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Lio wakes to his master’s hands pulling him out of bed, onto the floor and onto Kray’s lap. Sleep-fogged and disoriented, he struggles for just a moment, whimpers as he shifts his sore leg, but quickly falls silent and lets his master move him, limp and pliant. Kray pets his hair soothingly.

“Shh,” he whispers. “It’s all right. Everything is fine.”

Lio doesn’t believe him. Kray rarely wakes him like this, and he doubts it’s going to lead to anything good. But he doesn’t resist as his master gathers him into his arms, pushing his head down against Kray’s shoulder. He can’t see what Kray is doing with his free hand, and has no warning before a sharp pain suddenly stabs into the back of his neck. Lio tenses and bites back a sharp cry, and Kray’s hand rubs up and down his back.

“It’s okay, that’s it, we’re done,” he murmurs. “You’re being so good for me.” He kisses Lio’s forehead and picks him up, then deposits him on the bed. As his master moves away, Lio catches sight of the empty syringe in his hand, and his brow furrows. What did Kray inject him with? He’s been obedient, there should be no need to drug him. The spot aches on the back of his neck, and as Kray goes to presumably dispose of the syringe Lio dares to lift his hand and rub the back of his neck. Despite the lingering pain, he can’t even feel the mark.

It puts him on edge when Kray behaves unpredictably like this; most of the time he can guess at what’s coming next, used to Kray’s routine as he is, and unexpected changes usually herald something unpleasant. It almost makes it worse that, aside from the injection, Kray does nothing further out of the ordinary that morning. He goes to his private sitting room where his breakfast is waiting, sets down a small bowl for Lio under the table before he digs into his own meal. Lio doesn’t often get a morning meal, and it makes him more confused than ever, but he’s too hungry to refuse, and after a moment’s hesitation he lowers his head to start eating. When he’s finished with his kibble and sits up again, his master holds out his hand, offering a small piece of artificial bacon from Kray’s own plate. Lio takes it eagerly, savoring the rich taste, and then licks his master’s palm clean. Only when he’s finished does he wonder why. Kray doesn’t normally feed him from the table when Lio has food of his own on the floor.

It’s true that his master has been strangely gentle with him ever since Lio was hospitalized. Though his cage still sits at the foot of Kray’s bed, he hasn’t been required to use it, sleeping instead at his master’s side even on the nights Kray decides not to use him. It’s a strange change but not unwelcome, though Lio still treads carefully, not wanting to anger him and make him change his mind. Still, even now Kray doesn’t usually require so little of him, or indulge him at meals like this. In fact, Kray barely touches Lio through the morning, though not in a way that feels like anger or neglect; he ruffles Lio’s hair occasionally as he passes, acknowledges his presence, even though he’s apparently content to let Lio curl up and doze on the floor at his feet without much disturbing him.

Later in the morning, Lio starts to realize what the injection was for. There’s no other reason why he should suddenly be feeling aroused, even though his master has kept his hands off him this morning. He whines low in his throat, half-asleep after dozing all morning, as his cock grows hard and insistent. Only vaguely aware of himself, he shifts, not realizing that he’s instinctively grinding his hips against the floor until Kray kicks him lightly and jolts him back to full wakefulness. Lio cringes, fear spiking at having been caught trying to get himself off, but Kray only strokes his head.

“None of that,” he tells Lio calmly. “Later, if you’re very good.”

Lio shivers, biting his lip. His master has kept him on the edge before, but never quite like this - certainly never with drugs. Kray pulls Lio into his lap on the sofa, and Lio has to swallow back a desperate moan as his cock brushes lightly against Kray’s pant leg, even the slightest contact making him twitch with need as Kray settles him into place. “I need you to do your very best to please my guest at lunch today,” Kray murmurs to him, stroking his back. “You can do that for me, right? Earn your reward?”

Lio whimpers, oversensitive and yet arching into the touch anyway. He nods, leaning forward to bury his face in Kray’s shoulder. Kray laughs softly.

