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Dare's Story

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My sweet Dare. You can do it. Just don't over think it. I double-dog dare you...

A person would think that a man named Dare would walk a little bit on the wild side throughout his life. Those assumptions would be wrong. The only son of Philip and Marie, Daren 'Dare' Brooks has lived a quiet, solitary life. He was raised on his father's ranch and still works there to this day.

In spite of his imposing appearance, a height of six feet seven inches and broad shoulders, Dare is quiet and thoughtful. He's methodical in his work with horses and cattle. For Dare, it's easier to be around animals than humans. It always has been.

When Dare was a kid he was very shy and never made any lasting friendships. He's always been on the periphery of life; from child, to teen, to adult.

I dare you to go talk to them. Go make some friends, Dare.

The only real excitement he's ever seen is a short stint on the local rodeo circuit. His mom got him into that hoping it would help him become less of an introvert. He gracefully bows out of it eventually. It wasn't that he isn't any good at it. He did pretty well for himself in the arena with roping and bull riding. There were just too many people for him to be comfortable. Dare's never been good with people.

When he was nineteen his mom died of cancer. There was no one to push him outside of his comfort zone then. His dad was and is as content to stay on the ranch as Dare is.

Now he's twenty-six years old and he's still that same shy, polite boy who works the ranch, goes to Cowboy church on Sundays with his dad, comes straight back home to be with the animals.

He has a bloodhound named Molly and a cat that was his mom's that he adopted when she died. The cat's name is Clementine, Clem for short.

Nothing spectacular about Daren. So how did he get the nickname Dare? There's nothing spectacular about that either. His mom, when she was still alive, shortened it to Dare. She would call him 'my sweet Dare' all the time. The name stuck.

And when she was trying to get him to break out of a shell he's never been able to break out of, she'd tell him 'I dare you' when she was trying to get him to do one thing or another. She'd dare him to do simple things like go play with those kids, try that new sport or go talk to the girl she thought he liked. Sometimes that worked. Most of the time it didn't.

My sweet Dare. I dare you to be daring. I dare you...

Out in the country life is slow. It's perfect for Dare. There's a routine to follow, things that need doing that are necessary. Dare likes routine. It's hard for him to process everything when it goes too fast. Unless it has to do with the livestock or any of his pets, Dare needs time to think things through before he acts or reacts to them.

The only time he gets off of the ranch anymore is for Cowboy church or to go in to the grocery store. The closest grocery store is just over forty miles away. He usually takes his truck for that. The Cowboy church, a hub for all the small towns and ranches in the area, is about twenty miles away. The horses go to church with him.

Every Sunday, as long as the weather's good or there isn't a crisis on the ranch, his dad and him put on their best jeans, boots and western shirts and ride in to Cowboy church on their horses. They sit in the back pew through services, then Dare waits at the horses until his dad has said all of his hello's and how do you do's.

When his dad gets back over to him, they mount up and ride. Every Sunday is the same. Every Sunday they cross the highway and take the same dirt roads back to the ranch. When they get to their long dirt drive, Molly always runs out down the road from the porch to meet them.

They get there and Dare can already see Molly lumbering their way at full speed. Dare has raised Molly from a pup. She likes to be wherever he is but is also resigned to stay put when he tells her to.

This particular Sunday, there's a shiny, sleek car on the dirt road. Its cleanliness looks out of place on the ranch. This particular Sunday, no matter how far to the shoulder of the road he and his dad get, the car seems to be heading straight for them.

A big piece of metal coming right for them? Of course the horses spook. Dare's mount whinnies and canters sideways. He looks back and sees the mount his dad is on rear up and throw him. His dad hits the ground hard. For a man of almost seventy, it's not good for him to hit the ground that hard.

Dare spins around and dismounts, running for where his father lays in the brush. "Dad?"

"I'm all right son. Just got my head jarred pretty good is all." His dad says. "Help me up."

Dare is in the process of helping his dad up when he feels a prick in the back of his neck. He reaches back there and pulls something from his skin. Upon close inspection, it looks like a dart. It takes Dare a moment to process this.

"What's that?" His dad asks.

"I don't know. It's..."

The world shifts sideways and Dare stumbles back into the tall grass to get his bearings. What the hell just happened? It felt like the earth beneath his boots moved. His hands claw at the grass and press into the ground just to reassure himself that the world is still beneath him. Gravity still works.

He has to force himself to think through what just happened. A car. The horses. His dad. Molly. Molly is in front of him licking his face. How did she get here to quickly?

Philip has reached down to put a hand in Dare's short, sandy blond hair. "Son?".

The car. There's never a car on this road unless someone is specifically coming out to see his dad. Something isn't right.

Dare looks up to his dad just as he hears gunfire. There's a hole in his dad's brow, blood is trickling from it. Another hits his dad's chest and Philip goes down again. Dare's heart feels like it stutters in his chest.

He can't process this. It's too much.

I dare you, my sweet Dare. I dare you to get up and do something.

Dare tries to push himself up but falls back to the ground. He tries again and the world feels like it's swaying back and forth.

Time seems to shift again. Dare is up on his feet, hauled up by someone, or maybe there's more than one person. His wrists are bound behind his back and he's being led to a car. He vaguely hears Molly barking and growling.

"He's even bigger up close. They're gonna love working with him."

"Pretty too. Guys back at the compound are gonna have fun with him." Dare feels a slap against his shoulders. "Ain't that right, pretty boy? Gonna have some fun."

There's laughter.

"Ketamine's already doing its thing. His mind is getting fucked up."

Again, time moves. It moves just in time to see the trunk door slam shut on him, shrouding him in darkness.

His mind gives in to whatever is pulling him under then. The dark hurts less than the light.

 

* * *

 

When Dare wakes up enough to take note of his surroundings, his mind is still a groggy haze. It's like he's in a dream, a horrible, terrible dream. He's in a wooden box about the size of a coffin. There are wooden walls all around him. He's so big that he barely has an inch of room to move on all sides.

His hands are still bound behind him, his arms numb from being pinned between his back and the wooden bottom of the box.

One of the more unnerving things is that he's naked. Why is he naked? When did his clothes come off? He's never been naked in public before, if this can be called public. What's happening?

There's the rumble of a motor and the occasional bump and shift that happens with driving on a road. He's in a vehicle. Was he kidnapped? Do people his age and size get kidnapped?

Dare can hear his own breath coming quick as panic spikes. His heartbeat is thudding loudly in his ears. He has to consciously make himself breathe slow, calm down.

He tries to push at the top of the crate with his feet. With so little room he can't get much purchase and it doesn't even creak at all.

He tries to shift to his side so he can work the bindings at his wrists free. There's no room for him to be on his side. So he just lifts up as much as he can and works on his bindings in short increments of time. They don't budge and he's just tiring himself out.

I dare you to get through this.

His mom's voice, always present in his mind to get him to the next thing, to help him do the things he needs to do whether he wants to do them or not.

Since she died, he's always felt her with him. Like she's his guardian angel.

"Help." He whispers to her, as if she can hear him. He hopes she can hear him.

His thoughts turn to his dad. Did that really happen? Everything happened so fast. His mind was playing tricks on him. Maybe it didn't...

No. He would never dream up something like that, even drugged. Dare loves his dad too much for that. Damn it. What's happening?

His eyes fill with tears and he starts crying. It's okay to cry right now. No one is watching. It's just him in this box. He can cry and he needs to cry.

"Help." He says again, hoping his mom is listening, hoping he's not as alone as he feels.

My sweet Dare. I dare you to get through this.

 

* * *

 

Whatever drug they gave him is potent. Dare sleeps again. And again. One time when he's awake he feels the box he's in hefted up and moving. He tries to figure out if he should say something to whoever is out there, let them know he's in here. Are they friend or foe?

"Damn, he's heavy. Must be a big son of a bitch." One of the men says.

Then there's another voice. "Yeah, he's tall. Been working on a ranch his whole life so he's built like a brick house."

"Do you know what they're gonna do with him? Thought the Mistress liked twinks."

The Mistress? Twinks? Dare has no idea what these things mean.

"I think her interests are expanding. She's been asking for specific types of pets to fuck with. I think she's building herself a whole nest of pets. No idea what the plan is here." The box is set down none too gently. "She just asked for someone big and built. This guy was easy. Saw him at the grocery store a few months back, learned his routine."

Someone has been following him for months. That realization is shocking to Dare, who's never stepped outside of his comfort zone, who's always toed the line and never been in any trouble. Now he's in a whole heap of trouble.

There's a laugh. "The ones who have a routine are always the easiest to get. When did you get him?"

"Coming home from church."

Someone laughs again. "Well praise Jesus!"

Their voices fade away. These men are definitely not gonna help him. He hears the rolling door of the back of a van slide shut. Eventually another motor starts and he's moving again.

Could he have done something there? Should he have said something? Should he have tried to get out? Dare's a strong guy. He could probably take two men if he isn't drugged.

This is the problem Dare has always had. He takes too long to think about things before he does them. His dad is, or was, the same way. His mom was always the one who pushed them forward. Now Dare doesn't have either of them.

His thoughts start to spiral.

Don't let yourself get down in the dumps. I dare you to rise above it. I dare you to move past it. I dare you to be daring.

Even though his eyes are still puffy with tears, Dare almost smiles. He can rise above it and move past it. He just has to think a little quicker next time, be better prepared. Dare can come up with a plan before anything else happens. He can do this.

He can be daring.

Chapter Text

The crate is lifted and changed from vehicle to vehicle one more time. This time Dare jostles his weight around as much as he can in the confined space. His skin will be scuffed up from his efforts but he wants to make carrying him as difficult as possible.

The men holding the crate actually drop one end. His head is jarred pretty hard and he hears the crack of wood at the corner by one of his ears and mentally cheers himself on even if there's nothing he can do with it.

"Fuck!" The entire box vibrates with the kick of a boot at it's side. "You settle down in there, you hear me you piece of shit?"

The box is hefted up again and Dare starts flailing himself around again. His entire body aches. It does no good because the box is set down and a fist bangs on the top of it.

"You do that again, there's gonna be more drugs."

The warning isn't lost on him. Dare's mind is only just starting to be completely clear of the one and only dose he's had. Whatever it is, it's incredibly powerful, even for a guy his size.

Dare doesn't move an inch until he hears the men walk away, the rolling door loudly slides shut and the engine starts up. The jury is in and his sentence, whatever it is, has been passed down. They're on the move again.

With the drugs, it's hard to tell how long they've been traveling. It feels like a long time. Given his blackouts, it's probably been longer than a long time. They're taking him far away from home. Dare's never been this far away, or very far at all. There's something very scary about that.

Who's gonna find his dad? The work hands when they come in on Monday morning, probably. What will they think when they find a dead body, two horses loose and Dare missing?

Who'll feed Molly and let her lick their face? Who'll bring her in at night and let her sleep in their bed?

What's gonna happen to the cattle and the horses? What will happen to Clem the cat?

Dare feels tears threaten again. This time he holds them back. He's cried enough. Crying isn't going to help the situation.

I double-dog dare you to be strong.

He has to be strong.

 

* * *

 

By the time the vehicle stops again, Dare is at a very low point. He's had too much time to think about what happened back at the ranch, too much time to worry over it, too much time to blame himself for doing too little.

On top of that, he's had to piss and did the only the he could do. The box he's in smells of his own urine. He's been smelling it for long enough that he can't really smell it anymore.

His mind is just in a dark place.

The box is hefted up again. He's carried out of the van, at least that's his assumption. Dare hears voices outside. There are murmurs at first that he can't hear or understand. Then, as the crate is carried closer to them, he starts to make out the words.

First, a woman with a thick accent. "I have been looking over the photos you sent of him. He would make a lovely pet."

"Would? You mean you aren't gonna use him?" A man says. "Not that I care, Mistress. Getting this one was time consuming, but easy."

"I find him very attractive, of course. It always depends on how they respond to my treatments. If all goes well, he will be mine. I will have him molded into the perfect pet to fit into my growing collection."

"So you are collecting a group. The boys were wondering... after the twins. I mean two is one thing. Now you've got four."

"And soon I will have five if this one proves malleable under the plan I have laid out for him." The woman says. "Take him to the Brutes in the Catacombs first."

"Yes, Mistress."

When the box starts moving again, Dare realizes that he'd been holding his breath. He gasps air into his lungs and makes himself breathe again. His breaths sound very loud to him even though he knows they aren't any louder than normal. It's just his nerves making everything heightened and magnified.

Some woman called the Mistress has plans for him. What kind of plans? What is the Catacombs?

Dare is trying so hard not to panic that he almost misses the shift in the box that says he's being taken down stairs. He only realizes it when the box straightens out again. Then they go down another flight. Another. He hears beeps in between each flight.

He's being taken underground. He isn't sure he's ever been so terrified in his life. The unknown, in this instance, is a frightening thing.

The box is finally set down with a heavy thud that jars Dare's head pretty good. He lays there in the dark, listening to his own shallow breaths - in and out, breathe in and out - as people outside of the box start talking.

"He's a big one. You got the Mistress's plan?"

"Yeah, we got it. Saw the pictures. This is gonna be fun."

"Did you really nab him coming back from church?"

"Yeah. Pretty easy too. Once the ketamine started working, he was ours."

"Okay man, we'll take it from here."

"Don't need me to stay and make sure there isn't any trouble?"

"Nah, we got it. We'll take good care of him."

Dare hears someone, presumably the man who'd kidnapped him and killed his dad, walk away. He feels tears threaten again at the thought of his dad and pushes all of that away. He can't do that right now. He has to be present, in the now, in the unknown.

For awhile he's left in the box. He hears softly murmured conversations. He hears people shuffling around outside. At one point, he hears the wood of the crate creak above him as if someone has sat down on top of the box.

Should he say something? Should he make some noise? No. Not yet. Right?

It's too much. Dare has no idea what to think or what to do. He isn't good with people. He isn't good with life off of the ranch. Especially not people like this, people who abduct other people.

He's internalizing everything. He's thinking too much.

I dare you to calm down.

Dare takes deep, shallow breaths. Several of them. He calms down and still he waits.

When the latches on the box are finally thrown, they startle him. They seem very loud after so much quiet. The lid is opened and Dare gasps the first breath of clean air that he's had in awhile. He hadn't realized how stifled and stagnate the air in the crate was.

The darkness in the box suddenly fills with light. The light isn't exceptionally bright by normal standards, but after being in the dark for so long it seems far brighter than it is. Dare squints up into it and tries to sit up. A boot lands at the middle of his chest to push him back down. He can't see the man's face because his eyes are still adjusting, but the boot holds him down.

"Well aren't you pretty." The man says.

There are others around him that Dare can't quite make out. Dare is instantly reminded that he's naked and feels a flush of heat in his skin. If his arms weren't still restrained behind him, he'd try to cover himself.

"Name's Dare, huh? That's a good name." The man with the boot on his chest continues. "Tall, broad, built. Look at that six pack, boys. Those arms and shoulders. He's pretty, isn't he?"

There are murmurs from the other men of agreement. Dare wishes he could disappear. He's never been called pretty before. He's never had anyone stare at him while he doesn't have a stitch on either.

"He's got a big dick." One of the men off to the side says.

Another chimes in. "Gonna be fun to play with."

Boot to chest man chuckles wickedly and leans down over Dare. "What do you say? You ready to play?"

As his vision has started to adjust a little bit, Dare is shocked to find that this man looks normal. He isn't sure what he expected. But surely the man with salt and pepper hair, a light stubble and sparkling blue eyes should look more like a monster. Kidnappers are monsters.

He decides not to answer him. Dare doesn't even glare. He's never been a mean person. He's never been prone to anger. Dare is quiet and sweet, really. He settles for looking resolute in not engaging with the man.

This only serves to amuse his captor further. Boot to chest man laughs again and snaps his fingers.

Another man steps forward to grab one of Dare's feet. Before Dare can realize what's happening, a needle is shoved into the skin between his toes. He jerks his foot back and away but it's too late. Whatever was in the needle is inside of him now.

Two men haul Dare up to his feet. He hasn't used his legs in awhile either and he feels a little unsteady on them. The shift from horizontal to upright also makes him dizzy. Or maybe it's whatever they just gave him. Maybe it's a combination of the two.

The world gets fuzzy around the edges as he's hauled from one room to a smaller one with men all around him. He thinks he counts five. Maybe six.

The new room has concrete walls, floor and ceiling. He notices a drain in the middle of the floor and only has a moment to wonder what it's for when he's hit with frigid water, sprayed at him from a hose. He instinctively shivers as he's hosed down.

Once that's done, he's led to a slim metal table that he's pushed face down on. His wrists are untied and his arms are pulled down to either side where his wrists are strapped to hold them in place. His legs are spread, knees folded so that his hips are slightly lifted up. Ankles strapped to hold them in place.

Dare is trying to remain present. He's trying to keep his mind clear. But everything happens very fast even while Dare's world, his mind and body and soul, have slowed down. It's like he blinks once, twice, thrice, and here he is strapped down to the cold metal table in a most vulnerable position.

He's aware enough for it to be jarring, upsetting and humiliating, especially once all is said and done and he feels a hard slap to his ass that makes his entire body jerk against his restraints.

One hand reaches between his thighs and pulls his cock away from where it's rested between his abdomen and the table. His cock is pulled down in an uncomfortable position, the table keeping it in place.

"There we go. Now you're all set up, pretty boy."

Dare's cock is stroked a few times. He feels the prick of another needle, this time in the round of his buttock. Then another one that follows immediately after that one. Whatever they're giving him is altering his mental and emotional state. He's still very much aware of what's happening, but he's having to work harder and harder to maintain a calm, to maintain control over his emotions.

He hates that his cock is hard in some other man's hand. It's embarrassing. Dare isn't a person who's had a lot of experience with sex. He's had sex with a woman once. Other than that, he's only pleased himself in that way. This is... too much. It's wrong. At least for him, it's wrong.

"Oh yeah, look at him. Hard as a rock. He's hungry for it."

"Fucking slut."

What? No. He's not hungry for this, whatever it is. He's not a slut. Dare makes an attempt to pull at his restraints but he has no purchase in this position. His limbs feel like jelly. His mind is on his side, making him attempt to pull at the bindings and then his mind is somewhere else, it's with the hand stroking his cock.

For as much as Dare tries not to let himself, in the end he has no control. His body shudders with arousal. Heat pools in the pit of his groin and he cums. Even with the heightened orgasm he's aware enough to feel shame.

There's another slap to his ass and Dare feels tears prick at his eyes. He tries to stop the tears but these men and whatever drugs they've given him has taken away his control over that. In fact, he feels overly emotional right now, more so than he's ever been. He's openly crying and obviously frightened and humiliated.

"Just what I thought, slut."

The man with the blue eyes and peppered hair comes into Dare's line of vision. He pets Dare's short hair back away from his brow. The act could be considered nice and pleasant, a reassurance that things would be okay if not for the dichotomy of his current predicament. "I know you're confused. I know you're scared. Just know we're gonna set things right for you, Dare. We're gonna help you become who and what you were always meant to be."

What was he always meant to be? Dare's fine with who he is. He can't imagine being anything else. Any confusion he has isn't about himself. It's about this situation, these men.

The room is emptied and Dare is left alone on the table by himself.

 

* * *

 

He's left like this for a long time. Again, alone with his own thoughts, none of which are good. The additive of his emotional state being out of his control in thanks to whatever they gave him leaves him with several self-induced panic attacks.

Dare is almost thankful when the doors open again, just so that he can get outside of his own head space.

Salt and pepper guy enters, followed by another man. There's something in salt and pepper's hand, and as he gets closer, Dare notices it's shaped like a cock, it's a flesh colored dildo.

"Hello, pretty boy." Salt and pepper says. "I want you to tell me your name. Who are you?"

The man already knows his name. They've established that. But Dare answers anyway. "Dare."

"Oh now, you can do better than that." Salt and pepper's lips are close to his ear. "Use a full sentence. What's your name?"

"My name is Dare?" He says, although it comes out as a question.

The other brute calls him on it. "Is that a question?"

"My name is Dare."

"Much better." Salt and pepper says as he slides the tip of what feels like the dildo down Dare's spine. "Now I want you to watch my friend over there."

Dare is terrified of what's about to happen with that dildo. His shock when he rests his cheek against the metal to look at the other man almost overrides that terror. Salt and pepper's friend has his dick out and is stroking himself, slow and steady.

He doesn't want to watch it. Dare keeps trying to look up into the man's eyes. The more he tells himself not to look, the more he feels compelled to look. Dare closes his eyes.

"His eyes are closed."

A slap to Dare's ass makes him open his eyes. "Nuh-uh-uh, Dare. I tell you what to do and you do it. What did I tell you to do?" Another hard, stinging slap. "Answer me."

"To watch."

"Full sentences."

"You told me to watch him."

"So do it." Salt and pepper says. "What's your name?"

Dare watches the other brute's hand as it slides over his own cock. He's never watched anything like this. He doesn't understand why he has to watch it now. "My name is Dare."

"What are you, Dare?" Salt and pepper presses the dildo to Dare's tight hole that's never had anything put inside of it, not ever.

What is he? How does he answer that? "I'm... just a guy."

"Wrong." The dildo is pushed harder against his dry hole. "What are you, Dare?"

He watches the man jerking off, feels the pressure at his ass where something eventually is going to have to give. How does he answer that question. "I'm a rancher."

"Wrong."

He feels a burn and stretch as the dildo is pushed in. Dare starts crying again. He can't seem to stop. This is too much for him to process. He doesn't understand.

Salt and pepper continues. "What are you, Dare?"

"I don't know! I don't know what you want me to say." He cries out.

The dildo is pulled out of his ass and salt and pepper comes into his line of vision to pet at his hair. "Good. That's good. We need to get to the truth of things, right? Right."

The brute pulls back and gets a small tube from his pocket. He spreads what Dare assumes is lubricant on the dildo. Then Dare has line of sight on the brute giving himself a hand job.

This time when the dildo is pushed against his ass, it goes in easier even if the stretch is still painfully uncomfortable.

"You know what I don't like, Dare?" Salt and pepper says. "I don't like the words 'I don't know'. From now on, when you don't know the answer to something, we're just gonna go straight for the truth. Instead of saying 'I don't know', you're gonna say 'I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid'. You got that?"

Again, it's too much between what the two brutes are doing right now. But those words strike a particular chord with Dare. He's always been a little slower than most. Not stupid. He just takes a bit longer than is usual to get to the right thing, the answers, the right path to take. It's always been enough for people to notice and tease him about being slow, although they've used cruder terms than slow to get under his skin.

And now...

"What's your name?" Salt and pepper asks, pumping the dildo deeper and deeper into Dare.

"My name is Dare." His voice sounds small, even to him. He hates that he's crying. He hates that he's so emotional right now.

"What are you, Dare?"

"Please..." He whispers.

"Please what?"

"Stop."

"Stop what?"

"Everything. Stop everything. Just stop!" He jerks at his restraints, but once again, he has no purchase to really do anything.

The dildo is unceremoniously slammed into him and he feels a jolt as it hits something sensitive that he feels throughout his entire self from head to toe. Dare makes a strange sound, unsure if it actually came from him. He watches the other man jerk off. He feels all the heat from that jolt pool low in his groin. His cock is hard against the metal table.

"What are you, Dare?"

Dare makes a frustrated sound, trying to will himself to quit crying, to quit reacting to these people. Dare isn't usually a reactive person.

The dildo is pumped inside of him again. "What are you, Dare?"

He doesn't know. He doesn't know what they want him to say. And right now, he's confused about who and what he is anyway. He isn't acting and reacting like he normally would.

So finally, he whispers the words he knows will bring an end to whatever this is, no matter how much he hates them. "I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid."

That earns him a gentle pet along the length of his spine. "We know you're stupid, pretty boy. Your looks are all you have going for you."

The dildo is still sticking out of his ass and Dare feels a hand on his cock, stroking him in time with the tempo the other brute is stroking himself. He cums shortly after that.

Salt and pepper leans down close to his ear again. "Don't worry though. We're gonna help you with that."

Chapter Text

What are you, Dare? What are you?

The question is posed to him three more times before he's allowed to sleep. He's fucked with the dildo three more times. He watches a man jerk himself off three more times. He calls himself too stupid to know what he is three more times. Salt and pepper promises that he'll help Dare with his own stupidity three more times.

Finally, there's silence. There's nothing in his ass. He's left strapped to the table in the dimly lit concrete room all by himself.

He hurts in places and in ways he never has before. When he closes his eyes he sees a man jerking himself off. Dare tries to shake this off. Eventually he does, but it takes awhile.

Dare turns his head in every direction, getting a better look at the room. There's only one thing he hadn't noticed before. There's a blinking red light in the corner at the ceiling. Is this being recorded? Another wave of embarrassment hits him like a bulldozer.

No one has fucked him yet. Not really. The dildo was unpleasant, but he hasn't really been... But will they?

Once again, he thinks about the guy jerking himself off. He thinks about a time when that man might want something else, something Dare doesn't want to give him. In the position he's in now, he wouldn't be able to stop them.

His mind is a whirlwind of images and thought that he's trying to shut down for his own sanity. He doesn't want to see another man's dick. He doesn't want to worry about what might be put in his ass next. He doesn't want to hear his own voice calling himself stupid.

I dare you to think about something else, my sweet Dare. I double-dog dare you.

Dare closes his eyes and thinks about the smell of hay. The feel of Molly's fur under his palm. The way it makes him smile when she licks his face.

He thinks about horses and cattle. He thinks about the way his dad's eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled. He thinks about his mom singing to him when he was a kid. He thinks about the work hands that he considers friends, men he's never had to use a lot of words with in order to be accepted by them.

Dare thinks about sitting on top of his horse, looking up into the sun and letting the heat of the day embrace him.

Finally, Dare sleeps.

 

* * *

 

Dreams are strange. They can morph two worlds together in the most wonderful or horrible of ways. His starts out okay. He's in the kitchen at the ranch. His mom is alive and there's the smell and sizzle of bacon cooking on the stove. His dad is sitting in a chair at the table pulling on his boots.

The memory is picturesque. At least it is for a little while.

Then his dad comments about his lack of clothing. His mom looks embarrassed for him. Dare is naked and there's a man next to him stroking his dick.

Salt and pepper steps up behind him and wraps his arms around him before stroking Dare's dick. "What are you, Dare?"

Dare doesn't want to say the words in front of his parents. When he was little they'd noticed he was a little slower than the other kids, way too shy and prone to hiding. They'd put him through several medical tests to make sure there wasn't anything seriously wrong. No, Dare is fine. He's just slow.

But something about those memories and what he's prompted to say now in front of them makes his insides twist in uncomfortable ways.

"Answer me." Salt and pepper prompts. "Tell them the truth, Dare."

His parents look at him expectantly.

"I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid." He whispers.

His parents look disappointed. Dare wants to wake up. He wants out of here. But then he's on the table, strapped down. He's made to cum in front of his family.

What are you, Dare? What are you?

 

* * *

Dare wakes on the metal table. The metal has warmed to his skin in some places. It's cool to the touch in others. His muscles hurt from being in this position too long. Still, he can't move anything but his head, fingers and toes.

The heavy metal door eventually creaks open. Light pours in from the hallway. A man comes into the room and turns on the hose.

He thinks he knows what's coming. But instead of cold spray to wash him down, the hose is pushed up his ass. Dare cries out at the rough intrusion. Then he pants as cold water fills his bowels.

"Hold it in." The Brute says.

Dare shakes his head and that earns him a slap to his ass.

"You're the only one who can determine how you're treated here, shit head." The man says. "Do as you're told, things will get better. Piss us off, you'll wish you hadn't. Now hold it in until I say."

The hose is removed and, in spite of the cramping, Dare holds the water in for what feels like forever. When he's finally allowed to release it, everything that was inside of him comes out.

This is repeated two more times before Dare is sprayed down. The metal table is no longer warm in some places. Everything is freezing cold.

Cold water is still dripping from Dare and the metal table as the man goes back out to the hallway and returns with a little black box.

"Time for your meds." The man says.

Dare jerks at his restraints. Whatever they'd given him yesterday had made him overly emotional and torn down any defenses he usually has. They'd blurred the world but not enough for him to block anything out, just enough that he remained present, but somewhat sedated and malleable.

"We've tweaked a few things. Don't worry though, we'll get it right."

Three different needles are used on him, just like yesterday. Dare says nothing. He decides not to engage in any way, shape or form.

The Brute's palm rubs at and squeezes Dare's buttocks. "You've got a really nice ass, Dare. Hope you stick around long enough for us to use it."

Dare wants to ask where the hell he would go. He's tied to a table. But again, he chooses not to engage. It's better when he can be detached, when he doesn't feel compelled to use words.

As the Brute leaves the room, Dare starts to feel that barrier slip away. The world becomes softer, more pliable. He hates what the drugs do to him.

The door is left open and Dare hears some voices out in the hallway. It isn't long before Salt and pepper comes into the room along with another man. Immediately, the other Brute unzips his pants and pulls his cock out. He starts stroking himself.

Dare wants to look away but knows that he'll just be told to watch.

Salt and pepper pets a hand over Dare's spine. "If you're a good boy, we'll make them warm up the water for you. Would you like that, Dare?"

Dare nods.

"Use words. Words like 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir'."

"Yes, Sir." Dare says. He wants warm water. Right now, with chills still wreaking havoc with his body, warm water seems like a luxury. To get that, he's going to have to engage.

"Alright then, we'll see how you do today." Salt and pepper says. "What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you, Dare?"

There's that question. The one he's having a hard time answering, the one that haunted him in his dreams/nightmares. Dare tries to think of the right answer so that he doesn't have to say those words again. He tries to come up with an appropriate response, something where he isn't calling himself stupid.

"I'm..." He hesitates. Then he feels something round pressing against his asshole. The dildo. He hadn't even realized that the Brute had it with him again. "Please. N-..."

Dare stops just short of saying no. He wants warm water. He knows he won't get it if he says no.

"What are you, Dare?"

"I'm... uhm..." Think. He has to think. But between the drugs and the feeling of something pressing against his ass, it's hard to think.

"Have you ever had a dick in your mouth, Dare?"

The question completely derails him. He's suddenly acutely aware of the Brute jerking himself off. "No."

"No what?"

"No... Sir." He says. "Please, I don't..."

"Have you ever had a dick in here?" The pressure increases at his ass, causing the dry canal to stretch and burn.

Dare knows that they can do whatever they want to him right now. He can't fight them. He can't do anything but lay here and take it. "No, Sir."

"Don't worry. We're gonna help you with that."

"I don't want it." Dare shakes his head. "I'm not gay."

"No, you're not gay. You're not straight either. You take it any way you can get it."

Dare wonders who this stranger is that Salt and Pepper is talking about. It's not him. "N-no..."

"Yes. Let us show you." Salt and Pepper leans down. "Because what you are, what you always wanted to be, what you're meant to be, is a fuck toy."

Dare shakes his head again and feels his heart rate ricochet up into his throat. "No."

"Yes. You're a fuck toy."

The dildo is shoved up inside of Dare and a strangled cry escaped him and echoes off of the walls in the room. It hurts so damn bad. He feels tears prick at his eyes.

The Brute jerking himself off comes closer to the head of the table. Salt and Pepper positions Dare's head stretched back. Dare shakes his head.

"Taste him, Dare. Just a little lick."

Dare is crying openly now. With the drugs, he couldn't stop it if he tried. He shakes his head and feels the dildo shoved in again. It burns against the dry walls of his asshole.

"Lick him." He's told again.

His breath is coming short and quick as he reasons why he should do as he's told. Warm water. These men might be nicer to him. Maybe things will slow down so that he can process them more easily.

Dare steels himself and flicks his tongue out against the flesh of the Brute's dick. Before he can close his mouth again, the dick is pushed inside. He feels like he might gag. It tastes strange.

Salt and Pepper holds a hand at his brow to keep his head canted back. "That's a good fuck toy, Dare. Just let it happen."

Dare feels himself relax and let it happen. He can't fight it.

"Use your tongue. Give him a few licks."

Dare tries that. He coughs and gags. Both men laugh.

"Try it again." Salt and Pepper prompts. "Lick him. Breathe through your nose."

The problem with that is that Dare's nose is stopped up from crying. But Dare tries it anyway, because it's too much to take, it's too much stimulation and he's too slow to process it all. The drugs aren't helping either. Also... Dare has a horrible, terrible thought.

Maybe I am stupid.

The thought makes tears intensify. He doesn't want to be that. He doesn't want to be slow. He doesn't want to be a disappointment to his parents, even to their memory.

So he uses his tongue. He gags. He coughs. He lets one man shove his dick down his throat and the other hold his head in place and pet his hand through his hair and down his spine.

Dare feels the press of the dildo in his ass. It still burns. But when a hand pulls his dick down from his chest to an awkward angle so that it rests against the table between his thighs, he's surprised to find himself hard.

How can he be hard right now?

"See? You're enjoying this." Salt and Pepper says.

Is he? Dare is so fucking confused right now. He's overwhelmed, overly emotional and confused as hell.

"What are you, Dare?"

Of course Dare can't answer Salt and Pepper right now. His mouth is full. But he knows what answer the man wants now.

When cum fills his mouth, he's ordered to swallow it down. Dare gets some of it down his throat. Some of it dribbles out onto his chin as he gags and coughs. The taste is somehow both tangy and sweet.

Then, surprisingly enough, it only takes a handful of strokes to his own cock to make him cum. Dare once again feels humiliated and embarrassed. He also feels sated and spent.

Salt and Pepper leans down into his line of sight. That smile is too kind for the type of man he is. "Answer me, Dare."

Dare swallows hard, his ass still aching and the taste of cum still in his mouth. "I'm a fuck toy."

 

* * *

 

Two more times that day, Salt and Pepper brings different men in to shove their cocks down Dare's throat. Each time, he's told to try different things with his tongue, to suck harder, to open wider and use less teeth. Dare does all of that.

Each time, they push a dildo into his ass. Dare could swear they're getting bigger and bigger. Each time, they make Dare cum too.

Salt and Pepper asks the questions over and over. Dare answers the questions dutifully. The words are becoming easier to say.

"What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you, Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy."

They're just words, right? With cock after cock in his mouth, Dare feels that even saying they're just words are just words. Maybe it's his drugged haze, but nothing holds real meaning for him right now.

Dare is left alone again for hours. He dozes in and out of sleep, never really deep enough to dream. He's thankful for that given the tenor of his last dream.

He spends those hours thinking about the fields at the ranch, the feel of the sun on his skin, the breeze as it wafts through the grass. He thinks about riding his horse, how it feels to run her at top speed with the wind whipping past him, how it feels like he's flying. Dare wishes he could fly right now.

When the door creaks open again, the same man from yesterday enters. He turns on the water and Dare braces himself. When the hose is pushed into his ass, the water is warm.

"I hear you finally figured out what you are yesterday." The Brute says. "Little slow, aren't ya?"

Yes, slow.

"Think that's gonna work in your favor here, fuck toy."

They go through the same routine as yesterday. Dare is flushed out, sprayed down, then given injections which the Brute claims have been 'tweaked' again.

The Brute leaves and comes back with a bowl of something. He spoon feeds Dare some kind of colorless slop that's half oatmeal without the flavor and half water. Then he leaves.

Several minutes later, Salt and Pepper comes in with another dildo. This time, Dare sees it and it looks far bigger than anything that should fit inside of him.

"It's a new day, Dare!" Salt and Pepper proclaims as he pets at Dare's ass, squeezing the cheeks a few time. "Time for something new, don't you think? Wouldn't want you to get bored."

He doesn't wait for Dare to answer. He lubes the dildo up, which Dare is thankful for since he's still feeling what happened yesterday, and pushes the thickness inside of Dare. Dare breathes slow, letting himself stretch and take it inside.

The other Brute is jerking himself off. Dare watches.

"Now, what's your name?

"My name is Dare."

"What are you, Dare?"

Dare hesitates only briefly. "I'm a fuck toy."

"And what do you do?"

A new question. What does he do? He lays here and waits for whatever they want to do to him.

"I do what you tell me to do."

Salt and Pepper barks a laugh. "Well, yeah. You do. But that's not the right answer."

Dare tries to figure out what the right answer would be. "I..."

"Just cut to the chase, Dare. Say what needs to be said."

He doesn't want to say it. He doesn't like saying it. He feels his emotions get the better of him and tears fill his eyes again. He hates being this emotional.

A slap and then squeeze to his ass prompts him to answer now rather than later.

"I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid." He says.

Salt and Pepper pets Dare's ass and up over his spine. "We know you're stupid, Dare - but don't worry. We're gonna help you with that."

Chapter Text

When Dare was little, his mom used to tell him that he was going to look a lot like his father someday. Dare would look at the great big towering figure of his father and couldn't even imagine ever being similar to this gigantic, stone wall of a man. His dad was larger than life to him, even when Dare grew taller and broader than him, he still marveled at his dad.

When Dare is allowed to stand up for the first time in what feels like weeks, he's only shifted from one precarious position to another. His wrists are brought up above his head and put in metal chains and cuffs. But it's in this position that he realizes that he's taller and broader and more muscular than every man in the room and that that's probably why they've brought in six men to shift him from the table to this standing position.

He likes that he has purchase with his feet on the ground It doesn't last long enough for him to do anything with it. A metal bar is put between his legs at his ankles to spread them wide and the chains connecting his wrists to the ceiling are pulled taut. This leaves him just enough to hold himself steady on the ground and little else.

For weeks now he's started every morning with being flushed out and washed. Then he's made to watch a man jerk himself off and he's fucked with massive dildos that make him cum again and again until he's left alone. After the first week, Dare started trying to keep count so that he could tell how long he's been here. He thinks he's at five weeks now.

Five weeks ago, Dare had never seen another man's dick. Five weeks ago Dare had never been touched by another man. Five weeks ago Dare had never had anything up his ass. Five weeks ago Dare's mind was solid and sound, peaceful even.

None of that is true now.

Dare has seen too many dicks to count. He's been fucked by too many dildos. He doesn't think that there's an inch of him that Salt and Pepper hasn't touched. He's pumped with drugs every morning and night that keep him slightly off balance, enough so that he's emotional and moody and can't control his thoughts.

His blonde hair is getting shaggy. His beard is growing out. He's tired as hell. He's also starting to think that maybe, just maybe, he's always been stupid, that every doctor he's ever seen, every psych eval, even his own parents, has been wrong to decide that he's okay.

After the warm spray down, cleanse and medicine of the morning, Salt and Pepper enters the room again along with another brute. The second brute immediately pulls his dick out and Dare's eyes immediately slip down to watch him jerk himself off.

"You like that, Dare? You like what you see?" Salt and Pepper stands beside him, watching him as he instinctively watches the man jerk off.

Dare decides not to answer.

"Oh who am I kidding? Your dick is already hard, of course you like it!" Salt and Pepper chuckles at that and runs a finger over the length of Dare's cock. "What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy."

"What do you do, Dare?"

"I let people fuck me."

"Are you good at anything else, Dare?"

"I'm only good at sex."

"No hobbies or anything?"

Dare mechanically shakes his head. "I'm only good at sex."

"What are you without sex, Dare?"

"I'm nothing without sex."

This is as far as they've gotten. It took Dare calling himself stupid for weeks to get to these answers. The fact that Dare answers them now so readily is why he's been given the gift of getting off of that damn metal table.

"That's good, Dare. That's really good." Salt and Pepper praises him as if he were speaking with a child. Salt and Pepper always speaks to Dare like that, as if Dare needs the musical tones and every little thing explained to him in the finest detail in order for him to understand.

"Hey, I got you something." After reaching behind him to his back pocket, Salt and Pepper brings out another dildo. This one is as large as the latest ones, seemingly too large to fit and yet somehow they always fit. But this one is also a hot pink glitter in color. This one also has straps connected to the base.

Dare starts to say something about the pink but decides against it. He won't engage if he doesn't have to. That's been his game plan for these past weeks. Say what he has to say when he has to and shut the hell up when he can.

"Got nothin' to say, pretty boy?"

Dare shakes his head.

Salt and Pepper flips a switch on the base of the dildo and it starts to vibrate with a light hum. Dare glares at it. What the fuck is that? A pink glittery vibrating dildo?

"Still got nothin' to say, Dare?"

Dare presses his lips together and looks back over to the Brute jerking himself off.

"Well hell! I thought I'd at least get a thank you! That's what people usually say when they're given a gift." Salt and Pepper turns the vibrating off and busies himself with lubing up the dildo. Then he slips around behind Dare.

Dare feels the press of the dildo to his ass and braces himself. He hates this. He hates that he's become accustomed to watching a man jerk himself off and having things pushed up inside of him. He's desensitized to it in the same way that he's becoming desensitized to calling himself a stupid fuck toy. He hates what these men are doing to him.

His ass stretches and relaxes, so that the large dildo slides easily inside. Salt and Pepper makes sure it's pushed deep and then brings the straps around to secure at his front and keep it lodged inside.

"Hey. Beautiful boy. I brought you somethin' else. You wanna see?" Salt and Pepper doesn't wait for Dare to say yes or no before he brings out a a small ring with a long string hanging from it. The ring itself is a pale pink, the string is white and at the base of the string is what looks like a large pink diamond about the size of a ping-pong ball. It sparkles in what little light there is in this room.

"You got a thank you for me yet?"

Dare knows he should say thank you if just because it's what Salt and Pepper wants. Instead, he says nothing and resolutely watches the other Brute jerk off. At least he's still doing something he knows he's supposed to do.

Salt and Pepper has the gall to look both hurt by and disappointed in Dare before he dips down to grab Dare's ball sac and pull it down to get the pink ring around the width of them and pulled up to the base. The white chord and pink diamond dangle down between his forcibly spread legs. The diamond is heavy, pulling at his sac uncomfortably. Salt and Pepper stands back up and looks at Dare for a long moment before snapping his fingers.

The Brute who had been jerking off leaves the room and Dare stares back at Salt and Pepper.

"What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy."

"What do you do, Dare?"

"I let people fuck me."

"Are you good at anything else, Dare?"

"I'm only good at sex."

"Really? Not good at anything else, huh?"

"I'm only good at sex."

"What are you without sex, fuck toy?"

"I'm nothing without sex."

Without any warning, Salt and Pepper grabs Dare's cock. "What's this, Dare?"

Dare stumbles over the new question before answering. "That's... my dick, Sir."

"Wrong. Try again!" Dare's cock is stroked a few times. "What is this, pretty boy?"

There's a moment where Dare is terrified of the answer the Brute wants. He knows though, that in the end, he has to say what he has to say. "I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid."

"I'm sorry, I don't think I heard that. Say it again?"

"I'm not very smart, Sir." Dare says, feeling his eyes well with unwanted tears again. "I'm stupid."

"That's right, Dare. You are stupid. But I'm gonna help you with that." Salt and Pepper glances back as a flat screen TV is wheeled into the room then looks back to Dare. "I'm also gonna help you to be a nicer person. See, where I come from, when someone gives you a gift, you say thank you! I've given you three gifts today! Tell me about the gifts I gave you."

Damn. Dare knew that not saying thank you would come back to bite him. "The dildo, Sir."

"That's right. What else?"

"The..." What even is that thing? "...diamond?"

"Pretty isn't it? It's real. Nothing fake for our pretty boy." Salt and Pepper says. "What else?"

Dare hesitates, trying to think of the third gift. He glances behind Salt and Pepper. "The TV?"

That makes Salt and Pepper laugh and he shakes his head. "Well you got me there but that's not what I was thinkin' about. I let you off the table, didn't I?"

Oh. "Yes, Sir."

Salt and Pepper claps a hand on Dare's shoulder and squeezes. "That's alright, Dare. We all know you're not very smart, don't we?"

"Yes, Sir." Dare mumbles.

"Good thing you're pretty, huh? You know you're pretty, don't you Dare?"

Pretty? The contrast between insult and compliment is always glaring with this guy. Salt and Pepper does it all the time. Dare's mom used to call him a handsome boy. The one girl he'd ever had sex with called him sexy. But pretty?

"I... I guess, Sir."

"No. You don't get to guess. You either know or you don't. There's that stupidity again. Let me help you out, pretty boy. I know what's right so listen to me while I spell it out for you. I call you pretty, so that means...?"

Dare grinds his teeth together just a bit before answering. "That means I'm pretty."

"You're very pretty... you can use that in your favor, you know. Always remember that your beauty is a weapon."

"All set up, Sir." The other Brute says, dropping the extension chord powering the TV.

"Good! Now, Dare, here's what I want you to do. I want you to make that beautiful diamond I gave our beautiful fuck toy move."

Instantly, Dare is confused. He shakes his head and whispers a question. "What?"

"Oh man! We have to spoon feed you everything, don't we? Fuck! Alright then." Salt and Pepper puts a hand at Dare's abdomen and the other at the small of his back and starts to move him backward and forward. "Like this. Make the diamond move. Swing it forward and back, there you go."

As Salt and Pepper pulls his hands away, Dare realizes that he's supposed to use what little purchase he has on the ground with his spread feet to push his hips forward and backward, causing the diamond on a string to swing from his balls between his spread legs. He stops moving and looks at Salt and Pepper.

"Nope. You don't get to stop until I tell you to stop. Get it goin' again."

Dare hesitates only a moment before he starts to move his hips forward and backward. The diamond starts swinging again, a slow pendulum between his legs. Then Salt and Pepper reaches back to flip the switch on the dildo. Dare cries out uncomfortably as it starts to vibrate in his ass. The discomfort doesn't last very long. He hates that it quickly starts to feel good.

"Now..." Salt and Pepper says. "What do you say about those gifts, pretty boy?"

Dare swallows hard and makes himself murmur a thank you.

This seems to please Salt and Pepper who goes to the TV and presses a button. The TV comes on and Salt and Pepper turns back to Dare. "You stop movin' those hips and there'll be hell to pay. You got me, Dare? You're gonna use my gifts and like it because that's what Fuck Toys do. You understand?"

"Yes, Sir."

Salt and Pepper nods his approval and turns to walk out of the room. He pauses at the door and looks back. "What are you, Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy."

Salt and Pepper grins and walks out, leaving the door open.

When Dare looks back to the TV, he sees video of a man in a room similar to this one. He's being fucked, obviously against his will. Dare looks up to the red blinking light in the corner of his own room and wonders if his videos are being used for anyone else's torture. Is someone in another cell watching snuff film porn, staring Daren Brooks?

Chapter Text

Dare is left alone for a long time. In that time, he's shocked by what happens. The video of the man being raped doesn't last. The video feed is ever-changing, shifting from men to women, men with men, women with women, men with women, women with men. In some of the videos the sex is seemingly consensual. In many of them it's not. Sometimes it's in rooms like these. Sometimes it's in a communal room where many of the Brutes are gathered. Sometimes it's in lavishly furnished rooms; bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms.

Sex. So much sex.

In the last several weeks, Dare has been shocked at himself for cuming while watching another man jerk off. He's been shocked at himself for cuming with dildos shoved up his ass. He's been shocked at himself for cuming while calling himself stupid as another man jerks him off.

It's been humiliating. All of it.

Now, as he watches these snuff films of people having unscripted sex, of torture and sex combined, of sex both consensual and not, he finds himself aroused and he hates himself for it. It doesn't help that the vibrating dildo in his ass feels so damn good. It doesn't help that his hips are moving in a motion indicative of sex to keep the pink diamond in motion. This is absolutely, psychological manipulation and torture.

There had been a moment, when he'd first started to feel aroused, that he'd stopped, his entire body going still to try to stop himself. When he'd heard noise in the hallway he'd started back up again to keep the diamond moving.

Over the span of several hours, Dare cums one, twice, a third time, a fourth. His body is trembling. His cock wants something to touch it. He's heard himself emit the most wanton of groans a few times. Any humiliation he'd initially felt is gone by the time Salt and Pepper enters the room again.

"Well aren't you pretty in pink?" Salt and Pepper coos as he approaches Dare. As Dare's hips slow to a stop, the Brute tsks a few times and shakes his head. "Now don't you stop yet. You've been doin' so good."

"Please." Dare whispers as he starts to move his hips again, the pink diamond swinging forward and backward between his legs.

"Oh I like that word. Please what?"

What is Dare asking for? He has no idea. Please stop? Does he want it to stop? He feels on the edge of something that needs completion.

He answers with the first thing that comes to mind. "I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid."

