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Soleil

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Sol turns over on his mattress to press his forehead to the cool wall. He pulls his knees to his chest, trying to ignore the hunger pangs that rip through his stomach. It’s been a couple of days since he’s last eaten. He doesn’t know what he’s being punished for but he’s sorry, he’ll do his best to show it to Master when he finally deems him fit to be out again. He only hopes Master isn’t taking it out on Ness.

Sol sighs, his eyes fluttering closed as he settles in for another energy-conserving nap.

--

Ray pulls up to the estate, with Athena in the seat next to him checking their comms one last time, and Cyrill in the back checking over the map on his tablet.

They wait for a second, not expecting any movement but also not discounting the possibility. They’re here to check over the place for any left over paraphernalia or ins onto the market. The owner,Grey Nickelson, was known underground as an untouchable dealer. Untouchable at least until his body was found floating offshore by Pier 9.

Cyrill slides out of the back and Athena covers him, Ray pulling up the rear. It doesn’t take long for Cyrill to unlock the front door and in they go. The place is obviously well taken care of, Grey never had a problem flaunting his money. The three look at each other, holding a conversation without saying anything, and then split, Ray going up the stairs, Cyrill to the left, and Athena to the right.

Athena goes to check the servants’ quarters first, making sure there are no friendlies around but it seems nobody’s around there at least. It works out well for them, less explaining to do. The next three rooms don’t turn up anything either but the fourth room isn’t a room at all, it’s a door that leads down a flight of stairs to another locked door. There’s a mail-slot and a deadbolt on it. She comms the others, “think we might have something, boys,” before unlocking the deadbolt and pushing the door open, flashlight and gun raised.

She quickly lowers her gun though when a small voice questions, “Mom?” And her eyes alight upon a small, filthy head of hair. Ears poke out of the top, brown but she can’t tell what kind just yet. She searches for a light, pulling a chain in the middle of the ceiling. A dull lightbulb flickers to life and she frowns as the smell of body odor finally hits her and she can take in the rest of the room.

Sitting on a mattress on the floor without sheets the child looks impossibly small; they’re shrouded in a shirt much too big for them. Next to their mattress is a water bowl, an empty water bowl, and who the fuck forces hybrids to sleep on the floor and drink out of water bowls nowadays? Anger flares up but she quickly pushes it back down. Across from the bed in the small room is a measly shelf with a few books on the top and a blanket on the bottom. Between her and the child are a few wooden crates.

Athena finally returns her attention the the child, squatting in place to be on the same level and tucking her gun into its holster.

“Hi, I’m Athena, can you tell me your name?”

The child looks up with wide eyes, a deep brown that holds fear and apprehension. Those eyes quickly flit away though and the child speaks up, “Momma said I can only speak to Momma and the lady that gives me food.”

Athena smiles. “Your Momma sounds like a smart lady, good thing I’m a lady with food, right?”

She digs in her bag and holds out a granola bar to the child. They look at it with hungry eyes and Athena notices their cheeks aren't the chubby kind of a toddler well fed. They bite their lip before quickly crawling over, reaching out and taking hold of it. Their eyes flit up to Athena’s before they move to take it though and Athena lets go of it.

“Go on,” she says gently. The child quickly grapples with it, ripping the package open before scarfing it down with barely any time for breath. Athena wishes she’d brought a water bottle but there was nothing about Grey that indicated child trafficking. He had no shame about his racist views against hybrids, perhaps an illegitimate child but Athena doesn’t see any resemblance between them right now.

She tilts her head, “would you tell me your name now, little one?”

The child cutely purses their lips and she can practically see the gears turning in their head. They seem to make up their mind and they look up through their hair before saying shyly, “Momma calls me Ness.”

Athena can see a tail twitch behind them, fluffy but she still can’t tell what type of hybrid they are. Athena smiles softly at them, “that’s a very nice name Ness. Do you want to go upstair-”

She cuts herself as Ness shuffles back into the corner they came out of, quickly shaking their head and pulling their knees to his chest.

“Momma says- Momma says I can’t go upstairs! Not for anything!” Tears spring to their eyes and Athena quickly roots around for another granola bar. She holds it out to them, putting on another smile though she’s worried at the vehemence of the child’s protests.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry I asked, do you want another granola bar?” The child looks at her with wide eyes, they flick down to the granola bar and back up again.

“I can have another?” They ask and Athena’s heart aches for this little one. She nods, holding it out further. The child looks at her for a bit longer and she keeps their gaze before they slowly unfold themself and take hold of the other end. She lets go of it just like before and they scuttle back to the corner this time to eat it.

“Would you like some water?” The child nods and she unfolds herself to head back to the kitchen and grab a glass. She leaves the door downstairs open but closes the one leading to the stairs. As she heads to the kitchen she turns on the comms again, “definitely got something. Little hybrid kid in a room downstairs in the East Wing, name’s Ness. Going to get them some water, they look malnourished and they’re not clean. Won’t come upstairs with me just yet but they’re able to communicate well enough. Their mother might be around, keep a lookout.” She thinks of their cracked lips and dirty fingernails, unclipped and jagged. “Fucker made them sleep on a mattress on the floor and drink out of a dog bowl.”

Ray sighs. “Gonna check the main bedroom for anything and then I’ll head down to meet you, Cyrill keep looking through the West Wing.” Cyrill chimes in with a quick “Noted.”

--

The main bedroom is a mess, expensive clothes and alcohol bottles littering the floor. Ray pushes some aside with the toe of his shoe, checking the closet and bathroom before anything else. Neither turn up anything but there’s another door in the bathroom, with a lock on the outside and two keys dangling from the wall next to it. He speaks into his comm, “might’ve found something too, off the bathroom in the main bedroom.”

When he unlocks the door he’s expecting crates of guns or a safe or pallets of money, none of which he gets. Instead it’s a naked hybrid with a pink head of hair and brown ears on a mattress on the floor and he inwardly sighs. There’s a bathtub, a sink with cabinet, a clean toilet, and a clock proudly displaying 2:14 PM. It’s 11 at night. The hybrid’s older than an actual kid but he’s young enough that Ray can’t help but refer to them as a kid in his head. They turn over and their eyes are glassy. While they’re not malnourished looking they could stand to gain some weight. He holsters his gun because the hybrid is covered in bruises. All in different stages of healing but even if they weren’t, he’s small, probably about Athena’s size. Tall for a beta woman but still only reaching Ray’s chest. Besides, there’s a collar around its neck chaining him to the floor.

The hybrid just stares at Ray’s feet. He frowns.

“How long have you been in here?”

The hybrid doesn’t answer, instead rolling to the edge of the mattress and standing with the help of the cabinet.

“Master should’ve told you we can’t do anything in here but there’s plenty of bedrooms down the hall.”

Ray recoils at the implications of that and how quick he is to offer himself, taking a step back, his mind making the involuntary connection to his first meeting with Cyrill and he shuts that down real quick.

“Listen, I don’t want anything from you, Grey is dead and we’re here to clear his house.”

--

Sol’s heart stutters and skips a beat. Master, dead? He doesn’t let himself believe it for a second except he can’t help it, the back of his brain is spinning out a world where he doesn’t have to live in this cramped bathroom without windows and he can see Ness everyday and he doesn’t get fucked by strangers and- he chokes on his inhale and risks a glance at the man standing in the doorway. Tall, tan skin, short black hair and a scar across his face. He looks scary but even so his heart can’t help but hope he’ll be a better Master than his old one. Sol squashes that down relentlessly, anything but perfect loyalty to Master is liable for punishment and this is probably a test.

 

In the time Sol has spent having his world flip over his head the man has turned to the other key beside the door, the one for the chain that attaches his collar to a rung in the floor.

“This is for your collar?” He asks, holding it up.

Sol nods and the man tries to hand it to him. Sol looks up in amazement before his eyes automatically skitter away. The man’s over a head taller than him.

“I can’t take it off myself,” he says and he hopes it doesn’t sound as disbelieving as he feels, that the man would just give him the key.

The man only holds it closer to him though. “You can, your Master is dead now you don’t have to follow his rules anymore.” He hears the derision in his tone when he says the word “Master.”

Sol can’t help the nervous laugh that bubbles its way out of him and he brings his arms across his chest. His tail twitches in agitation, it wants to move more than that but his Master hates these animal parts of him and hates when he uses them so it twitches and that’s all there is to it. He digs his nails into his arms and tilts his head, offering his neck and the collar up to the newcomer he simply repeats, “I can’t take it off myself.”

The man sighs and Sol can’t help but tense, waiting for a blow or biting words but the man just unlocks the collar. It drops with a heavy thump on the mattress and Sol reflexively swallows, one hand reaching up to rub at his neck.

“Thank you, sir,” because he’s been trained to give thanks for anything and everything, lest it be taken away. There’s a pause before the man responds:

“The name’s Ray, don’t call me sir.”

Sol can’t help the stutter of his heart at the reprimand, the nails of one hand twisting and pinching and pulling at the index finger of his other.

“Yes, s-okay, thank you Mister.”

He knows he’s cutting it close so he can’t help the minute flinch when the man raises his hand, only to pinch at the bridge of his nose and let out a sigh. But he hates the ones that make him call their names the most; it’s so much easier to say “thank you, sir.”

“You know anything about a hybrid kid downstairs?”

Part of Sol laughs at him, saying he should have expected an even worse Master but the rest of him is jumping into action.

“Anything you want from him I can do better, we can even do it here, okay? I’m sorry I said that before” the words come out too quickly, tripping into each other as Sol drops to the floor, knees hitting the tile with a painful thud. His breaths are coming out too short and he fumbles with the man’s belt for a second before the man goes to do it himself-except he doesn’t.

The man covers his hands with his own before removing them.

“I will tell you again. I do not want sex from you. I will not want sex from you and I won’t ever want sex from a kid. I’m asking because we think his mother is around, is he talking about you?”

Sol nods quickly, too quickly in fact. He already feels like puking from the lack of food and the adrenaline rush; his hands are shaking in the man’s own, now he feels dizzy on top of it. The man helps him to his feet again but Sol can’t help but stumble into him. He quickly jerks back, slamming the back of his thighs into the sink, his hands slipping out from the man’s. He can’t help the hiss of pain against the pressure of belt marks carved into his thighs from Master’s last punishment. He mumbles a quick “sorry, thank you” but his ears are ringing and the world is going black at the edges. He pinches the flesh of his thigh, urging the feeling away and trying to take deep breaths without being too obvious about it.

The man shrugs out of his jacket and maybe he changed his mind? But all he does is hold it out to Sol. Sol looks at it for a second before taking it and gently draping it over his arm. It feels heavy.

The man drags his hand down his face and says “use it to cover up.”

Sol flinches, he’s already exasperating his maybe new master. “Sorry,” he says. He slides into it but it’s much too big for him, coming down to his thighs and engulfing his hands. He wonders if the man is offended by his nakedness. He’s gotten used to being naked in front of others but he’s still grateful for the scrap of dignity he’s been given.

“Alright, let’s go get your kid.”

Sol silently says goodbye to the spider in the corner, Mary, and follows his new master, hoping this isn’t a trick and Master isn’t on the other side of the door.

--

“I should’ve asked earlier, you have a name?”

Ray looks at the kid out of the corner of his eye, noting how quickly his eyes skitter away when they accidentally make contact.

“Soleil, but you can call me whatever of course. Master usually just calls me ‘you’ or-” Soleil swallows to cut himself off and Ray has no trouble imagining the list of names Grey must’ve had for him.

“Soleil will be fine, thank you.” And Soleil winces. Ray wonders if he’s going to be able to say anything without the kid beating himself up over it.

Ray notes he’s walking with a limp, favoring his right leg, and he wonders if that’s from birth or from the beatings it looks like the kid receives. The longer he stares at him the higher his shoulders go so Ray switches his eyes back to his surroundings. It’s night out and while Ray would think Soleil would be looking at the windows after being in that room with none he keeps his eyes fixed firmly on the ground in front of him.

“I’m not exactly sure where I’m going so why don’t you take the lead.”

There's a pause for a split second before he hobbles in front, picking up the speed and Ray wonders if that’s because of him wanting to follow directions or because he wants to see his kid. It might be a bit of both.

He doesn’t want to overwhelm the kid but he figures at this point it’s moot so he comms the others: “Meet us at the entrance hall Cyrill, found the mom, name’s Soleil. Coming down to meet you now Athena.”

He notes the slight misstep when Ray first speaks into the comm and he inwardly sighs. The kid and the kid’s kid are going to have to come with them. Besides any information Soleil might have on Grey’s dealings, he’s not going to risk handing them off to whatever agency wants them and getting them separated. He hopes Athena and Cyrill are up for guests. Though with Athena’s propensity for mothering he doubts she'll have a problem with it.

Soleil limps down the stairs and and Ray can’t help but have one hand hovering out to catch him if need be, whether Soleil notices it or not he doesn’t say. He does glance back at Ray incredibly briefly when he spots Cyrill standing near the bottom of the stairs though. He wonders if another hybrid around will make him more or less comfortable and nearly curses when he figures the kid probably thinks he owns Cyrill or some shit like that.

Cyrill raises a brow at him as they come down the stairs. Ray just shakes his head, inclining his head towards Soleil whose own head has lowered the closer they get to the bottom of the stairs. Cyrill takes a step back as they reach the landing but Ray’s sure Cyrill feels the tension in the air. Soleil continues forward, gaining speed the closer they get to his pup, or kit, Ray can’t tell just yet what kind of hybrid Soleil is. He’s got pointy brown ears and the same goes for his tail, which he can get a better look at now that he’s behind him. Cyrill slides into step beside him, silent footfalls as usual, and looks up at Ray, head tilted.

Ray reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose and Cyrill snorts. They each note how Soleil’s shoulders have come up around his ears with the two of them behind him but he doesn’t turn around at the noise.

Soliel reaches a wooden door, ajar, “it’s, um, this one,” Soleil says before quickly heading down the stairs, a hand on the wall because there’s no light or handrail.

--

Athena hears a voice from upstairs, soft, before there’s an inelegant veritable pounding down the stairs.

A harried looking hybrid bursts through the door, eyes wild before they land on Ness. With a cry she launches herself forward, landing on already bruised knees to pull her child in for a hug. She notes that they’re wearing Ray’s jacket and she smiles softly, sure Cyrill’s thinking the same thing as her, “always the gentleman.”

Her smile quickly turns into a frown as she takes in the bruises littering the hybrid’s legs, some in the shape of boot prints. She almost wishes Grey wasn’t dead so she could kill him again. She leans forward from her spot on a crate to make contact with her partners and notes that Ray decided the space was too small for all of them. Cyrill has his head peeked through the open landing but hasn’t come down.

The hybrid, Soleil, she remembers, looks up quickly when she moves that slight bit, pushing Ness behind her.

“Ness was just telling me about his mother, you sound like a very smart lady, he loves you very much.”

But the hybrid doesn’t move. “I’m not a woman.” He says, before flinching back, lowering his head.

A male omega then. “My apologies, your name was Soleil, right? Would you like a granola bar?” She asks, holding one out that she’d saved for the mother.

Soleil’s eyes widen in disbelief before catching the empty wrappers Athena took from Ness before turning to said child, “did you eat those? I said only speak to me or Rose.” He whispers, his voice a hiss.

Ness looks up at Athena then back at Soleil. He pouts, “but she’s a lady that gave me food.”

Athena tilts her head, aware that she tricked the child. “My apologies, we mean you both no harm but it looks like you could both use a few good meals. It’s my fault of course.”

Again Soleil looks at the floor with wide eyes and she wonders if he’s ever been apologized to. He tilts his head down after a second.

“Thank you Miss, for feeding him.”

“Of course,” she says, smiling, “would you like a granola bar?” She asks again, holding it forward. The hybrid doesn’t look her in the eye for longer than a second, eyes flitting to her face then away again. He takes it but looks up the stairs before doing anything with it. To take it he has to shake back the sleeve of Ray's jacket, displaying bruised hands and she makes sure her face doesn't display the displeasure she feels at that.

“Shall we go upstairs then?” She asks, hoping this won’t become a fight. But Soleil simply nods, standing, but she doesn’t miss the way he pushes Ness half behind him. Ness acquiesces but peeks his head out from behind Ray’s jacket. Since he’s making no move, probably anxious to have unknown parties in front and behind his only exit, Athena makes to move towards the stairs before stopping in her tracks.

“Ah, I don’t think we’ll be returning here so if there’s anything Ness might like from his bookshelf, now might be a good time to get it.”

Ness looks up at his mother, tugging him over to the bookshelf, hand-in-hand and points at the books.

“Can I take those Momma?” He whisper-asks, but with the useless whisper of a child.

“Of course hun,” he says but looks to Athena for approval before scooping them up with his other arm, clad in Ray’s jacket. Athena would offer to hold them, worried they might slip through the silky fabric but she’s sure that he'll decline. Or rather want to decline but agree anyway.

She heads up the stairs, not looking back and notes that Ray and Cyrill stop a whispered conversation over by the window as she exits the door.

“Is there anything you need to get?” She asks to Soleil as he emerges, Ness still half behind him.

"Uhm, I have things upstairs Master has me use." He stumbles on the word Master and his tail twitches in nervousness.

"Hm, anything of sentimental value?" She continues. It's not like they'll be requiring or wanting any prep-work Soleil did for Grey. But she notes that Soleil freezes so she rephrases it:

"Anything you'd be sad if you didn't bring with you?" But he's still frozen, and starts to minutely tremble and she grown unsure where she went wrong. Is it admitting to emotions?

Thankfully Ray decides for them, "we'll just buy you new toiletries, let's go." He says and starts to head for the door. Cyrill doesn't move so quick so he can keep an eye on the hybrids but Athena, remembering Ness's adamant refusal to even go upstairs sees the problem before either of them.

Soleil takes a half-step back towards where Ness was housed. He's visibly trembling now and his eyes are darting around as if he's expecting someone to pop out of one of the rooms. His ears are down and his tail wraps around one of his legs. Ness is looking up at his mother, as scared by his mom's fear as Soleil is by the prospect of going outside.

"I'm not allowed to go outside." He says, his voice an octave higher. Ray stops in his tracks, turning back and frowning once he sees the state Soleil is in. Soleil flinches back at the frown, taking another half step and pushing Ness behind him all the way rather than halfway.

He shakes his head quickly. "I can't I can't, I'm not allowed." He's breathing rapidly and Athena's worried he's going to have a panic attack. Cyrill sneezes, probably at the sudden influx of the smell of fear and Soleil jumps at even that, he shakes his head further repeating "I can't, I can't, I can't."

"Okay," Athena says, sitting cross-legged on the floor, "why don't we all take a seat and we can talk about what's wrong."
Soleil hears the gently phrased suggestion as a command and again on bruised knees hits the ground, pulling Ness down with him. He’s still shaking and has his head craned to try and look around the corner at the end of the hallway before it whips back around as Cyrill and Ray take their seats. He pulls his knees to chest under the jacket and wraps his arms around them.

“Sorry” he says, and then clams up, head lowered again, though his toes curl tensely upon the floor. Ness leans up against him, copying his mother, arms around his legs too.

“It’s no issue,” Athena says, “I’m guessing that’s one of Grey’s old rules?”

Soleil nods once, jerkily.

“Well, listen” she says, not unkindly, “Grey is dead so his rules don’t apply anymore, would you like some proof that he’s dead, is it that you think he’s hiding somewhere around here?”

Soleil’s eyes shift to the side and he bites his lip, “sorry,” he blurts out but doesn’t say anything else. Athena realizes she asked two questions at the same time.

“Cyrill would you mind getting the file from the car?” Cyrill gets up and goes without a word. Soleil’s eyes flicker over him before finding the floor again.

“Look, hun,” and though she doesn’t mean it literally Soleil’s eyes slide to some point next to her head. She notices his hands move in the jacket sleeves like he’s curling them to steel himself.

“Cyrill is going to bring a file and you’ll see that Grey can’t hurt you anymore. As for going outside, the three of us are going to take care of you, okay? And we say it’s okay for you to go outside. Nobody is going to hurt you and nothing is going to happen, we’re just going to bring you to our estate and then you can get cleaned up and get some food, okay?”

Soleil nods jerkily again, a “sorry” slipping out of his mouth. Athena wants to sigh because she can tell apologies are going to be a recurring theme but she knows he’ll think it’s because of him, though it is in a way.

Cyrill comes back with the file.

“You should make sure Ness doesn’t see this,” he says as he hands it to Soleil.

Soleil’s eyes rove over the folder then he nudges Ness off of him.

“Go sit by the wall, hands over your eyes,” and Ness slides over, turning to face the wall and putting his hands over his eyes.

Soleil opens the folder and his eyes immediately glaze over. It’s the full-body photo of a dead Grey Nickelson with a bullet through his head and Athena can tell his mind isn’t with them. They sit in silence for the couple of minutes it takes for Soleil to come back to himself. He shifts in place before shuffling through the rest of the photos. He then closes the folder and lays his hand on the floor with it still in his grasp.

“Okay,” he says softly.

“Okay,” Ray says, standing. The rest follow suit, Soleil using the wall to help himself up. Soleil takes Ness’s hand in his own and Athena takes the folder from him. Soleil keeps his head lowered even when they reach outside, the line of his shoulders tense. Then Ness asks a question that makes Athena want to break something or cry or both.

He points at the moon and asks “goodnight Moon?”

Soleil’s hand tightens around his son’s and Ness turns to look and his mother, eyes widening upon noticing the tears that streak down his face.

“Goodnight Moon.”

Chapter Text

Soleil doesn’t pay as much attention as he should on the ride to his new masters’ estate. Ness is preoccupied with pointing out everything outside the windows while he himself can barely bear to look outside. As they arrive the bunny hybrid with the orange hair, Cyrill, takes lead of he and Ness, saying the Miss with purple hair who gave him the granola bar, Athena, and Mister Ray were going to pick some things up. Cyrill leads them to a guest room on the first floor and says they can clean up here. He hopes they’ll let Ness bathe more often than Master does-did.

He's still on autopilot as Ness explores the bathroom, opening a closet in the wall to discover piles of fluffy towels and washcloths as well as toiletries. Sol roots around, pulling out an individually wrapped soap and a mini bottle of shampoo and conditioner each. He worries at the soap for a second, wondering if it's enough for how dirty Ness is and decided he'll get another if he needs to, guessing his new owners would prefer clean to dirty. He worries at his lip then, wondering what he should do with Ness's dirty shirt. First he pulls off the jacket he's wearing though, not willing to get it wet.

"Okay Ness, into the tub." And his baby climbs in, always happy to be clean when he can.

"Arms up." And he pulls the shirt off of him, slightly distraught at his smell because he didn't please his Master well enough to get him a shower sooner. He turns on the sprayer, there's a showerhead with a hose, and he uses that to wet Ness all over, rubbing softly at his hair to get it to penetrate. Ness is shaking as he stands but the water is warm so he has Ness sit. He reaches over to switch the sprayer to the overhead and a wave of dizziness rushes over him; he moved too fast. The granola bar helped but he hopes he'll at least get dinner too. If he could guess he would guess his new Masters aren't the cruel kind but he's been wrong in his assumptions before.

Thankfully Ness hasn't noticed his delay, instead holding his hand in the spray and watching it run off his fingers. He shuts the water off, an early learned lesson: don't waste. He kneels down again, smiling as Ness opens and closes his hand.

"Okay little water wizard, you scrub your armpits first and I'll wash your hair, eyes closed."

He leans Ness's head back against the basin of the tub, squeezing a dollop of conditioner into his hair and massaging it in, saying "squish-squish" as he does so, careful not to get any in his doggy ears. Ness giggles and begins to scrub himself down with the bar of soap. Rose taught him that using conditioner first will work out the knots that build up between washes. When he turns the sprayer back on and angles it to rinse Ness’s hair the water runs dirty. He squeezes out a dollop of shampoo next and works that in too, massaging and scratching gently at his baby’s scalp. It gives him anxiety trying to clean Ness up quickly so his masters won’t get mad at how slow he is and trying to make sure Ness really is clean. Ness has already moved past his arms and onto his chest by the time Sol feels like his hair is clean enough. He rinses that out too, and spares a second squeeze of conditioner afterwards.

“Okay, up. You get your tummy and legs and I’ll get your back and tail” and Ness stands. He’s used up the little bar of soap so Sol grabs another each. He squeezes some conditioner out for Ness’s tail, working out the matts and tangles with his fingers.

“You’re doing such a good job,” he hums, patting his son’s waist, because Ness never complains even though he knows a matted tail is no fun. He knows the knots hurt because when he pulls at some Ness’s tail can’t help but twitch. Ness will usually giggle happily at the compliment; one time he turned around and told Sol he was doing a good job and Sol couldn’t help but burst into tears so he doesn’t do that anymore. This time he doesn’t say anything at first so he’s part prepared but mostly unprepared for his question.

“Can we go back outside again?” Sol’s hands stop their work and begin to tremble because he’s not allowed outside he’s not allowed outside he’snotallowedoutside and his leg aches and it takes Ness yelping because he’s gripped his tail too hard to flinch back to reality. He feels queasy.

“Don’t ask that question love, if our new masters want us to go outside then they’ll take us out-” and he cuts himself off before his voice cracks again on the word “outside.”

Ness half turns towards him, a frown in place and eyes beginning to fill with tears.

“I don’t wanna go back to that room! I wanna go back outside!” He half-yells with the frustration of a toddler trained to be quiet, going to rub at his eyes and full-on blubbering when the soap coating his hands gets into his eyes.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry,” Sol says, turning the sprayer back on and rinsing the soap from Ness’s eyes though he doesn’t stop crying, in fact he sits on the tub floor, crosses his hands over his knees and cries into them. This isn’t something Soleil is going to budge on though, another hard-learned lesson, outside is not for the likes of them. He pets at Ness’s head, going back to working at his tail but it twitches angrily out of his grasp.

“Look, we have such a nice room though and we get to stay together, okay?” Soleil hopes it’s a promise he’ll be able to keep but if he can start by pleasing his masters they’ll be more lenient.

Ness looks up with teary eyes, “we can stay together?” He sniffles. Soleil nods, patting his head again. “But come on we have to hurry and get cleaned up, if we take too long the masters will get mad, okay?”

Ness nods quickly, standing and scrubbing down quickly at his legs while Sol scrubs his back down, moving quicker now because they’ve been in here for almost 15 minutes by his estimate and that’s already as much time as he’s normally allowed a shower and 5 more than Ness is usually allowed and just as he’s worrying there’s a knock on the door and he freezes. Ness lets out a whimper and scrubs at the tops of his feet and they took too long, he wonders what the punishment’s going to be when a voice comes through the door. It’s still the bunny hybrid.

“I brought a change of clothes for you and some of Athena’s for your son. I’m just going to leave them out here. You can toss Ness’s old shirt, or keep it, it’s whatever. I’m making lunch, do you have any preference on sandwiches?” And then there’s a pause.

A preference? Ness has stopped scrubbing beside him, he pipes up, “can I have chicken?” And Sol whips his head around, ready to shush him even though he’s already spoken.

“Sure I think we have some chicken breast downstairs. Soleil?” And now he’s being directly addressed but he doesn’t know what the right answer is.

“No preference, thank you, sir.” He says, hoping that’s the right answer.

“Okay~ No rush, come out whenever you’re ready.” Followed by the click of footsteps and the closing of the outer door.

Unsure if that was really permission to take as long as they want or a gentle nudge to hurry up, Soleil speeds through the rest of Ness’s shower before wrapping him up in one of those fluffy towels, speeding through his own shower, and towelling himself off.

He opens the door a crack, partially worried that the bunny walked over to the door and closed it from the inside without leaving, waiting for them to slip up, or to snatch the clothes back as a joke. But Soleil finds nobody lying in wait, just a pile of clothes like he said. He slides them into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him and opens them up. A smaller shirt and a pair of drawstring shorts for Ness and a shirt, drawstring hoodie, pair of unopened boxers covered in rubber ducks, and a pair of soft pants for himself. There’s also a pair of fuzzy socks with rubbery grips on the bottom for each of them. Ness seems very happy about those.

He helps Ness into the shirt and shorts even though he pouts that he can do it himself, making sure his tail and hair are as dry as they’re going to get before gingerly changing into his own clothes. Then he takes Ness’s old shirt, unsure what to do with it for a second. He was planning on cleaning it and using it again but now he has permission to get rid of it which probably means new clothes but...he stores it behind the toilet, deciding he’ll throw it out if and when there’s more clothes for Ness. He drapes his master’s jacket over on arm and takes Ness’s hand in his and they head to the bunny and the promise of food.

--

Cyrill’s done prepping the sandwiches for their guests, two chicken for Soleil and one for Ness. He’s made another for Athena and is in the middle of making two spiced ham for Ray when Soleil appears. He knocks gently on the doorframe but doesn’t say anything.
Cyrill turns around and places their sandwiches at the table. “The table might be a bit too high for Ness unless you wanted to sit him in your lap.”

Soleil looks over at the table before swallowing, “Yes, sir. Uhm, I wasn’t sure what I should do with this?” He says hesitantly, holding out Ray’s jacket.

“You can just leave it on the back of that chair there,” he says pointing with the knife in his hand towards Ray’s seat. He watches how Soleil’s eyes stick to it and he quickly slips it into the sink. (Are they going to have to move the knives now that there’s a kid around?)

“Yes, sir,” Soleil says and does as was said.

Cyrill frowns but doesn’t turn back around, “you don’t have to call me ‘sir’ by the way, it doesn’t really suit someone like me anyway.”

“Uhm...okay.”

“Cyrill will work just as well, thank you~” He says.

“Okay, Cyrill.”

He finishes up Ray’s sandwiches and covers up his and Athena’s with saran wrap before working on making a quick two chicken sandwiches for himself. Meanwhile he hears Soleil pick up the chair and pulling it out to avoid it scraping on the floor. Cyrill hums while he makes his own sandwiches to add some more background noise besides the hum of the appliances.

When he finally turns to join them at the table he moves slowly, (avoiding looking at them like they don’t exist). If Soleil’s default state is deer-in-a-headlight he doesn’t want to move to quickly and scare him. Though he has to look up when he notes they haven’t touched their food yet. Ness is kicking his legs in Soleil’s lap while Soleil barely watches Cyrill from his peripheral with a lowered head. Ah.

“You don’t have to wait for me to start eating, ever. The food’s yours, any of it in the kitchen.” Ray and Athena would surely back him on such a promise, but he doesn’t want them going hungry even a little bit because Soleil is too scared to eat.

Soleil’s left ear twitches at that and his hands come together to pull at his index finger again.

“Okay, thank you Cyrill,” and then he reaches for Ness’s sandwich (cut into fours) but his eyes flicker to Cyrill’s sandwich first anyway. So Cyrill takes a bite from his own sandwich and Soleil finally lifts a corner of Ness’s sandwich, handing it to the boy before biting into his own. Cyrill tries not to watch as Soleil strikes a painful-to-watch haphazard balance between scarfing down his sandwich and not eating too fast (is he afraid it’ll be taken away if he eats too fast?). Ness however has no qualms and is happily kicking his feet as he munches down on the sandwich.

“Ah, I forgot!” He exclaims and winces as Soleil does a full body jerk, dropping his sandwich as though he’d been burned.

“Ah, I just meant, would you like something to drink? We have water, and well, maybe you should just come see yourself, sorry for scaring you.” He gets up sheepishly and opens the fridge door. Soleil gets up as well, apologizing too, head lowered (and does he ever pick it up?) and follows him over. There’s an assortment of juices and teas but Soleil doesn’t even look them over, pointing at the closest one.

“That one please, thank you, s-Cyrill.” He’s pulling at his index finger again and Cyrill could punch himself in the face for scaring him but there’s nothing to be done about it now but try not to do it again.

He pours out cups for each of them, it’s lemonade. Ness takes a sip and squeaks, “it’s sour!”

Soleil takes a sip himself, “it’s lemonade, and what did you forget to do?”

“Oh! Thank you, Mister!” Ness looks him straight in the eye as he says it and Cyrill can’t help but smile at him. “It’s sour but it’s good,” the boy mumbles to himself, sipping more of it.`

Cyrill sips at his own, and they finish their meal in silence before he gets up to put his plate in the sink.

“There’s more if you’d like.” He offers.

“No, thank you, s-Cyrill.” Is Soleil’s quick response but Ness asks “are there cookies?”

Cyrill notes that Soleil’s grip on Ness tightens but he doesn’t say anything to contradict his son.

“I’m sure we have cookies~ Let me see.” He heads into the pantry to pull out an opened pack of oatmeal raisin cookies (good) and Ray’s store-bought icing coated sugar cookies (monstrosities).

When he heads back to the table he notes that Soleil’s head snaps up from where he was whispering against Ness’s ear and Ness isn’t swinging his legs anymore.

“Here you go~ Is one of each okay Soleil, or is that too much sugar?” (Sugar doesn’t actually make kids hyper he thinks, but Soleil’s the parent). Soleil looks up at him, at some point just over his shoulder really, seemingly frozen in place. His mouth is open but no sound comes out and Cyrill’s worried he broke him so, “okay, I’ll just give him one oatmeal raisin and you can decide from there, feel free to take too,” he says and takes two for himself.

He wanders over to the windows overlooking the driveway, wondering how close Ray and Athena are to done. It’s been about half an hour since they left, enough time to perhaps start the shopping but he expects at least another forty five minutes before they’re back. It’s a good thing there’s a 24-hour superstore half an hour away. He bites into one of his cookies and hmms, back to the kitchen he goes then.

“Is anybody still hungry then?” He asks to the kitchen at large, noting that neither of them have moved but Ness is pouting.

Ness looks like he’s about to say something but jumps and shuts his mouth and pouts harder. Cyrill would guess his mother pinched him or something.

“Did you like the cookies?”

Ness brightens considerably. “Yeah! It was really good!” And then he puts on a thoughtful face, opens his mouth but then goes back to pouting. Cyrill can’t help the little smile that he shows, though of course it is worrying that neither of them will ask for another (did Soleil even have one? He counts, no).

He puts two sugar cookies and two more oatmeal raisin on a plate for them, “there you go~ eat up.”

He sits back in his seat and continues to eat his own while Ness immediately goes for a sugar cookie, swinging his legs again, and Soleil hesitantly picks up an oatmeal raisin. He takes a small bite but is tense while he does it and Cyrill stops looking, even furtively, because he’s sure Soleil is hyper aware of him.

