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Lio wakes up to a nightmare, shuddering and gasping panicked breaths as he shakes his way back into reality. That’s not so unusual, but the next moment he feels a hand roughly grabbing his hair and he’s thrown to the floor, and he wonders for a disorienting moment if he’s still dreaming. But awareness creeps back in as he looks up and sees the shadowed silhouette of his master standing over him in the dark, and he realizes what must have happened; he’s never had a nightmare in Kray’s bed before, only in his cage. Lio’s cries and struggles must have woken him. Lio cringes against the ground, mouthing frantic apologies though his mouth is too dry to speak.

Without a word, Kray grabs his collar and drags him to his cage. Lio chokes, struggling to get his legs under him rather than be dragged by the neck, but then Kray tosses him into his cage and he can collapse on the metal surface and get his breath back. Kray returns to bed and Lio curls up in his cage, shivering at the sudden change in temperature from warm blankets and Kray’s body heat to hard, freezing metal. He’s still not used to how cold he gets; he was never cold back on Earth. Here, the flames are too far away to reliably warm him.

It doesn’t feel like he falls back asleep after that, but he must have, because the next thing he knows the cage is shaking with Kray’s kicks and his eyes are snapping open. The door is unlocked and he crawls out, stiff and bone-tired. Still, he manages to suppress a yawn, keeps his eyes open and kneels obediently at Kray’s feet as he waits for direction. He doesn’t even remember what his dream was about at this point, exactly, but there’s a vivid sense of anguish that still clings to him now, a nameless despair he can’t manage to shake. And it seems Kray is still displeased with him after the rude awakening in the night.

There’s nothing to be done, of course, but accept and endure whatever punishment Kray decides to deal out.

Kray doesn’t touch him or speak to him as he gets dressed, and when he’s done he crouches in front of Lio and brusquely pulls him forward. Lio opens his mouth hesitantly, then snaps it shut again as Kray reaches for his chest instead. For a second he thinks Kray is going to change out his piercings, but then he realizes what Kray is holding a split second before he snaps the clamps shut on Lio’s nipples. Lio whimpers, unable to prevent the noise from escaping his throat, but his master doesn’t seem bothered by it. He flicks at one of the clamps with his finger, making Lio flinch, and as he pulls away Lio realizes there are small weights hanging from each of the clamps, pulling painfully on his pinched nipples. Kray has used the weights before, hanging them from Lio’s nipple rings before the piercings were fully healed, which was excruciating. At least this time it’s only the clamps. He’s used to the clamps.

Kray doesn’t speak to him now either, except to snap “Down” when Lio starts to stand to follow him out of the bedroom. Mutely Lio gets back down on the floor and crawls after Kray on all fours, wincing in pain as the weights on the clamps swing freely, yanking at his nipples. He follows Kray down to the kitchen and sits underneath the table, trying to tuck his body out of sight as much as possible and avoiding accidentally touching Kray’s legs. Kray will occasionally put down a bowl of kibble for Lio during his breakfast, or hand-feed him bits of artificially reconstituted bacon if he’s in a particularly good mood, but clearly Lio is not going to receive a morning meal today.

He knows a punishment must be coming at some point, and it keeps him tense and cautious all morning. The nipple clamps are too simple, too straightforward, the kind of thing Kray might do on a whim even if Lio wasn’t in trouble. And Kray still hasn’t spoken to him at all; usually, any punishment is accompanied by his master’s voice, detailing exactly how Lio failed him, reasserting his control over him. The silence is deeply unnerving. Kray has a meeting with some Oversight official after breakfast and he takes it in his sitting room, leaning back in his armchair like it’s a throne as he listens to the man’s report. Lio sits at his feet and Kray pulls his head into his lap, petting his hair as if nothing is wrong. Lio leans against his legs and tries not to tense up, not wanting to make things worse, knowing how things are likely to go if he seems to be rejecting his master’s touch. But it’s not the gentle stroking that frightens him - it’s not knowing what will come after. He just wants to get it over with.

After the official is gone, Kray finally turns his attention on Lio. “Stand up,” he says softly, and Lio scrambles to his feet. “Go cuff yourself to the whipping post and wait for me there.”

Lio swallows. There’s a certain relief in knowing what the punishment is going to be, but a whipping is never easy. Kray is strong enough to hit hard, and some of the implements he owns are capable of injuring Lio badly. But he lowers his head obediently, manages a quiet “Yes, master,” and leaves.