"You really are stupid. But you're pretty and that's somethin', isn't it?" Salt and Pepper says, fingertips pressing to the fine hair just above Dare's cock and drawing a line up from there over his flat abdomen. "I see you've spilled a few times, fuck toy... not quite so satisfyin' when nobody's touchin' you though."

Those fingers continue to trace indecipherable designs on Dare's abs. "You want me to touch you, Dare?"

"Yes." Dare answers without a moment's pause. "Sir." His entire body wants it. Yes, a million times yes.

"All you have to do is tell me what you want touched."

Dare exhales a quick breath of air as he remembers hours ago when Salt and Pepper had grabbed his dick and asked him what it was. "My... dick."

"But you don't have one. How am I supposed to touch somethin' you don't have?"

The sound Dare emits as he continues to make that diamond sway may as well be defined as a whimper.

"Do you need help, Dare?" Salt and Pepper asks.

"Yes, Sir."

"Why do you need help?"

"Because I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid." It rolls off of his tongue so easily and right now Dare believes every word. He's the dumbest guy in the room and maybe he always has been.

Salt and Pepper's palm rests flat on Dare's abdomen and rubs his belly gently, hand slowly slipping closer and closer to Dare's cock. "That's right. But I'm here to help you with that. And what you've got that needs touching is a cunt. What you've got that needs filling up, that's a pussy."

Dare's stomach roils uncomfortably. He can't tell if it's from nerves, hatred of what Salt and Pepper is saying, or even more arousal. He shakes his head just slightly.

"You know I'm right, pretty boy. You know I am." Salt and Pepper reaches back to press against the base of the plug, not to make the vibration stop but to push the dildo even further inside. The act makes Dare cry out, not in pain, but with need.

"Now, what do you want me to touch?"

Dare feels tears slip out of the corners of his eyes. There's those emotions that are all out of wack. "My..."

"Your what?"

"My cunt."

"And what needs to be filled up?"

Dare swallows hard and almost doesn't realize he's quit moving his hips until that palm against his abdomen presses slightly to get him going again. The pink diamond swings back and forth as Dare slowly fucks the air in front of him.

"Say it, Dare."

"My pussy." He whispers.

"Good boy." Salt and Pepper coos. "Now, ask nicely."

Dare dips his head, emitting a loud cry that echoes off the walls of the room.

My sweet Dare, I dare you to get to the next thing.

Get to the next thing. Dare presses his lips together and draws a deep breath. "Please..."

"Yes? Tell me what you want, pretty boy."

"Please touch my cunt and fill my pussy."

"Change fill to fuck, dipshit."

Again, he's being called stupid and Dare accepts it way too easily because it's easy and his body needs what the Brute is offering him. And maybe he actually believes it right now. He's a dipshit. "Please fuck my pussy."

"There you go. See? You might be dumb as shit but with a little help you get there eventually."

Salt and Pepper's hand slides down to hold onto Dare's cock. Dare realizes that the movement of his hips pumps his dick into that fist and he starts to go at it which makes the Brute laugh.

"Now now, not too fast, beautiful." His other hand starts to unsnap the straps holding the dildo in. "We gotta get this pussy filled up too, since you asked so nicely."

The dildo is pulled out and tossed to the ground, still vibrating, and Dare feels very empty. He's surprised that given his current state, he doesn't like the emptiness the dildo leaves behind. Those muscles clench, looking for something to milk even as his hips work to slowly thrust his cock into Salt and Pepper's fist.

The brute moves behind him and Dare hears the pull of a buckled belt, the opening of a fly and the shift of material. It occurs to him that he's about to be fucked, not by an inanimate object, but by another man... and he asked for it. This realization makes his tears come even harder and he turns his head into his bicep to wipe the tears away. What have they done to him?

Salt and Pepper seems to sense the hitch in Dare's breath as he cries. "Oh now, so emotional, pretty boy... just like anyone with a pussy like yours would be."

Drugs. They're drugging him to take away his control over his emotions. Logically, Dare knows this. But logic has no place in this moment as he feels the heated press of another man's cock against his stretched hole.

The Brute easily slips inside of him. "Good and stretched just like a good fuck toy would be. Now, move your hips again."

Dare starts to move again, fucking his cock into Salt and Pepper's hand with each thrust forward and fucking his ass on the Brute's cock with each press back. There's something very wrong, the worst sort of betrayal, in making Dare do all the work himself, like it's his choice. Is it? Does he have a choice? Does he want it to stop?

No, he doesn't want it to stop. He wants to be done with what they've done to his body today. He wants to end it, so he picks up the pace and rolls his hips to make it feel so damn good.

"Look at you, Dare. See? Once you figured out what you have down there, you know just what to do with it." Salt and Pepper leans in to whisper in Dare's ear. "Does your pussy feel good, Dare?"

"Yes, Sir." Dare breathes the words out.

"Say it."

Dare pauses a beat and then gets the words out. "My pussy feels good, Sir."

"And your cunt?"

"My cunt feels good, Sir."

"What are you, Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy."

"Good boy." Salt and Pepper grabs Dare's hips to stop him. "You can stop now."

The hands on either side of his hips are bruising as Salt and Pepper starts to fuck him. Hard. Dare's body jerks and the chains holding his wrists above his head rattle with each slam of cock into his ass. It doesn't even hurt with how stretched he is. It's just a new and different sensation, like nothing he's ever felt before.

He shouldn't like it. He doesn't want to like it. But it feels so good that it confuses him... because he's not very smart.

Dare loves the way it's pushing him back to that edge where he knows it'll all be over. But he cries into his bicep as it happens because he hates everything about today, including himself.

The feel of hot, wet cum inside of him is strange but not horrible. Then Salt and Pepper reaches around and jerks Dare's cock until he cums too. It doesn't take long. Dare was ready. He's been ready for hours. And the way that hand continues to work him, he finally finds the period at the end of today's extremely long sentence.

His body is spent. His mind is spent. His heart and soul are spent. Dare wants to shut everything off and be alone.

Salt and Pepper must know he's vulnerable right now though because he doesn't leave him alone. He pulls out and Dare feels cum dribble out of his ass and down his thighs. He's so damn ashamed of himself, his head hangs low and he wishes he could hide so that no one can see him.

"Oh baby... it's not so bad." Salt and Pepper's hand cups Dare's cheek to lift his head and swipe away the remnants of tears. "What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy, Sir."

"What do you do, Dare?"

"I let people fuck me."

"Anything else you're good at, Dare?"

"I'm only good at sex, Sir."

"Really? Nothing else?"

Dare automatically answers these questions. But there's nothing automatic about it right now. He feels stripped raw enough to maybe believe that they might be true - every last one of them. "I'm only good at sex."

"What are you without sex, Dare?"

"Nothing." He chokes on the word. "I'm nothing without sex."

Salt and Pepper grabs Dare's cock and doesn't say a word. Dare answers the unasked question. "That's my cunt, Sir."

The Brute smiles a smile that should be too kind for a man like him. "And what did I just fuck?"

"You just fucked my pussy, Sir."

"That's right." The man leans in close to brush a gentle kiss to Dare's cheek and then speaks into his ear. "I'm gonna make sure you get plenty of pink things, Dare. I know that's your favorite color."

Is it? Dare thought his favorite color was brown. But maybe he was mistaken. Right now he's questioning everything.

He feels a squeeze to one ass cheek. "My beautiful little sissy boy."

Dare isn't sure what that means but maybe that doesn't matter either. Salt and Pepper leaves the room again, leaving the TV on so that the sounds of the snuff films still fill the room. The vibrating pink glitter dildo lightly buzzes for hours before the batteries give out.

When Dare dreams that night, all he dreams of is sex. It's the only thing he knows anymore.

Chapter Text

For a long time everything, Dare's entire world and his existence in it, is sex. The films continue to play on rotation. He knows them by heart at this point. Sometimes a man comes in and jerks off in front of him and Dare watches because that's what he's supposed to do. Different Brutes come into the room to fuck him. Sometimes they loosen the chains so that he can get on his knees and they can fill his mouth up just as they do his pussy. They make him say the words and answer all of the questions just right again and again. Dare is a good sissy boy and answers every question just as he should.

He hasn't seen Salt and Pepper since that first time he was fucked.

Time blends together because the man who usually hooks up the hose to spray him down doesn't come into the cell. Dare is just fucked, made to cum, cumed on and asked the same questions again and again. There's no food, not even the tasteless slop he's grown accustomed to being spoon fed in this place. There's nothing but sex.

He hasn't been able to feel his arms and hands for what feels like days. He stinks of excrement, piss and sex. The men call him pretty but Dare doesn't feel very pretty. He feels like a fuck toy and nothing more... because that's what he is.

By the time some of the Brutes finally release his arms from the chains above, Dare is weak and tired. His mind is numbed to anything but what he's seen on the video screen and what's been done with his body. His body is expecting some form of sex but it doesn't happen this time. He doesn't even think to look around at his surroundings as he's led through several hallways on this same level. The Brutes say nothing to him, although their hands seem to wander over his body, touching everywhere.

He's placed in another room and the door is shut and locked, shrouding him in darkness. Only then does his mind catch up to what just happened. Maybe he should have fought, should have looked around, should have done something... but he's too stupid for that, isn't he?

There's a thin line of dim light beneath the door. As his eyes adjust, he can tell that this is a tiny room, the size of a small closet. He can just make out the outline of a toilet. Up on the ceiling is a blinking red light, a camera.

Dare is shrouded in darkness. He reaches out to feel for a doorknob, but there isn't one on this side. Would he even try to get out if there were one? He isn't sure anymore.

There's a long time where Dare just stands there, waiting, wondering what the next thing is. He's filthy and can still feel the last round of fucking he got. He feels used in every way. And he feels... less than human.

The longer he waits the more his mind wanders. It doesn't wander to anything it should, not at first, the first thing he thinks about is Salt and Pepper and whether or not he'll come see the state Dare is in and make it better. Salt and Pepper was always nice to him. It's strange how the scale of 'nice' has changed, but to Dare, Salt and Pepper was trying to help... right?

No. That's not right. Maybe. Everything is confusion.

"My name is Dare..." He whispers into the room. He tries to think of other things to say about himself, anything worth saying, but the only thing he can come up with right now is the following: "I'm a fuck toy."

He shakes his head and slides down the back wall until he's sitting on the floor next to the toilet. There's no room for him to stretch his legs out, the room is so small. So he keeps them pulled up to his chest and wraps his arms around them. His brow rests on the tops of his knees and he tries to think about anything but the script he's supposed to say, anything but the snuff films he's been watching for days while drugged and chained up. He tries to think of anything but the Brutes coming into his room to fuck him.

These things are the only things Dare can think about. His mind is saturated with these things to the point that there is nothing else.

He sits there for a long time, lost in thoughts that make him ashamed of himself, thoughts that make him horny and embarrassed and feel like the lowest he's ever felt. Sex, rape, pink dildos and diamonds.

"I'm a fuck toy."

Eventually, the lowest part of the door is lifted, a small hatch that Dare hadn't noticed was there, and a bowl of tasteless slop is slid into the room on the floor. Since he's been here, the Brutes have been spoon feeding him. This is the first time Dare has used his hands to pick up the bowl and drink it down. He's too hungry not to finish it off. It feels like it's been days since he's eaten anything.

Time stretches in this room. Dare starts counting the days he's in here by the number of times the slop is placed through the hatch and taken away. So far he's counted eight days without any human interaction, eight days with no noise but the sound of his own breathing, eight times the slop has been given to him, eight times he's laid on the floor, curled up in the smallest ball he can, to try to sleep when he thinks it's night time.

His days consist of nothing but himself and his own thoughts. As much as he tries to control those thoughts, his mind is on an endless cycle of snuff films and men jerking themselves off and what it feels like to be touched and fucked and spanked. Does he actually miss his old room where he was chained to the ceiling? Yes. No. Yes.

He's on day twelve when something finally changes. It's nothing big, just a thought, just a memory of a dog yipping at him and licking his face. Molly. He has a dog named Molly.

"My name is Dare. I have a dog named Molly." He whispers into the room.

It's so small a thing, seemingly insignificant. But it's a reminder that Dare was - is - something more than this.

For the first time in too long, Dare hears his mom's voice in his mind.

I dare you to get through this. I dare you to fight, my sweet Dare.

It's such a relief to hear it. He's worried that she had left him, that there was no room for a guardian angel like his mom in his life now. Only what she says isn't something he's sure he can do. Dare has never been a fighter. He's quiet and reserved, kind and gentle. Dare has always done what needs doing and nothing more, nothing less. He's not a fighter.

Maybe that's why it's been so easy for the Brutes to get into his head. His mind reminds him that they could do that because he's so damn stupid. He even hears the words in Salt and Pepper's voice, that sing-song tone that people use when they're explaining even the simplest of things to a kid.

Dare squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head to try to get that voice out of his head, to get his mom's voice back, but the damage is already done.

Well aren't you a pretty dipshit? Don't worry, I'm gonna help you with that.

It's on what Dare thinks is day fifteen that noise suddenly floods his small closet-sized cell. It's loud and startling after such a long bout of silence. It's the sound of those films he was made to watch, people fucking and screaming and crying, words like slut and whore and hole and fuck. Dare tries to block it out, but he can see it all in his mind's eye, every bit of it. This goes on for hours before it finally shuts off and once again there's blessed silence. Only the silence isn't any better because his mind is back where it began. Once again, there's no room for anything else in his mind but sex.

It's a few days later when Dare is woken up to another onslaught of sound. This time it's his own voice with Salt and Pepper. Dare's voice answers the questions, the same questions, again and again.

"What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you, Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy, Sir."

"What do you do, fuck toy?"

"I let people fuck me."

"Good at anything else?"

"I'm only good at sex, Sir."

"Is that right? Well, you sure about that?"

"I'm only good at sex."

"Well okay then. Without sex, what are you?"

"I'm nothing without sex."

"That's right, pretty boy. What's this?"

"That's my cunt, Sir."

"It's a pretty cunt. How about this?"

"That's my pussy, Sir."

"Well damn, you're a good sissy boy, aren't you? Proud of you, Dare."

This is played over and over for what feels like hours. By the time it's shut off, Dare is mouthing the words into the darkened room. An hour later, after so many days without being fucked, he's mouthing only one line over and over again.

"I'm nothing without sex." That's what he is right now. No one's fucking him. He's nothing. He's the lowest common denominator. He has no purpose. He's nothing. He barely even exists.

Days pass and Dare looses count somewhere along the way. He's still given slop to eat and he eats it. No one opens the door to his room. It's just him and the occasional recordings. Sometimes it's the sounds of the snuff films. Sometimes it's his own answers to the questions. Both play for hours on end when they play. Dare knows all of these sounds by heart.

There's a day where the audio playbacks stop. Dare is left in silence for a long time just like he was in the beginning. He's left to just his own devices for days, he thinks. It isn't good for him to be left to his own devices, alone with his thoughts. Dare needs something, anyone, anything...

The silence is slowly killing him.

You're a good sissy boy, aren't you? Proud of you, Dare.

In the silence, Salt and Pepper's voice plays over and over in his mind. Salt and Pepper is proud of him. Dare did something right to make him proud. What did he do? Can he make him proud again? Can he be a fuck toy?

Dare doesn't want to be nothing.

The shadow of feet appears in the thin line of dim light outside the door and Dare waits for more slop to be brought in. There are hushed, murmured voices talking outside of the door, which is strange. No one has said anything where he can hear it in so long.

The light in the hallway isn't that bright, but when the door is unlocked and opened, Dare squints anyway. He hasn't seen anything but dark for some time. The figures outside are dark shadows to Dare, even against the background of the dim light. There are some Brutes out there, and a man in a white lab coat.

The man lowers himself so that he's on Dare's level and Dare sees the shadow of a smile although he can't quite make out the man's features. "Hello, Dare. I'm Doctor Simmons. I'm here to help you. Would you like some help?"

Help with what? Dare isn't sure what the right answer is so he just leaves the question unanswered.

"I know you must be confused. But if you accept my help, I can take you to a better place than this. Have you ever seen a therapist before?"

Therapist. "Like a shrink?"

The doctor chuckles and nods. "Yes, like a shrink."

Dare remembers then, he remembers being taken to a few psych evals just to see if he wasn't developing like he should. No, he's just quiet, those doctors had said. So he nods slowly in answer.

Doctor Simmons seems pleased with that answer. "Then you know that I only want to help you. Will you accept my help?"

Dare scans the faces behind Doctor Simmons. Salt and Pepper isn't here. "Where's...?"

"Where is who?"

Of course Dare doesn't even know the Brute's real name. He'd named him Salt and Pepper because of his hair. He has no idea who to even ask for.

"I know you're confused. You just need some help, Dare. You're... slower than most people."

The words instantly strike a chord with him. He's been called slow before. The Doctor might as well have just called him stupid or a dipshit. Dare thinks the words whether they were said or not.

I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid.

"But really, we can play to your strengths and you can still have a beautiful life here. Just let me help you."

I'm only good at sex. I'm nothing without sex.

Dare presses his lips together for a long moment and then finally nods. There's really no other choice, is there? This room or whatever comes next? Accepting help from this doctor?

Doctor Simmons smiles and nods. "Alright then. That's very good. These men are going to transport you to the labs. We'll get you set up there and our work can begin. You're going to be alright, Dare. Trust in that, if nothing else."

Is he going to be alright? Will he be done with this non-existence now? Will he be a fuck toy? Dare has no idea what's in store for him. But anything has to be better than this nothingness. Anything has to be better than being a nothing.

Chapter Text

As the Doctor leaves, the Brutes haul Dare up to his feet. Two of the Brutes have guns. The other four are just muscle, although Dare is bigger than all of them. He hasn't had real sleep or real food for some time, so he's weak. And his mind, after what feels like so long without any interaction, is numb.

Dare lets them lead him through a maze of hallways and up a flight of stairs where a code is punched into a box by the door and a thumb print is scanned. On the other side of the door are a group of men who look like they could be military. Their weapons are better. They aren't quite so rag-tag as the Brutes are. The Brutes hand him over and Dare is brought up two more flights of stairs before he's led through some double doors into a very bright and sterile room.

Another guard meets the escort. The man is dark skinned with a buzz cut and a neatly trimmed goatee. He gives Dare a once over and a smirking grin. "This way."

The guard turns and walks off and Dare stands still until one of his escort pushes at his shoulder. Then he starts following the man, hurrying to catch up. This place, the main room of it, looks like any lab would with doctors and exam rooms off to the sides. He feels a twinge of embarrassment at being naked in front of all these doctors.

Dare is half looking around and half trying to keep up with the guard as they make it to another set of double doors that requires a code and leads into a long hallway.

It's shocking, walking through a hallway with glass on either side and naked people in each cell. They all kneel on their pallets in the middle of their rooms. Some of them seem to be in better condition than others. Each cell holding a naked person has a man outside of it dressed in the same way the man leading Dare through the hallways. They're all armed. They all look militant.

Dare is led to one of the glass walls where the guard punches in a code. Dare wouldn't have even known the door was there, just looking at it. But the code causes the glass to slide to reveal an opening.

"Inside." The guard instructs. "Shower."

The room is much larger than his closet, but smaller than the concrete room he was initially kept in. This room is white and sterile. It's brightly lit. The walls are mirrored, all but one, the one facing the hallway that's glass. There's an upright shower with glass walls in the corner of the room. The shower has a large drain in it. There's a sink next to the shower.

Dare looks in the mirror and doesn't even recognize what he sees. He looks like a wild beast, filthy and used. This, the man in that reflection, is probably exactly what 'nothing' should look like.

"Shower." The guard repeats.

It only takes a moment for Dare to realize that there's only one button to press to make the shower turn on. And once it's pressed, the water that sprays is blessedly warm to the touch. Dare steps into the shower and closes his eyes, letting it spray on him, letting it clean him for the first time in what feels like too long.

A tap at the glass and Dare opens his eyes to find the guard directly on the other side of the glass. Another spike of embarrassment flares up at being watched so closely. He points at a soap dispenser and a sponge. The sponge is pink and it makes Dare think of Salt and Pepper as he picks it up and pumps some pink gel onto it. As he starts to wash himself, Dare realizes that the soap smells like flowers of some kind. He doesn't care. He's cleaning off layers of grime and weeks old cum. He's getting clean.

Dare runs the sponge over every inch of skin multiple times before he rinses it off and sets it aside. He uses the flowery soap to wash his hair and his beard. He never wants this shower to end.

Another tap at the glass and the guard is pointing at a long silver tube. There's that smirking smile again as the guard tells him what to do. "Clean out your pussy."

What? Dare stares at the guard for several moments as the man seems content to wait Dare out. He knows what he's supposed to do with the wand but he doesn't want to do it.

Eventually, he gives in and picks up the wand.

"Push the button."

Dare does as instructed and water squirts out of the end.

"It's easier if your squat."

Again, Dare hesitates. Then he takes the offered help and squats down. It's humiliating, doing this where the guard can see him, where the man kneeling in the cell across the hallway can see him. But Dare reaches behind himself and pushes the wand up inside. He presses the button and feels his bowls filling with warm water.

"Hold it in. Count to thirty. Let it go over the big drain." The guard says, tapping three fingers against the glass. "Three times."

Dare does as he's told, not looking at his guard or the person across the hall at any time for all of his embarrassment. When he's done, he's told to rinse beneath the spray and he does that too. Then the guard opens the door, reaches in and turns off the water.

"You'll do that every morning when the lights come back on, understood?" When Dare just nods, the guard doesn't seem to like that. "Answer me."

"Yes... Sir." Is that what he's supposed to say?

The guard seems pleased with him and points to the pallet in the center of the room. "You'll kneel here every day unless told otherwise. You'll sleep here every night. You aren't to move from your pallet unless given permission. Kneel."

Dare moves to the pallet and kneels.

"Spread your knees wide."

He doesn't want to spread his knees. But looking across the hallway and remembering all of the people in the rooms on his way in, they had all had their knees spread. He does that too.

"Hands behind your back."

Dare clasps his hands together behind his back and looks up at the guard, who once again seems pleased with him if that's what that smirking grin means.

"Stay." The guard turns and walks out of the room. The glass door slides shut and locks in place. The man turns his back to the cell and stands guard.

And here he is again, alone but not. This is decidedly better than where he's been. The pallet beneath him is soft and plush. He isn't on a cold floor. He's just had a warm shower. Dare feels clean even if he still feels like something isn't quite right with his body. The thought makes his ass clench and he hates the realization that his body is still, even now, waiting to be fucked.

Dare stares at the man across the hallway, also on his knees in the same position Dare is in. The man looks sad as he stares back at Dare. Even through his sadness, the corners of his lips pinch just a bit and he nods. Dare nods back, a silent communication of solidarity. The two of them are in the same boat, whatever this boat is.

It's hours later that food is brought inside. It's actual food, oatmeal that isn't watered down and has what looks like brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in it. There's fresh bread as well, toasted and buttered. There's a bowl of fruit. And there's clean water.

His guard stands just inside the room as the tray is set down. "Eat slow. See how your stomach takes it first before you eat too quickly."

That's sound advice. Smart. Dare wouldn't have thought of that.

Because you're stupid.

His eyes and his stomach are much too hungry for that kind of thinking. But with that advice, Dare slowly starts with the bread, tearing off a piece and eating it. It's slow going, and his stomach gurgles and cramps a few times, but he gets through the whole meal, water included.

When the lights go out and he sees the man across the hallway lay down on his pallet, Dare does the same. A glance at his guard shows that same smirking grin. Dare is asleep within moments.

 

* * *

 

When the lights switch on again, from the dim light in the hallway to the bright light of his room, Dare once again looks across the hallway. The man in that room is getting up from his pallet and going to the shower. Dare remembers his instructions from yesterday and sees his guard watching him expectantly from the other side of the glass. He gets up and follows suit.

The shower is heaven, the soap cleaning his body is perfect. The enema, well, that's still a difficult pill to swallow but he thinks he does better at it today than he did yesterday. He stands under the spray a moment longer than he probably should before shutting off the water and stepping out of the shower to air dry.

His guard taps against the glass and points to the sink where a toothbrush and toothpaste are sitting. "Brush."

There are no words for how good it feels to brush his teeth, probably as good as the first shower felt yesterday. Needless to say, he does that longer than probably necessary as well.

Dare checks on the guy in the cell across from him and sees him just settling back into kneeling on his pallet. Dare mimics that and does the same, clasping his hands together behind his back.

His guard comes farther into his cell and nudges the inside of one knee with his boot. "Wider."

Dare quickly corrects himself, spreading his knees wide. Then he looks up at his guard. "Sir?" The guard doesn't address him, merely stays where he is. "How long have I... been...?" He isn't quite sure what he's asking.

"That's not your concern. You should only be concerned with the present."

With that reply, Dare dips his head with a nod. The guard still doesn't move as if he's weighing his options for a moment. The man eventually speaks again. "We're taking it easy today. We're gonna see how your body handles another round of food. You were downstairs for a long time, longer than most."

A long time. It felt like a long time, but Dare lost count of the days. "What is this? I... I'm not sure what's happening."

"This is the Gallery. You were just in the Catacombs. Now you're in the Labs. The doctors here will take care of you. You just have to let them."

"Am I sick?"

His guard smirks and shakes his head. "You need help, don't you?"

Help. Yes. Salt and Pepper had helped him. Will Salt and Pepper help him here too? "I think so, but I'm not sure."

"You accepted Doctor Simmons' offer of help. Do you know what he's gonna help you with?" When Dare shakes his head, the guard reaches out a hand ruffle his fingers through Dare's now shaggy locks. "He's gonna help you play up your strengths so that you can have a good life here."

It's the same words Doctor Simmons had used himself, like a script. But Dare is more interested in the touch right now. His body wants to be touched. His guard seems to notice the way he leans into the touch and he starts to unbuckle his belt.

Dare is just starting to shake his head when the guard asks him. "What are you?"

He hesitates, feeling strange about saying this to a new person. "I'm a fuck toy."

"Open up." The guard has a hand at the top of Dare's head, the other hand is on his gun as he guides an already half-aroused cock between Dare's lips.

Dare starts sucking him off, just like the Brutes had taught him. He didn't know their names. He doesn't know this man's name. That's strange to think about too.

Dare feels as if he's only mediocre at best when it comes to doing this. His mouth and tongue feel awkward, but he also doesn't fight it. Maybe, in some strange way, he needs this right now, even though he's not good at it, even though he doesn't want to need it, even though he coughs anytime the tip of his guard's cock gets too deep into his throat; he needs it.

I'm a fuck toy. I'm not nothing. I'm a fuck toy.

 

* * *

 

The next few days are long, but relaxing. Dare is allowed to shower every morning. He's fed twice each day. His guard comes into his cell and prompts Dare to talk to him. Dare has never been very good at speaking to people, but after being alone in the closet room for so long, he's desperate to keep people around him. So he thinks of any and everything to talk about. He talks about what happened in the Catacombs, about what he remembers about his life from before, which he's surprised to find, isn't a lot. He asks about the Gallery and the guard answers some questions and doesn't others.

Even when his guard is standing outside in the hallway, Dare is easily stimulated if just by watching the guards hold discussions that he can't hear out in the hallway, by watching the man across the cell and seeing that man watch him too. He wonders where the man is taken when he's let out of his cell for a period of time each day. He's always glad to see him come back to kneel on his pallet.

"So you told Doctor Simmons that you've been to see a psychologist before. Why's that?" His guard asks one day.

"Uhm, I was quiet, and my parents didn't think I was socializing enough or... in the right way. They thought something might be wrong with me."

"What did the shrink say?"

"He said I was just quiet. Otherwise fine."

The guard is quiet after that. But he glances up at the red blinking light in the corner of the room on his way out and Dare wonders if he's just said something he shouldn't have.

 

* * *

One morning, after Dare has showered, cleaned himself out and brushed his teeth, his guard comes into the room with an electric razor. He tells Dare to stand by the sink and then proceeds to use it to get Dare's blonde beard down to a light stubble. Dare stares at himself in one of the mirrored walls for a bit after that. It's been awhile since he's seen the chiseled outline of his face. His hair is now long, to his jawline. He wonders if they'll cut it too.

About an hour later, his guard instructs him to stand up and follow him. Dare walks out into the hallway and follows his guard into one of the exam rooms connected to the main room where he'd entered the labs. He's told to sit on an exam table, which he does. His guard stands at the door, watching him.

Eventually, an older man with hair white as snow enters the room. He's wearing a lab coat and gives Dare a once over before he goes about performing the most ordinary of tasks that one would undergo in a medical check up. He checks Dare's blood pressure. He draws some blood. He listens to his heart and his lungs. He checks in his ears and his throat.

"Hmm very good. Aren't you a strapping young man." The older man pats Dare's thigh and has a seat on a tall stool. "I'm Doctor Young and it's a pleasure to have you as one of my patients. All of your vitals seem healthy. Blood work and mouth swab will take a bit to come back but I expect you to be healthy as an ox. Do you have any current medical complaints?"

Current? No. Dare was starving and weak a few days ago. Now he's... good enough. "No, Sir."

"Oh how polite." Doctor Young smiles at him. "Now, I'll need you to lay on your stomach on the table."

First, Dare glances at his guard, who nods at him. Then he shifts around to lay face down on the table. Doctor Young shifts around behind him and Dare tenses as half of the table is folded down so that his legs are bent down. The doctor places his feet in stirrups that keep his legs spread and leaves him in a vulnerable position that reminds him of the table in the concrete room.

"Look at how beautiful that is." Dare can feel the Doctor's hand petting and squeezing at the rounds of his ass. "Isn't that beautiful?"

His guard speaks then. "It is. He's got a nice ass."

"That he does." Doctor Young agrees and Dare feels something cool and wet being spread over his skin and pushed inside of him. "Let's take a look inside, make sure those Brutes in the Catacombs didn't ruin something so perfect."

Dare jerks on the table when something cold and metal is pressed to his perineum. His guard is suddenly at his side with a hand resting on his back against his shoulder blades. The metal is pushed up inside of him, thicker than the wand he uses for morning enemas and extremely uncomfortable. Doctor Young is thankfully slow about working it deeper and deeper until it's where he wants it. And then with some clicking sounds, the metal is spreading, opening Dare up uncomfortably.

"Deep breaths." His guard says.

He tries so hard to take deep breaths, but a part of him is panicking.

His guard starts to ask him questions. "Name?"

"M-my name is Dare."

The metal click-click-clicks and spreads even wider so that Dare can feel cool air inside of him.

"What are you?" His guard asks.

"I'm a fuck toy."

Doctor Young chimes in then. "Yes, a beautiful fuck toy. I think I'll enjoy using you a time or two."

"What do you do, Dare?"

"I... I let people fuck me." Dare feels something smooth over his insides, like a cloth of some kind. Then he feels a little prick and his entire body jerks.

The doctor's hand slaps down onto the back of his thigh. "Now now, be a good fuck toy and stay still."

His guard's hand presses harder against his back between his shoulder blades. "Are you good at anything else?"

"No, Sir. I'm only good at sex." Dare has to work so damn hard to stay still when he feels another prick on his insides. And another. He answers the next question without it even having to be asked. It's a reiteration of the last question, just to make sure Dare knows the truth of it. "I'm only good at sex."

His guard's fingers curl against the skin of his back, as if petting him. "Without sex, what are you?"

"Nothing. I'm nothing." Dare feels his muscles clench around the metal in his ass as more pricks pierce his insides. His entire body is tense from whatever this is.

"Say all of it."

"I'm nothing without sex."

"There now, we're all done." Doctor Young says. The metal clicks as it's wound closed and then pulled out of Dare's ass. The doctor pats a hand on one of Dare's buttocks. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Answer him." His guard says.

Not so bad? That was terrifying and uncomfortable whatever it was. But Dare knows that that's not the right answer. "No, Sir. What was that?"

"Good then." Doctor Young says. "Something new we're trying out here. It should make you very sensitive back there. Now, be a good boy and let me get another sample."

Dare is shocked when Doctor Young's hand wraps around Dare's cock and starts to jerk him off. The doctor reaches for a cup with his other hand and puts it at the head while he works. "Such a big boy, aren't you. Big in every way."

Again, Dare is being talked down to, as if he wouldn't understand unless everything is sing-songed and sugar coated. He looks at his guard who is standing there, resolute, watching both Dare and what the doctor is doing to him. When Dare comes, his spill is stored in the plastic cup.

"That's a good boy." Doctor Young seals the cup and returns with a large needle. "Now, bow your head."

Dare does so and feels the sharp pain as the needle pierces the skin at the back of his neck. Even when the needle is pulled away, it still feels like there's something in there. It's strange.

"You've been so compliant. I hope you won't mind my paying you a visit once you've completely healed." Doctor Young pats Dare's cheek.

His guard prompts him. "Answer when someone speaks to you, Dare."

"No, Sir. I won't mind." He thinks that's the right thing to say.

"Good. I'll see you soon, Dare."

On the way back to his cell, his guard snaps at him for rubbing a hand at the back of his neck where it still feels like something foreign is in his body beneath the skin. He's told not to touch, and he doesn't.

 

* * *

 

Dare misses an entire two days. It isn't that he sleeps through them or that he's been needlessly drugged. He's taken to another room in the lab and put to sleep. When he wakes up two days later, a little groggy, he's led back to his cell.

There's a bandage on his left forearm and the skin beneath it feels tight. There's also a bandage around his ankle. His guard leads him back to his room and Dare is told to lay down on his pallet. He does so.

"Sir? What happened?"

"Upgrades."

"I don't understand."

His guard leans back against the glass wall, looking down at his charge. "You're gonna be a pet now. The Mistress's pets get upgrades... like the treatment that makes your pussy extra sensitive."

Dare feels heat flush his skin and he buries his face in the cushioned pallet beneath him.

His guard laughs. "You're gonna have to get over that shyness, fuck toy. That's not you anymore. You're about to become a butterfly, caterpillar."

But how? How can Dare be anything or anyone but what he is? He doesn't ask that though. He's more curious about something else. "What's on my arm?"

"A pump. It's pumping drugs you need into your blood stream."

"What kind of drugs do I need?"

"That's not important. These drugs will help you, they'll make you better. You wanna be better, don't you?"

Dare nods. Yes, he wants to be better. The remnants of the drugs that had kept him unconscious for those days still in his system take him under shortly after that.

Chapter Text

Dare dreams for the first time in a long time. He dreams of his dad and him on horseback herding the cattle from one pasture to another. It's the sort of work that takes teamwork, but can also be very solitary. His mom was right that Dare would grow up to be the spitting image of his dad. Although his father has weathered skin and whitening hair these days, Dare still looks a lot like him. They're both tall and broad shouldered. Dare's skin is bronzed, kissed by the sun from hours of building fence and working with cattle. When the Brooks boys smile at you, it's with the same smile, Dare's inherited from his father.

In his dream, Dare is taking the south side of the herd while his father has the north. He can see the outline of his father on the other side of the cattle. The sun is beating down on them, bright and hot. Molly barks at one of the cattle gone astray and Dare makes his way over to her to help her guide the wayward beast back in toward the herd.

Something nudges his knee and Dare looks down to see a pink glitter dildo held by a man with salt and pepper hair and eyes that are too kind for the cruelty he knows they can deal out.

"You just aren't that bright, are you, Dare?"

"What?" This man doesn't belong here where everything is peaceful and good.

Dare feels another press to his knee and his eyes snap open. His guard is standing beside his pallet looking down at him.

"The lights came on awhile ago. I let you sleep an extra half hour because of the medication you were given. Time to get up." His guard lowers himself down to remove the bandage on the back of his ankle and Dare pushes himself up to see a fresh tattoo, a bar code.

When he looks curiously at his guard again, the man only takes Dare's arm to remove that bandage too. The bared skin is marred by a healing incision. Dare can see the slight bump of the pump his guard had been speaking about.

A bar code and a pump. The procedure to make him sensitive in a place he doesn't want to be sensitive in. Dare can already feel a slight tickle there, an itch that's asking to be scratched. Upgrades, they had called them.

He raises a hand to rub at the back of his neck where he knows something else was put in. His guard pulls his hand away from his neck and shakes his head. "Shower."

"Sir?" Dare starts to push up from the floor. When he sways a bit, his guard grabs his arm to help steady him. "What's in the back of my neck?"

"A tracker." The guard leads him to the shower and presses the button to turn on the water. He helps Dare get under the spray.

The world feels a little fuzzy still, but Dare works his way through his new morning ritual. He tries not to think about the fact that he now has a bar code and a tracker on his person. Right now it's all he can think about, the so called upgrades. What are these people doing to him?

Dare is about to kneel on his cot again when his guard tells him to follow him. He isn't completely dry yet so walking out in the hallway is cold. He realizes that the cells are temperature controlled to be comfortable.

He's led through the labs to a room where he's laid out on a table and the doctors begin a laser hair removal procedure on Dare's body. When he realizes what's happening he looks to his guard and asks him why they're doing this.

"You do what you're told. That's why." His guard goes on to instruct him that he needs to start asking people if he can please them, because that's what fuck toys do.

Dare has to remind himself that being a fuck toy is better than being a nothing. Dare doesn't want to be nothing.

The first time he asks this question, it's of Doctor Simmons right after the hair removal treatment. He's led into what looks like a separate lab set apart from the main room. There are all kinds of strange contraptions that Dare can't make sense of. Doctor Simmons is sitting in a cozy alcove in a corner of the room where there are three large plush armchairs and two pallets on the floor around a small circular coffee table. Simmons is inhabiting one of the armchairs.

His guard leads him to kneel on one of the pallets and Dare does so. He has to remind himself to spread his legs wider and does that too. Then he clasps his hands behind his back and looks at the doctor. "May I..." He stop-starts, because it feels so strange to ask that of anyone, much less a stranger. "May I please you, Sir?"

Doctor Simmons smiles at Dare and shakes his head. "No thank you, Dare. Not yet. You look much healthier than the last time we met. I'm glad to see it."

"Thank you, Sir." Dare is almost relieved that Doctor Simmons lets him off the hook. He'd also be lying if he said he wasn't a little bit disappointed. He hates that disappointed part of himself.

"How do you like your new room?"

"I... it's cleaner. And brighter."

"That it is. We're going to be working together in this space to make you the best version of yourself. Each pet is different. Each pet requires a different treatment. What I've noticed about you, in watching your videos, is that you don't react hardly at all - not even under the influence of drugs. You internalize everything. You play a mental game, Dare, and the fact that it's an introverted mental game makes it very difficult to know what path your treatment should take." Doctor Simmons pauses, head tilting as he watches Dare. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"I wasn't aware I was playing a game."

"Oh, everyone plays games, Dare... even you." The doctor replies. "You're biding your time, taking things as they come at you. You're letting us alter you because you don't fight back. I like that. But I also have a feeling that you could just as easily slip back into the man you were before we saved you. That, I don't like. You're malleable. I want to change that, and change you."

Dare's eyes narrow and he feels the sting of anger for the first time. "Saved me? I was... taken. My dad-"

"Your father is no more. Neither is your mother. You are nobody outside of this place. Here, we can make you somebody. We've saved you, Dare. The sooner you give yourself over to the process, the easier it'll be."

Right now, it's clear to Dare that this guy is nuts. Dare isn't sure that anything he's saying makes sense. He's trying to read between the lines, but Dare has never been very good at that. He's the kind of guy who likes plain spoken people. He doesn't like games. He takes things as they are at face value. This guy is talking both above and around the issue, so Dare tries to boil it down for the both of them.

"You want me to be a fuck toy."

"That's only a piece of the puzzle, Dare.

"Then what do you want? I don't belong here. I have --" What does he have? His dad is gone. Did Molly survive? The ranch hands. He has his dad's ranch... right?

Doctor Simmons seems to understand Dare's train of thought. He nods slowly. "You have us, this place, and what will be your future." The man lets that sink in for a moment before speaking again. "You can please me now, Dare."

Dare's gaze snaps up from the floor to look at the Doctor. He hesitates too long, because he feels his guard's fingers at his shoulder urging him forward.

"Crawl." With that instruction, Dare leans in to get on all fours and crawls to the Doctor. The man spreads his legs and Dare slowly reaches up to start opening his fly. These are dress slacks, not jeans, and Dare has a hard time with them, not realizing there's a hook and not a button.

Finally, he reveals the doctor's cock, slim and long. Dare pauses here, not at all interested in putting this in his mouth. Simmons waits him out just as everyone else here does for the most part. And then Dare finally leans in to take that cock in his mouth and the doctor presses a hand to the back of his head to make him take it deeper. It makes him cough and gag.

In hindsight, he'll be angry with himself for crawling, for so willingly doing this without any restraints, without any force. But that's how Dare has always been, it takes him a bit to catch up to the present. Things here seem to move too fast for him to fully process it until after the fact.

Because I'm not very smart. I'm stupid.

His chin is grabbed and Dare is made to look up at the doctor. "Why are your eyes tearing up? Do you not enjoy being a fuck toy?"

I'm nothing without sex.

Dare hates that his mind immediately turns to the script that had saturated his existence in the Catacombs. These people are in his head and he doesn't know how to get them out.

The grip on his chin tightens. "Tell me." Doctor Simmons demands.

"I don't... wanna be stupid. And I don't wanna be nothing."

"But we're trying to change that, aren't we? We're going to make you into something quite spectacular, oddly beautiful and unique." Simmons says, his fingers grazing over the stubble at Dare's jawline. "Do you want to be those things?"

Does he? There's nothing spectacular about Dare. There's nothing unique about him. He's been called handsome before, but beautiful? No. Does he want to be those things?

"I don't-..." Dare trips over the words 'I don't know'. Salt and Pepper had taught him not to say that. He makes himself say what he knows he's supposed to say. "I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid."

"It's alright, Dare. Let us do the thinking for you. We'll get you to where you need to be." Simmons's hand slides to the back of Dare's head again and Dare sucks the man off as best he can. Occasionally the doctor gives him instruction on how to use his tongue, how to breathe through his nose and take him deeper. Dare tries, but he still feels awkward. Doctor Simmons makes Dare drink his cum down and lick him clean.

"That was very nice, Dare. You'll get better at it as time moves along." Doctor Simmons says. "As a pet you'll be required to please men and women alike. We're assuming you've never been with a man. Is that correct?"

"Not before here, Sir." Salt and Pepper and the other Brutes had fucked him quite a bit in the Catacombs.

"But you've been with women."

"Yes, Sir." One woman.

"We want to make sure you're accustomed to both by the time you're in the Mistress's care." The doctor stands up and moves across the room. "Now, it's time for your first treatment. Jerome, bring him over here."

That's the first time Dare has heard his guard's name. Jerome grabs one of Dare's arms and helps him to his feet. Dare is led to the strangest contraption he's ever seen. He's told to spread his legs and straps are placed at his ankles to keep them in place. His wrists are put into straps out to his sides. Then the doctor starts to put nodes connected to a machine by thin red wires onto his body. They're attached to his nipples, his brow, his cock and balls.

A metal cylinder is lubbed and pushed into his ass. It's the first time anything has been in there since the upgrades and it's startling how much he feels it. He catches himself groaning and both the doctor and his guard have a good laugh over it.

When Dare casts a worried glance to his guard, Jerome gives him a reassuring nod.

What happens next is truly terrifying. Doctor Simmons attaches spider like clamps around Dare's eyes to keep him from blinking. Drops are put into his eyes and an IV is put into the vein at one of his arms.

In front of him is a large screen that the doctor projects images onto. The images shift too quickly for Dare to really decipher them. Then whatever drug is in the IV starts to work and Dare relaxes into the moment. He occasionally feels a little spark of electricity from the nodes attached to his skin, a pulse of vibration from the metal in his ass. It makes him jerk in the restraints each and every time. He can't tell if it feels good or bad and that makes it all the more disconcerting.

Dare is left like this for a very long time. Jerome stands guard close by. Doctor Simmons takes readings from the machine and seems to be taking notes in a laptop notebook. Dare knows he should be uncomfortable but the drugs have him calm, watching the ever changing images and startling with each pulse of vibration and shock of electricity.

Eventually, from behind, the doctor puts some earbuds in Dare's ears. The sound coming through them is his own voice, along with Salt and Pepper. Those questions. Dare's answers. Sometimes he thinks he can hear whispered words in between, intertwined with the script he knows so well. Again and again he listens to the back and forth on repeat until his mind is numb to everything but what he's experiencing right now.

Dare is so deep into it that when all of it stops so abruptly, it's shocking. His mind isn't sure where he is or what's been happening for the last two hours.

A different voice than his own and Salt and Pepper's slices through his haze.

"There now. You did very well." Doctor Simmons begins to remove spider clamps from his eyes, the nodes and the silver cylinder. Dare is surprised to find that he's aroused. "Now we'll do something a little bit more fun. Jerome? Your assistance? He'll probably have a little trouble standing on his own for a bit."

Jerome helps Dare back over to one of the cushioned pallet where he's made to kneel. His guard doesn't let him off the hook, reminding him to spread his knees wider.

When the doctor returns, he places two bottles of nail polish on the table. One is black. The other is pink glitter. "You're free to choose which color you want to paint your nails, Dare."

"My nails, Sir?" Dare has never painted his nails.

"Yes. You get to paint your nails."

He gets to paint his nails. Okay, then. Dare looks between the two nail polishes. The pink glitter reminds him of the dildo Salt and Pepper had used on him. The black is, well, it's black. Dare is naturally drawn to the black over the pink glitter. But there's also something about the pink glitter that calls to him. It's strange. He isn't sure why he'd ever want pink glitter nail polish.

In the end, he chooses the black. The doctor doesn't seem disappointed in him, although he types away on his laptop while Dare starts to paint his nails. He admittedly isn't very good at it, getting some of the polish on the skin around his nails.

As he's waiting for them to dry, Dare's mind is still scattered. He hears his questions and answers. He's still trying to understand what those images were for. He has no idea.

"How are you feeling, Dare?" the doctor asks.

How is he feeling? Dare looks at the doctor for a long moment before answering. "Confused, Sir."

"That's to be expected." Simmons smiles and nods at Dare. "Your nails look pretty, don't they?"

Is pretty the right word for black nail polish? He supposes it does look pretty, even though it's strange to see it on his own fingernails. "Yes, Sir."

"Do you remember where you're from, Dare?"

What kind of a question is that? Of course he remembers where he's from. Only when he starts to answer, the words don't come. "Uhm... yeah." He nods, brow furrowed in thought. How can he not remember where he's from? His dad's sprawling ranch in...

"Do you?" Doctor Simmons prompts.

Dare continues to think, but then eventually has to resign himself to shaking his head. He can't remember. Why can't he remember.

"That's okay, Dare. What are you?"

This answer comes to him immediately. "I'm a fuck toy, Sir."

"Very good."

Chapter Text

The next day is full of resting. He kneels on his pallet and stares intently at the floor and Jerome's back where he stands sentinel just outside of Dare's cell and the man kneeling on his own pallet across the hallway. Sometimes the man across the hall and Dare catch each others' gaze and hold it for long periods of time, as if to say to one another 'I see you' 'you're somebody' 'there's more to us than this'.

Dare spends a lot of the day trying to remember where his father's ranch is located. How can he forget such a thing? He's lived there his whole life. He's known nothing but the ranch, helping his dad out there, his whole life. It makes no sense to him.

It's just when the lights have gone out and he lays back down on his pallet to sleep that the answer comes to him. Texas. He's from Texas.

The next day, when he's led into Doctor Simmons' lab after his morning routine and the laser hair treatment, he's all too excited to tell the doctor about his memory.

Dare kneels on one of the pallets and it's the first thing out of his mouth. "I'm from Texas, Sir. I remembered. I don't know why I couldn't remember it, but I remember now."

"But you forgot what you're supposed to ask first."

Immediately, Dare's pride at having remembered such an inconsequential thing about his life from before deflates. He looks down to the floor and murmurs the words. "May I please you, Sir?"

"You may. Bring her in."

Jerome goes to the doors to the lab and a naked woman enters the room, followed by an armed guard that's dressed similar to Dare's guard. The woman is brought in to kneel on the pallet beside him. Dare's insides twist uncomfortably at the knowledge of what they'll tell him to do now.

"Dare, this is a hole for you to fuck. It would please us for you to fuck it."

A hole? Dare remembers some of the people in the snuff films he'd been made to watch and listen to being called holes. This girl, with tanned skin and dark hair, won't even look up from the ground. She won't look at him. She's still a person, not a hole.

He starts to shake his head and looks at Doctor Simmons. "Sir..."