“I didn’t realize it would be this overwhelming for you,” he says. “You’re so small… perhaps I should have used a smaller dose. Ah, well.” He threads his fingers through Lio’s hair. “You’ll do well for me today. I know you will.”

He brings Lio with him down to the dining room, where two place settings are already laid out at the table. Lio moves to kneel beneath the table, but Kray tugs lightly on his leash, signaling for him to stand beside Kray’s chair instead. Lio understands this; sometimes, Kray wants him on display for his guests. He folds his arms behind his back and stands straight, staring down at the floor. His leg will start aching eventually, if he has to stand long enough, but for now it’s not uncomfortable. The table at least is tall enough, and Lio short enough, that his unwanted erection won’t be visible from across the table, which is some small mercy, but it doesn’t ease the physical discomfort he feels. It’s difficult to remain still, his body increasingly desperate for release. All he can think about is how much he needs to be touched.

Lio hears the door open again. Beside him, Kray straightens in his seat, and out of the corner of his eye he can see his master beaming. “Good, you made it! Just like old times. It’s been too long, hasn’t it?” There’s something he can’t quite identify in Kray’s voice, a harshness that makes Lio tense up instinctively; it’s not quite like the warm, false way he normally speaks to his guests. But the next thing Lio hears drives this thought entirely out of his mind.

“Lio?!”

He knows that voice. And it’s enough of a shock to jerk his head up, his eyes falling on the man who’s just entered the room.

This is a dream, isn’t it? It must be. It has to be. He’s fallen asleep on his master’s floor and this is some strange, sick vision his mind’s invented to deal with the drug coursing through his system. There is no other way he could be seeing Galo Thymos standing there across the room, stock still in the doorway, his eyes wide with horror and anger and locked on Lio’s face. Lio looks away immediately, resolutely staring downward as his breath stutters in his chest, unable to focus on anything else with that instant of accidental eye contact seared into his mind. Galo, here and alive on Omega Centauri, as Lio stands obediently at his master’s side - it can’t be real. It can’t. It can’t.

“Have a seat,” Kray says, outwardly calm, though Lio can still hear that dangerous undertone that makes his skin crawl. “Your food’s going to get cold.”

“You’re not even gonna bother lying about this, are you?” Galo says, his voice shaking with anger. “You must know there’s no explaining this one away. Not this time. Lio--”

“Sit,” Kray snaps, and his voice is so commanding that Lio very nearly drops to his knees on sheer instinct. It takes an effort to remind himself that his master is not speaking to him. “If you think you’re going to try anything here, you’re stupider than I remember. I brought you here to talk, but if you’d rather get yourself thrown in isolation I will gladly accommodate you.”

Lio shivers in spite of himself. He doesn’t dare look up to see how Galo reacts to these words, but after a moment he hears Galo move forward and take a seat. His heart is beating very fast, and he has no idea whether it’s the drugs or the tension in the air. Although this still, he silently insists to himself, isn’t real. It’s not real and he’ll wake up soon and this will all be over.

Kray reaches out and pulls Lio towards him without looking at him. The touch makes him shiver and gasp, but he obediently lets Kray pull him onto his lap, flinching as he settles down with Kray’s thigh between his legs. It’s hard to resist the urge to grind against him, desperately seeking more of that pressure, that warmth - Lio has a fleeting image of himself writhing on his master’s lap, of Galo seeing him like that, lip curling in disgust as he realizes what Lio has become - with an effort he stills himself, panting silently, his jaw clenched shut. It’s not really Galo, because it can’t be, so he’s not sure why it matters.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t put it together?” Kray’s voice is low, deadly. His hand is on Lio’s waist, holding him in place, but he barely seems to notice him. “Very clever, wiping your communicator like that, but you were still the only one who’d recently put in a request for a new one. And now? Drawing this much attention to yourself?” Kray’s voice drips with disgust, and Lio wants to cringe against him, beg forgiveness. “You never could resist the spotlight, could you? Always having to play the hero. But this ends here. You’ll get no further warnings.”