The whipping post is kept in Kray’s bedroom, over in a corner but far enough from the wall that Kray can walk all the way around it and see Lio at all angles if he chooses. It’s one of the simpler restraint devices he has for Lio, just a pair of shackles attached to a tall post, but it’s uncomfortable - Lio has to stand on tiptoes and strain to reach the open cuffs with his wrists. When he presses his wrists into them, they snap closed with a click, locking securely. Lio won’t be able to get them open again, not on his own; Kray has the only key.

He expects Kray to keep him waiting for a while, and he’s right. There’s nothing he can do but wait, shifting uncomfortably on the balls of his feet to keep his balance and trying not to let too much of his weight hang from his wrists, not while he still has the strength to stand up. His shoulders ache and his legs are trembling by the time Kray finally walks in, announced only by the sound of the door shutting behind him. Lio is facing the wall, and can’t crane his neck far enough over his shoulder to get a good look at what his master is doing, not that he’s going to try right now. With the kind of mood Kray is in, he doesn’t want to do anything to provoke him.

Kray opens up the toy chest, takes his time selecting an implement, and closes it again. There’s the sharp sound of leather against skin as Kray tests the chosen whip against his hand, and Lio flinches involuntarily. Truth be told, it’s not the worst punishment Kray could have chosen; pain he can deal with, and it’s preferable to enduring public humiliation or, worse, getting the other Burnish involved. But his heart is hammering in his chest as he hears Kray move behind him, muscles tensing involuntarily as the anticipation builds. The fear, the uncertainty - he knows this is part of how Kray operates. It doesn’t make it any easier to handle.

Finally Kray approaches him and lightly runs the whip down Lio’s back, then over the curve of his ass. Lio shivers. “You’ve been so good for me lately,” Kray murmurs. “But don’t think I won’t still correct you when you need to remember who owns you.”

“I’m sorry,” Lio begins, mistaking this for a prompt, but Kray cuts him off by smacking him, a hard open-handed blow to the back of Lio’s thigh.

“I don’t want to hear it,” Kray snaps. “I want you to ask me, respectfully, to give you what you deserve.”

Lio clenches his fists in the cuffs and swallows hard. There’s a dangerous edge to Kray’s voice that he hasn’t heard in a while, and he doesn’t know why. It’s not surprising that he’d be punished for waking his master in the night, but it was still an accident - even Kray must know that. And his master is acting as if he’s been willfully defiant somehow. There’s no way he can point this out, of course. Maybe he should just accept that he deserves the whipping, even if he doesn’t know why.

“Please punish me, Master,” Lio says. “I- I need to be punished.”

“Oh?” Kray feigns surprise, as if he didn’t just command Lio to say it. He traces one of Lio’s shoulder blades with the whip. “What sort of punishment do you think you deserve, Lio? Describe it to me.”

The punishment has already been selected, of course. “I deserve to be whipped, Master,” Lio says firmly, trying to sound as if he understands why. It doesn’t feel like he’s going far enough, so he adds, “I… want you to whip me. Please. Please.” He wants so badly to get it over with that some of his desperation actually does bleed through into his voice, and he hopes it’s enough. He can’t watch Kray’s expression to gauge his reaction to Lio’s words.

He feels Kray’s hand on the top of his head, running his fingers briefly through Lio’s hair. “Very well,” Kray murmurs, and Lio’s stomach lurches, filled with contradictory relief and dread. He feels Kray pull the whip away from his back, and a moment later it strikes him with a loud crack, leaving a white-hot line of pain across his back. Lio jerks against the whipping post with a startled cry of pain, weights swinging wildly from his nipples with the sharp movement.

Lio can tell already that Kray selected one of the harsher whips. It bites into his back, ripping the skin after only a few lashes, and he can already feel blood beginning to run down his back. Kray keeps a quick, steady pace and doesn’t falter, giving Lio no time to recover between the blows. In his head he counts the strokes, purely out of habit, though Kray didn’t tell him how many there would be, and there’s no way for him to know how much longer this will last as the number climbs higher. By the tenth stroke he’s lost all semblance of composure, screaming raggedly as Kray methodically rips his back apart, tears streaming down his face as he jerks helplessly in his shackles. Somewhere between twenty and thirty strokes he loses count, in too much pain to think clearly. Most of the blows fall on his back, but a few are aimed deliberately at his ass and his thighs, slicing his skin apart. He’s not going to be able to sit or kneel comfortably for a few days at least.

By the time Kray stops, Lio’s entire back is alight with pain, and he can feel rivulets of blood dripping slowly down his legs. He’s sobbing and limp, his weight now hanging entirely from his shackled wrists after his legs gave out. Kray runs a hand lightly over Lio’s shredded back, and even this impossibly light touch is agony. Lio sobs, his body twisting painfully, unable to pull away. It seems like ages before Kray finally pulls his hand away.