"Make yourself ready, hole."

The woman lies back on the floor, legs spread. Her fingers slide down between her legs over tight curls. Her body is marked with bruises and bite marks that makes Dare feel horrible for her, on her behalf. Does he really have to do this?

"Do what you're told, Dare." His guard says.

"You said that you have been with women before, correct?" Doctor Simmons asks.

"Yes, Sir. But I don't know this woman."

The other three men in the room all chuckle. But it's the doctor who speaks. "Oh that's very sweet, Dare. But it doesn't care if you know it. The hole needs to be fucked. Just like you do. Feel free to tell it how pretty it is though. I think you'd make a very good flirt."

It? She's a person. Dare is still a person too. Right?

Any excitement Dare might have had at knowing where he's from is forgotten. Maybe he even forgets where he's from again. They want him to have sex with a stranger. Yes, he's had strangers fucking him, and that wasn't okay either, but this is different in so many ways.

"I can't."

"Do you want to go back to the blackout room?" Doctor Simmons asks.

That small closet-sized room that was dark where it was only him and those occasional sounds over the speakers and nothing else. Dare thinks some intrinsic part of him broke in that room. "No, Sir."

"We could put you back in the concrete room, but I assure your stay won't be so nice as it was before. We've been trying to treat you very delicately, Dare, because of what and who you are." The doctor says. "But that could change."

Because of what and who he is? A fuck toy? A sissy boy? Is Dare those things? It's starting to feel like it's too much again, like things are moving too fast. The walls of this massive room feel too tight, like they're closing in around him.

"Do what you're told, Dare." Jerome says again.

Dare slowly shifts so that he's kneeling between the woman's knees. It's like he's outside of himself, looking down on the entire thing as he leans over the woman and tells her she's pretty, that her skin is smooth and perfect, that she smells good, which she does.

She seems to soak all of these things up, inviting him closer and quietly begging him for more in the way her body shifts and she hums her pleasure, the way her hands smooth over his skin in just the right way.

When he pauses, thinks about stopping and going back to the blackout room, the woman's hand finds his and guides him toward those tight curls and a heated plush of skin between her thighs. Instinctively, he pushes a finger between the folds, feeling her already wet and warm. He pushes a finger up inside and presses his thumb to the bundle of nerves on the outside. She makes the most wanton of sounds at that, her body arching up off of the floor.

"Enough preamble." Doctor Simmons says. "Fuck the hole, Dare."

Dare isn't sure if he imagines it or not, but when he looks down into the glazed over eyes of the woman he's supposed to fuck, he thinks he sees her give him a nearly non-existent nod. Still, Dare hesitates.

"Don't make us tell you again." Jerome prompts, and this time his voice isn't the monochromatic tone Dare is accustomed to. It's tight with what sounds like a dangerous sort of anger.

So Dare does what he's told. How he's hard right now, as he pushes himself inside of her, he has no idea. There's nothing about being made to rape a clearly drugged woman with three other men watching him that's arousing to him. In fact, Dare has been hard alot lately and he wonders if it's something to do with his so-called upgrades.

He goes through the motions in this strange, out of body moment. And when the doctor tells him that he isn't making love to her, to speed it up and fuck her, Dare does that too. He pulls her hips up and starts to fuck her. Harder, the doctor says, and Dare fucks her harder until he doesn't question why he's aroused anymore, he just is.

The woman reaches orgasm and Dare is told not to cum. It's easier said than done when he's so damn close to it. He's told to let go of her and he does. Her guard hauls her up and takes her away, leaving Dare alone and hard as a rock with just his guard and the doctor.

"Next time, when you're told to do something, you will do it immediately. Your life here can be very good, or it can be very bad. That's up to you." Doctor Simmons stands and directs Jerome to help him strap Dare into the same contraption as two days ago.

Again, nodes are placed all over Dare's body, the metal cylinder in his ass, an IV in his arm and the spider clamps on his eyes to keep them open. He's forced into a haze of images and electric shock, all while the vibration in his ass drives him insane. He vaguely feels hands touching him here and there and has no idea who it is or why.

It's hours later and Dare is lost in whatever world they've built for him on this contraption when it's finally shut off. The bits and pieces are removed from his body and Jerome helps him to go kneel on the pallet in the sitting area.

Dare is still in a groggy, surreal state of mind when Doctor Simmons speaks to him. "Where are you from, Dare?"

"Uhm..." He's known this moments before, hasn't he? Dare furrows his brow, thinking. It's like the answer is there, but hidden to him.

"You don't know?"

But Dare isn't supposed to say those words. His features fall into something resigned as he shakes his head. "I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid."

"That's okay, Dare. Do you have any family?"

Does he? He thinks he does, but he can't remember them right now. What's wrong with him? "I d-don't..." He pauses, then shakes his head again. "I'm not very smart, Sir. I'm stupid."

"Yes, but we're helping you with that, aren't we? Look at me." When Dare looks up, Doctor Simmons is leaning in close. His fingertips gently caress Dare's face. "You are not alone. You have me and you have Jerome. You have a whole life of people waiting for you once you become who you were always meant to be. Understood?"

Dare doesn't understand. But he nods anyway and answers in the affirmative. "Yes, Sir."

"Good. Now. I want you to pick a color." Simmons leans back and sets two bottles of nail polish on the table. One is black. One is pink glitter. "You get to paint your nails again."

When Dare unclasps his hands from behind his back, he finds that the black nail polish from two days ago is gone. They must have removed it while he was strapped into the contraption. He eyes the two bottles, realizing now that this must be a test of some kind.

His gaze lingers on the pink glitter. Again, it makes him think of Salt and Pepper from the concrete room in the Catacombs. He kind of misses Salt and Pepper now... which he knows is strange. Still, in the end he picks up the black polish and proceeds to paint his nails. Guys don't wear pink glitter nail polish. And this is, perhaps, Dare's one small way of fighting back.

As the polish dries, the doctor asks him questions about his life from before. There are only two that he knows the answer to, two out of too many other things that are lost to him right now. Then Simmons finishes up with the questions and answers that Dare knows by heart.

His name is Dare. He's a fuck toy. He lets people fuck him. He's only good at sex, only sex, nothing else. Without sex, he's nothing. He has a cunt and a pussy. And right now, the only thing he can take heart in is that he's wearing black nail polish.

 

* * *

 

When they exit Doctor Simmons' labs this time, there's an armed escort of four other men that hadn't been there the last time. Dare is confused by that, but they lead him through the facility to the hallway that has his cell in it. The glass slides away and Dare steps inside. It always smells like someone has cleaned while he's been away, and he's sure they have.

Dare is about to kneel on his pallet when Jerome surprises him with a hand around his neck, pushing him backward and backward until his back is pressed to the mirror at the opposite end of the room.

"How you act, reflects on me. Do you understand?" Jerome hisses into Dare's face and then slaps him hard. "I get that you're a stupid shit. But you have to get some very simple things right."

There's another slap to Dare's face and Dare quickly apologizes for whatever he did wrong. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"When you're around anyone, what do you ask? First thing?"

Oh. Yes, Dare knows he did that wrong. "I ask if I can please them, Sir."

The next hit is a punch and Dare's jaw aches. He tastes blood in his mouth. Jerome grips his jaw tightly to get his attention again. "And when you're told to do something?"

Something like fuck a stranger? That kind of something? Dare wants to spit the words at his guard, but he knows it would be a horrible idea right now. "I do it."

"Yes. So easy. But you fuck it up somehow." Jerome hits Dare again, lifts a knee into his gut that makes Dare double over. "Get on your knees."

Dare slips to his knees on the cold floor and before he knows it, Jerome's cock is in his mouth. His guard isn't gentle about the way he fucks his throat. Dare is crying, coughing and gagging by the time it's over. His guard makes him bend over and lick up whatever cum doesn't make it into his belly.

"Now, these are my friends. You're going to ask if you can please each one of them, and do what they say. No hesitation, no questions. Just do it."

The next hour is a mess of having cock in his mouth and in his ass, of his asking again and again if he can please these strange men, four other guards. These men aren't gentle either. Dare feels like it lasts forever before they're finally done with him. But finally, the men leave and Jerome snaps his fingers and points to Dare's pallet.

Dare crawls to his pallet, feeling used in every way, aching and tired. His throat feels raw and his ass stings. He kneels there with his eyes on the floor for a very long time, thinking about this entire day and how horrible it's been from start to finish. When he looks up, the man across the way is watching him with a sad sort of expression. Dare can't bring himself to keep looking at him, so he doesn't. Maybe there isn't more to him than this.

Chapter Text

When the lights click on and Dare wakes up the next day he hurts even worse than he had the night before. Still, he wants today to be better than yesterday, so he pushes up and moves into the shower. On the way he glances at himself in the mirrored walls and can see bruises forming on his face after the beating he took yesterday. There are also bruises on the rest of his body.

He pushes the button to start the shower and when he steps inside he feels that the water is freezing. When he steps back out, he finds Jerome staring at him from the other side of the glass. This is part of his punishment.

Dare makes himself slip back into the shower and goes through the motions quickly as possible. He washes and cleans himself inside and out, then shivers as he stands just outside the shower to brush his teeth at the sink. The entire room feels freezing, enough of a difference to make it clear that the temperature has been purposefully lowered.

Lesson learned. What is given can be taken away.

He kneels on his pallet and when the food is brought in, he half expects it to be watery, tasteless slop. But no, it's the food he's grown accustomed to here. This morning it's apple cinnamon oatmeal and toast with a bowl of fresh fruit. Dare eats it up quickly before it can be taken away, just in case it was a mistake.

Later, Dare still can't seem to get the chill from that morning's shower out of his bones. The occasional shiver ripples through him uncomfortably. His room is so cold.

Jerome enters his cell and lowers down in front of him. Dare immediately asks the question. "May I please you, Sir?"

When his guard reaches for his chin, Dare instinctively flinches and Jerome's fingers chase him anyway to grab hold none too gently. "You never back away, never flinch. You let people touch you. Whoever wants to touch you, they can. Understood?"

Dare nods. "Yes, Sir."

"I don't wanna be angry with you. I want you to do what you should do and have a good life here." Jerome's fingers are tracing where Dare knows the bruises are. "But I'm not gonna get in trouble because of you. You gotta understand that too."

The implication here is that if Dare fucks up, Jerome gets in trouble too. Dare isn't sure if that's true, but it's what he's gleaning from Jerome's words and he files that information away.

"So you're gonna start thinking about things before you do them. You think about what's expected of you and you should always be one step ahead of yourself and others. You're less likely to get in trouble if you're doing what's expected of you."

Jerome pauses, his thumb running over Dare's busted bottom lip. "I feel like there's still a part of you that thinks this is temporary. It's not. There's no escape from the Gallery, Dare. Once in the Gallery, always in the Gallery. I want you to say that."

"Once in the Gallery, always in the Gallery." Dare whispers the words.

"There's no escape." Jerome shakes his head and then indicates that Dare should repeat that too.

"There's no escape."

"Good boy. You're gonna start saying that to yourself ten times every morning. Learn it, memorize it, know it by heart." Jerome nods and leans in to kiss Dare. Dare kisses him back even though it makes his lips sting. "Today we have another hair removal treatment. When we get back, I'll have the heater on in here so you can get warm. What do you say to that, Dare?"

"Thank you, Sir."

"Are you gonna do better for me from here on out?" Jerome asks.

"Yes, Sir."

Jerome smiles then. "Good."

 

* * *

 

The next few weeks are much of the same. Dare sees Doctor Simmons for treatments four days every week where he's drugged and put into the contraption and made to watch pictures that flash before him too quickly for him to register. Then he kneels and talks to Doctor Simmons for some time, before he's told to pick a nail polish and paint his nails. He's still picking black.

Twice a week he's taken to hair removal treatments. Every morning Jerome gives him some kind of medicine and makes him repeat the words "Once in the Gallery, always in the Gallery. There's no escape." ten times before his shower. It becomes a part of the routine.

Sometimes Dare and the other man across the way stare at one another and Dare imagines they're holding entire conversations with just their eyes.

In his sessions with Doctor Simmons, sometimes Dare is made to have sex with others. Sometimes he's the bottom and sometimes he's the top. Sometimes it's with men and sometimes it's with women. All while the Doctor and Jerome, and sometimes other guards, watch.

Doctor Simmons, along with Jerome, has demanded that he respond to everything in kind. When the Doctor compliments him, Dare compliments the Doctor. He's to say yes sir and no sir and even expand on those two words. They want him to speak and Dare has a very hard time with that. Words don't come easily to him for some reason. He has to get better at it though, because it's expected.

Dare has lost himself. He knows he's never really dealt with how he ended up in this place. But then, so many memories have been stripped away from him that he doesn't feel as if he could properly deal with it anymore. There is no backward for him because he can't remember what was in his past. There's only forward. He's searching for an identity, anything to set him apart from the pets in the cells he passes by every day.

"My name is Dare." He whispers this to himself often, because it's the only thing he knows is absolutely, unquestionably, real.

Forward. He has to move forward. And what's in front of him? He isn't sure. There's nothing behind him though, just a bunch of unanswerable questions and blank space where an entire life used to be.

It's been almost a month since Jerome and the guards beat him up. Dare has been on his best behavior since then. He does what he's told. He questions nothing.

Dare is being led into Doctor Simmons's lab for another session. His mind is numb because he feels as if he's in a walking stasis. There is no past and he has no idea what the future is. There's only now. His emotions are stunted because he has no one to think about, nothing to feel for anyone except for Jerome, Doctor Simmons, and the man in the cell across the hall from him. Those three people are his world and he's almost excited for any interaction he can get from any of them. Without them, he lacks any stimulation.

No past. No future. Only now.

"Well here's my favorite patient." Doctor Simmons smiles at him.

Dare smiles back, knowing he's expected to respond in kind, to flirt his way through the interaction. Lately, he can even imagine that it might be genuine on both ends. "And here's my favorite Doctor. Did you miss me?"

"Always." Doctor Simmons says. "And I'm certain you were waiting with baited breath until your next treatment."

"If it means I get to see you, then hell yeah." Dares says, stepping closer to the Doctor, a slight grin on his lips, his hands clasped behind his back. "May I please you, Sir?"

"Afterward, if you're good."

"He'll be good." Jerome guides Dare to the contraption with a hand on his shoulder and starts to strap him into it while Doctor Simmons hooks up the IV full of drugs and the nodes are connected to his body.

Dare can feel the drugs immediately start to take affect. He can't tell a difference with the drugs he's given every morning and has no idea what they're for. The drugs Doctor Simmons gives him, they make the world a little softer around the edges. They make his heart simultaneously ricochet up into his throat in spite of a softer world. The drugs make him vaguely afraid and anxious; of what exactly, he doesn't know.

The spider clamps hold his eyes open and Dare is made to watch as too many images flash across the large screen across from him. He can never tell what, exactly, he's looking at. He's made to take it all in though, they electrodes sending tiny pulses of electricity through his body at random moments that Dare can't understand. This lasts for an hour and a half until the Doctor finally turns everything off.

After he's unstrapped and all needles and apparatuses are removed, Jerome helps to get him over to the pallet on the floor in the seating area. Dare's mind feels numb as he kneels there, waiting, with his hands clasped behind his back.

He's left alone for several minutes before Doctor Simmons sits across from him. The Doctor asks all the same questions that Dare is always asked. Dare answers all the questions correctly. He knows those answers by heart. And yes, now he believes all those answers to be true. He's a fuck toy and he lets people fuck him. It's the only thing he's good at. Without sex, he's nothing.

Then Simmons asks him something new. "Do you find me attractive, Dare?"

Dare's gaze snaps up to look at the Doctor. Jerome told him to do what's expected of him. Even in his post treatment haze, Dare knows what's expected. He's supposed to flirt. Flirting is coming more easily to him. And really, for a man, Doctor Simmons is attractive enough. So he smirks and nods. "Well yeah. Have you looked in a mirror lately?"

The doctor seems satisfied with this and smiles and nods. "You're sweet, Dare. I got you a gift."

"Which makes you the sweet one, Sir." Dare tosses back.

Simmons snaps his fingers and one of his nurses brings a small paper bag. The bag is black with hot pink tissue paper peeking out of it. He holds the bag out to Dare and Dare takes it.

Once he removes the tissue paper, he finds some pale pink lace panties inside and a matching bra. He's surprised that he isn't necessarily repulsed by them, by why they might be for him. But he is a little confused and he looks up to the doctor with that confusion clear on his features.

"Do you like them?"

Like them? Does he? Is this what he usually wears? He can't remember. Why can't he remember anything? It would be rude to say he doesn't like them, right? And he can't tell if he should like them or not. "Yeah, they're pretty, Sir." When the Doctor just watches him expectantly, the silence becomes too much for Dare and he has to fill it. "Want me to put them on?"

"I would like that, yes." The doctor seems pleased with him again and Dare is almost relieved of that fact.

Dare stands up and pulls on the boy short lace panties. Then he kneels again and on goes the bra. His fingers fumble with the hooks at his back as if they aren't sure how to work them, which, they probably aren't. Both his doctor and his guard are patient with him even though it takes him some time to get the back clasped.

"How pretty you are." Doctor Simmons says. Then his gaze dips to the bag. "There's more."

Dare reaches into the bag and finds a rubber plug like what he's seen other pets wearing. Only this one is pink with flecks of glitter in it, like the vibrating dildo Salt and Pepper had used on him.

"Bring it here."

On all fours, Dare crawls over to Doctor Simmons and hands over the plug. Simmons opens the fly of his dress slacks and pulls his cock out, the demand clear without his having to say a word. Dare takes the doctor into his mouth, having grow so much better at this than he remembers being the first time. He's taught himself to breathe through his nose and take cock deep into his throat. He knows how to use his tongue in all the right ways and that it's okay, at least with the doctor, to use his hands as well.

Behind him, he feels Jerome lift his hips up. He feels the back of his panties pulled down and then the cool slick of lubricant as it's spread around and inside his hole.

It's harder to pay attention to what his mouth is doing with that delicious friction in his ass, amplified by Doctor Young's experiments. But Doctor Simmons's fingers pet at Dare's cheek and jaw to keep him engaged in sucking his cock.

Dare expects to feel the plug, but instead feels Jerome's cock pushing inside of him. He gasps, Simmons's cock slipping out of his mouth, and wantonly pushes back on the intrusion, his body both wanting and needing what's being done to him.

Who the hell is he? Dare doesn't know himself anymore. He's trying to figure out who he is now and he has no answers except for these experiments, his three people, and now pink lace.

"Does that feel good, Dare? Do you like cock in your ass?" Doctor Simmons asks, taking his own and gliding the tip over Dare's lips leaving behind a smear of glistening precum.

Does he? Yes. "Yes, Sir." His voice is deep and breathy. "It feels fan-fuckin-tastic."

The doctor and Jerome laugh at that then cups the back of Dare's head to make him take his cock again while Jerome fucks him from behind.

For awhile, everything is this, the way Jerome fills him up and the way being fucked makes him feel, the way Simmons's cock tastes, the way both the doctor and his guard continually slide their fingers over and beneath the lace of his bra and panties just to remind him he's wearing them.

Simmons spills in his mouth first and Dare drinks it down. Then Jerome finishes off and secures his spill inside of Dare with the pink glitter plug. His guard pulls the panties back up over his ass, adding a slight pressure to the plug.

"You've gotten so much better at that, Dare. Your mouth is paradise." Doctor Simmons says.

There's no invitation for Dare to finish himself off or for them to help him cum. At this point, he knows that that means he isn't allowed to right now. It takes Dare a moment to realize that the doctor is waiting for him to reply as he should. "Paradise? Then you have an open-ended vacation, Sir."

The doctor smiles then and holds out two bottles of nail polish, one black and one pink glitter. Dare stares at them for a long moment before Simmons urges him not to keep him waiting. He initially intends to go for the black, but when his hand comes away it's holding the pink glitter.

"I think that's a very good choice." Simmons nods.

His guard pets his hand back through Dare's now shoulder length hair. "It'll match the gifts Doctor Simmons gave you."

He chose pink. That fact is startling to Dare after so long of choosing the black.

Dare kneels on his pallet again and sets the pink bottle on the table. He starts to paint his nails. The color goes on thick and bright. He can add this to the list of things he's moving forward to: he likes lace and pink glitter nail polish. Right? Yes, he thinks that's right.

Chapter Text

Maybe Dare should be ashamed to walk back to his cell wearing the bra and panties. He's never seen any of the other pets wearing any clothing at all. But these are things that are his. They make him different, not just another fuck toy as many of these pets are. He has no idea who he was before this place, they somehow took those memories from him piece by piece, hollowing him out so that they could put new things in place of who he used to be. But maybe this is who he is now.

It's okay, he tells himself.

It's okay. I'm still Dare.

The first day he's led back to his cell, once he's kneeling on his pallet, he catches the gaze of the man across the hallway. His nameless friend arches a brow at the sight of him in the minimal lacy attire. Dare tries on a saucy, flirtatious grin for him and is rewarded with a smile that the man tries to hide by dipping his head. When they look at each other again, the man nods, as if to say he approves. Dare likes his approval more than he should.

It's then that Dare realizes that he has some kind of power. There's power in the flirtation that Doctor Simmons has begun to instill in him. In spite of their circumstances, he just made a real moment happen with a man he's never spoken to, a man whose name he doesn't know.

Dare winks at his friend. The man's lips pull into a half smile and then rest back into something akin to mild amusement.

Yes, Dare has power. Maybe he's always had it and his mind is just now, now that he's searching for something, anything, to hold onto, he's just now catching up to the fact. Now he just has to figure out how to use it.

Once in the Gallery, always in the Gallery. There's no escape. Forward. He can only go forward.

 

* * *

 

Once the nurses proclaim his hair removal treatments over, once there's no hair growing from the neck down, Jerome starts taking him to a gym in another section of the labs where Dare is free to work out. He's put into a tanning bed as well. Jerome says that his skin has gotten paler since he's arrived. Dare can't remember why his skin was so suntanned to begin with, but he knows that he's lost some of that in his time here.

Dare enjoys his time in the gym and the tanning bed because Jerome always tells him he's pretty afterward. Dare finds that he likes making himself pretty. He likes the looks he gets that set him apart from the others. He likes Jerome's and Doctor Simmons' approval. He even likes the approval of the nameless pet across the hall.

His sessions with Doctor Simmons become shorter. He's spending less time in the contraption and more time in conversation with Simmons. The Doctor asks him strange questions, nothing about his past that Dare can't answer, but questions about who he wants to be and what he likes about sex. Doctor Simmons compliments Dare a lot. He calls him things like pretty and beautiful and Dare soaks the praise up like a starving man devours food.

They flirt and banter back and forth, Dare and Simmons, Dare and Jerome, Dare and the nurses he encounters or the other guards he sees in the gym. Dare starts to throw himself into this role that he's been cast in in spite of the small parts of him that still doesn't want to speak or wants to hide from the world at large because he's never fit in, because they've seen him as slow or stupid.

Why would anyone think he was stupid? And why is there a part of him that wants to curl up into a nonverbal ball and hide? That's what's stupid, that part of him that isn't accepting of his present tense or his future. He wants that part of himself to disappear.

Dare wears his lace and paints his nails pink again and again, much to his guard's and his doctor's delight. They spend his sessions with him in heels walking back and forth just for the practice. Jerome reminds him to sway his hips and Dare tries. He wobbles on heels for awhile, for several sessions before he finally seems to find his groove with them.

One day in Simmons's lab, when Dare kneels on the pallet, there's a small laptop and a mirror on the table. The doctor produces a pink metal case and opens it up, sides unfolding, to reveal a plethora of makeup.

Dare feels his stomach roil uncomfortably for no good reason that he can figure out. Doctor Simmons plays some instruction videos where a woman is teaching him how to apply makeup, something she calls a dramatic smokey wing-tipped eye. Dare watches it several times before he's instructed to try it on himself.

He's busy attempting this with very awkward results that need to be wiped away with a makeup remover cloth to start over when Doctor Simmons sits across from him to watch.

"It's probably going to take some work, Dare. But you'll keep trying, won't you?"

"You bet. I wanna look fabulous for you.”

Doctor Simmons smiles at him and that’s how Dare knows that his response was the right one.

For a long time Dare continues to work on his makeup and perfect and experiment under the doctor’s watchful eye. Several videos instruct him through the whole nine yards of dark winged eyeliner, rouge, false lashes and lipstick. Dare continues to try and try until Jerome enters the room and Dare looks up at his guard.

“What do you think, Jerome?” Doctor Simmons asks.

Dare holds his breath, surprised by his need for approval and acceptance from his guard. After a moment of appraisal, Jerome smiles and nods and Dare exhales his held breath.

“Sexy.” Jerome says.

“I know, right?” Dare winks at his guard and then looks at himself in the mirror. He thinks his reflection is sexy too. He feels sexy. “I am hella sexy.”

He feels his guard run his fingers through his straight dirty blonde locks that have grown out to brush against his shoulders now.

“Where are you from, Dare?” Doctor Simmons asks.

“I don’t remember. I’m here now.” Dare answers dismissively, leaning into the mirror to perfect the wing tip on his eyeliner.

“Yes, you are and we’re glad for it.”

“Me too. I don’t know why it took me so long to get here.”

It’s with a certain air of newfound confidence that Dare walks with Jerome back to his room after his session that day. The glitter pink plug shifts just right in his pussy as his pink heels click clack on the tiled floor. The pink lace carefully hugs his buttocks and his pecs.

When he settles on his pallet, Jerome cups his fingers beneath Dare’s chin to make him look up. Jerome nods approvingly at him after another moment of careful study.

Once his guard is in his place outside of Dare’s room, Dare looks across the hall. The pet across the hall is shoved against the mirrored wall of his room, obviously in pain as the guard who usually stands outside that cell roughly fucks him. There’s blood dripping from the pet’s lip and a messy gouge in his brow.

Any sense of accomplishment or sexiness Dare had felt deflates out of him as he sees tears slide down the unnamed man’s cheeks. The pet catches Dare’s gaze as he’s fucked against the wall. The corners of his lips pinch in an attempt at a reassuring smile before the man squeezes his eyes shut.

Dare doesn’t let himself watch anymore as the scene blurs when his own eyes mist over.

Chapter Text

Things normalize once again, or whatever passes for normal in this place. Dare finds a schedule that includes therapy sessions with Doctor Simmons, regular visits to the gym and sex. He has sex with different guards, pets and physicians. Sometimes Dare is fucked. Sometimes they’re fucking him. Sometimes he’s with men. Sometimes they bring women from another section of this same level and he’s with them as well.

Dare tries very hard to toe the line. The brutality of the sex that he’d witnessed with the nameless pet across the hall had reminded him of the Catacombs downstairs. In a strange macabre of emotions, Dare both misses salt and pepper and never wants to see him again. He never wants to be nothing back in that closet of a room where there was only him and his own thoughts.

His thoughts are sharp edged weapons aimed at only himself when he allows them room to get away from him.

There is only one time when he lets this happen. The truth of his memory loss, the changes in his character, the question of whether he actually likes the lingerie, the heels, the makeup and the nail polish or if he’s just trying not to go back to being nothing again.

One night he can’t seem to sleep with the way his mind worries over all of this. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why can’t he remember things before this place? What have they done to him? What is he letting them do to him? Why isn’t he quick enough to get a step ahead of them? Why does he always feel like he’s playing catch-up to them?

Dare thinks about these things all night until the light flicks on in what passes for morning in the labs. He gets up and gets in the shower, performs his morning ritual in a haze.

Jerome is watching him when he kneels on the pallet to take the breakfast that the naked pet brings in to him.

“Who are you?” Dare whispers the question to the pet.

The pet looks wide-eyed at Dare, shakes his head and exits the room.

Dare looks at Jerome, who is suddenly studying him with an extra vein of intensity. The look alone puts Dare in his place. The last time Jerome had looked at him like that, Dare had been forced to please several guards in this very room and none of it had been gentle.

He looks at the pet across the way. The man shakes his head at Dare as if to say ‘don’t’.

Dare swallows hard and quietly eats his breakfast.

Another session with Doctor Simmons seems to cure whatever wave of individual thought that wasn’t in line with what’s been ingrained in him. Jerome speaks to the Doctor before his session. For the first time in a long while, Dare is put into the contraption, hooked up to nodes and drops put in his eyes. He’s drugged and his eyes pried open so that he has no choice to watch the screen.

In the immediate aftermath, Dare is allowed to paint his nails and put on his makeup. He’s relieved to see the pink glitter and to make himself look amazing again. He’s relieved to find that place where only the present matters anymore; not the past, not the future, just the now.

* * *

I double-dog dare you, my sweet Dare. I dare you to be brave.

This voice has been absent for so long that Dare can’t remember who it is or why her voice is so soothing and comforting. He hears her now, this nameless and faceless woman, and he listens. She laughs, carefree and happy. He can hear the genuineness of her smile in her tone of voice.

Don’t you wanna make some friends? You can do this, Dare. I believe in you. I dare you to go talk to them.

Dare takes a deep breath and begins to come back into himself. The last thing he remembers is lying on a hospital bed. He remembers trustingly following his guard through the hallways and ending up in a medical room where he was told to remove his lace and heels. Dare did as he was told.

He remembers doctors and nurses surrounding him. He remembers trying to grin and wink at them. He remembers flirting and getting nothing but an IV and a needle full of drugs in return. He remembers being scared.

Then there was nothing.

You’re braver than you think, my sweet Dare. I dare you to be brave.

Dare dreams of an open field. He dreams of the wind rushing over his skin. When in his life has he ever experienced anything like that?

He dreams of the concrete closet, shrouded in a dark so black that he can’t even see his own hand in front of his face. Its cold and hard. Everything is cold and hard.

A different voice speaks to him. Dare dreams of salt and pepper hair and pink glitter dildos. He dreams of cock in his mouth. He dreams of his cunt being jacked off and sucked. He dreams of his pussy getting fucked.

What’s your name? What are you, Dare? What do you do, fuck toy? Good at anything else? Without sex, what are you?

Dare dreams of being nothing… nothing… nothing…

There’s nothing.

He’s nothing.

He dreams of the sun on his skin. It’s so bright. His chest hurts. Is the sun burning him? It’s been so long since he’s seen the sun. He can’t remember when…

Dare dreams.

You’re not very smart, are you Dare? You’re stupid, so so stupid.

Her voice doesn’t belong with those words, and yet…

Dare’s heart hurts. Yes. No. Yes. No. It’s his actual chest that hurts. Maybe it’s both his heart and his chest that ache.

I’m gonna help you with that, you stupid fuck toy., salt and pepper says.

He hears himself emit a whine and he isn’t sure if he actually made the sound or not.

“He’s coming out of it.” Dare recognizes Doctor Simmons’s voice. “Dare, can you hear me?”

One lid is lifted with the press of a thumb. A bright light is shone into his eyes. The act is repeated with the other eye.

Dare’s chest feels tight… tight… so tight.

He hurts.

“Administer more pain medication. He’s awake enough.”

Dare opens his eyes and has to squint into the light of the brightly lit, sterile room. Doctor Simmons leans over him into his line of vision and Dare is so grateful to see a familiar face that he sobs. He feels tears sliding out of the corners of his eyes.

Simmons pets at his hair. “It’s alright Dare. There’s no need for alarm. You’ve been out for a long time. There’s going to be a bit of discomfort as the catheter is removed, but the pain medication should be kicking in soon.”

When Dare tries to lift his hand, he finds that his wrists are restrained. A pressure at his ankles proves his legs immobile too. All this muscle he’s been cultivating and he’s so easily reduced to this. All of his height and breadth and he’s nothing.

Nothing… nothing… you’re nothing...

“Hallucinogen administered.” Dare hears someone say.

Everything was already hazy. Now it’s warped into something that he can’t even begin to explain and growing more and more inexplicable by the second.

Doctor Simmons puts the contraptions in his eyes that hold them open. A screen is brought into sight above him. Images begin to flash before him.

As the earbuds are placed in his ears, the sounds of sex already heard from them, Dare hears three more statements.

“Breasts and a cock on a giant of a man… the Mistress really wants this?”

“She’s forming a collection of different pets.”

“That’s not a cock, it’s his cunt.”

Chapter Text

The first time Dare is taken back to his own room several weeks later, the reality of what’s been done to him is no longer something he can ignore. When the procedure he’d undergone had been explained to him Dare found himself in a state of shock. He refused to look down at himself no matter what the doctors and nurses were doing to help him heal.

No. This isn’t happening. It’s not.

But why not? Would it be so bad?

This is fine. It’s okay.

At first, that answer is an emphatic yes. Yes, it would be bad even if he can’t quite put a pinpoint on why. He didn’t ask for this to be done. He didn’t want this to be done to him.

Dare doesn’t say any of this. His shock is a quiet sort of misery.

Every day Doctor Simmons comes to see him. The doctor goes through the same procedure with the screens of flashing images, audio and nodes. Then the doctor does things like paint his nails for him and rub a flowery scented lotion into his skin.

This happens every day for too many days to count. Every day it becomes something that, while still shocking, isn’t so bad. Whatever the sessions are doing to him, they’re making it not so bad and Dare welcomes it. He needs it to be less of a bad thing, less of a shock.

This is fine. Be brave.

He’s almost accepted the entire ordeal when they finally say he’s ready to go back to his room. Almost.

The wall facing the hallway is a translucent material that Dare would assume is glass. The other three walls are mirrors. All of the rooms are like this. There are so many ceiling to floor mirrors that anything physically done to any of the pets in the rooms is unavoidable.

The instant Dare sets foot in his room, he stops short and looks in the mirror, his brow furrowing deeply as he’s confronted with his new large, round, full breasts. He’d felt the weight of them as the nurses had slowly and gradually moved him to an upright position.

Is this really okay?

Instead of answering his own thoughtful question with ‘I don’t know’, Dare mouths the words “I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.”

Seeing them is different. Seeing himself is different. Shock. He’s in a state of shock.

“You’re quiet.” Jerome says.

What is it that Dare is supposed to say? He has to try not to be stupid and think. Oh. Right. “May I please you, Sir?”

“You should be kneeling on your pallet.”

Dare turns and lowers his considerable height to his knees on the plush pallet in the center of the room. He spreads his knees wide and clasps his hands behind his back. Dare closes his eyes and bows his head, shoulder length hair falling into his face.

“Lift that chin. Talk to me.”

When Dare looks up, it isn’t Jerome he sees. He sees the pet across the hall. The man is staring at him with a sad concern in his eyes. Sympathy. Pity.

“I don’t understand why, Sir.” Dare says.

“Because it’s your path. That’s why. Also, it’s sexy as hell.”

Finally, Dare looks up to Jerome with a quizzically arched brow.

“Just wait until we add your usual get up, panties, bra, heels… makeup, the whole nine yards.” Jerome says. “It’s all gonna come together Dare. You’re everything they want you to be. They’ve tried this before and failed. You’re the one.”

The one what? Dare feels tears threatening and bows his head, closing his eyes again.

“Say it, Dare. You’re sexy as hell.”

“I’m sexy as hell.” Dare mimics the words in a whispered breath.

“Look at me and say it. Louder.”

I dare you to be brave, the strange woman’s voice says in his mind.

Dare draws a deep breath and looks up at Jerome. “I’m sexy as hell.”

Jerome nods, pleased, and grins at Dare. Dare forces a grin back at him. He forces himself to keep his chin lifted. He forces himself to put a cocky smirk on his lips. He forces himself to put some life and spark into his eyes.

He dares himself to be brave.

* * *

I’m sexy as hell. I’m sexy. I’m so fucking sexy.

Everyone knows the phrase ‘fake it ‘till you make it’. Many people actually employ the mantra on selective occasions when something is uncomfortable or distasteful. No one has ever made use of the phrase to the extent that Dare makes use of it.

Fake it ‘til you make it becomes his battle cry in the beginning. It’s how he pushes through. It’s how his slow to process mind copes. It’s how he survives.

His guard enters his cell, Dare arches a brow and asks saucily, “You want me to please you, don’t you Sir?”

When he visits Doctor Simmons, he grins at the man. “I know you love seeing me. I mean I’m fabulous, who wouldn’t love seeing me?”

To the nurses who come in to check on him, he winks and flirts his way through the checkup.

On the inside, he’s so fucking lost. He feels hollowed out. He feels like he’s nobody. Dare is trying so hard to replace nobody with somebody… with anybody, even. He’ll be anybody as long as he’s somebody.

Dare doesn’t want to be nothing.

He lets pets and doctors and nurses and anybody who will fuck him use him up. He lets all of these people grope him because Jerome demands it. They touch his cunt and his pussy. They knead at his breasts.

By way of taking control of it, Dare starts offering it up.

“Hell yeah, they’re awesome, aren’t they? That’s why you can’t quit staring, right? You wanna touch them?”

In his cell, with no one to talk to, he gets to be quiet. He doesn’t like the quiet. Voices attack in the quiet. They call him names and remind him that he’s hollow inside. He’s nothing. He’s play acting at life no matter how comfortable the act is becoming. He’s still just a hollowed out fuck toy with no past and an unknown future.

I’m sexy as hell. I’m sexy. I’m so damn sexy.

One day Jerome enters his room and tells him to get up and follow him. “It’s time to go upstairs.”

“Upstairs?” There’s an upstairs? Of course there is. Why is he so stupid?

He follows his guard out into the hallway and meets the eyes of the pet that’s been the one constant for him in the labs. The pet nods at him. Dare winks back for what he knows is probably the last time. He’s filled with an immense sadness at that realization. They don’t even know each other’s names.

Dare is led through several security check points, taken up a few flights of stairs. He blindly follows Jerome into the light.

It’s the first time he’s seen the outside in a long time. He thinks he can feel the sun on his skin, but that’s stupid of course because he’s still inside. It bathes the outside, pouring into tall floor to ceiling windows. Maybe the feeling of sun on his skin is just the ghost of a memory that he no longer has.

He’s led into a massive parlor where a woman sits in a plush armchair. Her legs are spread wide, skirt hiked up to her waist. A very dark skinned man, naked, kneels at her feet between her legs with his face in her crotch.

Dare stands there, flanked by guards and watches as the man brings this woman to orgasm. She isn’t quiet about it.

“Oh my. That was absolutely lovely.” She leans down and kisses the man’s lips. “My most favored pet… always.”

The man practically preens at her compliment as he helps her smooth her pencil skirt down and straighten her blouse.

The woman stands and looks at Dare, a smile growing on her lips.

I’m sexy as hell. So fucking sexy. This is fine.

Dare lifts his chin and grins at the woman, the picture of confidence in spite of his carved out and shredded insides. He doesn’t want to be nothing. Please let him be a somebody instead of a nobody.

“You are exactly the oddity I wanted.”

Oddity? Is being an oddity better than being nothing?

She moves closer to him and feels the weight of one of his breasts in her palm, slides her fingernails lightly down his defined abdomen to his cunt. She strokes him.

“Well hello to you too.” Dare says.

“Dare, is it? Yes, you are very unique Dare. And now you are mine.” She slides her touch around to his pussy and twists the pink glitter plug there. “I am your Mistress and you will address me as such.”

The Mistress. Dare vaguely remembers mention of her. Why is his memory such shit these days? Probably because he’s so stupid. Dare’s insides are a mess. On the inside he feels like crying. On the outside he knows that that would ruin his makeup and he doesn’t want that. On the outside he fakes it until he makes it.

Dare winks at the Mistress when she’s circled back around to his front. “I’ll do anything you want, Mistress. Putty in your hands. Just name it.”

This response delights her, obviously so. “Jai,” She speaks to the dark skinned man standing just behind her. “Remind me to give the brutes a bonus check.”

“Yes, Mistress. Your will be done.” Jai says.

Chapter Text

It’s impossible to tell Dare’s story without telling the story of a small albino girl named Lily. It’s also impossible to tell Lily’s story of ‘before’ because hers starts at such a young age that she has no memory of before.

As a very small child she was abducted because she was wanted. As a child, she learned things that no child should ever have to learn from her Master, a man who wanted her to call him Daddy. Once she was no longer a child, she was sold because she was no longer wanted by her Daddy. It’s as simple as that, and not so simple at all.

From the moment that she was sold to the Gallery, the Mistress wanted her. It isn’t often that one comes across a porcelain-skinned, white haired, silver-eyed slip of a girl. In fact, Lily is the one who gave the Mistress the idea to start a collection of unique pets, to form a harem of her own.

First there was Jai, then there was Lily.

Lily, of course, is just happy to be wanted again, even though she is no longer a child.

She called her new Mistress ‘Mommy’ one time and felt the repercussions of that. In her mind, her Mistress is her Mommy, although she never says so out loud.

Her old Master always gave her gifts, usually dolls. He had liked to watch Lily care for her dolls. She took very good care of them. Lily cared for dolls far longer than most children would have in a normal upbringing. The dolls were her friends.

She doesn’t have dolls anymore, not the kind her Daddy once gave her.

In this place, in the Gallery, Jai is her doll. At least, in her mind he’s her doll, a living doll. Jai lets her braid his hair tight to his head when he has it. He lets her bathe him and put makeup on him. He lets her rub lotion into his skin and generally care for him. It’s what she knows how to do; play with dolls.

When Jai first brings the giant of a man into the harem room, Lily is stunned by the sight of him. Broad shoulders, slim waist, so many defined muscles and of course there’s the anatomy of both a male and a female. The man’s hair is long, down past his shoulders and Lily wants to comb it and braid it and curl it.

It’s the eyes that make her instantly like him. They’re made up with makeup, just like a doll. They’re a brilliant blue in color. They’re the kind of eyes that are soft and gentle in spite of the rest of his imposing appearance.

“Lily, this is Dare.” Jai says. “He is now one of us.”

Lily smiles softly and instantly embraces the new addition to a growing harem. She has a new doll and he is absolutely, unequivocally and indisputably perfect in every way.

* * *

Dare’s new room is a bigger space than he’s had in some time. The entire far side of the room is one massive pallet. There are other, smaller pallets scattered throughout the space. Closer to the doors where the guards stand there’s actual seating.

There are poster sized nudes of Jai and Lily decorating the walls. To one side there are two doorways to other rooms, neither of them have actual doors on them. One leads to a communal bathroom. The other leads to a dressing room.

Apparently, Dare has roommates. He can’t tell if he’s glad for the company or not. Time will tell.

He’s been in here for two days with Jai and Lily. He’s slept with them. He’s had sex with them. He doesn’t know them at all, so he supposes that it’s no different than the Catacombs or the Labs.

There’s nothing for them to know about Dare either. He’s nothing on the inside.

On the outside, however:

“I know, I’m pretty fabulous, right?”

Lily has just complimented his hair, and of course Dare has to play it up. Fake it ‘til you make it, that’s how he lives now.

Lily is gorgeous, by the way. Dare thinks she looks like something not of this world, an angel maybe, or a goddess. After her initial shock at his appearance, she’s never made him feel like he’s weird in any way. Quite the opposite. She compliments him every chance she gets.

“Very fabulous.” Lily says. “I want to braid.”

Dare shrugs. “Have at it, sweetheart.”

This becomes a ritual between them. Dare and Lily fashion each other’s hair. Dare paints his own nails and hers. Lily does Dare’s makeup. Dare does Lily’s makeup. They’re both quite adept at all of this and they’re instantly friends.

Two people with no memory of their pasts, with unknown futures, with only the present to work with. Yes, one might even call them the best of friends.

Jai is often called out to visit their Mistress, but when he’s there with them, they’re a trio of friends.

Ultimately, a month into Dare’s being in the harem with Jai and Lily, Dare decides that he likes the company. He likes the lack of solitude where he’s forced to confront what’s on the inside rather than what he’s making happen on the outside.

 

* * *

 

The first time Dare’s name is called to spend time with the Mistress, Dare feels nauseous. His stomach roils with nerves. He stands up confidently and follows the guards back to the large parlor room. The Mistress is in there, along with a handful of other people.

“Dare, come here.”

Dare walks over to her, his hands clasped dutifully behind his back and his chin lifted in an air of haughtiness that he doesn’t quite feel all the way to his core. A corner of his lips pinches in a perpetual smirk that’s all show.

“My beautiful Mistress, you called?” He greets her.

“Oh my goodness.” It isn’t his Mistress who says this. It’s another woman in the room, she and the two other men both ogling him with differing degrees of stunned astonishment. They’re looking at him like… like he’s a freak.

Dare’s only defense for whatever he’s feeling about how they’re looking at him is to take control of it.

He winks at them. “Like what you see?”

“He is… something.” One of the men says.

The other man steps closer to Dare. “He is a brick wall of a man, isn’t he? Or, most of him is, I suppose.”

Something inside of Dare screams at him to hunch down and hide. His mind tells him how slow and stupid he is. His mind tells him he’s an oddity. It tells him he’s exactly whatever these people think he is right now.

On the outside, he shrugs and grins. “I know, I’m pretty damn sexy, aren’t I? Do you wanna touch, Sir?”

The other three people look at his Mistress. She nods at them. “He is my conversation masterpiece. Feel free to explore him.”

Is that what he is? A conversation piece?

Hands are suddenly all over him. Dare is used to hands being on him, but not in this context, where he’s something strange like a knickknack on a shelf that begs to be inspected closer. They grope at his breasts, tug at his cunt and squeeze his ass. A hand slides over his abs. Another traces his muscled shoulders and biceps.

Dare lets it happen, fashioning his entire exterior to look like he’s eating it up. Fake it ‘til you make it.

He makes himself into a one-dimensional thing instead of a many layered thing. Everything is shut off except for the exterior. Dare knows exactly what he’s supposed to do in the exterior world. He’s supposed to let it happen. He’s supposed to offer himself up, to flirt and canoodle and be the fuck toy that he is.

When the woman sits down in a chair and spreads her legs, Dare gets to his knees and lets his hands slide up her thighs. “Well aren’t you pretty?” He tells her, leaning in to lap his tongue between her folds.

“Oh I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but I like him.” She says.

Dare hears his Mistress from somewhere in the room. “Isn’t he lovely?”

“That he is.” This from one of the men behind him, spreading his ass cheeks and pumping the plug in and out of Dare’s pussy.

It feels so good. This is Dare’s puppet show, he thinks. He’s found out how to pull all the strings and make them want him in spite of their initial reaction. That’s good, right? Lesson learned: own it before it can be used against him. He’ll remember and try to perfect that lesson for years to come.

He pretends there was a choice in eating the woman out, licking and sucking and pushing tongue into her until he can taste her sweet juices. He acts like he wants the plug in his pussy played with by rocking his hips back just a bit.

And when his hair is grabbed and pulled, Dare sits back on his heels with his back to the chest of the man who had been toying with the plug. The other man bares his cock and slides it between Dare’s tits. Dare gets it, he uses his large, strong hands to push his breasts together around that cock so that the other man can get off that way. He pretends like he chooses all of this.

Dare is getting good at faking it until he makes it. Dare is getting good at putting on a show. Dare is getting good at pretending.

Spunk splatters onto his neck and chin as the man cums between his breasts. “Leave it.” The man says.

Dare leaves it.

Then he’s made to get on all fours when the man behind him finally removes the plug and replaces it with his own cock. The fuck is rough and hard, which makes Dare glad for the plug already having him stretched enough for it to feel good. His breasts sway beneath him and he hears the woman laugh and comment on it.

Heat flushes his skin and his stomach roils. In spite of that, he says “You know you like it, Madame. I’m fucking fabulous.”

“I do.” She says, touching herself again. “God help me, I do like it. You are fabulous.”

“Even more so than any of you realize.” His Mistress says, and then to Dare. “What is my dear friend Gerald fucking, Dare?”

Dare’s stomach flip-flops again. His bravado wavers. “He’s fucking my pussy, Mistress.”

The other woman gasps and both men laugh. Even the man fucking him laughs so that Dare can feel it through his cock all the way through his pussy to his insides.

“I’ve got a fantastic pussy.” Dare says this more to himself than anything.

A hand slaps at his ass and words form through another laugh. “Yes you do.”

He feels it when Gerald spills inside of him. Pre drips from Dare’s cunt and he stays there on all fours as the man pulls out of him, leaving him there. He doesn’t let himself cum, no one has said he could.

The gathering continues for awhile and eventually Dare shifts so that he’s kneeling, knees spread wide and his hands clasped behind his back. His entire body is left wanting for any kind of release. He breathes in and out. He controls it. He feels more used than he’s ever felt, he thinks. Or maybe it’s just amplified because of the current situation.