“I’m not stopping until Lio is safe from you, you bastard.” Galo spits the words, punctuating them by slamming his fist against the table. The noise makes Lio flinch. “What did you do to him?”

“Ah, yes, Lio. That’s the reason for this whole enterprise, isn’t it? You made it so long without causing trouble, until you somehow got it into your head that he was still alive. But I brought him here so you could see it’s pointless.” Kray lifts Lio’s chin with his hand, turns his head to show his face to Galo, though Lio keeps his gaze downcast. It somehow seems very important, more so than usual, that he avoid meeting Galo’s eyes. It’s not just the potential punishment. He doesn’t know how he’ll bear it if he meets those eyes a second time. He can’t let himself start thinking this is real. “I’ve trained him. Tamed him. The Lio Fotia you knew is dead, Galo. All he knows, all he wants, is to please his master.” Kray tucks a stray lock of hair behind Lio’s ear, and the slight touch makes Lio whine quietly, lean into it helplessly.

“You’re lying,” Galo says quietly, furiously.

“I’m not. I intend to show you.” Kray spears a bit of food on his plate with his fork - steak, or something like it; not even the governor has access to genuine meat at this point - and brings it to his mouth with deliberate casualness, chews and swallows. Then he cuts another piece, smaller, and holds it up to Lio’s lips between thumb and forefinger. Lio can feel Galo’s horrified gaze on him as he leans in and takes the artificial meat from his master’s fingers, licking them clean. It’s an effort to keep his shame and fear off his face, and he’s not sure why he’s being affected so badly. He wants to hide almost as badly as he wants to rock his hips against his master’s lap and relieve at least some of the desperate, pent-up need inside him. Kray shoves his fingers a little deeper as Lio licks them, making him suck on the digits and lifting his head slightly so that what he’s doing can be clearly seen. Lio hears a small, choked noise of distress, thinks it’s his own for a moment, and is relieved to realize it’s not. He knows better than to make any sound in a situation like this.

“You should eat,” Kray says calmly to Galo, as he pulls his fingers out of Lio’s mouth. “I’m sure it’s been a while since you had a good steak, hm? Or even a passable imitation.”

Lio thinks Galo says something in response but he doesn’t hear it, as Kray shifts his leg just enough to press a little harder between Lio’s legs, and Lio has to bite his lip hard to keep himself from crying out, his back arching and a convulsive shudder washing over his body. His ears are ringing. After a moment he’s aware of Kray petting his hair gently, an amused smile playing on his master’s face. Lio pants, his face hot.

After a little while Lio finds Kray pushing him to the floor, and Lio obliges with a sense of deep relief, slipping down off of Kray’s lap and landing heavily under the table with only a fraction of his usual grace. His legs are trembling. Safely out of view, he lets himself collapse for a moment, breathing heavily, before he hauls himself back up and into position between his master’s legs. But before he can unfasten Kray’s pants, he’s pushed back gently but firmly, and he hears Kray’s quiet but commanding voice speaking to him rather than to (not Galo, not really Galo) his guest.

“Go and service our guest, Lio,” Kray tells him, unclipping his leash, and Lio’s mind freezes in panic before he forces it back, desperate. He has done this so many times before, it’s routine, it’s not even close to the worst things Kray could be asking of him. He’s confused, he’s disoriented, and all he wants is for this to be over. For reality to make sense again.

He crawls obediently under the table across to Kray’s guest, then kneels between his legs, head bowed intentionally low so that his hair falls forward and prevents him from seeing the man’s face. Lio’s honestly not sure which would be worse - if he looks up and still sees Galo, even this close, or if he doesn’t. His hands are shaking more than they should be when he reaches for the waistband of the guest’s pants, but he doesn’t get past undoing the first button when the chair is suddenly pushed back, out of Lio’s reach. He loses his balance, nearly falls over and barely manages to catch himself.