He does look much better now that he’s wearing more clothes, it’s not as easy to see all of the bruising. The back of his hands (slender) are purpled but the hoodie covers the ones on his wrists, though the sleeves slide up each time he raises something to his mouth. He’s not concerned with shaking them back down, probably as long as nobody draws attention to the bruises. His face is mostly unmarred besides an ugly bruise that covers his cheek, leaving clouded blue eyes that haven’t met his yet. With everything else covered it draws attention to the bruises around his neck, Cyrill can place the thumb imprints of a larger hand than his own. He’s been thrown around himself before and if it weren’t for that, morbid curiosity would almost have him asking how he got his injuries. Whether his “Master” or someone else. As for now though he’s content to sit and share cookies with him.

With Ness, now that he’s clean, it’s easy to tell mother and son share the same shade of ears and tail, a warm cinnamon. Ness’s ears are slightly more droopy though, folding on themselves while Soleil’s stand straight up. He wonders what they think of his own ears and if Ness has seen another hybrid before (he’s caught Ness’s eyes drawn curiously to them). He pulls one of them down in front of his face, pulling softly like it’s hair as is his habit and Ness’s eyes shoot up.

He smiles at the boy, “do you know what kind of hybrid I am?” Ness’s eyes are wide, inquisitive, and that same warm cinnamon as the rest of him. He tilts his head before asking shyly:

“Are you a bunny like ‘Goodnight Bunny’?”

Cyrill smiles, “That’s right, I’m a bunny, or a rabbit, whichever you want to call me. Have you seen my tail?” Ness sits up in his seat as if he can see around Cyrill’s body but Cyrill stands and turns around.

“See? It’s not as long as yours but it’s just as fluffy.” He sits again. Ness has grabbed his own tail in his hands and softly pets it before he reaches up and pulls at his own ears, eyes looking at Cyrill’s. Soleil still hasn’t looked up at him.

Cyrill smiles nervously at them before grabbing Ray’s suit-jacket off the seat, suddenly feeling over-stimulated around the guests.

“Okay~ Ray and Athena should be back before the hour. Until then feel free to wander around downstairs, take a look around, touch stuff, I’ll be around.” And retreats to put the jacket in the hamper and decompress.

He then heads to the main bedroom and splays across the bed. He used to be a lot better at handling and entertaining guests but that was because he had to be, nowadays he’s happy to leave whenever he feels like it with generally no repercussions. He blows out a puff of air. Soleil being so wound up is winding him up too. He almost wishes Athena stayed behind instead but then figures he’s overreacting, it’s not like anything bad happened.

He plays with one of his ears while he thinks on their new housemates. He keeps his ears open though so he hears their car pulling up when it does, the engine shutting off and the opening of the truck. He hops up and bounds down the stairs, sticking his head back into the kitchen to announce, “Ray and Athena are back.”

He’s dismayed to notice Soleil hasn’t moved from his seat but is sitting tensely while Ness stirs awake in his lap. There are cleaned dishes beside the sink so at least they probably ate all the cookies.

“Why don’t you go put Ness to bed, okay?” He suggests.

Soleil nods once and then slides Ness to land softly on his feet. Cyrill goes to open the door for his partners and they come through with loads of bags. It seemed Athena worked her “one-trip” magic as she has her arms ringed in bags while Ray has the same, with boxes hitting at his ankles. Cyrill is able to make out one for a booster seat before he’s closing the door behind them.

“We’re back~” Athena sing-songs though not as loudly as she usually might.

“They ate, and Soleil is putting Ness to bed now,” he updates. Ray nods and Athena hmms, placing the bags on the sofa in the living area.

“We got clothes for both of them best as we could estimate. We’ll have to go back out some time to get them shoes, or take their measurements here. Toiletries, a bunch of toys, some crayons and coloring books, regular books. And then some kids dishes, a booster seat for the kitchen and then a booster seat for the car. There’s probably some stuff I’m forgetting. We debated getting a toddler crib but figured Ness has already been sleeping on an open mattress so what’s the point. He’ll be fine in a corner bed.”

Cyrill nods, not surprised they managed to get as much done with how much time they spent but impressed nonetheless. However he’s less happy as Sol walks into the living room and immediately slides to his knees. With shaking hands he places them on his lap and curls them into loose fists. Cyrill notes Athena’s frown and Ray’s sudden stony face.
“Okay,” Athena crouches, “what exactly are we doing on the floor?”

“I’m waiting for instructions Ma’am.”

Athena continues to frown. She looks up at Ray, an eyebrow lifted. He shakes his head and she turns back to Soleil. She stands from her crouch and walks over to him, crouching again in front of him. (Cyrill notes that his hands tighten the closer she gets). When she’s in front of him she takes his hands and gently guides him up. Soleil’s eyes flicker to her face for just a second before staying on their joined hands.

She reaches up to his head and he closes his eyes tight, resigned to a harsh hand but instead she just pets his head softly. Then she abruptly steps away and he opens his eyes as she sweeps her hands towards the bags on the couch and by Ray’s feet.

“We got you and Ness clothes and toiletries, and then an assortment of kids’ things for Ness.” She says, holding up certain bags as she says their contents.

“And we got you a couple of these,” Ray says, holding up a jar of bruise cream for Soleil and Cyrill to see.

Ray holds out the bruise cream and Sol looks at it before his face falls even further. He doesn't say anything for a bit, eyes roaming over the bags of goods before opening and closing his mouth.

"I…" his hands close into fists at his sides and he swallows. "I can...can pay you back, somehow, just tell me what you want-"

Cyrill steps forward from his space against the wall (noting Soleil’s flinch), he walks over to Ray and takes the bruise balm from his hands. He takes one of Soleil's (whose hand is shaking in his but goes without resistance) and places the container into it. He curls Soleil's fingers around it before wrapping both of his hands around Soleil's, steadying it.

"You don't need to pay us back. You've seen the size of this house, money isn't a problem. Don't worry about paying us back and we'll say it as many times as we need to."

He lets go of Soleil's hand before he overwhelms him (as if he hasn't already) and takes a step back.

Ray gently offers a solution, "look, if you want to pay us back just put the stuff to good use, okay?"

Soleil nods quickly, letting out a breathless thank you.

Athena loops her arms through most of the bags, "I'll help you carry this to your room, okay?"

“Okay,” Soleil answers, still sounding dazed. He copies Athena, looping his arms through the remaining bags (which Cyrill notes are full of lighter objects).

Once the two are safely upstairs Ray brings his fingers to the bridge of his nose, tilts his head back, and lets out a sigh. Cyrill snorts, going to pat his shoulder in solidarity but Ray catches him off guard by turning it into a hug, settling the bridge of his nose onto Cyrill’s shoulder and taking a deep breath. Cyrill brings one hand around Ray’s back and the other to his head.

“Yeah, it sure is one of those days.” He pats Ray’s head.

Chapter Text

Athena leads the way to his and Ness’ assigned room. It’s really a suite now that he’s had time to explore it. Athena goes to place the bags on the couch in the room and stops when she realizes Ness is sleeping on it.

“Oh? Hm, well where should I put these?”

Sol is entirely too relieved that she hasn’t questioned Ness sleeping on the couch instead of the floor that he could cry.

“Uhm, by the closet is good.” She drops the bags quietly as plastic goes and takes a step back as Soleil does the same.

“Is there any reason Ness is sleeping on the couch? And with a towel?” She says, looking at his son.

He freezes mid-standing up before straightening.

“I didn't have time to set up his bed…” he says, knowing it’s a shoddy lie but hoping she’ll accept it as it’s technically true. He didn’t want to spend too much time looking for blankets. And beds are for servicing; there’s no way he’s putting Ness in one.

She hums before opening the closet, pushing bags aside with her feet. There’s a drawer inside of it and she opens the second one from the top.

“There are extra blankets in here just so you know. Please feel free to use them. I don’t want Ness sleeping with a towel.”

Sol flushes. “Sorry,” he mumbles.

“It’s no problem, I just don’t want him catching a cold or something. In any case, have a good night. Sleep well, we’ll talk in the morning.” She pauses. “I think we should come fetch you at around 8 for breakfast?”

He nods quickly. “Thank you,” he says and there’s a bit more emotion in his voice than he’d planned.

She doesn’t linger, “you’re welcome love.” And she sweeps out the door, purple locks flowing, and shuts it behind her.

He walks over to the door, there’s no lock on it, even though he wouldn’t dare to use it even if there were. He presses his head against the white wood and slides down to the floor as the day catches up to him.

Master, dead? He pinches the skin of his arm, wondering if he’s dreaming. Two new masters and a pet with seniority. They’ve all treated him and Ness well enough and he pinches his arm again, noticing his sudden trembling. He brings his hands to his head, tugging at his hair with one hand, hoping if this is all a dream he’ll wake up now before he gets too used to it. But he doesn’t seem to be waking up so maybe this is real. The moonlight slants across the floor and he wants to chance a glance at it but can’t bring himself to look outside. Instead he gets up on unsteady legs and closes the curtain.

Even then it’s not the total darkness he’s used to. Moonlight seeps through the fabric and illuminates the room. He tugs at the sleeve of his hoodie, wondering if Cyrill minds sharing his clothes. He goes to brush his teeth, avoiding the mirror as usual, and washes his face as he prepares to keep watch. He pulls one of the blankets from the drawer, glancing at the door as he does so and swaps it out with the towel Ness has.

He wants to check the bags for their items but Miss Athena said goodnight and that means he should be sleeping. He doesn’t want to make such an avoidable mistake. He does at least open the bruise balm he was given and places it on his face and the back of his hands. It’s cool to the touch and leaves a slight sting, He thinks about putting some on the backs of his thighs and his ass, which hurts from sitting all day, but can’t bring himself to get naked. He can’t even bring himself to pull off the hoodie to apply some to the rest of his arms or his neck. He leaves it on the bathroom counter instead.

He thinks it's okay to use the couch? Thankfully it's in the shape of L, leaving him plenty of space on the other side of Ness. Though he sits at the corner, pulling his knees to his chest, leaning against the side, and facing the door. He was older than Ness when Master started training him but even so, he knows that was only due to the protection of his mother. Hybrids aren’t human after all, morals don’t apply to things like them. And if they try to take Ness he wants to be awake to offer himself instead. Mister Ray said he wouldn’t want sex but men change their minds. And Miss Athena had said sleep well but even so. He’s been with another hybrid before, though that was at the direction of her master, he doesn’t know about another hybrid with as much free will as Cyrill. Any which way he doesn’t plan on sleeping tonight.

He doesn’t know what to think about his new masters and doesn’t want to think about them so he doesn’t, instead spending the next few hours both in and out of his body. Ears open and eyes open but unseeing. At some point his stomach growls and he wants to keen, even after a full meal he’s still hungry. Ungrateful. He thinks to the granola bar he squirreled away under the toilet sink but knows he’s not really considering it, that’s an emergency ration.

At some point he’s shifted to lying on his stomach, letting the bruises on his backside breathe. He half-notices as the room grows gray and light with the color of a new morning. Something in him wants to view the sunrise and it’s that thought that brings him back to himself. He nervously shifts, wondering if he should have touched the curtains in the first place. He gets up and pushes them back to what he thinks were there original positions.

Even so he doesn’t see the sunrise and realizes he must be facing the wrong way. He can’t help the disappointment that wells within him but he quickly stamps it out. The clock reads 7 AM and he allows himself to finally go through the bags.

He squats next to them. For him there are a few T-shirts and long sleeve shirts in different colors, two packs of grey cotton boxers, and a few pairs of soft pants, "lounge pants" the tags say. But his eyes widen upon pulling out the contents of the next bag. Three sweaters, thick but soft, in beige, grey, and a deep red. In the next bag there’s also two black turtlenecks and a large blue hoodie. He looks at the door. This is too much stuff. He hasn’t even gone through all the bags yet. His ankle twinges at him and he sits against the closet door. He buries his face into the sweater, it’s so soft. He doesn’t know what he’s going to be able to do to repay for these. “Just put them to good use?” Surely it’s not that easy. One of his masters doesn’t even want sex and that’s all he’s good at. He squeezes the sweater tighter.

But he knows not to refuse things offered, it might be seen as a slight. Even so his old Master would take repayment whether he took what was offered or not, so might as well take it. He digs through the rest of the bags. For Ness there’s mostly the same things, more hoodies instead of sweaters or turtlenecks and more colorful. There’s a T-shirt with a T-rex on it and Soleil’s eyes stay on it for a second longer than the others. Ness doesn’t even know what dinosaurs are; there were no books on those from Rose.

Part of him wonders if Ness will be able to have a better life but he ignores it, better to go in with low expectations. Except he doesn’t know what to do with those expectations when he reaches the next bag. It’s filled with plushies. A dinosaur, a horse, a bear, a rabbit, and a cartoony dog hybrid with a brown tail and ears. The hybrid has brown hair too and sown in black eyeballs and a felt smile, He holds it up next to Ness in his vision. He holds it and squishes it, suddenly remembering the elephant stuffed animal he had as a child. He lovingly dubbed it “Elephant.”

The day Master took him he took that too. “Hybrids don’t get to pretend to be human.”

He squeezes the dinosaur plush, moving its little legs before a sick feeling washes over him and he puts them all back in the bag. Hybrids don’t get to pretend to be human.

He decides he’ll leave the bag in the closet, better than giving them to Ness only to have them taken away; he wouldn’t understand.

The next has a number of books in them, children’s books and then a couple of children’s coloring books. There’s also a set of 64 colored crayons and it really is too much. The crayons feel heavy in his hand and he hopes they don’t expect Ness to pay them back, he’s never had to do anything for Master. Master was never interested in Ness besides using him to keep Sol entirely compliant and obedient. A small miracle.

Ness stirs in the couch and Sol looks up. “Better to use things than to not” but still. He presses his head to the crayons. He doesn’t know what his masters want from him yet, he doesn’t know how to calm them down or please them or bargain with them or how best to beg. He feels tears welling up in his eyes and for a second he almost wishes he was back at Master’s estate. At least there he knew what was expected of him. Or at the very least he knew what the punishments would be.

Thinking on it now, he wonders if his Master was ever mad at him the last three days or if he just “ignored” him because he was dead. He thinks back to the photos he saw and lets out a huff of laughter. He’s dropping the crayons and slapping his hands over his mouth before he knows it but more laughter keeps bubbling out of him. He knows Master would kill him if he was caught laughing over his death and that’s just what’s so funny, all the times he threatened to put Sol down “like a dog” and he’s the one that goes and gets shot! It’s really not funny he thinks but he can’t help the laughter that racks his body, quietly, he doesn’t want to wake Ness up. Tears bubble up in his eyes and then he’s crying for a different reason, trying to hold in his sobs because he’s just so lost.

He takes himself into the bathroom, climbing into the tub, a safe place, and tries to calm himself down. He slaps his hands over his mouth and holds his breath, feeling his body convulse for air before taking in a big gulping gasp and holding that too. Pulling at the roots of his hair to ground himself and after a few of those breaths he slumps over against the rim of the bathtub, suddenly feeling exhausted. He’d be shaking if he wasn’t so boneless, the hard tub presses on his bruises uncomfortably but he can’t bring himself to care.

He doesn’t want to leave Ness outside himself for too long, it’s nearing 8, so he forces himself to get up. He sets to putting the things away, looking through the bag of toiletries he was given. “Family size” shampoo and conditioner with an "ocean breeze" scent and liquid soap. There’s also a couple of combs, deodorant for him, unscented lotion, a pack of chapstick, and a pack of hair bands. Are his masters saying he should tie back his hair? He takes one off but is suddenly uncomfortable with exposing his neck so he puts it back, hoping that it’ll be fine. He grips them, torn as to if he should just suck it up when there’s a knock at the door.

He quickly stuffs the hair bands back in the bag and stands but nobody enters. He wonders if he misheard when the knock repeats. He walks over to the door and opens it a crack, peeking out. It’s Miss Athena.

“Good morning~ I hope you slept well. Breakfast is going to be ready soon so come over whenever you’re ready.”

And then she leaves.

Soleil is momentarily lost, that was it? And did she...wait for him to open the door? No barging in or insults or hair pulling? He wonders what she means exactly by breakfast when the scent of pancakes seeps under the door. His stomach grumbles and he ignores it. He sets to waking up Ness and getting him presentable for the morning.

Ness is always groggy when he wakes, used to spending most of his time asleep. Hopefully his schedule will adjust now that he’s able to sleep in a room with natural light.

Three meals a day at least was the agreement for Ness, of course he was subject to punishments because of Soleil’s failings so he knows what it’s like to go without a few meals but even so, Ness starts to wake up when Soleil tells him they’ll be having breakfast together. Soleil wonders if he should change out Ness’ shorts for the new pants but decides to leave it until his next bath.

He takes Ness’s hand and leads them to the kitchen.

--

Ray is already drinking his morning coffee, more flavor than coffee but it smells delicious and tastes just as good. If it works is more up for debate. Cyrill and Athena are working at the stove after Ray made the coffee. The three of them spoke over their new situation late into the night yesterday. They’re all in agreement that Soleil and Ness can stay as long as they want but they’re also going to have to explain the lack of a hierarchy to Soleil. It would also be prudent to get the two of them into therapy.

As for questioning Soleil on Grey’s workings, none of them want to trigger him but they also want to confirm their suspicions that certain politicians are involved in the black market. They already know who Grey’s right hand men were so they have other units working on fishing them out of the market before they can replace Grey.

He doesn’t hear either of their guests approach, instead sees Soleil slinking up to the doorway like he’s not sure if he’s allowed here. Ness is peeking around his mother with curious eyes and an even more curious nose.

Ray waves them in, “have a seat you two. We got a booster seat for Ness so he can reach the table,” extending his hand to said chair. There are child sized utensils laid out for him and a plate shaped into the face of a frog.

“Thank you, mister.” He then helps Ness into the seat and buckles him in. Ness kicks his legs happily, making grabby hands for the plate.

Soleil inconspicuously presses Ness’ hands down into his lap, or it would be inconspicuous if Ray wasn’t watching them.

“It’s okay, anything that looks like it’s for a kid is for him to use.” Soleil flushes, lowering his head, “ah, sorry, thank you.” And Ray takes another sip of his coffee. He feels a headache coming on.

“You don’t have to apologize for everything, it’s okay.”

Soleil ducks his head even further, “S-okay, thank you, s-mister.”

He takes an even bigger gulp of his coffee.

Cyrill comes over with a plate stacked high with pancakes, “and~ breakfast is here.” Athena comes over with a skillet full of eggs and sausages before sliding them onto a plate in the middle of the table.

Soleil is still standing. “Uhm…” he starts, “is there anything I can do to help?” He asks and his tail twitches for a second before stilling.

Cyrill smiles at him, “if you wouldn’t mind, could you get the maple syrup from the refrigerator? It should be in the door on the right.”

Soleil nods quickly and hurries over to the fridge. He brings the maple syrup over to the table and hovers uncertainly with it.

“You can just put it next to pancakes, dear,” Athena says. He does so and then steps back with his hands clasped in front of him.

“That's all we need from you, hun, you can go ahead and have a seat.” Soleil nods, ducks his head, “thank you, miss.”

He sits nervously, hands in his lap, head down. Ness’s eyes are wide as he looks over the food.

Ray serves two pancakes to Ness and fills one of the frog’s eyes with eggs and the other with sausages. Ness’s eyes are wide and he open-mouthed smiles, feet kicking as he looks over the food on his plate.

He leans over to add some food to Soleil’s plate who looks with similarly wide eyes. He sees his eyes flicker to Ray’s own plate and wonders if he’s ever been served first before.

Athena and Cyrill serve themselves as does Ray and they begin to eat. Soleil waits for each of them to start eating as they squeeze out their chosen toppings, maple syrup for Ray and Athena, strawberry for Cyrill, then ketchup for Cyrill and himself and barbecue sauce for Athena.

“Do you want any flavorings?” He asks, holding up the ketchup.

Soleil opens his mouth but is interrupted by Ness. “Can I have some of the strawberry sauce?” He asks, practically drooling.

“Good taste,” Cyrill jokes, pouring some over Ness’s pancakes.

Soleil blinks rapidly. “Could I…?” he tilts his head, “have some too…?”

“Of course” he says, offering up a blinding smile to which Soleil ducks his head.

Before Soleil starts eating his own food he cuts up Ness’s pancakes and sausages quickly, half-turnt towards his own food. He then begins to inhale his own food, barely chewing before swallowing. Ness eats more slowly but he has his arms around his plate as if worried somebody will take it away from them.

Ray is aware his partners are also watching their guests and Soleil might be as well by the way he grips his fork tightly. Cyrill gets up from the table and Soleil freezes mid-chew.

“How does a peach drink sound today?” He asks with a smile, pulling down cups from overhead.

“Good, thank you,” Soleil says, “tasty!” Ness squeals.

Cyrill pours drinks for them each, which Ness and Soleil each thank him for. Athena sips at her coffee, black.

“Would you like more food?” She asks Soleil, because with how quickly he’s eaten he’s almost finished before the rest of them. He freezes with his fork on the way to his mouth before he puts it down. His eyes roam over the rest of the food.

“I can have more?” He asks softly. He sounds disbelieving and Ray almost wishes Grey were still alive so he might kill him himself.

Ray picks two more pancakes from the pile and puts them on Soleil’s plate. “You are always free to have as much food as you want.” Athena and Cyrill made more food than usual on account of their guests.

Ness slurps up the peach drink and holds his cup out towards Ray, “does that mean I can have more peachy drink?” He looks adorable.

“Of course,” he says and goes to get the drink, he notes Soleil goes to say something but decides better of it. He pours Ness another cup and leaves the drink container on the table.

Soleil starts on his seconds with the same gusto he had before but by the time he’s halfway done he’s slowed down. He chews slowly and for longer. On the next bite his fork hovers above the plate, trembling in place. Cyrill breaks the silence and connects the pieces Ray is missing.

“You don’t have to finish it if you’re full.”

Soleil looks up, brow furrowed. “I don’t want to waste it...I asked for it.”

Cyrill gets up from the table and Soleil straightens in his seat. “Look,” Cyrill says, pulling out tupperware from the cabinets, “you can put anything you can’t finish in one of these and then you can put it in the fridge and eat it later, how about that?”

Soleil glances towards the fridge. “Thank you.” He says as Cyrill slides the pancakes into their new home. Ness seems to be struggling with the same problem but he finishes all of his food before drinking the rest of his juice.

“More?” Ray asks, holding the juice, but Ness glances at his mom and then shakes his head, saying thank you. He smiles contentedly and his tail wags happily; Soleil looks at it nervously.

Cyrill smiles, “you have such a cute tail!” He exclaims in a voice meant for children.

 

Ness smiles even brighter, gripping his tail in his lap and petting it.

“Thank you, mister!” He exclaims right back. “I love my tail and I love my momma’s too,” he says, hugging his tail close to his body, the end of it tickling his face. Ray notes the blush that spreads across Soleil's face.

“Your momma has a lovely tail too,” Cyrill says and Soleil looks up with wide eyes, his tail twitching at the end. He blinks once before his eyes flicker back to his own tail and very softly, very barely his fingertips brush at it.

“Soleil, do you think Ness and I could go watch cartoons?”

Soleil is visibly taken aback at being asked permission and he scrambles to grant it, “of course.” He nods quickly.

Ness’s feet kick high in the air, “cartoons!! I’ve never got to watch cartoons before!” He babbles on as his mother unbuckles him. Soleil stands to go with them but Athena interrupts:

“Ah Soleil, Ray and I were actually wanting to speak with you.” Soleil freezes as does Ness as he sees his mother’s demeanor change.

“Of course,” he nods, “go on Ness, thank you Cyrill.” And he sits back down. Ray collects Athena’s plate and goes to collect Soleil’s but he goes “ah! I can, I can take it, thank you, s-, thank you.” And goes to wash his plate but Ray tells him to just leave it, it’ll get washed later.

Once Soleil is sitting back down, nervously, Athena begins to relay one of the things the three of them talked over last night.

“To be candid, we’re looking for therapists for you and Ness.”

“Um...okay,” he says without argument, pulling at his index finger. The three look at each other. Athena tilts her head.

“Any thoughts on that?” Athena asks.

Soleil’s eyes flicker to the table. “Thank you.”

Athena frowns softly. Soleil’s eyes return to his fingers. “Soleil, do you know what a therapist does?”

He blanches. He starts to twist at his index finger. “Ah...no,” he says and then he shuts his eyes.

“That’s okay there’s nothing wrong with not knowing things. A therapist is somebody who’s going to talk with you, they help you work out your problems, past, present, and future.”

Soleil just keeps pulling at his finger, “okay.” He says.

Athena shifts in her seat and Soleil looks up nervously. “Okay,” she says, deciding to leave it at that. “We’re still looking but we want you to give it your best to be open and forthcoming with your therapist even if it makes you a little bit uncomfortable.”

Ray notices that his fingers stutter when she says the word “forthcoming.”

“Okay,” he nods anyway, keeping his head down.

Athena looks at Ray with a small frown. Ray just closes his eyes, not wanting to shake his head where Soleil can still see.

He stands, “okay, why don’t you go sit with Cyrill and Ness. We want to speak the three of us with you when Ness goes down for a nap, if that’s alright?”

Soleil nods quickly.

“Okay.” Ray leaves, taking his coffee with him. He hears Athena speaking softly to Soleil before she too joins him in his office. Athena’s frown is back and she puts her hair into a ponytail before heading to her laptop.

The two of them spend more of their morning researching hybrid abuse. Until Cyrill comes with Soleil in tow. His body is tense and his tail twitches behind him, his ears are down too. Ray wonders if he was this tense during cartoons or if he became tense once his talk with the three of them was imminent.

“We just want to talk, why don’t we head out to the living room.” Cyrill takes the lead, and the four of them march to said room. Before Ray can reach the couch he hears a thud behind him and turns around to find that Soleil has gone to his knees on the carpet.

“Soleil.” The kid is shaking and has his hands clasped behind him. “Do you think you could try looking at me? That would make me feel a lot better.”

His eyes make it to his chest before halting. His eyes do their dance of skittering to and fro before they finally settle somewhere around Ray’s eyes.

He offers a smile, “that’s good.” Soleil’s ear twitches. He’s breathing quickly.

Ray walks over to him and he sees Soleil’s trembling increase, his tail twitches behind him. Ray kneels with him, one knee on the carpet.

“Why did you kneel?”

“I-I’m waiting to serve.”

“Didn’t I say we were just going to talk?”

 

Soleil flinches. “Ah… Master says-” his eyes slide to the side and he swallows ”...a hybrid’s place is on the floor.” He recites.

“Mm,” he inhales, “well that’s not how it works here. Here, you sit on the furniture just like the rest of us.” Soleil blinks once, twice. His eyes flicker to the couch and he opens his mouth, looking troubled, but doesn’t say anything.

“Is that alright with you?”

“Wha-?” He blinks, “ah- yes, s-mister Ray.”

“Well then why don’t we sit?” He asks, offering his hand. Soleil takes it and his hand is small in Ray’s, slender but small. Ray leads him over to the couch and he sits, immediately wedging himself in the corner.

“That’s another thing we wanted to talk about.”

Athena takes over, “Soleil, what are we to you?”

Soleil blinks, sticking one hand in the opposite sleeve of his hoodie. “Ah you and Mister Ray are my new masters…” He trails off looking between them. “And Mister Cyrill is senior pet.” He inclines his head to Cyrill.

“Mm, we thought you might have that misconception.” Soleil just blinks and continues to fiddle in his sleeve, wringing the skin of his forearm with his hand.

“That is to say, not quite,” Cyrill explains for her. They’re going to have to talk with Athena about using smaller words around Soleil.

“Oh...I’m sorry.” Soleil says.

“Nothing to apologize for, kid, we just don’t want you misunderstanding. In this house there are no “mister’s” or “sir’s” or “miss’s” because the four of us are equals.”

Soleil frowns, he opens his mouth but then slumps back and keeps playing in his sleeves, “Okay.”

“Say what you were going to say, hun,” Athena says.

“Ah...I wasn’t going to say anything.”

“Okay, then say what you were thinking.”

“Oh...how can I?” He looks briefly at Cyrill. “Hybrids aren’t people, how can…” his brow scrunches but he trails off before steeling himself, “I’m not...I shouldn’t be equal to you.”

“Grey taught you that?” Ray asks.

Soleil nods.

“Okay. Well, he got it wrong. Hybrids are people, not any lesser than other people.”

Soleil just keeps looking at his hands, he forces them to still in his lap, “okay” he says, and swallows.

Athena starts again “Back to no titles, it would make us all very happy if you would call us by our names,” she says with a smile.

Soleil nods, “okay…” his fists curl “Athena.” She beams. His eyes flicker to Ray, “and...Ray.”

He nods, “well done.” Soleil flushes.

“And you already call me by my name,” Cyrill says. “There are some other things we wanted to go over too.” Soleil sits up straighter.

“We tried to think over everything that Grey might have missed. So here goes, we generally have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, sometimes we skip but you are always welcome to whatever’s in the kitchen. You are also welcome to not eat if you don’t feel like it. You and Ness are also welcomed to bathe or shower whenever you want, if you run out of soap or something let us know and we’ll get you some more.

If you are about to be out of fresh clothes ask one of us and we’ll show you how to do the laundry, after which you can do by yourself whenever you need to. Everything in the guest suite is for you to use as you please, including the blankets, towels, the bed, and everything in the bathroom. We generally change the sheets on the beds every week, you might want to adopt that schedule too and wash the sheets with the rest of your clothes. There are three other bathrooms in the house which you and Ness are also free to use. Any room that has a lock on it you may ask to enter but if the room has no lock on it or no door like the living room, kitchen, and west room, you are free to enter it and use it and the things in it as you like. If you have any questions about something in a room feel free to ask any of us.

None of us will ever hit you. No matter what. And we will never require repayment for what we give you. From either of you. And when it comes to sex, none of us will want sex from you or Ness.” He looks at Ray before he continues, “And we will not force you to have sex with others, nor will we request it from you or offer it. The same goes for Ness. You are not our pets or our hybrids; you are our guests. That means we will treat you with kindness and you are welcome here until you wish to leave.”

Athena picks up, “and for outside, you and Ness are welcome to explore the grounds as you wish during the day, there are fences around the perimeter, so please don’t cross the fence.” She frowns, “though there will be no punishment if you do, we just don’t want you getting lost. We ask that you take one of us with you so we might guide you around.”

“As for punishments.” Ray takes pause here and he feels Soleil’s eyes heavy on him. He could ask him what his past punishments were, but is that to “get an idea of his life” or is it just to satisfy his curiosity? Does he even want to hear? If they don’t ask now there will be no reason to in the future but is it taking advantage of his trust to ask? Athena, always the pragmatic one, makes the decision for him.

“What are-” Athena must see some merit in having him list them out but Cyrill cuts her off.

“We won’t punish you. Ever.” His face is one of determination and Athena simply nods, letting it go. Soleil looks between them with wide eyes and then at Ray, who also nods for confirmation.

Soleil laughs nervously, “what about when…? What if I make a mistake?”

 

“Then we’ll deal with it with words and do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Cyrill says. He’s unusually firm.

“Okay.” Soleil says, quiet and breathless.

--

They let him go after that and he returns to his room to watch over Ness. The next almost-week passes as peacefully as it can with Soleil constantly on edge. Ness is much happier than he was at Master’s estate. Cyrill asks about the coloring books at some point and so he lets Ness have them. But he also finds a few adult coloring books mixed in and Cyrill lets him borrow his colored pencils. He is able to fill pages with colorful mosaics and pretty sea animals. It’s very calming.

He has a full belly every day too. Cyrill and Athena make delicious meals. They’ve even allowed him to help, dicing tomatoes though he sures they’re much clumsier and chunkier than if either of them had done it. Ness asks for a granola bar one day and Soleil finally enters the pantry which is full of dry goods, he takes to squirreling away a granola bar every couple of days.
But he’s still barely sleeping. He dozes now in the night but is still unable to let himself get a good night’s sleep for fear of any of them changing their minds. Today he caught himself almost falling asleep while Cyrill and Ness watched cartoons and he jerked to on the couch.

It’s the sleep deprivation that causes his first mistake.

He’s washing his and Ness’s glasses after lunch. Athena and Ray are out and Cyrill has left the table to set up the TV in the living room.

Ness walks behind Soleil and asks, “what do I do with this?” referring to his plate. Instead of taking it like he normally would he says, “just put it on the counter.”

And he tries but the counter is just a little bit too tall for him, so he places it on the edge and tries pushing it inwards but instead-

It falls. And breaks with a shattering noise that has Soleil holding his breath.

The TV pauses. “Soleil?” Cyrill calls out and Soleil is roughly pushing Ness with one hand, “go hide in the pantry,” he hisses. Ness follows the command quickly, his tiny feet pattering across the floor.

Soleil meanwhile drops to his knees as he hears approaching footsteps, quickly scooping bits of glass into one shaking hand with his other.

Cyrill enters the kitchen, “everything okay-ah.”

And Soleil doesn’t look up instead words tumbling out, “sorry Sir it was all my fault, I wasn’t paying attention and I dropped the plate I’m sorry Sir.”

Cyrill takes a step closer, saying something that fades into static and Soleil can’t help it as he brings his hands up to cover his face, crunching bits of glass between fingers and pressing his shaking body into a ball against the kitchen cabinets. He doesn’t even notice the steady stream of apologies slipping past his lips, voice strained.

He feels hands against his wrists and he doesn’t fight as they’re lowered though he turns his head into his shoulder, trying to protect his face. His Master is saying something and he’s waiting for the unyielding grip of a large hand in his hair to yank his head around but it doesn’t come.

It’s the lack of force and the coaxing of a too gentle voice that has him peeking through eyelashes and hair. He meets Cyrill’s eyes and flinches away but Cyrill moves his face back into his peripheral. Not wanting to frustrate Cyrill he chances looking at him again and a smile crosses his face before he goes back to speaking.

Soleil’s hands go limp in his confusion at the smile and the movement of Cyrill’s lips begin to filter back into words.

“There we go just like that, you’re doing great, you’re so brave, take a deep breath for me, okay? 1, 2, 3, in-”

And sensing a command Soleil’s body responds, taking a heaving gulp of air though he hiccups on it halfway.

“There we go, you’re doing perfect, now let it out, phoo” and Soleil lets it out even though he wants to hold it.

They repeat a few more times until the static around Soleil’s brain feels more like just ringing and he’s able to breathe without choking.

“You’re doing so well, good job, now if you could relax your hands for me, okay? I want to make sure you haven’t hurt yourself.”