He listens while they talk about business. He listens while they talk about the novelty of Dare himself, reduced to a conversation piece. He listens as they say their goodbyes without so much as acknowledging him.

When the mistress returns, she pets a hand back over his long, dirty blond hair. “You pleased me today, Dare. You’ve been such a good pet. Go lie back on the couch over there.”

Dare stands and moves to the couch. He lies down on it and is surprised when the Mistress kneels next to it. Her hand rubs at his cunt and while he’s already hard, as he always is, he is immediately aroused again.

“Does my touch make your cunt feel good, Dare?” She asks.

“Yes, Mistress.”

She strokes him, her other hand pinching at his nipples, squeezing at his breasts. “They did so good with you. I’m most impressed. More than that, I’m glad that you’re mine to show off. You’re a testament to what we can accomplish here, no matter how depraved or… unique the request might be.”

Dare is only half listening right now, filing everything away for later, because he’s so close right now. His hips push up off of the couch to press against her hand that’s still working him so well.

“Please, Mistress.” he whispers.

“Yes, Dare. You’ve earned this today. You were so good.” She coos. “Come for your Mistress.”

Dare does as he’s told, finally… finally… finally.

Chapter Text

Another routine forms after that. Every morning some combination of Jai, Lily and Dare wake up and untangle themselves from one another to tend to each other in all things. Especially Dare and Lily tend to one another. Dare likes being pampered and he gets the feeling that Lily needs someone to care for and groom.

When the Mistress pulls Lily out of the room, Dare is left somewhat bereft. It isn’t a slight to Jai in the least. It’s just that Jai is truly the Mistress’s. Dare is a thing, like a painting on the wall or a glass vase or a figurine of some sort. He’s the Mistress’s thing, her conversation piece.

Each time Dare is called out to go to his Mistress, she’s never alone. She wants to show him off. She wants people to be surprised, to gawk, to notice all the ways in which he’s not their version of normal. Dare is getting better at owning his supposed abnormalities before they can say or do anything to hurt him.

Dare is made to pose for photos one day and not long after, one of his erotic nudes appears on the wall of the harem room. Dare stares at it for a long time.

I’m damn sexy. he tells himself, unsure of who he’s trying to convince.

One day Jai brings a woman in, light brown skin and cat like eyes. She behaves like a cat, slinking around everywhere on all fours, rubbing against the rest of the pets. She purrs and licks at her hands. She never speaks. Her name is Katya, Kat for short, so says the name tag on her collar.

It isn’t long afterward that a dog named Bran arrives, so says the name on his name tag. Bran growls at all of them and doesn’t speak, not right away at least.

Soon after that, twins are added to the harem. Jai comments that the twins have taken a long time to conform to the Mistress’s wishes, longer than expected. Dare thinks he remembers a mention of twins before, but he can’t remember when. The twins have a hard time keeping their hands off of one another.

Identical in every way, Kyle and JB get more of Lily’s attention than Katya or Bran did. Dare tries not to take it personally. Lily likes to have people to groom. People. Katya is a cat and Bran is a dog, so it stands to reason.

It’s with this group of seven pets that the Mistress holds her first harem gallery dinner party. The pets are instructed to look their best.

Dare does his own makeup. When Lily does his makeup she prefers the soft pastel colors that one might see on a doll. Dare was taught how to make it look much more dramatic than that and Dare wants to look his best. His hair has grown out to past his shoulder blades now and he combs through it, adding just a bit of gel at the top to keep it out of his eyes. He paints his own long nails, a pink glitter that’s become his favorite color. He puts on his lingerie of pink lace and some tall pink heels.

When they file into the spacious dinning room Dare finds that it’s been modeled with large shadow boxes into the wall and a large square table in the middle of the room. There are staff setting the table for what looks like an elaborate dinner party with fancy china and cloth napkins folded like origami swans.

The Mistress inspects each pet in turn, cooing her praise to each pet individually. She pets at Lily’s cheek and tells her that she’s an angel. She ruffles Bran’s hair and scratches behind Kat’s ears. The twins get high praise for doing their eye makeup in exactly the same way. She kisses Jai’s lips and tells him that he’s her favorite.

The Mistress stands in front of Dare and looks him up and down with an amused grin. She hooks her fingers in a pink bra strap and pulls before letting it snap back into place against his skin.

Dare makes himself grin at her in return. “I can tell you’re pleased, Mistress.”

“I am. What a novelty you are.” She pulls the lace cups of the bra down beneath Dare’s large breasts to bare his chest. She does the same with his panties to bring his dick into the open air. “There. That’s how you’ll wear them tonight. We don’t want anyone to miss every aspect of my conversation piece, do we?”

Dare’s insides roil with a sudden anxiousness that hadn’t been there moments before. On the outside Dare’s grin turns into a smile. “No, Mistress. We definitely wouldn’t want that.”

She turns away and tells Jai that he’ll be her centerpiece for this first Gallery experience. While she’s leading Jai to the large table in the middle of the room, Lily, who’s standing on the other side of him, leans her shoulder against his. Dare looks down at her and she’s offering him a smile that says she understands that not all is as okay as he’s trying make it seem. Dare shrugs and shakes his head at her, then leans just a bit against her as well.

A man starts to pose the harem in the shadow boxes along the walls, one by one. Dare watches in fascination as each pet is positioned in an erotic pose. The twins go in the same box together, but everyone else has their own space.

Dare gets up into the box when he’s instructed to. His fingers itch to right the lace on his body the way it’s supposed to be worn, but he doesn’t let himself do that. This is how the Mistress wanted him.

In his box there’s a plush pink velvet stool in the center. It sits low to the ground and Dare is told to take a seat. He does so and spreads his legs wide as instructed, pink platform heels flat against the floor. He’s told to lean forward with his hands resting lightly on each knee. When he’s instructed to arch his back to push his chest out, Dare does so and realizes that he is on full display.

“Vulgar.” The man says with a disgusted shake of his head as he takes one last look at Dare.

Dare forces a smirk and winks at the man. “Jealous? You know you want some of me.”

The man huffs and goes on to the next.

The word echoes in his mind over and over again; vulgar… vulgar… vulgar…

Is that what he is? Is that better than being nothing?

Dare looks directly across the room to where Lily is tangled in silken strands with legs spread to bare her hairless pussy. Lily is watching him, head tilted, and Dare realizes that he’s forgotten to guard his emotions and keep them on the inside rather than the outside.

Lily lifts her chin a bit and Dare thinks he sees a small smile. He mimics her, lifting his own chin and putting his perpetual smirk back in place on his lips. Lily nods her approval and Dare feels better for it.

The dinner guests arrive and while the pets can’t be ignored for all of their obvious depravity, it isn’t until after dinner that people begin to move around the room and admire the Mistress’s harem.

Dare isn’t sure that he likes it that his shadow box is the most popular of them all. He is indeed every bit the conversation piece that the Mistress has wanted him to be.

His fingers still itch to right his bra and panties, to put them back in place so that people can see how pretty he looks in them. Instead, he digs pink glitter polished nails into his knees to keep himself from doing so.

The party guests gather around him and ogle. Dare is sure to wink at a few of them.

“Oh wow. He’s huge, isn’t he?” One woman says.

“A big man with a big cock and big boobs. How… strange.”

“The Gallery has outdone itself. What do you call it? He, she or it?” A man asks.

“Definitely an it.” Dare’s Mistress answers.

It? Dare has to work hard to keep his confident exterior in place.

“All it needs is a tiara and it would be a pretty princess, isn’t that right?”

Dare watches as his Mistress whispers something to one of the staff and the person exits the room. His stomach is a ball of nerves.

“May we speak with it, Mistress?”

“Of course.” She answers, grinning around another sip of wine.

“What is your name?” A woman asks.

Dare looks at his Mistress again, only speaking when she nods. “Dare, Madame.”

A man steps forward. “What size are those?”

It’s obvious that the man is talking about his breasts and Dare doesn’t know the answer to the question. He’s never thought to ask or look at the tag on his lingerie. It’s just always fit. He also knows that he isn’t supposed to say that he doesn’t know. Salt and Pepper taught him that lesson.

“I’m...” he hesitates, already feeling the sting of some of their comments and knowing that he’s about to welcome more. He pushes through it anyway, because it’s what he’s supposed to do. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m stupid.”

They all look surprised at the answer and then begin to laugh.

Dare quickly tries to take control of the situation. He feigns a laugh along with them and grins saucily. “They look pretty touchable though, don’t they, Sir?”

“That they do.” The man turns to the Mistress. “May I touch it, Mistress?”

“You may.” She answers and it sounds a bit like betrayal to Dare. He did welcome it though, so he can’t blame her too much.

The same stool that had been used to get the pets into the shadow boxes is brought over. The man climbs into the shadow box with Daer and cups both breasts.

“More than a handful, I must say.” He jokes to the others. “Perhaps a double D?”

“Do you like Double D’s?” Dare asks the man, shifting forward just enough to smoosh his breasts into the man’s hands. He’s trying so hard to do the right thing, to fake it ‘til he makes it. “They could be that, Sir.”

“Here.” A woman digs through a small clutch bag in her hand. “Refresh its lipstick.”

The lipstick tube is handed over and the man opens it. Dare doesn’t like the bright red color. Dare usually wears pinks. Pink everything. Pink is his favorite color. Red isn’t his thing.

Nevertheless, the man cups Dare’s chin to tilt his head up and begins to smear the lipstick all over his lips. Dare can tell just from the feel of it that it’s everywhere. It’s all around his lips. It’s imperfect. Dare is supposed to have perfect makeup.

His bravado fractures and he looks to his Mistress who’s doing nothing about it. In fact, she’s grinning her approval, amused by the whole thing.

“Oops.” The man says, returning the lipstick to the woman.

Everyone laughs.

Dare is an it. Dare is a joke. They’re making him into a joke.

Dare tries to come up with a flirty reply and comes up empty. He doesn’t know what to say. He’s too slow to keep up.

I’m so stupid. Why am I so stupid?

Just then, the staff member returns and holds a glittering diamond tiara in her hands. The Mistress nods to the man in the box with Dare.

“Oh perfect!” the man exclaims, taking the tiara and turning to place it on Dare’s head. He gets it crooked at first and Dare feel s the combs snag in his hair as he takes it off and puts it back on two more times. “I’m certain this will complete its look for the evening.”

“Accessories are very important.” A woman says teasingly. “They can make or break an outfit.”

The man gets to the stool and then out of the box before looking up to admire his handiwork. “Ah yes, there’s the pretty princess. It looks like a pretty princess doesn’t it?”

Think. Think of something to say. Come on, Dare. Flirt your way into being okay. Stop being stupid.

“Uhm...” Dare starts.

The Mistress steps close and smiles up at Dare. “You should thank our guests for making you such a pretty princess, Dare. And of course for fixing your makeup as well.”

But the makeup isn’t fixed. It’s messed up. The man didn’t even try to keep it on Dare’s lips. Dare wants to scream. He wants to right his bra and panties. He wants to wipe the red lipstick off his face and find the pink back in the harem room. He wants to take the tiara off and smooth his hair back down.

Dare isn’t allowed to do any of this though. He clears his throat, his feigned confidence nowhere to be found as he says the words.

“Thanks for making me a pretty princess.” They’re just words, spoken softly and timidly rather than with his usual bravado. He’s too stupid to think of his own words anyway. “And for fixing my lipstick.”

“Oh my. The pretty princess is bleeding.” another man says.

A woman steps closer and inspects Dare’s knee. “It scratched itself with its nails.”

No, Dare had dug his nails in so deep to the skin of his knee that he’d drawn blood. He looks across the room at Lily, perfect Lily who has no one standing in front of her shadow box right now, beautiful Lily who is staring across the room at the mess they’ve made of him.

She sees him and she looks angrier than he’s ever seen her. Dare knows that he’s one of Lily’s dolls, perhaps even her favorite. She plays with his hair more than anyone else’s. She does his makeup the most. Yes, he thinks he’s Lily’s favorite doll. They’ve made a mess and a mockery of her doll and Lily is furious about it.

Lily sees him undone. And somehow, surprisingly, that’s the most humiliating, devastating part of it all.

Chapter Text

Dare looks at his reflection in the ceiling to floor mirror. He’s sitting on the floor in the dressing room attached to the main harem room. He pulls a makeup remover cloth from the container and begins to wipe his makeup off, again, for the fourth time this morning. He can’t seem to get it right today. Granted, he’s his own worst critic. Another person wouldn’t be able to see the imperfections that he does. Still, Dare is going to do it again, until he gets it perfect.

I’m a fuck toy.

I’m an it.

I’m a conversation piece.

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.

Putting makeup on soothes him. It’s cathartic in the same way that painting his nails is. Maybe he needs to do it several times today... and so he does.

I’m nothing without sex.

At least I’m not nothing.

A shadow looms over him and Dare looks up to see Bran standing there, leaning against the door jam with his arms crossed over his chest. As per usual, Bran is in nothing but his dog collar.

Dare schools his features into something flirtatious. “Take a picture, Sweetie. It’ll last longer.”

Bran growls but doesn’t go away. Instead, he moves further into the room and sits just behind Dare, settling in to watch Dare put his makeup on. Dare can see Bran behind him in the reflection in the mirror. After a moment, Dare continues using the cloth to wipe away makeup. Then he tosses the used cloth in the bin, leans in close to his reflection and starts to reapply.

Bran looks like he wants to say something. Instead he just sits and glares at their reflections in the mirror. Dare thinks that it must be nice to be a dog and have no compulsion to speak to fill the silence. Dare is the exact opposite of that. He’s been trained to fill the silence with meaningless drivel. Silence is where all of his demons lie.

“I could put makeup on you too, Bran. A little bit of a wing and some rouge… it’d do wonders.” Dare speaks just to fill the silence while he applies his makeup. “Not that you aren’t hot without makeup. You’re hella sexy. Just...”

Dare trails off because he has no idea where he’s going with what he’s saying. He’s just speaking to speak. This time Bran doesn’t growl at him. The dog just continues staring at Dare as Dare continues on with his eye makeup.

I’m so fucking stupid.

Eventually, Lily joins them, gliding into the room like something ethereal; all grace and fluid movement.

“Let me.” She says to Dare, sitting next to him.

Dare rolls his eyes to the ceiling before getting yet another wet cloth from the box and undoing what he’d just done. Lily takes the cloth and instructs Dare to face her.

He’s done this many times before. It’s comfortable to let Lily wipe the cloth over his face to remove makeup. Dare just closes his eyes and lets it happen.

“Yesterday sucked.” Bran finally cuts into the silence. The dog doesn’t speak very much, so Dare thinks that when he does speak, it must be important.

Bran kicks a foot out, roughly kicking Dare’s thigh hard enough that it makes both Dare and Lily stop what they’re doing and look over to him. Bran stares him right in the eyes. “It fuckin’ sucked.”

Then the dog gets up and walks out. Dare watches him leave without disagreeing that it had definitely sucked.

The entire rest of the gathering was spent mocking Dare. The other pets were forgotten. It was all about the conversation piece, not a he or a she, but an it.

Dare was made to get out of his shadow box and please everyone. Led by the ringleader, the man who had climbed up into his box, the guests kept reapplying the red lipstick, jokingly getting it all around his lips instead of just on them, so that they all got a red lipstick ‘stamp’ from the pretty princess between their thighs. He was poked and prodded and demeaned.

Once they caught on to his training they kept asking him questions he couldn’t possibly answer so that he had to call himself stupid over and over again. They laughed every time, thinking that it was a fun party trick. His Mistress had silently looked on in amusement.

The entire ordeal was traumatizing. Dare has been taught that his appearance is everything. Last night, his appearance had been a running joke and he isn’t sure how to make that okay in his mind where the voices can be so cruel to him on a daily basis.

Bran is right. It sucked. Dare thinks that maybe the comment was Bran’s way of telling him that it was wrong and he gets it.

But was it really wrong? Dare was pretty stupid after awhile. He didn’t perform the way he’s supposed to. He should have been able to flirt his way out of it, but he hadn’t. He should have been able to act like nothing bothered him, but he’d been so stunned by the treatment, all of his armor and bravado ripped away, that he’d failed to follow his own ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ rule.

He’d forgotten all of his tricks until every word and action taken against him was a mighty blow.

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.

Dare closes his eyes again and lets Lily get to work. Her touch is delicate. Her work precise.

“You did good yesterday.” Lily says.

Dare smirks. “Not so much, but I’ll do better next time.”

“Maybe next time I try to get attention away from you.” She says.

Dare tries to imagine how it would feel to watch people make Lily into a joke. Would they? Or is that just reserved for him? The Mistress had allowed it. Would she allow them to do the same to Lily? Lily is not a joke. Lily is perfect. It’s Dare who’s the joke.

No. Dare would rather take the brunt of it than see Lily go through it.

“Nah, I’m fine, Lily. I mean look at me, I’m fabulous.” There’s not enough conviction behind the words to make them seem true. Dare hasn’t quite recovered the full use of his usual bravado just yet.

The brush stops fluttering over one eye lid and Lily cups Dare’s cheek. “You lovely. You, Dare, mine.”

Even through Lily’s stilted English, the words reach inside and wrap themselves around Dare’s heart. Even after seeing what they made him into last night, Lily still thinks he’s lovely. She still wants him to be her doll.

They look at one another for a long pause and Dare doesn’t think twice about his next act. He leans in to kiss her, not because anyone demands it, but because he wants to. Lily smiles into the kiss and then returns the favor.

The kiss begins simple and innocent. As they kiss, it somehow turns into a many layered thing that catches Dare off guard. It’s been a long time since he’s felt something genuinely good. He must have forgotten what that feels like. It’s like… the moment before the gate opens to release the bull you’re supposed to ride for as long as possible. The world pauses and there’s nothing but you and your adrenaline, you and your emotions, just you. That moment is the most honest version of yourself. Kissing Lily is like that.

Where in the hell did Dare come up with that thought? Bull riding? Is it a memory?

When their lips part, Lily smiles and brushes her thumb over Dare’s cheek. “Lovely.” She repeats.

“Yeah.” Dare nods. “Pretty damn lovely, and beautiful, and… good.” Only he isn’t talking about himself. He’s talking about the perfect being sitting right in front of him.

It’s in that moment that he realizes that while he may tower over her physically, he’s so far beneath her in every other way. What was he thinking, kissing her like that?

She kisses his lips once more, quick and sweet. “Now let me do makeup.”

Dare obeys and closes his eyes again, letting Lily have her way with his makeup. She doesn’t do the dramatic and bold as Dare always does. It’s lighter with the pastels that she loves.

Dare almost visibly flinches when she picks a lipstick tube, memories of the night before flooding his entire self. He’s relieved to see the pale pink color when she removes the lid. It takes everything in him to lean in and trust Lily to get it right and make it perfect, not to sloppily smear it all around his lips.

When he looks at his reflection in the mirror, she’s done just that. His lips look perfect and pink.

She leans against his shoulder and smiles at their joined reflections. “Is good?” She asks.

Dare nods. “Yeah. Is good.”

She’s pleased with his response, but because he’s Dare, he can’t just leave it at that. Dare fills the silence with meaningless drivel. “I mean I’d go with a bolder eyeliner, darker shadow and more dramatic wing, but...”

Her hand lightly baps his back right over his bra strap and they both laugh.

Chapter Text

The next several dinner parties are much of the same. Dare is a conversation piece. He’s a novelty. He’s easily made into the butt of the joke. His Mistress lets it happen, then she praises him for being such a good pet.

Dare’s insides hurt. He’s getting better at faking it ‘til he makes it though.

He flirts his way through situations, pretends that he’s having every bit as much fun as the Mistress’s guests are. Dare lets their jokes slide off of him like they’re nothing to him.

They aren’t nothing to him.

Dare begins to hide in the dressing room back with the harem. He only goes back into the main room when he’s ready to put on a brave face again.

He’s started hearing those words that he heard when he first woke up in the labs after his surgery.

I double-dog dare you, my sweet Dare. I dare you to be brave.

He has no idea whose voice it is, but he can hear the woman’s soft, musical timbre as clear as day. She must have been someone important to him at some point. Just the sound of her voice puts him at ease. He wishes he could remember her face.

He plays the words on repeat in his mind as he cleans makeup off of his face, as he reapplies, as he paints his nails, as he slips clean lace onto his body, as he steps into tall, pink heels.

This is his armor.

Then, only when he works past the way the Mistress’s guests made him feel or the way he’s somehow made himself feel, only when he’s mustered all of his bravado does he join the other pets. Dare might be slower than most. He might even be stupid, like everyone, including himself seems to think he is, but he’s not weak.

I dare you to be brave.

New pets arrive to be added to the Mistress’s harem. There are thirteen now. Two of them are in pretty bad shape when they arrive.

One of the pets sits in the corner, curled in on himself, unresponsive unless the Mistress calls on him. He has no name, no identity. The guard snaps his fingers at him to get him to heel. Dare feels bad for thinking that at least he has a name: Dare. That’s something.

The other pet is a handsome man with braids in his hair. He’s called Derek. The pet seems somewhat at a loss when he’s brought to the harem. He isn’t nameless though. Dare is sure to say everyone’s name to them as often as possible then. Everyone has a name, except for one of them – that’s something.

Dare has taken to helping Lily and Jai get the new pets settled in. It feels good to be useful. Following Lily’s lead makes life in the harem easier. Whether she realizes that he’s her shadow in life is up for debate, but she never tells him to stop or to go away. In fact, she makes him feel wanted. She makes him think that maybe he’s not nothing. Maybe he’s not an ‘it’.

What is he then? He isn’t sure. They, maybe. Dare is more than he or she. He’s a they or a them… and that isn’t nothing, it’s something.

 

* * *

 

Most days are spent with all the pets in the room gathered together on the pallet. Sometimes they sit in silence, just tending to one another without words. Sometimes they converse. No one has ever told them that they can’t speak in the harem room, not since the beginning when there was just the three of them, so they never feel limited as long as they stay docile enough so that the guards don’t have to intervene. Not one of them speaks ill of the Mistress or the Gallery itself.

They’re lounging on the pallet, Dare trying not to be jealous that Derek is playing with Lily’s hair and not him. He hasn’t kissed Lily without being instructed to do so by the Mistress since that one time in the dressing room. Sure, they’ve kissed at night when all of the pets are pleasing one another, but it’s nothing like that one time when it was just the two of them and no outside influence. It’s just not the same.

Dare thinks about it a lot though. He thinks about that kiss and how it had made him feel. He thinks about how he has no right to those feelings or to the kiss itself.

Bran is lounging at Dare’s feet. His body is covered with bruises and bites. One of the twins pets at Bran’s back. The other twin is petting Kat. Then, barely a foot away, there’s Lily sitting between Derek’s legs while he combs his fingers through her hair again and again.

Jai has been called out by the Mistress to please her.

“There’s only two of them.” The twin petting Bran’s back whispers almost too quietly to hear. Dare thinks it’s JB, but he still has trouble telling them apart sometimes.

“JB, no.” His brother whispers, glancing over to the two guards at the doors.

“Shut the fuck up.” Bran growls, causing JB to back away from him and sit by his brother and Kat.

Kyle instantly presses a kiss to his brother’s shoulder and nuzzles in against the curve of his neck. “It’s too dangerous.” he whispers against JB’s skin, only loud enough for the group of them to hear.

Dare leans down and hooks an index finger into the back of Bran’s collar to tug him closer. With Bran’s head resting in Dare’s lap, Dare takes up where JB had left off and pets at his back.

It hasn’t occurred to him to try to run in a long time. They’re so deep into this enormous house that there’s no way. There’s too many guards with too many guns. There’s literally no way that they’d make it out.

“We’d never make it.” Dare says quietly. “Those weapons can shoot 45 rounds per minute, not to mention the handguns on their hips.”

Both Bran and Derek look at him curiously.

“How the fuck do you know that?” Bran asks.

Derek agrees. “I’d like to know how you know that too.”

Dare thinks about it and shrugs, coming up blank in his search for answers. “What I do know, and I think we can all agree, is that I’m way too pretty to get shot.”

“You really have no idea where you came from?” Kyle asks. “About your life from before? How did they do that to you?”

The group goes silent, mostly because it’s obvious that Dare’s past has been erased and he has no answer for the specifics of how they accomplished it. They also know that he’s been trained to never answer with ‘I don’t know’. Knowing that, it isn’t fair to ask Dare questions that they know he can’t answer.

“I… I’m not very...” Dare starts, preparing to tell them all that he’s too stupid to answer that question.

“They did it in the same way they fucked us up.” JB tells Kyle, not letting Dare finish his statement and Dare is thankful for that.

Kyle runs the backs of his fingers gently over JB’s cheek. “We’re not fucked up.”

JB smirks at his brother even as he leans into the touch. “At least we remember who we were before… so there’s that.”

Dare focuses on his glitter pink polished fingernails as the glide over Bran’s back. Yeah, so there’s that.

“Hey.” Derek says, interrupting all of them. “There’s some of my past I wish I could forget. I bet we all have that.”

“It’s not the same and you fucking know it.” Bran barks the words at Derek.

They fall silent again, Bran pressing his fingertips against Dare’s thigh as he counts and everyone conceding that Dare has no past.

It must be terrifying for them, to see in Dare the possibilities of what could have been done to them. So why wasn’t it done to them? Why is Dare the only one they erased? He wishes that he knew the answer to that.

“I mean if it helps, I also somehow know that the highest score for a bull ride ever is 96.5. Only three men have ever hit it. No one’s ever hit a hundred.” Dare says, compulsively trying to fill the silence, direct the conversation away from the uncomfortable. “That’s crazy, right? I mean there are people who chase that their whole lives and never even come close.”

Everyone’s staring at him again. It’s Lily who breaks the silence.

“Horses prettier than bulls.” she says in her stilted English.

Derek grins and smirks, his fingers still sliding through her hair. “Have you ever seen a bull, Lily?”

“No. My Daddy got me a pony.” Lily answers. “She was lovely. I could brush tail and braid mane. Not bring to Mistress though. She must still be with Daddy.”

Dare wants to ask her more. It’s so rare that Lily speaks about before. In the dressing room, she had whispered to him once that her Daddy didn’t want her anymore and that’s all he knows aside from the fact that she likes dolls. Now he knows that her Daddy bought her a pony. Dare thinks that Lily should have all the dolls and all the ponies.

There’s a fleeting memory that’s there and gone again. Dare tries to catch the memory but he’s not fast enough or smart enough. “I think I had a horse too.” he says.

“Did you brush tail and braid mane?” Lily asks.

“I can’t remember.” Dare says, in lieu of saying that he’s stupid because he doesn’t know the answer. “Who needs to remember all that anyways, cause we all know I’m pretty damn fabulous now.”

Kyle, one of the twins, smiles at him. “You are.”

The others agree and Dare feels better for having pushed the conversation there. Did he have a horse? He thinks he might know how to ride but he has no memory of ever having done so. Why can’t he remember? Why doesn’t he know anything about himself from before? Why is his memory such shit? Why does he always feel so utterly and completely stupid?

Chapter Text

Time passes. Derek gets a Master of his own and Dare feels another sting of envy. One of the other pets in the harem is bought as well. Again, Dare jealously wonders if anyone would ever want him. Dare knows that his envy isn’t fair to the others. They have just as little control over their lives as Dare has. Still, it’s his emotion and he feels it.

Dare follows Lily’s lead in trying to help the other pets when they come back to the harem used and/or abused. He helps Kyle and JB work through their budding feelings for one another. That’s how this world has fucked with their minds. They say that they know it’s wrong, but being paired so often, it’s hard to figure out where that line is. Dare tells them that lines are for other places that aren’t here.

He helps Bran by letting him kiss him until the dog doesn’t draw blood from the kiss. See, Bran? You’re capable of being soft and gentle. Bran is so rarely allowed to be soft and gentle.

He lets Lily style his hair and do his makeup. He paints her nails a pale pink in color, then paints his own with his favorite glittered pink. She kisses him and he kisses her back and his heart flutters to life. Then he tells himself to stop because it’s stupid. She’s an angel and he’s her doll and he’s just… stupid.

At the dinner parties, Dare is still a conversation piece. He’s even the centerpiece of the table a few times. He hates that the most, because he’s the topic of conversation for the entire evening. He’s their toy. It’s reminiscent of that first dinner party where he was mocked all night.

He listens to the guests call the others stunning and beautiful and handsome and lovely. Dare is very rarely called those things. He’s an oddity. He’s the Mistress’s conversation piece. He’s interesting. He’s a thing. He’s an it.

Granted, he’s never let it get to him in the same way as it had that first time, at least not in the dinning room where they can see it get to him. When they laugh, he laughs. He grins and flirts and is sometimes downright ridiculous in order to guide the experience in one direction and away from another.

For someone who was once so shy, although he doesn’t know it, Dare becomes a master at guiding a conversation.

When he fails to do that, and sometimes before he can fail at doing that, Dare owns what he is before it can be used against him.

The dinner parties always end though. After being on point the entirety of the evening, after working so hard to pretend that nothing gets to him, Dare finds the quiet of the dressing room where he removes his makeup in whatever state its in and perfectly reapplies it again. He removes his filthy lace and dons clean lace. He restyles his hair to make it perfect again. He sits in there for as long as he needs to… until he once again finds that bravado he wears like a suit of armor.

Dare is never called out of the room on his own. It took him awhile to realize that the only times the Mistress calls him out, it’s with someone else, to be with another pet or to show him off to guests. His Mistress never lets him please her.

Even nameless pet gets called out to please the Mistress. Not Dare. Never Dare.

Seeing nameless or Kat or Bran or the twins, how they return somewhat traumatized each time, Dare should be thankful for her leaving him alone. Right?

That’s how this place fucks with a person. There are no lines of what is right and what is wrong. Dare has no excuse to give for the small bit of hope he feels when one of the Mistress’s guards enters the harem room to call a pet out. It makes no sense. And yet still, he hopes for that one time when it’s just Dare and when he’s taken to the Mistress, it’s just her.

His name is never called, not unless it’s to please another member of the harem, not unless it’s to be an it in a room of people, a conversation piece.

Dare wonders if all Masters and Mistresses are the same. Do they all make someone theirs and then discard them? He remembers Derek’s stories of his first Master, how Derek had been affected at the loss of him. No, not all of the Masters are the same. Some of them are unicorns.

Since Dare is treated differently from all the rest of the Mistress’s pets, maybe he’s a unicorn too.

That’s another horrible part of this place. Because of that unwanted discarded feeling, Dare’s place in the harem is a dark one. The rest of the harem is beautiful and wanted and owned. To the one person that he’s been trained to seek approval from, Dare is a conversation piece, and the longer it goes on the more unworthy he feels. The more unworthy he feels, the more he uses his bravado to pretend that everything is fine.

A person whose past has been taken away, who’s been forced to live only in the now, how he’s treated in the now is all he has. It’s all there is.

It’s not fine. It’s not even close to fine. Dare is not okay.

 

* * *

 

“You the prettiest doll I have.” Lily says, sectioning off Dare’s long hair to curl another swath of it.

They’re in the dressing room and Dare has agreed to let her play with his hair and do his makeup again. This is what they do, him and Lily. It’s soothing to the both of them. It’s their thing.

“Heck yeah, I’m the prettiest.” Dare answers. “I don’t know why that’s even in question.”

Lily laughs, letting the curl fall into place and grabbing another small section of hair. She combs through it and then picks up the curling iron again. “No question. I just say.”

Dare looks in the mirror at their reflections. Lily is perfect as always. “Do you remember when we kissed in here? It was a long time ago.”

Lily smiles and nods. “Yes. That funny.”

“Funny?” Dare asks. “You didn’t like it?”

“I like kissing you always.” She lightly brushes her fingers over Dare’s shoulder before going back to curling his hair.

Dare isn’t sure that she understands what he’s asking and he really isn’t sure of how to ask it. The both of them are so incredibly socially stunted in their own ways. She thought that the same kiss that had meant so much to him was funny. In a lot of ways, Lily never got to grow up. She might be a certain age now, a woman fully grown, but in many ways her mind isn’t the age that she is. And for Dare, in this attempt to have an actual conversation instead of saying what’s expected of him, it’s all going wrong.

“Am I just a doll to you, Lily?” He asks, unsure if he wants to know the answer. His heart also needs to know the answer.

Lily’s kind, beautiful, innocent eyes look at their reflection in the mirror for a moment to consider that question. Finally she nods. “The prettiest doll, Dare. The prettiest doll I have.”

Yes, his place in the harem is a dark one. His insides feel all twisted up and not in a good way. Dare looks at himself in the mirror as Lily continues to fix his hair and forces a cocky grin onto his perfectly pink tinted lips. Then he leaves the realm of independent thought and returns to his canned responses that always seem to please his Mistress and her guests.

“Heck yeah, I am. I’m pretty damn fabulous.” It’s safer here.

Chapter Text

Dare has been in the harem for years now, more than five, less than ten. Time is difficult to judge in the harem. Nothing has changed except for his own acceptance of his role in his Mistress’s harem. It’s easier to playact. It’s easier to exist knowing that he’s just a thing.

He’s accepted that he’s the only one who thinks he’s beautiful, and depending on the day even his own appreciation of himself can be questionable. There are so many times that his words are just as empty as his insides are. Lily thinks he’s pretty, but he’s a doll to her, not really a person.

Where Dare is concerned, Lily is still a goddess.

Derek has come and gone, having been chosen by another Master. Other pets have come and gone. Jai, Lily, himself, the twins, Kat and Bran are staples though. So is nameless in the corner. The other pets in the harem are still new enough for Dare to wonder if someone will have the right price to buy them from the Mistress as well.

He’s quit hoping that his Mistress will call on him for him to please her. On the rare occasions that his name and only his name is called, he knows what’s in store.

At first he doesn’t hear it. The Mistress’s guard calls on him and Dare continues to kneel on the floor with the other pets. It’s Jai who says his name to make him realize that his name had been called.

Dare stands up, thankful that he had done his own makeup today. It’s dark and bold. He’s already wearing his lingerie but the guard gives him time to slip into his tall heels and refresh his pink lipstick. Then Dare is following the guard through the halls with his hands clasped behind his back.

He isn’t surprised to see that the Mistress is not alone. She’s never alone when only Dare is brought in to see her. His Mistress wants to show off her conversation piece yet again. He’s alright with that. He’s used to it now.

“Hello, Mistress. You look beautiful.” He says, meaning it. She’s always beautiful. Then he asks the question that’s always expected of him, a question that he already knows the answer to. “May I please you tonight?”

His Mistress cups his cheek even as Dare hears whispers from the others in the room. Those whispers are about him, the conversation piece. They always are. “I’m glad you’re here, my pet. Kneel.” She gestures to a pallet on the floor.

Dare kneels, knees wide and his hands still clasped behind his back.

“My goodness,” One of the guests, a woman, says. “You weren’t lying when you told us about him. He’s...”

When the woman fails to come up with a word, a man helps her out. “Massive… in literally every way.”

“Massive isn’t the right word. He’s a large man, yes but...” the woman looks at Dare’s Mistress. “Does it prefer he or she?”

“It prefers whatever you want it to be.” his Mistress says.

This is a conversation that Dare has heard so much that he’s immune to it, at least until later when he’s back in the harem dressing room. Instead he grins at the woman and winks at her. “That’s right. I can be whatever you want me to be, Madame. Would you like to touch?”

The man snickers and shakes his head, circling around Dare in inspection. “You really did it.”

“A testament to what the Gallery can accomplish, don’t you think?” the Mistress says, using Dare as a tool to promote a sale again. It’s happened many times before. It will happen again. “We can create anything, any kind of pet, as depraved and vulgar as you want.”

There’s that word again. Dare has heard it a few times now. Vulgar.

When the man is in front of him, Dare looks up to him. “I know, I’m pretty fantastic, right? Do you want me to please you, Sir? I could make you feel so damn good.”

“Language, Dare.” his Mistress warns.

“I’m sorry, Mistress.” Dare shrugs. “Point still stands.”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in making a custom order.” the man finally says, turning away from Dare as if Dare were nothing more than a forgotten piece of furniture.

The woman agrees. “Me too. I’m very interested. And I know many in my circle who would buy from you if this is the level of product you produce.”

Product. That’s another word Dare has grown accustomed to. This isn’t his first rodeo where a sales pitch is involved. This is what the Mistress uses him for.

“How did you do it?”

This is a new voice, one he hadn’t realized was even in the spacious parlor. Dare finds a woman, standing up from where she’d been sitting across the room. She’s dressed in an a-line gown and has the end of a leash in her hand. Dare can’t see around the couches but he knows there’s a pet at the other end of that leash.

“We took away everything he was and replaced it with emptiness. That way, the product has only the present to worry about. The technology was experimental, but we think we’ve perfected it now, with Dare, enough to make any pet comply with anything we want without breaking them… or breaking them should a client wish it.” the Mistress explains.

Then she turns to Dare. “Where were you from before you were brought to us, Dare?”

Dare can’t answer that question and she knows it. She’s asked him these questions in front of other people so many times before. He answers in the way he was trained. “I’m not very smart, Mistress. I’m stupid.”

“What was your last name?” she asks.

Again, Dare answers. “I’m not very smart, Mistress. I’m stupid.”

There are snickers around the room. Dare is sure to grin and smirk along with them just to show them that he doesn’t care. On the inside, he cares.

His Mistress isn’t done. “What did you do in your life prior to your time in the Catacombs?”

“I’m not very smart, Mistress. I’m stupid.” Dare answers, looking down to the ground as those gathered in the room gather close to him, seemingly impressed with his stupidity.

“Do you remember your parent’s names? Did you have any siblings?” she asks.

“I’m not-”

His Mistress squats down in front of him, grabbing his chin and making him look up to her. “Were you married? Did you have a girlfriend? Boyfriend?”

Dare looks into her eyes and repeats what he knows he’s supposed to say when he doesn’t know the answer… and he has none of these answers. “I’m not very smart, Mistress. I’m stupid.”

“That’s okay, Dare.” Her thumb smooths over his cheek. “I don’t want you to be smart.”

Dare grasps for anything to end this. Having to call himself stupid over and over always breaks down his defenses. Every damn time. “You just want me to be sexy as hell, right Mistress? In which case: winning.”

Laughter sounds all around him and Dare grins at his Mistress. She stands and moves away from him, all of the people do except for the pet who had crawled closer to Dare with his own Mistress.

Dare listens to them discuss the science behind what they did to him in the catacombs and the labs without really understanding any of it. Dare is once again forgotten, reduced to a conversation piece as he always is. He looks down to the ground in front of him, trying to quickly rebuild what was torn down from repeatedly calling himself stupid before they notice him again.

The pet next to him deliberately scoots closer so that his left knee touches Dare’s right knee.

When Dare looks at the pet he’s instantly back in the labs, in his mirrored room, looking through the one glass wall to the pet across the way. It’s been so long since he’s seen him, years now, but he looks the same save for a few piercings here and there and a new haircut.

The man is almost as tall and big as Dare is. He has a mohawk cut, his blonde hair smoothed back with gel and the sides shaved. He has an equally blonde beard.

The man glances from the floor to Dare and grins. Dare grins in a way that’s more genuine than playacting before looking back to the floor.

For a long time they sit together side-by-side with their knees touching. Dare wants so badly to ask him his name. He wants to ask how he is and if he’s happy. He wonders if his Mistress takes care of him better than Dare’s Mistress cares after Dare.

Not a word is spoken.

Eventually, the pet’s Mistress comes back to touch her pet. She gestures to Dare. “Play with him.”

“Yes, Mistress.” the pet says. “Thank you.”

Dare looks over to his own Mistress, who nods at him before taking a sip of her wine and continuing the sales pitch.

Some classical piece plays in the background and the guests, along with both Mistresses begin to converse among themselves.

Dare feels a hand at his shoulder and is pushed back onto the pallet on the floor. The pet leans over him and grins before leaning down to kiss him. Dare’s lips part to kiss him back. It’s a heady kiss, exhilarating and lingering with teeth and tongue and a silent exchange of confusing emotions.

The man pretends to nip at his ear as Dare slides his long nails down over the man’s nipple piercings. Instead of kissing the skin there, the pet’s warm breath flutters against Dare’s ear as he whispers instead. “Hello, Dare. I’m glad to finally know your name.”

Then he moves to the other side to gently nip at that lobe. “I’m Brooks.” He whispers.

Brooks. Finally. That name sounds so familiar and Dare has no idea why. He likes that name. He mouths it without any sound.

“Brooks.”

Dare cups one large hand at the back of Brooks’s head as the other pet trails kisses down Dare’s neck, over collarbone to the mounds of his breasts. Dare’s pink glitter nails lightly scrape down the back of Brooks’s neck to his shoulders. Dare is sure to arch up into the kisses as Brooks teases one nipple through the pink lace with his teeth and then the other and even still as Brooks buries his face between Dare’s breasts and draws a deep breath. The cups of his bra are pushed aside so that Brooks’s lips touch skin and Dare feels devoured in the best of ways.

No one is taunting him. No one is belittling him. No one is humiliating him. This is something else. It’s something good.

It isn’t difficult for Dare to make himself look pleasing to the Mistress as Brooks’s mouth continues to tease at his breasts and one hand fondles his cunt over the lace of his panties before slipping inside. Brooks’s hand strokes the long girth and then slips to the pink glitter plug to twist and pump it in Dare’s pussy.

It’s so easy to make this look good for the Mistress and her guests because it feels so damn good to be used like this rather than as a prop or a conversation piece or an oddity. He hasn’t been used like this since the labs, Dare thinks… not without being mocked while it was happening. The Catacombs and the labs had taught him how to be used. Up here, with the Mistress, it’s been warped into something different. It’s a joke. Dare is usually a joke, but definitely not right now.

Once Brooks has pulled Dare’s lace panties all the way down his long, muscled legs with his teeth, and then worked them past Dare’s tall, clunky pink heels, it’s so easy to pull one leg up and rest his heeled foot and ankle at Brooks’s shoulder. He nods at the other man in invitation.

“You know you wanna fuck this pussy.” But it isn’t teasing and flirting when Dare says it now. He means it. He wants Brooks to fuck him, to use him. He doesn’t want to be a thing. Dare wants to be used in the way he was in the Catacombs and the labs and he isn’t sure what that says about him.

It’s so easy for Brooks to replace the plug with his own long cock and for Dare to accept it. It feels good. It feels like this is one moment of something good in a sea of indifference for Dare. For all his years of being treated with indifference from his Mistress, this is the exact polar opposite of that.

Brooks fucks him slow, trying to make it last. He leans down to whisper in Dare’s ear again.

“You are not stupid.” It’s the first time anyone has said that to him since he’s been made to say it again and again in the Catacombs. Dare’s breath hitches in his throat and he grows still as Brooks continues. “You’re not stupid and you are fucking beautiful.”

The words are so soft in his ear, fluttered consonants and vowels, but they might as well have been screamed from the rooftops for how they affect Dare. He doesn’t want to think about them too hard. That would ruin them. Dare tends to ruin things in the darkness of his own head space. He just lets the words nestle into his insides like the little tidbits of kindness that they are.

Brooks fucks him and kisses him and he even reaches between them to jerk Dare’s cunt off as well. Dare’s hands slide down Brooks’s back and grip hard on his ass, squeezing flesh and pulling the other man deeper, harder, faster into him.

He can’t breathe. He doesn’t want to breathe. He would be content to die right here in this moment with this one good thing being his last hurrah.

Dare feels as beautiful as Lily is, as sexy as Jai or ruggedly handsome as Bran or Derek, as gorgeous as the twins. They’re all so beautiful, everyone says so. And now, even if this was forced. Even if this is what Brooks was told to do. Even if…

In this one shining moment it feels real – and Dare feels beautiful too.

Chapter Text

The Mistress was impressed with Dare and Brooks’s ‘performance’ that wasn’t really much of a performance at all. She wasn’t impressed enough to want Dare for herself, but she told him what a good boy he’d been that night after Brooks’s Mistress took him away.

It’s been months since that night and Dare still thinks about it. He stares at himself in the mirrors in the dressing room and not just to put on makeup or fix his hair, just to look at himself – to really look at himself and admire what he is now. He admires the size and perkiness of his breasts. He admires the musculature of his arms and his six-pack abs and the masculine ‘V’ that leads down to his perpetually hard cunt. He admires how round and muscular his buttocks and thighs are. He admires how his heels make his calves look.

You are not stupid and you are fucking beautiful.

They’re a fantasy to the reality of his everyday life here in the harem. Dare knows this. Still, he replays the words in his mind even as he leans in to carefully and perfectly reapply his pink lipstick to his lips.

This is when he hears the doors burst open and guards yelling for the pets to get on their knees, as if the pets aren’t already programmed to do that when guards other than their usual guardians enter the harem. There’s no need for yelling, and yet. He hears the click of what sounds like guns and his suspicions are correct when he walks into the main harem room and automatically moves to get to his knees in line with the other pets.

Bran is still standing, barking and growling and Dare is both impressed with his bravery and afraid for him. “Bran.” Dare hisses.

His Mistress walks into the room, beautiful as ever, smiles at Bran and then asks a question that makes no sense to Dare. “I am about to test your loyalty pets.” She says. “Who among you would die without me?”

Some of the pets crawl forward, including nameless, and they’re instantly shot dead by the guards.

The fire of gunshots echoes in Dare’s ears and he looks wide-eyed down the line of the harem and over to Bran, who’s still standing sentinel and begging their Mistress not to do this. Not to do what, kill them all? Did Bran know that this was going to happen?

When Jai tries to crawl forward, Bran shields him from her. “He loves you! We all love you! Please, don’t!” Bran yells.

Everything is happening so fast and Dare is so slow to process it all. Why is he always so slow and stupid? He doesn’t mean to be, he just… he’s slow. There’s more shouting and talking. Two more pets crawl forward, including Kat, and are shot on the spot. Dare stares at them, zoning out for another moment of shock before the world clicks back into the present.

Be brave, Dare. I double-dog dare you to be brave.

“You will all do as the guards instruct.” the Mistress is saying. Then she turns and exits the room.

The guards instruct them to move. Dare finally pushes past his shock to see Bran struggling with Jai. Lily has linked her arm with Bran. Dare stands and moves closer to get on the other side of a struggling Jai and help out. “Let me help, Bran.”

“What is happening?” Lily asks.

“The Gallery is going belly up, that’s what’s happening.”

How Bran knows this, Dare has no idea. Chains are connected to each of their collars and then they’re led out, flanked by a dozen guards with multiple weapons.

Dare has never been to the garage before, but it’s huge. The remaining pets are taken to the back of a truck, the door rolled up and ordered to get in. Dare helps Bran get everyone loaded and then loads himself. Bran pretends to slip and he sees the dog hide something shiny in his palm as a guard helps to right him. He passes that shiny object to Dare.

Be brave, Dare.

When the door shuts, the darkness is so absolute that it reminds Dare of the Catacombs, his small concrete room where he was nothing. He’s lost inside his own nothing space for a moment. When Bran calls out into the darkness, it takes Dare a moment to answer. “They’re over here.”

He reaches for Bran when he gets closer and helps him find everyone. He knows that Bran has a thing about keeping track of them all. Bran counts them all almost as compulsively as Dare usually speaks through silence.

Dare is still trying to catch up to what’s happening. When he hears his name again, he has to process what Bran has asked him. He’s asked about the knife, the knife that he’d passed to Dare that Dare is still holding.

Everything is quiet. It’s too quiet. Dare tries to fill up the quiet. “It’s right here. Don’t know how the hell you did that. Smooth though… kinda hot, actually.”

“Hold onto it.” Bran says. “I can do a helluva lot of damage with a knife.”

After seeing Bran stand in between the harem and a small battalion of armed guards, Dare doesn’t doubt it. “Sweetie, from where I’m sitting you don’t need a knife to do any damage. You’re good at that all on your own.”

“Fuck you, Dare.”

But Dare can hear the grin in Bran’s tone, so he knows that he’s helped to add some levity to an otherwise terrifying situation. Bran might have been trained to fight, but Dare was trained to maneuver conversations and situations in a less obvious way, and he’s done just that.

 

* * *

 

The longer that Dare is in the absolute darkness in the back of the truck, the harder he has to fight to remind himself that he isn’t alone, he isn’t in a tiny concrete room, he isn’t nothing.

My name is Dare. I’m a fuck toy. I let people fuck me. I’m only good at sex. I’m nothing without sex.

