniffled once before wriggling over to face the darker man. “H-hi...” He hiccuped.

“Look, I can't help you escape, but listen,” Ray reached between the bars, reaching out with a knife. “Let me cut the leather so you can move again. We can make it look like it split in your wiggling.” Gavin squirmed his way over, pressing his hands against the bars so the knife could slice the leather in two cleanly, not even nicking his skin.

Rubbing feeling back into his wrists, he sat up, cross-legged. “Why are you here? You're just going to get hurt...”

Ray let a soft laugh escape into the nippy air, his breath visible. “I'll be fine. I promise.”

Gavin pulled his legs up, cold, and wrapped his arms around them. “I killed Geoff...”

He heard a sharp intake of breath. “No! I don't believe that. Why would you ever think that?” Gavin buried his head in his arms.

“That potion... Ryan must have given him mine and it killed him. I'm terrible. I should never have been brought to Achievement City.” He sniffed again as he screwed his eyes shut tight, trying to prevent the tears that were threatening to fall, but when he felt his arm grow wet, he gave up trying.

“No, man, no, that can't be right. I trust you. You lived in your own for a damn long time, I'm sure you made a fine potion!” Ray was insistent, firm in this. “I believe in you.”

Gavin shrugged slightly. “I'm stupid...”

Ray's heart twinged painfully. He knew that feeling-- it was what he felt when he didn't speak the language Geoff had when he was saved. It was how he felt when he couldn't get things Geoff liked fast enough to thank him. It was when he found out Geoff liked roses and so, he spent his life, collecting him and piling them everywhere, just to see Geoff's smile.

“You aren't,” he said firmly. “I promise.” Gavin shook his head, but didn't respond negatively, and Ray took it was a victory hard won. “I'll be back, alright? Just sit tight, and I'll find a way to get you out, okay?”

Gavin's noncommittal shrug was the only answer he received as he stood, heading towards the door. He yawned tiredly, reaching out to the wall to steady himself in the darkness, glad for the solidity of st-- where was the moonlight!?

The panic began to well in his breast, quelled immediately when he was suddenly struck hard by a gloved fist, and he knew no more.

---

A bucket of cold water jolted Ray awake, shaking his head to try and clear it of the knockout grogginess. He just managed in making his world tip and tilt, moaning painfully and leaning back down. He was on a chair, sitting backwards and tied down tightly, he slowly realized, when he was unable to move. He was even shirtless, which, while normally comfortable, here, he felt vulnerable. There was little light, but even that was uncomfortable, so he kept his eyes closed.

“What's going on?”

In answer, he was given a sharp slap across his face, metal on a glove splitting his lip. The hand was shaken slightly to attempt to remove the sticky liquid.

“Disgusting...”

Ray spat out the globule of blood pooling in his mouth, probing the wound with his tongue cautiously. It wasn't too bad, just a nick, really, though it certainly enjoying bleeding. He craned his head as much as he could to see who the one causing this was.

Michael stood before him, casually wiping off Ray's blood and spittle from his glove. “I can't believe you got fucking spit on my glove. You better not cause the iron to rust, you prick.”

Ray sighed, letting his head rest on the wooden backing. This was not going to be good, and if Michael had anything to do with it, it was going to be vicious.

“Don't speak to him except to tell him why he's here. Just enact the punishment, and be done with it.” Ryan' spoke out from behind Ray, far out of his sight. The deep rumble in his voice made Ray shudder, his muscles tensing. Ryan chuckled, clearly having noticed. “I would advise against tightening your muscles. It hurts more that way.”

“What does? A little slap or two?” He snorted, though he was in no position to mouth off.

A loud crack echoed in the confined space, Ray jumped hard enough in shock that the chair rattled against the stone. Ray swallowed convulsively. He couldn't stop the small “oh” of comprehension, the blood running from his face to leave him in an ashen pallor.

“'Oh' is right, Ray. Don't tell me you've never been flogged before, with a mouth like yours.” Ryan's words were punctuated with a sharp snap of the whip on Ray's bare back, making him arch and hiss.

The whip was merciless, falling again, and again, until Ray's resolve failed him around the fifth strike and he screamed out in pain. Blood was dripping sluggishly from his back, pooling in the opened cuts, the marks crossing over one another. Each new stroke by necessity intersected with a previous one, and that hurt more than the whip itself, the forked tip digging in harshly before it was pulled away and applied again.

By the twentieth strike though, he was silent, head hanging limply as he simply tried to stay awake, refusing to give Ryan the satisfaction of seeing him lose consciousness. His world was a blur of pain, some searing, some slow and burning, like a deep ache that wouldn't fade in intensity. When the twenty-fifth mark was laid bare, he didn't even stir.

Ryan's voice was a murmur he couldn't understand, in the background haze of his mind. He was only dimly aware of being released and laid face down in a bed, some cooling salve applied to his back, before his will was bested and he could not longer fight the darkness at the edge of his vision, falling into unconsciousness.

---

“You've done so well, Michael.” Michael turned to Ryan, the blood splatters across his face splitting into a beaming smile.

“Anything for you, my king.” Michael dropped the whip at Ryan's motion, watching his fingers curl, beckoning the lad closer. Michael's heel caught on some of the blood, tipping forward with an indigent yelp and landing on his hands an knees hard, hissing at the harsh crack of his knees against the unforgiving material. His head looked up at Ryan from that position, eyes watering in pain, but the grin sincere. “I love when you give me my lead.”

Ryan's chest rumbled in laughter, leaning forward and catching Michael's jaw in his hand gently. Michael lost his breath, peering into the endless sky of Ryan's eyes, Ryan's gaze piercing into Michael's very being. “Such a good boy you've been.”

Michael all but nuzzled into Ryan's hand, creeping closer hesitantly, but when Ryan patted his thigh invitingly, Michael's pace sped up as he rushed to lay his head on Ryan. Ryan pet him softly, intermingling his fingers with the curls. Michael sounded rather like a cat, almost purring.

Ryan wiped some of Ray's blood from Michael's face, rubbing his fingers together. Michael kept his gaze locked on Ryan's hand, licking his lips thoughtlessly. Ryan's smirk grew. “You must be so thirsty from all that punishing.”

Michael swallowed dryly. “A bit, but it's nothing.”

Ryan pressed his blood-coated fingers to Michael's lips, Michael blinking a few times in surprise, but within a moment, his tongue flicked out and licked the fingers clean. Ryan repeated the motion until Michael's face was clean, but with the last lick, he pushed his fingers into Michael's mouth. Michael almost pulled away, his head twitching, but after he realized, he simply continued the cleaning, sucking and lapping at the digits. When Ryan finally pulled away, Michael went with the fingers for a last lap, whining as Ryan wiped the spittle clean on Michael's tunic. Michael rested his head on Ryan's lap once more, nuzzling more blatantly.

“A good boy indeed.”