Soleil’s hands go limp and Cyrill gently uncurls his hands. He keeps up a steady stream of chatter, soft and praising.

Soleil looks at Cyrill’s face, concerned and focused on his hands as he picks out shards of glass that have left imprints on already scarred hands. Pinpricks of blood bubble up in some place, a trickle’s already dripped down to his elbow from his left but Soleil doesn’t feel pain, just a tingling in his fingertips.

“You’re doing so well, I’m sure it’s not easy to open yourself up like this, though I don’t think you’re all here to be honest. I want to go get the med-kit but I also don’t want to leave you like this, I think Ray and Athena should be back any minute now.” And then he looks around, Soleil’s brain scrambles to catch up, is he looking for Ness?

He blurts out a “sorry” with the careful enunciation of someone taught to speak clearly when apologizing. And Cyrill’s eyes meet his again. Even though Soleil wants to look away he still doesn’t want to anger Cyrill and better to keep attention on him. He swallows, hands automatically tensing but Cyrill is quick to continue his calming stream of words, uncurling Soleil’s hands again.

“None of that now, everything’s okay, I just don’t want to leave you alone.” He sits cross-legged from his former crouch and the movement jostles Ness just a bit, forcing him away from the cabinets. Cyrill frowns and Soleil’s heart picks up.

“Oh dear I have a feeling this question is going to be a prob-hm maybe don’t say that word. I want to make sure he’s okay but I’m sure any mention of Ness-”

Soleil’s eyes snap around again, “I’m sorry,” he says again, trying to think of ways he can distract Cyrill.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he says, “nobody’s in trouble-” but the static is back and the best way to distract Master is to offer himself, though whether Master will call him a filthy hybrid and fuck him or beat him is 50/50.

He reaches for his Master’s clothed cock and briefly wonders when he himself got so many clothes but his Master grips his wrists, surprisingly soft, and Sol figures he’s about to be beaten when Cyrill’s face enters his vision again.

He bears his neck.

The sight short circuits Sol’s brain. The scent of anxiety not his own breaks through his haze but more importantly it’s the fact that he’s smelling the scent of another hybrid, one who’s offering himself to Soleil.

“Wha-?” Is all he manages to get out. Cyrill is still saying something but it doesn’t translate for Soleil so, still holding his wrists, he brings one to his neck and rubs.

It’s electrifying, the fresh scent released in the air, their scents intermingled and Soleil goes limp against the kitchen cabinets.

Cyrill shudders before he brings his eyes back to Soleil’s.

“See? Everything’s okay, nothing to fear, you’re safe here. Are you with me now?”

Again Soleil manages to get out a “wha?” half-drunk with the rush of mixing scents so intimately and half-tired after the rush of adrenaline.

“That’s better, at least you can understand me now. You’re doing so well Soleil, you’re in the kitchen at my estate and nobody is going to hurt you, ever,” he emphasizes. “I want you to stay here okay and I’m going to go get the med-kit, is that okay?”

Sol nods, feeling like he would do anything to make Cyrill happy and he’s granted with a soft smile, “that’s good, stay right here okay, don’t move.”

And he doesn’t, not for however long it takes Cyrill to return, whether it be a second or an hour because Soleil’s still drifting on the euphoria of having his scent mixed with someone else’s. He remembers hearing his Master saying that to be marked is a bitch’s sole purpose. His Master was a self-proclaimed Alpha by how much he bit and tore at Sol’s own neck but as a non-hybrid his natural scent was weak. Sol had forgotten how nice it felt to mix scents with another hybrid, thinking back to that one night he was forced to sleep with that female hybrid one of his Master’s friends had bought as a pet.

Something is nagging at the back of his head but it doesn’t penetrate the foggy haze around his mind.

Cyrill comes back, “okay, okay I’m here,” and the thing nagging him reveals itself to be his voice, caught in his throat, caught in a whine. He abruptly comes back to himself, he’s been trained not to whine and he winces, a phantom pain shocking him and he slaps his hands to his mouth.

Cyrill’s fingers circle his wrists again, “you’re fine, you’re okay, it’s okay to make noise here, nobody is going to hurt you, I’m proud of you for letting your feelings known,” and in his confusion at being praised Soleil easily lets Cyrill take his hands from his mouth.

“Okay, this is going to sting just a tiny bit,” and he pours something onto a cotton ball and wipes Soleil’s hands with it. It does hurt, just a bit, but it’s practically nothing so Soleil takes the time to observe Cyrill. Again he’s concentrating on Soleil’s hands but he doesn’t look mad or even annoyed.

The front door opens then, breaking their bubble of calm. Soleil’s eyes shoot to the shards of broken glass on the floor and his tail twitches.

“It’s fine, everything’s going to be okay, I promise” Cyrill says.

Athena steps into the kitchen, sniffing the air, before she looks at the two of them with a frown, her eyes alight on the broken plate and her mouth opens with recognition before she continues looking around.

“Where’s Ness?” she asks and Soleil tenses up, almost bringing his hands close to his chest but Cyrill firmly but gently keeps hold.

“It’s okay Soleil, nobody’s going to get hurt. Safe here, remember?” He rubs their wrists together and Soleil jolts before going boneless again.

For a second he’s worried Athena’s going to be mad at him, he’s scenting with her partner after all but when he chances a glance at her all he sees in her is curiosity.

“Pantry,” he whispers.

“You’ve done such a good job, Athena’s going to take good care of Ness, why don’t we get you to bed.” He rubs at Soleil’s wrists gently with his thumb and being treated so gently has tears stinging at his eyes and before he knows it they begin to fall.

“Oh dear,” Cyrill says, and he sounds so forlorn that Soleil’s tears come faster, sad that he’s managed to upset Cyrill.

“Don’t worry, love, you’re doing such a good job, just a little bit more, here, stand with me, okay?”

He tries to stand but his knees buckle on the way up. Cyrill catches him anyway, “sorry,” he hiccups, but Cyrill waves it off.

“Ah, you have blood on your lips from your hands,” and Cyrill wets another cotton ball before swiping it softly against his lips. Then he wipes his tears with the pad of his thumb. His wrist comes so close to his neck he wants to instinctively offer his neck.

Feeling strangely aroused and not knowing what to do with himself Soleil only cries harder, raising one hand to wipe at his tears. His Master is always right, he’s such a filthy hybrid he can’t even take a single kindness without turning it into something perverted.

“Sorry,” he croaks.

“It’s no problem, love, you’re doing perfect, come now let’s get you to bed.” And he gently begins to lead Sol around the shards of glass.

“Ness?” He questions, looking around.

“Is going to watch TV with Athena, he’s safe, I promise you, you can trust me” and maybe it’s because he’s so tired of being worried all the time or maybe it’s because it’s Cyrill promising after they scented together but he can’t help but believe him.

--

Cyrill half-carries Soleil, delirious with a scenting he apparently hasn’t had for a while and an obvious lack of sleep, to his room. He goes to steer him towards the bed but Soleil does an aborted whimper and starts for the chair.

Cyrill frowns, the bed looks completely untouched, not even well-remade and he wonders if it’s been used at all. Cyrill would die before he let such a battered omega sleep in an armchair so he directs them to the couch.

Soleil collapses onto it, eyes already trying to drift shut as he valiantly fights against sleep.

Cyrill takes the blanket from the other end of the couch and comes to the conclusion that no, the bed hasn’t been used at all. He maneuvers himself so that Soleil’s head is in his lap and drapes the blanket over him. He wipes Soleil’s tears away again, the steady trickle hasn’t stopped.

Soleil’s mouth opens halfway as if he’d forgotten he was crying and he flushes, turning his head away from Cyrill.

“None of that now, love, it’s okay to cry, you can cry all you want here,” and he pets at his head with one hand, scritching at his ears with the other.

Soleil brings his hands to his face and his lip trembles and his breath hitches.

“Come on, I’m so proud of you, you’re doing so well,” Soleil turns wide, disbelieving eyes to meet Cyrill’s own and when all he sees is confirmation of what was just said before he presses clenched hands to his face and sniffles, holding his breath, and quickly wiping away tears only for them to be replaced just as fast.

Cyrill continues to pet his head as Soleil covers his face and weeps with hard-won tears that fight to be held back; his body jerks with hitched breaths. Cyrill keeps up his steady stream of praises because it looks like Soleil needs this, with each phrase his hands curl or he lets out a whine he doesn’t even seem to hear until finally he lets out a half-wail that turns into a sob and he begins to cry in the great, ugly way one does when they need to.

Cyrill turns Soleil’s head into his stomach, giving him a place to hide and Soleil takes it gladly, curling up on his side and bringing his knees up. Hardly muffled cries and dulcet praises fill the room for the next while until Soleil begins to quiet, breathing through his mouth because his nose is too stuffed. Eventually, tired out from a lack of sleep, the day’s events, and crying he drifts off to sleep.

“You must be exhausted,” Cyrill says as his thumb brushes pink hair.

Cyrill sits there for what he estimates is half an hour, petting Soleil’s hair and thinking over what just happened. The fact that he was so scared over a plate. (He almost wishes Grey was still alive so he could kill him himself.)

And the scenting. He expected it would calm him down, the natural instincts from an omega offering himself and then scenting together would appeal to another omega’s instinct to protect and trust. But he was practically drunk off of it. (When was the last time he scented with anybody?) It’s the same thing as being touch-starved but on a different level. He wonders if Soleil is touch-starved too as he brushes hair away from his face.

Cyrill’s eyes look sadly upon the omega in his lap. Such a sweet omega, desperate to please and desperate to protect his pup. (Desperate to please or desperate to not be hurt again?) Cyrill sighs and leans his head against the back of the couch. There are so many things wrong with Soleil’s situation he doesn’t even know where to start with correcting them.

An omega who won’t sleep on the bed given to them-and he looks around because there was only one blanket on the couch and if Soleil thinks he can’t even use a blanket. But then he sees it, a veritable nest under the table in front of the couch and he swallows, looking down at Soleil. A mattress on the floor, he remembers. He leans his head back and sighs again. They’re a little bit in over their heads he feels.

Soleil shifts in his sleep, a furrow on his brow, and he realizes he must be giving off an anxious scent. Scents are easier for dog-hybrid to smell and recognize, though for him to be recognizing them in his sleep either Cyrill is giving off a strong scent (it can’t be that) or he hasn’t been exposed to emotion-based scents very often.

Cyrill pushes his thoughts to the side, trying to project a sense of calm for Soleil. He’ll leave in a bit once he feels he can get up without Soleil waking. He tries not to dwell on what a lonely life Soleil must have led before now. He reaches for a pillow so he can switch it out for his lap.

Very, very carefully he slides his hand under Soleil’s head and then scoots himself over. Then he slides the pillow under his head. Soleil shifts, turning into the couch and curling into himself further. He looks quite small. He heads for the door, keeping quiet and takes his leave, though he lingers as he closes the door, looking in on Soleil.

He sighs once the door is closed behind him. Feeling drained, he seeks out Ray.

Chapter Text

Ray looks up from his work as Cyrill enters the room. His ears are down and he’s practically dragging his feet.

“You need to go down?”

Cyrill scowls, always reluctant to admit when he needs things.

“Yes…” he says reluctantly. Ray gets up and walks over to him smoothing back his hair and placing a kiss to his forehead, “good boy.”

Cyrill rolls his eyes but the pretty blush spreading across his cheeks doesn’t lie.

Ray takes his hand, they stop by the living room and Ray raises their joined hands towards Athena who nods. Ray notes that Ness is happily coloring something and babbling away.

He then leads them up the stairs and to their bedroom. Cyrill sits on the edge of the bed and Ray stands in front of his spread legs, smoothing his thumbs over the joint between his head and bunny ears.

“What do you need from me?”

Cyrill is looking up at him, he sighs, closes his eyes “a distraction, to not think.”

Ray leans down, presses a kiss to his lips. “Good job, love,” Cyrill’s blush returns but he just closes his eyes.

“Head to the bathroom, pants off when you come back.” Cyrill does just that as Ray opens the bottom left drawer of a chest in their closet. Not being able to think means anything vanilla is off the table so he pulls out some items Cyrill is fond of and maybe most importantly the blindfold. Sensory deprivation will do well to keep him focused on the task at hand.

Cyrill comes back from the bathroom in just his boxers and button-up shirt. He does well to keep his eyes averted from what Ray is pulling out of the closet; he places them on the bedside table and watches as Cyrill keeps his eyes painstakingly straight ahead.

Ray steps in front of him, not blocking his line of sight, and starts to unbutton his shirt. He smooths his shoulders as he takes it off, folds it, places it on a chair. He presses down on his shoulders to get him to sit and feels as Cyrill lets out a shaky breath, letting himself get into the head space he needs. He closes his eyes and Ray pulls out the blindfold from his pocket, tying it around his eyes. He thumbs at his bottom lip just to see Cyrill’s cute bunny teeth as he takes in a shaky breath.

Ray loves how quickly Cyrill can fall apart when it’s he or Athena. Capable of hosting 20 suitors in a row before without breaking a sweat or his facade but get Athena or him to put a blindfold on him and he’s already subconsciously leaning his face into Ray’s hand.

He softly pushes Cyrill down. He ties his wrists together and ties them to a hook in the center of their headboard.

“Don’t move your legs,” he says, spreading them but not tying them down with the straps hidden between their box spring and mattress just yet.

Instead, he kisses at Cyrill’s neck and licks at his ear, breathing a puff of warm air on wet skin before saying:

“Pay attention to what you feel, and don’t move your legs” Cyrill nods once, hands clenching over his head.

Ray takes a few minutes to explore Cyrill’s body, runs the pads of his fingers over freckled skin, scratches ever so barely at his stomach and watches it jump, tickles at the bottoms of his feet and watches him try not to move his legs away from their positions. Squeezes at his thighs.

Traces circles around pierced nipples, before he rolls them back in forth in pinched fingers, tugs and twists at them until he hears the first hiss of air escape Cyrill’s mouth, sees his toes twitch. He leans up and gently rolls his tongue around one, laps back and forth before he sets his teeth around it and bites down, rolling it between his teeth. Cyrill’s toes curl as he jerks back, trying to pull away as he lets out something a mix between a groan and a whine.

Ray laps at it apologetically but then does the same to the other and even half prepared for it Cyrill whines, “Ray…” who huffs a bit of laughter over his spit-slick nipple and laps and kisses at that one too.

Ray climbs off of Cyrill, rolling up his sleeves, and debates on the merits of using the feather vs. the candle on Cyrill. He decides he wants to see how long Cyrill can keep his position and so he attacks his feet with the feather and his nails, watching as Cyrill’s feet curl and the muscles in his legs jump. Choked off laughs bubble out of him and his hands nails bite into his palms as he tries not to move his legs. Cyrill taps out when his foot twists to the side, not technically his leg, “Ray, Ray, I can’t” he laughs, breathless.

Ray climbs back over him, pressing a kiss to curved lips and running hands up his sides, tickling at them. Cyrill chokes again, “Ray! I c-can-” he breaks off into more laughter and one knee comes the slightest bit up. Ray decides to forego the candle anyway, aiming more for pleasure than pain.

He pulls Cyrill’s boxers down and off, pointedly pushing his knee back down. This time he brings the straps up , securing them around Cyrill’s ankles. It’s permission to move his legs again and Cyrill immediately begins to wiggle his midsection, begging Ray to touch him without asking.

Ray grabs the wand vibrator and turns it on, Cyrill whines once he registers the buzzing in the room. Ray shuts it off, teasing, and instead lowers his face to Cyrill’s groin, pressing his hips down into the mattress. He kisses and laps at the underside of Cyrill’s cock who sighs. Then he spreads his labia, massaging at the lips, runs one finger up and down at his entrance before licking his way inside. He savors his partner’s taste and Cyrill groans when he begins to rub back and forth at the base of his cock where he likes it.

He licks his way up to the tip of Cyrill’s cock, flush with blood, foreskin back, and begins to suck at the tip as he enters two of his fingers and rubs inside at Cyrill’s walls, fingers curled and rubbing at the spot Cyrill loves. Cyrill’s moans get higher in pitch and he begins to rock back and forth on Ray’s fingers. His hands twists in their restraints and his knees try to come up and his chants of “yes, yes, yes” get higher and turn into a moan. Which is when Ray backs off.

“Nooo,” he whines, bucking his hips in the air and trying to squeeze his thighs together which Ray helpfully holds apart.

“Focus on what you feel,” Ray says.

Cyril sticks his tongue out, “I feel horny and like cumming is what I feel.”

“Oh, you’ll come,” Ray promises as he grabs a towel and places it below Cyrill’s hips. He turns the vibrator back on and rubs it up and down, around Cyrill’s pretty cock and pussy. Cyrill whines again but holds still, knowing if he’s impatient now Ray will just prolong things.

Then he presses the vibrator to Cyrill’s cock and he yelps, jerking back before pressing forward. Ray rubs the vibrator up and down, gently, and he watches as Cyrill’s thighs start to twitch, his hands curl, and he mouths “come on, come on, come on.” His thighs draw together and his pussy starts to pulse and Ray turns the vibrator off, holding Cyrill’s thighs apart as he whines and moves his hips up and down, chasing his orgasm.

Ray turns the vibrator back on, rubbing it up and down Cyrill’s cock again as he silently chants “come on” again. He pulls it away this time too, savoring this type of pleasure and pain he learned first-hand from Athena. He repeats a few more times, watching as Cyrill’s pussy convulses and drips with each ruined orgasm, pulling him to the edge and watching him teeter until Cyrill leads out a loud whine, yanking on his restraints. He starts to babble this time:

“Please, please, I wanna cum so bad, come on Ray, come on, please please please, oh right there, right there, come on, please, fuck, fuck, fuck” and Ray lets him come, watching as his pussy twitches and pulses and he squirts on the towel, his legs come up and his toes curl, his thighs twitch. Ray doesn’t move the vibrator though and quickly Cyrill’s whole body starts to twitch as he moans and keens with pleasure, his head twists back and forth but the rest of hi freezes against the vibrator, taut with tension, chanting “fuck” the entire time.

Ray pulls the vibrator off and Cyrill’s hips roll back and forth as he shakes himself loose. Ray presses his lips to him one last time, licking at his beautiful pussy and cock until Cyrill slumps back on the bed.

He quickly undoes the ankle restraints before taking off his blindfold and wrist restraints.

“Mm, thank you,” Cyrill says sleepily and Ray presses a kiss to his lips. He uses the underside of the towel to wipe down his thighs and groin, which Cyrill’s hips jerk from, before throwing it into the laundry basket.

He pulls the blanket from the other side of the bed and folds it over Cyrill as he turns onto his side and drifts off to his post-orgasm sleep. He grabs his laptop and glasses, strips his pants, and slides into bed beside Cyrill, leg pressed against his back.

Chapter Text

Athena listens as Ness babbles about the Pup show he’s enraptured with and how he’s really happy horses and dogs can be friends and maybe one day he’ll get to meet a horse and so on. He’s coloring a page in with a pup-hybrid having a picnic with a cat-hybrid, scribbling approximately where the colors should be. The first time he started coloring in he cried out of frustration because he couldn’t color inside the lines well enough until Cyrill told him it’s okay to color outside of them. Athena frowns, realizing his lack of control is due to a lack of exposure with writing utensils. However his eating is less sloppy despite the dog bowl and Athena wonders why that is. Perhaps the “lady who gives him food,” had a soft spot for him.

While Ness is coloring Ray and Cyrill enter the doorway and Ray raises their conjoined hands towards her. She nods in acknowledgement and they head off. She and Ray came home to the sight of a broken plate and, though Ray couldn’t tell, the scent of fear and anxiety in the air. He certainly felt the tension in the room though, electing to stand back to avoid crowding Cyrill and Soleil on the floor in the kitchen. She watched curiously as Cyrill scented with Soleil and she realized it wasn’t the first time before he softly gave up Ness’s hiding spot.

At first the pup was distraught with worry for his mother, crying and apologizing. She was able to puzzle together that he dropped a plate and his mother told him to hide while Ray cleaned up said plate and put back the med-kit. She was able to calm him down with a tasty pudding. She only hopes it doesn’t send the message that if he cries he gets pudding, not that she would deny him food. Now they’re coloring together, or rather Athena watches while Ness colors.

It’s been the better half of a week since Soleil and Ness arrived. Ness is blossoming, excited to see and learn new things and a generally happy child now that he’s out of that room. Sometimes he’ll let slip things about his upbringing, earlier today he mentioned sleeping on the couch and earlier this week “I’m happy I get to play with you and Momma and Cyrl and Ray, back in my room I only got to see Momma sometimes.” Athena wonders why he’s sleeping on the couch and debates the merits of bringing it up with Soleil. If he wants a separate bed for Ness that can be arranged, or perhaps that toddler crib they forsook?

They had to get him special sunglasses as the sun was too bright for his weak eyes but he enjoys looking out the windows and will sometimes spend hours at a time. It’s evident Soleil is still fearful of going outside as the one time Athena asked if Ness would like to go outside he looked at his mother first, who was frozen in his seat. She quickly changed the subject and hasn’t asked since but is preparing to ask him out to the porch. It will take a while to show him he won’t be punished for all the things he’s used to being punished for.

So, Cyrill needs a session and Soleil most likely had a panic attack. She tries to think on what she can do to make the situation better and decides she’ll cook up one of Cyrill’s favorites. Asparagus and mashed potatoes while Soleil has shown himself to be partial to fish so she’ll make some salmon as well. Ness will certainly enjoy mashing the potatoes, She watches as his tail wags softly as he talks. His tail has been more animated the longer he’s stayed here, small signs of a healthy hybrid.

They also take care to note the signs of an unhealthy hybrid though. The last two mornings he’s been withdrawn, perhaps due to nightmares? The other morning she noticed him slip a pancake into his hoodie pocket but didn’t mention it. She’s since noticed he’s taken something with him at least once a day. Hoarding food has certain implications but she’s not a trained therapist so she’ll leave it to them to deal with lest she make it worse. He’ll look outside all day but won’t ask to go outside; that at least is something she can work with.

And she thinks she’s close to finding a therapist for Ness, there’s somebody in the city she and Ray visited who gave her a good impression. Of course they won’t know until Ness meets with her but she has high hopes. As for Soleil she’s still debating on the merits of having him meet with Cyrill’s former therapist, on the one hand they’re no longer seeing each other but at the same time it might be bad practice. Or not, that’s the thing, she doesn’t know. She supposes she can ask her own therapist but her next appointment isn’t for another 2 weeks and she’d rather not wait that long to reach out. She also supposes she could reach out to Cyrill’s old therapist and ask what she thinks but, hm, maybe she will do that.

While Ness seems to be excited to adjust to his new environment Soleil is still withdrawn. He spends long hours following Ness around, curled up in the corner of the couch where he can keep an eye on the room when Ness is watching TV, and staying in their room when Ness naps.

His list of triggers is also extensive. He freezes at the sound of keys or anything that jingles and around knives, will barely glance outside if Ness asks him to look at something and only after his eyes skitter around the room first, won’t ask for more food or drink at meals, flinches at sudden movements or loud sounds and nearly had a full-blown panic attack and pulled Ness to their room when Ray started taking off his jacket in his view him after coming home yesterday.

On the bright side he will eat all he’s given, has slipped into the pantry a couple of times, and wholeheartedly plays with Ness. He’s also taken to using the adult coloring books she got him. She frowns because if she wonders if he actually ate the granola bars from the pantry or if he took them like Ness is doing. She sighs. He would get better faster in a facility but that would almost definitely mean being separated from Ness and she can only see a fight breaking out as he learned that news. Perhaps it would do well to get him a journal, she looks at Ness. It would probably help him as well.

“Ness, I’m going to go get something, okay?”

He looks up from his coloring, having stopped talking to focus on his papers. He nods with curious eyes.

She heads to her office and pulls out two journals from her ever growing stack of unused notebooks with pretty designs that she gets just because they’re pretty and she’s a journaler. She gets one with wide-ruled paper for Ness. She wonders if Soleil has experience writing very much and then frowns as she wonders if he has experience writing at all. She gets him a wide-ruled notebook as well, bigger lines never hurt anyone after all, right?

She comes back with the notebook and leans down in front of Ness.

“Hey Ness, do you know what this is?”

He looks from the book in her hands to his coloring book and frowns. “Is it some another coloring book?”

“Not quite, but close! It’s a journal. Do you know what you would use a journal for?” He shakes his head. That’s another difference between Ness and Soleil. Ness is fine with not knowing things but Soleil is terrified of the same thing. Sometimes he’ll freeze when asked a question, open-ended or yes/no. They’ve taken to ignoring his tense pauses until he answers at which point they go on like nothing happened, hoping to show him that he can say whatever he wants and won’t be hurt for it. Ness also babbles a lot like a healthy child should while Soleil tends to only speak when spoken to.

“It’s so you can write stuff down, like your feelings and what you did today. Instead of filling it with colors you fill it with words.” Ness looks at it with curious eyes.

“Here, this one’s for you.” And she gives him the one that has a floral pattern.

He smiles up at her as he takes it and then goes back to coloring.

Athena settles in for another hour or so of playing with Ness before they start dinner.

--

The keys jingle and he jerks awake. He scrambles to a standing, head lowered, and the lock click opens. Master is muttering something under his breath.

“Good afternoon, Master,” he ventures rather than get reprimanded for no greeting.

“It’s night, mutt.” Soleil nods, “Sorry, sir.”

His chain is yanked and Soleil stumbles forward, catching himself on the edge of the kitchen sink. The collar clicks open and drops to the ground. “Thank you, sir,” he says but his Master just says “shut the fuck up,” And Soleil knows he’s in for a really bad day.

His Master grips at the hair on the top of his head and pulls him along, Soleil stumbles with him, wincing against the pain and trying to stay as close to his Master’s grip as possible. His Master shakes his head in his grip and demands, “what the fuck do you say, mutt?”

“Thank you, sir” he yelps. His Master hurls him against the wall. “Fuckin useless, work my fuckin ass off all day and can’t even get a proper welcome home. Fuckin Chris thinks he’s gonna fuckin go behind my back.”

Soleil hears the jingling of a belt being unbuckled and braces his arms against the wall, legs spread, trembling in place. The belt whistles through the air and he prepares to start counting, eyes squeezed shut against the pain but the sharp pain of leather against skin never comes.

Instead he’s kneeling in the kitchen and something strikes him as strange because the floor tile seems different, Then he hears footsteps and something reminds him he’s supposed to be cleaning up broken glass that wasn’t there a second ago and he’s hurriedly scooping it into his hands. The footsteps reach the doorway and apologies are already spilling out of his mouth but it’s interrupted by his Master’s deep voice.

“Shut the fuck up, Soleil” but his Master never calls him by his name so he looks up and it’s Ray, that scar across his face looking especially intimidating.

“Did I say you could look at me, mutt?” It’s Ray’s voice now and he looks down at his hands full of broken glass but instead it’s pancakes hidden in pockets and granola bars stolen from the pantry.

“Stealing?” Soleil looks up with wide eyes before quickly looking back down. He stutters, knowing he has no excuse, “I’m sorry, I-”

“Don’t want to hear it, shirt off.” And Soleil freezes because he’s gotten too used to no punishments, he tries to wriggle his way out of it. “S-sorry sir, I can make it up to you, let me-” and he’s crawling forward on his knees but then there’s laughter from behind him.

“He has me for that,” says Cyrill, naked and collared like Soleil used to be and Athena is standing beside him, hands caressing the chain to his collar.

“Shirt. Off.” And Soleil’s head swivels back, mouth open as he tries to think of how to work his way out of this, he doesn’t want to be beaten again, but Ray’s lost his patience, he pulls his belt off, and Soleil raises his hands, but they’re trapped against something and he tries reaching out again and then he- falls.

He rolls and lands with his back against the table, looking under the sofa, holding his breath. He blinks, untangling his torso from the blanket, sticking his hands under his shirt and pressing down on his back but for once there are no new bruises. In fact most of his bruises have healed up nicely and he’s relatively unhurt. He thinks to the granola bars in the back of the drawer under his pants and bites his lip. He’ll put them back, he decides, and he’ll have to tell Ness no more taking food. He probably should have told him from the first pancake but the habit was encouraged back at Master’s.

There’s a knock on the door and he hurries to stand but his foot gets caught on the blanket and lands on his front. The door clicks open.

“Oh, dear, are you okay?” It’s Athena’s voice.

“Momma!” And Ness runs over to him. He nods at Athena. “Thank you.” And works on standing properly this time, folding up the blanket.

“We were just coming to see if you were interested in helping us making dinner.”

“We’re making mashed potatoes! Athena says I get to mash!” Ness beams.

Soleil ruffles his son’s hair. “I would love to,” he says softly.

The two of them follow Athena where she begins to pull out bowls. She taps at something on her phone, “how about some music?” She asks, smiling.

Soleil nods, “that would be lovely thank you.” It’s been so long since he’s had the chance to listen to music. Ness has never had the chance, only the off-tune lullabies he used to hum when he couldn’t sleep.

She puts on something mid-paced with bright tones and the piano he so loves. He thinks it’s jazz but he always remembered jazz as being slow so maybe he’s wrong. Now that he's had time to wake up he's anxious about his punishment from breaking the plate so he nervously hovers out of Athena's arm's reach.

He peels the potatoes while he has Ness sit at the table, kicking his feet and eager to help. Soleil isn’t eager to have a repeat of earlier so he’d rather have him sit. Athena chops off the ends of the asparagus and hums as she does so, swaying to the music.

He's so busy keeping an eye on Athena he peels the potatoes on auto-pilot and accidentally Knicks himself. He jerks his hand back, cradling it to his chest and hoping he didn't get any blood in the food. He's considering how to get back to work without dirtying the food when Athena sidles up to him.

He holds himself perfectly still, wondering if now he'll be punished. Two mistakes in one day? What's wrong with him? Athena holds out her hand and says "let me see" and he wonders if she's going to magically pull out a cane from somewhere and lash his palms. Instead she magically pulls out the med-kit and sprays his finger with something wiping it and wrapping it with a band-aid.

"There we go. No harm done," and then she goes back to the asparagus. Soleil blinks, that was it? Ness is calling for him, curious to know what just happened and Soleil shows him his band-aid.

"This is why you have to be very careful in the kitchen" he says, berating himself for losing his focus.

However things seem to go downhill from there. Worried about punishment for dropping the plate, nicking himself, on top of his general anxiety causes him to make mistake after mistake.

He drops the peeler, he would earn at least a slap for that, he nicks himself again when cutting the potatoes and Athena deems him useless after that because she has him sit down. He shouldn't even get dinner by his Master's standards.

Why can’t he do anything right?

--

Cyrill wakes to the smell of fish and the sound of typing next to him. He rolls over in bed, propping himself up on his elbow to face Ray.

"Morning," he says and Cyrill sticks his tongue out at him.

He climbs out of bed, pulling on clothes as he goes, this time a pair of soft pajama pants and a plain T-shirt.

“Did you and Athena get what was going on?

“Ness dropped a plate and Soleil had a panic attack?”

Cyrill nods.

“Also, you scented with him?” Ray asks, not accusingly but raising an eyebrow.

Cyrill nods again. He hasn’t scented with anyone but Athena or Ray since he quit his last job. He tilts his head, considering how he feels about this. Scenting’s become something he cherishes. He thought it would calm Soleil down, and it did, just way more than he expected. Again he’s not happy about the implications but he’s glad it at least drew him out of his panic attack. He’d do it again too.

At least if I had to scent with someone it was someone cute. The old part of him mutters and he’s taken by surprise at the realization that he thinks Soleil is cute. He humors it for a second. Soleil may be cute but he’s also a fucking mess, no way around it, he tells himself before he jumps the gun.

His stomach gurgles and he remembers why he was up in the first place. He looks back to Ray and finds that Ray is staring at him.

“Did you enjoy it?” He asks. Ray is always curious about experiences related to being abo or a hybrid so he hums, considering.

“Don’t know, was too busy trying to curtail a panic attack,” he says wryly. “I’ll probably scent with Athena tonight, though” and Ray nods, considering.

“Cme on, let’s go see what’s cooking,” and Ray snorts because he knows they’re both thinking good looking but neither of them will say it.

When they get downstairs the atmosphere is strange. At the stove is Athena, scooping the mashed potatoes into a bowl. Ness is at the table and he turns around when they enter, his tail wags just a bit but his face is? Tense? But next to him is Soleil with his hands curled in his lap and head down. It takes Cyrill a second to place the undertone in the atmosphere, it’s not ? Sadness? No, disappointment? Not that either it’s more, sharp, hm, ah it’s distress and he frowns.

“Ah, perfect! I was just about to come get you.” Athena says warmly, putting the bowl of mashed potatoes on the table next to a bowl covered with aluminum. (He sniffs the air and he hopes it’s asparagus that he’s smelling). She pulls out two trays of fish out from the oven and slides them onto the platters and Cyrill can feel himself salivating. Ness’s tail has started going faster too but Soleil hasn’t moved.

Ray takes his seat but Cyrill stands in the doorway, debating if he should say something to Soleil. He decides he ought to after his panic attack earlier, he’s probably worried about being punished for dropping it still.

He walks over to Soleil’s side and crouches down. Soleil’s hands tighten but he keeps his eyes (wide but unseeing) in his lap. Cyrill reaches a hand to hover over Soleil’s, afraid of touching him and triggering him but Soleil’s eyes flicker and he jerks his head up.

“S-sorry Cyrill I didn’t mean to ignore you.”

“It’s fine,” he smiles, “I was just wondering if we could speak out in the living room.”

“Y-yes, of course” and then he stands quickly, and walks to the living room with robotic movements.

Cyrill notes how he stops in front of the carpeted section and his fists clench but he doesn't go down to his knees even though surely he wants to. Cyrill instead leads him with a gentle hand on his bicep to the couch.

"How are you doing?" he asks.

Soleil's pulling at his index finger. "I'm fine, thank you for asking."

Cyrill reaches out to cover Soleil's hands with his own. Soleil flinches even though he doesn't move quickly. (He notes there are two band-aids around his fingers he didn’t place there).

"What are you worried about?"

Cyrill watches as Soleil's eyes skitter across the living room and he opens his mouth only to bite down on his lip instead. Cyrill waits him out, separating his hands and rubbing at his palms with his thumbs. He swallows and his tail twitches unhappily behind him but Cyrill still waits.

"My…" he swallows again before he looks up and his eyes are wet and his lip trembles as he says clearly, “my punishments s-” and he winces at his slip-up “Cyrill.”

Cyrill softens his eyes, “remember we told you there are no punishments in this house?”

