Rhys wakes from the dream with a moan on the tip of his tongue. He stifles it, takes a deep breath, and reminds himself that while, yes, Jack is technically in his head he can't (for all his occasional blustering to the contrary) actually read Rhys' mind. Or see the contents of his dreams, which is what's relevant in this instance.
Knowing that doesn't stop Rhys' cheeks from heating up. It doesn't stop him from berating himself, either. Jack is a terrible person, Rhys has never lied to himself about that. Sure, he's always looked up to Jack, so to speak, but he's never tried to excuse Jack's morally questionable behavior. He's well aware that his chosen idol is... something of a loose cannon, to put it very, very lightly. A complete psychopath, to put it less lightly. Someone he definitely shouldn't be having naughty dreams about, to get right to the heart of the issue.
But- it'd been so good. The dream had felt so real, almost as if Jack was really with him. Touching him, whispering into his ear, skating rough, calloused fingers along his inner thigh and saying things like, “You're my special boy, Rhys. Look at you, so goddamned beautiful.” He'd been wearing the mask, because evidently even Rhys' subconscious can't fathom a guess at what lies beneath it, but the skin of his face had felt warm and pliable when Rhys has pressed his fingers to Jack's cheekbones, and his lips were soft and inviting when the distance was closed between them.
Rhys' touch trails to his own neck as he remembers the way Jack had sunk his teeth into him in the dream. Like he wanted to leave a mark. But, of course, pressing down there now has no effect. It was, after all, just a dream.
“Hey, kiddo,” Jack says at full volume, abruptly popping into view beside him. “Whatcha thinkin' about?”
Rhys figured he was more or less immune to being surprised by Jack at this point but Jack showing up now of all times has Rhys jumping. He turns to glare, grateful that the dark hides the extent of his blush. “Shut up!” he snaps in what barely passes for a whisper. “Vaughn's asleep!”
Jack makes a show of glancing over his shoulder at Vaughn (who's doing his best impression of a starfish on the couch a few feet away, mouth hanging open and soft snores escaping him) then back at Rhys, eyebrow raised. “You do know you're the only one that can hear me, right, cupcake?”
“I- yes,” Rhys hisses. “Obviously. I just- there was-”
Jack waves him off. “Relax, we can discuss your stupidity later. What I want to know is what's got you all hot and bothered.” He leers pointedly, eyes darting down Rhys' body and back up again.
Rhys yelps and lunges for the blanket pooled around his feet. He draws it quickly over him, hiding the obvious tent in his boxers. He'd thought shedding his pants would be alright since the girls elected to sleep outside under the stars, leaving just him and Vaughn in the caravan for the night. It's a choice he's rather regretting now. At least if he'd kept them on there'd be another layer between him and Jack.
“It was- a dream,” Rhys stutters, the truth spilling out of him when his brain fails to immediately supply him with a lie or a denial.
But again Jack waves his words away, lips curling up into a smile that borders on predatory. “No need to be ashamed, kitten. I was enjoying the view.”
Rhys' fingers clench tighter around the blanket as the gears in his brain grind to a halt. “What,” he says dumbly, eyes fixed on Jack's mouth. He still feels warm from his dream, tingly in all the places Jack had touched him. His lips, his jaw, his neck, his thighs, a hot trail down his chest and over his abdomen. Is he still dreaming? Would certainly explain why everything has retained a surreal quality.
“Bet I can guess what you were dreaming about. Or should I say, who you were dreaming about,” Jack goes on, ignoring him. His smile is definitely predatory, and more than a little devious. He disappears and in the next second reappears, lying down now, propped up on his elbow beside Rhys. Close enough to touch if he could be touched at all.
“Oh?” Rhys shifts under the blanket, all too aware of the way his dick is pressing against the front of his boxers. He swallows nervous laughter and counters weakly with, “Bet you can't.”
“Nah, you're right,” Jack agrees, but before Rhys can breathe a sigh of relief he's adding, “See, I don't really need to guess. The way you were moaning my name made it pretty friggin' clear.” He stops then, watching Rhys' face closely for a reaction, looking inordinately proud of himself.