“Lio, no,” he hears, and it’s still Galo’s voice, a tremor running under the words that doesn’t make it any easier to convince himself this isn’t real. “No, no, you don’t have to do that, please, just look at me…” Trembling hands reach for him, cupping under his jaw and tilting his face up, and reluctantly Lio lets it happen, finds himself staring up into wide, anxious blue eyes he never expected to see again outside his dreams and nightmares.

(Because this is a dream, it’s the only explanation, even if the warm hands on his face and the overwhelming need racking his body feel deceptively real.)

Lio’s breath comes in quick, shallow pants, panic and shame and arousal beginning to blur together in his mind, in his body. Kray’s voice cuts through it all like ice, vivid and razor sharp. “I gave you an order, pet.”

“He’s not your pet!” Galo shouts, enraged. “Who do you think you are?”

Lio’s never been in this situation before, ordered to service someone who refuses his services. After a moment’s paralysis it becomes obvious, however, that Kray’s desires are the only ones that ever matter, and reluctantly Lio reaches for Galo again, averting his eyes. Once again Galo tries to push him away, quietly pleading with him.

“I suppose if you’d rather, Galo,” Kray remarks conversationally, “I could always demonstrate what happens to him when he fails to do what he’s told.”

A shiver runs down Lio’s spine; he wants to beg, to protest that it’s not his fault Galo isn’t letting him obey, but he doesn’t dare speak out of turn, particularly when a third person is present. But after a moment of tense silence, Galo lets go of Lio and pulls his chair forward again. Slowly he moves his legs apart, giving Lio space to kneel between as he’s supposed to. After a moment of hesitation, Lio reaches for the button of his pants again, and this time Galo doesn’t stop him, letting Lio shakily unfasten his pants and pull his underwear aside. He makes another small, choked noise as Lio gently pulls out his cock. Lio finds himself desperately wanting to look up at Galo’s face, but resists the urge and leans down instead, delicately licking and mouthing at Galo’s cock in exactly the same way that he’s attended to so many of Kray’s other guests. If he closes his eyes he can almost pretend that everything is normal, that this is just another stranger, though most of Kray’s friends tend to be half-hard already by the time they finally get to use Lio, and Galo’s taking longer than usual to respond to Lio’s attentions. Galo’s breathing has grown unsteady, and when Lio finally takes him into his mouth he hears a stifled sob. It makes his stomach lurch, twisting with a sense of guilt he doesn’t really want to examine. But of course he can’t stop. Just another client, he repeats silently to himself, and pushes it deeper into his throat without even slightly gagging. He’s used to being choked by Kray’s size, by now; servicing even the larger-than-average clients comes quite easily.

Galo doesn’t touch him, doesn’t speak, and he can almost forget it’s Galo until the end, when the release of hot cum down his throat is accompanied by quiet sobs, and Galo finally dares to touch him, twining his fingers in Lio’s hair. “I’m so sorry, Lio,” he gasps out. “G-god, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—”

Lio doesn’t move to pull away when Galo is finished, but Galo does, pushing back his chair again and gently lifting Lio’s head up. Cradling his head in both hands, Galo bends down toward him, wiping away the fluids at the corner of Lio’s mouth, and Lio can see the tears in his eyes so clearly, the distress in his face. He can’t tear his eyes away, even though he knows he should. It still feels so real, and he feels like he’s falling.

“I’ll get you out of here, Lio, I swear,” Galo whispers fiercely through his tears, and he’s touching Lio’s face so gently, and suddenly it doesn’t matter that Galo is certainly an invention of Lio’s subconscious because even in a dream, Lio can’t bear to hear it from him, cannot afford to entertain these ideas for even a second. He pulls away, scooting backwards on his hands and knees out of Galo’s reach, both terrified and, somehow, angry. Angry at himself, mainly, for deluding himself in such a keenly painful way - Galo is dead and Lio’s already made up his mind to stop fighting. Galo should not be here, touching him, promising rescue. He thought he stopped having this kind of dream long ago, well before he’d plunged from the balcony or given in to Kray in any real sense.