“But I’ve made mistakes.” (He’s still trembling).

“What mistakes? You mean the plate? And, what?”

“Yes. I dropped the plate. I cut myself twice when Athena trusted me to peel the potatoes and then I dropped the peeler.” Cyrill hates the way he over enunciates his supposed wrongdoings, as if he was trained to voice them explicitly. (It makes his stomach churn).

“Well listen, we aren’t going to punish you for mistakes, okay? I’m sure you already feel regretful enough.”

Soleil takes a big inhale and then says “I need my punishments to keep me in my place, s-” and this time he cuts himself off.

Cyrill’s stomach churns further and he’s suddenly feeling out of his depth. Something about the way he says it is off but he can’t place it and he’s not going to have him repeat it. He tries to forge ahead.

“Remember what we said about places in this house? The four of us are equals. There isn’t any place to keep you in,” he says squeezing lightly at Soleil’s hands.

Soleil opens his mouth, and his whole body jerks as his breath hitches. Cyrill vaguely panics, not thinking clearly since he just woke up and something or other about not wanting to abuse trust he doesn’t scent him again, instead drawing him in for a hug.

It seems to have the opposite effect of scenting at first, instead of going boneless Soleil holds himself tense as though he’s afraid to touch Cyrill. Cyrill rubs circles into his back with one hand and pets at his head with the other, hoping he didn’t just trigger him by coming so close. (He never thinks clearly after just waking up, he should’ve just asked if it was okay to scent again, he wants to facepalm).

“You’re okay, you’re okay,” he says, hoping Soleil will do something soon besides hold himself so tensely. He presses his head down into his shoulder, which has the added effect of rubbing their necks together and Soleil keens before finally relaxing. (Looks like they’re scenting after all). Cyrill shudders and just keeps rubbing at his back and petting at his head.

“What has you so upset-” and he has to cut himself off because he almost called Soleil baby. It’s omega instinct he says to himself.

Soleil shudders and he feels the hot warmth of tears on his shoulder. He rubs at one of Soleil’s ears, feeling it flick against his hand.

“I don’t know if this is a test…” he says softly.

Cyrill pulls back so he can look Soleil in the eye, though he has to prompt him because as usual Soleil is looking away.

“This is not a test, okay? We don’t test people when they don’t know what they’re being tested for. Never.”

Soleil rubs at his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he says, distressed.

Cyrill rubs at his other ear, “no need to apologize, hun,” (he’ll let that one slide, he uses it for everyone) “you’re doing just fine. Food will make you feel better,” he smiles.

Soleil nods, “thank you Cyrill,” he smiles softly and Cyrill’s heart skips a beat. It’s the first time he’s seen Soleil smile. (It’s a good look for him).

Chapter Text

Ray notes that the kid is much more relaxed when he comes back to the table. Good on Cyrill for whatever magic he worked. He ducks his head when he reaches the table and tries to take over where Ray is cutting up Ness’s food but Ray lightly brushes him off so he can start eating his own food.

Soleil starts eating quietly, still somewhat nervous, Ray can tell, but at least he’s present again. Conversation flows as it has been with their new additions, he and his partners talking softly and Ness sometimes popping in. They always show their interest in whatever he says and he’s growing more and more talkative each day.

Soleil still only speaks when prompted to but is much less nervous when called upon.

Something Athena does, a shift in her seat, the way she holds in her fork, an inhale... he’s not quite sure but something draws Ray’s attention to her and the way she’s about to say something potentially mood-changing. Ray kicks her under the table because he’s almost certain it’s an offer to go outside and he feels that Soleil’s dealt with enough today.

Apparently Cyrill’s had the same idea because she looks at both of them before rolling her eyes and instead popping another piece of fish into her mouth. He’s sure she’s going to call him “soft” later.

Soleil hasn’t noticed, always looking down, but Ness looks at them curiously. Ray distracts him by asking if he likes the fish.

They finish up their dinner and Soleil quickly thanks them before he takes Ness and retreats to their room. Cyrill starts working on the dishes and Athena and Ray move to the counter near him.

“What had him so upset earlier?” Ray asks.

Athena sighs, “he cut himself on the potato peeler and then dropped it, three mistakes he was beating himself up over even though I told him it was fine.” Then she shoots him a dirty look, “I was only going to tell him the potatoes were good earlier.”

“Mm-hmm, sure,” Cyrill hums. She knocks his hip then wraps her arms around his waist, resting her cheek against his shoulder blade. Ray picks up a washcloth and starts drying dishes before putting them away.

“Outside would’ve been a good reward for such nice potatoes,” she purses her lips.

“And if it triggered another panic attack?”

 

“Well then we get them all out of the way,” she jokes, not at all serious and knowing they have a point.

Ray pats her head and she swats him, “don’t rush it.”

“But what about Ness? He’s as impatient as I am to go outside.”

“You’ve been outside,” Cyrill jokes and Athena softly headbutts his back.

“You know what I mean,” she says “and I’m not going to take Ness out without Soleil’s approval.”

Ray hums, acknowledging her point but not weighing into it either way.

“Fine, but next time Ness looks longingly outside I’m bringing it up.”

Cyrill nods, “sure, that works.”

Cyrill finishes up the dishes and as they head upstairs Athena rubs her wrist against Cyrill’s, intertwining their fingers. The first possessive display of the night and acknowledgement that he scented with Soleil.

None of them are possessive-possessive but Athena’s the closest any of them get. She’s just proud that they belong to each other. They have to actually talk about what happened earlier but Ray can already tell she’s going to want to take Cyrill down herself. He switches in gear for a long night.

--

Soleil spends the next hour playing stuffies with Ness. They have an ongoing story where the bear and the dinosaur want to be friends but they have to cross an uncrossable river. Using hand shadows they are able to send messages back and forth and although none of it makes any sense Soleil is always happy when Ness is able to play like a normal child.

That night Ness sleeps with his head in Soleil’s lap instead of under the table as he keeps watch for the night.

He thinks over the day. He’s made too many mistakes; he knows that not sleeping enough makes him sloppy but even so. He sighs as he leans his head back onto the sofa. Ness is in his lap, he should hear the door click open if anything. He lets his eyelids close. They flutter with the urge to open but he waits for them to settle down. He’s become very good at dozing lightly, waiting for footsteps or the jingle of keys so that’s what he does until morning.

As always, thoughts, half-baked and strange, flit over the surface of his consciousness

He begins getting ready at 7, taking a shower and waking Ness so he can have a quick one as well. When Athena knocks on his door they're ready as always now that he knows the drill.

He swears that today he won't make a single mistake and show that they're making the right decision to keep he and Ness.

--

Athena notes that Soleil has been off since yesterday. Today he holds himself stiffly and asks if he can help during breakfast no less than three times. They let him cut some fruit then set the table then wash the dishes after he seems to physically wilt when told they're fine the first time.

Ness is also quieter than normal, speaking only when spoken to like Soleil.

The scent of determination is subtle but intense once she places it. She lets it go on for two days before she brings it up.

Ray and Cyrill take Ness to watch cartoons while she asks Soleil to wait for a minute. He stands nervously next to his chair before she asks him to sit.

“We’ve noticed the two of you are quieter than normal, is something the matter?”

A sour scent unfolds in the air from him, anxiety. He pulls at the finger of his left hand as usual when he’s anxious and his ears fold. Athena doesn’t want him beating himself up too badly for what she thinks might’ve been a harmless mistake.

“Did I do something wrong?”

"Wha-!?” He looks up, shocked, and holds eye contact for a good few seconds she would love to reward him for. “N-no! It's not that, it's just…" he bites his lip and looks away again.

Athena nods,"that?"

"We want to show that you should keep us," he swallows, "and I thought it would help if Ness were quieter.”

"Soleil, honey, the two of you are welcome to stay here as long as you want, even if takes years or even if it's forever. That's not going to change, I swear it. As for Ness, and the same goes for you, we love hearing you talk, okay?”

"Sorry I'm not…" his brow furrows and he lets out a little puff of breath. "Even before Master, my mother always told me 'children should be seen not heard' so I thought," he winces, "sorry, I thought you might like it better if he was quieter but I was wrong." He looks at his hands folded tightly in his lap.

“That’s okay. Children deserve to be heard as well as seen, we want you to be happy here."

Soleil's hands twist in his lap, "sorry.”

Athena stretches her hand out across the table.

“Soleil, love, there’s no need to apologize, we just want to hear you two again, is that okay?”

He nods vigorously.

“Wonderful,” she smiles, pulling her hand back.

“There’s another thing I wanted to talk to you about.”

He nods again, looking at her once more.

“Were you ever seen by a doctor when you were living with Grey? And how about Ness?”

Soleil shakes his head. The last time he was seen by a doctor was when he gave birth.

“We were planning on having someone over next week to examine you and Ness. Nothing intrusive but it would be good to get all of your shots up to date and to check for STI’s. Would that be okay with you?

He can't force the word "yes" out, his mind caught replaying the word "shots" and he knows how shots work, a prick and then he's fuzzy and he gets used and it hurts and he wants to throw up and sometimes he can't remember everything and he thought that wouldn't happen anymore, how could he be so gullible?

It's a test, to show his loyalty, he's going to say yes he knows it, to please his new masters-except they're not his masters? But they're still people he doesn't want to displease because-because-

There’s only one three times he tells his Master no.

--

The first is when he’s 1*.

His jaw aches from yesterday and he misses his mom and he’s not yet broken in yet. He still thinks of his Master as Grey so when Grey pulls him into a room with a bed and undresses and makes him suck his fingers he complies. But when he pulls down his pants and rubs at his asshole with a slippery finger he jerks, and pushes at his arm, shouting “No!”

“No?” Grey repeats and there’s a dangerous glint in his eyes.

Soleil doesn’t say anything just holds his hands in front of his chest.

Grey goes for him again and he kicks out, crawling away on the slippery duvet but Grey gets his arms around him and tosses him to the floor where he stomps on Soleil’s leg. He lets out a pained shout and kicks at Grey with his other leg. But Grey takes hold of that leg and uses it to swing him into the wall.

His head makes contact and he blinks back stars as he scrambles to right himself. Grey has moved over to his discarded pants.

“Do you know what this is?” He holds up a gun.

Soleil doesn’t answer. He knows it’s a gun and he knows his mother told him to stay away from guns.

“I said, do you know what this is, mutt?” He bites out.

Soleil nods slowly.

“How do you address me?”

“Yes, sir,” he answers this time.

“Good. So you know what this does then?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You need me to show you how it works?”

“No, sir.”

“And why is that?”

Sol takes too long to answer, trying to figure out what Grey wants when he holds his arm out and shoots through the window.

Soleil jumps, covering his human ears, the ones on his head going down.

“So now you know it works.”

Grey gets up and stalks over to him and he presses his back against the wall. Grey grabs his hair and he lets out a yelp, his grip is harder than usual. He presses the gun below his jaw and Soleil tries to stay very, very still.

Grey trails the gun down his chest. It’s cold. He brings it down lower and presses it into the fleshiness of Sol’s flaccid dick. Soleil’s heart flutters in his chest and his breaths come too quickly.

“Why do I get to fuck you whenever I want to?”

Soleil’s brain tries to catch up but all he hears is garbled and he’s too busy focusing on the gun caressing his balls.

Grey grabs the back of his head by his hair and yanks it back, exposing his throat. Soleil’s breaths come out as rasps now.

“Because I own you. Say it back.”

“B-because you own me, sir.”

“That’s right, because I own you, mutt.” He spits onto Soleil’s face before using his grip to drag Soleil back over to the bed where he tosses him like a ragdoll.

“On your hands and knees.”

Soleil scrambles to do so, willing to be fucked by Grey if it means getting the gun away from him. But instead the cold metal of the gun presses into the dip in his back. He jerks forward.

“Uh-uh be careful, no sudden movements or I might just accidentally pull the trigger,” Sol hears the laughter in his voice. Grey pokes the gun into his squishy balls before trailing it up and down his cock. Soleil breathes shallowly, trying not to breathe at all. He feels his body minutely twitching all over, too tense and focused on being still.

Grey comes around the bed and shoves two fingers in front of Soleil’s face.

“Suck.” And Soleil does, coating Grey’s thick fingers in his saliva though they taste like salt and sweat. He twirls his tongue between his fingers, hoping to interest him into giving up the gun, he looks up imploringly through his lashes at the underside of Grey’s chin but he just huffs a laugh and moves back to Soleil’s backside.

He spreads Sol’s ass with his thumb before jamming his fingers into Soleil’s hole. He jerks forward with a yelp and Grey slams the butt of the gun into his hip.

“What did I say about moving?”

“S-sorry, sir.”

Grey roughly twists his fingers around, scissoring them and there isn’t enough lubrication or preparation. It hurts. His eyes blur as tears fill them. But he feels even worse once he feels the press of the gun against his asshole.

His arms begin to tremble as Grey forces the gun into him. He feels like puking.

“How long do you think it would take for you to die if I shot you through the stomach here,” he asks, poking down with the gun into Soleil’s squishy insides.

He swallows, trying to answer quickly, “I-” his voice trembles “I don’t know, sir.”

He pushes the gun further in and Soleil gives up on trying to keep his breaths in as he pants. His arms shake to keep him up. Tears drop to the bed below him and he tries not to whine, knowing Grey hates it when he acts like a dog.

“What sort of dumbass answer is that? Pick a number and we’ll see if you’re right.”

Soleil’s breath hitches and his breaths turn to wheezes because he can barely get enough air in, he doesn’t want to die, he doesn’t want to die, he doesn’t want to die.

“Please, M-Master, you can fuck me-”

He hears the cocking of the gun behind him and he can’t help it, he feels the wet release of piss as it runs down his leg and soaks into the bed.

“Of course I can fuck you. But ‘Master,’ huh?” He yanks Soleil back by his hair and Soleil flops into Grey’s chest, hard and bigger than he is. He exposes his neck and bites at the junction between neck and shoulder. Soleil clenches his eyes and pants through the pain.

“That’s right, I own you. I’m your Master, you fuckin’ dog. Not even potty-trained, got piss all over the bed,” and then he pushes Soleil onto the floor where he tries to scramble backwards again but Grey comes again with a hard-grip in his hair.

He presses Soleil’s face to his cock, no less hard than it was earlier and Soleil quickly opens his mouth, running up its length with the flat of his tongue before moving to swallow it down. He twirls his tongue around the head and Grey grips his dog ears, the gun still in his hand, and pulls Soleil down onto his cock with his grip.

Soleil chokes, snot dripping from his nose as he struggles to exhale around the length shoved down his throat. Grey sets a quick pace and Soleil fails to keep up, gagging and choking on his Master’s cock. All the while the gun is pressed against his head. He can’t relax his throat because he’s too tense, worried about it going off, so it makes a hard blowjob even harder.

But Grey enjoys it, grunting as he repeatedly forces his cock past the fleshy ring of muscle and down his throat. When his Master finally cums the bitter taste makes him gag but he swallows it anyway, knowing if he doesn’t he’ll pay for it. He still feels like puking.

Grey finally sets the gun down on a table and Soleil’s eyes trail after it warily.

It’s why he’s not expecting the swift kick to the stomach he receives. He curls over his stomach, his head hanging low to the ground and his Master presses his head into the carpet with his foot.

“And what do you say?”

“Thank you, Master.”

“I didn’t hear you.’

“Thank you, Master!”

“Good, now go back to your room.” He lifts his foot.

Soleil quickly hobbles back to his room, his stomach, his neck, jaw and scalp and ass all aching.

He climbs into the bathtub and covers his mouth as he falls apart. He wishes his mother were here to comfort him.

--

The second time is the first time he gets passed around.

His Master ties his arms behind his back, not unusual by itself, but unusual because he hasn’t left his room yet. His master pushes him ahead and he walks, unsure to wear he’s going but moving nonetheless.

“Stop.” His Master says before one of the larger rooms. His Master pushes open the door and shoves him inside.

Inside the room are three other men. Soleil looks back at his Master’s feet (no eye contact, a rule he’s learned over the years) with a question in his eyes.

"All yours." His Master says.

"What? N-no!" He can't help that his eyes shoot up to his Master's face and for that he receives as well as the refusal he receives a slap that marks his face an angry red.

One of the men stand up and stalks his way over, Soleil backing up to the wall in his shadow.

"Thanks boss," he says with a grin. He reaches out a hand for Soleil's upper arm but instead Soleil ducks out of the way, running-where to, there's nowhere-running into another corner of the room.

"Stop running, down." He disobeys and later will pay for it with whip marks engraved into the backs of his legs. Instead, with panicked breaths he tries slipping his way out of the ropes but they’re too tight, biting into his skin. One of the other men gets up and together he and the first man walk towards them. He tries ducking under them because he’s so much smaller than them but he’s punched in the gut and it knocks the wind and a gasp out of him. He’s dragged over to the bed and laid out.

“Hold him still,” it’s the first man. The other two men hold his legs pressed to his chest, one presses his hand against Soleil’s throat: a warning. There’s the stretch and burn in his thighs of being pressed so far but even worse, soon his mouth stretches around a scream that only comes out as a croak as the first man stuffs his cock into his asshole. It hurts it hurts it hurts.

The man rolls his hips against Soleil’s ass and he feels his cock move inside him and this time he really does scream, trying to get away but there are other men and they hold his legs and he can’t kick away and he wants to go back to his room he’s sorry he’s sorry.

“So fuckin tight,” and Soleil is choking on hysterical breaths as the man slides out and forces himself in again, it hurts it hurts it hurts.

A hand reaches down to tug and pull at his nipple, and the man fucking him fondles Soleil’s own cock and he bucks his hips, he wants them off he wants it out.

“Just like that, baby” the man fucking him laughs and he struggles more, tears springing to his eyes as the man slowly fucks him.

There’s a cock in his face and he turns away but “come on, suck it like the bitch you are.” And he’s breathing too quickly until a slap across his face jerks his head to the side and leaves the room spinning. He’s gripped by his hair and a rough hand is grabbing his chin and forces him to face that ugly cock. It pokes at his lips but he doesn’t open them. The hand on his face presses into his cheeks and he’s forced to open his mouth when the pain becomes too much to bear, tears dripping from his eyes.

The cock forces itself past his lips and the man squeezes his nose shut.

“Bite it and I’ll cut out your tongue and leave you to die choking on your own blood.” That’s his Master’s voice.

He opens his mouth further and the taste on his tongue makes him gag but the man doesn’t care, grabbing hold of his head and sliding his dick in further. He moans as he settles his weight on Soleil’s tongue.

The man fucking him slides out and shoves back in with one motion and Soleil screams, muffled by the dick in his mouth. It just keeps going and going, forcing its way down his throat and he chokes around it.

“Mm, so fucking tight,” says the man in his ass because he’s clenching down because he can’t breathe he can’t breathe and finally that cock slips out of his throat only to shove its way back in.

He doesn’t want to be here he doesn’t want to think he doesn’t want to remember so he slips into that headspace where his body moves on its own and his mind is elsewhere.

The night passes in a blur.

When he comes to he’s in the shower, furiously scrubbing at his skin until it’s raw and painful to the touch. He realizes his mouth is metallic with the taste of blood, his cheek bitten raw. But at least it overpowers the taste of anything else; it’s his taste and his alone.

He’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t wish for his mother, is only bitter that she didn’t take him with her.

--
It’s another one of his Master’s parties that gets the ball rolling on the third.

“She’s put on a bit of weight, hasn’t she?” One of his Master’s friends, Chris, says as he pinches at Sol’s belly.

Sol squirms uncomfortably away from the man’s fingers until he gets a swat for doing so.

“Has she?” His Master asks without looking up from his cards.

“I think she has,” Chris says, smoothing calloused hands over Soleil’s belly. Sol holds his breath and tries to hold still. Everybody’s touches are suffocating except for Rose’s, the maid that will clean him up when he’s unable to do so himself, but he doesn’t know how to feel about Chris’s touches. He is undoubtedly the nicest to Soleil as long as he cooperates, calling him pretty names and fucking him gently. It makes him feel confused because he doesn’t want it, he doesn’t, but sometimes he wishes it was Chris fucking him instead of his Master. He thinks Chris would be nicer to him, even though when he begs for him to stop he keeps going anyway. He’s very gentle.

Like now, he plays poker with the other men and pets at Soleil’s head and scratches at his ears with one hand is rubbing his hand over Soleil’s belly with the other. Sometimes he finds himself leaning into the soft touches and has to pull away but then Chris will hold him closer and Soleil will melt into him.

Even though Chris calls him a bitch and she and it makes him feel small and confused because he’s not a woman. Even though sometimes he agrees with them because they make him say it, “he’s a cock hungry bitch and a whore with a hole just for his Master.” He’s not a woman. Sometimes when he does really well for Chris he’ll call Soleil things like pretty and a good girl and he likes being called good even if it’s a good girl so he always tries to do his best for Chris.

His head feels fuzzy because before they were playing cards Master made him take two of those pills that make him feel too hot and itchy and like he can’t string thoughts together right. Eventually he decides it’s okay to not hold his breath and Chris pats his belly when he takes an inhale.

“That’s a good girl.” And Soleil’s tag wags weakly as he rubs his head on the underside of Chris’s chin, hoping Chris will pet him some more.

“I’m sure she has,” Chris says, and he squeezes at one of Soleil’s nipples and she he, he’s a boy, remember? Squirms against him, panting.

“Hey, you been feeling sick lately? Puking, feeling nauseous?” Soleil doesn’t even realize Chris is talking to him, too busy making sure he doesn’t whine in front of Master.

“Hey.” Chris says, slapping lightly at Soleil’s face. It takes Soleil a second to come up from the syrupy warmth he’s being dragged under to remember what Chris says and he has been feeling really dizzy even before the pills. He nods, hoping Chris will pet him for the answer but instead he barks out a laugh.

“How often do you check this bitch for pregnancy?” He moves his other hand to Soleil’s other nipple and rolls them both between his thumbs.

Soleil squirms in his grip, knowing it’ll hurt later if he cums too early but he feels good.

“Don’t, you’re gonna make me puke.” His Master says, waving his cards in the air, “besides she’s got that, that arm-thing.”

“I’m just saying,” Chris chuckles, “not everyone with the arm-thing gets fucked by how many different men during their heat.”

His Master curses under his breath and Soleil starts to feel the first buzzes of nervousness but then his Master gets up and walks over to the phone and Chris pets at his head again and he forgets about his Master as much as he can with him in the room.

“Squirt some milk if you’re pregnant” and Soleil twitches as Chris squeezes at his nipples. He doesn’t know what he means though so he just rubs his head under Chris’ chin some more.

“Play the damn game Chris,” and Chris wipes his hands on his pants before he goes back to playing poker.

Soleil drifts, he closes his eyes at some point. He sucks someone off at some point and then another then he warms Chris’ cock with his mouth and he’s still very warm. His shoulders start to hurt from his arms being tied behind his back and then Chris takes him to the bathroom.

He wonders why because none of them are shy about using him in front of the other but then Chris holds his dick and makes him pee on something and he’s even more confused. Chris lets out a bark of laughter and then he’s paraded outside with that stick held up in the air and his Master swears and Soleil tries to get worried, he really does, but he’s also trying really hard to not end up face-flat on the floor so he doesn’t have a lot of spare resources to worry about his Master when he’s still sitting.

Chris grabs him by the arm and jostles him, making him even dizzier.

“Your bitch has a pup!”

And internally he freezes, he looks up at Chris in fear, hoping he will somehow change what he just said.

Chris drags him over to the bed and lathers him up with slobbery kisses and wandering hands which Soleil soon surrenders too, dragged down by the drugs and the pounding of a cock inside of him.

But when he returns to his room that night he thinks about babies. Remembering the simple happiness of playing with his mother’s maid’s child. But how would he even care for a child here?

--
The third time is simple.

He doesn’t want to get up from his mattress. His leg aches and he hasn’t seen his child since his birth.

He’s tired.

He can’t even get the energy to roll over to his side when his Master opens the bathroom door. What’s the point? Another round of sex and then back to the bathroom? When will he see his child. The first prickles of worry that his Master gave away his child prickle at him before being snuffed out by his apathy.

“Get up.” For the first time in years, Soleil doesn’t move. This time not out of defiance that was quickly beaten out of him but because he can’t find any reason to.

“Get up or I’ll take your spawn out back and shoot it.”

He briefly wonders if that would be better than living a life like his but then he remembers holding that little bundle of life and cloth in his arms and he’s up and stumbling towards his Master, a “no!” being ripped from his lips.

“Please, please sir, let me see him! Let me take care of him. I’ll never fight you again.”

His eyes bore into his Master’s as he presses his hands to his Master’s front. He receives a slap hard enough to have him stumbling.

“Don’t ever fucking say no to me.”

His Master looks down at him with vitriol and disgust. He knows his Master hates that he’s gained as much weight as he has; the stretch marks disgust him. He’s been on a diet consisting mainly of starving and even know his stomach twinges in protest and his head swims with the lack of food.

His Master pulls him out of the bathroom and forces him down to his knees on the plush carpet of his bedroom.

“Just shut up, and suck.”

But Soleil leans on his Master’s thigh instead, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes as he pleads, “please...please...please.”

His Master backs off and Soleil falls to the floor, clinging to his Master’s leg as he tries to leave.

“Please! I’m sorry! Sir, please!” He’s practically screaming, quickly falling into hysterics. It’s been over a month.

His Master kicks his hands off and storms out and Soleil curls in on himself on the floor, finding it hard to breath through his sobs in the hot pocket of air formed between his face and his knees.

His Master returns quickly, storming back into the room and preceded by the wailing of a pup.

Soleil reaches out his arms for his child but his Master holds him out of reach.

“You never fight me again.” He says, coldly.

Soleil nods quickly, over and over as his arms reach ever upwards.

His Master finally hands him his child and he retreats to his bathroom.

He hugs his child close and weeps. His one and only saving grace, his single happi-ness.

Chapter Text

There’s something being said and he needs to listen, needs to listen but he can’t hear over the static in his ears. His fingers are being rubbed back and forth over smooth skin and there’s a calming scent being released in the air. His tail fluffs up as he instinctively breathes in deeper, chasing that scent. It’s mingled with the remnants of breakfast and fresh laundry and something spicy, ginger. The smells of warm food help ground him, reminding him he’s not back in the bathroom, though it takes a while for him to return to his body. When he does he realizes he’s crouched in the corner of the kitchen. He keeps his eyes down but knows from the scent that it’s Athena in front of him.

She’s rubbing his fingers over her wrist so he’s...scenting her? It’s strange and makes his hands tingle but not like when he can’t get enough air. He makes an aborted motion to draw his fingers back and she lets go of his hand.

His hand hovers in the air for a second, he doesn’t want to be let go, before he remembers it’s not up to him and places his hand in his lap.

Athena makes a humming noise; he can’t tell what it means. Then she says, “Soleil? Look at me, honey.” And he thinks it’ll be okay if he looks at her but still not used to eye contact looks at her nose. He’s still able to note the soft smile she gives to him.

“Okay love, do you want to come back to the table?” He just nods and she extends her hand, he takes it and follows her to the table, head dropping down again out of habit. He notes that his chair has been pushed back out of its spot, he doesn’t remember doing that. She doesn’t let go of his hand even when she sits.

“Eyes up, love. Okay, why don’t you tell me what upset you just now.”

“Uhm…” his eyes meet hers before he bites his lip and chokes out “the shots?” His fingers twitch to pull at his index finger but he doesn’t want to remove his hand from hers. There’s a pause.

“What about the shots, love?” She asks, and he always hated when his Master prompted him for more, more on what he did his wrong, more about his shortcomings, more about how he was owned by him. But her voice isn’t hard like his was.

“I…I don’t like shots, they make me…” he swallows. It’s not up to him whether he gets shots or not. “Sorry, I can...I can take the shots, thank you.”

“They make you what? I thought Grey didn’t keep you up to date with your vaccinations.”

He doesn’t know what that word means and he doesn’t ask. “Master gave me shots every time we had a party.”

Athena sucks in a breath. “Soleil, when I say shots, when I say vaccinations, I mean the-fuck how do you explain a vaccination. They take the virus that causes a sickness and they weaken it and then they give it to you in a shot so your immune system can get used to it and then you don’t get that sickness.” She says it in a rush and it’s the first time he’s heard her curse. Then firmer. “There will be no parties.”

He doesn’t know about immune systems or viruses but he knows about parties. He closes his eyes in relief, thanking the universe.

“Is it alright if I touch you?” She asks, hand hovering above her lap. They’re already touching so he nods. She brushes back a bit of hair from his face the cups his cheek. He feels himself lean into it. Her hands are warm.

“And is it okay if I hug you?” He feels a lump rise to his throat because of how careful she’s being with him. He nods again.

 She leans in and the angle is awkward but he’s so starved for touch that he brings his arms up around her. “You sure have had a rough time, haven’t you?” He doesn’t know what to say to that so he doesn’t say anything, just rests his head against hers.

“I’ll get you more information on vaccinations, okay?” He nods.

He deflates in her grasp and she rubs his back. He allows himself a couple minutes before he reluctantly pulls back, not wanting to be clingy.

“If you’d like, you can help me with the dishes? I’ll wash you dry?”

“I’d be happy to.” He nods quickly, already moving to collect their last remaining plates. Athena puts on more of her music and they wash and dry in a companionable silence.

After that he heads to the living room and sits in the corner of the couch that is very quickly becoming his designated spot. Ness is coloring again while some documentary about birds plays in the background. Cyrill smiles at him upon entering; Ray must be in his office.

He pillows his hands on his knees, they’re in front of his face and he looks around before he subtly sniffs his fingers. They still smell like faintly of ginger.

--

Athena springs it on the kid at dinner the next day.

“Why don’t we go outside tonight?”

Soleil freezes while Ness squeals and nearly falls out of his chair in his excitement. When Soleil sees how excited Ness is he nods, “okay,” he says warily.

They put their dishes in the sink and Soleil tries to wriggle out of going outside just once. “M-maybe I can wash the dishes and Ness can clean them if you want to go outside?” He swallows. Ness immediately starts crying once he registers the meaning of Soleil’s question saying, “you said okay! I wanna go outside again!” He puffs himself, his ears and tail standing straight up.

“Okay, okay, okay” Soleil says, picking Ness up for a second and shushing him softly before placing him back down. He quickly forgets about being upset as Cyrill opens the door to the patio and Ness races out, looking up into the night sky and turning back with a smile to his mother in the backyard’s light, tail wagging a mile a minute.

Soleil, however, is trembling in place with unseeing eyes. His hands are clasped together in front of his chest and one grips onto the other tightly, Athena can see where his nails are biting into flesh. She very gently reaches out to take one of his hands and his eyes flicker over her before flicking back to outside. He swallows.

“S-sorry, I-” and he swallows again. His hand tightens in hers and he shifts on his feet, leaning heavily on the right and slightly lifting the left, tapping it back down onto the floor with the tips of his toes. He opens his mouth again before he closes it.

Ray hears Cyrill enticing Ness with a game of tag whose curiosity wins out once he sees his mother nod at him with a shaky smile.

--

 

His leg aches. He’s not allowed outside. 

 

--

Soleil’s eyes soften watching his son run around in the grass and his fingers twitch towards the door before quickly falling still at his side. His eyes lift to Ray’s, briefly, before finding the floor.

“I-” he shakes his head and the hand not in Athena’s lifts to his hair where he fists it in frustration.

“Hey, hey, none of that now,” Athena says, pulling Soleil’s hand from his hair.

“How about you just sit by the door, does that sound alright?” Ray suggests. He knows they all want him to go outside but none of them want to push the kid into a panic attack either.

Soleil’s eyes flick to him before he nods, “okay, thank you.”

He goes to sit on the floor and they release his hands. Athena asks if he wants a chair but he just freezes up again so she dismisses it. Athena looks over at Ray and Ray inclines his head towards outside.

“I’ll go see if they want another person to play tag with,” she says, stepping around Soleil who brings his knees closer to his chest, making himself smaller for her.

Ray also steps around Soleil but sits on the opposite side of the door.

Soleil’s eyes widen, “you’re sitting on the floor…?”

Ray shrugs, “nothing wrong with a little floor sometimes. Figured I’d keep you company.”

“Oh. You didn’t have to…” he mumbles, looking worried.

Ray smiles softly at him, “I get out plenty and I can still enjoy the breeze from here.”

They wouldn’t normally leave the door open because of the bugs but this is an exception he’s happy to make.

Ness is chasing Cyrill around a tree while Athena hides behind a bush. Ness’s happy laughter fills the air. He touches Cyrill’s leg who throws his hands up with an exaggerated shout of “oh no!” But Ray can hear the smile in his voice from here. Cyrill goes for Athena while Ness hides behind a tree.

“Can I see your hand?” Ray asks.

Soleil looks up at him then his hands before he slowly reaches one out. His hand hovers at the edge of the door.

“I promise nothing will happen to you,” Ray says solemnly. 

The kid’s eyes flick to his before he shuts his eyes and jerks his hand into Ray’s. His hand is trembling and his breaths are coming quicker. Ray wonders if he only gave him his hand because he’s more scared of disobeying.

Ray places Soleil’s hand gently onto the patio’s wooden deck. 

“See, nothing’s going to happen,” Ray smiles only to look up and see Soleil crying silently.

Ray lets go of Soleil quickly, “sorry, I didn’t mean to push you too hard.”

Soleil shakes his head, wiping his tears with the sleeve of his other hand, “sorry, it’s nothing.”

He slowly runs his fingers back and forth on the wood, feeling its roughness.

Ray looks away to give him some semblance of privacy. It looks like Ness tired himself out; the three of them are lying on the grass looking at the night sky. He can see Athena’s arm pointing upwards and wonders if she’s pointing out constellations. They sit in silence for a while.

“Thank you,” it’s said quietly at his side.

Ray looks back at Soleil and is met with startlingly blue eyes, intense in their focus. He swallows and nods. “Of course.”

--

Ness tires himself out so much so that he has to be carried back inside. Soleil hears him mumbling something sleepily to Cyrill in his arms. Soleil is surprised that he doesn’t feel the need to take Ness form Cyrill, content to walk with them and open the door for them.

Cyrill places Ness into the bed and tucks him in, Suddenly Soleil is reminded of when his mother used to do that for him as a child and like a punch to the gut he’s reminded that a bed used to be a place of safety. It’s why when Cyrill bids them a good night he hesitates to move Ness to the blanket pile under the table. Instead he climbs in next to him and simply promises himself that should anybody try something in the night he will protect Ness.