Lily is now nestled into his side, but she hasn’t said a word. In fact, everyone is silent except for Jai’s sobs that are so intensely felt that they can be heard even above the deep rumble of the truck’s engine. Jai was the Mistress’s favored pet. Jai loved the Mistress, maybe they all loved her in their own way, but none of them loved her like Jai.

The silence, once again, makes Dare attempt to fill it. He decides to fill it with the only other pet that still seems to have a voice.

“So how long have you known about this?” Dare asks.

Bran knows that the question is his. “Not as long as Jai has known about it.”

That doesn’t necessarily surprise Dare. While Jai loves all of them, Jai is also first and foremost loyal to the Mistress. He’s privy to more of her conversations than any of them. He’s her favorite pet.

“Bran?”

“Dare?”

“I’m kinda freaked out right now.”

“Understandable.”

“They shot our friends. Were they gonna shoot us too?”

“I think so. But something changed.”

“What changed?”

“I don’t fucking know, Dare. I’m as confused as you.”

“I didn’t say I was confused. I said I was freaked out.”

“I’m freaked out too.”

“Okay good.” Dare says. “Cause I don’t wanna be the only one.”

Bran doesn’t answer him. Bran has said more words to him right now than Dare has ever heard him say and Dare is thankful that someone is trying to fill the silence with him. He pushes for more.

“I can’t believe you stood up when she came in. That was bad ass.”

Dare hears Bran smirk and he knows that Bran isn’t lying when he says, “That’s what she trained me to do.”

 

* * *

It’s only when the truck stops that Dare wakes. He rises with who he thinks is Bran and moves closer to the door. It’s hard to hear anything over Jai’s renewed sobs, but he thinks he hears the truck doors slam and then silence.

The silence is filled with a curse from Bran and Dare has to ask. “Are we in trouble?” He’s assumed the same thing as Bran, that they’ve been left here in the back of a box truck.

“I don’t know.” Bran answers.

When Bran’s attempt to lift the gated door of the truck lends no results, they both sit down close to the door, shoulder to shoulder. Again, Dare can hear Jai’s sobs. He can hear his own breathing. He can feel his heartbeat pounding in their chest. They’ll all die in here if they aren’t let out. Maybe that’s what the Mistress has planned.

Dare feels Bran press his shoulder closer to him. “Hey, we’ll be okay. I’ll figure it out.”

"Yeah." Dare says, thankful for the opportunity to converse. "We're a bunch of naked people in the back of a truck wearing chains and collars. The truck has stopped. We're locked in. Most of us don't know left from right anymore outside of the Mistress." Dare pauses. "She's supposed to take care of us. But look at us. Look at what she did to the others, letting the guards shoot them like that…"

One of those pets didn’t even have a name. He died nameless. Dare should have given him a name.

Dare continues. "She did this to me, I think, took my memories. Look at what she did to you… and the twins. Jai told us she made you kill."

Bran’s hand rests on Dare’s knee to quiet him. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”

"I know. That's not what I'm sayin'." Dare sighs, picturing that image of Bran standing between the pets and a firing squad in the harem’s rooms again. He’s been following Lily’s lead for so long. Now he needs to follow someone else. It’s survival. "I'm sayin' that if anybody can figure this out, it's you. None of us are able to make decisions for ourselves anymore, but I'll follow your lead and I'll help you if I can."

It takes Bran a bit to reply and Dare knows that it’s because Dare has just laid a lot on his shoulders. “Thanks. I’ll try to steer you right.”

Dare does this only because he needs something familiar in the darkness. He grabs Bran’s chin and kisses him. Bran is only stunned for a second before Bran is kissing him back. They’ve kissed many times before in many different scenarios. This kiss is desperate for the both of them and for different reasons. This kiss is a kiss that they choose to give each other.

“You’re still an asshole.” Bran growls against Dare’s lips.

Dare smirks and answers him before kissing him again. “So are you.”

They don’t move from that spot for a long time, sitting shoulder to shoulder in the dark as they wait. They don’t move until they hear several vehicle engines approaching the outside.

Dare’s shoulder feels cold when Bran leans in to put his ear against the door.

“What is it?” Dare asks, knowing fully well that the only answer to that is ‘engines’. Bran shushes him with a slap to his arm.

When Bran gets up Dare stands too. Dare is always standing still when things are happening around him. He’s always slow to catch up, slow to react. Just this once he wants to try to do something. He wants to help Bran. He wants to help all of the pets in the truck. He wants to do this for himself to prove that he can.

Dare is so much in his head, trying to talk himself into being fast and not slow, that he doesn’t hear the lock of the door. He watches it pull up in slow motion and he watches Bran leap out to pounce on top of the closest man to the door. Guns are trained on Bran and the man on the ground is speaking.

All of this has happened when Dare finally catches up and leaps down from the van, his heels clacking on the concrete. He grabs one man and uses his up until now dormant but considerable strength to slam him against the truck and then goes for another. It’s the first time Dare has actually used the muscles he’s built up for anything but show and tell.

Be brave, Dare. I double-dog dare you.

He punches another man who mutters ‘what the fuck’ at the sight of this pink laced clad giant of a man punching him out, then he goes for another. Dare grabs the tactical gear of another man, prepared to fling him to the ground, when he hears a name.

“Derek.”

The name slices through Dare’s head space to bring him out of it. He looks at the man Bran is sitting on top of. “Derek… our Derek?”

Icy blue eyes seek him out and the man nods. "Yes, he was in the Mistress's harem with you. Now I am his Master. He cares about you and that is why I'm here."

Now it’s Dare’s turn to whisper the words. “What the fuck?”

The man with the icy blue eyes continues. “My name is Mikael. I'm here to help all of you."

Chapter Text

"I know you're frightened. I commend you for your act of bravery just now but I am not your enemy." Mikael says. "I'm going to take care of you."

"Where's Derek?" Dare knows all too well the sound of a voice that’s lost all of its bravado and that’s exactly what Bran’s voice sounds like now. His heels click on the pavement as he steps closer to Bran.

"Derek is safe." Mikael puts both hands around Bran's hand that holds the knife. "Let go of the knife. You're safe now. Let go of the knife."

Once the knife is handed over, Dare starts pulling Bran up and off of Mikael. “Bran, come on. Get up.” They both step away and Dare introduces them. “I’m Dare, Sir. This is Bran.”

Mikael says something about what a pleasure it is to meet them and Dare sort of zones out. He doesn’t think that anyone has ever thought it was a pleasure to meet him. An amusement, maybe… but not a pleasure.

Dare feels Lily’s hand in his once they’re put in a limo and taken to a private air strip. He feels her hand in his as they kneel on the floor of a private jet.

Still, after mustering as much presence of mind as he’d needed to help Bran, which still put him into the action later than it should have, Dare has retreated to anywhere but the present.

Dare pays no attention to anything the man is saying. It’s all moving too fast. It’s all too much for him to keep up with. Instead his eyes are on Bran. Bran is paying attention to the important stuff. Bran is smarter than him. Bran will let him know if anything needs doing.

He’s silent for a long time, watching Bran, dozing with the other pets and generally following orders, the latter of which he’s very good at. He rests when he’s told to. He eats when he’s told to. Still, all of his attention is on Bran, waiting to see if further action is necessary toward keeping them all safe.

Some of the pets were killed. Their Mistress had ordered it. That could have been Dare. Maybe it should have been him, he thinks. Whose conversation piece will he be now? The shots sound loudly in his mind again. It should have been him. Why is he always so slow?

When the plane lands, they inevitably end up at a structure that can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a mega-mansion or a sprawling cottage. Somehow, it’s both.

Bran takes up the lead and Dare finds himself in the back, following all of the pets, all of them with their hands clasped dutifully behind their backs. They’re led to a bedroom with a large bed in it. It looks like a normal bedroom, nondescript.

Dare walks over to a fireplace, looking up at a massive painting of horses rearing up on their hind legs. He has a vision of himself riding a horse. His right hand clenches and unclenches as if he can feel the leather of reins in his palm.

Stop being stupid.

He’s been quiet for so long that he’s deep inside his own head. He has to get out. When he looks back into the room, all of the pets are looking around in the same way he was, all of them somewhat bereft. The silence begs to be filled.

“So that’s Derek’s master...” Dare says. “He’s hot in an unapproachable kind of way. So what do you think will happen? Will he sell us off? Cause I wanna keep us together.”

Dare can think of few things more terrifying than being alone with himself for any period of time. Even when he disappears into the dressing room, the other pets were only a few feet away.

It isn’t Bran who answers him, it’s Jai. This is the first time Jai has spoken through his tears. “When our Mistress comes for us, she will want all of us together.”

But their Mistress had some of them killed, a truth that Dare can’t be the only one still reeling from. He can still hear the gunshots clear in his mind. He can still see the blood pooling on the floor. One of them died without a name. He’s about to say so when he sees Bran trembling. The sight of Bran, who’s been so strong to this point, trembling… it forces Dare into silence again.

“We’re staying together.” Bran says, his voice soft and shaking. “We’ll do whatever we have to do to stay together.”

When Bran collapses to the ground, having been strong for as long as he could handle, the entirety of the pets in the room converge on him. Anything else is put aside until one of their own is taken care of.

 

* * *

 

The first day is difficult, each pet trying to maintain their routine in a new environment that’s built for the normal day-to-day of normal human beings. The bathroom is small, which means they have to take turns caring for one another. Their meals are brought in and set on the floor just as they would have been in the harem rooms at the Gallery.

One of the pets with them, Kara, decides to opt out of life. Maybe she should have crawled forward too. Dare thinks that if or when he gets brave enough to make the decision, he’ll do it in a way that’s much prettier than what Kara chose to do. Kara was beautiful. Now her skin is cut and she’s bloody.

His mind is all over the place. He has no control over where his thoughts are leading.

The loss of another pet makes Dare grow even more quiet, slip further into his own head space where everything is horrible. He constantly feels that compulsion to fill the silence with something, anything, but he only rarely does that for awhile. Everything he thinks to say sounds so stupid in light of their circumstances.

Derek’s master gets them any and everything they ask for. Dare gets a whole makeup kit and a bag with hair products, nail polishes and lingerie in it.

As the days follow, Dare stays on the periphery of things. Jai needs more attention than Dare needs and Lily is sure to care for him, her first Gallery doll. The twins cling to one another more and more each day. Bran is taken out for Doctor Javid to help him. Dare and Timber are the crumbs that fell off of the plate where all of this is happening.

It makes sense for Timber, she’s mourning Kara.

Where Dare is concerned, he’s just… there. A conversation piece, only no one is talking about him. The floor beneath him feels so unsteady. He doesn’t know what to do with himself.

Who among you would die without me?

If he weren’t so slow and stupid, he would have crawled forward. He should have.

He’s in his head space a lot of the time. It’s a place that is never very nice to him. He hears the recordings of sex that were played for him in the Catacombs and the labs. He hears Salt and Pepper asking him questions over and over. Dare answers every question correctly in his mind. He thinks Salt and Pepper would be proud of him.

"What's your name?"

"My name is Dare."

"What are you, Dare?"

"I'm a fuck toy, Sir."

"What do you do, fuck toy?"

"I let people fuck me."

"Good at anything else?"

"I'm only good at sex, Sir."

"Is that right? Well, you sure about that?"

"I'm only good at sex."

"Well okay then. Without sex, what are you?"

"I'm nothing without sex."

"That's right, pretty boy. What's this?"

"That's my cunt, Sir."

"It's a pretty cunt. How about this?"

"That's my pussy, Sir."

A lot of the time when he tries to think of something to say to get him out of his own head, he comes up empty-handed. He doesn’t know what to say. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to him calling himself stupid over and over and over.

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid. I’m stupid. I’m so fucking stupid.

He has moments of brilliance, witty and flirty one-liners that he occasionally inserts into conversation in the hope that someone, anyone, will look beyond the conversation piece and see that he’s drowning. He’s literally drowning himself in his own mind.

He garners amusement or frustration, depending on the recipient. But no one ever really looks at him and sees him, so he retreats again.

So fucking stupid.

I’m nothing… nothing… nothing...

Dare spends a lot of time in the bathroom, sitting up on the counter top with his legs crossed (even though he barely fits), leaning in close to the mirror and perfecting his makeup. Then he removes it and starts over, and over again, and once again… and again.

Dare silently throws the ball for Bran, hoping that the dog will say something to him, anything. Bran is happy to have his toys that Mikael got him.

He fixes Lily’s hair before she goes to care for Jai. She calls Dare lovely and kisses his cheek.

Who among you would die without me?

It was a mercy killing, an execution born out of a twisted sort of love. Dare should have crawled forward when the Mistress asked that question. He should have begged her for a bullet in the brain. If only he weren’t so slow. If only he weren’t so stupid. His Mistress should have known. She should have known that her conversation piece has no place out here in the world.

Dare sits himself down on the floor between the twins and they both look at him, waiting for him to come up with something ridiculous to say. He’s trying, really he is. It’s some time later, when the twins have nestled in against either side of him that he finds just the right words.

“Everyone knows that the meat is the best part of a sexy twin sandwich.” He says, garnering the response of soft laughter that’s short-lived.

Still, no one sees him. No one sees him drowning.

Nothing… I’m nothing.

Chapter Text

“Do you want me to please you, Sir?” Dare asks.

Mikael has pulled him out of the room on his own. Dare dutifully followed him through hallways to a study where Dare knelt on a pallet while Mikael has worked for several hours. It’s just the two of them and Dare continually watches the door for more people to join them. One-on-one sessions aren’t meant for conversation pieces.

Dare has listened to one-sided phone calls, listened to the tapping of keys on a keyboard and second-hand smoked several clove cigarettes.

Now, Mikael has leaned back in the desk chair and been looking out of the windows at the snow-covered grounds outside for a few minutes.

Dare has filled the silence with the wittiest thing he could come up with, which isn’t really all that witty.

Mikael offers him a soft smile that doesn’t quite match the icy coolness of his eyes. “No thank you, Dare.”

“Your loss.” Dare answers. “Cause I’m pretty damn fabulous… Sir.”

“You are that, and more.” Mikael draws on his cigarette and continues to study Dare in a way that would make most people uncomfortable. Dare is used to being inspected though, so he just relaxes under the scrutiny.

It’s the silence that gets to Dare after awhile. It’s the silence that makes Dare speak again. “It’s just that most people can’t help but touch while they’re ogling me.” He arches his back a bit more and pushes his pink lace clad breasts out. “I don’t mind. You know you wanna...”

Mikael arches one brow. “I do not. Ogle.”

“Tough crowd...” Dare mutters under his breath, a comment that makes Mikael smirk, before Dare continues. “May I ask why you brought me in here with you, Sir?”

“That is a very good question that I’m all too happy to explain. You see, every time I ask if you are alright, you tell me how fabulous you are, how sexy you are, how fantastic, et cetera. As we grow nearer to leaving this place for our new home, it’s dawned on me that you never really answer my question, not with any real substance. It’s something I should have realized sooner, I admit it. Although in my defense, I have been a bit consumed with other things.”

Dare’s stomach flip-flops uncomfortably as Mikael stands and walks around the desk. This is a real conversation. Dare isn’t good with real conversations. The man settles in an arm chair with his cigarette between his lips, one leg crosses over the other.

“I thought perhaps you might not be answering me because of the other pets in the room, brave face and all that. I haven’t forgotten how brave you were when we first opened that truck that the Mistress crammed you into. In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about it.” Mikael continues. “I thought you might need a moment without their constant companionship, no matter how much you might love them.”

Dare takes all of this in, trying to keep up and doing a miserable job of it. It’s a lot of words and Mikael seems very smart. Dare isn’t smart. “You think a lot, Sir.”

Mikael smiles again and nods. “I do. Do you not?”

“I try not to.” Dare says. “Why do I need to think when I look this fantastic?”

“How are you, Dare? Really.” Mikael asks.

“I’m fabulous, Sir.” Dare answers, even going so far as to throw a wink in Derek’s Master’s direction. “You’ve got us in this nice fancy house. There’s food and makeup and what else could a sexy beast like me need?”

As he leans forward in his chair, Mikael’s eyes narrow and Dare isn’t sure if he means to look scary, but he does look it, at least from Dare’s perspective. “Say something more substantial to me, Dare.” Mikael pushes. “Something less superficial.”

Dare presses his lips together as if smoothing out his pink lipstick. His throat feels tight and he looks down to the floor between his knees as he thinks, trying to come up with the right words to guide this conversation where Mikael will laugh and think him the perfect party trick.

“Uhm...” Dare starts, but Mikael doesn’t let him run through his usual comments.

“Substance, Dare.” Mikael interrupts, still staring fairly intensely at him.

“You have to have substance to speak substance, Sir.” Dare answers, looking back up at icy-blue eyes.

“Are you saying I have no substance?”

“No, Sir.” Dare is quick to correct even the thought of it. “I’m saying I’m the one who doesn’t have it.”

“Define substance.” Mikael prompts.

Dare really doesn’t want to have to tell Mikael that he’s stupid. So he thinks for a long while and Mikael patiently waits him out. Finally, “It’s like… layers, right?”

“We can work with that. Do you not think that you have layers, that you are a multi-dimensional, many layered human being just like the rest of us?” Mikael asks.

No, Dare doesn’t not think that he’s a multi-dimensional human being with many, many layers. He doesn’t want to admit that out loud though, so Dare smirks and grins saucily at Mikael. In an attempt to guide the conversation as he usually would, he hooks his thumb in one strap of his bra, sliding it down over his shoulder. “I can take off layers, if you’d like, Sir.”

Mikael doesn’t let him off the hook. “Answer my question.”

Dare swallows hard, trying to come up with a better answer. He puts the strap of his bra back in place and clasps his hands together behind his back again. He thinks again, for a good long while, before he finally bows his head and says the thing that he knows will inevitably lead to the end of this conversation. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m stupid.”

Silence settles in the room as Mikael leans back into the armchair to quietly smoke his clove. Dare can feel the other man’s gaze on him. It feels cold, he thinks, like ice. Mikael just realized the truth about him, Dare thinks. A stupid pet with no substance.

The silence lasts for far longer than is comfortable before Mikael speaks again. “Did the Mistress enjoy it when you said those words?”

“Everyone. They all like it. I mean...” Dare shrugs. “It’s the truth.”

And that’s when Dare hears the opposite for the second time that he can remember. “You are not stupid, Dare. Trust me when I say that I’ve dealt with my fair share of stupidity, and you are not it.”

Tears fill his eyes and Mikael becomes blurry through them. He doesn’t let any fall though. Dare doesn’t want to ruin his makeup. “Then what am I, Sir?” He asks the man in a whisper.

“I’m not sure yet. Perhaps you’re in flux until we can get more settled, find a routine for you. I do think you’re a bit lost, perhaps even lost in your own mind.” Mikael grins at him. “We’ll try to find you, Dare. I can assure you of that.”

 

* * *

 

Their new home is in a tall high-rise building that’s surrounded by other tall buildings. There’s a bright red sign on the building that reads ‘Passion’. The place is so posh that it has a coat check in the entryway. The main room on the floor level is a nightclub. There are booths around the perimeter and tables scattered about. In the middle of the room is a circular bar. There’s a dance floor and a stage. There are cages and chains.

The harem, or what’s left of it, is taken to an elevator that takes them up… up… up… almost to the top floor of the building. Then they’re led to a spacious room that’s almost a duplicate of what they had at the Gallery. One entire wall is pallets. Then there are other random pallets on the floor. Nearest to the door is couches and chairs for seating.

There are two entries to the side that Dare can see are a communal bathroom and a dressing room.

The difference is that the colors aren’t quite so stark and clean. The colors here are soft and muted, homey almost. It feels more inviting. Dare is relieved to see that the artwork on the walls has nothing to do with the pets themselves.

While Bran and Mikael back and forth about what’s expected of them, Dare ignores them and leaves their conversation behind. There’s no part of him that thinks he needs to know what’s going to happen now. They’re in a place that looks like the harem room at the Gallery. Dare assumes he’ll be a conversation piece again and that’s fine. It’s what he knows how to do.

He walks into the dressing room and stands in front of the wall of floor to ceiling mirrors. He stares at himself for a long moment, basking in this place that is so like his other safe haven, back at the Gallery.

Then he sets his bag down that carries the things Mikael had given him, leans in close and fixes his lipstick.

“Who needs layers when you look this good?” He says to his reflection. His reflection doesn’t quite mean the words like he wishes it did.

Chapter Text

It’s the night before the downstairs club opens that Mikael enters the room. The harem is piled together on the pallets, cuddling and talking. All discussion stops when Mikael enters. The older man sits in one of the armchairs by the door.

“Dare, come here, please.” He says.

Dare disentangles himself from the others, rises to his considerable height and pads barefoot across the floor, on the tips of his toes as if he were wearing heels in attempt to make himself look more appealing. Then he kneels on the pallet Mikael has placed in front of him.

“I’ve already spoken with the others, but you always seem to find a way to busy yourself with other things when I want to talk to you.” Mikael glances at the dressing room and Dare is surprised that the man has noticed his retreating from actual conversation at all much less noticed where he retreats to.

“It takes a lot of work to look this good.” Dare says, knowing that it doesn’t take much work at all to put on makeup, lace and heels.

“You are lovely without any work at all.” Mikael answers.

There’s that word: lovely. That’s what Lily usually calls him. That’s what the Mistress had called him when she gave him any sort of compliment at all. There’s no way that Mikael knows that though.

“I know, Sir.” Dare answers simply, even though he wouldn’t be caught dead without putting his makeup on at a minimum. After that necessity, his lace and heels are just gravy.

“I want to know if you have any family that you wish for me to contact in your stead.”

This is one of the many reasons that Dare avoids actual conversation. He’s always confronted with questions that he has no answers for. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m-”

“Stop.” Mikael pauses in lighting his clove and studies Dare. “Do you not know if they’re alive or not?”

This one Dare can answer. “No, Sir.”

“I have contacts that can find out for you.” Mikael says, lighting his cigarette before posing his next question. “Give me your last name?”

Dare looks down to the floor, inhaling the scent of clove as Mikael smokes. “I’m not very-”

“It’s alright, Dare.” Mikael says smoothly before Dare can finish. “I can try to find that too.”

When Dare looks up, he finds those cool blue eyes studying him curiously, as if trying to suss out some strange puzzle that’s been presented to him. Dare waits him out.

“Do you know where you were from before the Gallery?” Mikael asks and the only reason Dare finishes his next statement is because someone, one of Mikael’s employees enters the room and whispers something in Mikael’s ear.

“I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m stupid.”

So fucking stupid.

Mikael nods and waves the man off, his gaze never leaving Dare. Slowly, realization starts to dawn. “Did they really take your memories? How, I wonder...”

This, Dare can answer, because he’s heard the Mistress speak on it so many times before. “It was a new technology. They perfected it with me. I was the first… which I guess you could say makes me the best.”

Mikael smiles at him, but the smile has a sad tint to it that makes Dare wonder if he shouldn’t have said any of that. The man leans forward, fingers sliding lightly down the side of Dare’s face. Mikael seems to have solved his puzzle. “I think that I see you now, Dare. I didn’t understand before, but I see you now.”

Dare isn’t sure that he wants to be seen.

 

* * *

 

Opening night of the club downstairs is an exciting affair. In the conversation that Dare had walked out on, Mikael had offered the pets employ in the club, serving drinks and more if they wish it. Yes, that’s employ as in they’re getting paid if they work. Derek’s Master had also said that none of them had to work if they didn’t want to. Even if they don’t work they can stay.

It sounds almost too good to be true. Dare watches as each of the former harem agree that working and earning some kind of income is the way to go. He’s the last to agree, not because he doesn’t want to work, he’s just following Bran’s lead.

That night, Dare dons his pink lace and heels. He applies his eye makeup as dark and dramatic as he can make it. Then he tops it off with his favorite pink lipstick. His hair hangs straight down his back, long, past his shoulder blades.

He goes through the night almost in a haze, easily slipping back into the flirty conversation piece as he takes orders at tables and retrieves them from the bar. He both catches and feels eyes on him and thinks that that’s good. People are looking at and talking about him, as they should be.

Even as the room transforms around him, filling with Masters and Mistresses, filling with pets who seem to have chosen the life of a pet, leather and chains, silk and collars. Even as all of this happens around him, Dare goes through the motions.

He flirts and winks. He grins and tosses his hair to his back. The few times that someone speaks to him, he replies with something superficial about himself. The other person is always amused with him and that’s how Dare knows that he’s doing it right.

The following nights for a whole year are repeats of this night. Dare is the perfect employee, doing everything in the only way he knows.

During that year, Derek is reunited with Mikael. The twins have become a solid relationship and have a Mistress of their own. Bran has found a master who was once an undercover agent within the Gallery. His name is Gregory.

Jai is still recovering. The Mistress’s favored pet doesn’t cry as often anymore. Sometimes he still cries. Lily is by Jai’s side a lot and Dare tries to do the same. It’s difficult though because Jai and Lily still obviously have strong feelings where their former Mistress is concerned. Dare has become indifferent toward her and that doesn’t lend itself to comforting those who love her and miss her.

If there’s anything that Dare misses, it’s having most of Lily’s attention. But that’s selfish isn’t it? Jai needs Lily. He misses being fully aware of his place in the world, of his role in helping the Mistress sell the Gallery and its product. But that’s ridiculous too, isn’t it? Dare never should have done that. He never should have assisted in convincing people that they should buy from the Gallery. That’s the fine print that Dare has always tried not to think about; the Gallery’s product were human beings.

Out here in the real world, it’s hard not to think of those things.

Dare has gone out with Bran and Derek a few times, whether to a house that Derek is rebuilding or to a club for a drink. People always stare at Dare. Even when he puts on regular clothes, he’s a large, muscled oddity that garners everyone’s attention. Dare is a conversation piece.

About a month ago Bran started a fight over someone commenting loudly on Dare. The comments weren’t flattering. Derek had to break it up. The aftermath had Bran reverting to his time in the dog fights for a small bit of time. They’d been kicked out.

Dare hasn’t been out of Passion since then.

Of course Derek had told Mikael and Mikael had in turn pulled Dare aside and reassured Dare that what happened out there wasn’t his fault. Dare knows that it wasn’t his fault. Some people just can’t handle all of his fabulousness.

It was then that Mikael had asked him to start therapy. It was a back and forth for about a month that finally reached the inevitable conclusion of the icy blue-eyed Master getting his way. Somehow, Mikael had made it seem like it was Dare’s choice though. The man is definitely a Master in more ways than one.

Still, Dare continues to find an excuse to put it off. He makes the normal excuses that anyone would: he isn’t feeling well, he’s too tired, he didn’t clean all the tables just right after closing the night before and he needs to do that.

So far, no one has made therapy an order for him.

“Hey.”

Passion is in full swing, music thumping. The room is full of Masters and Mistresses with their pets, some without pets and some without a Master or Mistress.

Dare finds Derek behind him and grins at him. “Hey, handsome. Here to play with your Master?”

“I’ll do that later. I wanted to talk to you for a minute.” Before Dare can protest, Derek takes his tray and sets it on the bar. “Mikael said it was fine.”

Derek takes Dare’s hand and leads him through the club. Dare looks over at Mikael’s table and finds the man tracking the two of them through the room, or more like tracking Derek. When Derek is in a room, Mikael only has eyes for him. Dare envies that.

They wind up in one of the side rooms hidden by curtains for privacy. Usually these rooms are used for guests of the club to play away from full view of the whole club. There are plush couches and chaises, pallets scattered on the floor. The colors are rich and vibrant.

“All this trouble to get me alone.” Dare says flirtatiously, leaning in to kiss Derek when the other man stops in the middle of the room. Derek doesn’t hesitate to kiss him back. The two of them have been together plenty of times both here and back in the Gallery. “I’m flattered, Sweetheart.”

Derek chuckles and shakes his head. “I just wanna talk. Let’s kneel.”

Talk. Dare feels elephants stomping through his stomach at the word as he gets to his knees. “I know something we can do that’s way more fun.”

Derek kneels on the floor in front of him, fully clothed in his street clothes. Their knees are so close that Dare can feel the heat of touch even if they aren’t touching. It makes him think of Brooks.

“Why aren’t you seeing Doctor Cohen?” Derek asks. “Mikael says he’s been here three times now, for you, and you’ve canceled appointments. Mikael also said you agreed to see him.”

“Your Master is really good at… being a Master.” Dare says, opting not to insult either Derek or his Master. Mikael has been good to him, more so than Dare probably deserves. And Derek… well, Dare has a soft spot for anyone in the harem.

“Yeah he is.” Derek nods, understanding what Dare is saying. “What if Gray can help you? He’s helped me.”

“How could he help me? I have nothing for him to help.” No past, a questionable future…. there’s nothing. Dare is nothing. “I mean, I could probably help him, right?” Dare winks at Derek. “We both know how good I am at sex.”

Derek smiles softly at him. “Dare… don’t you want more than this?”

“More than what?” Dare asks.

“More than what they made you.” Derek gestures to him with one hand. “There’s a possibility that therapy could get some of your memories back.”

“Therapy is what took my memories.” Dare snaps back, the words harsher that he’d intended them.

“Fair enough.” Derek nods, quiet for a moment as he seems to search for the right thing to say. “Are you happy, Dare?”

Happy? Who in this fucking mess of a world is happy? Is anyone really and truly happy? Dare doesn’t think so. Although when he thinks of Derek with Mikael or Bran with Gregory or the twins, he thinks maybe they’ve found the next door neighbor to ‘happy’.

Still, the question remains and Dare has no idea how to answer it.

“I’m not sure what ‘happy’ is, Derek.” Dare finally says. “Are you happy?”

“Sometimes.” Derek answers. “It feels like you’re fighting anyone who’s trying to help you. Why won’t you let us help you?”

Dare leans in seductively. “How would you help me, Derek?” He catches Derek glancing down at his breasts, which had been his intent, only the look on Derek’s face isn’t exactly what Dare had been trying to garner.

“Do you ever think about getting them removed?” Derek asks.

Dare leans back, looking down at his own pink lace clad breasts. Should he have thought about getting them removed? No. They’re his. They’re a part of him. When he looks back up to Derek, his friend is still looking at them.

“No.” Dare answers, using both large hands to cup his breasts. “Do they make you uncomfortable, Derek? Do you think they’re… vulgar?”

Derek’s gaze snaps back up to meet Dare’s blue eyes. “No. Dare, stop. No. They’re not vulgar. You’re not vulgar. I’m just curious. You never talk about any of this stuff, Dare. Everyone else is talking about what they’ve been through, moving forward and away from the past as best they can, even Jai and Lily. You… you’re standing still. None of us know how to get through to you. None of us know your opinion on anything, not the past, not the present, not your future.”

Dare’s hands slip down to his knees. “Maybe I have no opinions.”

“That isn’t true.”

“Maybe I’m good with where I’m at.”

“I can’t tell if that’s true or if you’re just trying to get out of this conversation.”

“Maybe...”

“Dare.” Derek says, reaching out to place one of his hands on top of one of Dare’s. “Is there any small part of you that’s interested in trying to find your past?”

Is there? Maybe. The prospect is terrifying to Dare. What if he doesn’t like what he finds? What if what he finds makes him hate who he is even more than he already does?

He’s quiet for too long because Derek speaks again. “I think it’s worth trying. Don’t you?”

Dare shrugs and looks toward the curtained separation between the two of them and the club. He wishes he could exit stage left right now. He really doesn’t know if it’s worth trying or not. From where he kneels he’s the most unworthy human being to ever exist.

“I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.” he whispers.

“Hey.” Derek’s hand at his cheek pulls his attention back to the other pet. “Let us help you.”

We know you’re stupid, Dare – but don’t worry. We’re gonna help you with that.

Salt and Pepper’s sing-song, condescending voice sounds in his mind. Dare has always needed help, with everything. Maybe Derek is as right as Salt and Pepper was, as right as Doctor Simmons had been, as right as Jerome and the Mistress were. He needs help. Again.

We’re gonna help you with that.

Chapter Text

The fourth time that Doctor Gray Cohen comes to Passion for an appointment with Dare, Dare makes himself show up to said appointment. The fourth time that Gray is here for Dare, he meets with both Mikael and Derek prior to the appointment for a quick overview of the pet. This is at Dare’s request, so that he’s asked as few questions that he doesn’t know the answers to as possible.

Dare has made the armor of his makeup extra dramatic today. He dons his favorite pink lace bra and panties. He slips on a pair of tall heels.

He reapplies his lipstick. And once more. And again…

Finally, he goes to the room as instructed, twenty minutes late to the appointment. The door is open so he walks in without knocking. There’s a pallet in the middle of the floor. He kneels on it, knees spread and hands clasped behind his back.

The room looks like an office with a desk and a seating area. There is no large contraption for him to be put in, no instruments to hold his eyes open, no drugs that he can see. There isn’t even a large screen for images to flash in front of him too quickly for him to decipher.

It’s just a normal office with a desk, bookshelves, a couch and a coffee table.

“Dare.” A soft voice sounds from behind him. “I was just looking for Mikael to see if he could find you when I was told you’d arrived.”

“I’m sorry I’m late, Sir… fashionably late.” Dare says. “Isn’t there a saying about the best things being worth waiting for? Yeah, I think there is. That’s me.”

Doctor Gray Cohen is slim, of medium height, with olive skin and dark brown hair that’s tied off in a bun. The man has a full beard and mustache and brown eyes. When Dare looks up at the man, he finds that those eyes are as kind as his voice seems to be.

Dare arches his back and leans in just a bit to show off his breasts. “Well hello, handsome. I’m here for therapy, I guess. May I please you, Sir?”

“No thank you, Dare. I’m already very pleased to finally meet you.” Gray grabs a small recorder and a notepad and pen before seating himself on the floor in front of Dare, his legs crossed in front of him.

“I know, right? It is pretty pleasing to meet me. It’s cause I’m so easy on the eyes.” Dare says with a wink in the doctor’s direction. “Don’t sit on the floor on my account, Sir.”

“Oh I don’t mind. Sometimes I like sitting on the floor.” Gray presses a button on the recorder and sets it on the floor next to him. “How are you feeling today, Dare?”

“Fabulous, Sir.” Dare answers. “I’m always fabulous.”

“I can see that you are. Is there anything specific on your mind today?”

Normally Dare wouldn’t have an answer for this question, but there has actually been something on his mind today. He weighs back and forth whether to actually voice his thoughts before he decides to truthfully answer the question rather than call himself stupid. “I was thinking about wearing the pink ruffled panties and bra tonight instead of my lace.”

Doctor Cohen doesn’t miss a beat, his head tilting curiously. “Have you worn the ruffles instead of the lace before?”

“Only in the harem room, not to work downstairs. They make me feel cute, though.”

“How does the lace you’re wearing now make you feel?”

“Sexy.” Dare answers, not having to think about it much at all. “Come on, Sir. You know I look sexy as hell right now.”

“An indisputable fact.” Gray nods and smiles. “Did you do your own makeup?”

“Yeah.” Dare answers, easing into the conversation as it’s currently going. “Do you like it, Sir?”

“I do. It’s very dark and bold.”

Dare shrugs. “I don’t always do it this bold, just when I need to look my best, you know?”

“That makes sense.” Gray agrees. “Do you ever go without makeup?”

“Nah. I mean sometimes when I let Lily do my makeup, she does it super light and it almost looks like I have no makeup on… to me at least, but that’s the closest I get to no makeup.” Dare answers. “I mean why would I wanna go without when I look this good with it?”

“A logic that’s difficult to argue.” Gray answers with another soft smile. “Do you like it when Lily does your makeup?”

“Sometimes, Sir.” Dare answers. “Usually.”

“When don’t you like it?”

Dare thinks about that for a moment before answering. “Sometimes I need it darker and she does it too light. She likes to make me look like a doll.”

“Lily likes dolls.”

“You’ve talked to her?”

“Several times now, yes.”

How had Dare not known this? Because Lily has been with Jai so much lately that she and Dare haven’t been able to talk very much. And truth be told, when they do talk, Dare doesn’t converse very well about anything other than what’s on the outside.

“Do you miss your Mistress, Dare?” The question slices into Dare’s thoughts.

Does he miss her? “Sometimes, Sir. Not like Jai and Lily do though.”

“Can you tell me what the difference is?”

Dare has to think about that again to come up with an answer. “They had a real bond, I guess. The Mistress loved them and they loved her.”

“She didn’t love you?”

Dare shrugs, not knowing the answer to that. The Mistress had never used words like love and beautiful and favored with him the way she had with the others. “I… I’m not...”

“Did you love her?” Gray’s question rescues him from having to call himself stupid.

“She was beautiful… like super hot.” Dare answers, thinking about the Mistress for the first time in a long time. “I wanted to please her. I cared what she thought about me. Is that love, Sir?”

“I can’t answer that. Your feelings are your own and everyone’s definition of love is different.” Gray says. “Do you miss her, Dare?”

It takes him a long time to answer this question as well. He wonders if Gray is frustrated with waiting him out, but the man seems as calm as ever. Does he miss the Mistress? He misses knowing where he stands. He misses being owned and making her happy with his stupidity. “I guess I do. Yes, Sir.”

Gray nods slowly at Dare. “What do you miss about her?”

What does he miss about her? That’s a more difficult question. She never let him please her. She prompted her guests to make him into a joke. She made him feel stupid, tore him down again and again and again…

“I’m not very smart, Sir.” Dare says. “I’m-”

“It’s okay, Dare. You’re doing very good at answering my questions.” Gray interrupts him. “What do you miss about the Gallery?”

This is much easier to answer and Dare breathes a sigh of relief. “I miss the other pets, the ones we lost. I miss my original dressing room and the guards at the door to the harem room. I miss… knowing what I’m supposed to do.”

He pauses, weighing more words that he’s never spoken out loud before. “I miss Salt and Pepper and Jerome and Doctor Simmons. I miss my room in the labs where I could see Brooks every day. I didn’t know his name was Brooks then, but his name is Brooks. He was the pet in the room across the hallway from mine and I think we were friends. I miss… I miss having almost all of Lily’s attention… which is selfish, I know. Jai needs her.”

“Just because Jai needs her doesn’t mean that you don’t.” Gray says. “Who is Salt and Pepper, Jerome and Simmons?”

“Salt and Pepper was super hot. He taught me about what I am in the Catacombs. Jerome was my guard in the labs and Doctor Simmons was my therapist… like you. They all thought I was sexy and they used me. The Mistress used me… just differently.” Dare explains all of this, looking around the room again. “When do my procedures start, Sir?”

“Procedures?”

“Yeah, like with the big machine that holds me in place and the things that hold my eyes open.”

Gray thins his lips, taking a moment to draw in a deep breath before answering. “There won’t be any procedures like that with me, Dare.”

“No drugs?” Dare asks.

“No drugs.”

Dare doesn’t know how to answer that, so he stays silent. How is Gray supposed to help him without any procedures like what Doctor Simmons had used to help him?

“What did Salt and Pepper teach you in the Catacombs?” Gray asks.

“Well first, he thought I was hella sexy, which I am.” Dare answers. “But then he would ask questions and teach me the right answers. I’m pretty stupid so I had to be taught. I know all the right answers now.”

“Can you give me the answers?”

“Do you wanna ask the questions, Sir?”

Gray flips the notepad and pen around and offers them to Dare. “How about you write them down?”

It’s been so long since Dare has held a writing utensil that it feels awkward in his hand. It’s been so long since Dare has written anything that his writing is sloppy, like a child’s. He writes all of the right questions though, then he hands the notepad back to Gray.

There’s a slight shake of Gray’s head as he reads, then he offers the pad back. “I’d like to see what Salt and Pepper said the answers to these questions were, please.”

Dare begins to write the answers beneath each question, his penmanship slowly finding its groove again as he goes, becoming sharper and quicker, more streamlined. He hands the notepad and pen back to the Doctor.

“Thank you, Dare.” Gray takes the notepad and reads over Dare’s answers. “Do you believe all of this to be true?”

It sounds like a trick question to Dare. There’s only one right answer so why ask the question? “Yes, Sir.”

“Alright.” Gray nods slowly and sets the notepad aside. “What if I told you that things are different than what you just wrote down for me?”

No. Those questions and answers are all there is. Right? Dare licks his lips, realizing that they feel dry. He needs to fix his lipstick. “I’d like to fix my lipstick, Sir.”

“Your lips look fine, Dare. They’re pink and perfectly tinted.” Gray says. “Do you need some Chapstick to put on them?”

“I need my lipstick, Sir.” Dare shifts uncomfortably on his knees.

“Okay. We’ll call it good for today and you can go put more lipstick on, alright?” Dare has stood and so has Gray. The therapist puts a hand on Dare’s shoulder at the door to the office. “I want you to think about it until we meet again two days from now. Think about the possibility that there might be different answers to the same questions. Think about the possibility that some questions have more than one answer. Think about the possibility that some questions don’t need to be asked.”

Dare feels a squeeze from that hand on his shoulder. “Can you do that for me, Dare?”

Dare gives the first and only answer that comes to mind. He grins and winks at the Doctor. “Anything for you, Sir.”

Chapter Text

It’s nighttime and the club on the first floor is once again full. Dare is working, taking empty drinks and ordering refills at the circular bar in the middle of the room to carry back to occupied tables. Last night Derek had come into the club with a mouth swab and a fingerprint kit that he’d used on Dare. Ever since that moment Dare has had a nervous pit in his stomach. What’s going to happen? What will Derek find? Is there anyone who's missed him all these years? Or even, is there anyone? He remembers the Mistress repeatedly asking him about parents, siblings, spouse, answers that he doesn't have. It was a fun party trick. A mouth swab and fingerprints don't feel like a party trick though. They're very real.

It’s all Dare can think about, even as he’s surrounded by any number of sexual acts, Dominant Masters and Mistresses and scantily clad pets. He’s heard some of them called submissives here. To Dare, they’re pets, just like he is, even if he has no true Master or Mistress.

Dare feels a touch to his hip and finds Kyle next to him. He looks for his twin brother, JB, and doesn’t see him.

“Hey, you okay?” Kyle asks. "You seem far away."

“I’m fantastic as always, Sweetheart.” Dare says. “Where’s that sexy brother of yours?”

Kyle offers a sly grin. “He had a wardrobe malfunction. I might’ve ripped his cute little shorts. He’ll be back in a minute.”

Dare laughs at that. “Hey, wardrobe malfunctions happen. I kinda wish I had witnessed that one.”

Kyle leans up to kiss Dare's cheek. “Maybe next time. There’s a man over there that wants to be served by you.” Kyle gestures to a booth along the wall. “Green tie.”

“He asked for me?” Dare asks, just to be sure. No one ever asks for him.

“He asked for you specifically.” Kyle says. “You can say no, I guess. In this place we can say no. But otherwise, I’ll take your tables for you.”

The man sitting at the table is looking back at him, a gentleman with graying hair and a suit that’s hard to make out from this far away in the dim light of the club. Dare looks over to Mikael, who is deep in a conversation with someone else at his table.

Never mind Mikael. Someone asked for him. Someone specifically asked for Dare. This is a first.

Without another word, Dare walks over to the table, sure to sway his hips just right, to walk with one tall heel in front of the other, shoulders back and hands clasped behind his back. In his mind’s eye he’s as lovely as he can possibly make himself.

Green tie’s eyes never leave him the entire way. The man grins. “I thought that was you, but then again how could it be anyone else, Pretty Princess?”

Dare’s steps falter just slightly as he recognizes the man from years ago, from that first Gallery dinner party with the Mistress’s growing harem. Dare flashes back to red lipstick smeared on his face, to his bra and panties being pulled out of their proper place, to a tiara that mussed his hair, to being made to call himself stupid over and over and over again.

One perfect dress shoe guides one of the small pallets by every table to his side. Dare takes the hint and kneels on it, knees spread wide.

“I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought about you since that night. Is all of the Mistress’s harem here? I wondered what had happened to them after… well, that’s not important.”

It isn’t important that some of them were shot dead? It isn’t important that they’d come close to being shot as well? It doesn’t matter… None of it matters in the end, right?

When Dare doesn’t answer, the man shakes his head. “Never mind, you’re the one I want, Pretty Princess. You’ve been my wet dream for years.”

Wet dream? Is that a good thing? Dare tries to put on a brave face. He lifts his chin a bit and smiles slightly. “May I please you, Sir?”

“Pull down your bra. Show me those tits of yours.”

Dare swallows hard, remembering how the Mistress had pulled his bra down beneath his breasts to show them off. Even though Dare doesn’t like his outward appearance to be distorted in any way, Dare does the same as she had then, pushing the lace down and lifting the round of each breast out.

His stomach feels like it’s going to turn inside out. But he’s wanted. He was asked for specifically.

“The panties too.” Green tie says.

Dare does as he’s told, pulling the full length of his hard cunt out from the pink lace so that Green tie can see him. The man sits back to admire him and with the way his insides are a wreck of horrid memories, Dare can’t help himself. He has to fill this silence. “Like what you see, Sir? Am I still your wet dream?”

“Oh yes.” The man says. “Every bit as lurid and tawdry as I remember.”

Dare isn’t sure that he knows the definition of lurid or tawdry. It makes him feel stupid for not knowing.

“Can you fit under this table, Pretty Princess?” Green Tie asks.

It will be a tight fit given the size of Dare, but he thinks he can do it. “Yes, Sir.”

“I apologize for my lack of red lipstick, but yes… it may please me.”

It.

Green Tie turns in to the table and Dare crawls forward into the small space. His back is against the center table leg and his heeled feet are at an awkward angle. He hunches over and finds the man has already opened his fly. Dare reaches in to pull his dick out and the top of his head bumps the table as he takes him into his mouth.

It’s easy to do. Dare is good at giving head. He knows how to use his tongue and barely any teeth. He knows how to add a hand to enhance pleasure. He knows how to use his long nails to tickle at Green tie’s sack. Dare learned all of these things in the Catacombs and the labs.

“Ahhh… I believe it’s gotten better at this.” Green Tie says.

It.

Dare flinches, but then continues his work in pleasuring Green Tie. He’s being used again. Finally. He’s being used not in the way he was in the Catacombs and the labs where they thought he was sexy. No, he’s being used in the way that he was under his Mistress’s wing.

He’s a conversation piece, a thing, an it.

Right now it doesn’t matter how unhealthy it is or what memories it brings up or what it’s doing to his psyche. All that matters is that he’s being used. He was asked for. He was requested just as surely as if the Mistress’s guard had come into the room and called his name. It’s been so long.

Dare feels a fist in his hair, pulling him back so that spunk is dribbled onto his face. Dare immediately itches to fix his makeup and his hair, to right his lingerie.

“That’s a good pet.” Green Tie says. “Next time I’ll bring red lipstick.”

 

* * *

 

Dare is back in the office again two days later. This time he was half an hour late. This time Gray had waited him out rather than leave the room to seek him out.

They’re in the same position as before, Dare on his knees on a pallet and Gray seated cross-legged across from him. Gray has turned on the recorder and has his notepad and pen. Dare has already offered to please him and Gray has respectfully declined.

“I got you something.” Dare sees a familiar lipstick tube sitting on the table in front of the couch behind Gray. “I asked Mikael to get me one of your favorite lipsticks. I thought we could leave this one in here in case you need it while you’re here.”

It reminds Dare of the nail polishes that Doctor Simmons would set out for him. Dare prefers the pink glitter he now wears over the black. Instead of saying any of this, Dare grins at the doctor. “Thinking about me even when I’m not around. That’s pretty sweet, Sir.”

“You’re wearing the ruffles.” Gray acknowledges.

Daer looks down at his new-ish pink ruffle set of bra and panties. “Yeah, I almost switched back to the lace, but I ran out of time. You like this though, don’t you, Sir?”

“It’s very cute.” Gray nods. “Do you feel cute?”

“Super cute, Sir.” Dare agrees.

“Good.”

“I haven’t worn them in the club yet though. I think they like me better in the lace. They want me sexy.” Dare says.

“Has Mikael said as much?” Gray asks.

“No, sir. They prefer me in the lace, I think.” Dare says. “Which is fine, I look damn sexy in the lace.”

“Yes, you do.” Gray says. “But who is ‘they’?”

Dare pauses, trying to figure out who exactly ‘they’ might be. “The guests.” That’s when he realizes he’s been equating the clientele of Passion to the Mistress’s guests at the Gallery. “I think I’m confused, Sir. Can we start over?”