He knows he should continue offering himself to a client until he’s told to stop, but the possibility that Galo might speak to him again is too much to bear, and he hesitates - fortunately before he is forced to make a move, he hears his master snap his fingers, and hurriedly crawls to his side. Kray doesn’t pick him up, but lets him lean against his leg at his side, idly stroking Lio’s hair and his face. Lio nuzzles into his thigh and struggles to control his breathing. He’s still painfully hard, and he’s starting to wonder how long his master is going to make him stay like this.

Galo’s yelling, he registers distantly, and presses himself against his master’s leg as if that can drown out the words, though it doesn’t work. He still hears them. “Why are you doing this?!”

“Because you are wasting your time, and I knew you wouldn’t be able to get it through your thick skull until you saw it for yourself,” Kray snaps. “I will not allow you to tear down everything I’ve built because of your sentimentality. Listen to yourself, Galo…” His voice softens a little. “You’ve always been a thorn in my side, but this is absurd. Omega Centauri is humanity’s only hope for the future, and if you force me to resort to violence the results could be disastrous. Regardless of my… personal feelings… our new society needs every last person if it’s to continue, and I cannot execute you if I have not exhausted all other options. So I am attempting to reason with you.”

“You really still believe all that savior of humanity bullshit you’re spouting, huh?” Galo snaps.

“I wouldn’t discount negotiation so easily, if I were you. I have an offer for you, and it will not be extended again.”

“Fine. Tell me your offer.”

“Cease your attempts to sabotage this colony, give me the names of your collaborators, and in return I will give you what you want.”

Galo lets out a strangled laugh. “Seriously?”

“All you really want is Lio, am I right?” Kray reaches down for Lio and grabs his collar, directing him to stand again and letting go once he’s upright. Galo has gone still, staring at Kray with wide eyes and a furrowed brow. “I’ll allow you to see him. Even spend the night with him, if you like. He’s learned to be… quite accommodating.”

Galo’s lip curls in a snarl. “You’re a monster. I want him free.

Kray barks a laugh. “He doesn’t know what freedom is. Not anymore. Lio is mine, and he will remain with me, where he belongs.” He reaches up with one hand to touch Lio’s hair, pulling his fingers lightly through it. “I am being extremely generous, and if I were you I would consider it carefully. I think you will not enjoy the alternatives.”

“I don’t care what you do to me—”

“I didn’t say I was going to do anything to you,” Kray says softly. “I don’t want to hurt him any more than you do, but I will if I must. For the good of this colony.” Kray continues stroking Lio’s hair, slow and gentle, and Lio trembles with pent-up tension, desperate for his master’s hand to move lower and touch his burning skin. He leans into Kray’s touch with a low whine. “You don’t have to answer me now. Just think about what I’ve said. Think about what’s best for Lio.”

Galo huffs a short, humorless laugh. “It’s certainly not being owned by you.”

“Really? Have you asked him?” And as Galo gapes at him, Kray shifts his hand to grasp Lio’s chin, lifting his head. “Tell him, Lio,” he says, voice strangely gentle as he looks into Lio’s eyes. “Tell him what you want. It’s okay.”

“Lio…” Galo sounds almost broken, defeated, and the wrongness of it tears at Lio inside. He swallows hard, looking from Kray to Galo, trembling.

All he wants is for his head to stop spinning, for reality to make sense again.

“I want to- to belong to Master,” Lio manages, almost whispering. It’s so hard to speak, to form coherent words, but it’s clearly the only way to make this be over. “It’s… what I’m for.” He doesn’t know if it’s true or not, and he doesn’t care, it doesn’t matter. This is what he is allowed to want. He’s too exhausted to resist it.