The lure of sleep is much heavier laid out on the bed and under warm covers next to Ness’s warm body. Soleil feels his eyes slipping shut and knows he could move to sit up but for once he doesn’t fight it. He thinks maybe just maybe they could be safe here.

The next morning he wakes up and he feels much too hot.

He stumbles to the shower where he goes to peel off his sweaty turtleneck and like a perfume smells his own scent, heavy and cloying. He freezes, knowing his scent only smells like this when he’s had a shot or when he’s in heat. He reaches down to his ass and feels it wet with slick.

“No...nonononono” he chants, climbing into the shower and smearing soap over his scent spots. He abhors his heat. It means it’s time for another party or for his Master to use him or for him to be locked in the bathroom until it’s over and ignored or the worst scenario: Master will tie him up and put a blindfold over his eyes and plugs in his ears and lock his dick in a cage and leave a vibrator in him and he’ll ache all over and it’ll feel like it’ll never end and he doesn’t know how they’ll react to his heat. He pulls at his hair before soaking it in ocean breeze scented shampoo, hoping that’ll help cover his smell. He doesn’t know if it’s worth it to take a bath.

He goes to lather his dick last and even that simple touch hurts. It aches. It’s been too long since he’s been in heat, especially without pills or shots, why did it have to come now? He knows the point of a heat is so a bitch like him can get pregnant but knows from a television show that he saw that his own sex drive will increase too. He hesitantly touches his dick and shivers at the contact. He pumps it twice and his legs tremble so he sits in the shower, letting the water cascade over him.

He doesn’t want to do this, it makes him feel dirty because he’s a dirty thing and he’s been trained not to cum on his own-he decides it may not be comfortable but stands and turns the water as cold as it will go, urging his erection down and away. It slowly deflates and he could cry in relief but all he really feels like doing is puking.

He towels off and hurries back into the room, as he pulls on his boxers he almost gasps from the touch. He’d forgotten how sensitive his natural heats make him. He doesn’t know which pants to wear and settles on a pair of baggy sweatpants while going for a heavy, long sweater. He rouses Ness for a bath since he didn’t take one after playing yesterday

Ness nuzzles into his neck as he picks him up.

“Momma you smell good,” he says and Soleil nearly drops him in his panic. Is it because he’s so close to him, because he’s used to his scent? He draws Ness’s bath and has him lather up his top half while he scrounges around the bathroom for something to cover up his scent. He winds up settling on the apple scented air freshener, spraying it over his scent spots and hoping that will work.

“What are you doing, Momma?”

“Shh, don’t worry about that, let’s wash the rest of you okay?”

By the time Athena comes to collect them for breakfast Ness is much more awake and energetic, going on about the constellations in the night sky with his childish voice that trips over the longer names and can’t remember some of the others at all. Soleil feels like he’s overheating in his clothes but 

“Are you okay, honey? You look kind of red…” Soleil nods quickly, “I’m fine, I just took a hot shower.” He says, balling up his hands behind him to keep them from trembling. 

Athena tilts her head, “if you’re feeling sick, it’s okay to rest you know.”

Soleil just shakes his head, “really, I’m fine.” He says nervously. Thankfully she drops it and just leads them to breakfast. As he goes to sit though Cyrill grabs him by the wrist and pulls him out to the next room.

Cyrill looks at him intensely.

“Why do you smell different today?”

Soleil freezes with wide eyes. “I…-o-oh? Do I?” He knows he’s an awful liar, he hasn’t been allowed to lie since childhood, it comes out stilted and flat.

Cyrill sniffs at the air and Soleil feels a bead of sweat drip down his back. His nervous scent fills the air and it must be that that gives away because next Cyrill asks.

“You’re in heat aren’t you?”

Soleil shakes his head, “I-I’m not,” he pulls his hand back.

“Did you forget who the other omega in the room is?” Soleil’s eyes fill with tears.

“I-I’m sorry for lying, please don’t tell the others” his words trip into each other and he grabs that hand again, squeezing tightly.

“What are you doing out of bed? Did you come for breakfast? Come.”

He doesn’t promise not to tell the others but his hand goes from being clasped to clasping Soleil’s as he leads them back to Soleil’s suite. Soleil resists the pull, terrified of doing so but more terrified of everyone knowing that he’s in heat.

“Please don’t tell, please don’t tell,” he begs. Cyrill frowns at him. He flinches, knowing he’s overstepping his boundaries.

“Ah, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you I just-I know you haven’t had the best of heats but there’s nothing to worry about here, nobody’s going to hurt you or use you.”

Soleil shakes his head, too worried to believe that and besides, his head is already fuzzy, he’s barely registering what Cyrill is saying.

“Please, please, I’ll-” he stutters on his next breath, he’d do anything, even let Cyrill use him because that’s better than all three of them knowing. He just doesn’t know how to get Cyrill to agree with him. 

“You can have me for yourself, okay? Just- I’ll, please.” Cyrill’s face quickly goes blank and Soleil doesn’t know what that means but he steps forward and pulls the neck of his turtleneck down and bares his throat for Cyrill.

Cyrill sneezes into his elbow before tugging at Soleil’s turtleneck, pulling it back up. “Keep that up and Athena will figure it out too. Besides I’m-” he snorts, “sorry, but I’m not a claimer. Listen, follow me, okay, I’ll make sure the others don’t bother you, is that fine?”

Soleil nods, feeling that’s as good as he’s going to get. Cyrill leads him upstairs, where he hasn’t been yet and to a room he has to fish a key out for.

He ushers Soleil in and Soleil is immediately hit with Cyrill’s scent. It’s faint but it’s everywhere.

He turns around to see Cyrill digging through a closet and grabbing heavy blankets that he sets on the bed in a circle.

“It’s my heat room. It locks and only I have the key.”

“Please don’t lock me in here, I’m sorry.” Cyrill looks over at him, confused before he frowns.

“No, I’m not locking you in here, you’re locking the others out . It’s to give you privacy.”

Soleil shudders, feeling a wave of heat go through him. “Okay,” he nods. “What about Ness?” He worries at his lip.

Cyrill straightens and faces him, “Ness will be as safe with us as he always his, you don’t have to worry about him, just focus on your heat, okay?”

Soleil swallows, “I-I can’t leave him by himself, I want to make sure he’s alright.”

Cyrill tilts his head, considering for two seconds before he says “alright, well he obviously can’t stay with you but I’m sure it’d be fine if you see him after you’ve taken care of yourself.”

Soleil nods. Cyrill steps away from the bed and past Soleil over to a bookcase with drawers on the bottom half.

He reaches for one of the drawers and starts pulling out sex toys. Soleil takes a step back, anxious again, but Cyrill speaks then “you can use any of these, they’re new ‘cause I never got a chance to use them. Just wash them in the sink when you’re done; you can keep them.” He puts one hand on his hip and the other taps his chin.

“The bathroom is to the left, I’ll tell the others not to use it because it connects to the main hallway. Feel free to read any of these books, some of them are erotic but others are informational. It helps to be reminded that certain feelings during your heat are natural, y’know?”

Soleil doesn’t really but he nods anyway. He doesn’t want to be left alone again, they’re almost on par but even being used is better than the slowly maddening inability to do anything for himself during his heat besides sit in a cool bath.

“I think that should be it, it’s up to you if you want to come down for meals but it’s fine if you want them brought to you too. Alright, I think that’s really it, but don’t come down until you’ve gotten at least one orgasm out of you, kay?” He says smiling.

Soleil freezes, i-is that what he’s meant to be doing during his heat?  He’s not allowed that.

The smile slips off of Cyrill’s face as he sees Soleil stricken and the smells the spike of distress in the air.

“Hey, hey, it’s alright,” and Soleil realizes he’s making a low keening noise in his throat. He slaps a hand to his mouth.

“Please don’t go. I-I can’t, I’m not allowed,” he shakes his head, “to cum by myself.” His voice trails off into a whisper. He’s shaking, hoping Cyrill won’t reject him again. He doesn’t know what to say to anybody and it’s frustrating.

Cyrill frowns, “we have to talk about that. All of your Master’s old rules, like kneeling and no eye contact and sleeping on the floor? They don’t apply here, that includes touching yourself, your body is yours and you can do what you want with it.” He looks and sounds fierce by the end.

“Please, I-I want you to help me.” He tries again.

Cyrill freezes but then he says, “sorry, consent during a heat isn’t consent, love. I’ll bring you your breakfast in a second.”

Cyrill then takes his leave. 

Soleil’s addled mind races a mile a minute, trying to figure out how to get Cyrill to fuck him, he can feel his own dick is already half-hard just from the feelings of his clothes rubbing against him. It’s been too long since he’s had a heat, he feels like he’ll die if he has to sit this one out. He’s had to sit out almost every heat since he got pregnant; Master didn’t want to risk another child. He feels like he’s going to cry.

He undresses quickly, peeling off already sweaty clothes and folding them off to the side. He debates on which pose might appeal to Cyrill the most, on his knees (no, he knows none of them like that), his legs spread on the bed, on his hands and knees, ass up?

He climbs onto the bed and spreads himself for Cyrill but doesn’t even get the chance to show himself off as Cyrill simply knocks on the door and tells him breakfast is outside before he hears his footsteps walking away.

Soleil whines into his arm where his face is pillowed, he still wants to cry and with the heightened emotions of a heat he does, just a bit, before he grabs the breakfast from the hallway and swallows it down. Then he climbs into the nest Cyrill’s made for him and tries not to think. The nest is incredibly comfortable, making him feel warm and surrounded. It’s much better than spending his heats on the bare mattress on the floor in the bathroom.

His dick aches, half hard, and remembering Cyrill’s words about his Master’s rules he reaches down to grasp himself with a shaky hand. He lets out a moan at the pressure, finally some relief, and covers his mouth with his other hand despite not moaning that loudly. He’s still afraid of being caught and being punished. He pumps himself, shakily and hesitantly, to full hardness and smears the precum beading at the tip over his head. He jerks himself, revelling in the drag of his palm against hot flesh, his toes curl as he feels pressure building in his groin. He’s nearing the peak, just about to tip over into orgasm when he remembers his Master’s punishments for touching himself, weeks locked away in the cage and left unable to cum and he pulls his hand away like he’s been burned. 

He goes to wash his hands off in the sink and grabs a book at random off the shelf before climbing back into the nest. His dick pulses with his heartbeat but he does his best to ignore it.

He spends the next few hours alternating between halfheartedly reading and fondling himself to almost completion. At the very least he learns a lot about heats.

An omega’s heat is the optimal time for pregnancy. Most heats will last three to seven days. Like a period, it may come with enhanced emotions, cravings, and is generally regular; however to a six-eight month schedule as opposed to monthly. The omega will feel increased arousal and may have heightened sensitivity as well as swollen genitals as they yearn to be mated. It is a body’s natural reaction and nothing to be ashamed of. Mating with a partner can relieve an omega’s sexual urges for a few hours (protection is generally recommended unless pregnancy is the goal). If the omega is not mated, masturbation and orgasm will achieve the same result. It is not impossible to go through a heat without orgasm however it may lead to increased emotional distress, sensitivity, arousal, and a prolonged heat.

...An omega in heat may attract unwanted attention as their scent ripens during their heat and communicates to others that they are in an optimal state to be breeded. As is also a natural reaction alphas and betas may become aroused around an omega in heat. As this book is to inform budding omegas on their biology, please consult Societal Norms Surrounding Heats for more information regarding omega, beta, and alpha societal roles when it comes to heats.

...Heats may be delayed in cases of extreme stress, or due to malnutrition. In the case of a heat that has been delayed it may last longer, however contact a physician if the omega’s heat lasts two weeks or more. Heats may also be triggered in cases of extreme stress or especially after the release of extreme stress.

...An omega in heat may be unusually clingy, temperamental, and in rare cases depressed. Nesting is one way omegas may relieve emotional distress.

...It is vital that the omega keeps up regular eating during a heat, malnutrition may lead to a weak and prolonged heat.

...Heats may be induced with certain drugs but they may also be stopped completely with other drugs. It is risky to induce a heat more than once every three months and may lead to decreased weight as well as prolonged period between natural heats. Due to new drugs available heats are now able to be halted indefinitely as opposed to the former “one heat once every three-five years” rule. Please see the chapter “Heat Related Drugs” for more information.

...A male omega in heat will commonly produce a viscous fluid from their rectum known as “slick.” This is both to lubricate the rectum for mating and also voids the area of waste during the beginning of a heat. Slick will generally only be produced in the very beginning of a heat, after which it is beneficial to use a lubricant.

...A prolonged erection during a heat is not dangerous though it may be uncomfortable.

Soleil spends the next few hours alternating between playing with himself, not reaching orgasm, and crying. He has a feeling this is going to be one of his longer heats.

--

Cyrill goes to bring him his lunch and is met with a thump from the other side of the door and then a thump as a body meets the door.

“I changed my mind, it’s okay if the others know, they can use me too just please, please, I want to cum.” he continues to babble and Cyrill’s heart aches for them.

Cyrill tries to mollify him but he’s just met with more whimpers and begging. In a split second a decision’s already been made. He goes to get Athena and Ray and has them stand outside the door.

“Listen to him,” they do, hearing his whining and begging. Ray grimaces, “he’s been like that all day?” 

Soleil’s chanting reaches a fevered pitch as he hears Ray’s voice. 

“Mr. Ray? Is that you? If you’re still deciding about using me, please please, I can be good for you, I can be so good please I just want to cum, s-R- Mr. Ray.”

Athena closes her eyes and sighs through her nose.

“What do you want to do about it?” She asks.

Cyrill looks off to the side. “I’ll give it three days but if he’s still like this by then I want to help him.” He looks fierce, purple eyes laser-focused on the two of them.

Athena doesn’t bother asking if he’s sure, just nodding.

Ray shrugs and nods his assent, “you’re the omega here, you know how heats go.”

Cyrill nods once before making a shoo-ing motion with his hands. They turn and take their leave. 

“Soleil, honey?” He asks through the door.

“Cyrill, please it hurts, I want it to end I’m sorry if I’ve been bad.”

“Shhhh, honey, you haven’t been bad, you’ve been very very good, you can cum whenever you like okay?”

He’s met with a sob, “I can’t, I can’t, I tried, I know you said I could so I tried but I just can’t.”

“Keep trying, okay, I know you can do it, your lunch is out here, okay?”

Cyrill feels it would be cruel to leave him like that so he sits outside the door for the next hour until Soleil finally agrees to eat and try again.

The next two days go much the same way. (He wonders if the other two are hoping and not hoping that Cyrill will have to help Soleil. They all know their relationship will be irrevocably changed if that’s the case and he doesn’t know which he wants more.)

But the third day comes and while Cyrill could drag this out until dinner by breakfast he’s at Soleil’s door. His last meals have hardly been touched so he doesn’t bother trying to get him to eat his breakfast, deciding it will go better after he’s been able to cum.

Like usual Soleil hurries to the other side of the day, babbling hurriedly.

"Please help me Cyrill, I can't see Ness like this I miss my baby I feel like I'm going to be stuck here forever, please."

“Soleil, honey, is it alright if I come in, I want to help you.”

“Yes! Yesyesyes, please, please, Cyrill,” there’s the fumbling of a doorknob and then the door clicks open. “Thank you so much, I promise I’ll be good.”

Cyrill enters the room and is immediately hit with the scent of arousal, dampened and dragged down by the scent of distress. He closes the door behind him.

Soleil stands in front of him, naked, hands clasped behind his back. Cyrill can’t help but sweep his eyes up and down just once. Soleil has pale skin, he would do better to get outside more, but it’s flushed pink. He doesn’t stare, trying to give Soleil some sense of modesty, but he does note that his dick is plumped up and an angry red. It looks painful. One thing that does surprise him are the rings of metal that go through Soleil’s nipples. He has matching rings but unlike with him he doesn’t think the body modification was voluntary.

“How do you want me, s-Cyrill?” It’s said breathlessly, he’s practically vibrating with tension. His tail swishes behind him in agitation. It’s the most Cyrill’s seen it move.

Cyrill pats his head and Soleil blinks up at him, “I want you to be comfortable; this is about you. I should be asking, how would you like me to help?”

A soft “oh” escapes from Soleil’s lips before he licks them nervously.

“Would it be okay if we sat on the bed?” He looks up shyly through long lashes.

“Of course,” Cyrill leads him by the hand over to the bed.

Soleil sits on his knees, leaning to the side with his legs to the left. Now that he looks closer he notes that Soleil’s left leg is knobby at the ankle. He doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong but it explains the limp. Soleil’s too busy fisting his hands, trying not to touch himself, that he doesn’t notice Cyrill’s quick sweep of his legs, thank goodness, he wouldn’t want Soleil to be self-conscious about that too. Cyrill mirrors the position across from him. His tail swishes behind him, eager now.

“Why don’t you try seeing if you can cum now, I give you permission.” It makes him feel slimy having to give Soleil “permission” but if that’s what he needs then that’s what he’ll give.

Soleil nods feverishly before he fists his dick. Cyrill watches raptly, flushing, it’s not often that he blushes when it comes to sex having worked in the field but Soleil is different. He’s helped other omegas with their heats but those were always fevered rushes of skin to skin, here Soleil wants nothing from him, only to give and it makes Cyrill giddy though he can’t help it.

And he has quite a pretty dick, it’s on the smaller side but curves nicely. It’s still an angry red but it’s slick with precum and squelches with each pump of Soleil’s fist. He makes the most delicious noises, breathily panting and there’s a steady whine coming from him. It’s not long before his hips begin to jerk and then he’s fucking into his fist, letting the first moan fall from his lips before he stutters to a halt.

“I-I can’t-”

Their eyes meet and something like electricity passes between them. Cyrill licks his lips and Soleil’s eyes flick down between them and then back up.

“What do you need from me?”

“Please touch me, Cyrill.” he says, shuffling closer. The breathy way he says Cyrill’s name sends a spike of arousal through him which he ignores but his scent must convey it because Cyrill can see the way his pupils grow and that just has him even more aroused.

“Of course,” Cyrill says because really, could he refuse anything from him? He puts one hand on Soleil’s neck the other going to his knee. The hand on his knee rubs his palm up and down his leg while his other thumb makes sweeps back and forth over sweaty skin. Soleil shudders, mouth opening on a breathless moan as his scent fills the air. It’s arousal and pleasure, sweet and spicy like a lemon ginger cake. Cyrill rubs the inside of his wrist on Soleil’s neck and he shudders, biting his lip on a moan, eyes fluttering shut.

He looks beautiful like this, flushed a delicate pink, hair falling around his face, delicately perched on his legs and open for Cyrill. For a second he thinks about how he must’ve been like this for others, not of his own volition, and it dampers his mood for just a second before he’s shoving the thought down, not willing to let it ruin such a perfect scene. (He wonders if that’s how the others feel about him at times).

Soleil whines and his hips jerk, “t-touch me here?” He looks up with half-lidded eyes, rests one hand on his dick again.

“Of course, dear,” and he places his hand on the other side of Soleil’s. His dick is hot and sticky with precum. Soleil’s hips jerk and he runs through a full body shudder, sucking in a gasp, as Cyrill’s hands make contact. Very, very slowly Cyrill pulls his hand down and Soleil’s moves with it. Another full body shudder. (Soleil is so sensitive during his heats, he’s so pretty).

Cyrill brushes Soleil’s hair behind his ear with his other hand and Soleil’s eyes flick down to his lips once more before meeting his eyes again.

Soleil leans in slowly but Cyrill raises one hand, pressing his thumb into Soleil’s plush lower lip, running it over the pinkness. 

“Not yet, if you still want it after your heat we can come back to it then.” He says it quietly (a promise).

Soleil nods, not seeming to be hurt by the rejection but then again he still does have Cyrill’s hand around his dick. Cyrill can also guess he’s rarely been kissed before.

Cyrill swallows. “Will you come for me, love?” Soleil whines and nods his head quickly.

“Then go on and cum, honey, I know you can do it.” His hand squeezes around Soleil and their joined hands pump him a few more times before he cums with a shudder and a sob, curling in on himself and panting. Milky semen spurts over their joined hands and onto Soleil’s belly as their joined hands slide up and down, further slicked with Soleil’s cum.

“I’m going to get a washcloth to clean you up, okay, I won’t be gone for long.”

Soleil blinks at him owlishly before nodding. True to his word Cyrill returns quickly with a warm, damp washcloth and wipes Soleil up before he rinses it in the sink.

“Thank you Cyrill,” and then he bursts into tears. He’s sniffling and rubbing away tears as Cyrill climbs back onto the bed and presses Soleil’s head into his own chest.

“Okay, okay, I’ve got you, I know heats make us so emotional, right? But you’ve done such a good job I’m so proud of you, honey.” 

He smooths down Soleil’s back with his other hand and is met with raised skin. From this angle he can see raised scars, jagged and thin. He carefully puts that away to be dealt with later lest it tint his scent, instead rubbing at Soleil’s head and back with his hands. He keeps up the praise until Soleil’s sniffles slow to a halt.

“Sorry, I don’t even know why I…”

“It’s okay, it’s been a few days since you’ve had a good meal or slept well right? And you’re in heat. I’m sure it’s been a while since you’ve had a happy orgasm too.” (If ever).

Soleil nods against him.

“Then it makes sense that you’re emotional, you’re doing perfect sweetie,” he says scritching at Soleil’s ears which twitch cutely in response. Soleil leans more heavily onto him.

“What do you say to some food now?”

Soleil nods, “okay, thank you.” He’s still not quite his completely polite self but Cyrill can see him making his way back to it.

“Why don’t you get dressed and we can head down then?”

Soleil nods, moving (reluctantly?) to pull on discarded clothes from the floor. Cyrill makes a buzzer noise at him and pulls out a soft, comfortable hoodie and pair of pants from his closet and hands them to Soleil. He hands him a pair of underwear too, too small to be comfortable for him so they’re still mostly new, just tried on. He relays that to Soleil who just smiles shyly and says his thanks. He does his hair up in a ponytail and gets dressed.

When they head downstairs Soleil is immediately bum-rushed by Ness who starts talking a mile a minute about how much he missed his mother and the things he’s done while Soleil was gone.

The three of them sit down at the table, Soleil and Cyrill eating leftover pancakes while Ness talks happily.

Soleil is still flushed a pretty pink but he’s smiling easily and happily this morning.

For the first time since he’s arrived at the manor he’s looking like a happy, healthy omega.

Chapter Text

They’ve just finished another session and Cyrill’s brought back food for Soleil. He gets up to leave to afford him some space to himself when Soleil makes a sound behind him. He turns around with a questioning gaze only to find Soleil’s slapped his hand over his mouth.

“Did you need something Soleil?” Soleil hesitates before he shakes his head.

“Did you...want me to stay?”

“Uhm,” he pulls on a lock of his hair and looks away, his tail flicks behind him, “only if you want…?” (So cute).

Cyrill walks over and Soleil looks at him with curious eyes. Cyrill leans down and presses a chaste kiss to Soleil’s forehead. “Let me run and get some things and I’ll be right back, okay?”

Soleil smiles shyly and nods. Cyrill ruminates on the faces Soleil’s been making during his heat. He’s been flushed and shy but not overly apologetic or polite, he wonders if this is what he’d’ve been like without Grey’s influence. (Too cute).

When he returns with his laptop and some snacks and drinks Soleil fixes him with a look Cyrill can’t read. “Why did you change your mind about helping me?” Soleil is a strange mix of solemn and curious as he asks. “Are you sure…?”

“I wanted you to stop hurting. I’ve only been on the end of a prolonged heat once but I wouldn’t want to repeat it. And yes, I’m sure I want to help you.”

“Earlier you said something about ‘consent,’ I...don’t know what that word means.”

Cyrill frowns, he probably doesn’t know what it means in definition and in action. “I said ‘consent during a heat isn’t consent.’ It’s like permission.”

“But...I asked you? That’s permission, right? Permission during a heat isn’t permission? But- I don’t understand I asked you, didn’t I?”

“But being in heat is like being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you’re not thinking clearly; something you might ask for now isn’t the same as something you’d ask for when you’re clear headed. Like, would you have asked me to touch you before you were in heat?”

Soleil stiffens before he relaxes, “but...I didn’t need you to touch me before my heat.”

Cyrill sighs softly. “And...I have a feeling you have very little experience asking for what you want and getting it.” (Admittedly it’s a grey area for him, but then again Soleil’s whole situation is a grey area for them). “But would you have asked me to touch you if you felt arousal and weren’t in heat?”

Soleil flushes, “no...probably not.”

“Exactly, your decisions are a bit off right now.”

“...I think you’re different, you know.”

“Hmm?”

“I give you my permission,” Soleil looks away, “You’re different from all my other heats. I...I think it’s the first time I’ve been fully okay with someone touching me. So, thank you.”

Cyrill’s heart aches and he doesn’t take those words lightly, instead kissing him on the forehead once more.

“When was the last time you took a nice, hot bath?”

Soleil flushes, “Um, I’ve taken a cold bath everyday-I know I shouldn’t waste so much water but it was the only way to cool down,” he winces, “do I smell?”

“No, no it’s nothing like that, and you can take as many baths a day as you want, that’s not a problem, I was just suggesting it because it might be relaxing.”

“Oh,” his eyes trail over to the bathroom.

“I’ll help you, come on?” Because he has a feeling “bath” to Soleil means cleaning himself and then sitting in the water, not filling the water with bubbles and suds and relaxing.

--

Soleil pads after Cyrill into the bathroom and watches as he fills the water, pulls down some things from a cabinet, and then fills the bah with it until it turns white and bubbly from all the suds. He plugs something into a pair of speakers and out comes the sound of ocean waves.

“There you go,” Cyrill smiles at him and claps his hands together once. “You should take a quick shower once you’re done with your bath just to rinse everything off. Now, the purpose of a bath is to relax, so don’t think about anything too stressful.”

Soleil nods, finding himself flushing from all the steam in the bathroom.

“Okay, stay as long as you want,” Cyrill squeezes his hand as he passes, “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

Soleil nods once more then begins to strip once Cyrill has left. He climbs into the tub, finding it extremely warm. He’s more relaxed than he usually is but even so he heaves a big sigh and forces himself to release the tension in his muscles, leaning against the rim of the tub.

He copies what Ness does, lifting his hand from the water and watching the water drip off of it before he starts playing with the suds. At first he doesn’t think about much but then he can’t help but think of how well this heat is going compared to his others.

His first heat he was still with his mother but she’d treated it like a regular fever so he was left confused and scared, not sure what he should be doing with himself. Between that and the next heat his Master took charge of him so things rapidly went downhill from there.

Cyrill told him not to think about stressful things so he heaves out a sigh and sinks further into the water, only letting his nose up poke out. Instead he winds up thinking about Cyrill.

Cyrill who has been gentle with him from the start. Cyrill who tried to let him get through his heat alone because of “consent” but then helped him anyway once Soleil wasn’t able to help himself. Cyrill who’s slender fingers helped bring him to the first pleasurable orgasm he’s had in a very long time.

And Cyrill who scented with him, not once but twice. He remembers the pull of arousal the first time they’d scented and how it made him feel dirty, like he couldn’t help but tarnish everything he touched. But this time he masturbated in front of the man and only felt good. A heat really does make him think differently.

In fact he feels a pulsing in his groin and can’t help but note the tug of arousal in his belly now. He ignores it at first, trying to think about other things, like this new situation he’s found himself in but that just leads to him thinking about his other...caretakers? Living partners?

Athena who let him scent her and cooks delicious meals and always offers him seconds, who rephrases things if she thinks he didn’t understand them and bought him lots of clothes. Then Ray who looks big and scary but has an even bigger sweet tooth and calls him “kid”, who sat with him on the porch and watches cartoons with Ness. He sits with his arousal until it gets uncomfortable and the water begins to get cold. He showers off before pulling back on his other clothes and joining Cyrill on the bed.

He hesitates to climb on but Cyrill smiles at him so nicely when he comes out of the bathroom.

“Did you have a nice bath?”

“Yes, thank you, I don’t know how to turn off the ocean though…”

“Oh! No problem,” Cyrill gets up and shuts it off. While he’s gone he takes in the things Cyrill has brought up with him, granola bars and bags of chips and bottles of water.

Cyrill purses his lips when he sees Soleil still standing in the middle of the room, hands in his sleeves, “have a seat, love.” And Soleil does, his back against the headboard like Cyrill was sitting.

“Do you want to watch something?” He asks before turning on the TV. It’s on Cyrill’s favorite channel, National Geographic and it looks like there’s a documentary about frogs on right now. Soleil is content to sit and watch anything so he declines when Cyrill asks if he wants to watch something else.

He doesn’t look at what Cyrill is typing on the computer he pulls into his lap but he does look at Cyrill’s slender fingers. His arousal prods at him and he wonders if those fingers would be as gentle opening him up as they were jerking him off. He flushes and tries to think about something else but his brain just prods him into thinking about how Cyrill denied him a kiss in the name of “consent” again. He wonders if Cyrill would kiss him if he wasn’t in heat and the thought makes him blink. He grabs his tail as it twitches behind him and pets it, soothing himself like Ness does.

He wonders if Cyrill would kiss him gently.

He wants to kick his brain. He tries to focus on the documentary but of course it’s talking about the mating practices of whatever frog is on right now. He thinks about the only other omega he’s mated with, how it felt to scent with her and how warm she was inside and out. He remembers her name was Lucy, Chris had bought her eventually and then he’d stopped coming to the estate once he made Soleil take her. He tries not to think about the jeering and leering of the men around them, instead how she’d called his name softly and whined as she came. He wonders if he looked so soft under his Master as she did under him. Of course they were both scared out of their minds but they’d been able to find respite within each other just for a flash.

But there’s another omega sitting right next to him, surely as warm as she was. Would he let Soleil be pliant under him? He blushes again and wonders why his thoughts are running rampant even as his groin throbs at him and he has to steady his breathing. He twists his finger back and forth, wondering if Cyrill can smell him. Wondering what Cyrill thinks about his arousal, if it’s something dirty or if it’s something sweet like with that other omega.

“Cyrill…” he says, it comes out surprisingly shaky, “I’m...again…”

Cyrill puts hums in acknowledgment, putting his laptop to the side. “Would you like me to leave?”

Soleil almost whines before he cuts himself off, “no, please don’t.”
He grabs a pillow and places it in his own lap. “Okay why don’t you come sit here and see if you can cum by yourself.”

Soleil flushes at how straightforward Cyrill is, it doesn’t sound dirty or demeaning like when his Master was blunt or demeaning but it still makes him uncharacteristically shy.

He scoots himself over to Cyrill and judging by the pillow in his lap sits with his back pressed to Cyrill’s front. Cyrill seems to jump and he pauses, “is this okay?”

He can hear the smile in Cyrill’s voice when he responds “of course.”

He shuffles out of his pants and boxers and feels his face heating up as Cyrill places his chin on his shoulder. “Is this okay?” Cyrill asks. Soleil just nods but Cyrill prods him further, placing a hand on his head, “I need a verbal response, love, if you’re ever uncomfortable let me know and we can stop whatever’s making you uncomfortable.”

Soleil shakes his head, “no, this is, this is okay.” He swallows, he feels on display with Cyrill able to watch so close.

He used to show himself off during his heats sometimes to get someone to fuck him, just to ease the ache, but this is different, he wants Cyrill to call him nice things and pet his head more.

He feels his skin prickle and sweat, knowing his scent is filling the air but he can’t help it.

He shyly wraps his fingers around his dick and slowly pumps himself to full hardness. He can feel Cyrill’s warmth against his back and his breath ghosting across his cheek and smell his scent in the air. His fingers tremble as he rubs his thumb over the head of his dick, unaccustomed to touching himself for his own pleasure, he thumbs at his slit and feels himself shaking with pleasure and nerves. Everything feels ten times more right now.

With his other hand he grips the sheets, He shuts his eyes, letting out a breathy exhale as the sensations kick up a notch with his loss of sight. Though he doesn’t notice it that opens the floodgates for more of his sounds, sharp inhales and shaky exhales, choked off moans. He bites his lip and his ears flatten against his head as he reaches his peak, his tail jerking then straightening and fluffing up behind him. HIs hips start to gyrate just the slightest and a whine kicks up in the back of his throat.

“Come on you can do it my sweet boy, you’re so good,” and he tries he really does, he feels the tightening of his belly and the names, the names make him tingle from head to foot but just as he’s reaching the peak his hand stutters to a halt and he lets out a pitiful whimper.

“I can’t, I’m-sorry-”

“Shh, shh, there’s no need to apologize, you’re doing so well, why don’t we try again?”

Soleil whimpers, wondering if it’s Cyrill plan to torture him until he can cum by himself but really he would flay himself alive for Cyrill so he tries again...and again.

By the fourth time he has tears running down his face and his dick twitches and pulses but nothing comes out, it’s like cumming but not and it makes him hiccup on a sob. Cyrill intertwines their fingers and helps him to completion again.

Cyrill kisses his neck and it sends a jolt through Soleil, “you did so good, such a good boy, you deserve so much.”

Soleil sniffles as his lids start to feel heavy after the adrenaline rush of almost cumming and then finally cumming.

“Sorry I put you through that honey, I don’t want you to be able to cum only with someone else’s hand, next time I’ll help you from the start, okay” and Soleil nods feverishly.

He’s limp against Cyrill so he can only when twitch when he pulls a wipe from the draw next to the bed and wipes Soleil down before tossing it away. Cyrill maneuvers them until they are lying down. Normally Soleil wouldn’t like his back to somebody else but he’s feeling too tired and sated to worry, instead quickly falling asleep. As he does he remembers the pillow between them and wonders if that was placed there so he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with a bulge pressed against him. Cyrill is so thoughtful is one of his last thoughts before he drifts off.

 

The rest of his heat passes similarly, with Soleil alternating between masturbating, eating, and taking relaxing baths. At one point Cyrill suggests trying a toy but he stiffens so immediately that Cyrill quickly withdraws the offer. He doesn’t like toys, they’re hard and more often than not his Master overstimulated him with them just to see him squirm and hear him whine and beg for it to be turned off.

During his heat he and Cyrill get to talking about Cyrill’s past.

“I used to be an escort.”

Soleil cocks his head.

“So basically I was a sex worker.”

“Oh.” He frowns then winces imagining Cyrill being jerked about by some no-face rough man.

Cyrill sees his wince and pats his head, “no, it wasn’t anything like you’re imagining. I picked my own customers and I got paid for my job.”

“Oh…” Soleil still can’t help but be confused on why anybody would willingly have sex. Then he remembers the way Cyrill held his hand, and dick, and called him sweet names and Lucy and her softness and even Chris and the way he sometimes felt with him and maybe he can hazard a guess.