“I- I wasn't,” Rhys practically squeaks. But- was he? He glances nervously at Vaughn but his chest is still rising and falling in long, even breaths. Dead asleep and not likely to wake up anytime soon. He's always been a heavy sleeper, a fact which Rhys has never been more grateful for. At least if Rhys really was moaning Jack's name then Vaughn wasn't awake to hear it.
“Oh, you definitely were. But everyone wants me, kiddo, nothing to be ashamed of,” Jack assures him. “In fact, I'd be more worried if you didn't.”
Rhys muffles his own groan by ducking beneath the blanket. “You're not helping anything, go away,” he says from beneath it. “Leave me to die of embarrassment.”
There's a moment of silence. It lasts long enough that Rhys dares to peek out over the blanket again, letting it slide down to his hips, thinking that maybe for once Jack actually listened to him. He's still there, though, still lying beside Rhys, but now he looks pensive. “Is that what you want?” he wonders. “For me to help?” Before Rhys can answer, Jack shakes his head. “No, what you want is to touch yourself, eh, Rhysie?”
Rhys freezes under Jack's gaze.
“No, no,” Jack corrects himself again. “What you really want is for me to touch you.” He sounds sure of it, smug. And pleased, too. “But, hey, we'll both have to settle.”
“I-I'm not- I don't-” Rhys shakes his head but it's a perfunctory denial. He'd be a liar if he said he'd never thought about it, never mind the dream. Even before Jack's death, back when Rhys was about as low on the Hyperion totem pole as one could get and the closest he ever got to Jack were the company issued posters depicting Jack's likeness plastered up around his office, he'd indulged in a fantasy or two. Or three. Jack was- well, handsome. And charming, and strong, and powerful in so many ways. Rhys liked to imagine Jack would hold him down, pin his wrists above his head or wrap his fingers around his neck, squeezing just hard enough to make Rhys feel it. Or maybe he'd order Rhys to his knees, and Rhys would go, eager to please. Or maybe he'd make Rhys beg for release, bring him to the edge and back again until Rhys was incoherent with want.
Just the memory of these errant fantasies- fantasies he hasn't revisited since Jack's demise- is enough to have Rhys writhing uncomfortably, warm all over. He throws an arm over his face, mortified. “Shit,” he says with feeling.
“No hiding, kitten, come on,” Jack admonishes. “Like I said, no need to be ashamed.”
Rhys slowly lowers his arm. His hand comes to rest on his stomach, on an expanse of skin left exposed by the way his t-shirt is rucked up. His fingers itch to go lower but he refrains, bites his lip instead. “I'm not ashamed,” he mumbles, but it's mostly a half-hearted attempt to regain some dignity. Some control. “You're- you're just a hologram. Just an AI.” Logically, he knows this. Saying it aloud doesn't help the way he'd hoped it would. The feelings from the dream- and his arousal along with them- are still stubbornly refusing to abate. And the Jack AI sounds like Jack. If Rhys closed his eyes it would be so easy to pretend-
“I was your idol, kiddo,” Jack says. “And your boss. You gonna make me order you to get yourself off?” His smile is sharp, wicked.
Rhys huffs out a laugh. His toes curl and uncurl reflexively under the blanket. “Who programmed you to be a voyeur?” he says, but it comes out breathy as his fingers creep beneath the waistband of his boxers and the full implication of what is about to happen sinks in. Jack- Handsome Jack wants to watch him. And not just that, his gaze is focused, intense. Rhys has Handsome Jack's undivided attention. Just that alone is enough to make him hot under the collar.
“You're gorgeous, kitten. Who wouldn't want a show?”
Jack has been calling him pet names since day one but this time it, along with the word gorgeous (said with the same heartfelt inflection that the Jack of his dream had used), goes straight to his dick. Rhys whines when he finally gives in and closes his fingers around himself. He lets his eyes fall shut and it's so easy to imagine Jack is really there with him when he clicks his tongue and says, “Nuh-uh, princess. What'd I say about hiding? Boxers off.”