“Of course. Is there anything specific that you’d like to discuss today?

Again, Dare is slow to respond. “I’m wondering what the definition of lurid is… and tawdry.”

This seems to surprise Gray. He picks up his phone and messes around with it for a moment. “Lurid is defined as presented in vividly shocking or sensational terms, especially giving explicit details of crimes or sexual matters.”

Gray looks to Dare curiously. “What was the other one?”

Dare kind of wants to backtrack after having heard the definition of lurid. It doesn’t sound very complimentary. His curiosity wins out. “Tawdry, Sir.”

After Gray messes with his phone again, he continues. “Tawdry is defined as…” Gray glances up to Dare and then back down to his phone. “showy but cheap and of poor quality.”

“Oh.” Dare says thoughtfully. Green Tie man thinks of Dare in this way.

“Where did you hear these words?” Gray asks.

“In the club, Sir.” It’s not a lie.

“In what context?” Dare doesn’t answer because he isn’t exactly sure how to describe in what context they were said to him. Doctor Cohen pushes. “Dare?”

“Derek made me do a mouth swab and a finger print thing. That’s kind of scary.” Dare suddenly says, trying to shift the conversation.

Gray follows him, thankfully. Although the therapist seems somewhat loathe to do so. “I heard. And it’s okay to be scared. Are you afraid of what he might uncover about your past?”

Dare smirks. “What if past me isn’t as fabulous as present me is?”

“What if past you is still fabulous, just in different ways?” Gray asks.

“I guess that would make me two times as fabulous.” Dare grins a short-lived grin because of his next question. “Sir, what if there’s… what if there’s people?”

“As in parents or siblings?” At Dare’s nod, Gray continues. “Then we will cross that bridge when we come to it on a case by case basis. Are you hopeful for family?”

“I wasn’t at first, Sir. It’s still kinda terrifying. Luckily I still look hot when I’m terrified.” Dare jokes. “But… yeah, I guess I’m kind of hopeful. It would make things so much easier for someone to say this is who you were, this is what you did, these are the things you liked, this is you… or was… this was you. You know?”

“I know.”

“I just don’t want them to take me away… to out there in the world.” Dare says. “I’ve tried to step foot out there and I don’t fit. Bran and Derek almost got in trouble for me.”

“I heard about that as well.” Gray says. “That wasn’t your fault. A lot of times when people say mean things to other people, it speaks more toward their own faults and insecurities than it does toward the recipient.”

“Mean things like lurid and tawdry?”

Gray leans in closer, his elbows on his knees. “Did someone call you those things in the club?”

Dare shrugs. “It doesn’t matter, Sir. I’ve been called worse things.”

“Mikael will want to know if someone in his club called you those things.”

Dare doesn’t want to make Mikael angry. He doesn’t want to get Green Tie in trouble. Someone finally wants him. Someone is finally using him the way he was meant to be used. It doesn’t matter that it’s fucked up. It doesn’t matter that it hurts. It matters that he’s being used. Finally.

Dare shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter.”

Chapter Text

Green Tie’s name is Oscar, Dare learns. He learns this because Green Tie man comes back to Passion three nights later and requests Dare, specifically. This time he brings his red lipstick and smears it all over Dare’s lips before he demands a blow job with Dare squeezed in tight beneath the table.

Two nights after that, it happens again. This time the man hands Dare his own tube of red lipstick and instructs him to start wearing it at night instead of the pink.

Both times, Dare is quick to wash his lips off in the bathroom once Oscar has left.

Two nights later, Dare is working and Mikael stops him by his table and asks him for a glass of wine. When Dare returns with the glass, Mikael places a hand on Dare’s wrist.

“I thought pink was your color, Dare.” Mikael says.

It is. Pink is definitely Dare’s color. Right now Dare’s lips are perfectly tinted in fire engine red because that’s what he’s been instructed to do. So instead of explaining any of this, Dare grins and lifts one shoulder in a shrug. “Trying something different, Sir. Still sexy, right?”

Mikael nods, accepting this as truth. “Understood. And yes, still sexy.”

That makes Dare smile. He smiles even as he walks away to serve the next table. He smiles for awhile until he sees Oscar walk in. The man meets his gaze and gestures to one of the side rooms before disappearing behind one of the curtains that separates those private spaces from the main room.

Dare orders Oscar the drink he likes; a tall bourbon on ice, then he finds Bran and holds out his tray. “Hey, Sweetie. Can you take my tables?”

“What the fuck is on your face?” Bran asks.

“Makeup?” Dare asks.

“Red?” Bran counters. When Dare says nothing, Bran growls and snatches the tray away. “Red doesn’t look right on you. And yes, I’ll take your fucking tables.”

Dare walks away, readying himself mentally for more time spent with Oscar. He’s wanted. He’s desired. He’s someone’s wet dream and he thinks that that must be a good thing no matter what it does to his insides. This, being an it, being treated like this, this is what he knows how to do.

Pushing aside the heavy curtain, he finds Oscar reclining on the couch. Dare steps inside and lets the curtain fall to block them from view. After handing Oscar his drink, he kneels on the pallet in the middle of the room, knees spread and clasps his hands behind his back.

“Hello, Sir. You look handsome tonight.”

“There’s my stupid pet. Your lips are the best part of you. I like that red.” Oscar grins. Then he gestures to the room. “I paid extra for you tonight. Do you think you can try to be worth it?”

Dare knows he’s not worth it, but that’s not the answer that Oscar wants from him. “I can try, Sir.”

Oscar picks up a paper bag that’s set on the cushions beside him and flings it to the floor between Dare’s knees. “I brought you presents.”

Dare unclasps his hands, reaches for the bag and removes some tissue paper. He finds a red lace bra and red lace panties in the bag. There’s another plastic bag that has something red in it, and a box.

“Put it on, pretty princess.” Oscar says with a grin.

Dare removes all of his favored pink; bra, panties and heels. Then he replaces them with the red lace bra and panties. Both are too small so that the top rounds of his breasts almost spill out over the top and the panties cling tight and don’t completely cover his cunt.

In the plastic bag, Dare discovers a red tutu that he’s instructed to fluff out before he pulls it up his legs and around his waist. Oscar looks pleased with him.

In the box, Dare finds a glittering red tiara and an equally red satin choker Dare carefully puts the tiara on top of his head, sure not to mess up any of his dirty blonde locks. Then he works the satin choker around his neck. The choker has a pretty bow at the front. Dare wishes it was pink.

“Stand up and twirl around, Princess Stupid.”

Dare does as he’s told, getting to his feet and turning around in a circle. When he’s told to keep turning, he does, slowly and still becoming dizzy from it. At some point, Oscar has stood and is there to stop him. The man grips Dare’s chin and smears red lipstick on and around his lips.

“How do you think the Jets are doing?” the man asks.

Dare thinks that that’s a football team, but he isn’t sure. He answers with the words that Oscar wants. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m stupid.”

“Yeah.” Oscar says, rubbing his hand against Dare’s cunt beneath the short tutu and it feels really good to be touched by someone who wants him and just him. “How’s the weather outside?”

“I’m...” Dare hasn’t been outside. Maybe he should at least look out of a window sometime or something. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m stupid.”

“You really are.” Oscar agrees, using the red lipstick to scrawl on the tops of Dare’s breasts that are spilling out of the too small red bra. “Princess Stupid.”

When Dare looks down, he sees that Oscar has written the word ‘STUPID’ on his skin.

The man turns Dare around and bends him over the back of a settee in the room. Oscar kicks at the insides of Dare’s ankles to make Dare spread his legs wide. Dare hears the unbuckling of a belt and the shuffling of material. His panties are pulled down and the pink glitter pug in his ass is removed. “What do you think about that press conference today, Princess Stupid?”

As Dare feels Oscar thrusting into him, he answers accordingly. Dare is being used. He’s being used by someone who wants him. It might be even more warped than the Mistress’s harem was for him, but it’s something. It’s not nothing. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m stupid.”

“That’s right.” Oscar fucks him hard, hands grabbing Dare’s hips so hard that he knows there will be bruises. “Fuck I wanna take you home with me. I want you to be my toy.”

Only the word ‘toy’ registers with Dare. “I’m a fuck toy, Sir.”

Oscar laughs at that, a delightedly twisted sort of laugh. “I’d use and abuse you every day, you sick fuck toy. Would you like that? I’d think you’d love every sick thing I’d do with you. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Princess Stupid?”

Dare doesn’t know how to answer that, and unfortunately that leaves him with only one answer. “I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m-”

“I know you are and I love it.” He says, his voice tight as he gets closer to release. “I’d also buy you pretty things to wear. I know you’d like that.”

Oscar cums in Dare’s pussy. He feels the familiar hot wet of being used. After a moment, he feels the sting of a fist in his hair, tugging him upright. Dare is turned, with his back to the settee. He feels cum sliding down his thighs. Dare wants to get off too, so bad.

Everything is turned upside down right now and he can’t think straight.

Oscar roughly grabs his chin to get his attention, then slaps his cheek a few times none too gently. “Look at me. Look at me, Fuck Toy.”

Dare looks at him.

“What’s your name?”

“Dare.”

The answer earns him another hard slap to his cheek. “Try again.”

“Fuck Toy?” Oscar grins, shaking his head as he slaps Dare’s face again.

Oh. Dare knows the answer. “Princes Stupid.”

The man rubs at the spot where he’d just slapped. “There you go. My pretty princess. Say it again.”

“I’m Princess Stupid.” Dare says, feeling entirely hollowed out on the inside.

Dare gets Oscar off two more times that evening. Oscar cums on his face and then again on his chest over the red smeared word written on Dare’s skin. Oscar randomly asks questions that Dare can’t answer. He calls himself stupid and Princess Stupid. He loses count of how many times he calls himself stupid.

Later, when Oscar leaves, Dare kneels in the room by himself. His mind is numb. His heart is numb. The world around him is numb. He just keeps thinking the word ‘stupid’ over and over and over.

He listens to the sounds of the club continuing on the other side of the curtain as if everything were fine. He kneels there by himself for a long time, not wanting anyone to see him in this state and unsure of how to keep that from happening. He knows that his hair and makeup are a mess. He has the word ‘stupid’ written on him. He’s in red, not pink. Dare is frozen in time, shut down.

Everything had felt as right as anything ever feels for Dare while Oscar was here. Now everything feels wrong… so, so wrong. Everything is wrong, out of place and imperfect, most of all Dare himself.

Dare kneels there and hides.

The music shuts off and Dare can hear the sound of the employees cleaning and straightening the place. Usually Dare would be out there with them.

It’s Kyle who pushes the curtain aside and finds Dare on his knees in the room. Kyle steps inside and closes the curtain. He’s on his knees with Dare.

“What happened?” Kyle asks, one hand petting over Dare’s back. “Dare, what happened?”

“Don’t let them see me.” Dare whispers around a throat that’s too tight with confusing emotions.

Kyle looks concerned and he nods. He gathers Dare’s things on the floor and then peeks outside before taking Dare’s arm and leading him around the periphery of the club. They don’t go upstairs. They go to a bathroom on the ground floor.

Kyle says nothing as he takes the red lingerie, tutu and choker off of Dare. Kyle lifts the sparkling red tiara off of Dare’s head. He uses hand soap and paper towels to wash the lipstick off of Dare’s chest and from around his mouth. He does the same with the dried cum on Dare’s face and chest. He puts Dare’s pink lingerie back on him and leaves the shoes off.

When Dare looks in the bathroom mirror, any hint of red is gone. There are bruises forming on his cheek and chin where he was grabbed and repeatedly slapped and on his hips where Oscar had grabbed him while he fucked him.

His mascara is streaked down his cheeks. Had he cried? When had he cried?

Kyle is behind him, smoothing Dare’s hair down into place. “See? You’re back in your pink like you should be. We’ll go upstairs and find your lipstick, okay?”

Dare doesn’t respond. Kyle continues to comb his fingers through Dare’s hair for a little while as Dare stares at the stupid fuck toy in the mirror.

It’s some time later when Kyle whispers. “Dare? Who did this to you?”

Dare is too out of it to answer with anything flirty or witty. He’s too out of it to answer with anything but absolute honesty. “Someone who wants me.”

Chapter Text

It’s the middle of the night or early in the morning depending on your perspective. The rest of the harem is asleep in the main room, as far as Dare knows. Dare is in the dressing room, avoiding them, and has been for a long while. Kyle had helped him avoid everyone else for the rest of the night. Dare has perfectly applied his eye makeup and pink lipstick, his armor firmly back in place. He has clean lingerie on, lingerie that fits properly.

He doesn’t understand why his armor doesn’t feel so sturdy anymore. Maybe it’s been so long since he’s been treated like a thing by anyone but himself, that he’s forgotten what it feels like, what it does to him on the inside when others see him as he was always meant to be. He just has to relearn a few things, that’s all.

We’re gonna help you with that, stupid fuck toy.

Dare searches for that bravado that’s saved him so many times. It’s MIA. He has until tomorrow morning to find it and he plans to spend the whole night doing that when he hears movement in the main room.

Dare flashes back to men screaming at them to get on their knees, weapons drawn. His Mistress ordering their deaths. Blood on the floors. Bran, fearless Bran trying to stop the inevitable. Dare should have crawled forward. If he weren’t so slow and stupid he would have crawled forward. Why didn’t he crawl -

“Dare.” There’s a hand on his shoulder. Dare looks in the mirror’s reflection to see Derek behind him. “Come on, Dare. Come with me.” Derek helps him up.

Derek holds Dare’s hand as they exit the harem room. Derek doesn’t let go as they walk down the hallway. Dare sees Kyle walking toward them and Dare feels his stomach flip-flopping. As he passes, Kyle’s hand lightly brushes against Dare’s arm.

At the door to Doctor Cohen’s office, Derek stops. When Dare looks at him, Derek looks angry. Derek’s hand lightly pets at Dare’s cheek over his bruises.

“Please talk to them.” Derek says. Then he opens the door and ushers Dare inside.

Gray takes one look at Dare and his features fall as he turns to the other man in the room. “Mikael...”

Icy blue eyes look livid in his direction as Mikael takes in the sight of Dare. There’s a pile of red tool and lace on the couch. Kyle had told them. Dare isn’t in a position to be angry about that right now. Right now he doesn’t necessarily feel anything. Right now he feels blank… empty.

“You said this wouldn’t happen.” Gray says accusingly to Mikael. “You said this couldn’t happen.”

Mikael steps forward, leveling Dare with an angry glare. “Who did this to you?”

Dare flinches at the bite of the question, but he doesn’t move away. He’s supposed to take it. He’s supposed to stand there and take it if anyone wants to yell at him, touch him, fuck him or beat him.

Why didn’t he crawl forward? He should have -

“Mikael… don’t.” Derek says from behind Dare and Dare feels a gentle touch at his back between his shoulder blades.

Did Derek just tell his Master not to do something? It’s a shocking thing to Dare. He watches Mikael warily, waiting for the man to discipline Derek. Mikael’s jaw twitches slightly, but he doesn’t say anything to Derek about it.

Mikael draws several deep breaths before speaking again. This time his voice is much calmer. “I’m not angry with you, Dare. I’m angry with myself. I need to know who came into my club – into our home – and did this to one of mine.”

“Please, Dare.” Derek says quietly, his fingers lightly circling over Dare’s skin.

All three men look at him, wait him out while Dare tries to decide what to do. If he says something will he quit being wanted and used? Does he want to quit on the one person who seems to want him? No. But he feels like he’s in a bad position right now. Everything is very confusing and he isn’t reacting the way he normally would. He can’t think straight. He’s hollow. He’s blank.

“His name is Oscar, Sir.” Dare answers, quick to continue. “But it’s okay. He’s… he just wants to use me and it’s okay.”

“Oscar who?” Mikael asks.

“I’m… I’m not very smart, Sir. I’m-”

“Stop.” Mikael says. “Stop!”

Again, Dare flinches as Mikael turns away to cool down under the guise of lighting a cigarette. The room suddenly takes on the scent of cloves. Derek’s Master must be so frustrated with him. Gray too… maybe even Derek. Dare is frustrated with himself and his own stupidity.

“He brought all of this into the club?” Gray asks, gesturing to the pile of red.

Dare nods. “Those are gifts for me, Sir. He likes to get me pretty things.”

“Is he the one who said those words you asked me to look up the other day?” Gray asks.

Dare nods. “Yes, Sir.”

Mikael is on his phone, asking someone on the other end to look through records for the name Oscar. Dare wonders if Oscar will be mad at him for giving Mikael his name. Dare wonders what his punishment will be.

“Did he give you the red lipstick?” Gray asks and when Dare nods, Gray asks another question. “Why red?”

“I’m not...”

“No, no.” Gray speaks softly as he shakes his head. He steps forward and places a hand on Dare’s shoulder. “It’s okay. How do you know this man?”

“He recognized me from the harem, Sir.” Dare answers, glad to simply have an answer to give. “He’s used me before. It’s okay.”

Gray casts Mikael another accusatory look.

“It’s okay.” Dare assures them. “He wants me and it’s okay. I can take it.”

“That’s not the point.” Mikael answers sharply, stepping close and letting a thumb touch Dare’s hips over more bruises. “You shouldn’t have to take it.”

“It’s obvious that you’re not okay with what happened tonight, Dare.” Gray says. “You haven’t flirted with one of us or commented on your own beauty since you’ve walked into the room.”

Dare only just realizes this truth. It’s because he hasn’t had time to repair his bravado. Even now, as he tries to come up with something to shift the conversation in any direction. He comes up empty. He’s empty. He left his bravado in tatters in that curtained side room downstairs.

We know you’re stupid, Dare. Don’t worry though, we’re gonna help you with that.

He just has to relearn some things is all. A twisted up part of him wishes Salt and Pepper were here to help him relearn.

“This is my fault and I will right it.” Mikael says. “You will take a few nights off. Understood?”

“A few nights?” Dare asks, knowing that Oscar is going to be very upset to lose access to his fuck toy. “Sir...”

“I’ll stay with you.” Derek says. “We’ll hang out, you and me. Okay?”

Dare doesn’t think he can say no. He doesn’t know why he even wants to, but there’s a part of him that really wants to tell them to leave him and Oscar alone. He’s finally found a spot that’s his with someone who wants only him. He finally has a use again.

Instead, he nods hesitantly. “Yes, Sir.”

Mikael cups Dare’s cheek over his bruises. “I’m sorry, Dare. I’m sorry for snapping at you. I’m sorry for what happened to you downstairs. We have let you fall through the cracks for too long and I’m sorry. Rest assured that I will find out who he is and he will pay.”

Except that doesn’t make him feel better. What will happen to Oscar? Why does it feel wrong for Derek’s Master to apologize to him about anything? Who will use Dare now?

Dare worries his bottom lip between his teeth and knows he’s messed up his lipstick. Gray reads him well and gets the pink tube he keeps in here. Derek takes the tube and gently holds Dare’s chin as he reapplies.

“You’re okay, Dare.” Derek says. “You’re okay.”

Dare is not okay.

 

* * *

 

“You know what I think? I think you were a real life, bonafide, yee-haw screaming cowboy.” Derek says.

“What?” Dare smirks and gestures at his general self with his free hand. “What about all this fabulousness says cowboy to you?”

Dare and Derek are the only ones in the harem room. Dare is letting Derek put a fresh coat of pink glitter on Dare’s nails. Dare has already put a coat of black on Derek’s nails.

“Not a thing.” Derek says with a shake of his head. “It’s just… things you’ve said here and there. It’s just a guess, alright? Do you have any guesses?”

Dare purses pink stained lips. “No. I try not to think about it actually.”

“Why not?”

“Because...” Dare starts, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. He doesn’t think about it because he was trained only to think about certain things. He doesn’t think about it because when he tries to think about it his heart hurts for reasons he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t think about it because it’s a terrifying thing.

Derek finishes Dare’s pinky off with pink glitter and twists the cap back on the bottle. “Tell me.”

Instead of saying any of the true answers, Dare comically wrinkles his nose. “Cause what if it turns out that I was a cowboy? The fashion sense alone...”

Derek grins and Dare thinks that he’s said the right thing.

The doors to the harem room open and Bran peeks in to see Derek and Dare there. He growls at them and mutters “Fuck you.” before leaving again. This isn’t the first time this has happened tonight and it won’t be the last. Derek told Bran what happened while they were out working on his house. Bran is being extra protective as any good dog would be.

 

* * *

It’s the fourth night that Derek and Dare are cloistered away upstairs. They’re sitting on the largest pallet on the floor, backs to the walls, shoulder to shoulder.

Derek has a laptop in his lap and they’re shopping. Derek is trying to get Dare some clothes that Dare will like, nothing baggy to try to hide himself from the world, but things that Dare thinks are pretty. Apparently, per Derek’s request, Mikael has given them carte blanche on one of his credit cards.

“You’re lucky, Derek.” Dare says randomly. “Your Master is really nice to you. I mean he can be super scary, but he’s really nice too.”

“Yeah, he is.” Derek agrees. “And I know that he doesn’t mean to be scary when it comes to you. I think he was just really upset with himself the other night when he found out that someone slipped past his system of checks and balances. Don’t tell him that I told you this, but he’s kind of a control freak and he gets really bent out of shape when things don’t go according to his plans.”

“But you’re glad to be his.” Dare says.

“Yeah, I love him. We’ve finally found our balance and it works for us.” Derek clicks through more clothing options. “I think he was upset that you got hurt, we all were.”

“I wasn’t really hurt though. I’ve been hit before. Every pet in this room has been hit before.”

Derek seems to weigh his response to Dare carefully. “There are different kinds of hurt, Dare. There are different kinds of being hit.”

Dare isn’t sure that he understands that, not at first anyway. Instead, he equally weighs his response. “Has he, uhm… has Oscar come back?”

“Not that we’ve seen… and everyone’s been watching.” Derek answers.

Dare feels a small sense of relief. Overwhelmingly, he feels sad though. It makes little sense to anyone else, probably, but it feels as if Oscar quit him. It feels as if he was used and discarded once again. It feels...

“That.” Dare points at the computer screen where a pink tank top with a glitter crown on it shines back at them. “Can I have that?”

Derek clicks to add it to the cart and answers Dare around a grin. “Yaaas, Queen.”

Dare stares at Derek in profile. It’s the first time anyone has ever called him ‘Queen’ and it doesn’t sound at all like it’s a joke from his friend. In fact, the way Derek says it, it sounds like something Dare hasn’t heard in a very long time. It sounds like respect.

Dare thinks he likes being called Queen.

Chapter Text

Doctor Gray Cohen is once again sitting on the floor across from Dare. The man has his hair down from its usual bun today, almost as long as Dare’s. Dare has already asked if he could please him and Gray has already declined. The recorder is on and Gray is writing something down on the pad in his lap.

Dare, for his part, kneels dutifully with his knees spread wide and his hands clasped behind his back. Today, Dare wears clothes over his bra and panties, some of the new ones he and Derek had purchased. He wears cotton short shorts with the word PINK on the back of them. His top is a pink and white lace camisole.

“You look really sexy with your hair down, Sir. I mean, you look sexy with it up too but down is a whole other level of sexiness.”

Gray smiles at him. “Thank you, Dare. You look sexy today too.”

“I know, Sir.” Dare smiles in return.

“Is there anything specific on your mind today?” Gray asks.

Dare can’t think of anything, his mind is blissfully blank. Derek had jokingly called it retail therapy, but Dare thinks that there’s something behind getting new, pretty things and feeling better about life. He’s enjoying his new outfit, which is probably stupid to say out loud. He’s enjoying feeling like he properly exists in the world again, or at least in the world of Passion with people who seem to understand him.

The door behind him opens and Dare looks back to see Bran in jeans, a tee and his collar leaning against the door frame. Bran glares at Doctor Cohen and then looks at Dare.

“Is there something you need, Bran?” Gray asks.

Bran bares his teeth but doesn’t growl. “Just checking.” He pushes away from the door frame and disappears down the hallway, leaving the door open.

“Your friends are worried about you.” Gray says.

“Or maybe they like to look at me cause I’m so pretty, Sir.” Dare winks at Doctor Cohen.

“It’s highly possible.” Gray agrees with a nod. “Did you choose your outfit?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare sits a little straighter. “I can tell you like it.”

“I do. Did you get a lot of pink things? Only pink?”

“Yes, Sir. Pink is my favorite color.” Dare hesitates, wondering at the direction the conversation is going and attempting to get ahead of it. “It’s… it’s okay for me to wear clothes to our meetings, right? Should I-?”

“It’s more than okay.” Gray’s smile is kind and Dare believes that it’s okay. “Do you like wearing clothes? I know that some of the other pets have had a hard time adjusting to it.”

“I like it a lot. I feel great about it, actually. And look, it’s not baggy so you can still see how pretty I am. And...” Dare slides his thumb beneath the spaghetti strap of his camisole. “You can still see my bra and a lot of cleavage so… I’m still me.”

“It looks very nice on you.”

Dare nods. “Thank you, Sir. I’m still gonna want to show off my panties and bra sometimes though.”

“That’s understandable.” Gray says. “Did you buy anything else in any other color?”

“Some of my jeans are blue. And I have this leather pair that’s black. Derek said they would look hot on me and I can wear pink tops with them.” Dare answers before repeating what he’s said many, many times before over the years. “Pink is my favorite color, Sir.”

“Can we talk about the color red?”

Dare feels a tightening in his chest. “Has Oscar come back, Sir?” Does Oscar still want Dare to prove that he’s worthy to be used and abused by him?

Gray shakes his head. “Not yet.” Dare deflates. “Are you angry that Kyle told us about the state he found you in?”

“No, Sir. Kyle likes me in pink, not red.” Dare answers.

Gray thins his lips and nods. “I think it’s more than that. He cares about you. Are you upset that someone like Oscar got past club security?”

“No, Sir.” Dare isn’t sure that he likes where this session is going, so he attempts to change the direction. “Do you have a pet, Sir?”

“I have a wife named Karen. She’s my sub.” At Dare’s obvious confusion, Gray continues. “Submissive, I’m the Dominant to her submissive, so yes, she’s my pet and my wife and I love her very much.”

Dare doesn’t know what to say to that. He’s heard the words before but not with explanation and context. And above all else, what is love? Love is Mikael and Derek. Love is Gregory and Bran. Love is Kyle and JB. Love is Lily and all her dolls. Love is Jai and the Mistress. Love is Gray and Karen.

“Can we talk about the color red, Dare?” Gray asks again, after Dare is silent for some time.

“Oscar likes that color, Sir.” Dare answers. “It’s not my first choice. I still look fabulous in it, but it’s not something I’d pick.”

“But you wore the red for him.”

“He told me to, Sir.” Gray is patient, waiting Dare out. “I think… I think he was trying to recreate the first time he used me. He likes to use me.”

“Can you tell me about the first time you met him?” Gray asks.

Dare tells him about the first Gallery dinner that the Mistress held years and years ago. He tells him about the red lipstick and the tiara, the displacement of his lingerie and the jokes. He tells him about the party trick of asking him questions he can’t answer. He tells him about the red lipstick stamp that he’d put between every dinner guest’s thighs that night. He tells Gray about how Oscar had been so fond of him that the man had directed all of it. He tells him how pleased his Mistress was with the way he was used that night.

Dare says all of this with a forced air of detachment. He tells the story with a bit of embellishment and flare, as if he’s fine with it. He says all of this as if he were in on the joke the entire night… even though he wasn’t.

“So then I took my sexy ass back to the harem room and I took the red off and put myself in pink again.” Dare finishes. “Pink is so my color.”

“Pink looks very good on you, Dare.” Gray answers, his voice soft. “How did you feel when you saw Oscar here in the club at Passion?”

Dare remembers feeling a lot of things; scared, confused, unsure of himself, hating the memories it dredged up but wanting to do the right thing in the moment to pleasure him. He remembers feeling instantly and overwhelmingly bad about himself, like his insides that he tries so hard to keep hidden were immediately brought to his outsides. He remembers feeling so damn stupid, more so than usual.

Dare says none of this, settling on how good it had felt to know that someone wanted him. “He asked for me specifically, Sir. He likes to use me.”

“You like that he asked for you.” Dare nods and Gray nods a reply and continues. “Do you not get asked for very often?”

“Never, Sir.” Dare says. “Except when Oscar came into the club. Then I was asked for.” Gray looks sad and Dare is quick to try to make him feel better. “It’s okay, Sir. It’s always been this way. The Mistress never wanted me either.”

Gray’s brow furrows. “I don’t understand. You were in her harem.”

“Yes, Sir. But I wasn’t like the rest.”

“How so?”

“I mean I was treated differently, Sir.”

“Dare, can you tell me how you were treated differently than the rest of the harem.” Gray prompts.

“Well, I… I was the Mistress’s conversation piece, Sir. She liked to show me off to guests cause I’m pretty damn awesome. She liked to watch me with other pets, but she never used me the way she used the others. She used me...” Dare pauses, thinking about all the ways in which he was used and wasn’t used and how unworthy it made him feel. He still feels unworthy.

“The other pets were beautiful to her and she let them please her. Sexually.” Dare finally says. “I pleased her in other ways.”

“Did she never call you beautiful?” Gray asks.

“No, Sir.” Dare says, then attempts to play it up because that’s what he does. “She didn’t really need to though. I already know I’m beautiful.”

“Yes, you are. You’re beautiful, Dare.” Gray says. “In what ways did you please her?”

Dare is silent, staring at Gray because the man had just called him beautiful. It’s so rare that anyone but Dare calls himself beautiful that it takes his breath away, it makes him speechless, it surprises him. Saying it to himself on repeat and only sometimes believing it is so very different from hearing someone else say it.

“Dare? What ways did you please the mistress?”

“I let her joke with me, Sir… or about me. I uhm… I helped her sell the Galley, what the Gallery can accomplish… or could accomplish.” Dare says. “I gave her guests something to talk and laugh about. She used me as a conversation piece.”

Gray draws in a deep breath. “I think you’ve been far more abused than I’ve realized.”

I’d use and abuse you every day, you sick fuck toy.

Dare thinks of Bran and the scars on his body, the way the dog came back from every fight with new wounds. He thinks of the scars on Derek’s face and back or the way the Mistress sometimes liked to make the twins fight one another. “I wasn’t beaten very often, Sir. Only sometimes. There are others who were abused a lot.”

“There are different kinds of abuse, Dare, not all of them carry physical scars.” Gray says. “There’s an abuse that has nothing to do with the exterior and I think you’ve had more of it than anyone ever should.”

“Sir. You think she abused my insides?” Dare asks.

“Yes. I’m talking about the heart and the mind and the soul, the bits of a person that can’t be seen on the outside, the most important parts of a person.” Gray says. “Cruelty for cruelty’s sake is never justifiable. To top it off, she broke you down completely, took away everything you were so that her cruelty is all that you knew.”

Dare has never thought about it that way before. Somehow, his mind had made his being made into the joke of the party an acceptable occurrence. “But I let it happen… and it wasn’t all bad, Sir. It’s just how it was...”

“It’s all you knew, Dare. It’s human nature to look for any small kindness in a sea of badness and I’m sure she gave you a few crumbs of kindness to confuse you.” Gray continues. “And I know how the Gallery operated through fear. Did you ever think about speaking up? About fighting?”

“No, Sir.” Dare shakes his head quickly. He can’t count how many times he’d seen what happened to pets who got out of line. Dare tried so hard to be good. “I was good. I was perfect for her. I made myself perfect every day because I’m only good at sex and maybe… maybe she might want me that day. I was perfect every day. I still am.”

“I know you were. I know you are.” Gray nods. “On the surface you are picture perfect. But your heart, your mind, your soul...”

“The most important parts of a person?” Dare asks, repeating Gray’s words back to him. He works so hard on his outsides that hearing that it isn’t as important as what he’s spent years ignoring is very near devastating. “Is that really true, Sir?”

“Yes.” Gray nods again. “And in those aspects, believe it or not, no one is perfect. Not me, not Mikael, not the Mistress or any of those people who made you feel bad about yourself. None of them are perfect. Some are cruel on the inside. Some are sad. Some are broken. Some are any number of less than perfect things. It’s what makes us human.”

“Which one am I?” Dare asks. “What am I on the inside, Sir?”

“I can’t answer that for you, Dare. It’s such a personal thing born out of your own experiences.” Gray taps his fingertips on his notepad for a moment. “I think you’ve been hurt a lot and I would assume that your insides reflect that.”

Dare wouldn’t know, he supposes. He’s always so focused on the outside, as he was trained to do. In fact, he actively tries to ignore the inside of himself as much as possible, also as he was trained to do. The inside isn’t pretty or perfect. The inside is where everything is bad and confusing and yes, he supposes that that’s where he hurts beyond the telling of it.

Why would he want to focus on his insides?

“May I use my lipstick, Sir? I just need a touch up.” Gray hands him his lipstick and a compact mirror and Dare repairs his already perfect makeup.

 

* * *

 

Jai has another breakdown that night. It’s been awhile so it’s a surprise to everyone. Dare thinks that Jai sometimes wishes he had crawled forward that day too, just like Dare does. Bran had stopped Jai. Dare has no excuse for his continued existence except that he’s slow and stupid.

Lily, Bran and Derek are with Jai and Doctor Cohen. Mikael closes the doors to the club so that none of them feel an obligation to work.

Dare is sandwiched between the twins all night long. They have sex, JB fucks Dare while Dare sucks Kyle off. Then JB fucks Kyle while Dare let’s Kyle suck his cunt.

Even though it’s just the three of them and even though this can be a nightly or daily occurrence between any combination of the pets, it feels good. Dare is good at sex.

“Are you angry at me, Dare?” Kyle whispers when the three of them are cuddling together later. “They needed to know. I’ve learned that people don’t get to treat us that way anymore.”

“The asshole never should’ve been let in here.” JB says.

“No, he shouldn’t have been let in.” Kyle’s fingertips trace around the outline of Dare’s bra over his breasts. “But Dare, please don’t be angry with me.”

“I’m not angry, Sweetie.” Dare says honestly. He isn’t even sure that he knows how to be angry anymore. “You care about me. I care about you.”

Nothing more is said. Kyle just kisses Dare’s shoulder and lets it be. Dare is glad to just let it be.

Chapter Text

The next day around the time that lunch is brought into the pet’s room, Mikael arrives to call Dare out. “Dare? I’d like for you to come with me, please.”

Even though Dare is nervous to be alone with Mikael, he stands and follows him. Today he’s wearing a short pink leather skirt. His top is a white tank top with pink lace trim. He’s wearing his pink lace beneath these items and a pair of four inch heeled pink strappy sandals.

Dare heels behind Mikael through the hallways and into the elevator, in which Mikael presses the button that will take them to the ground floor.

“I want you to join us for lunch.” Mikael says. “You don’t mind, do you Dare?”

Dare grins. “If you wanted to take me on a date, Sir, all you had to do was ask… or tell. I’m good with both.”

Mikael grins at the reply. “Very good.”

It makes Dare happy to please Mikael in any way. He’s somewhat intimidated by him, but in Dare’s mind, Mikael is vicariously his own Master. He’s the senior most Master at Passion and done so much for him. Dare would never dream of telling him no. Mikael has never used him or fucked him, but the Mistress never fucked him either. Also, the guy is hot. Derek is a very lucky pet.

At the first floor, in the main room of the club, a few of the tables have been pushed together and several place sets are around the table. Food is being dished onto each plate; meat and vegetables. He sees Doctor Cohen and smiles and winks at him.

“Hello, Dare. I’m glad that you’re joining us.” Gray says. “You look very pretty today.”

“I know.” Dare says with a grin. “Thank you, Sir.”

There are other Masters in the room as well, all of which he recognizes as Mikael’s friends who work and moderate the club with him.

Dare kneels on a pallet between Mikael and Gray’s chairs. The both of them pass bite-sized bits of food down to him, which Dare reaches up to carefully take from their fingertips with lips and teeth. No one has ever fed Dare like this before. He’s always done for himself. It’s a strange act that he’s seen other pets partake in and Dare ultimately thinks that he likes it. It’s almost like being pampered and Dare likes being pampered.

The Masters and Mistresses converse among themselves about things that Dare has no concern about. He’s happy to zone out and occasionally take another bite from Gray or Mikael.

When dinner seems to be wrapping up, Dare watches as several of the people stand and move around the room. Dare wonders if he’ll be made to pleasure them as he would have for the Mistress’s guests. This is his first time in the club since that night with Oscar.

Dare’s gaze slips to the curtained rooms on the sides and his mind sort of gets stuck there, even with movement all around him.

Princess Stupid. I’d use and abuse you every day, you sick fuck toy.

Is Oscar okay? Did the man decide he was done wanting and using Dare? Will he ever come back? Does Dare want him to come back?

He thinks about the way he was fucked from behind, Oscar’s fingers digging bruisingly into Dare’s hips. He remembers bring slapped so hard that his head whipped to the side. That isn’t the kind of abuse that Doctor Cohen was talking about in their session and Dare is still trying to wrap his mind around it.

There are different kinds of being hurt. There are different kinds of being hit. Derek had said.

And Doctor Cohen: There are different kinds of abuse. Not all of them carry physical scars.

An abuse of the heart, mind and soul. Are his insides bruised and scarred? If so, to what extent? Dare is afraid of the answers to those questions. He’s afraid of the imperfections he’ll find and the ramifications of the inability to put on a smokey eye and pink tinted lipstick to repair them.

How does a person make their insides as perfect as the outside?

Believe it or not, no one is perfect.

Dare is having a difficult time accepting that. Maybe Doctor Cohen had just said that for Dare’s benefit, so that he wouldn’t feel so bad about how messy his heart, mind and soul will be if and when he begins to pay attention to them.

No one is perfect.

“Dare.” A hand touches his shoulder and Gray is motioning toward the doors. “Look at who asked to see you.”

When Dare looks, he sees Derek entering the space with another man.

The other man has very blonde hair that’s dyed purple at the tips. The sides of his head are shaved. He has a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. His nose, eyebrows and ears are pierced and Dare knows that his nipples, cock and tongue are pierced too.

Every inch of Dare suddenly feels like it’s buzzing. His heart trip-hammers in his chest so intensely that he hears it in his ears and wonders if everyone else can hear it as well.

Dare quietly mouths the newcomer’s name.

Mikael stands up and closes the distance between himself and the guest. The two of them shake hands in greeting. “Brooklyn Meyers? I’m Mikael Pomelov.”

Dare remembers the sterile cells in the Labs at the Gallery, him knelt on a pallet in the middle of the cell and staring across the hallway at the other man in the same, mirrored position as himself.

“I know who you are. You knew my now imprisoned Mistress.” Brooks says.

“That I did.” Mikael nods. “You’ve been looking for Dare?”

“That I have.” Brooks answers in the same way Mikael had just said ‘that I did’.

Brooks has been looking for him? Why would Brooks look for him? Why would anyone look for him?

“Mikael, he’s fine. We’ve vetted him as much as a person can be vetted.” Derek places a hand on Mikael’s shoulder. “Master, please let him see Dare. Trust me that this is a good thing.”

“If you hurt him...” Mikael starts.

Brooks interrupts the Master. “With all due respect, Mr. Pomelov, which is in truth a very minimal amount of respect only because you allegedly saved him, from where I’m standing I’ve never been the one doing the hurting.”

“You can stand, Dare.” Gray whispers to him.

Dare slowly gets up to his considerable height, made even more considerable by his four inch heels. He sees Derek with a hand on Mikael’s arm, perhaps to get him to let it be.

Then Dare only has eyes for Brooks. The other pet wears baggy jeans and a faded tee-shirt. He has well-worn tennis shoes on his feet.

A corner of Brooks’s lips pulls in the beginnings of a smile at Dare. Brooks’s eyes soften around the edges and Dare thinks they look… relieved? “Hey, beautiful. I’ve been looking for you.”

Any flirty, smart-alec reply that Dare might have been prepared to say escapes him at being called beautiful. There’s no one here coercing Brooks into saying it. So why?

“Why?” Dare asks. It’s an all-encompassing ‘why’. Dare isn’t even really all that sure of what he’s asking.

Brooks starts to walk toward Dare, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. Every Master in the room as well as Derek and Gray follow his movements. “Because like it or not, you and me… we’ve seen some shit together, right? And I can’t quit thinking about you. And there were rumors that the Mistress at the Gallery killed all of you, her entire harem… and that broke my heart. Then I heard other rumors that maybe...”

This brings Brooks to standing just in front of Dare. “But you’re not dead… and I’m glad.” Brooks draws in a deep breath. “I’m so glad. Can I touch you?”

Dare finds himself nodding at Brooks. The other man slides his fingers from Dare’s elbow, down his arm, forcing him to unclasp his hands from behind his back so that Brooks can hold one of his hands.

“Some of us were killed.” Dare says.

His mind skitters to a stop at his usual thought that he should have crawled forward too. He doesn’t want to think that right now, not with Brooks here. Why is Brooks here? How is Brooks here?

Brooks nods. “I know. I know that now.”

Dare glances around the room at those gathered and then lowers his voice to a whisper. “Does your Mistress know you’re here?”

“She was arrested along with a lot of other people connected to the Gallery.” Brooks glances back at Mikael and then back to Dare. “Not everyone got arrested apparently.”

Dare glances at Mikael when Brooks does, then returns to Brooks. “Derek’s Master saved us. He takes care of us. He’s nice… mostly. I mean sometimes he’s scary, but I don’t think he means to be.”

Brooks presses his lips together and nods. “Maybe.” He concedes. “Derek over there found out I’d been asking a lot of questions and we talked. We talked and we talked and we talked. He made me talk to Doctor Cohen too. So much talking.” Brooks smirks. “There was a lot of talking before he told me that you were here.”

Dare’s mind snags on the idea that Brooks had been asking a lot of questions that had led to finding him here. Brooks had been asking about Dare. Brooks had been looking for him. Brooks had requested him, by name.

Still holding Dare’s hand, Brooks steps back and looks Dare down to his pink heels and back up over his pink leather skirt and his form fitting tank top. Brooks smiles. “You look really good, Dare.”

Dare feels his heart flutter in his chest in the best of ways. He smiles and looks Brooks over too. “You do too.” The words sound almost innocent and vulnerable to Dare. No corny lines. No phony bravado. Just truth.

Brooks comes in close to Dare again, head tilted as he looks at Dare. “So what do you say, beautiful? Will you sit and talk with me for a bit?”

There’s another moment where Dare’s mind trips (or does somersaults) over the word beautiful. How is it that it’s a thousand times more stimulating for Dare when Brooks says it? Is it because he was the first person to ever call Dare beautiful? Dare isn’t sure, but each time Brooks says it it’s like Dare is standing underneath a waterfall of everything good.

Dare looks for the senior most Master in the room, finds Mikael’s icy blues and sees the Master nod his consent. Only then does he nod his consent to Brooks. “Yeah. I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

Having decided that none of them will have to intervene, most of the others in the room leave for their own spaces of this large building that’s their home. Derek, Mikael and Doctor Cohen are sitting in Mikael’s normal booth not very far away.

Two pallets have been placed on the floor. Dare kneels on one and Brooks sits cross-legged on the other facing him in a way that reminds Dare of therapy with Gray. Brooks’s fingertips tickle at Dare’s knee and Dare likes that Brooks seems to want or need to touch him in any way he can.

“So my Mistress was arrested by Interpol and I was taken to a temporary holding center outside of London with a bunch of other pets. It was… is it weird to say that it made me thankful seeing all those other pets? I wasn’t half as bad off as some of the others. My Mistress had her kinks but she wasn’t cruel to me.” Brooks says.

“Anyway, I told them that I was from Brooklyn, I know, irony is dead and my parents named me Brooklyn. I was shipped off to the US of A and put in another temporary holding center with a bunch of other pets where therapists evaluated me for months. It sucked. Then I was allowed to go home.”

“To Brooklyn?” Dare asks.

“Yeah. Brooklyn. Have you ever been there?” The moment the question is asked, Brooks knows what he did. He quickly shakes his head. “No, don’t answer that. That’s on me. Just be patient with me and I’ll get better at not asking questions like that, okay?”

Dare offers him a soft grin and nods. Brooks doesn’t want to hear him call himself stupid when he has no answers to give. “Did you have family still?”

“I did. I do. My Dad can barely look at me, my brothers tip-toe around me, my mom prays for my soul so much that I feel bad for existing and my at one time serious boyfriend is now married with a kid.” Brooks laughs a bit and that makes Dare laugh lightly along with him. “No really, they love me. They hate what happened to me. They’re glad I’ve been found yadda yadda yadda...”

Brooks shakes his head. “It’s not the same as it was. It won’t ever be the same… and yet I know that I’m a success story coming out of this whole crazy fucked up mess. The Catacombs almost broke me. The labs weren’t that far behind. But when it comes to where I ended up, I had it good, even when I was owned, and I know first hand that you didn’t have it so good as I did, and I’m sorry.”

Brooks puts his palm up on Dare’s knee and after staring at it for a moment, Dare unclasps his hands and places his hand in Brooks’s. He watches as Brooks glides his thumb over the back of Dare’s hand.

“I think about you all the time.” Brooks says. “I think about what they did to you, mentally and physically, about how they changed you from the time you were brought to the labs to the time they took you away. I was there and I saw it all, Dare. I had only been there maybe a week before you were brought in… and a day after they took you away I was taken to a communal holding pen. Two days later I was sold.

“My therapist says I developed an abnormally strong connection to you because we were brought there at the same time, went through everything together and left at the same time. I mean we never said a word to each other, but it was more than that, right? There was something...” Brooks smirks. “Holy crap, I’m talking a lot. I just have all this stuff pent up, like years worth of stuff, that I wanna say to you.”

Brooks shakes his head at himself. “I used to hold long, imaginary conversations with you in my head. There were so many words, Dare. There’s still so many words that I’ve said to you that you’ve never heard.”

“I used to wish I knew your name.” Dare says.

Brooks nods. “Same. Then I heard it when we visited the Gallery for business. Dare.”

“And the sound of your voice.” Dare adds.

Brooks quickly nods. “Me too… except your voice, which is every bit as perfect as I imagined it to be.”

“You called me beautiful.” Dare recalls the first time someone had called him beautiful and told him that he was not stupid. Sometimes he tries to block the memory out because he knows it’s not true. Sometimes it’s all he thinks about because maybe he can will it into existence.

Brooks smiles. “I did. You were. You are.”

“You took a risk speaking to me that night.” Dare says. “Did your Mistress not make you be quiet?”

“No, she encouraged me to ‘use my words’. She didn’t require my absolute submission like they did in the Catacombs and the Labs. She just wanted my respect.” Brooks says. “I had a lot of freedoms behind closed doors.”

Freedoms. Dare thinks that compared to nameless in the harem, he had a lot of freedoms too. “I was allowed to talk a bit more than the other pets, I mean as long as I said the right things. Mostly I was supposed to talk about my looks and flirt with people.”

“I remember.” Brooks nods, his thumb still idly drawing circles on Dare’s skin.

“I remember when you cried.” Dare says.

“I remember when you cried.” Brooks responds.

They were both gang raped in their cells in the labs at different times during their stay. They’d both played witness to the other’s rape and the other’s subsequent tears.

“Who’s your master now?”

Brooks grins again. “I’m my own master now. Honestly, I’m more of a top than a bottom. My old Mistress liked to play with that when no one was watching, which worked out in my favor.”

That surprises Dare. “You topped your Mistress?”

“It was give and take.”

It makes him think of the way Derek sometimes tells Mikael no or to stop. Maybe Mikael and Derek aren’t the only ones like that. Maybe Dare needs to reorganize how he thinks of Masters and pets. Maybe not all of them are the same.

“Did you love your Mistress?” Dare asks.

“No.” Brooks shakes his head. “I had strong feelings towards her because she gave me my voice back. She didn’t try to beat me down, you know? She wasn’t cruel to me. But… no, I didn’t love her. I was sad that she was arrested.”

Dare studies Brooks, the casual way in which he seems so at ease with himself. The man wears a faded tee shirt that looks like it’s seen many a wash and dry cycle. His jeans are baggy. His tennis shoes well-worn. And Dare thinks the man looks every bit as good as Dare looks in his new clothes.

“Purple, huh?” Dare asks, looking up to the purple tips of Brooks’s hair.

Brooks grins. “Yeah, wait until you see it when it’s spiked up in the mohawk. It’s pretty badass. Why? Do you think it should be pink?”