Cyrill who is lithe, tall and lean, covered in a smattering of freckles and has a voice like honey. He thinks maybe if he’d had the money he’d’ve paid to have sex with Cyrill too.

“Nobody hurt you, right?” He pauses and Soleil begins to worry.

Cyrill kisses his forehead, he’s been doing that a lot lately, “no, love, nobody hurt me.”
The thought comes unbidden and before he can stop it from being voiced it slips from his mouth, “is this like a job for you, then?” Trying to hide the sudden spear of hurt he feels and at the same time knows he doesn’t deserve to feel.

Cyrill shakes his head quickly though, “no this is something personal.”

And over the week he learns more things about Cyrill, his favorite foods, his favorite shows, that his favorite color is purple. How soft his ears are and that if you touch his tail it makes him shiver. He learns lots of other things too, like Cyrill, Athena, and Ray are all dating even though he thought only two people could date at once from what he remembers as a child. He finds it doesn’t bother him though, they seem to have things under control. For a second he wonders if he and Ness are intruding but Cyrill catches the look on his face and tuts at him.

“We love you and Ness so much already.”

Soleil smiles shyly, happy Cyrill, and Athena and Ray, love them. It’s the first time he’s been loved by anyone but Ness in a very long time and it warms him.

It really does turn out to be the best heat of his life. Regular orgasms keep him from overheating or making his head fuzzy. They don’t go past handjobs but they’re still by far the nicest handjobs Soleil has ever had. By the last day his scent is back to normal and he doesn’t have to masturbate at all. Except he does because part of him craves Cyrill’s touch and his pleasant words and he doesn’t know if he’ll get to have that like this after his heat. He feels partially bad for taking advantage like that but Cyrill never seems put out to help and in the end he feels more good than he feels bad. He chalks it up to his thinking still being off.

--

Athena and Ray spend Soleil’s heat with Ness. Cyrill and Soleil pop out of Cyrill’s room for meals and to check on Ness but spend most of it locked away. She notes that both of their scents are happy and Soleil smiles more and more as the week goes on.

The first day breakfast goes fairly well until Ness catches on that his mother isn't joining them, then he quickly grows distraught. His eyes fill with tears and he pushes his plate away, though they try to get him to eat more he just shakes his head until he finally says “my tummy hurts.”

“Okay, do you want to go lie down?”

“No! I want momma,” and more tears fall silently from his round eyes.

“Momma can’t come right now, Momma’s dealing with something by himself.”

Ness just looks at them silently before saying quietly, “is momma coming back soon?”

Athena wants to sigh at the mess they’ve landed themselves in but instead she just nods, “momma will be back as soon as he can.”

Ray puts his elbow on the table, “look I’ll pinky promise with you.”

Ness looks at him with wet eyes, “what’s a pinky promise?”

“It means we wrap our pinkies like this,” he reaches his hand out to Athena and she complies, “and we shake and that means we made a promise that can’t be broken.”

He holds out his pinky to Ness again. Ness sniffles, “you promise?” Ray nods solemnly.

Ness wraps his pinky with Ray’s though his hand is dwarfed by Ray’s and they shake on it.

“Do you want to eat some more?” Cyrill asks and Ness looks at his plate before he finishes off his plate, unaware of the way he still wraps his arm around it protectively.

He finishes quickly but then frowns. “My tummy hurts.”

“Okay, why don’t we go lie down,” Athena suggests, getting up and helping Ness down from his chair. They walk hand in hand to Soleil and Ness’s room where she helps him up onto the bed and under the covers.

He hugs the plushie of the bear and curls into a little ball, looking pitiful. Apparently he found the bag of plushies hidden in the closet and only then did Soleil let him have them. She still hasn’t asked him why he hid the plushies but she figures at this point she might let it go. Ness enjoys playing with them and that’s good enough for her. Unless it happens again it doesn’t worry her too much.

She sits on the edge of the bed and pets at Ness’s head, hoping that’ll make him relax more. But the sound of sniffles soon reaches her ears.

“What’s wrong, Ness? Do you want some medicine?” He shakes his head but doesn’t answer further than that. He drifts off to sleep, fidgety, and restless.

Before lunch and while Ness is still sleeping Athena and Ray hear Soleil’s fevered begging and it sickens her, that he thinks he has to prostrate himself and beg to be “used” so that he can find his own release. They agree to Cyrill’s request of helping Soleil by the third day, Athena knowing that their relationship can’t be the same after that.

When she gets back to Ness he’s awake and quickly tears up upon seeing her, “I thought you left me.” He whispers. “Oh no, honey, we just went to check up on your momma, okay, we won’t leave you.”

“Is momma okay?”

She swallows, “your momma is having a tough time right now but I know your momma is very strong.” He nods but doesn’t say anything after that.

Ness stays withdrawn over the next day, declining coloring, playing stuffies, and even going outside. He says he wants to “wait for momma” instead. He follows them around, clingy, always watching as if to make sure they’re not going to leave him. He begrudgingly watches TV, caught up in a Spider-man marathon but won’t engage with activities, only acting passively.

He sleeps with them but his sleeping, just like his nap earlier, is restless and he wakes up crying more than once.

The second day during dinner he eats so much he makes himself puke. He just keeps holding out his plate and asking for “more?” and he doesn’t look sick or slow down. The fact that he’s been so standoffish during the last two days and the unsure way he asks is one of the factors that has them continually loading up his plate. Athena says “are you sure, you’ve eaten a lot just now, you might get a tummy ache.” But his lip just wobbles and his face goes tight and he asks “no more?”

Athena hesitates but she gives in, “okay but if you get a tummy ache you should stop, you can always eat more later.” Ness doesn’t nod or even frown, his eyes just on the food. He keeps shoveling food into his mouth and the only warning they get is a little burp before he sicks up all over his front.

Everybody at the table freezes for a second and then Ness’s lip wobbles and he begins to cry.

“I’m sorry I got my clothes dirty!” And Cyrill is telling him it’s alright as Athena goes to wet a napkin to clean off his face.

“I thought I said if you got a tummy ache you should stop, silly” and she’s wiping off his face but his crying kicks up a notch anyway and he hiccups then pukes some more.

“Okay, okay, okay” she’s saying as she motions for the garbage. But everyone pauses as they hear what he says next.

“First momma goes away and then food goes away” he says and babbles on and on, “I don’t wanna go back to that room, it’s always dark and it’s cold and I’m sorry I got my clothes dirty please don’t take them away, please don’t take momma away” and he grows less and less coherent until he’s just bawling. Athena is thankful Cyrill’s room is on the other side of the house because she’s sure Soleil would’ve come running, heat or no heat, if he heard the way Ness was crying.

Ray steps around the table mid babble with a hand towel thrown over his shoulder before he picks Ness up and cradles him against his shoulder.

“Okay, shh, shh, you’re fine.” He says, patting his back and bouncing him slightly. Athena isn’t sure that’s the best idea and is proven right as Ness hiccups and throws up a bit more, he did eat a lot. Luckily Cyrill still has the trash in his hands and has it pressed underneath Ness’s mouth, the bit not caught on the towel landing in the receptacle.

“You’re fine, you’re fine” Ray keeps repeating, walking in circles around the table until Ness’s cries eventually peter out. Ray goes to give him a bath and Athena starts a load of laundry.

“I’m going to help him in the morning,” Cyrill says to her, looking determined. She nods, “I think that would be prudent.

Athena is grateful when Cyrill wakes up early the next day to help Soleil. They could’ve waited until dinner but the way Soleil isn’t eating and the way Ness is going downhill worries her.

She frowns as she watches Ness turn over again. Thankfully Soleil manages to make it down for dinner, arousal and distress cling in equal parts to his scent but he looks soft if not haggard, no longer tense. Ness babbles on about how much he missed Soleil and the Spider-man marathon but doesn’t make mention of his puking.

He’s clingy, one hand on his mother’s sleeve at all times throughout the meal. He keeps that up throughout the week though he sleeps easier and starts coloring again. Even so, she purses her lips as she watches them. She would crack her knuckles is she could, but it’s definitely about time they got into therapy.

Chapter Text

The morning after Soleil’s heat is officially done Cyrill comes ricocheting into their shared bedroom.

“Clothes. Off.” He says as he presses his lips to Athena’s.

He’s already pulling his shirt over his head and hooking his thumbs under Athena’s to help her out of hers.

Athena laughs, vibrant and only half surprised. 

“Oh my god I’m so fucking horny,” he breathes against her neck as he kisses it up and down. “Get the strap.”

Ray goes digging through their closet and pulls out their favorite strap, the one that has a dildo for the fucker and the fuckee and both vibrate. He then sidles behind Cyrill, placing his hands on his waist, “eager today, huh?” He teases.

"Oh my god, yes, want" kiss "both of you" kiss "need" kiss "both of you. If I wasn’t on suppressants Sol would’ve pushed me straight into my own heat."

Soft skin and a pink dick flash before his mind. Soleil moaning and writhing in front of him, shy and beautiful, precious.

He grinds back onto Ray’s clothed cock which is quickly filling out as he kisses his way down Athena’s chest and sucks one of her nipples between his lips.

She gasps as he laves at it with his tongue, fingers tangling in his hair. Ray dips his fingers below Cyrill’s waistband and Cyrill wiggles, wanting his pants and underwear off. Ray complies, pulling them down and letting Cyrill step out of them. He kneels down and blows a puff of air across his pussy and dick, again, teasingly, before he spreads Cyrill and licks a stripe up.

Cyrill groans, Ray’s tongue is wet and warm and wide and wonderful . “Fingers,” he chokes out and Ray slips his thumb inside, thrusting it slowly back and forth. Cyrill swallows as Athena steps out of her underwear and sinks down onto the strap before clicking the harness into place.

She runs her hand through Cyrill’s hair, “how do you want it, love?”

“Oh my god please fuck me, like, right now, Ray let me suck you off-please,” he tacks on just for good measurement.

“You got it,” she says, pulling at Cyrill’s hair so she can kiss him one more time. He moans into her mouth at the pull of hair and as Ray slips one of his longer fingers inside him.

They switch spots and Ray kisses him before Athena presses on his shoulder blades, bending him forward and over. She pops open a packet of lube and dribbles it over the strap, lining herself up with Cyrill’s entrance and sliding in.

Cyrill groans as he presses back onto it, wanting her fully inside him. His eyes flutter shut as she hits home.

Ray steps out of his underwear, tossing them onto his bed, and Cyrill licks his lips as he licks a stripe up it before slipping the head between his lips. He can’t help but think of another dick, one he spent the entire week looking at. How he wished he could’ve sucked Soleil’s little dick down like this, made him twitch and pulse with his own mouth.

He hums around Ray’s dick as Athena starts to fuck him, slow and languid at first until Cyrill makes a grabbing motion behind him. 

She chuckles and presses a button, turning on the vibration for him, before she picks up the pace, pressing her fingers into his hips.

Cyrill lets Ray fuck his mouth open, pushing in when he’s shoved forward by Athena and pulling out at the same time as her but he’s really just holding his mouth open, being loose and pliant. Ray tugs at Cyrill’s hair, “I thought you wanted this?” So Cyrill gets to work, rolling his tongue around Ray’s dick, licking up the underside, hollowing his cheeks and sucking at the tip.

Ray shudders and sighs, “thank you, love.”

Athena slaps at his ass with a riding crop she’s pulled from somewhere and though she can’t feel him tighten around the strap, Ray can feel the moan that Cyrill lets out.

She smacks him three times on each side then alternates and he loses count, his ass is red from the slaps of the crop and of her pelvis against him.

God he loves them so much, his moans reach a pitch as something shudders through him, Athena slapping him harder and Ray tightening his hold on his hair. She tosses the strap aside in order to fuck him harder. Cyrill pulls himself off Ray just to chant, “fuck, fuck, fuck ,” pressing his head into his arm and pressing his arm into the bed.

With his other hand he jerks Ray, his hand slick with spit and precum. “Switch,” he pants out,

And they do, Athena sliding out and unbuckling herself from the strap, putting it to the side as she lies back on the bed, legs spread. 

He kisses at her before he licks at her folds and runs his tongue in circles around her clit.

Ray slides home and starts fucking Cyrill with the same force Athena’d been using. He reaches around Cyrill and pinches his dick softly between his fingers before he works on jerking Cyrill.

Cyrill’s eyes flutter shut and he focuses on laving over Athena’s clit until her legs tighten around his head. Athena, always a glutton for overstimulation, hers or others’, doesn’t push him off, instead shuddering on the bed.

Cyrill feels the pressure in his pelvis build in time with Ray’s strokes and then he’s tightening and pulsing around Ray which is all he needs to pull out and cum over Cyrill’s back.

Cyrill sighs, climbing onto the bed with shaky legs. Athena swats at him, “shower time! Don’t you dare roll over.”

Cyrill debates doing it just out of spite but he knows he’ll regret it next time they play so instead he heads to the shower with Ray in tow.

He breathes out under the hot water and Ray pulls him close.

“How was Soleil’s heat?”

“Delightful, he’s such a sweet thing. Can’t cum by himself though, it pisses me off whatever Grey did to fuck him up.”

“Yeah, we’ll form a club.”

--

They’re all agreed that they need to ask the kid the questions they've been meaning to ask. So while Ness is down for his nap after breakfast they take him to the kitchen where Athena has their files laid out.

"Know you're not in trouble," Ray says, " if you can do your best to answer these questions for us though we'd really appreciate it; it would help us out a lot."

Soleil nods, looking determined.

"Alright, first, can you give us any names that Grey mentioned regularly." Athena slides him a paper to write them out on.

He spends maybe five minutes listing fourteen names and while all except one are just first names it's still better than nothing.

Cyrill works on matching names to Grey's known allies.

"Next we want to ask about you this specific people and you let us know if you ever saw them at Grey's residence, okay?"

Soleil nods again.

Athena holds up the first page, Mayor Reynolds, it's a lead they've been following the trail on for months but they can never pin him.

Soleil shakes his head looking crestfallen before he perks up "oh, sometimes…sometimes he'd put a blindfold on me when he took me to parties though, so I might recognize the voice?"

Athena pulls up a video of the Mayor giving a speech and Soleil's reaction is instantaneous. He freezes up and swallows before he nods quickly, "please turn it off," he whispers.

"Yes, I recognize that voice...whenever he used me it was just him but he always…" he shakes his head, one hand reaching up to tug at his hair.

Ray gently pulls Soleil's hand from his hair, laying it on the table but not letting go.

"Thank you, you're helping us out greatly. Did he ever hold conversation with Grey? Do you remember anything he said?"

Soleil shakes his head, "no…? I don't- I don't remember, I- yes? But I don't remember what he said, I'm sorry, I...it was only twice but I just, I remember him ."

"We really need you to try and remember." Ray squeezes his hand.

“I-” he squeezes his eyes shut, “there was something about a boat? That first time, something about meeting on a boat? I think? Maybe?”

“And the second time?”

He shakes his head, “they um, they gave me a shot with something so I can’t remember what was said.”

Ray frowns and Soleil flinches at it, “sorry, that wasn’t aimed at you, thank you for your help.”

They continue the same way with four more figures they've suspected and Soleil can only place one other but it's something.

"You did a good job, I know that was hard, kid."

"'Kid?'" Soleil blinks up at him.

"It's your size," Ray elaborates.

Soleil blinks again. "Oh, okay." He looks down at himself curiously.

"Is there any other way I can help?" He asks.

Athena puts her finger to her mouth as she thinks, "you wouldn't happen to know how Grey ran his businesses, would you?"

Soleil tilts his head but ultimately slumps down, "no, sorry."

"That's okay, it was a shot in the dark. Ah, but I think it's important to ask even though you've never mentioned it, there were no others like you, right?"

Soleil sits up, "Lucy. Chris has an omega named Lucy. Or at least, he did at one point."

Cyrill flips through the files then holds up a photo, "this is Chris right?"

Soleil nods. Cyrill holds up some more photos and matches them to names, not everyone is a match but it's good to confirm the ones that do match.

Athena’s tapping something out on her phone. 

“Alright that’s enough for now, if we think up any more questions we’ll come to you. Thank you for your help today.”

“Um-” the three of them look up.

“Are you going to help Lucy too?” He swallows.

“That’s what we’re going to work on.”

Soleil nods.



After lunch Athena brings up a topic they haven’t spoken on yet.

“It’s about time we start going back into the office again,” she says with a tight face.

“Oh…” Soleil starts, he swallows, “that’s fine of course, I mean not that you need my permission or anything, if you want us to? Leave while you’re out that’s-”

“No, love, you’re welcome to stay here as always, we’re just letting you know we’re going to be out during the day. We’re going out today to get more things for Ness so he doesn’t get bored, is there anything you’d like?”

Soleil shakes his head quickly, “no, thank you.”

Ness pipes up then “you’re going away?”

“Only for the days of the week, sweetheart, and we’ll be back at night but you’ll have your momma here with you the whole time, okay?”

Ness scrunches his face up “why do you have to go away?”

Athena tilts her head at him “we have grown up things to do.”

Ness pouts, “why do you have to do grown up things? I want to watch more cartoons with you.”

“Aw honey, you can watch cartoons with momma and we can watch some more when you get back.”

They’d actually had an argument about this last night. Ray and Athena for returning to work and Cyrill arguing that he could just work from the estate.

“You don’t even really need me,” he’d said, and while Cyrill was more geared towards working in the field than at the office, “what about when we do need you? It’s been two weeks already.”

Cyrill had eventually given in but he was still mildly unhappy about it.

Ness turns to his mother, “do you have grown up things to do?”

Soleil flushes, “um, not right now,” he looks up “do- do you want me to look for a job? I can if that’s what you want.”

Cyrill shakes his head, “no, you’re set here,” he turns to Ness, “besides it’s only for the weekdays, do you know your days of the week yet?”

Ness shakes his head and asks Soleil, “what are those, momma?”

Which is how they wind up spending lunch teaching Ness the days of the week.

--

Ness and Soleil spend their newfound free days playing stuffies, building blocks and imaginary towns, coloring, and watching TV. Ray said they should try to limit TV to about 2 hours a day so that’s what Soleil does.

They work on more things like teaching Ness how to read and how to count to 20. They still eat breakfast together and they’re back before dinner but somehow Soleil feels like he’s slipping back into old patterns when it’s just he and Ness.

Tuesday of the next week Athena tells him that his new therapist is coming today. She stays home that day. He’s nervous during breakfast and isn’t able to eat much but before lunch Athena is ushering him into her office and handing him a stack of papers and telling him to fill them out. The first page already has him frowning. For his relationship to Cyrill, Athena, and Ray he just puts “living partner.” 

“In your own words, describe the current problems as you see them:” He taps the pen to his lips. 

“I can’t go outside, I’m scared of a lot of things. I have a lot of nightmares.” He hates his handwriting, it’s that of an adolescent, really. He tries to think about what Athena would write. “Self-esteem issues, thinks he is unworthy of many things, has problems with eye contact.”

Though he doesn’t see the problem with that; he isn’t worthy of many things, he just sits and takes up space. Besides, his Master had drilled it into him, hybrids aren’t human, he’s doing good he has what he does. Even when his mother raised him she made it clear that he should be grateful for what he got.

The checklist surprises him with how many things he checks off, though since it’s said in the last month it applies to when he lived with Master as well: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, not feeling rested in the morning, anxiety, frequent feelings of guilt, difficulty leaving your home, panic attacks, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, fear, frequent worry, being easily startled/feeling jumpy, nightmares, difficulty concentrating (he crosses that part out) or thinking (he circles that instead, though that’s related to his panic attacks), difficulty or inability to say “no” to others. He hovers over dizziness, knowing that was probably just from not eating when Master restricted him and decides to pass on checking it off. He hesitates at “feeling as if you were outside yourself, detached, observing what you are doing” he doesn’t know what that’s a “symptom” of but he doesn’t want to check it and get Ness taken away, that seems like the only symptom that could put him in danger. But that was only when he was in the bathroom for too long. He makes a small check. He checks “dependency on others” because he’s too dependent on Athena, Cyrill, and Ray, he knows.

He swallows at “abusive relationship” he knows what abuse is but does it count if it was him? He sighs, if he’d been a better son to his mother she never would have given him away, he knows that, so he-he didn’t deserve everything he got, but some of it. He thinks as to what Athena would want him to do and makes another small check. Similarly he checks each of the boxes under “have you ever been abused?” “Verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, neglected.” It makes him feel dirty or-messed up. He doesn’t want to do this anymore.

He sighs as he brings the packet of papers to his forehead. Except he has to do it because it’s the one thing Athena’s asking of him besides using her name and not kneeling. 

He goes through the rest of the packet as though he doesn’t drink or do drugs because he doesn’t, he was only forced to by his Master.

When he’s done he sees there was another page that had been ripped off but pays no attention to it, instead wondering if he should go get Athena now or if he can put it off a little bit longer. He knows he’d rather not sit with his thoughts though so he gets up to find Athena only to find she’s standing outside the door, fingers tapping at the keyboard on her phone.

“Thank you, Soleil,” she says as he hands her the form. “You can sit back down, Penny should be with you in a bit, okay?” He nods and goes to sit in the office again.

He looks around as he waits, the colors are muted, tan walls and a dark grey carpet. The desk is clean, a glass table top with a computer on top and a tray with some papers in it. He wonders what the office would need a couch for, wondering if she often has people visit her or if she prefers to do work on the couch. The image of her curled up with some papers comes unbidden to him. He fiddles with his thumbs while he waits and tries to look at some of the book titles on the shelf but they’re too far away to see clearly. Then there’s a knock at the door.

“Hello, you must be Soleil.” It’s a lady with tan skin dotted liberally by beauty marks. She has dark hair with streaks of white throughout it.

She sits and holds out her hand for him to shake, “my name is Dr. Penny Dimitriadis but please, feel free to call me Penny.”

Soleil swallows and shakes her hand after wiping the sweat from his palm onto his thigh. She reaches into her bag and pulls out a yellow notepad and pen.

“It’s very nice to meet you, why don’t we get started? Do you mind if I write some things down on this pad here just for our first session?”

He shakes his head and she smiles at him.

“How are you today?”

“I’m okay, just nervous…”

She continues smiling, “that’s perfectly normal, as we get to know each other more hopefully you won’t be as nervous.”

“First I like to talk about patient confidentiality, anything said during our sessions will not be repeated to anybody else unless you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else. My notes will be for me and me only, is that alright?” 

He nods. She nods back. “So what brings you here?”

He squints for a second, “um- I wrote it down on the paper…?” 

She smiles and nods at him again, “I’d like to hear it from you personally if you don’t mind.”’

“Oh, okay. Um, well Athena, and Ray and Cyrill think it would be helpful for me. And then,” he tugs at his finger, “I did the survey and there are some things I want and I think? Therapy will help? I don’t know, I’ve never been to therapy before but Athena says it will help me,” he rambles on, nervous.

“What are some of those things you want?”

“Um,” he pauses here. Nervous of making himself vulnerable by saying all the things he can’t do.

“Oh, one more thing,” Penny says, “you may choose to not answer any question, just let me know and we’ll move on, however I think it’s beneficial to be as honest as possible during sessions. And if I ever say anything that makes you uncomfortable, let me know, I know it’s easier said than done but still.”

He nods and licks his lips, “well,” he tugs on his finger some more, pinching and twisting it between his fingertips. He settles on one of the things the survey had him rate, “I’d like to sleep better?” What he’d really like is to be able to sleep at all, though he’s slept better since his heat he still finds himself waking up often through the night in a cold sweat. He trusts Athena and Ray and Cyrill with Ness now but that doesn’t help the irrational side of him and he keeps having nightmares.

“How are you sleeping? Do you sleep throughout the night? Have trouble falling asleep?”

He nods, “It’s hard for me to get to sleep and then I keep waking up in the middle of the night. I get...I get a lot of nightmares. And sometimes I wake up even without nightmares.” He finds himself sharing that last bit without meaning to.

Penny nods and writes on her pad. “And how does this problem make you feel?”

He blinks. “Um, worried, I guess? Like what if I’m never able to sleep normally?”

She writes some more on her pad before she smiles at him, “there’s something I’m going to want to talk with you about at a later time called the all-or-nothing mindset, but right now I want to ask you, what makes the problem better?”

He thinks back to his week sleeping with Cyrill. Each time he woke from a nightmare he was soothed back to sleep and he was naturally falling asleep post-orgasm instead of spending hours worrying. He flushes, not about to say “sex” to this woman he’s just met, instead saying:

“Um, sleeping with someone else? Besides Ness.”

“Ness is your son?”

He scrunches his nose, knowing he wrote that on the survey.

She nods, “alright, I know you wrote it on the survey, would you mind if I pulled it out then?”

He shakes his head and she pulls it out, “Ness is four?”

He nods again, feeling slightly repetitive with all his nodding.

"Soon to be five."

“Why don’t you tell me about your relationship with Ness?”

“Um…” his head tilts to the side, “it’s good I think? I’m able to spend more time with him now than I was before and that makes both of his happy.”

“What was happening, ‘before’?” It’s the first question that makes him want to raise his hackles or pull his knees to his chest, instead his eyes skitter to the side as he tries to figure out a way to answer the question without mentioning his Master.

“Um, I lived with someone else and they didn’t let me see him often.”

Penny writes something down on the pad and for the first time he considers trying to peek at what she’s writing but doesn’t want her to get mad at him so he quickly dismisses the thought.

“Let you? Do you want to elaborate”

He freezes. “Um, yeah, and um, no…?” he trails off, expecting to be reprimanded but instead she just nods.

“What are you expecting from therapy?”

He shrugs and then winces, his Master used to hate it when he shrugged at him.

“I, um” he hurries to answer out loud “I think...what I expect? I’m not sure, I think you ask me questions and I answer them?” That seems to be what it’s been so far.

Penny hums, “well you’re not wrong, but more than that I’m going to give you coping tools for your toolbox so you can handle and fix your problems yourself. We’re going to work through your problems together. My questions are here to guide you. I’m hopefully going to be someone you can count on for help and I’m going to be somebody who’s in your corner and your corner alone.”

He doesn’t really understand that last part but he nods anyway.

“Why don’t you tell me a bit about your other relationships, who are you living with?”

“Well, I live here, with Athena, Ray, Cyrill, and Ness. Um, my relationship with them is?” He thinks for a second before he looks down to his lap. “It’s nice, they’re very kind to me and Ness but...I don’t do anything for them, I’m just here taking up space and yet they…”

“Hmm, why don’t you tell me about your relationships with them individually.”

He winces, feeling stupid, “right, well, I think I’m closest with Cyrill? He helped me with my heat a week ago so I’ve spent the most time with him.” He tugs at his finger, “Athena is very nice to me and she’s very, um, she works hard?” He fills silly, “oh! Determined? She’s very determined to help me I think.” He looks down, not sure what he did to deserve her help. “And Ray, he looks kind of scary because he’s tall and big and has that scar across his face but he’s nice to me too and held my hand once and watches cartoons with me and Ness sometimes. Um, he’s always trying to get me to eat more, but actually Athena and Cyrill do that too.”

She’s been writing on her pad the whole time. “What makes you think you have to do anything for them?”

He swallows. He doesn’t want to say his old Master made sure everything was paid for so instead he says, “it’s just? What you should do?”

She hums. “Okay, why do you think you should do it?”

“I…” his heart skips a beat and his chest draws tight in the way that prefaces a panic attack, it’s the same question but he doesn’t know how to answer it without mentioning his Master. 

“I...I um, I don’t, if I don’t do anything for them they’ll take away what they gave me…?” His voice trails off to a whisper, because somehow he doesn’t think that’s true except he knows that to be a rule of his life.

The room is quiet enough that Penny can hear his words, even whispered.

“Have they said that?”

He shakes his head. “No, actually they said I don’t need to do anything but…”

“But…?”

“But…” he doesn’t want to say that it’s the way he’s lived up until now but he doesn’t want to not answer the question. He squeezes his eyes shut and swallows, feeling his chest draw tight again.

“Alright Soleil, you can keep your eyes closed if you want but we’re going to try breathing right now, in for 4, hold for 1, out for 4, can you do that for me? Let’s start, in...hold...out.”

He squeezes his hand into a fist to ground himself and does his best to follow her instructions and exaggerated breathing. It’s faster than the breathing Athena or Cyrill or Ray have him do and so it works faster.

When he opens his eyes, breathing back to normal if not a little choppy, she tilts her head at him. “How often do you have panic attacks?”

He looks away, trying to recall. “Um, maybe a couple times a week?”

“We’re going to work on getting that number down, okay?”

He nods, feeling relieved for the first time, that Penny’s going to be able to help him, “how?”

She smiles at him, “well, first breathing is important, if you can keep up that 4-1-4 that would be great. Then you can tell yourself “this will pass” as you’re going through one, feel free to repeat it and just like you say, it will pass. This one’s a little bit harder but if you can ground yourself in the present, focus on what you feel or smell or hear, that can be helpful too.”

“I like to work with scales, if you can rate your fear during a panic attack you’ll notice it come down the more you breathe and that too will remind you that your panic will pass. I know this is a lot so I’m going to write it down for you but one more thing you can do is practice muscle relaxation. Why don’t we try it now? Choose one muscle in your body maybe starting with your head and tense it up, tight, tight, tight. Now let all that tension go, relax, relax, relax. And again with your next muscle, until your whole body is relaxed.”

He feels a bit silly but he does it anyway until he’s worked all the way down to his toes.

“How did that feel?”

“Tensing up hurt, I don’t like the way it still aches but I feel more loose than when I started?”

Penny smiles at him, “that’s good, then. If you don’t like the tensing up part you can just relax too.” She wrinkles her nose at him, “I don’t like the tensing up part either.”

She tears out the paper with the methods and passes it to him.

“What normally helps your panic attacks?”

“Um, if someone helps me breathe, if I close my eyes or cover my ears, sometimes I...pull my hair or dig my fingernails into my skin.”

“Okay, we want to work on healthy coping skills so I’m going to ask that you do your best not to pull your hair or dig your fingernails into your skin, do you think you can do that? Instead I want you to work on relaxing your muscles like you did today.”

“I can try that.”

“Great,” Penny smiles at him.

She looks at the papers again. “‘During your childhood, did you live any significant period of time with anyone other than your natural parents?  If so, please give the person’s name and relationship to you.’ You wrote ‘Master,’ would you mind elaborating as to your relationship with this person?”

“Ah, my Master...he owned me and I…” he pulls at his finger, his eyes dropping. “Um...my mother gave me away when I was 13 to him and he became my owner.”

“When you say owner, in what capacity?”

Soleil freezes, not quite understanding the question, “um...he fed me and...in all capacity? I do what he tells me to do-did what he told me to do, um...no matter what...:” the last part is said quietly.

She purses her lips. “What was your Master’s name?”

Soleil shakes his head, “I’m not allowed to call him that.”

“Do you think you could write it then?”

He blanches as she passes over the notepad turned to a blank page. He writes the name and passes it back to her.

“‘Grey Nickelson?’” Soleil nods, looking away.

“I think I’ll call him that. Actually, can you tell me where he is now?”

“He’s dead” it’s said monotonously, “he was shot in the head.”

Penny simply nods. “How long did you live with Grey?”

Soleil thinks back, “um, about a decade…”

She nods again, “that’s a very long time. How did he treat you?”

Soleil pinches and pulls at his finger again. If he says anything other than “well” his Master would punish him for it but his master isn’t here anymore. And it’s best to be as honest as possible. He takes a deep breath. 

“He didn’t treat me very well, he um…he hit me a lot and sometimes starved me, I wasn’t allowed clothes and he often…” he bites his tongue. He shakes his head, “can we talk about this another time?”

“Of course we can table discussion for a future time. You’re doing very well.” She looks at her watch. 

“How long have you  been living here?”

“About two and a half weeks.”

“And how would you say you feel living here?”

“I like it, I like it a lot. They’re very kind to me and I feel...I feel a lot less worried than I did before, even though I still worry all the time.”

“What are some things you worry about?”

“I worry about food and it being...taken away I guess, I worry about Ness and if he’s developing right for his age, I worry about getting kicked out even though they say I can stay here as long as I want, I worry about Ness a lot. He has nightmares all the time and sometimes he heats too much and makes himself puke, he doesn’t have any friends his age and he doesn’t go outside enough which I know is partly my fault but I worry about outside too and I worry about my Master even though he’s supposed to be dead.”

“That sure is a lot to be worrying about all the time, are there any things you can stop worrying about? Are there any things out of your control?”

“I mean...I know I shouldn’t worry about being kicked out but I just...I’m not doing anything here, what are the merits of keeping me?”

“That sounds like something you have to ask your living partners about, but do you think it’s possible to take what they say at face value?”

Soleil swallows. And then he swallows again. “I’m just...so worried.”

“Why are you so worried about being kicked out?”

Soleil looks at her doubtfully, “wouldn’t you be worried about what would happen if you got kicked out of your house?”

“Hmm, if I had a reason to think I was going to be kicked out.”

Soleil frowns. “I’m so worried because I don’t want to go back, I don’t want Ness to have to go back to Master or somewhere worse or for us to get separated.”

“Ah, so that’s also on the list of things you’re worrying about? Do you have any evidence that makes this worry true, how about not true?”

Soleil blinks and frowns, “I…” he looks away.

“Have your living partners given you reason to doubt their words?”

He shakes his head. Then tilts it and swallows. Now he feels bad about doubting them.

“What’s that face for?”

“Ah, what face?”

“I’m not sure, the face you just made, you were upset before but you’re doubly upset now, why?”

“I feel...I feel bad about doubting them now.”

“Has any harm come of it?”

“I guess not?”

“Are you still worrying about it?”

“I think a little bit less than before.”

“Do you think they would begrudge you for doubting them.”

He frowns. “No, probably not.”

“Then you can let go of that worry too can’t you?”

He deflates in his chair.

“This is tiring.”

“What exactly is tiring?”

He slumps further in his chair, “isn’t it easier just to worry?”

“It may be easier but is it healthier? You want to be healthier don’t you?”

Soleil nods, sitting back up. “Okay, so what else can I stop worrying about?”

“You tell me, what else isn’t in your control? Those are the worries I find easiest to let go.”

He fiddles with his finger, opens his mouth then closes it. Penny lets him sit in silence for a minute.

“How do you feel about worrying?”

“What do you mean?”

“How does worrying make you feel, besides worried?”

“I don’t know...it just feels like if I worry about something I’m? Doing something about it?”

“And are you doing something about it?”