“You understand, don’t you, Lio?” Kray says, his voice soft but breathless, still panting slightly from the exertion of whipping Lio. Lio doesn’t have to see his face to know his master’s mask is slipping; he’s losing control, just a little, and it sends a tight curl of fear through Lio’s gut. He’s unpredictable when he’s like this.

And Lio doesn’t understand, not really, but he manages to gasp out, “Yes, Master.” Speaking is painful, and getting enough air is difficult.

“Good,” Kray growls. “Good.” He grabs Lio’s chin and turns his head, forcing him to look over his shoulder at an angle that painfully strains his neck, and then bends down and kisses him. It’s not brief; Kray bites and sucks at Lio’s lower lip and then forces his tongue inside his mouth, hungry and possessive and barely giving Lio room to reciprocate. His other hand curls around Lio’s ass, squeezing, and Lio whimpers into his mouth as he touches the cuts left there by the whip. Eventually he pulls back, letting go of Lio, but he hasn’t moved far.

Lio can barely register more than dizzy, pain-fogged dismay as he hears Kray unzipping his pants, wondering when it will be over. At least if Kray’s fucking him here he can’t possibly expect any meaningful participation on Lio’s part, and all he’ll have to do is hang against the whipping post and endure it. He feels Kray spreading his ass, and then the intrusion of a few blood-slick fingers, uncomfortable but not yet painful. It’s all the preparation he gets before Kray removes his hand and forces his cock into Lio’s entrance, agonizingly slow this time, pushing deeper inch by painful inch until his hips are flush with Lio’s ass. He leans forward, his broad chest pressing against Lio’s bloodied back as he pulls his hips back, and Lio moans brokenly, helpless. Kray’s thrusts are slow and deep at first, but not for long, and as his speed and intensity increase he wraps his arms tightly around Lio’s tiny frame, squeezing his chest and making it even harder to breathe. One of his hands grabs the chain hanging from one of Lio’s nipples and yanks, hard, forcing another ragged cry from Lio’s exhausted throat.

At this point, Lio is accustomed to taking the full length of his master’s cock, but except for the very rare occasions when Kray takes the time to prep him carefully enough, it does always still hurt. He’s nearly always left bleeding after his master uses him. He’s sure it hurts now too, but the pain is all starting to blur together - the brutal pressure of Kray’s weight against his lacerated back, the cock tearing through his insides, the clamps biting into his raw, swollen nipples and tightening even further as Kray yanks on them - he’s sobbing steadily, now, too exhausted to scream.

Kray tenses up and groans into Lio’s hair as he comes inside him, trembling slightly with the intensity of it, and then finally pulls out. His cum spills out of Lio’s ass, running down his thighs, and while Lio still doesn’t understand what pushed his master into this unusual outburst, at least Kray’s point has been made. Lio does feel owned, utterly. It’s hard to remember there is any reality outside of this one, hanging limp against an iron post, exposed and used, thoroughly and painfully marked as Kray’s property.

Kray kisses the nape of his neck just below his collar, gentle again, and Lio knows it’s over. He feels the clamps removed from his nipples, and whimpers again as the blood comes rushing back to them with a feeling like being stabbed. Without another word to him, Kray walks away, and Lio hears the sound of running water in the attached bathroom. Lio hangs limp, his mind blank as he waits for the pain in his nipples to subside. Eventually, when Kray returns, he runs a hand up and down Lio’s hip, mercifully avoiding any of the places his skin is torn.

“Who are you, Lio?” Kray murmurs to him. “Do you remember now?”

The answer is immediate. Lio doesn’t even have to think about it. “Pet,” he whispers. It’s difficult to summon up the energy for more than a one-word answer. Kray hums, leaning in to kiss Lio’s shoulder.

“And whose pet?” he asks softly. “Do you remember who your master is?”

It takes an effort to get the words out, though he knows what Kray wants to hear. He’s never allowed to use Kray’s name, never allowed to call him anything but Master. “I belong,” Lio whispers, gasping with the effort of speech, “to Kray Foresight.”

“Good boy,” Kray whispers in his ear, and Lio can feel his master’s approval, as tangible as his anger. “That’s right. My pet. My Lio.”

He leaves Lio hanging there for only another couple of hours longer, before finally letting him down and allowing him to spend the rest of the day in his cage, sleeping off the worst of his injuries before he goes to get washed off. Curled up against the metal bars, Lio cries a little, fitful, before he finally falls asleep. And this time - mercifully - he does not dream.