Galo’s eyes are still fixed on his face, and Lio has to look away. “I know you’re still you, Lio,” he says softly, his voice shaking. “Whatever he’s done to you, it’s not who you are.”

He’s wrong, Lio knows that, but nobody makes him answer. Kray runs his fingers through Lio’s hair again, looking at him with genuine affection. “Good boy,” he breathes, quietly enough for only Lio to hear.

Kray reaches for Lio then, finally, finally, and pulls him up onto his lap again. Lio nearly sobs with relief and curls against him, pressing his face into his master’s neck. This time he can’t stop himself from grinding his hips against Kray’s leg, but then his master places a firm hand on his hip, holding him still. Lio bites his lip so hard he can taste blood.

Galo is shouting something and Lio can’t hear what it is, because Kray’s hand has moved between his legs and his entire body is trembling with the effort of not bucking up against it. Everything else might as well be miles away; all Lio can focus on is the heat of his master’s body, the hot breath against his ear.

“I’m so proud of you,” Kray murmurs. “I think you’ve earned a reward, hm?”

Lio sobs, feeling Kray’s fingers brush lightly against his cock. His entire body spasms. “Please,” he gasps out. “Please. I need…”

His master lifts him up effortlessly, shifting him into place, and the only warning he gets is the feeling of Kray’s fingers spreading his ass before he’s abruptly pulled back down, sheathing the full length of Kray’s cock inside his body. He hears himself scream, jolting against it. It feels like it’s splitting Lio in half, and yet the relief of finally being touched is too great for him to care about the pain. Kray’s hands encircle his waist, tight and unyielding against his skin, holding him securely enough that he can’t even move enough to rut against his master’s lap. He can only yield, allowing Kray to maneuver him how he likes, bouncing Lio in his lap and using him like a toy. Shuddering gasps escape Lio’s lips, and he’s only dimly aware of the tears running unchecked down his cheeks. He had wanted things to make sense again, and like this they almost do.

Then he makes the mistake of letting his eyes fall on Galo again, who’s standing, trapped between two guards who have moved from the door to the table in response to his furious shouts. Lio sees his expression, the helpless tears in his eyes and the fury twisting his face, and the certainty is torn out from under him again, leaving him adrift and terrified all over again. He sobs, curling forward against his master’s chest, wrapping his arms around Kray’s neck to anchor himself. Kray is speaking, his chest rumbling with the words, but Lio doesn’t think it’s meant for him and even if it is he’s too far gone to listen or understand, consumed by the agonizing pleasure ripping him apart from the inside. He’s undone, and it’s nothing but a relief.

He can’t speak coherently enough to ask for permission to come, but maybe Kray taking hold of his aching cock is permission enough, engulfing it in his hand. It’s not like he can stop himself, anyway; there’s nothing he can do to prevent the long-overdue orgasm that rips through him, deafening all his other senses, and leaving nothing but blessed silence in its wake.

Lio regains consciousness in Kray’s arms and realizes he must have passed out. Or maybe he’s only just now waking up. “I’m sorry,” he whispers, before even moving. His mouth is dry.

Kray is stroking his hair, gentle and soothing. “You don’t need to be sorry, pet,” he murmurs. “You did wonderfully. I’m not angry. Just rest now.”

Lio relaxes into his chest with relief, not having the energy to do anything else. They’re back in Kray’s sitting room now, and he wonders what happened after he passed out. Galo must have left, or been dragged out. If Galo was ever even there. Lio desperately hopes he wasn’t.

Kray tilts Lio’s head up and kisses him on the mouth. Lio parts his lips, closes his eyes and yields to it. When he opens his eyes again after Kray pulls back he finds his master staring at him intently, studying his face. “I will never,” Kray whispers, “let anyone take you away from me.”

And Lio understands, as his master kisses him again and again, the warm weight of his master’s arms anchoring him in place, that this is the one thing he can know to be true.