Soleil fiddles with his finger some more. “It’s better than doing nothing, isn’t it?” He huffs a laugh.

“But do you think there are better things you could be spending your time on?” She reaches up and adjusts the glasses perched on her nose.

He wants to kick his feet. “Sorry, back when I was with Master all I could do was worry.”

“There’s no need to apologize but aren’t your circumstances different now?”

Soleil sighs, playing with his hair. 

“So what should I be doing?”

“Why don’t you tell me?”

Soleil wants to sigh again, “aren’t you supposed to tell me what to do to get better?”

“I find that my patients do better when they figure things out for themselves, it sticks better, I know you can do it~” She kind of sing-songs the last part and Soleil finds his building frustration with her dissipating. 

“What was the question again?”

“What can you do besides worry?”

He sighs again, “I don’t know.”

“Well why don’t you think on it, hm? Maybe try giving yourself a “worry period” if you need it, designate a time for worrying about things and for the rest of the day let those thoughts come and then let them go. Then see what you can do with the rest of your time.”

“Okay.”

“And one last thing before we go, where would you rate your mood on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the worst you’ve ever felt and 10 being the best?”

His first instinct is to go with a 5, he doesn’t feel particularly good or bad but that in itself bumps his rating up to a 6, so that’s what he goes with.

Penny nods at him, writing that down too. Her eyes rove over the paper. “Would you feel up to meeting at the same time Friday?”

He blinks, “Um, sure.” She stands. “Alright then, Soleil, it was very nice to meet you,” she leaves, smiling and Soleil stands after a minute, peeking his head out of the office.

He’s still a bit annoyed but then he looks down at the list of coping methods in his hands. He doesn’t know how good they’ll be when he’s in the middle of a panic attack but still he feels a part of him lighten knowing he can do something about them.

--

Ness kicks his feet under the table as he colors, looking up every few minutes towards Athena’s office. During the week of Soleil’s heat he’s become a noticeably more attached to his mother, holding onto his sleeves, sitting next to him on the couch instead of coloring at the table, stopping his activities when Soleil leaves the room for an extended period of time.

After half an hour he peeps up, “when is Momma coming back?”

“In a bit, love, why don’t you make mommy a pretty picture and we can put it on the fridge?”

Ness purses his lips, “why are we putting it on the fridge?”

“The fridge is where very important papers go” Athena leans in conspiratorially. “What kind of picture do you think mommy would like?”

Ness blinks, “I’m gonna draw a picture of me and Momma and we’re going to be outside! With pretty flowers and birdies and a kitty!” He’d seen a live cat for the first time yesterday in the backyard and hadn’t stopped talking about it since.

“Do you want to go outside?”

Ness looks up before he looks back to Athena’s office. He looks with his whole body, his torso twisting in his seat. “Can I wait for Momma?”

“Of course love, we’ll see if Soleil wants to go outside when he’s done with his session.”

Ness goes back to coloring.

Penny exits the office. She waves at Ness who just blinks at her with wide eyes. Athena leaves at the table to walk her out.

She knows better than to ask after Soleil so she doesn’t say anything but Penny says, “so I’ll be back Friday. I think I’ll want to see him twice a week but we’ll work it out.”

Athena writes her out a check and asks, “do you think yoga would be helpful?”

Penny nods, “exercise is almost helpful for anxiety.”

Athena hums thoughtfully.

When she get back inside Ness is showing his mother his drawing, Soleil sits at the table,  looking at it with a soft smile and nodding along as Ness points out all the things in it.

“I didn’t know what color to make your shirt so I made it rainbow!” And indeed it is a mashup of all the colors in a shape vaguely resembling that of a t-shirt.

“Ness was asking about going outside earlier, and I was thinking we should maybe do some yoga.”

Soleil blinks at her, “yoga?”

“Mmhmm, we could even do it outside.”

“What’s yoga?”

Soleil answers, “it’s a sort of exercise with a lot of stretching,” he looks to Athena for confirmation though.

“Mmhmm,” she smiles, “it shouldn’t be too hard on your leg.”

She watches as his hand goes to cover his ankle self-consciously.

“I don’t think...I’m ready to go outside yet though.”

Athena nods, “that’s okay then, Ness and I can do yoga on the patio while you do it inside, we’ll just leave the door open for fresh air. Why don’t you two head to the back room and I’ll go get some mats.”

Athena heads to the basement, rooting around for a third mat. She knows there are two in the back room already for she and Cyrill but Ray’s is sitting somewhere unused. It’s not hard to find with its size and then she heads back upstairs. She inserts the “relaxing” DVD and lies down the three mats, one inside two outside.

“Now for the both of you, you don’t have to do these poses perfectly, just do the best you can, okay? Don’t hurt yourselves. A little bit of a stretch is good but don’t strain. And Soleil that goes doubly for you, don’t do anything that’ll hurt your ankle.”

He nods. They get started.

Ness does his best. He spends the first ten minutes copying his mother and Athena but once they start getting into more difficult poses requiring balance he stops.

Athena keeps watch on him out of the corner of her eye so she notices when he starts sniffling. She walks over and sits in front of him while Soleil hovers by the doorway, his fingers on the doorframe.

“What’s wrong, dear?”

“I can’t do it Athena.” Another sniffle.

“That’s okay, these poses are hard, you just don’t have the balance yet.”

“I wanna do it but I can’t.”

“Do you wanna keep trying?”

He sniffles and pouts before shrugging.

“Do you wanna go pick flowers? You can go lay in the sun or find some nice rocks, too?”

Athena looks back at Soleil for approval and he nods quickly.

He cheers up after that, “okay!” And then he’s running off, troubles forgotten for the moment.

“Thank you,” Soleil says and Athena smiles at him, “no problem, love, do you want to get back to it?” He nods so they do.

At the pose requiring them to lean forward on their hands with their rears in the air Soleil’s shirt rides up and he’s self consciously tugging it back down (up?) but not before Athena catches silvery stretch marks at his stomach and side and criss-crossing scars over his back. She pretends she hasn’t seen, keeping her eyes down. Soleil is careful to keep his shirt covering him for the rest of their yoga.

 

That same day Athena measures their feet and pulls up a page full of sneakers their sizes for each of them. Ness is very careful as he scrolls down, he stops for a second on a pair of shoes that look like they have lights in the bottom. He points at them and tilts his head, “I can have these ones?”

“Of course,” Athena says, and adds them to the cart.

‘Remember to say please,” Soleil chides.

“Please and thank you!” Ness says.

Soleil scrolls down his page quickly, looking nervous, until he points at a pair of blue ones, “um, these would be great, as long as you don’t mind…”

“Not at all,” and then she adds those to the cart as well.

They go out to grab Ness more things and come back with jumbo puzzles, balls of differing sizes, more coloring books and regular books, play-doh, building blocks, toy cars that wind up and go forward, and their shoes. Ness immediately puts his shoes on, though he needs help, and runs around the house stomping his feet.

Soleil doesn’t put his on but places them reverently in the closet. He’s in the middle of backing out of the closet when Athena knocks at the door and that has him scrambling to close the closet as his secret food stash for he and Ness is hidden at the back corner.

“We got you a couple of things too, and this which I forgot to give you a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be helpful to record your thoughts.”

She holds out a box and it’s heavier than Soleil expects. There’s a notebook on top.

He places the box on the table, when he removes the notebook it’s to see that the box holds a laptop.

“This…” he looks up, “isn’t this too much?” He worries at his lip.

“Not at all, now you’ll be able to look up whatever you want whenever you want.”

His eyes water, “you’d trust me with that?”

Athena crouches on the other side of the table, “of course. Do you want me to help you set it up?” He nods so that’s what they do.

 

Later that night she’s washing the dishes with Cyrill while everyone else is in the living room.

“Did you know that he scars all over his back?” She asks him, wondering if he knew from his time with Soleil during his heat.

Cyrill purses his lips. “I only saw them that first day because he was naked.”

“A whip?”

Cyrill nods tersely, “that’s what it looks like. Belt marks too.”

Cyrill’s squeezing the sponge as if it was Grey’s windpipe and she finds herself feeling the same.

--

He works a little bit on his worries. He starts journaling, writing down his worries and trying to categorize them into things he has control over and things he doesn’t.

But there’s something nagging at him.

It takes him a couple of days to work up the nerve but then he’s sitting down at the computer and typing it what he thinks is his mother’s name. His breath is shaky as he clicks the first link, Facebook, but it’s not her, he doesn’t think. It takes half an hour to find her, Soleil growing more agitated with every minute. 

She’s smiling in her profile picture. 

Crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes and she’s a brunette instead of blonde now. There were days he wondered if he even remembered what she looked like but it only took a moment to recognize her in the picture and she’s smiling.

She’d stopped smiling at him at all before she gave him away. Is she that much happier without him?

He doesn’t look past that. Did she get married, have more kids? Did she regret it? Did she ever love him?

Why is he so stupid? He should’ve expected this and yet it still hurts. Why did he even look for her? He puts his hands in his hair and yanks but it doesn’t make him feel better this time and before he knows it he’s choking on a blubbering cry. He covers his face with his hands and sniffles, hot. His breath hitches and he whines. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He curls in on himself, wanting to push the laptop off the table and away, away away but knowing that it’s a precious gift he doesn’t, instead he just sniffles some more, alternating between holding his breath and choking on sobs.

It’s a question he couldn’t help but ask himself on his darkest days, what did he do wrong? Why couldn’t he be better? He looks at Ness and loves him more than anything else in the world so what did he do that his own mother couldn’t stand him? Suddenly a self-hatred so strong it burns like bile rises in him and he bites at his fingers, wanting it to hurt, deserving it. 

He scrambles up and into the bathroom, into the tub, safe, close, cramped and small, he can cocoon himself away as he shakes apart. He skips dinner that night, knowing they’ll smell the distress on him. He pretends he has a stomachache and declines to see them.

--

They have an overdue house visit with the doctor on Thursday besides waiting for Ness’s later appointment with his new therapist. 

It’s a pretty red-headed omega who goes by Dr. Amelia. It’s Cyrill who’s stayed home today. He stands in the living room and watches the proceedings. He feels safer with Cyrill there.

She says, “hello Ness, I’m a doctor, I hear you’ve never seen a doctor before!”

He’s hiding behind Soleil as he nods, “only on TV; you make owies go away.”

“That’s right,” she smiles at him. “Today we’re going to make sure you’re all up to date with your shots that way you can stay nice and healthy, okay?”

Ness tugs at his mother’s sleeve, “what are shots?”

“They’re um, needles? You’re going to feel a little pinprick of pain but you have to that way you can stay healthy.” He was familiar with vaccines from his time with his mother though he’d forgotten about them at first.

Seeing Dr. Amelia brings back long buried memories of cold stethoscopes, character band-aids, and lollipops after visits.

“Would it be okay if I asked each of you to pee into these cups? I’ll label them for you.”

He takes Ness to the bathroom and helps him with that. His baby asks with ever curious eyes, “why does that lady want us to pee into cups?”

“They check the pee to make sure we’re all healthy.”

“Ohh.”

“Right now we’re going to take your momma’s blood pressure, this way we make sure his heart is pumping all the blood properly. Do you know why blood is important, Ness?”

He shakes his head. “Blood carries oxygen to your brain, and oxygen is the air you breathe, so that’s why you breathe, so your brain gets all the air it needs.” The band tightens around his arm and for a second it reminds him of his Master’s bruising grip. HIs tail flicks behind him.

But then Dr. Amelia is letting out a calming scent, broadcasting all of her movements and intentions and he settles a bit. She even warms up the stethoscope with the palms of her hands before pressing it to his skin beneath his shirt. He takes deep breaths like she instructs.

“Your mom has healthy lungs and a healthy heart. He has to be very brave and get his shots first to show you they’re nothing to worry about, okay?”

She pulls out the first needle and Soleil jerks, sitting up straight.

“Which arm, right or left?” 

“Um, left,” he says, swallowing. He wore a T-shirt today like Cyrill instructed him to.

She goes to inject him and he can’t help but jerk away, looking at Cyrill with panicked eyes, he doesn’t want a shot, he doesn’t trust them.

“Alright, okay” Cyrill says, moving into Soleil’s personal space. He brings his arms up around Soleil’s waist and hugs him close, nestling Soleil’s head into the crook of his neck where his scent glands are. Soleil brings his hands up around Cyrill’s waist too.

“You’re going to do just fine, just focus on breathing. I promise you these shots aren’t the same shots Grey gave you, they’re just vaccines.”

He shakes in Cyrill’s grasp, nodding, “okay,” he croaks.

Ness moves to hold his hand and Soleil smiles wobbily at him.

Amelia moves in again with the shot and he feels the pinprick of pain. His tail wags worriedly behind him. Tears leak from the corners of his eyes, he can’t help them as he buries his face into Cyrill’s neck and breathes in his calming scent. If they’re the same shots he finds he’d rather be used by them than by Grey.

“There’s one,” she says, “three more to go.”

In quick succession she works them in a line down his shoulder. He looks down to see his arm covered in band-aids, 7 shots. It helps that they’re not in the crook of his arm like Grey would’ve done.

“All done!’ Amelia says, “that wasn’t so bad was it?”

He shakes his head, wiping at his tears, “sorry.” 

Amelia squeezes his shoulder, “it’s no problem, I know you’ve been through the ringer and back,” which makes him wonder exactly what she was told.

“It really wasn’t so bad, Ness, can you be a big boy and get your shots, like momma?” He asks his son.

Ness nods, looking both wary and determined. “Do I get to hug Cyrill, too?"

“Of course,” Cyrill says, picking Ness up who buries his head in Cyrill’s neck like his mother.

“I have band-aids with characters on them, do you wanna come chose which ones you want? I hear you haven’t had any shots since you’ve been born so you’ve got to get a lot today but I brought you a whole bunch of stickers you can have afterwards.”

“Paw Patrol!” He shouts, looking dazzled.

“I thought you might like Paw Patrol, they’re doggies just like you, right?”

Ness nods fervently

He gets 7 shots all together, three on his left arm and four on his right. A different set from his mother but still the same number.

He sniffles and cries but looks like he’s holding back his tears for the most part.

“All done,” Amelia says. “Here you get a whole sheet of stickers. More Paw Patrol?”

“More Paw Patrol,” he says.

Soleil sits on the couch, feeling woozy. It must show on his face because Amelia bustles over, “nothing wrong with feeling a bit nauseous after your shots, especially if you’ve got a fear of needles, why don’t you lie down with your eyes closed. Could he have a glass of water?”

Ness bursts into tears, “is Momma-is Momma gonna die?!”

Cyrill pats at his head, “no your Momma just doesn’t like needles, he’s going to be fine.”

And the wooziness isn’t the same as Grey’s shots. His head feels swimmy but his vision doesn’t swim and there’s a churning in his gut but he doesn’t feel like puking, so it’s different.

He listens as Amelia calms Ness down by talking to him about his favorite Paw Patrol characters and giving him a lollipop while Cyrill goes to grab him a glass of water. He drinks it and its coolness slips down his throat. Amelia offers him a lollipop too and he pops it into his mouth.

After a few minutes she checks on him again. “Feeling better?”

He nods, sitting upl his head doesn’t swim anymore. Ness climbs up on the couch next to him.

Amelia packs up her bag. “Well it was very nice meeting you two, I’ll be back to give you some more shots in two weeks. In the meantime…” she’s saying something else but Soleil finds his thoughts drifting. To when he got shots as a child and the lollipops he got then, to his mother who stopped taking him to the doctor as he grew older. To Grey’s shots to how all the omega scents in the room and Ness’s are mixing and mingling. 

When he zones back in Cyrill has an episode of Paw Patrol up. He looks around.

“Back with us?” Cyrill asks.

Soleil flushes and nods, “sorry, I don’t know where I went.”

“That’s fine, she’s starting you two on a host of supplements and vitamins that you should take with your dinner. We can start tonight. She recommends that Ness go outside more so his eyes get used to the sun better and that he start playing things that exercise him some more.”

Soleil nods.

 

They watch more TV until later that day another woman, this time a beta with shiny black hair introduces herself as Dr. Fortis, Ness’s therapist, enters and gives him a different stack of papers . He makes his way to Athena’s office to fill them out since that’s where they’ll be conducting the session.

“Parent’s Names.” He hesitates. He never looked into who Ness’s father was, never had the chance or the time. Sometimes he wondered if he was his Master’s own son but he knew his Master hated hybrids enough that even his own child would be shunned. He wonders if his Master ever looked into it. Instead he just writes his own name, “Soleil Etain.” It’d been forever since he had to remember his last name, it tastes strange on his lips. 

Ness probably didn’t even remember he had a last name; he remembers whispering it to his child, wrapped in his arms, “you are my world, my love, Happyness Etain.” He swallows, there were many things he’d whispered to his baby in that room.

 

“Once upon a time…”

“And after three comes four…”

“Don’t look.”

 

“Primary reason you are concerned about your child?” He wonders if he should just leave that blank and talk about it in person. But he doesn’t want to also leave the paperwork blank in case they need it. “The way he was raised” is what he puts.

He looks at the symptoms list and as he works through it can only be incredibly grateful that Ness has taken to the outside world the way he has, with curiosity and enthusiasm rather than being scared of it or rejecting it.

“Fearfulness, separation problems, bedwetting, nightmares, excessive crying(?)” and another problem that’s made itself obvious in the month you’ve been here: Ness’s problems with food. He’s made himself puke twice more since the time he made himself puke during Soleil’s heat, which Ray filled him in on. He doesn’t quite trust promises of there being more “later,” instead stuffing himself until he eats too much. One day he barely touched his food, bursting into tears when Soleil had prodded him about why. They never got the answer to why, Soleil had hushed him, sitting him in his lap gotten him to eat though.

Ray filled him on the things he missed during the week of his heat. The first day he’d thrown his first temper tantrum.

“I wanna see Momma!” he’d said, but never shouted because Soleil had taught him to be quiet, lest he draw the attention of Master. They tried to placate him with TV and coloring until he started snapping his crayons in half.

“Why are you breaking your crayons?” Cyrill had asked, “if you break them now you won’t be able to color with them later.” And then he’d started throwing them, “I wanna! See! Momma!” A crayon thrown with each word.

Athena grabbed his little arms, gently but firmly, “we do not throw things in this house,” she’d said and then Ness began to cry. “I’m sorry! Please don’t take them away! I just wanna see Momma! You said we could be together!”

And Athena had picked him up and cradled him close, “I know, baby, but Momma is very very busy right now but he loves you very much and he will be back very soon, okay? Until then you have to be a good boy so Momma can do his very important things. Let’s clean up your crayons now.” 

And then he’d been very silent for the rest of the day because that’s what being a “good boy” meant to him. Because each time Soleil bid farewell to his child, with tears in his eyes and a weight in his heart, he’d say “now remember, you have to be a good boy for Momma, okay?”

It had bothered the three adults to see Ness so quiet and docile. For the first time since coming to the estate Ness had asked for a nap.

“That’s mostly what he did, in that room” Soleil told them after the fact. He didn’t have much to occupy himself with down there, books he couldn’t read, crates, a light cord he couldn’t reach, and a blanket that his mom would sometimes twist into a bundle and pretend was a ragdoll but was lifeless without his touch.

He’d talk to his blankie and count to ten, recite his ABC’s, pretend to read the books, make finger shadows when the light was on, walk around where he could but mostly he laid there or slept, knowing there was a chance his Momma would be the one waking him up each time he closed his eyes.

He didn’t remember it but he used to wait for Rose, Rose who brought him books and sang him lullabies and would give him baths and held him as a baby so he didn’t die from not enough touch but then Rose had said “I’m going to get you and Soleil out of here,” which Ness didn’t remember either or that after that Rose went away and she didn’t come back.

(But Soleil knew and he remembered, Rose who treated him kindly and snuck him and Ness extra food but most importantly updates about his son when he couldn’t see Ness. Rose who taught him how to wrap a diaper and cleaned him up when he was too drugged up to do it himself. He remembered and he’d asked what happened to her only to learn the “nosy, hybrid loving bitch got what she deserved” and after that he didn’t get close to the help.)

Bed wetting was a common problem when they were with Master, understandable as he didn’t have anybody to direct him as to when to use the bathroom. Or a bathroom to use. There were too many times that Soleil came down to a soiled diaper and a rash blooming on his baby’s skin. It’s made a sordid comeback in the last week, especially on nights with Ness’s nightmares. 

The first night of Soleil’s heat, while Ness slept with Athena and Ray and Cyrill he wet the bed for the first time being brought to the estate. It was a smell that he was used to, but what he wasn’t used to were the loving hands that changed the sheets and gave him a bath. He wasn’t even fully used to having a soft, warm bed to wet or more, fresh clothes to change into. His Momma would sop up the mess and snuggle him close as he calmed down from his nightmare but he didn’t have the warm shower or the heavy comforter in that room.

His nightmares were the thing Soleil was most worried about after his eating issues, they seemed to be getting worse instead of better. He’s been having nightmares almost every night, wetting the bed with them if he didn’t go right before bed. Sometimes he’d wake up crying for his Momma and Soleil would have to walk him in circles around the room, jiggling and shushing him, singing lullabies in a soft voice. He didn’t know what to do to stop them.

Soleil sighs as he looks over the rest of the papers. “Developmental History” and he can’t answer a single question. He doesn’t know the first time he walked alone or said his first word or used 2-word phrases. 

“In the first two years, did your child experience:” separation from mother, disruption in bonding, neglect, parental stress. He can only be grateful that Ness has latched onto him instead of rejecting him. He never promised anything he couldn’t keep, just that “I’ll be back soon so be a good boy for momma while momma’s gone, okay?” But he knows he wasn’t there for Ness when he should’ve been.

“Has child witnessed domestic violence?” Only once. “Specify:” he doesn’t.

“What are your child’s strengths?” This question takes him by surprise but in a good way. 

“Ness is very creative, he draws and colors very nice pictures and has a very big imagination. He is a very good listener and follows directions very well. He is caring, when he plays he always asks if we want to join him. He is cheerful and radiant. He is responsible because he always puts his toys away after he plays with them.”

Ness has actually taken to hiding his stuffies in the closet though, which is another thing he wants to bring up with Dr. Fortis.

He finishes up the sheet and heads back out to hand it to Dr. Fortis, gently placing Ness on his feet and telling him to stay when he tries to toddle after him.

He exits the office to see Dr. Fortis talking with Ray.

"Ready, doctor," he says, waving the papers.

She picks up a bag by her feet, a duffel bag that Soleil looks at dubiously, and makes her way into the office.

“Alright, let’s see those papers.”

Her face doesn't change as she reads the papers but she looks up and says "I'm going to need more information than this."

"Oh, yes, I figured, I just...I don't know, didn't want to write it down."

"Ms. Guinn told me the bare basics but I'd like to hear from you what your concerns are and Ness's history."

“So he’s four, almost five and he’s lived most of his life in a basement.” He looks down at his lap as he speaks.

“Our Master,” and it’s easier to say when the therapist isn’t his, “didn’t allow me to see him much for the first two years of his life. He was mostly taken care of by a maid named Rose.”

“Where is Rose now?”

“I don’t think she’s alive.”

“And what makes you say that?”

“Just some things Master said and the way he said them.”

“This Master, does he have a name? Did Ness also refer to him as Master?”

Soleil tilts his head, “He called him Master but it wasn’t often, they didn’t interact much but he called him Master based off of me. And his name, I can write it for you.” He does.

“So what about the next two years of his life?”

“I got to see him a few times a week and he ate three meas a day for the most part but sometimes when Master was in a mood I didn’t get to see him for weeks at a time and I know his meals sometimes got restricted to once a day. He wasn’t fond of hybrids so feeding two of them wasn’t exactly something he? Enjoyed?”

“And what about his development?”

“He’s walking and talking normally, I think, for his age? He can count up to 15 and knows his ABC’s. But I have some worries. He gets nightmares often and he used to wet the bed all the time; that’s picked up again. He sometimes does this thing where he’ll eat until he pukes. We’re working on figuring out how much food is too much but none of us really like saying “no” when he asks for more food because of the way he was brought up. And then he’s been really clingy since I had my heat last week, like follows me around room to room and waits outside the bathroom for me clingy. And I don’t know if his shyness around strangers is normal for his age. Sometimes he gets scared of things for small reasons, like me being taken away or things being taken away and I want to stop some of those fears if I can.”

“When you say ‘us’ who are you referring to?”

My ‘living partners,’ our hosts, Athena, Ray, and Cyrill.”

"That's Ms, Guinn, Ray Primes, and Cyrill Illis, correct?" He shrugs sheepishly, he didn't actually know Athena's last name until just now.

“How would you say your relationship is with Ness? And how about Ness’s relationship with your living partners?”

“I like our relationship; I think it’s good. He trusts me with his problems and trusts me in general, when I say I’ll be back, when I promise him things despite me not being there for him in the beginning of his life. He likes Athena, Cyrill, and Ray. Cyrill and Ray are usually the ones that watch TV with him but Athena’s the one that usually takes him outside so I don’t know who he likes best. Cyrill introduced him to Spider-man though, which he really likes.”

She hums. “Here you wrote he’s witnessed domestic violence but didn’t specify, please do.”

Soleil looks down at his lap. He inhales, trips over his words and doesn’t say anything, exhales. Inhales again. “It was- it was just once. But it was after Rose disappeared and I hadn’t seen him in two months and Master said,” he clenches his hands to keep them from shaking, “‘if you want to see him so badly let’s go see him.’” He swallows. “And then he um, he raped me in front of Ness.” He covers his face and inhales before bringing his hands back down. “He was only two something so I hope he doesn’t remember but I’ve never asked and he’s never mentioned it, but it was one of the few times he ever interacted with Ness. The rest of the time was just him banging on the door and yelling at him to stop crying, I know he didn’t touch Ness.”

Dr Fortis nods, “I’m sorry that happened to both of you.”

He doesn’t know what to say so he doesn’t say anything.

“He’s been living here about three weeks now?”

Soleil nods.

“How often has he been outside since?”

“It’s been three times, it should...it should be more but it’s my fault, I don’t want-” he shakes his head, “I can’t go outside so he follows my lead and doesn’t ask even though he wants to. I’ll work on getting him outside more from now on.”

Dr. Fortis tilts her head. “And you’re in therapy yourself Mr, Etain?”

Soleil scrunches his nose, “um, just Soleil is fine, but yes, I had my first session this week.”

She smiles at him then, “I wish you a healthy recovery. Last question, how about discipline methods? You left this blank.”

“I don’t think he’s had to be disciplined yet, he’s such a sweet boy, but I would probably put him in time-out I think?”

She nods again. “Thank you for your time, this was very enlightening. Do you think we’re ready to get Ness now?”

“Um, yes, sure, I’ll go grab him.”

He finds that Ness is already ready for him, sitting by his stacked up coloring books and box of crayons. The thought comes unbidden to him but he’s grateful Ness can have the box of 120 crayons, Ness deserves the world and he’s happy his living partners are working on giving that to him any way they can.

"Hello, you must be Ness, I'm Dr. Fortis."

"I just saw the doctor." He says, shying behind Soleil.

"Ah but I'm a worries doctor," she says with a smile.

"A worries doctor?"

"Mmhmm, together you and I will make your worries go away."

She pulls several toys out of her bag, farm animals, a whole case of building blocks, some cards with cats on them.

"Now I'd much rather be on my office but I hear we have some extenuating circumstances."

He doesn't know what "extenuating" means but he can take a guess. He looks down in shame, "n-" he bites his lip, "next time?"

Dr. Fortis looks up, "next time you'll come to my office?”

Soleil hesitates but nods, he can do this for Ness, he just has to make it to the car and back, he might even let one of his living partners take Ness, sitting in the car is all he has to do, he doesn’t even have to look outside.

“That’s great, then! I look forward to seeing you if you and Ness decide you’d like to continue after this session. Now, Ness, I hear you have lots of coloring books and crayons?”

He nods and offers them up.

“Why don’t you pick something to play with?”

Ness looks up at his mother who nods at him. He reaches out for the farm animals slowly, looking up at Dr. Fortis as he does so.

He grasps the cow softly, turning it over in his hands.

“What’s this, Momma?”

“That’s a cow and these are all farm animals. The cow goes “moo~”

“Moo~” Ness repeats.

They go through the rest of the animals, Ness lighting up when he connects the horse to his horse plushie.

There’s even a dog. “This one’s like you and me, Momma,” he says.

Dr. Fortis asks after his favorite thing to play with and he has to go fetch the stuffy of the hybrid dog, the one with the brown ears like his.

“I call him little Ness,” he announces proudly. “He likes all the things I like and he has a Momma just like me.”

“Oh yeah?” She says in an interested voice, “what are some things little Ness likes?”

“He likes Paw Patrol and pudding and going outside and his Momma! And he like Athena and Cyrl and Ray too because they’re nice to him. And Spider-Man! And coloring!”

“Is that so? Little Ness sure has a lot of things he likes! What are some things little Ness doesn’t like?”

Ness tilts his head, “he doesn’t like being dirty or shots or the dark.”

Dr. Fortis nods, “I don’t like those things either. Did little Ness get some shots recently? What about big Ness?"

He nods, “and I got! A Paw Patrol band-aid! Momma said I couldn’t keep it though.”

“Mmhmm, because it was dirty, I bet, next time why don’t you ask the doctor for an extra?”

Ness’s eyes widen, he looks at his mother, “can I do that?”

Soleil nods, “I think that’s a very good idea.”

“How is little Ness feeling today?”

Ness holds little Ness out in front of him. “Little Ness was worried earlier but now he’s happy because he gets to play with Momma.”

“Oh yeah? What was he worried about?”

Ness pulls little Ness close and hugs him, twisting his body back and forth. “It’s a secret.”

Dr. Fortis smiles, “that’s okay. Does little Ness have a lot of secrets?”

Ness hesitates, first shaking his head then squinting then continuing to shake his head, his hair flopping wildly.

“Now, I like to play a game with my patients. I ask you three questions and every question you answer you get three legos, then when you have enough legos you can make something and keep it, how does that sound?”

Ness purses his lips, “are the questions hard?”

“Let’s see! What are some things that make big Ness happy?”

“Little Ness and Paw Patrol and playing with Momma and Cyrill and sometimes Ray picks me up and sometimes Athena pets my hair. I really like the way Momma smells too.”

Soleil finds himself flustered. He pets at Ness’s head, smooches the top of it, “I like the way you smell too, baby.”

“And what are some things that make big Ness sad?”

Ness looks over at his mother for a second before he shakes his head again, “it’s a secret!”

“Alright, alright, do you want a different question?” He nods.

“How are you today?”

“Oh! That one’s easy! I’m good because I got to play lots! And I got Paw Patrol stickers and band-aids, see! And a lollipop!"

“Wow, what cool stickers! And what’s one thing that made you upset this week?”

“I didn’t get to play with Cyrl and Ray and Athena that much because they have to go to work,” he says the last word with a pout.

She drops 9 legos into a ziploc bag with Ness’s name on it. “I’ll keep this bag, okay? And you let me know when you want to make something.”

He nods.

Something in Dr. Fortis’ bag beeps.

“Oh dear, we’re almost out of time. Do you want to help put away the toys, Ness?” He nods.

“Clean-up, clean-up, everybody do your share~’ She sings and Ness copies her as the three of them tidy up.

“It was very nice meeting you, Ness. Do you want to go find Cyrill while I talk to your Momma?” She asks Ness.

He hesitates but Soleil nods and nudges him along. He gathers little Ness and his books and troops out.

“Was that a good first session?” Soleil finds himself asking.

Dr. Fortis smiles at him, “very good. I’d like to meet again the same time next week if that’s alright?”

Soleil nods, “I’ll let Cyrill know.”

She picks up her bag and places it on her shoulder. “It was very nice meeting you as well, Soleil. I look forward to seeing you again, would you mind seeing me out?”

He lets her out and watches as she drives away before he locks the door.

Cyrill is starting on lunch so he goes to help.

 

They watch Finding Nemo later that day.

"Momma if I got lost like Nemo would you look for me?" Ness asks him before bed.

Soleil pulls Ness close and smooches him all over because he hates the sad voice he asks that question in.

"If you got lost I would look for you every day until I found you."

And then he blows a big tummy fart into Ness's stomach to hear his sharp laughter.

It's something Ness is slowly learning, that he can be loud here.

Chapter Text

Friday rolls around grey and dreary. He has another therapy session today but he hasn’t yet figured out what he can stop worrying about, in fact he’s added more worries to his list. Like should he be worried about not having anything to show his therapist-Penny, will she get mad at him? Will she be disappointed in him? Is it possible to get kicked out of therapy? And then he’ll disappoint Athena and Ray and Cyrill too. He barely slept the night before because he was up trying to “stop worrying.”

He’d looked it up on the computer, ways to stop worrying, but all he did was worry more when he tried them and they didn’t work out for him. “Set aside a time for worrying,” but how long is long enough? He tried meditating but sitting still and trying not to think just led to more open time for more worries to come in, like should he lie down while meditating? Is he doing it right? Obviously not, why couldn’t he do it right?

Then he’d tried deep breathing and just counting in his head but then he started worrying about Ness who couldn’t count past 20 and was that enough for his age, was he behind? So he spent the next few hours researching benchmarks for children. He hasn’t started writing yet, has troubles with stairs, and balancing but apparently 20 is high for his age. He has to sit and breathe for a minute, so thankful for Rose who clothed his baby and spoke to him and hugged him and loved him while he couldn’t.

He really is worried about Ness not having any friends his age and looked up activities in the area for kids but then he worried about Ness fitting in or if he’d cling to him instead. On top of having to go outside in the first place to get there. He’d worried about Ness resenting him because he won’t go outside with him or suggest going outside and he knows Ness likes to stay by his side. And then he’d worried some more about how much Ness was clinging to him and if it was normal (and then he’d worried about if Ness was ever going to have a normal life).
He worried himself into a fit and could barely touch his breakfast; the fluffy pancakes sat in his stomach like stones. Would Penny know that he’d spent the entire night up? Athena pulled him aside after breakfast and sat him in her office just like on Tuesday.

“Penny will be here in a bit, you should try talking to her about whatever’s bothering you, okay? That’s what she’s here for.” So now he sits waiting for Penny, his fingers pulling at each other and his stomach rolling.

Penny walks in, her hair in a messy bun this time.

“Hello Soleil, how are you?”

He opens his mouth and nearly pukes.

“Oh dear. What’s one thing that’s bothering you?”

“Will you be mad at me if I can’t stop worrying,” he blurts out.