Rhys hesitates, thumb hooked under the waistband, but Jack speaks with authority. With the expectation of being obeyed. So Rhys does obey, and he's rewarded with an appreciative hum and a, “Good boy, Rhysie. Now you can touch yourself.”
Rhys wastes no time. He licks his own palm for lack of an immediate alternative and gets a hand around himself again. He moans as he twists his wrist just so, swipes a thumb over the head, but stifles it midway through when he remembers Vaughn. He shoots as alarmed glance at his friend, but Vaughn hasn't a moved a muscle. Is, in fact, still snoring softly, mouth open.
“Worried about waking him?” Jack says. “God, Rhys, if he saw you like this- flushed all over, messy hair, bitten lips, and, no lie, probably the prettiest dick I've ever seen except, you know, mine- he'd want to join the fun. Don't worry about him.”
Rhys can't help but groan again. He's never even thought about Vaughn like that- they're just bro's- but the idea that he might wake up, might catch Rhys in the act, see him all vulnerable and wanting, just does something for him. He squeezes his eyes shut, arches up into his own touch. He trails the fingers of his metal arm over his thigh. The metal isn't warm but it isn't cold, either, and the added touch has him panting.
“Shit, Rhys.” Jack's voice again. It sounds closer now. “The things I'd do to you... If we were back on Helios I'd have you bent over my desk. Imagine that, eh, cupcake? I'd hold you down- you'd like that, wouldn't you?- while I fingered you open. I'd have you desperate. I bet you're goddamned beautiful when you're desperate.”
Rhys is leaking over his own fingers now. The added lube makes it slicker, better. He wishes Jack were here in the flesh. He wants- something. Fingers, at least. But his metal hand is too unforgiving, too uncomfortable. The way Jack's words match up with Rhys' fantasies from so long ago is uncanny. Maybe he can read Rhys' mind after all?
“Don't- stop-” Rhys grits out, the images Jack is painting with his words playing out in vivid detail behind his eyelids. He wants Jack over him, a warm and solid weight, smelling of blood and aftershave. He wants Jack's hand in his hair, pulling, forcing Rhys to arch his back. He wants Jack in him, fucking him rough but talking to him sweet.
“I'd make you beg,” Jack goes on, voice practically a growl now. “I'd have you screaming my name so loud everyone could hear it. I'd mark you up so you couldn't hide it, couldn't hide who you belong to. Everyone on Helios would know you were mine. They'd all know you belong to Handsome Jack. How does that sound, kitten? Hm?”
Rhys moans again, shameless and squirming.
“Maybe I'd get you a collar. Make you wear it around the station. A constant reminder.”
“Fuck,” Rhys hisses. A collar. Jack hooking two fingers underneath it and pulling Rhys to him. Jack using it to cut off his airflow at just the right moment. Jack using him, claiming him, and everyone on Helios knowing exactly what the collar means. The collar would be a comforting weight, tight but not too tight. A constant reminder, as Jack said.
“Come on, Rhys,” Jack says, sounding somehow closer still. Rhys forces his eyes open and finds Jack mere inches from him. As he watches, Jack reaches out and rests his palm on Rhys' abdomen. Of course, Rhys can't feel it, not really, but heat pools in his stomach in response anyway and he spills over his own fingers with a shout, which he does his best to muffle into his metal arm, to little success.
When Rhys is semi-coherent again, he finds Vaughn still sound asleep and Jack looking smug. Rhys, for his part, feels boneless and sated.
“When I get my body back,” Jack says, showing teeth. It's more a snarl than a smile. “I promise you, Rhysie, I'll make it all happen.”
He's gone before Rhys can reply.
Rhys lets his head thunk back against his makeshift pillow on the floor of the caravan. He raises his hand, turns it this way and that in the moonlight streaming in through the window.
“Shit,” he says succinctly, wondering how the hell he's gonna clean this mess up.