“Pink is my favorite color.” Dare says, but doesn’t want to sound contrary at all, so he continues. “But you should do what pleases you.”

“I’m doing what pleases me right now, Dare.”

They sit and talk for a long time. The three men in Mikael’s booth never leave or try to rush them. They sometimes converse quietly among themselves. They’re close enough to monitor and hear every word that’s spoken. It feels safe, Dare thinks. Mikael, Gray and Derek have been nothing but kind to him. Dare knows they’re watching out for him.

Dare learns that Brooks is one of three boys, that Brooks’s father is one of the country’s top real estate developers and his mother a retired opera singer. Brooks’s disappearance was high profile, all over the news, as was his return. He learns that Brooks’s parents didn’t think it was good for Brooks to come looking for Dare, but he’d done it anyway. Brooks says that his parents love him, but they don’t understand.

He learns that Brooks likes to play guitar and piano as well as paint and sculpt. Music and art are his passions.

Brooks does most of the talking if just because Brooks has the most to talk about. Brooks has a history, a past that he remembers, family, unlike Dare. Brooks is a multi-dimensional, many layered human being, as Mikael would say.

Dare has no past. He has no passions, not in the sense that Brooks does. Dare is empty inside where Brooks is bursting at the seams with life and the living of it.

During the entire conversation, Brooks has held Dare’s hand or touched his knee, rested his fingers on Dare’s wrist when Dare leaned to the side to sit more comfortably on the floor rather than kneel. Dare thinks he likes the way Brooks needs to touch him.

“I think it was more too.” Dare says, thinking about the past that he does know and can talk about. “Even though we couldn’t speak. You helped me.”

“You helped me too.” Brooks says. “More than I can say. I know we had our own cells, but it was like I wasn’t alone because you were always there looking my way. That meant everything to me and I’ve wanted to tell you that for… like I said, years. We didn’t really need words, did we?”

Dare shakes his head, thinking that maybe Brooks had been the one interaction he’s ever had where words weren’t either demanded of him or forced by him.

“I don’t wanna leave.” Brooks says.

“I don’t want you to go.” Dare replies.

“I kind of have to.” Brooks looks at a screen on his wrist that flashes the time. “I was supposed to call both my therapist and my parents over an hour ago. Plus it looks like this place is getting ready to open for the night.”

Dare hadn’t even noticed that people, employees and some of the harem, were in the room setting things up for opening. He and Brooks had talked all day.

“Do you like it here?” Brooks asks.

Dare nods. “It’s nice. They’re nice to me here. Derek’s master gives me everything I need and my friends are here.” He gestures toward the door. “Out there I’m… I tried it and it’s not so nice.”

“Someone was mean to you out there?”

Dare nods again remembering words like ‘freak’ and ‘fag’. “More than one someones.”

“Some people’s children.” Brooks says with a shake of his head. “You know that that’s on them and not you, right? Some people can’t handle all the beauty that is Dare.”

That makes Dare smile. Brooks has once again implied that he’s beautiful. “I wasn’t even wearing anything that’s half as fabulous as what I’m wearing today.” In fact, he had tried, unsuccessfully, to cover himself up.

Brooks grins at him and stands up, then helps Dare to his feet. They would be the same height if it weren’t for Dare’s heels. Brooks is not a small man.

“Can I come see you again?” Brooks asks.

Dare is quick to nod. “Yeah. I mean, if you want to, that’d be… yeah.” He hesitates. “You’ll really be back?”

“Here.” Brooks reaches behind his own neck and brings the ends of a slim silver chain around Dare’s neck. The pendant on the chain is a silver arrowhead that rests just above Dare’s cleavage with the clasp closed around his neck. “My promise to you that I’ll be back.”

Dare lets his manicured fingers touch the pendant.

“I’ll see you soon, beautiful.” Brooks leans in to kiss at Dare’s cheek. It’s sweet. Dare wishes the kiss were on his lips. He wishes it were more than a kiss.

He feels an immense sense of loss as he watches Brooks walk out of the club, almost as intense as the last time he’d winked at Brooks in the labs before he was taken upstairs to the Mistress. Brooks stops at the door and looks back, flashing Dare a brilliant smile. Tears well in Dare’s eyes and he hastily blinks them away to save his makeup.

“I’m very proud of you, Dare.”

Mikael is standing alongside Dare. Doctor Cohen on the other side of Mikael casts Dare an approving smile. Derek stands on the other side of Dare and his friend rests a hand on Dare’s shoulder.

Dare looks at Mikael. “What did I do, Sir?”

“You held a conversation like a multi-dimensional, many-layered human being.” Mikael answers, the corners of his lips pinching in what passes for a smile with him. “You did very good and I’m proud of you.”

It doesn’t matter that Mikael isn’t Dare’s Master. Mikael is a Master and he’s proud of Dare for doing something that Dare hadn’t been certain he was still capable of. In the moment, while Brooks was here, Dare hadn’t even realized that he’d been conversing like a normal human being.

Mikael is proud of him. “Thank you, Sir.” More importantly, Dare is proud of himself.

Chapter Text

True to his word, Brooks comes back the next day. And the next. And the next. For three days they’ve sat and talked with some combination of Mikael, Derek and Gray present but sitting silently nearby and letting them talk. Dare is thankful for their vigil. If he somehow messes up, which Dare knows is a possibility, he’s glad to know that one of them can step in.

While Brooks does most of the talking, Dare shies away from talking about himself because all he has is his life from the Gallery and very little of that puts him in a positive light. He isn’t even sure that his time after the Gallery in Mikael’s care puts him in a positive light.

Dare’s most vocal critic of himself is his own mind. He has no idea if he used to think so poorly of himself before the Gallery. For Dare, the dissent was birthed in the catacombs and nurtured in the labs, then solidified in the harem by a woman who was supposed to care for him.

Maybe his Mistress did care for him in her own way. The thought always makes him cycle back toward thoughts of self worth, or his lack thereof. He was unworthy of his Mistress. He’s unworthy of Lily. Is he unworthy of Brooks too? But they’re just talking… it’s only talking.

“Dare?” Brooks is watching Dare in a way that tells Dare that this isn’t the first time the other man has said his name. “There you are. I think I lost you there for a bit. You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Dare answers with a nod. “Sometimes the voices in my head are louder than the voices out here.” The moment he says the words, he regrets them and is quick to move on from them. “I’m still here though, not lost.”

“If you were lost I’d just try to find you all over again.”

The words make Dare smile a bit, thinking about how Brooks had made enough waves with the American government to get noticed by Derek, who then led Brooks here. He has no doubt that Brooks would try to find him again, although Dare still isn’t sure why.

“Sometimes I hear voices too.” Brooks confesses. “They’re mostly from the assholes in the Catacombs. They really worked hard to drive home the lies that they wanted you to believe down there, didn’t they?”

Dare feels a pang of anxiety at anyone calling the Brutes from the Catacombs ‘assholes’ or saying that they were liars. It’s stupid, really. None of them are here. Salt and Pepper isn’t here. He’s probably in jail… maybe. They can’t do anything in retaliation… maybe.

Still, Dare looks over to the senior-most Master in the room. Mikael gives him the softest smile that Mikael ever gives and nods encouragingly.

Dare looks back to Brooks. “They weren’t always wrong.”

Brooks lifts one shoulder in a half shrug. “Those assholes worked pretty hard to make me believe what they said was truth. Maybe I did believe them for a bit, but not anymore. I’m not what they tried to make me believe. In fact, I’m pretty much the opposite.”

It’s an entirely new concept for Dare, something he’s going to need time to fully wrap his mind around. Salt and Pepper helped him. Could he have been wrong? “What did they try to make you believe?”

“That I’m submissive in all ways, to begin with. I’ve never been submissive… and I gave in for awhile cause… I don’t know, I was out manned and out gunned. You know how it was. There was no wiggle room outside of them and what they said and did. I had no cards of my own to play so I played theirs. I begged for it and I thanked them afterward. I asked permission for every little thing. I played their cards and it got me to the labs. Then I played those cards and it got me to the holding pen… you know the rest.”

Brooks shifts uncomfortably and reaches for Dare’s hand, pulling one from where Dare’s are clasped together behind his back. “They also tried to make me quit thinking for myself. Every thought I had was wrong in some way, or so they said. They called me stupid too, Dare. Maybe not to the extent that they did you, but...”

We know you’re stupid, Dare. But we’re gonna help you with that.

Salt and Pepper’s voice sounds clear as day in Dare’s mind in all of it’s sing-song condescending glory. Dare’s throat feels tight and his eyes mist over.

“Lies, Dare. They lied all the time.” Brooks says again.

The both of them are silent for awhile, Brooks letting the truth of his words sink in and Dare soaking them up but warring with them at the same time. “They weren’t always wrong.” Dare says again.

“You’re not stupid either, Dare. I know they told you that you were. I know they took your past so that it was harder and harder for you to see the lie in it. But you’re not stupid.”

Dare shakes his head in disagreement with the words. He doesn’t know what to say, so he falls back on his tried and trued and well-trained self depreciation and flirtation. “Well, you know there’s that saying about how you can be pretty or smart… and I’m really pretty. Don’t you think so?”

“Stop. You are beautiful and smart, both at the same time.” Brooks says, not allowing Dare his escape from the trajectory of the conversation. Instead, Brooks smiles at him and uses his words to turn Dare’s flirtation back in the other direction. “It’s really pretty amazing how you multitask the two.”

There’s another pause here where Dare stares at Brooks without saying a word. Usually Dare would answer with an insubstantially flippant ‘I know, right?’, but he can’t seem to find the predictable words.

“Say something to me, Dare.” Brooks prompts. “Anything.”

Dare is still quiet for awhile. Brooks holds one of his hands in both of his, tracing his fingers over Dare’s knuckles, over Dare’s polished nails, tracing the lines on Dare’s palm. Brooks waits him out.

“They said I was stupid too.” They’ve already established this similarity, but Brooks nods encouragingly and Dare continues. “They said that I was nothing without sex, that sex was the only thing I was good at. I can’t really remember if they were right or not in the beginning, but it became true eventually and that makes it seem like they were right.”

Dare pauses. “My Mistress wasn’t as nice as your Mistress.”

“I know. I mean I don’t know the extent of it, just what I saw that night, but from what I saw, she was a real bitch, especially to you.”

Again, Dare feels a spike of anxiety at speaking out against the Mistress. Derek and Bran have done it. The twins have done it. Mikael has done it. This is the first time Dare has come close to it.

Brooks grins conspiratorially at Dare. “It’s alright. She’s never getting out of prison. You can say it, Dare. She’s a bitch. She treated you like shit. I saw it.”

Dare glances over to the table. Mikael is watching with his cool blue eyes and Gray looks like he’s grinning with amusement. Brooks is still grinning at him when he looks back, one expectant and playful eyebrow arched high on his brow.

“She’s a bitch.” Dare barely whispers.

The world doesn’t implode.

Brooks barks a laugh and his smile grows wider. “And those guys in the Catacombs were real assholes.”

At Brooks’s nod, Dare grins too. His words are still quietly whispered though. “The Brutes were assholes.”

“Yeah, they really were.” Brooks nods. “See how cathartic it is to say?”

It is kind of cathartic. Not in the same way that applying makeup or painting his nails is cathartic. This is something entirely different on a whole other level. He doesn’t know if he fully believes the words yet, but just saying them is… revolutionary.

“Don’t get me started on the jerks masquerading as ‘doctors’ in the Labs.” Brooks says with a dramatic roll of his eyes.

Dare laughs and dips his head. It’s still kind of a nervous laugh, but it’s genuine albeit short-lived because Dare realizes one thing that Brooks has said about his time in the Gallery that holds very true for Dare as well.

“You’re right.” Dare says. “There was never any wiggle room. I just had to...”

When Dare can’t find the right word, Brooks helps him. “...survive, whatever it took. Isn’t it interesting how it took all those men armed to the teeth with weapons and drugs to subdue and control us… but we’re supposed to be the weak ones?”

“I’m not weak.” If there is anything that Dare has clung to about himself, it’s that one fact. He might be all the horrible things that he’s been called, but he’s never been weak.

I dare you to be brave.

Brooks looks proud of him and Dare likes that he made him proud. Dare feels Brooks gently squeeze his hand. “No, you’re not weak.”

 

* * *

The first night that Dare works downstairs again, Mikael is sure to assign him at the section that includes his own table. Dare has mixed feelings about it. On one hand it’s nice to be cared about. Mikael and the others are obviously concerned about him. On the other hand, what if Oscar returns and wants to use him?

Thoughts of Oscar lead to more mixed feelings. Dare likes being wanted and desired. He likes being used as more than prop or a tool. The way Oscar had made him feel in the aftermath though, that’s a dark place for Dare and he doesn’t understand why.

Maybe Mikael, Gray and Brooks are starting to make him think about things differently. Maybe Dare doesn’t do well when he’s made to look less than perfect on the outside. Maybe blatant cruelty out here in the real world is very different from the same in the world of the Gallery.

It’s all so confusing.

Oscar, for his part, hasn’t been seen again, so Mikael says. Dare has wondered if Oscar showed up and Derek’s Master is somehow keeping him from Dare. If the Brutes in the Catacombs can lie, as Brooks has said, maybe Masters can lie too. Maybe the Guards can lie. Maybe Doctors and Therapists can lie. Maybe even pets can lie.

What, then, is the truth?

Maybe the progress, however slow and however small it is, even if it’s only said in the deepest recesses of his mind, is simply in that one question and the asking of it.

Chapter Text

It’s several nights later and what’s left of the harem pets have finished their shifts downstairs and returned to their room to shower and settle in for the night. They all help one another get clean. Then Dare escapes to the dressing room to reapply his makeup and put on some lingerie.

“You don’t have to do that for bed, you know.” Derek is leaning a shoulder against the door frame in just a pair of jeans and his collar that Mikael had given him and Dare takes a beat to appreciate how sexy the other man looks.

Dare thinks about it for a moment, pausing just briefly before shrugging and continuing. “It’s habit, handsome. Don’t mind me, I’ll be out in a minute.”

Derek remains where he is, watching Dare do what Dare does. “No one is gonna come and get you in the middle of the night.”

It hadn’t occurred to Dare that that’s a part of his reasoning for always having his face made up. In the Gallery, they never knew when the Mistress would call one of them out. It was best to always be ready. Derek is right. If everyone is correct that she’s never getting released from jail, she won’t be calling Dare out ever again.

Still, there’s a deeper reason that Dare never wants to be without makeup. Underneath it all is just Dare and… and he isn’t sure that anyone, especially himself, wants that.

“Are you sleeping in here tonight?” Dare asks, continuing his application. Derek has been sleeping at his own apartment less and less these days. Instead, he oscillates between sleeping with his Master and sleeping in here with the rest of them.

“Thinking about it.” Derek answers.

“I’m not sure I’d give us the time of day if I had a Master as sexy and attentive as yours.” Dare casts Derek a grin.

Derek grins back. “You would. We’re your family.”

Dare sobers a bit, acknowledging the truth of that statement. The harem is indeed his family. He loves these people. He loves Lily and Jai, the twins and Derek and even Bran. Dare loves them all and there’s no scenario where he could just turn that love off and turn his back on them.

After finishing his makeup with a sheen of pink lipstick, Dare stands and slips on some satin panties and a matching pink satin bra. He winks in Derek’s direction. “Like what you see, Sweetheart? Feel free to touch.”

“Actually, I wanna talk to you. About family.” Derek says. “I found out some things about you, about your past. Do you wanna go see Doctor Cohen with me?”

Dare feels his stomach rumble with nerves. In fact, he thinks he might throw up. “Do they wanna see me?” And Dare only just now lets himself acknowledge how badly he wants for someone who knew him from before to care enough to want to see him now.

Derek hesitates. “Do you wanna go see Doctor Cohen? I think we should.”

“Derek, come on.” Dare steps forward. “Who do I have? Have they asked about me? Were they looking for me?” Did his disappearance leave as big of a footprint as Brooks’s or Derek’s had? Or was it unnoticed, like Bran?

Derek pauses another heartbeat before shaking his head. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s no one?” Dare asks and Derek shakes his head.

Dare feels a tightness over every inch of his skin and makes himself take a step back again. He nods and turns back to the mirror to apply another layer of lipstick. Then he picks up a brush to pull it through his long, dark blonde locks, still damp from his shower.

“There’s more.”

“No. No, thank you.” Dare interrupts with a shake of his head. “I don’t need to know.”

“Dare...”

Dare’s gaze snaps to Derek. “I don’t want to know.” He says sharply before schooling his features into something nonchalant, something friendlier and more flirty. “Thanks, handsome. You did that FBI magic you do.” Dare sets the brush down and walks toward Derek, reaching out to boldly grab Derek’s cock through his jeans. “Want me to work some magic in repayment?”

The other man doesn’t even flinch. In fact, Dare thinks that he sees disappointment in Derek’s eyes, maybe sadness before the other man shakes his head. “No thank you. When you’re ready to hear about your life from before, let me know.”

He watches Derek leave the harem room and then looks to the other pets in the room. They’ve all been quiet. All of them are looking at him. All of them just heard everything. It’s okay. Dare is accustomed to the lack of privacy in the harem.

Dare lifts his chin and walks into the main room. He’s the last one to settle onto the pallet and he simply lays back and looks up at the ceiling.

It doesn’t matter, right? If there’s no one left, then it doesn’t matter. And maybe it’s for the best. Whatever he used to be, he isn’t anymore. Dare remembers picking the pink nail polish over the black. He remembers waking up with no hair on his body from the neck down and with breast implants. He remembers shorter hair than what he has now. He remembers callouses on his hands that he no longer has.

He actually likes how he looks now, but even if he can’t exactly remember details, he knows that it isn’t him from before. Anyone who knew him from before, they probably wouldn’t even recognize him now. What would they think?

Dare doesn’t think that he wants to know the answer to that question and now, even if there were any part of him that wanted those answers, he guesses that he’ll never get them.

A tap at his hip from Bran signals him to roll over. Dare wants to say no, that he isn’t in the mood for sex, but the word no isn’t something he says very often, especially when sex is involved. Besides, sex is how the harem has always soothed each other’s wounds. The others think this will help and Dare doesn’t have the heart to tell them that he’s beyond help.

On top of that, without sex Dare is…

He doesn’t want to be nothing.

So Dare lets Bran fuck him from behind while he eats Lily out. Then he finds himself as the meat of a twin sandwich while Jai sucks Dare off. He lets the others try to soothe his wounds in the only way they know how.

 

* * *

“Come out with me.”

Dare looks to the entrance of Passion and back to Brooks. “Like out there?”

Brooks nods, his fingers tapping lightly against Dare’s knee. “Yeah, it’ll be like a date.”

“I can’t.” Dare shakes his head.

“Why not?”

“Because...” Dare looks over to Gray and Derek sitting at the table close by. Mikael is on his phone across the room. “I’m not sure that I’m allowed to date.”

“Unless I misunderstand what Mikael has going on here, I think you’re allowed to do what you want.”

Dare thinks he’s allowed to do what he wants too, within reason. It still feels wrong. “He’s Derek’s Master. But he’s also kind of our Master too… or not Bran’s anymore but...”

“Hey. I bet if you need to ask him, he’d be fine with it.” Brooks says, leaning in a bit closer. “You know you don’t need a Master, right?”

That stumps Dare more than anything else might have stumped him. He opens his mouth, then closes it, unsure of what to say to that. Dare needs a Master or a Mistress. That hasn’t changed. Someone needs to own him, even vicariously.

“Yeah, I do need one.” He finally whispers.

Brooks seems stumped with that response. The both of them turn quiet until they hear Derek call Mikael’s name. The Master excuses himself from the conversation on his phone, sees that Derek needs him and then ends said phone call as he joins the others.

“What is it, darling?” Mikael brushes his fingers over Derek’s brow.

Derek stands up and speaks quietly into Mikael’s ear and icy blue eyes look in Dare’s direction. Dare is sure that Brooks will get in trouble for saying that Dare doesn’t need a Master. He’s even more certain that he’s said something wrong himself and that he’s about to get in trouble. Gray stands and joins the quiet conversation.

This is the first time he and Brooks have needed intervention. It’s the first time they’re both at a loss.

Brooks cups Dare’s cheek, bringing Dare’s attention back to him. “Do you really?” He asks Dare quietly. “Do you feel you need a Master? Do you want one?”

Dare stares at Brooks. “It’s stupid, right? I think the only one who wants me, they won’t let him in.”

“What?” Brooks looks confused. “There’s a Master who wants you?”

“I think so.” Dare whispers.

Brooks looks genuinely upset at the turn of this conversation and the information he’s just received. “Why won’t they let him in the club?”

“Because he’s an abusive prick.” Mikael answers, setting a chair near where Brooks and Dare sit. The man gets a cigarette case from his pocket, a cigarette from the case and proceeds to light up.

Brooks shifts uncomfortably before pulling his hands from Dare and getting to his feet. “You’re not my Master.” He tells Mikael. “I won’t kneel before you.”

“I don’t recall telling you to.” Mikael says calmly flinging his hand in the direction of the table his chair came from. “Feel free to pull up a chair.”

There’s a moment where Brooks decides whether to continue combating Mikael or to concede to sitting beside Mikael as equals. He looks to Dare and his features soften a bit before he grabs a chair to sit alongside the Master.

Mikael leans in toward Dare, his tone is soft even though his eyes are so sharp they could slice through concrete. “I’m told you don’t think that you’re allowed to go outside. You’ve been outside before, Dare.”

“I… out there is...” Dare isn’t sure of what he’s trying to say, so he stops and then starts again. “But without supervision, Sir?”

Mikael indicates the man sitting next to him. “You would have Brooks.”

It seems so simple an answer for all the convoluted thoughts running rampant in Dare’s mind. “But, Sir. Who would I answer to?”

Again, Mikael gestures to Brooks. “You would have Brooks.”

Dare watches Brooks study Mikael with a look that seems to be growing in intensity, like a metal coil getting tighter and tighter until finally something seems to grant him resolve. Brooks looks back to Dare. “You would have me.”

Mikael seems pleased that Brooks is finally on the same page as him, whatever that page may be. “Yes, quite right. And so I suppose the question that remains, Dare, is whether you would like to go out there with Brooks.” Mikael says, taking a spicy cloved drag from his cigarette. “Would you like that?”

“I...” Yes, yes he’d like that a lot. Something still has him holding back still, even now.

“It’s alright to be frightened, Dare.” Mikael arches a brow and looks to Brooks. “Isn’t it, Brooks? After all, the last time he was outside of Passion there were some less than desirable hiccups.”

Brooks nods slowly at Dare. “I would take care of you, Dare. All that you have to do is say that you want to go. You would have me there with you every second. You could… answer to me.”

Maybe it’s the sight of Brooks saying those words while sitting alongside Mikael Pomelov. Maybe it’s just the words themselves. Maybe it’s something Dare’s mind had already been working towards. But in that moment, something in Dare’s brain shifts regarding Brooks. It’s a small shift, really, but also monumental.

Dare can answer to Brooks.

He’s quiet for too long because Brooks leans in closer to prompt him again. “Dare? Wanna go on a date with me? Out there?”

Dare finds himself nodding. “Yes, Sir.” It’s the first time he’s called Brooks ‘Sir’.

His answer makes the corners of Brooks’s lips pull upward. Dare sees the other man draw in a deep breath, as if he’d quit breathing until he’d received the answer Dare had given him in exactly the way Dare had given it. “Good.”

“Very good.” Mikael agrees, turning to Brooks. “Perhaps you and I could speak in private. There are a few things I’d like to discuss with you prior to your date, if you don’t mind.”

Dare hears Brooks agree and watches the two cross the room, the both of them in hushed conversation. Dare is fine with it. He doesn’t need the small print of what’s going to happen. Right now there are only two things he wants to focus on.

First, Dare is going to answer to Brooks.

Second, Dare has a date. He has a date. He has a date.

What is he going to wear?

Chapter Text

Kyle and Bran help him pick out a pair of clingy capri jeans along with pink heels and his tank top with the glitter crown on it that had prompted Derek to call him Queen. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that Kyle picks his clothes and Bran grunts his approval or disapproval. The tank top is low cut enough to see the tops of his breasts, but he wears a bolero style jean jacket on top of it. Dare still wears his arrowhead pendant necklace that Brooks had put around his neck. The point of the arrow nestles just at the top of his cleavage. Lily has done his long hair in soft curls and Dare has done his own eye makeup bold with pink on his lips. His lipstick tube fits perfectly in one of his jeans pockets.

It turns out that Mikael has asked Brooks to allow some of Mikael’s security to tag along and had been convincing enough that Brooks has said yes. Dare has no idea what Mikael has told Brooks and he isn’t sure that it even matters as long as Brooks still wants to let Dare answer to him, as long as Brooks still wants to touch him, as long as Brooks still continues to ask for him.

When Brooks enters Passion to pick Dare up, Dare instantly notices that what has once been purple tips to Brooks’s otherwise platinum hair has now been dyed pink. That alone makes Dare smile. His mohawk is gelled to the max and spiked on top of his head. Brooks was right, it’s the definition of badass.

Brooks wears another well-worn t-shirt with a faded emblem or logo of some sort on it, jeans and combat boots, the latter of which have a few various colors of paint spattered on them.

“You look sexy, Sir.” Dare says. “May I please you?”

“I’m already pretty damn pleased.” Brooks takes both of Dare’s hands and leans in to kiss to the side of his lips, careful not to mess up his makeup. Then he steps back and lifts one of their joined hands to get Dare to twirl underneath them. “You look sexy too, Dare. You ready?”

Brooks’s car is sleek and sporty and purple. It’s so low to the ground that Dare almost falls into it and probably would have if he hadn’t been trained to be so graceful in his heels.

In the driver’s seat, Brooks gives Dare a brilliant smile before starting the roaring engine and Dare can’t help but give him the same in return. Their security is close behind in a large SUV.

In one of the back pockets of his capris, five crisp twenty dollar bills are neatly folded and hidden away. Mikael had given them to him along with the words: “Should anything unexpected occur.”

Dare has no idea where they’re going or what they’re going to do. Right now everything is unexpected. This entire situation is like a free fall for him, one where he hopes Brooks will keep him from any catastrophic collisions.

He looks out of the windows at all of the buildings and high-rises. He sees a helicopter flying overhead. He sees normal people walking on the sidewalks and crosswalks and he wonders where they’re walking to or from. Every time he’s been outside since arriving to their new home, Dare is amazed by all the little things that probably go unnoticed by most. Years without any outside world stimulation will do that to a person. It amazes him that the world has continued to spin during the years that he was in the Gallery. It’s startling to him that these people have progressed in their lives while Dare was taught to kneel and look pretty.

“I have the best day planned for us.” Brooks’s voice slices into Dare’s thoughts. “Are you ready for a good day, Dare?”

Dare looks over to the other man and grins. “So which is it, Sir? The best day or just a good day… just to be clear?”

Brooks laughs. “Well I’m shooting for the best, but I’ll settle for good.”

The way that Brooks laughs with his entire self, Dare likes it. Brooks seems to do everything full-throttle and a hundred percent all the time. Dare wonders what that must feel like. Derek wasn’t wrong when he said that Dare has been standing still. However, he’s recently begun to take baby steps forward. It’s both terrifying and exhillarating.

“I like the pink, Sir.” Dare says.

“Good, cause I did it for you, in honor of our first date.” Brooks says. “That way we match. Also, I’m pretty sure that in a crowd you could find these pink spikes anywhere.”

Brooks had known that Dare would wear something pink. The idea that the man wanted to match him makes Dare’s insides feel a warm kind of fuzzy. It’s a strange and new kind of feeling, so much so that Dare has to think about it for a minute to finally decide that the feeling is good.

They end up at a nail salon where Dare is told to pick out a color in a wall full of colors. Of course he gravitates toward the pink glitter. He and Brooks sit side by side while women massage and exfoliate their feet. It feels heavenly. The woman working on Dare’s feet looks strangely at him, but if she says anything untoward, he never hears it.

“I never knew places like this existed.” Dare says, looking over to Brooks. The harem pets had been taken care of in many different ways, but to have this out in the real world? It’s surprising.

Brooks grins at him. “You can get your fingernails done too, but I know how much you like painting your own.”

By the time they leave, both Dare and Brooks have glitter pink painted toenails. Only Dare’s are visible because of his pink four inch heel ed sandals.

Instead of getting back in Brooks’s car, they walk two blocks down the street. Brooks is holding Dare’s hand so no matter how much Dare itches to clasp his hands behind his back, he can’t. Deep down, he kind of likes that he can’t.

Mikael’s security detail walks close behind them, both men in casual conversation with one another.

Some of the streets are cordoned off down here and Dare hears live music. When they round the corner, Dare finds the streets full of people. There are vendors off to the sides, all of them busy selling food and trinkets and baubles. Down the street a ways, in a blocked off intersection, is a stage with a live band playing.

“What is this?” Dare asks.

“It’s a Fall block party. There’s a lot to do here so if you get tired of one thing, we can move on to the next.” Brooks gently squeezes Dare’s hand in his. “You ready?”

“I… I wouldn’t know where to start. I don’t think I’ve ever...” Ever what? Seen this many people, normal people, in one place? Dare doesn’t know if that’s right or not. He’s just… never.

“How about you follow my lead and trust me not to steer you wrong?” Brooks winks at him, which is one of Dare’s signature moves. For some reason, it means a lot that anyone, especially Brooks, would wink at him. Do other people appreciate such minimal gestures as hand holding and winking? Is he being stupid to think so much of it?

Don’t be stupid, Dare. Please don’t be stupid. Not today. Not in front of Brooks.

Can he trust Brooks and follow his lead? That answer is easy. “Yes, Sir. I’d like that.”

Brooks leads Dare to a stand where they pick out specialty ice cream. Brooks picks cookie dough flavor and Dare picks a strawberry cheesecake flavor that’s white and pink. It’s delicious, and if Dare has ever had ice cream before, he can’t remember it. Ice cream is fantastic.

Further down the street, they stop and Brooks convinces Dare that they need to get some face paint done. Brooks gets a purple glitter star over one eye.

“Do I have to get it on my face, Sir?” Dare asks. Having things put on his face, things that make him less than perfect on the outside, that’s more difficult than he can admit.

Brooks cups his cheek and shakes his head. “Nope…. How about...” His fingers trace gently down the side of Dare’s neck to his collarbone. “...here?”

There’s a brief moment where Dare thinks of Oscar scribbling the word ‘STUPID’ on his breasts, but he pushes that aside. Where Brooks is touching is higher than that, and it’s going to be pink glitter anyway. Pink is Dare’s color.

Still, Dare hesitates, but for a good reason. He likes how it feels to be touched right there the way Brooks is touching him now. Eventually, he nods and sits down to get his pink glitter star over his left collarbone.

With Brooks holding his hand again, they walk around to more booths and look at handmade jewelry and vases and artwork. There’s something for everyone. Brooks buys them matching necklaces, a silver compass on a short silver chain. Dare adds it to the arrow pendant he still wears. The silver compass sits higher on his chest than the arrow, closer to his neck. Dare can’t see his own, but every time he looks at Brooks, he knows that he has one too.

In another section there are animals, livestock. The scent of hay makes Dare feel uncomfortable and he isn’t sure why. He walks a little slower and Brooks slows with him. Dare passes by pens filled with chickens and goats, baby cows and horses.

Dare stops at the horses and looks, remembering how Lily once had a pony and Dare thinks that he might have had a horse too – maybe even more than one horse.

“Derek thinks I might’ve been a cowboy.” Dare finally says with a smirk. “I can’t remember.”

“The fashion sense alone...” Brooks says with a laugh and Dare smiles because he’d said the same joke. Truth be told, cowboys are kind of sexy, he thinks.

“Do you like horses, Dare?” Brooks asks.

Dare isn’t sure how to answer that question, but he studies the large beasts in the pen. They’re beautiful. It makes him kind of sad that they don’t have more room. Maybe this is just for today. Maybe they usually have more room.

“I think so, Sir.” Dare answers.

There’s an older gentleman in a cowboy hat in the pen with the horses. He’s eyeing Dare with narrowed eyes, as if he’s trying to figure out what he’s looking at.

“Excuse me, Sir.” Dare watches Brooks cast one of his brilliant smiles at the cowboy. It seems to distract the older man enough. He offers a small but kind smile to Brooks in return. “Do you have anything we can feed them?”

“Sure do.” The man reaches in a bag and hands both Brooks and Dare carrots.

One of the horses instantly comes closer. Dare instinctively reaches out to pet up his nose and then grab his bridle and reins in a way that only a practiced rider would know how to do. Then he clicks his tongue in the back of his throat and offers the carrot to the horse.

“You got a way with ‘em, don’t ya?” The old man says.

Dare feels Brooks’s hand at the small of his back while the horse eats the carrot from Dare’s hand.

“I’ve never...” Dare stops and shakes his head. Yes, he has. He’s been around horses before. The hay, the feel of reins, the way he knows how to speak to them better than he does to people.

“Here.” Brooks gives Dare the other carrot and Dare proceeds to feed it to the horse too.

When the carrot is gone, Dare lets go of the reins and the horse huffs and snorts before cantering off to join his friends. Dare watches in silence for a moment, before looking at the old cowboy.

“Do they usually have a lot of room to run, Sir?” Dare asks him.

“Oh yeah, got a ranch up north. They get the run of several pastures daily.” the man says.

Dare has a moment of displacement. He’s still standing beside Brooks, but also, he’s not. He’s on a horse with the sun shining down on him. There’s a gentle breeze brushing his skin. He feels the band of a straw cowboy hat across his brow, eyes shaded by the brim. He’s wearing jeans, boots, a button up collared shirt. He vaguely remembers the feel of a piece of straw rolling between his lips and teeth.

There are cattle everywhere and Dare is slowly walking his horse alongside them to guide the herd into the next pasture. A dog is running back and forth at the back of the herd, yipping at any cows that try to wander off. A glance across the herd and he sees an older version of himself doing the same thing he’s doing.

It’s a peaceful, perfect scene. It’s a memory that’s as vivid as anything in the here and now and Dare tries so hard to cling to it as best he can.

In the present, back behind the pen where a man is putting some shoes on a horse, one of the stallions rears up on its hind legs.

The scene tears into Dare’s memory and changes it into something horrible. Dare imagines the same old man from his memory across the herd. This time the horse he’s riding spooks and rears up and the man falls to the ground, hard.

“Dare?” Brooks has both hands on Dare’s shoulders. “Baby, you’re shaking.”

“Does he… she... need help? Need to get a policeman or something?”

At that question, Dare looks at the old cowboy who asked it. Dare clasps his hands behind his back. “May I please you, Sir?”

“What does that mean?” The old man asks.

“Nothing, he’s fine.” Brooks wraps both arms around Dare and pulls him close while whispering in his ear. “It’s okay, beautiful. I’m here. It’s okay. Deep breaths. Take deep breaths with me. I’m right here.”

Dare is vaguely aware of Mikael’s security right next to them, which is closer than the two men have been to them all day. The men are so casual about their job that Dare had almost forgotten that they were here. They’re also apparently very aware of what their job is. One of the men is saying something to the old cowboy in calm, hushed tones, too quietly for Dare to hear.

Brooks never quits speaking, not until Dare is calm, not until the shaking has stopped, not until Dare feels like he can breathe normally again. Still, Brooks holds onto him.

“I’m sorry, Sir.” Dare whispers.

“Shhh it’s fine, beautiful. It’s fine.” Brooks pulls back and cups Dare’s cheek, his thumb smoothing over Dare’s skin. “You had a moment. It’s okay. We all have moments where things are rough.”

“I don’t know what happened, Sir. I’m not sure…”

“I think something, just now, triggered you and that’s okay. It’s okay.” Brooks says. “A memory maybe?”

Dare thinks about the visual of the old man in a cowboy hat being thrown from a horse. Did that actually happen? “Maybe. But I don’t think it’s a good memory.”

Brooks’s lips thin and he nods his head. “Okay. Do you need to go home?”

Does he need to go home? Maybe. Probably. Yes. Does he want to go home? No. Especially not if that means that Brooks will go away.

Dare is still in that place of indecisiveness and trying not to fall back on calling himself stupid in front of Brooks when Brooks gives some sort of signal to the guards and thanks the old cowboy for his time. Then Brooks puts his arm around Dare’s shoulders.

“How about we walk for a bit while you decide.”

It’s the out Dare had needed and quickly he nods. “Yes, Sir. I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

For awhile, all they do is walk. Brooks has his arm around Dare’s shoulder for a long time, holding him in close against his side as they walk. Then, as it seems that Dare grows more comfortable again, Brooks switches to simply holding his hand.

They play something called skee ball, a game at which they’re both equally horrible. They watch part of a talent show. A woman plays a guitar on one street corner and they stand and listen. Brooks tosses some bills into the open guitar case at her feet before they move on.

They find themselves back at the center of it all, the live music stage. There’s a band on now that’s playing some alternative rock kind of music that Dare has never heard before. It’s entrancing, really. The Mistress always played classical music. Classical music is all that Dare can remember. This isn’t classical.

He watches the band as they get into the music they’re playing, as they work the crowd. He watches people around him interact; talking, laughing, dancing… unaware and untouched by the horrible things Dare has seen and done. Maybe even unaware and untouched by anything that’s truly horrible in the world.

He wonders what it must feel like to be able to let everything go and be so carefree.

“Hey, I think I lost you again, beautiful.” Brooks is leaning in, speaking close to his ear. “What do I have to do to find you this time? Cause I’ll do it, Dare. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Dare starts to come up with some token, flirty reply when Brooks is suddenly in front of him, still holding one of his hands, the other hand rests lightly at Dare’s waist. Brooks sways back and forth, obviously trying to get Dare to sway with him.

“Do you wanna fuck me, Sir?” Those aren’t the words that Dare has wanted to say, but he says them anyway because they’re easy.

Brooks grins at him and nods. “Yeah, I do… but not right now. Right now I want you to dance with me.”

There’s a bit here where Dare is stuck on the fact that Brooks wants to fuck him. For all the times he’s asked and people have said no, Brooks is the most important yes he could have, he thinks.

Eventually, he shakes his head at the offer to dance. “But I don’t think I’ve ever...”

“Then let me be your first.”

Dare feels silly at first as they sway back and forth to the upbeat rock song, but Brooks asks no more of him than that. And how stupid is it to feel silly doing this given all the things that he’s done and that have been done to him? That’s what’s silly, not dancing.

Once he reaches this conclusion in his mind, Dare is able to relax into it. They dance slowly to their own beat no matter what those around them are doing. No one says anything crude to them, or to him. He likes it, he thinks. He likes dancing with Brooks.

They dance through several songs like this until finally Brooks guides Dare to twirl under their joined hands just as he had in the club when Brooks had picked him up. Brooks dips Dare, kisses his neck and then pulls him back up.

Dare can’t help but smile. It might not be as bright as Brooks’s smile, but to be fair, Dare isn’t sure that anyone smiles as fully and completely as Brooks does.

Hand in hand, they make their way back through the block party and turn the corner to walk the blocks back to Brooks’s car. Dare is sad to think that the day might be coming to an end as he slips down into the passenger seat of the low sports car.

As Brooks pulls away from the curb, Dare speaks over the rumble of the engine. “I’m gonna go with best.”

“Best what?” Brooks asks distractedly.

It seems as if Dare’s comment might have interrupted Brooks’s train of thought and he isn’t sure if that’s a good thing. He hesitates briefly before deciding to explain.

“You said you were shooting for the best day, but willing to settle on a good day, Sir.” Another smile starts to build on Brooks’s lips and Dare is glad that he’s explaining. “Well, from where I’m sitting it’s been the best day.”

“That makes me so happy.” Brooks says. “I was worried, because of what happened with the horses.”

“It’s alright, handsome. It happens sometimes. They’re like ghosts – there and then gone again.” Dare shakes his head. “Everything else kind of overshadows that though. You’re so nice to me, Sir… like, nicer than I probably deserve. I don’t-”

“That isn’t true.” Brooks interrupts him. “You deserve all the kindness you can handle, which I hope is a lot because I plan on giving it to you.”

Dare doesn’t know what to say to that. How much kindness can he handle? How much kindness is he allowed? That probably depends on who his Master or Mistress is. Even though he’s answering to Brooks on this outing, even though he defers to Mikael in so many ways, even though he looks to Bran for leadership about what should be done, even though he followed Lily’s lead for years, the Mistress of the Gallery still has her fingers in his brain, controlling, taunting, belittling and using him.

“Dare? Will you tell me what you remembered?” Brooks asks.

Dare doesn’t think twice about answering the question. “An old man falling off of a horse. The horse reared up. He hit the ground pretty hard. I have no idea who it is or when it happened, Sir.”

So stupid. Try not to be stupid.

Brooks nods and is silent for a few moments before casting a small smile at Dare. “You were pretty good with the horses though.”

“I used to have a horse, Sir. I’ve been dancing around that truth for awhile… but I’m pretty sure that it’s the truth, like a real memory.” Dare says quietly. “But again, it’s something that’s sometimes there and then it’s not. I feel so stupid sometimes… or all the time. It’s so stupid that I can’t remember. I try and… nothing sticks. I don’t know how they did it but… Sometimes I’m just… I feel so stupid.”

Brooks pulls the car into a parking lot and kills the engine. He looks over to Dare and takes his hand, lacing his pinky finger with Dare’s pinky finger. “You’re not stupid. They took your memories. They stole them from you Dare. That’s not your fault. It’s on them. In fact, it’s pretty damn shitty of them.”

“It seemed like it was my fault.” Dare says.

“Would you blame someone whose house was broken into and had their shit stolen?” Brooks asks. When Dare shakes his head, Brooks shrugs and nods. “There’s your answer. Thieves are douchebags. The people who broke into your mind and stole your memories are douchebags.”

Dare has never thought about it like that, in the vein that Brooks describes it. He’s never thought that the Brutes or the Doctors or the Lab Techs had broken into his mind and stolen his memories. He just knew that he kept forgetting and forgetting and being called stupid for doing so until he believed it. Dare files this new context from Brooks away to study further at a later time.

“How are you so okay with everything that happened? How are you so normal?” Dare asks.

“Dare, I’m not okay with what happened. I can’t go back and change it though. There’s only forward. If I don’t move forward, then I’ll go insane. Besides, backwards is shit and forward is you. There’s really no choice on my end of things.” Brooks lets go of Dare’s hand and reaches up to brush the backs of his fingers over Dare’s cheek. “And who wants to be normal?”

Dare leans his cheek into that sweet, gentle touch. “You seem pretty normal, Sir.”

“We both know that I had it a lot easier than you did. We’ve had this discussion.” Brooks grins. “I don’t mind having it again, however many times you need to have it.”

“You’re gonna get so frustrated with me, Sir.” Dare counters. “I can be very frustrating.”

“I’ve never been frustrated with you. Not once.”

Once again, Dare has no idea what to say to that. Why are compliments from other people either shocking or difficult for him? Maybe because they’ve been so few and far between for so long.

Brooks’s hand is cupping the side of his neck, his thumb gliding over Dare’s jawline. Again, the touch is so sweet, something else that Dare isn’t overly accustomed to.

“Do you wanna fuck me?” Dare hasn’t really intended to ask the question. It wasn’t thought out beforehand. He’s surprised to find that it’s just something that he wants, so he asked.

Brooks smiles softly at Dare. “This is my hotel. Do you wanna come up?”

Dare looks at the full parking lot around them and then up at the tall building in front of them, a hotel, a fancy looking hotel. He hadn’t even noticed. Speechless, Dare nods.

He watches as Brooks exits the drivers side and comes around to the passenger side to open the door. Brooks holds Dare’s hand through the parking lot, into the hotel lobby, to an elevator and then off on a floor number Dare hadn’t even looked at while he’d been studying Brooks.

His mind is full of memories of the parlor in the Mistress’s house when Brooks’s Mistress had brought him to visit.

You are not stupid and you are fucking beautiful.

Brooks’s hotel room is a suite with a living area, a work area with a desk and a bedroom and bathroom. It can’t be cheap for Brooks to be living here for so long. He wonders why.

Then he doesn’t wonder anything at all because Brooks is in front of him, smoothing the jean jacket off of Dare’s shoulders and down his arms and off to the floor. Then Brooks leans in to kiss at Dare’s cheek, his lips… his lips… his lips…

Dare’s lips part to welcome the kiss, to reciprocate in kind. “May I touch you, Sir?” Dare whispers into the kiss.

“Yes, Dare. Fuck yes.” Brooks hisses, teeth lightly clamping on Dare’s bottom lip and tugging.

Dare’s hands find the flat smooth of Brooks’s abdomen over his t-shirt, then beneath his t-shirt to push material up and up until Brooks has to lift his arms so that Dare can get his shirt off. His fingertips and nails lightly trace over pecs, his nails clicking against nipple rings, and then down further until his fingers hook in the waist of Brooks’s briefs, just visible above the waist of his jeans.

Brooks unclasps the fly of his own jeans and then does the same for Dare’s clingy capris. Dare grins and slips to his knees. A slight tug to pull material down is all it takes to free Brooks’s cock. Dare doesn’t waste a second. He’s wanted to please Brooks for awhile now, days, weeks even – maybe even since they were staring at one another across the hallway in the labs, years, unable to speak a word to each other – and Brooks is already so hard.

Dare’s tongue laps up the length of him, his teeth clicking against more metal as he takes him into his mouth. Immediately, Dare knows that he likes the taste of Brooks, the scent of him, the feel of him. Everything about Brooks is hot.

“Oh my god…please, yes.” Brooks whispers and it doesn’t sound like a curse at all, more like a prayer request.

Dare doesn’t think anyone has ever said please to him, or the words ‘oh my god’ in that tone and not followed by snickers and laughter at Dare’s expense. He tries to commit it to memory, to think of ways to elicit more and similar responses.

Fingers comb into his hair at the top of his head as Dare feels Brooks grow even harder in his mouth. Dare begins to taste pre and his tongue laps at it.

“Holy fuck… wait wait wait...” Brooks is gasping for breath, the fingers in his hair guiding Dare off of him.

Dare looks up to Brooks. “Are you not pleased, Sir? I don’t mean to brag, but I’m usually pretty good at this… and that’s a lie, I probably do mean to brag.“

Brooks laughs a breathless laugh. “More than pretty good at it. I’m too pleased. I don’t wanna be done so soon. Stand up, sweet Dare.”

My sweet Dare. I double-dog Dare you...

That voice that had gotten him through so much in the Catacombs and the Labs and in the Harem. That nameless, faceless voice that always encouraged him, even when he was slow or stupid. It’s the only kind voice in his head, even if the drugs had sometimes made it seem otherwise. In his right mind, it’s the only kind voice.

“Sweet Dare?” Dare asks, getting to his feet again. He attempts to shake the ghost of a memory off.

Brooks cups either side of Dare’s face and kisses him again. Dare returns the kiss, easily, completely.

“Yes, my sweet Dare.” Brooks repeats the words.

My sweet Dare...

Those words make him feel so warm and safe. It doesn’t matter that that voice in his head is female, not Brooks. It seems so right for Brooks to say the words out loud in the present.

Somehow, while they’ve kissed, they’ve moved to the bedroom. Brooks sits and leans down to start unlacing his paint spattered combat boots. Dare gets to his knees in front of him to take over and do it for him. He looks up at Brooks as he does.

“Can you say that again?” Dare asks, one boot pulled off.

“What’s that, beautiful? Oh.” Brooks grins, still trying to catch his breath. “My sweet Dare. You like that?”

Dare nods, pulling the other boot off and then Brooks’s socks and briefs and jeans leaving the other man completely naked save for his jewelry. “Yes, Sir. I like it a lot.”

“I’ll remember that. I like it too… especially cause it has the word ‘my’ in it. Mine.” Brooks grins, standing and helping Dare to his feet. Brooks pushes Dare’s capris down and Dare steps out of them with Brooks helping to work the pants over Dare’s heels. Then Brooks’s hand is beneath the pink polka dot panties Dare is wearing today, stroking his cunt. “Your turn.”

Chapter Text

Mine… mine… mine...

Dare’s mind reels from that for longer than it probably has any right to linger on the word. He hadn’t even thought of that one word in the words ‘my sweet Dare’, but the way Brooks says them, the way the other man has just put a spotlight on the word ‘my’, it makes the words take on a whole new meaning in addition to the safety and comfort they have always provided him.