She smiles at him kindly, “no, Soleil. I also don’t make it a habit to be mad at my patients, perhaps frustrated every once in a while but no, not mad.”

“Are you frustrated with me?”

Penny sits back in her seat and Soleil’s breath hitches.

“No, I’m not frustrated with you but let me ask you, what would make you think that? And why does it matter?”

He swallows, “I tried to stop worrying but I wound up worry more. And it matters...it matters because I don’t want you to think I’m not trying.”

“Why does it matter what I think?”

He blinks, “because you’re trying to help me and I don’t want you to think you’re wasting your time.”

“But again, why does it matter what I think?”

“It matters because...because you’re my therapist so it’s important that you think I’m trying, because I am, I am, I’m just, I haven’t gotten good at not worrying yet.”

“And I’ll ask you again, why does it matter what I think?”

Soleil frowns. He thinks she’s trying to get him to understand something but he doesn’t know what. He shrugs. “It’s important...it matters because...I don’t want you to get frustrated and leave.”

She purses her lips, “Soleil, I’m your therapist, I’m not going to get up in the middle of a session and leave.”

“Okay...but what if you decide you don’t want to come back and you just...don’t.”

“Soleil, I’ve only met with you once so far but I’d really like to help you work out your problems. In addition it would be incredibly unprofessional to suddenly stop showing up. You seem to worry a lot about people up and leaving you, why do you think that is?”

He freezes. The surface answer is that he doesn’t want to be left without a plan but then…

“I don’t want to be left without a plan,” he says anyway, ignoring the deeper answer.

Penny tilts her head. “You said you lived with Grey for about a decade, right? Who were you living with before that?”

He winces, “my mom.”

“And how did you come to live with Grey?”

“I...can I skip the question?”

“Sure but I really think it would be beneficial to talk more about this.”

He sighs, still not wanting to disappoint her. “Um, my mom, she got tired of me so she gave me up.”

Penny sits forward, “are you aware that that is a reflection upon her character and not upon yours?”

Soleil frowns, “well, if I hadn’t been so needy she would’ve kept me.”

Penny sits back again, “in what ways were you needy?”

“I wanted her attention and she had to feed me and teach me and clothe me, children should be seen not heard, if I was better at being quiet and not needing so much attention it would’ve been easier on her and maybe she would’ve kept me. And I know she didn’t like hybrids that much so that was already against me,” he reaches up with a hand to play with one of his doggy ears. Maybe if he’d been born differently…

“Do you have a grudge against Ness because you have to feed him, clothe him, teach him things, and because he seeks your attention?”

“No but...it’s different, because my mom was by herself but I have Ray, Athena, and Cyrill to help me.”

“You had a grudge against him when it was just you two, then?”

“No but…” he shakes his head, “it’s different because...I don’t know because it was me.

“And what about you as a child was undeserving of love, attention, and affection from his parent?”

He tears up, frustrated, “ it’s just different ,” why can’t she see that? And he wasn’t expecting her to bring up love, he knows his mother didn’t love him but he doesn’t know why, doesn’t want to know why.

He wipes at his tears angrily. Penny holds out a box of tissues he didn’t see her magic out of nowhere and he takes two but doesn’t use them.

He wants to sit in silence but Penny wants him to talk.

“My mom never liked hybrids so I was already pushing my luck, and sometimes I was too noisy and I never did well in public.”

Don’t make a scene ,” she’d say.

“And I know she wanted to be left alone sometimes so I’d make my own food but when I ran out of things to make I’d have to bother her.”

“How long would your mother leave you like that for?”

He shrugs, “a few days?”

“A few days where she left you to your own devices and didn’t feed you? And then she’d begrudge you for asking for food?”

He shrugs, hackles raised, he wants to defend his mom, he knows now she was working through her own issues.

“That sounds like neglect to me.”

Soleil frowns, “it’s not like she left me without food for too long?”

“Emotional neglect, too,” she specifies. “You know, it’s not your fault that she didn’t give you the love you deserved. You were a child and she chose to have you, it was her responsibility as your parent to love and feed and clothe you, to give you attention and teach you things and anything else was neglect.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” he crosses his arms defensively though he doesn’t realize it.

“Alright. So how have you been since Tuesday? What have you been up to?”

“We watched Finding Nemo,” he says, settling on an easy topic.

“And how did you like that?”

“It was cute, Ness really liked it. And afterwards...he asked me if I’d look for him like Nemo’s dad did if he ever got lost.”

“And what did you say?”

“I’d never stop looking for him.”

“A story about a parent willing to do anything for their child, do you think that’s how parents should feel towards their children?”
He frowns again, “I don’t want to talk about that either.”

“Alright, just something to think about. And you’ve been doing what else? Worrying, by the sound of it.”

He swallows, “yeah, worrying a bit…”

“About what, let’s see if we can get some of those worries down. What have you been worrying about the most next?”

“Ness. Like if he’s developing normally, and he keeps stealing food from the pantry and putting it in the closet. I...I don’t want to get kicked out for that but I don’t...I don’t want to tell him he can’t steal food because I mean, I’m worried about the same thing. But I don’t think it’s healthy but also...if it helps him worry less about food being taken away...but” he frowns.

“He must have quite the collection of food about now.”

Soleil shrugs, he’s only able to smuggle something every few days. He knows the difference between food that will go bad and food that won’t go bad from his days in the basement when Soleil instructed him to save the things in wrappers.

“You’ve been here for three weeks now, yes?”

Soleil nods.

“And have your living partners ever withheld food or made you or Ness miss a meal?”

Soleil hesitates as he thinks back but then he shakes his head. “But we also haven’t done anything that deserves a punishment yet; if food gets taken away then at least Ness will have something to eat.” He winces, would it make the punishment worse if his living partners found out about the stash? 

“Deserve a punishment…and who is giving these punishments?”

“Ray or Cyrill or Athena…” though he remembers now they’d said there would be no punishments. And he thinks back to the plate...that was deserving of punishment wasn’t it, and yet...

“What makes you think any of them will punish you? Have they said they plan on giving punishments for wrongdoings?”

He shakes his head, “but Master always gave punishments when I did something wrong and taking away me or Ness’s food was one of his favorites.”

“Would you say any of your living partners are similar to Grey?”

Even thinking of them side by side makes him wince because they’re so different, “no…but” but he’d only known them for three weeks, they could change just as easily once they grew tired of he and Ness and then what?

“But what?”

“But what about when they grow tired of us?”

Penny purses her lips. She’s quiet for a minute and Soleil fidgets in his seat. “Have you talked to them about this fear?”

Soleil shakes his head, “I...I don’t want to seem needy.”

“Perhaps you should talk to them. Before that though, let’s switch gears for a minute. Why don’t you tell me some of your good qualities?”

Soleil scrunches his nose, “my? Good qualities?” His knee jerk reaction is to say he doesn’t have any but he doesn’t think Penny would like that and he knows Athena wouldn’t so he thinks on it for a second. He feels like a middle schooler with the answers he comes up with, “ I’m kind and caring ” he thinks.

“I don’t know, I’m good at following directions?”

Penny tilts her head, “what else?”

He winces as his Master’s words come back to him, he’s “good at taking it like the dirty hole he was” or the “cockslut, cumdump, cocksleeve, whore.” He tugs on the ends of his hair.

“Why are you asking me this?”

“Because I think it’s important for you to recognize the good qualities you have in yourself. If you recognize the good qualities you have it may help your brain recognize that people aren’t going to leave you so easily.”

He plays with the ends of his hair, thinking. He offers up the childish assessment of himself, “I’m kind and caring?”

“Alright, that’s two things. The world needs more people who are kind and caring, that already makes you a treasure to have.”

A “treasure” she says, he blinks. “I’m not a treasure,” he huffs an unhappy laugh.

“Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?”

He leans into the side on the couch, pulling his feet up with him.

“But that’s not, enough? Right? Just to be kind and caring and a good listener and in return I get to live here with Ness with no worries or responsibilities?”

“I’d say that’s up to your living partners but I don’t see why not, if they have the means and they want to then why not?”

“Because nothing’s that easy,” he frowns, he didn’t mean to say that.

“What would you expect them to want in return?”

“I don’t know!” He’s frustrated again, “they just said, ‘put the things to good use,’ but they don’t want...want what Master wanted and I don’t know how to deal with that because Master always wanted something for everything. ” He doesn’t realize he means it, that he doesn’t know how to deal with it, until the words are out of his mouth.

“Perhaps you should speak to your partners then, perhaps you can take on a chore of some kind.”
“I mean, sometimes I do dishes but surely that’s not enough? I don’t have any money and they keep saying they don’t want....”

“Don’t want?”

“Sex, because that’s what Master always wanted,” he blurts out. “It’s the only thing I’m good at” he rambles on, “but they don’t want it so I don’t know what else to offer them, like, how am I supposed to show them that we’re worth keeping when they won’t even let me show them the best part of me.” He twists at his finger.

“Again, would you say Grey and your living partners are similar? Do you think your partners would want sex in exchange for you living here?”

He shrugs, realizing he’s said more than he wanted to.

“Would it make you feel better if they did?”

Soleil starts to nod and then he pauses. Sex makes him feel dirty, used, he’s disgusting but at least then he’d have some currency to offer them.

“Is that something you’d want?” She pushes.

He shakes his head, “it-” he squints, “I, I don’t know, I would feel less worried but I’d feel...bad.”

“And would it change your opinion of your partners, would you feel more or less safe around them?”

“I would feel…” he thinks back to his Master, never knowing if each night was going to be spent alone or in bed with him or being punished by him, “less safe…”

“Would you say you feel safer here with no need to exchange something for living here or at your old residence where you were required to offer your body in exchange for living?”

“Here,” he answers without pause.

“And were you still worried about Grey kicking you out or growing bored of you even when you were giving him sex?”
Soleil nods.

“Then how do you feel about your living partners not wanting sex from you?”

“I...it feels okay I guess.”

“Just okay?”
“It feels, safer? Better?”

Penny smiles at him, “then it’s a good thing?”

He nods.

Penny smiles wider, “alright, what’s another thing you worry about?”

“I...I have to go outside next week.”

“Oh? Where are you going?”

“Ness’s therapy appointment, Dr. Fortis said she’d rather be at her own office and I don’t want to hold back his progress so...but I’m worried about going outside.”

“Do you know where your fear of going outside stems from?”

He nods, “I wasn’t allowed outside when I lived with Master.”

“Ah, and I assume punishments were given if you didn’t follow that rule?”

He covers his ankle unconsciously, echoes of pain reaching out to him, and he nods.

“Did he do that to you?”
“Do what?”

She nods at his ankle.

“I…”

 

It’s shortly after he found out he was pregnant. His Master is lax with his security now, he’s been here for so long. He doesn’t get locked in the bathroom some days after his Master fucks him.

He’s been awake for the last two hours, listening to his Master’s evened out breathing and snoring. He slowly slides out of bed, freezing at the whispers of fabric and the whistling of the wind. He climbs out of the kitchen window and lands outside on the lawn. He heads to the back of the house only to get caught in the light of a motion-sensored light. He freezes, trembling for a second before he jogs out of reach of the light. 

He’s still pacing around the edge of the fence, tall with spikes on top and no footholds when that light turns back on again. In it he sees his Master with a flashlight, it lands on him and he begins to scramble up the fence, desperate. But there are no footholds and the dew of the lawn makes his feet slippery. He hears his breaths, wheezing in the dark night before his yanked down to the ground by his tail. It hurts his tail and he lands on his ass.

He’s shaking like a leaf, he hasn’t disobeyed his Master in years and here he’s been caught trying to escape. How!? How had he known!?

He tries to scramble away but his Master still has that grip on his tail, he uses it to yank him back. Then he grabs his upper arm and pulls it back, back, back, until Soleil hears a pop that’s drowned it by his wail of pain.

“Thought you’d run away, huh? Figured you’d try something like that with your pup on the way.”

“I’m sorr-” he chokes on a hiccup, his shoulder hurts with every time his Master jostles it, “I’m sorry!”

His Master doesn’t say anything just pulls him up by that arm and Soleil screams with the pain of it, before he gets it into his head to scream for help, he’s outside, after all but his Master grabs his hair by the scalp and yanks back, cutting off his air supply.

“Nobody around to hear you but you’re hurting my ears.” He jostles Soleil’s shoulder some more and he whimpers in pain, tears gathering in his eyes and falling down. He pulls Soleil by the arm back towards the house and Soleil fights it, kicks his Master’s leg even though he wants to puke. Tries to pull his arm out of his grip even though all it does is make his vision go grey at the edges, his Master is too strong.

“Come on, the more you fight me the worse your punishment’s gonna get. You want me to dislocate your other shoulder? Or pull out your teeth? Or carve that baby out of you and make you eat it? You can’t beat me, you can’t outrun me, nobody’s around to hear you, and you woke me up from my sleep. I’m getting mighty pissed.”

The thought of any of those make him tremble. But the thought of being cut open scares him the most because he’s heard his Master talk about the things he does to people and he doesn’t think his Master would even knock him out while he carved him open. He slumps in defeat, whimpers as his Master pulls him along.

“Shut that whining up, you know I hate it when you act like a dog.”

Soleil nods.

His Master pops his shoulder back into place when they get inside and Soleil nearly pukes from the pain and stress of it.

But then his Master starts pulling on his other arm, “w-wait! I’m sorry Master, thank you, thank you for-for-fixing my other arm, I’m sorry, thank you, please don’t, please, I’m sorry, thank you.”

His Master pauses before he smashes Soleil over the head with the flashlight. Soleil goes down on his hands and knees, yelping as pressure is put on his shoulder.

Soleil stays on the floor as his Master pulls out his phone and dials a number.

“Yeah I need you to come over, got a problem with the bitch, need to punish it.”

He doesn’t dare look up at his Master.

“Guess, we’ll do this in the kitchen. Crawl, mutt.”

Soleil does. His Master leaves him in the kitchen and comes back with something but Soleil doesn’t look to find out what it is.

 

It’s Chris that comes.

“What do you need from me, boss? Also what the fuck did she do?”

“Tried to escape, like you said. Just hold its leg still need a good angle for its ankle.”

Chris hauls him up and puts him in a chair, placing his left leg on another chair.

“Master, I’m sorry-please don’t, please don’t hurt me- I can-I’ll be good-”

“Nope. You had your chance. I’ll break a finger for every word that comes out of your mouth after this, I don’t want to hear it.”

“Master, please-”
“If I run out of fingers to break I’ll start pulling nails, how ‘bout that.”

He bites his tongue his mouth clamps shut so quickly.

His Master lifts what he has and Soleil looks up, it’s a bat, as soon as that registers his Master brings it down in an arc and there’s a burst of pain in his ankle. He tries to hunch forward over it but Chris is in the way , holding his leg in place and his Master brings it down again-and again-and again-and again until there’s a crack. He doesn’t realize until he runs out of breath that he’s been screaming.

“Try running away with a broken ankle, hm? Seriously though, try it again and I’ll break your kneecaps so you have to crawl for the rest of your life.”

 

His Master lets him choose which fingers. Chris puts his pinkies in casts and they heal up fine. 

 

“Soleil?”

He jerks his head up, “s-sorry, what was the question?”

“I asked if Grey did that to you?”

He nods, “I-I only tried to run away once. That was the punishment.”

Penny purses her lips, “you know you didn’t deserve that either, right?”

Soleil pulls at his finger, “it was stupid, I never should have tried.”

“No, Soleil, I’m telling you , you didn’t deserve any of the mistreatment that Grey inflicted upon you.”

He laughs nervously, pulling his knees to his chest, his eyes looking anywhere but at Penny.

Sometimes his Master would make him go outside just so he could be punished again. He puts his face in his hands. He knew they were tests and he always failed them but his Master would always just stand over him and say “ step outside” and then he’d start counting down from ten and he'd-his breath hitches. He'd have to go outside even though he knew he was just going to  be punished again. His hands shake.

He shakes his head, “I’m not allowed outside.”

“That was a rule of your life, that you couldn’t go outside.”

He nods even though it was a question.

“I’m sure you had plenty of rules that you had to follow.”

He nods even though that wasn’t a question either.

“But while those rules may have kept you safe in your old life this is a different life, wouldn’t you say?”

He swallows.

“Do you think you could put your hands down, dear?”

The way she says “dear” reminds him of Athena or Cyrill so he puts his hands down.

“Do you want to take a minute to breathe?” He shakes his head so she continues.

“When our rules of life no longer apply it’s okay to change or get rid of them. There’s a common rule, it’s called the just-world rule. It says ‘good things happen to good people.’ Now, when something bad happens to you, you might ask ‘why me?’ What you’re asking is ‘I’m a good person, so why me?’ Tell me Soleil, what’s a rule you’ve come up with, why you?”

“Because I did something wrong.”

“So your rule becomes ‘follow all the rules because if I do something wrong I will be hurt.’ Does that sound about right?”

He nods because it makes sense.

“And another rule is ‘if I go outside I am doing something wrong.’ Does that sound right, too?”

He nods.

“Now those rules make sense and they helped keep you safe when you were in trouble, you like those rules, right, because they keep you safe and they help keep your situations predictable, right?”

He nods again.

“Those rules may have helped you in your old life and they were normal for you but if you want to live a different, healthier life, we need to come up with different, healthier rules because your new normal is different now, isn’t it?”

He blinks, he shrugs. “Like what rule can I change?”

“Hm, let’s see. What’s a rule you have about, hm, food?”

“Always say thank you for food.”

“And why is that?”

“Because if you don’t it might get taken away.” 

“That’s something that reflects on you but if food is taken away it’s not because of you, it’s because of a choice someone else made.”

Soleil squints, not following, he tugs on the ends of his hair. “But if I do something wrong and food gets taken away, it’s because I did something wrong.”

“Which was a normal rule for you then but we can change that rule now, because withholding food is a form of abuse,” he cringes but she continues “so instead of ‘food being taken away is because you didn’t say thank you’ try ‘food being taken away is because Grey was abusing you.’”

He shakes his head.

She troops on anyway, “tell me, do your living partners take away your food if you don’t say thank you?”

He shrugs, “I always say thank you…”

“And what about Ness, he’s a child and children sometimes forget, does he always say thank you?”

Soleil shakes his head, “even though he knows he’s supposed to.”

“And do your living partners take away his food?”

Soleil shakes his head.

‘So wouldn’t you say that’s a reflection upon Grey rather than upon you or Ness?”

Soleil puts his feet back on the ground and huffs out a sigh.

“Can we stop talking about this?”

“Why?” She challenges and it takes him by surprise.

He shrugs, “I don’t understand it and I don’t understand the point of it, what does it matter if it was my fault or Master’s-” he winces even saying it.

“Because it’s important for you to relearn your rules so you know that your abuse was not because of you, was not your fault, but because of your abusers and to know that they were the ones at fault.”

He looks away.

“It sounds hard to believe now but that’s why we’re going to work on it, okay? That way you can live a healthier life.”

He sighs and plays with the ends of his hair.

“What are some ways your rules affect our life, how do you feel when you can’t go outside?”

He shrugs again, “I don’t know? I always had anxiety about going outside even as a kid so I don’t know if I’m even missing out on much.” That’s a lie, he knows he’s missing out. “I’d like to...feel the rain again.”

Penny tilts her head towards the window. “It’s supposed to rain today, isn’t it?”

He shrugs, his eyes flick to the window then back.

“Why don’t you see if one of your living partners will help you outside today?”

“Everyone will have left by now.”

“Well, when they get home. You can either go sometime this week on your own terms or you can go next week for Ness’s therapy session.”

He sighs again.

“When’s the last time you were outside?”

“When Cyrill, Athena, and Ray took us from Master’s mansion.”

Penny frowns, “alright but I don’t think you were outside for long then, how about before that?”

He shrugs, “sometime before my mom gave me to G-” his eyes widen and his teeth clack shut, it’s the combination of the fact that he was “Grey” back then and Penny constantly calling him that that almost causes his slip up.

“That was a rule of your life back then too, call Grey Nickelson “Master” or?”

“Or I’d be hurt.”

“But that’s not true anymore, Grey is dead. Names have power, if you keep calling him Master you’re going to keep giving him power over you. But if you start calling him Grey you might feel more like he’s simply the human he was.”

Soleil stands, “can I go now?” 

“Alright, Soleil, just something to think about. I’ll see you next Tuesday. Remember to talk to your living partners about your fears and perhaps picking up a chore.”

He nods before he hurries out, Penny will have to see herself out today.

 

He almost called Master “ Grey.” 

“Would that be so bad?” Something in him asks but he bites his tongue to quiet the thought.

“Momma where are we going?” Ness is asking him while Soleil hurries to their suite.

“We’re just going to the room for today, okay?”

He doesn’t want to sit in the living room, it feels too open, like his Master could be lurking around any corner. Ness pouts but doesn’t argue.

He plops Ness down onto the bed and sits next to him, halfway shielding him from the door and halfway facing the door to keep an eye on it. They play stuffies for a while, Soleil teaches Ness how to count up to 25, and then they nap.

 

“I’m hungry,” Ness whines, waking Soleil up. He looks at the time, 3:30, so it’s been about 6 hours since therapy.

“Okay, we’re going to have to pull from the stash today,” and that’s what they do, eating granola bars and pop-tarts for lunch. Soleil shoves the wrappers to the bottom of the trash bin to hide them.

“Okay honey,” he sits in front of Ness and Ness blinks, putting his stuffies down as he senses the change in tone. “No more taking food for the stash, okay?”

“Why not?”

“If we get caught we’ll be in big trouble,”

Ness tilts his head.

“We have to be good so we don’t get in trouble, you don’t want to make Cyrill or Ray or Athena mad, right?”

Ness shakes his head quickly.

Soleil pats his head, “good boy.”

“What about when food goes away?”

Soleil hesitates. It’s indeed a dilemma he’s having, he can stop taking food altogether but he knows the question is, does he trust that food won’t go away?

“Momma’s going to keep taking food for his stash and we can share, that way if we get caught only momma gets in trouble.” He bites his lip. There’s a chance they’d both get in trouble anyway, he just has to be better about hiding his food.

He splits the stash, moving half of it to behind the couch cushions.

 

“Can we go outside?” Ness asks.

“Maybe later, honey.”

Ness kicks, struggling to get down, “you always say no! I wanna go outside!”

“I said, maybe later, if you love mommy you can wait.”

Ness freezes before his face scrunches up and he begins to cry, “I love you lots and lots Momma, please don’t go away-y-y!” He hugs at Soleil’s leg hiccuping on his tears.

It was something his own mother used to say to get him to do things like be quiet or going to one of those fancy parties she always liked. He blinks, he didn’t think it would make Ness cry. He picks his baby up and rubs his back, “okay, okay, don’t cry, Momma’s not going anywhere. We’ll just wait until Ray and Cyrill and Athena get home, okay?”

Ness is subdued until they get home. Soleil is slowly learning to re-associate the unlocking of a door with good things rather than his Master so he doesn’t freeze up at the unlocking of the door today, instead joining Ness as he runs out to greet the three who have returned.

Ness hugs Athena around her knees as she’s the first to enter, “we missed you!” He exclaims.

Cyrill kneels down and squeezes Ness before he goes upstairs to shower, a routine Soleil has found out he sticks to: come home, shower.

Ray picks him up and places him on his hip. “Oh yeah? And what did you and Momma do today?”

Ness pouts “we sat in our room all day.”

“Oh?” Ray looks over at Soleil and he avoids his gaze.

“And you didn’t eat lunch, today!” He hears Athena exclaim from the kitchen. Ray’s stare feels like it’s burning a hole through him.

“Everything okay today?”

“Y-yeah, everything was fine, sorry.”

Ray tilts his head, “what are you apologizing for?”

Soleil freezes, he doesn’t have an answer.

“You don’t have to apologize simply for existing you know.”

His breathing starts up again, “okay...sorry for-for.”

Athena walks in with their lunches, “he’s not saying you have to find something to be sorry for, he’s saying your existence is not a burden.”

“Oh…” he looks down at his hands. He feels warm.

 

--

 

Athena smells some of the stale scent of distress wash away to be replaced by a sweet contentedness. 

“Were you not hungry?” Athena asks.

“Uh, yeah, no, we were fine.” She purses her lips but lets it go. “Do you wanna eat this now while you’re waiting for dinner?”

“Uh-” 

“Yes, please!” Ness interrupts. Lunch is usually sandwiches or leftovers from dinner. It was the former today. “Can I watch TV while I eat?”

Ray thinks about it for a second, bouncing Ness on his hip, “why don’t we leave that up to Momma.”

“Oh...um, okay.” 

“Yay!!!” Then he struggles to be let down and runs to the couch.

Athena gets out a tray table and places it in front of Ness, with his sandwich on top. She hands Soleil’s to him too. Athena leaves them to their devices and returns to the kitchen. Not even a minute later Soleil follows her in.

“Sorry, I-I didn’t thank you for the sandwich.”

She blinks at him before it registers. “What? Oh, it’s fine, I mean thank you’s are nice, very appreciated but it’s just a sandwich. It’s your sandwich anyway.”

She sees him swallow, “but you made it for me so I have to thank you for it.”

Athena tilts her head, “okay, you’re welcome then.”

He looks lost for a second and then he nods. “I’m um, I’m not actually hungry right now though, so.”

Athena frowns at him, “you barely ate breakfast today, too, are you feeling alright?”

His eyes flicker to the side, “y-yeah, I just um, I'm not hungry…”

“Will you promise me to at least eat a full plate at dinner?”

Soleil looks at her and he looks so lost, his scent is nervous.

“Can I hug you?”

With that he looks even more lost and his eyes well with tears. He puts his arm to his eyes, “Sorry,” he swallows, “I don’t even know what I’m crying for.”

“You’re having a rough day it sounds like,” she moves in for a hug, touching his arm first and bringing it back down, giving plenty of time for him to back away or refuse, but he doesn’t.

Instead he melts beautifully into her, they’re the same height so his head fits into the crook of her neck. He takes a deep inhale and it shudders shakily out of him. He leans into her and brings his arms up around her tentatively. Athena returns the gesture, squeezing him tightly but not too tightly.

They’re not quite scenting but still their scents mix, ginger and fresh laundry, ocean breeze and cotton.

Soleil’s breath is warm on her shoulder and Athena’s warm on his. 

“Did you have a good session today?” She mumbles into his shirt.

He nods the slightest before he pulls back. He wipes at his eyes and Athena pretends not to notice.

“Thank you-for the hug.”

She places a kiss on his cheek, “any time, hun.”


He does indeed eat a full plate of dinner that night but the smell of guilt is heavy in the air. She can tell Cyrill smells it because he sneezes and Ness looks at his mother with concern. She’s not sure what he’s thinking, he’s been off since this morning, but if it continues she’ll talk to him about it, As for now she heads to bed with her partners. She’s just showered after Ray, thrown on some cutesy robe thing, and is in the middle of straddling him about to pull off his shirt when Cyrill puts his hand on her leg. 

She looks up and he’s looking at the door. He does have twice as many ears as her so she’s wondering what he’s heard when there’s a tentative knock at the door.

“One sec,” he calls out, getting up in his oversized shirt, oversized because it’s Ray’s, and boxers to answer the door. She climbs off of Ray and stands next to the bed, Ray sits up. When Cyrill opens it the smell of the ocean drifts in.

“I um- Penny said I should talk to you about some stuff but I can, I can go if you want me to.”

He looks nervous as hell, pulling at his finger and biting his lip at the same time.

“No, we want you here,” Cyrill says, leading him over to sit on the edge of the bed instead of on the couch they have in the room. Athena perches opposite him and Cyrill sits next to him. 

“What’s up?” Ray asks.

Soleil opens his mouth, inhales and...exhales, his fingers start to shake and the scent of his nervousness fills the air.

“How many things did you want to talk about, hun, maybe it’d be easier if you broke it up into pieces in your head.” Athena suggests.

“Two things, I think. I-”

“Mmhmm?” She nudges, Cyrill leans into him and slips his fingers between Soleil’s.

“I was thinking, maybe I could take on a chore or two?” HIs eyes flicker shut and his face pinches, “I just- I feel like I’m not doing enough to deserve living here with Ness and no worries.”

Ray opens his mouth, doubtless to reassure him again that he doesn’t need to worry and Athena secretly agrees with him, she can’t say to Soleil that the life he’s lived is enough for her to think he deserves no worries for the rest of his life but Cyrill speaks before Ray can, “you can do the dishes. Every night. There’s four of us, that’s plenty of work isn’t it?”

Soleil nods, “yes, yes, thank you, I can do that.” He smiles.

Athena frowns, “what about your leg?”

“My leg? Oh,” he blinks “it’s fine I can stand for a little bit without it hurting too bad. It’s only bad if I squat or bend it or jump or something like that.”

“‘Too bad’” she repeats, “but it hurts some?”

He freezes, “no?” He hazards. “I mean-it always hurts so it’s not too bad.”

She frowns. Ray asks, “did you tell the doctor about that?”

Soleil shakes his head, “she didn’t ask? Sorry, should I have?”

“Hm, we’ll just have to tell her next time.” Athena says.

“Sorry, I was the one with you that day, I should have thought to mention it,” Cyrill says, squeezing Soleil’s hand.

“No, it’s fine, I’m used to it.”

“We’ll get you a chair specifically for the dishes.”

“What was the other thing, hun?”

“Um-” he inhales and exhales again but this time it looks controlled, not just a symptom of his nervousness. “Penny said I should talk to you about my fear-” his eyelids flicker and he looks down. Cyrill squeezes his hand again.

“I’m scared, I’m worried- about-what about when you get tired of us?”

Athena notes the way he phrases it like it’s bound to happen.

She frowns, looking over to Ray.

“How long have you been worried that, dear?”

“Um,” he tilts his head, “since we got here?”

Athena doesn’t know where to begin in comforting him, this is an issue bigger than her but she’ll be damned if she doesn’t try.

Cyrill leans heavier on Soleil, practically folding him in half.

“I’m almost offended you would say that.”

“S-sorry I didn’t mean to-”

“I said almost. I know where you’re coming from. Did you know Ray and Athena met each other way before they met me?”

“No? You three seem so in tune with each other…”

“Yeah, well we’ve had a few years. But let me tell you, once they decide they like someone they won’t stop bothering them for eternity. And you and Ness have wormed your ways so thoroughly into our hearts the only way you’re getting rid of any of us is if you decide you don’t want us anymore.”

Soleil smiles nervously and Cyrill stretches over his back. “How do I smell?” He asks.

Athena sees Soleil blink. “Like strawberries and...coconut.”
“And…?”

Athena gets where he’s going, “not things Soleil, emotions, how is Cyrill feeling?”

“Oh, um” he sniffs the air and Cyrill helpfully rolls back off of Soleil and holds his wrist up to Soleil’s nose. He sniffs at Cyrill’s wrist and the sight makes both Athena and Ray shift, Cyrill sticks his tongue out at them.

“A little bit nervous but mostly happy? Content? It’s not as sharp as happiness which is how they’re different, right?” Cyrill blushes as his eyes flick over Ray and Athena but he nods.

“Mmhmm, good job, scents don’t lie, if it makes me happy to be around you do you think I’m going to want to get rid of you?”

Soleil thinks for a moment, “but...that’s only for right now, what about later on.”

Cyrill reaches up and pinches Soleil’s cheeks, pulling them apart and mushing them back together. “You can scent me every day if you want, my feelings aren’t going to change, I’m stubborn like that.”

“And listen, hun, we’re not going to get tired of you but even if we did, or if you ever got tired of us, we’d set you and Ness up somewhere where you could live as worry free as you do here, okay? We wouldn’t just toss you out onto the street. ”

Cyrill shoots her a look but she just shrugs, she wants him to know he has other options besides them.

He nods, smiling, “thank you.” His scent turns to one of relief.

“We should scent sometime, did you ever get to scent as a kid?” Cyrill asks.

Soleil shakes his head, “is that weird?”

“Hm, not if you didn’t have hybrid parents, but scenting is a good bonding exercise.”

“Do you want to...now?”

Cyrill smiles brightly, “sure~”

"How do I-” he pauses, “how do I do this?”

“Well three of us could go at the same time but I don’t want to overwhelm you. It’s as simple as hugging and inhaling, here-” Cyrill slots himself into Soleil’s front. He inhales and exhales at the crook of Soleil’s neck, humming as he exhales. He rubs his nose into Soleil’s neck and he jumps, shuddering in Cyrill’s arms.

Soleil inhales and exhales shakily, slowly rubbing his nose into Cyrill’s shoulder. Athena can hear Cyrill swallow from the edge of the bed. The scent of nervousness makes itself known but it’s the soft kind, nervousness in the face of trusted peers, not the crippling kind Soleil is used to.

“Look, we can mix our scents together like this,” Cyrill says softly and rubs their necks together. Soleil shakily breathes again, whispering Cyrill’s name like a vow. Strawberries and coconut, ocean breeze and cotton and something uniquely each their own. Ray shifts where he’s sitting and Athena smirks knowingly at him. The scent of his arousal wafts over her, he always likes to watch her and Cyrill scent. But the scent of his nervousness quickly follows and washes it out. She guesses he doesn’t want to accidentally trigger Soleil so she grabs his hand, leaning over to place a chaste kiss to it.

Soleil doesn’t even notice, still trembling in Cyrill’s grasp. Cyrill places a chaste kiss right over Soleil’s scent spot and Athena watches as he tears up then wipes those tears away. He huffs happily and his tail thumps on the bed behind him.

“Athena too?” She hears him ask, and she opens his arms in invitation. He crawls across the bed and into her arms. She nuzzles into his neck, can feel the throbbing of his pulse against her cheek. He shudders again, sighing softly. He smells content, slightly nervous but happy. A far cry from the guilt he was carrying earlier. He melts into her, soft and pliant already from scenting with Cyrill. Their scents mix too, ginger and citrus clinging to his skin. She rubs his cheek against his neck some more and his eyes flutter shut and he exhales happily, slumping against her. She rubs at his back and smiles into his shoulder. It takes a while before he blearily blinks open his eyes, “Ray?”

“Right here.”

“Scent with you too?” Athena smiles at how he sounds like a little kid, fighting sleep.

“I’d love to."

Despite what he's asked, Soleil doesn't move. Athena feels his attempt before he slumps back into her, his breath even and deep.

"Maybe another time," Ray says quietly.

Soleil doesn't stir.

 

--

 

When he comes to he's back in his bed. His bed is so soft; everything in his new life is so soft. Soft beds and blankets, Ness's new shiny soft hair and clean skin, soft words, soft people. It's better than anything he could've hoped for.