My sweet Dare...

This time the words are in Brooks’s voice in his mind.

He’s forced away from his thoughts by the feeling of Brooks touching, fondling, stroking his cunt. Dare feels as if every inch of his body is going to explode in a dizzying array of emotion and sensation and yes, enlightenment. There are parts of him that are starting to wake up that have been dormant for a very, very long time.

“I almost don’t wanna take anything else off cause you’re so fucking sexy right now, Dare. You’re so fucking beautiful.” Brooks whispers, nipping at Dare’s lips as his hand leaves Dare’s cunt and slides up over Dare’s tank top at his abdomen to finally cup and knead at one breast. “But I’ve never been naked with you and I wanna be naked with you. I want you to see all of me and I wanna see all of you.”

For all of Dare’s bravado, for all the times he’s complimented himself with words on top of words on top of words, he doesn’t think he’s ever actually felt as sexy or as beautiful as he does right now in this moment. He tries to make a mental note of his panties, bra and tank top, of his heels he still wears, of everything that’s on the outside. It’s futile though, he realizes, because this time what he feels is truly and deeply on the inside, not the outside.

No one has ever reacted to him in the way Brooks does, with complete and absolute and undeniable adoration. Brooks has made him feel as if he is every bit as beautiful as Dare has, up until now, pretended to be.

It’s obvious that Dare is the alter upon which Brooks worships, confesses and prays.

“I wanna be naked with you too, Sir.” Dare has always been made to dress up. Everyone else was naked in the Harem. Dare was made to put pretty things on. It’s very rare that anyone has told or asked him to take them off.

Finally, as if having finally convinced himself of the merits of a naked Dare, Brooks hooks his fingers in the hem of Dare’s tank top and pulls up. Dare lifts his arms and lets Brooks remove it. It’s impressive how easily Brooks reaches around to unclasp Dare’s pink satin polka dot bra. The bra joins the growing pile of clothes on the floor.

Brooks grips Dare’s waist and turns them around as he kisses him again. The backs of Dare’s knees hit the bed and he falls back on it. Brooks unzips the backs of Dare’s pink heels and removes one, kisses the inside of Dare’s ankle, then repeats the process on the other one. Brooks then proceeds to leave a trail of kisses up Dare’s legs, at his cunt over pink polka dot satin, over his hip bones, up his abdomen to his breasts where he pauses for even more intensive worship. His panties glide down his legs at Brooks’s behest and the other man tosses them aside.

Dare lies back and arches up into every kiss, every gentle bite, every tease of Brooks’s pierced tongue. He feels Brooks sucking and biting at the side of his neck. He cups either side of Brooks’s face as the other man kisses him again and again, his nails sliding gently over scruffy cheeks.

When Brooks replaces Dare’s pink glitter plug with his cock, it feels like fate incarnate, like something that was always meant to be out here in the normal, free world finally coming to fruition. Brooks fucks Dare just as he had all those years ago in the Mistress’s parlor, eye to eye and slow and sweet as if in attempt to savor every second of it.

Maybe this is something different than fucking, Dare thinks. This is something he’s never done before, not that he can remember. This is something much more personal, much more intimate…

These are words that he doesn’t have.

He has no words to attach to this act… and maybe that’s what makes it so profound. Dare has always been instructed to use words; meaningless, pointless, intrusive, trivial words. And in this moment, there isn’t a single one of them that could hope to measure up to what Brooklyn Meyers has made him feel.

 

* * *

 

Dare glides his fingertips over Brooks’s skin. The other man had made Dare cum three times. Dare has never been made to cum three times, or even twice. Brooks wouldn’t stop until Dare was beyond taken care of. Dare has never been treated like this and he isn’t quite sure what to do with it.

They slept for awhile after that, a tangle of limbs and exhaustion. Dare can’t remember the last time he’s slept naked, or been naked for this long. Maybe in the Catacombs and the Labs, years ago, before he was given his first pink lace.

When they’d woken up, Brooks had kissed him and kissed him, hands gliding easily over Dare’s bare skin.

Now, Brooks is lying back and Dare has decided to inspect every inch of the other man. Brooks’s feet are perfect, his toenails painted pink glitter just like Dare’s. At his ankle is the same bar code tattoo that Dare has, only Brooks has added ink to it to make it into a skull, the bar code the teeth of said skull.

“I had to reclaim that part of my skin.” Brooks explains when Dare asks about it. “It’s mine now.”

When Dare kisses at a scar on Brooks’s left knee, Brooks speaks around a lazy grin. “Skateboard accident when I was an awkward teenager.”

There’s a tattoo of barbed wire winding it’s way up one thigh, to his hip and around his back to the other side. Brooks shrugs. “It’s mine now, my skin. I get to choose what to do with it.” His fingertips brush lightly over Dare’s shoulder. “And who I let touch me.”

His nails have chipped purple polish on them and on the inside of one forearm is more ink of a broken cross. Dare asks about it and Brooks answers. “I used to believe in God. Now I don’t.”

Does Dare believe in God? He can’t remember.

“What do you believe in?” Dare stretches out beside Brooks, tracing the lines of his face, over nose ring and eyebrow rings and earrings, over his lips where Brooks kisses at his fingertips.

“Myself. I got me through hell. No one else did that. I did that.” He answers, lacing his fingers with Dare’s to press their palms together. “And you got yourself through a worse hell than mine, so I believe in you too.”

To be believed in by someone like Brooks seems a weighty burden to carry. Dare isn’t sure whether or not he can handle the load.

“Do you have anything you believe in, Dare?” Brooks’s wording here is perfect. It gives Dare a way to answer without calling himself stupid as he would have were Brooks to have parroted the question in the way Dare has just asked him.

Dare slowly shakes his head. “No, Sir.”

“Look harder, my sweet Dare… maybe you’ll find something.” Brooks answers with a small smile.

On the arm opposite the tattoo, Dare sees the familiar incision and the slight circular rise beneath the skin that he also has. It’s a pump for drugs, Dare knows.

“You have one too.” Dare says, displaying his arm with the pump alongside Brooks’s.

“Yeah, standard operating procedure for the Gallery.” Brooks says. “They offered to take it out, the government doctors, but… I don’t know, it’s hard to imagine not having it. I guess I’m not ready for that.”

“It keeps you aroused still?”

“Yeah. I mean at this point I can’t imagine not being hard. Like… how does that even feel? I don’t think I wanna know.” Brooks shakes his head. “It’s an extensive surgery, connected to some important things, so they said… I saw some pets in the holding pens after everything went down who got them removed… they just seemed sad. I couldn’t do it. Most of us didn’t do it.”

Dare feels a deep kinship in this moment. Brooks is someone who understands everything. Dare can’t imagine not having the pump in his arm either. He can’t imagine not having his breasts. He can’t imagine the ways in which losing either of those things would change him.

“Derek asked me if I ever wanted to have them removed.” he says, fingers sliding over his own breasts as he looks down at them and shakes his head. “He meant well, but… no one’s ever asked me that before. I’ve never even thought about it.”

Brooks turns to his side, facing Dare and brings his hand up to touch Dare’s. His hand follows Dare’s as he touches his breasts, the both of them touching them together. “Have you thought about it since he asked?”

Dare nods slowly. “Yeah. I just… I remember being so shocked at first, like really shocked because it was something that was done to me. But it isn’t like that anymore. Somewhere at some point they weren’t something that was done to me anymore. They were – are – mine. Now I like having them. It’s a part of me, you know?”

“I know.” Brooks nods. “Same with the pump.”

“Yeah, it’s exactly the same. I don’t think I’d want the pump removed either. I don’t know how it would feel for my cunt to feel… different.” Dare tries to explain. “I don’t know when or how that change happened.”

“It’s probably part survival, part resilience, part figuring out who you are without them.” Brooks answers. “It’s a decision you made somewhere along the way… without being told to make it. In fact, in that light it’s kind of a rebellious act, don’t you think? To take something traumatic that they did to you and make it yours. You’re basically flipping them the middle finger.”

That makes Dare laugh and Brooks grins at him.

Dare shakes his head. “I don’t think I’ve ever flipped anyone the middle finger, handsome.”

“Oh but it’s so easy.” Brooks pushes up to sit, cross-legged, facing Dare. He takes one of Dare’s hands and fashions his fingers so that only the middle one is raised. “They’re rude, douchebaggy or just plain piss you off, you just do this… only do it with flare and gusto.”

Dare watches Brooks stare at his hand and then lift it to his lips so he can suckle off that middle finger. It’s sexy as hell to watch the other man do this.

“Sorry, beautiful. Couldn’t resist.” Brooks rests Dare’s middle finger gently between his teeth.

Dare is at a loss for words in this moment. Brooks tends to have this affect on him. He’s quiet for a long while until finally Brooks lets go of his hand and reaches out to smooth his thumb over Dare’s brow. “Furrowed brow… what are you thinking, Dare? Tell me.”

What is he thinking? Can he really say all of it out loud?

Be brave, my sweet Dare. I double-dog dare you to be brave.

“I don’t… I don’t understand what you see in me. You treat me differently than anyone else that I can remember. You make me feel different. You make me feel like I’m something I’m not and I think that’s really scary for when my real life is happening.”

Brooks is quiet for a moment before nodding. “Well there’s a lot in there to unpack. You don’t think that this is real life?”

“I think this is the best fantasy I could’ve ever come up with. It’s not my reality though… it’s just… not.”

“Okay. And what do you mean, something you’re not?” Brooks asks.

“I mean… you make me feel like I’m not a thing… or an it.” And that makes the prospect of going back to his reality a daunting, exhaustive thing.

“You’re not an it or a thing, Dare. I hate that they made you feel that way, that they treated you that way, that they made you believe it. But, baby, it’s another one of their lies.” Brooks pushes his fingers back through Dare’s hair. “I know they were very convincing. That doesn’t make their lies into truth, no matter how much they repeated them.”

“But I was… her conversation piece.”

“You’ve gotta flip the script in your head. They’re the fantasy. They created that fantasy out of lies. This is the real world and you get to decide what your truth is.” Brooks says. “You were and you are a human being with independent thoughts and feelings and fuck them for making you think you’re not.”

Dare tenses, unsure of why he’s so frightened every time Brooks speaks out against anyone involving The Gallery. None of them are going to come busting into this hotel room.

“Mikael told me about that guy, Oscar, was it? The Master who you said wants you… he’s a fucking liar too, Dare.” Brooks says. “That man abused you and he’ll do it again and again and again if you let him. But you don’t have to let him. In fact, you could probably kick his ass multiple times over.”

“But he’s a Master.” Dare says.

“He’s an asshole. He’s just as much of an asshole as the Brutes or the Guards or the Doctors or the fucking lab techs that made us suck their cocks.” Brooks counters. “How did he make you feel, Dare? You told me how I make you feel, so how did Oscar the asshole make you feel?”

How had Oscar made him feel? Like he was torn to shreds and turned inside out. Like he was nothing. Like nothing mattered. Like he should have crawled forward when the Mistress had her firing squad at the ready because this is the only thing he knows how to do.

“Dare, sweetheart...” Brooks lays down with Dare and wraps his arms around him to pull him close. “I’m sorry. I’m pushing too hard. I know. I’m sorry. It just pisses me off that anyone would treat you that way and Mikael said that Oscar made you almost shut down completely. I’m sorry, my sweet Dare.”

They lay like that for a long while, everything Brooks is trying to say to him swirling around and around in his head. None of it computes with his training in the Gallery. So what’s fantasy and what’s reality?

It’s some time later when Brooks speaks again. “You’re a human being, with independent thoughts and feelings, Dare. This is the real world, right here and now with you and me. I’ll spend forever trying to remind you of that truth if that’s what it takes.”

They fall asleep like this again, bodies pressed together and worn out both physically and emotionally.

It isn’t until Dare is safely returned to Passion that he realizes that he hadn’t once thought about his lipstick or his hair or his outward appearance in general… not once.

And still, in saying goodbye, with Dare’s eye makeup smudged and no lipstick on his lips. With his hair slept on and imperfect, Brooks had cupped either side of his face and kissed him and kissed him. Dare had kissed back and loved every moment of it.

All of Dare’s imperfections and still, Brooks’s parting words echo in his mind and wrap themselves around his heart. “The best day. I’ll see you tomorrow, beautiful.”

Chapter Text

Dare kneels on the pallet in Doctor Cohen’s office, listening to Doctor Cohen’s side of a conversation on his phone. They had just started their latest session when the phone call came. Dare had called Gray handsome and asked If he could please him. Gray had politely declined, as usual. Then just as Doctor Cohen asked Dare if anything particular was on Dare’s mind today, the Doctor’s cell phone had begun to play some rock song.

“I apologize, Dare. Only emergency phone calls are coming through right now. I have to take this.” Gray has said.

For some time now, Dare has listened to Doctor Cohen help calm someone on the other line. Gray’s voice is so very soothing, every inch of kindness and patience. The cadence of it allows Dare to zone out, as he does sometimes, ignoring the fine print of the present tense and just waiting to be told when to return and what to do.

This time, Dare doesn’t completely zone out though. He thinks about Brooks and their date and how nice it is to be asked for by Brooks, to get to answer to Brooks, to get to call Brooks ‘Sir’ and to kiss and touch Brooks. Since their date, Dare has tried to replay every second in his mind, every gesture, big or small, every word.

You are a human being with independent thoughts and feelings, Dare.

Is that what Dare is? Really? Is how he feels with Brooks the reality and how the Gallery made him feel the fantasy? Fantasy seems too kind a word for the Gallery.

Lies, Dare. They lied all the time.

Did they? Was everything Salt and Pepper taught him a lie? Everything that Doctor Simmons and Jerome instilled in him a falsehood? Everything the Mistress tried to make him into an impostor?

Do you have anything you believe in, Dare?

Dare’s hands unclasp so that he can touch both pendants around his neck, the compass and the arrowhead.

“I’m so sorry, Dare. That couldn’t wait.” Gray takes a deep breath, settling down on the floor in front of Dare and crossing his legs.

“Did you help them, Sir?” Dare asks.

Gray smiles softly and nods. “Yes, I think so. I hope so.” He pushes a button on the recording device. “Let’s see, you had just come in...”

“Brooks, Sir.” Dare says.

“Hrm?”

“You asked if there was anything particular on my mind today, Sir.” Dare says. “Brooks.”

Doctor Cohen’s smile grows into something more genuinely pleasant. “How are things going with Brooks, Dare? How was your date?”

“It was the best day, Sir.” Dare answers honestly. Not just good, but the best. “He keeps coming to see me and… and I like that. I like him… and I’m scared.”

Gray sobers. “What are you afraid of, Dare?”

“Lots of things. I’m afraid that someday he won’t come see me anymore. I’m afraid he’ll realize I’m… lurid and tawdry, Sir.” Dare says. “He thinks I’m something more… and that makes me want to be something more for him. I don’t know how to do that though. I don’t know how to be more than...”

“More than what?”

“...a thing, Sir. An it. A conversation piece… a stupid conversation piece.” Dare blinks away tears, looking hopefully up to Gray. “Can you help me be more?”

Surprisingly, Gray looks like he’s holding back tears as well. The man offers a small smile. “You are more, Dare. You’re already more. You just have to get outside of their false doctrine to believe the truth of the opposite.”

Dare looks down at the floor between his knees. “Flip the script.”

“What was that?”

“It’s something Brooks said, Sir. He said I needed to flip the script between the truth and the lies.” Dare explains.

“He’s not wrong.”

“Derek told me that I don’t have any family.” Dare suddenly says.

“Yes.” Gray nods. “He told me you shut down the conversation.”

“But I had this memory, while I was out with Brooks.” Dare mulls over his next words, turning them over and over again in his mind before he very slowly, and very cautiously, speaks them aloud. “I think… I think it was of my dad… maybe.”

“Tell me about it.” Gray says encouragingly.

Dare tells Gray about the herd of cattle, the dog and the ranch. He goes into the vivid detail of the moment, a memory in which he doesn’t have breasts and wears no makeup, a memory in which his hair is short and his clothes haven’t a stitch of pink in them. Then he tells him about the old man in a cowboy hat, jeans and boots on top of a horse, about the horse rearing up and the man landing hard on the ground. “That couldn’t have been good for him...”

“No, I would say not.” Gray says. “Do you remember his face?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Can you picture it?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell me what he looks like.”

“His skin is dark from being out in the sun… weathered too, like… there are lines and wrinkles and sun spots. He has creases at the corners of his eyes and graying hair that’s cut short.” Dare suddenly remembers his own shoulder length hair when he’d first arrived at the Gallery. He smiles slightly. “He was always telling me to get a haircut.”

Gray smiles with Dare. “As fathers tend to do with sons.”

“I… I remember riding alongside him, Sir, but I don’t remember where we were going or what we were doing.”

“Riding… as in horses?”

Dare nods. “Yes, Sir.”

“And Brooks has said that you were with horses when you had this memory of your father falling off a horse.”

Again, Dare nods, pulling his bottom lip through his teeth and instantly regretting it. Gray doesn’t hesitate to hand Dare the lipstick and a small compact. Dare quickly perfects his lipstick.

“Sounds like everyone’s talking about me when I’m not around.” Dare says saucily as he uses his fingers to smooth out the edges of the newly applied lipstick. “I’m flattered, Sir.”

“Yes, we do talk about you, everyone who cares about you and your well being. We share information so that we’re aware of where you’re at in every way.”

Dare claps the compact mirror shut and puts the lid back on the lipstick and hands them back over. “Do you think he cared about me the way y’all do? My dad, I mean. Sir.”

“Close your eyes for me, Dare.” At Doctor Cohen’s instruction, Dare closes his eyes. “Picture his face in as much detail as you can remember it.”

Dare thinks about that face, a virtual stranger to him, but a face that he somehow knows. He thinks about the weathered face with blue eyes so dull in color that they almost look silver, the same color as Dare’s.

“Do you remember his smile?” Gray asks.

A smile is instantly on his dad’s face at the provocation. The corners of his dad’s eyes wrinkle and that silver color twinkles with amusement. “Yes, Sir.” Dare whispers.

“Do you remember his laugh?”

No, not a laugh. His dad wasn’t the laughing sort. His dad was a man who chuckled on occasion, but not a full laugh like what Brooks does. Still, Dare remembers it, the sound of it, the timbre of it. “Yes, Sir.”

“Do you remember being in his presence? Try to remember one moment with him.”

Dare thinks, and thinks, and thinks. Keeping that face, that laugh, that smile in his mind, he tries to remember a moment where he was with the man that doesn’t involve his being bucked off of a horse. For a long while he comes up empty. It’s frustrating, like something is right there and then just out of reach again.

Then, finally, Dare remembers standing in a stable looking into a horse stall at an old pinto. His dad steps up next to him and places a hand on his shoulder.

“One of those days, huh Son?”

“Yeah.” Dare answers. “We almost lost her. She’s getting old. I don’t think she’ll be with us much longer.”

“You saved her life today. She’s had a good life though, hasn’t she? Your mama loved that horse. We’ve loved her for your mama since she’s been gone.” That weathered hand squeezes his shoulder. “That’s a whole lotta love, don’t you think?”

Dare smiles slightly. “Yeah. I miss her. Still.”

“Don’t we all.” another squeeze to his shoulder and his dad pats his back before turning away. “We get on alright though, don’t we?”

Dare watches him exit the stables. “Yeah, we do.”

Dare feels a small smile on his lips in Doctor Cohen’s office. He opens his eyes and looks at the doctor who’s watching him intently. “I think he loved me.”

Gray lifts his shoulders in a shrug. “I don’t see how there’s any alternative but to love you, Dare.”

“Do you think he’d love me now?” Dare asks, once again with a hopeful tenor to his voice.

“I can’t answer that.” Gray says. “I will say that were Karen and I to have children, I would love that child and I would try to make my love as unconditional as I possibly could. Because my mom loved me unconditionally, no matter what, always. I would hope that the same could be said of your father.”

 

* * *

 

That evening when Dare goes downstairs to work, Mikael intercepts him in the main room. Dare grins flirtatiously at him and winks. “Hello, Sir. You look handsome as always.”

“Thank you, Dare. You look very pretty in your pink lace.” Mikael answers. “I want you by my table tonight.”

“You want me to work your section again, Sir?” Dare asks for clarification.

“No, I apologize for the misunderstanding. I want you to kneel by my table tonight.” Mikael says. “After you help set up, that’s where you’ll be. Understood?”

Dare thinks of the way he’s seen Derek or even Bran kneel beside Mikael. He’s seen other pets kneel with certain Masters as well. “Yes, Sir.”

Dare watches the Master go off to do whatever he needs to do and then starts to help set up for the night. When everything is ready and the doors open, Dare is kneeling on a pink pallet that’s been placed on the floor by Mikael’s usual table. This isn’t the pallet that’s usually here for Derek. It must have been put here specifically for him. Dare likes it. The edges have a ruffle around them of silk and lace. The lace would match his bra and panties if it weren’t just a shade darker than what he’s wearing.

It’s several minutes later that Mikael joins him and sits in his usual spot at the circular booth. He pets a hand gently over Dare’s hair at the top of his head and offers him a small smile. “Sorry I’m late. I’m always so busy lately, it seems.”

Bran comes over to the table, having obviously picked up this section to work tonight. He places Mikael’s preferred wine on a coaster on the table, lightly taps Dare’s knee with his toe and then walks off.

“I’ve heard that you’ve had quite the day with Doctor Cohen.” Mikael says.

It has been quite the day. Dare was supposed to see Brooks today, but once he’d gotten on a roll in Doctor Cohen’s office, he hadn’t wanted to stop. He remembered his dad and he thinks he remembers his mom. He remembers a dog and horses. He remembers his own horse. They’re all one-dimensional right now, like books on a shelf that have yet to be read. But Dare remembers that they exist, what they looked like. Dare remembers that they had once been his. It’s been a day of remembering and his mind is so thoroughly exhausted from it. It’s a good kind of exhaustion though.

“Yes, Sir.” Dare answers. “I’m trying to be more.”

Mikael nods at him, as if he understands exactly what Dare means by ‘more’ even if Dare isn’t even sure what he means by it. “I’m very proud of you, Dare.”

Again, having a Master tell him he’s proud makes Dare feel every kind of good. Dare smiles and looks to the floor, content to just kneel here and just… be.

Later that night, Mikael has just lit the latest of many clove cigarettes when he places a hand on Dare’s shoulder. “You missed your visit with Brooks today.”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare answers.

Mikael stands and holds out a hand. “Brooks.”

Brooks is at the table, standing next to Dare and shaking Mikael’s hand. “Mikael.” Brooks wears his usual jeans and a worn tee with his paint spattered combat boots. His platinum hair is combed flat against his head, the tips still pink.

“Please, join us.” Mikael indicates the opposite end of the circular booth.

When Brooks sits, he looks down at Dare, grins and winks at him. “Hey, beautiful.”

Brooks has never been in the club during operating hours. This is the first time that Dare knows of it, in any case. He wonders what Brooks will think of it. He wonders why Brooks is here now.

Brooks points to the floor beside him. “Bring your pallet over here.”

Dare only thinks to look up to Mikael for permission after he’s already done what Brooks told him to do. He has a moment of intense fear until he sees Mikael grinning at him in approval. Brooks’s hand is at the back of Dare’s neck beneath his hair, massaging there.

“I missed you today.” Brooks says.

“I’m sorry, Sir. I-”

“No, no apologies needed. I hear you’ve had some kind of day though, a good one.”

Excitement bubbles up inside Dare and he itches to tell Brooks all about it. “I remembered things, Sir. I had a dad and a mom and a dog and a horse. Like I can see them… I don’t know anything about them, but I can see them. In my head.”

Brooks is smiling that bright smile of his. “That’s fantastic, baby. I’m so proud.”

Dare is surprised to find that Brooks’s pride in him outweighs Mikael’s. “Thank you, Sir. I think they loved me.” Which is a huge possibility for Dare, to know that at one time he was lovable. Maybe he can be lovable again, once he becomes more.

“I’m not sure that it’s possible not to love you.” Brooks says.

“I think I wanna go riding sometime… if that’s okay.” Dare says hesitantly. “Do you wanna take me riding, Sir?”

“Well now just to be clear, are you asking me on a date, my sweet Dare?” Brooks asks, his eyes practically sparkling along with a flirtatious grin on his lips.

Dare looks over to Mikael, seeking permission, but he doesn’t find it. The Master is grinning as he takes another drag from his cigarette, however. Instead of waiting for permission, Dare looks back to Brooks and nods. “Yes, Sir. I think I am. I’m asking you to take me riding somewhere… if it would please you.”

Bran is suddenly at their table, glaring at Brooks. “What do you want?”

Mikael smirks. “Bran, your table side manner leaves something to be desired.”

“My bad. What do you want, Sir?” Bran tries again.

Brooks grins with amusement. “Do you have Dos Equis?”

“Yep.” Bran walks away, circles back and adds, “Sir.” and then walks away again.

Brooks looks back at Mikael. “I still can’t believe you took all of them in. On a path to redemption, huh?”

“Call it what you want. I’ve chosen to face my demons every day, Brooks, rather than run from them. It seems that you live your life in much the same way.” Mikael says, tapping some of the ash from his clove into a tray on the table. “Although, I can’t claim it to be entirely altruistic as the decision does make my pet extremely happy. As a Master, a happy pet yields the loveliest of rewards.”

Brooks narrows his eyes at Mikael. “You are one shrewd son of a bitch, Mikael Pomelov.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, Brooklyn Meyers.” Mikael sips at his wine.

“Call it what you want.” Brooks repeats Mikael’s words back to him. “But I’ve seen you with Derek. You love him.”

“I do.” Mikael answers with a nod. He glances at Dare and leans in to level Brooks with a positively wicked grin. “Now make your pet happy.”

His pet? Brooks’s pet?

Dare looks up to Brooks, wide-eyed. The man is giving Mikael an indecipherable look, but then he looks down at Dare. Everything about Brooks’s features soften around the edges. His lips pull into a small grin.

“Horses, huh? I’ve never ridden a horse before.” Brooks says, resting his chin in his hand.

“I can teach you, Sir. I know how. I think I know how.”

Brooks’s touch slides along Dare’s skin from the back of his neck to the side, up to his cheekbone. “It’s a date, beautiful.”

Bran arrives at the table and none too gently sets a Dos Equis on a coaster in front of Brooks. “Dos. You hurt him, I’ll rip your fucking throat out.” He bares his teeth and walks off again, muttering one word in closing. “Sir.”

Chapter Text

Three days later Dare is in the passenger seat of Brooks’s shiny purple sports car again. His hair is up in a high ponytail and the windows are down so that the air whips all through the car causing wisps of his hair around his face to come free of the elastic band. That’s okay though, the weather outside is beautiful. He wears skinny jeans and a spaghetti strap tank top that Derek has bought him that’s black, but has the word ‘Queen’ in cursive on the chest in pink glitter.

Dare is not wearing heels and it feels strange. Instead he has some flashy pink glitter tennis shoes on his feet that he only likes because they’re pink glitter. Dare hadn’t even known that they made tennis shoes this fabulous until he’d seen them on a website that he and Derek had been surfing.

In spite of his lack of heels, in spite of his hair in a ponytail, in spite of all of this, Brooks still called him beautiful when he’d picked him up at Passion. Brooks still thinks he’s beautiful and Dare feels beautiful every time Brooks says it.

Brooks is in his usual faded tee and jeans and boots. He wears a baseball cap on his head, but at the back down his neck, Dare can still see pink tips.

When Dare looks in the passenger side mirror, he sees the dark SUV that carries their security close behind. Dare is glad that Mikael has sent them again. They’re like a security blanket in case Dare messes up somehow.

The drive is longer than Dare can remember ever traveling. He isn’t sure where they’re going, but he knows that Brooks has taken care of it and will take care of him, just as he had on their first date. Fine print isn’t what’s important to him anyway. He’s going riding. Brooks is taking him riding… somewhere.

Once they got out on the open highway, Brooks has taken his hand off the gearshift to hold Dare’s hand. Dare likes that. He likes being in the car with the windows down, the wind whipping through the cab around the both of them with Brooks holding his hand.

“This is a long drive, Sir.” he says.

Brooks grins. “It’s only just over an hour outside of the city. Not bad. It’s just longer than you’ve been in a car in a long time, I’m sure.”

Gone are the high rises and the bustling streets filled with people and cars. Gone are the noises and stench of the city. Out here, the buildings are few and far between. Dare sees acreage of livestock and farms.

When Brooks finally has to downshift, he somehow does so without letting go of Dare’s hand. Dare watches as his fingers stay laced with Brooks’s while the car slows and Brooks works the gear. It’s little things like this that mean everything to Dare. Brooks probably doesn’t even have to think about doing them, maybe he doesn’t even think twice about these small little acts of affection, but Dare notices. Dare notices every detail. That’s the kind of fine print he’s interested in.

They turn down a dirt road and Brooks asks Dare to roll up the windows. Dare pushes the button to do so. They drive over a grate through an open gate with the initials MK welded into it.

There are cattle everywhere, in pastures on either side of them. Dare remembers his dad and him herding cattle from one pasture to another. Everything about this is familiar.

Further down the road are several structures, barns and stables and a large house.

As they pull to a stop in front of the house, Dare uses the visor mirror to reapply a fresh coat of pink to his lips. By the time he’s done, Brooks is opening the passenger door for him and helping him unfold himself to standing.

It feels so strange not to be wearing heels.

Brooks doesn’t let go of his hand as they start for the house. “A man named Mark Kincaid owns this ranch. Both Mikael and I have talked to him quite a bit over the last three days so you don’t need to worry about anything, okay? Just have fun.”

At the sound of a car door slam, Dare looks back to see their security standing outside of the SUV, watching from afar.

The front door to the ranch house opens and Dare is surprised that he recognizes the face of the old man walking down the porch toward them. It’s the same man from the block party. His stomach flip-flops with nervous energy at being around normal people again.

What had Mikael and Brooks told Mr. Kincaid?

Brooks lets go of Dare then to meet the man halfway and offer up a hand in greeting. Without Brooks holding on, Dare’s hands automatically clasp together behind his back.

“Mr. Kincaid.” Dare can practically hear Brooks’s brilliant smile in the tone of his voice.

“Aw, call me Mark. We all know I’m old, don’t have to emphasize it.” the man says as he shakes Brooks’s hand. Then he turns to offer a hand to Dare. “Nice to see you again. Dare, is it?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare glances down at that offered hand, unsure of himself. Dare doesn’t remember anyone affording him that kind of attention or respect.

Brooks rejoins Dare and slides a hand down Dare’s arm to lace their fingers together. That frees up Dare’s other hand. “You can shake his hand, sweetheart.”

“Oh. I’m sorry, Sir.” Dare quickly takes the man’s hand and Mark shakes it firmly.

“No harm, Dare.” Mark says. “I’m told you think you used to ride horses and I’m inclined to agree after seeing how you handled them at the block party. You wanna go see ‘em?”

Dare nods at the man, all too ready to be around some horses again. “Yes, Sir. Thank you.”

“This way.”

Hand in hand, Brooks and Dare follow Mark down a dirt side road that leads from the house to some upscale stables. Dare smells hay as they near the structure. He sees ranch hands working some of the cattle in another barn. Everything about this feels familiar. Again, it’s like an unread book on a shelf. He’s looking at the cover but there’s no dimension to it, no story or experiences that go along with it. In spite of that, this entire experience is already sensory overload. His mind is running circles at top speed and Dare has no way to stop it.

In the stables, there are horses in every stall. There must be more than a dozen of them. Some of them whinny and canter at the sight of Mark.

“Usually turn ‘em out to the pasture earlier than this. Wanted you to have your pick though.” Mark says. “They’re ready to run or ride.”

“I get to pick, Sir?” Dare asks.

The old man smiles and nods. “Sure do.”

“You’re the expert here, my sweet Dare.” Brooks says. “You get to pick for me too.”

The corners of Dare’s lips almost pull into a smile as he lets go of Brooks’s hand and walks along the center aisle of the stables, looking in each stall, at each horse. He pauses before each one and waits to see how each particular horse reacts to him. Every horse is different, Dare notices… or remembers.

A horse with a copper red coat moves up to the front of the stall when Dare passes by and he pauses to reach up and pet at it’s nose and over it’s neck. The scattered thoughts racing around and around in his mind slow and slow until finally stopping.

“That’s Maureen.” Mark says. “My late wife named her after one of her favorite actresses: Maureen O’hara. She can be pretty feisty if she’s of a mind to be, just like her namesake.”

“May I ride her, Sir?” Dare asks.

Mark nods. “Seems like she’s taken to you and she don’t take to most people. I’d say that’s a yes.”

In the stall right next to hers, Dare finds a pinto, white with brown spots that has poked his head out to see what’s going on. He neighs and bobs his head up and down when he sees Dare. Dare smiles and clicks his tongue in the back of his throat as he reaches out for the horse. The pinto meets him halfway, pressing his head into Dare’s hand.

“Charlie. Sweet as can be.” Mark says.

Dare looks back to Brooks. “What do you think, Sir?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart.” Brooks hesitantly reaches a hand out to the pinto. Charlie responds to Brooks in the same way he had to Dare, pressing his nose into Brooks’s palm. “It’s a horse.”

“He’s Charlie.” Dare says.

Brooks grins at him and nods. “Yeah, I’ll take Charlie.”

Mark hands a bridle and reins to Dare and watches as Dare sets to putting them on Maureen. At Dare’s competence with the equipment, Mark smiles and gives a significant glance to Brooks before working on Charlie’s bridle and reins. Dare isn’t sure how he knows what to do, where to buckle and place the straps, but he does. He knows how to do this.

He unlatches Maureen’s stall door and leads her out, only to wrap the reins around a post outside the door and wait for Mark to show him where things are.

Still working on Charlie, Mark gestures to a room with double doors standing open. “Help yourself, Dare.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Dare quickly gets blanket and then saddle and sets to putting both on Maureen. He pets her and whispers to her as he works, hands going through familiar movements of which he’d had no idea would be familiar. He checks straps and buckles, tightens or loosens them so that Maureen is comfortable. Dare has a vague memory of the same older man who’d fallen off of the horse teaching him how to do this a long, long time ago.

His dad. His dad had taught him these things.

“Look at you,” Brooks gently touches the small of Dare’s back and leans in to kiss his cheek. “Show off.”

“I know how to do this, Sir.” Dare says. “I can’t believe I know how to do this. I think… I think my dad taught me.”

“I believe it.” Mark says, finishing up with Charlie and coming over to Maureen to check Dare’s work. “Ain’t a person alive that’s born just knowing how to work with horses like you do. Horses aren’t stupid. They know a kindred spirit when they see one.”

A kindred spirit. Dare has no idea what that means, but it sounds right anyway.

Once they’ve led both horses out of the stables, teaching Brooks to mount Charlie is an exercise in hilarity that begets several rounds of laughter. Dare is patient and Brooks is persistent in his efforts until he finally sits on top of the pinto with his combat boots in the stirrups.

Dare easily mounts Maureen and gives Brooks a lesson in showing the horse where you want it to go. He guides Maureen to go in a clockwise circle around Brooks and Charlie and then counter-clockwise. Then alongside Brooks and Charlie, he guides Maureen backward and then forward.

Once done, he looks at Brooks expectantly. The other man kind of blinks at him. “Oh, am I actually supposed to try that now? I was just enjoying listening to you talk so much.”

Dare grins and dips his head, reaching out to pet at Maureen’s neck. The way Brooks treats him: every comment, every detail. None of it is small to Dare.

He looks over to Mark where the old man is watching from just inside the stables. “May we take them out, Sir?”

“Have at it, Dare.” The man nods. “You both enjoy yourselves.”

Dare’s feet in the stirrups lightly tap Maureen’s sides and they start walking. Brooks follows suit and Charlie starts meandering to the left. Dare laughs. “You have to guide him, Sir.”

“I’m trying!” Brooks says, laughing at his own antics. He over corrects and their knees end up bumping into each other as the horses are side by side. “But also, look at me. I’m riding a horse for the first time ever. This is so effing cool.”

Dare smiles again. “You are. Do you like it?”

“Well, I’m not gonna lie. It’s a little freaky cause massive animal that could probably kill me, but overall…. Yeah, I like it.” Brooks rambles. “Mostly cause we’re doing it together… and you look really sexy on top of a horse.”

Truth be told, Dare had been thinking that Brooks looks really sexy on top of a horse too. Once again, he’s derailed by a surprise compliment.

“So do you. I’ve done this before.” Dare says. “I think Derek was right.”

“That you were a cowboy before your life was stolen?” Brooks nods. “I can see it.”

“I think we were ranchers. My dad and me.” Dare remembers the strange duality of his memory from the block party and the way it had devolved into something horrible. Were those two different memories or the same one? Dare isn’t sure. “There were cattle. Lots of cattle.”

“Welp. That clinches it.” Brooks nods. “I’m gonna have to get you a cowboy hat. Which, now that I think about it, in my brain space you in a cowboy hat is literally the sexiest thing.”

Dare smiles and dips his head at the compliment, looking at the reins in his hands. The vision flashes back and forth between a time when his skin was bronzed from the sun, his hands calloused from hard work, to now where his skin is pale and soft, his nails pink.

“I like being outside.” Dare says idly, tearing his eyes away from the strange dual vision of the past and present to look up at the clouds in the sky, the sun, around at the acres upon acres of land.

“I like being outside too.” Brooks says, casting a big smile at Dare. “Especially given the company I’m in.”

They ride for hours, Dare even finally working up to getting Maureen to a gallop. The horse seems to really enjoy running. It feels good to run a horse and Dare has a vague memory of having done it before, possibly quite often. He hunkers down and gets Maureen running faster and faster. It’s like flying.

Charlie is the perfect horse for a new rider like Brooks; calm and not easily excitable like Maureen is. Except for when he runs Maureen, Dare is sure to stay close in case Brooks wants or needs him.

But once he and Maureen are done running, he works his way back to Brooks and Charlie. Brooks asks him, “How was it?”

“The best, Sir.” Dare answers. “It was the best.”

They eventually bring both horses back in and Dare sets to taking blankets and saddles off of both horses. This time he shows all the buckles, snaps and hooks to Brooks so he’ll know where they are. Both horses in their stalls, Dare removes bridle and reins.

They walk hand in hand back toward the house where Mark meets them on the porch.

“Spent a good amount of time out.” Mark says, looking straight at Dare. “How was it?”

“I loved it, Sir. Thank you.”

“You’re both very welcome.” Mark seems to hesitate, thinking over words before speaking them out loud. “Can’t imagine what you’ve been through, the both of you… but you’re gonna be alright. You’re already getting along just fine and don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s an open invitation. Y’all come out any time you want.”

In Brooks’s car on the way back into town, one of Dare’s hands is clasped in Brooks’s and his other arm is extended out of the open window, the wind and speed pushing it back back back. Occasionally, Brooks squeezes his hand in his or rubs his thumb over Dare’s skin. Neither one of them speak or feel the need to speak.

Dare feels genuinely good in this moment. There are no words that could make it better and Dare is happy with both the company and the silence. Before everything got so loud and confusing, Dare thinks he used to like silence. He likes it now, at least, especially given the company he’s in.

Chapter Text

Dare stares at himself in the mirror in the dressing room that he shares with the former harem. His eye makeup is dark, his lips a pale pink. He wears some very short linen shorts that are white with vertical pink stripes on them. His top is a plain pink camisole. He has a pair of strappy heels on his feet. Beneath everything he wears pale pink lace bra and panties.

I look beautiful, Dare thinks. Brooks would think that he looks beautiful too. Dare feels beautiful.

“I curl hair?”

Dare finds Lily watching him from the door. She’s as beautiful as ever, naked and pale and ethereal. He grins and winks at her. “I’d like that, sweetheart.”

Lily flips on the curling iron and waits for Dare to sit on a pallet before she kneels behind him and begins running her fingers through Dare’s hair. It’s long now, all the way to the middle of his back.

“Curled hair is perfect for this outfit. I look pretty cute, right?” Dare eyes Lily’s reflection in the mirror.

“Lovely.” Lily answers, pulling her bottom lip through her teeth before speaking again. “Who Brooks? Is he nice to you?”

Oh. Dare and Lily have rarely ever talked about anything beyond the superficial, maybe the occasional fact about their past or present.

“Brooks is… Do you remember in the Labs, those rooms they kept us in? Brooks was across the hall from me.” Dare explains.

“I never Labs.” Lily sections off a bit of Dare’s hair and picks up the curling iron to begin work on Dare’s hair. “From Daddy to Mistress to Mikael.”

It makes sense. Everything that was done to Lily was done before she was old enough to fully remember it. Lily was already trained and still so young when her Daddy thought she was too old for him. She didn’t need the Catacombs or the Labs or Guards or Doctors. The only thing she had to be taught was that her Mistress was not to be called Mommy.

“He’s a pet.” Lily says.

Dare shakes his head, a corner of his mouth pinching in an almost smile. “Not anymore. He’s… I answer to him when he’s around. Mikael said I could.”

“Is he nice to you?” Lily asks again.

Dare is quick to nod. “He’s so nice to me, Lily. Sometimes I’m not sure why or if I deserve it, but… he makes me feel so good. I’m afraid it won’t last.”

“Why not last?”

“Because...” Dare thinks about that for a moment, about the jumble of fears he has in regard to Brooks. “He has a family in Brooklyn. And I’m just me. I’m not… normal.”

“You lovely.” Lily retorts rather quickly. She pauses in her work and meets Dare’s gaze in their reflection. “Play?”

It takes Dare a moment to grasp what Lily is asking. The small, albino woman occasionally has a language all her own. She’s asking Dare if he’s had sex with Brooks. Dare nods slowly. “Yeah, we’ve played.”

Lily nods and goes back to working on Dare’s hair. Only after she’s curled a few more sections does she speak again. “Doctor Cohen say you hurt like Jai hurt. Not like Jai, but like Jai. He say not all hurt on outside, like Jai.”

They all know that Jai wears his pain on his sleeve. They see it every day in different ways. Dare doesn’t think he hurts like Jai hurts. He doesn’t miss the Mistress the way Jai does. He only misses having a Mistress or a Master, one that’s his.

Dare wants to tread carefully here, not just because the Mistress is involved and he isn’t sure that he’s allowed to speak ill of her with anyone but Brooks. But also, Lily is trying to have a very real conversation with him, something that they’ve only ever done once before, in a moment when Dare had followed the advice of the voice in his head, been brave and kissed Lily – and then later asked her about it.

On top of that, there’s the fact that he’s been a topic of conversation in Lily’s sessions with Doctor Cohen. Why?

Dare shakes his head again. “I don’t miss the Mistress like Jai does. Do you?”

“I did. I don’t anymore. She was mean to my dolls.” Lily answers, pausing again and resting a hand on Dare’s shoulder. “She was mean to you. She let guests mean to you.”

It’s almost exactly what Brooks has said to him numerous times over. It’s something that Dare has started to see the truth of bit by heart-wrenching bit.

Dare shrugs. “That was my role, Lily. We all had our part to play, right?”

“You hurt.” Lily replies. “Not all hurt on outside.”

Dare thinks about his sessions with Doctor Cohen where the man has said that he was abused and that not all abuse is on the outside. Dare hasn’t really understood or allowed himself to fully accept it, not until recently. And even now, some minutes it’s easier to accept than other minutes. Dare can waffle back and forth on the truth of it in a heartbeat.

“Do you hurt?” Dare asks.

Lily thinks about that for a second. “Not like Jai.”

“On the inside?”

Lily lifts one delicate shoulder in a half shrug. “Not hurt. Just… angry. Unwanted.”

Dare turns around to face Lily, one hand reaching out to gently grip her wrist in the same way that Brooks sometimes does to him. “You feel unwanted? Lily, that isn’t true. All of your dolls need you, sweetheart… including me.”

“Derek – Mikael. Bran – Gregory. JB and Kyle – Mari. Dare – Brooks.” Lily says.

“Dare – Lily.” Dare counters, unsure of exactly what he’s saying but also feeling that it needs to be said.

“Jai.” It’s a single word that just magnifies the way that all of them are so tangled up in one another.

Dare isn’t sure what to say or what Lily is trying to say. Maybe if he weren’t so…

You are not stupid, Dare.

Brooks’s voice in his head is becoming more and more prevalent. It’s undeniable. Lily is right: Dare – Brooks.

“Family.” Lily finally says, cupping Dare’s cheek. “I want family.”

“You want family.” Dare nods his understanding. She isn’t speaking of family in the sense of children. If her Daddy didn’t do it prior to her coming to the Gallery, then the Mistress took care of it erasing any chance for Lily to have children. It’s standard operating procedure for the Gallery, as Brooks would say.

No, Lily means something different entirely. In the same way that Dare needs a Master or Mistress, Lily needs a Mommy or a Daddy. And maybe, given the growth in both of them and distance from the control of the Gallery, it’s less of a need and more of a want.

“...and a pony.” Lily adds with a small smile.

That makes Dare smile and dip his head. A press of fingers beneath his chin makes him look back up from where he’s seated before Lily. She leans in to kiss at his lips. Dare returns the kiss and wraps one strong arm around Lily’s slim waist to pull her closer so that she straddles his lap. It’s reminiscent of that secret kiss they’d shared so many years ago, only this time Dare thinks that Lily might understand the depth of it better than she had back then.

Dare feels the pop of a button and the pull of a zipper at his waist. Lily’s hand slips into his shorts beneath his lace panties stroking his cunt. Her other arm is wrapped up around his neck, holding him close as she kisses him.

Lily pushes him back so that Dare’s shoulders rest against the mirror behind him, then she lifts up and lowers herself back down so that Dare’s cunt fills her up. Lily rides him and she’s every kind of beautiful. Her waist is so small and Dare’s hands so large that his fingers almost touch when he holds either side.

They’ve done this many times before, whether through instruction by their Mistress or as solace in the harem room at the Gallery or here in this safe haven Mikael has built for them. This feels different though, and Dare isn’t sure why.

“Lily...” Dare says her name with a heavy exhale of breath.

Lily puts a fingertip to Dare’s lips. “Dare – Brooks.” She says with a nod.

She’s trying to tell him that she understands that he and Brooks are some unnamed thing and that Dare’s heart is involved in whatever that thing is. But Dare can’t leave it at that, because it’s Lily and a part of his heart belongs to her too and she isn’t unwanted. “Dare – Lily.”

Lily smiles a sad smile and shakes her head. Then neither of them speak because the physical is too much, too great for words. Dare has been here with Brooks before. Now, with Lily, as she rides his cunt, it’s a place where there’s nothing but intense, all-encompassing pleasure.

 

* * *

Dare looks at the pile of boxes delivered to the harem room, all of them with his name scribbled on them in sharpie. They’ve been opened and sorted, of course, because the name on the delivery label is Mikael Pomelov. Dare has no bank account. He has no credit cards or checks. He only has the cash stored by Mikael from his payment in working the downstairs floor of Passion at night.

As the remains of the harem is supposed to be missing and presumed dead, it wouldn’t do for any of them to have a paper trail.

In looking at the pile of boxes, however, he thinks that he might have gone a little overboard with Derek’s Master’s credit card.

Still, new pretty things to wear make him extremely happy.

Dare sets to opening them and pulling things out; bras and panties, different materials and all of them in various shades of pink. There are cute shorts and skirts, low cut tank tops and a black leather jacket. There’s a new pallet of eye shadows and dark eyeliner, false lashes and mascara. And of course, there’s a few tubes of various shades of pink lipstick.

Dare bought a gray baseball cap that came frayed at the edges and has the word ‘Queen’ on it in pink. Dare tries it on, pulling his hair through the hole in the back.

Jai is behind him. The man sits down on the ground and wraps both arms and legs around Dare to watch Dare unpack boxes. “You enjoy wearing clothes.”

“Yeah, I do. It makes me feel pretty.” Dare says.

“I hate it.” Jai says. “I know that it must be done sometimes, but I hate it.”

“That’s okay, handsome.” Dare turns his head to kiss Jai’s cheek at his shoulder. “We’re all different, right?”

“We were once all the same.” Jai replies. “We were once all loved.”

Dare hesitates, shakes his head and goes back to the boxes, pulling a few more tops out of one and a new pair of pink heels out of the other.

What Jai has just said is not true. Jai still lives in the fantasy land that the Gallery fashioned for them. And yes, Dare is starting to ‘flip the script’ as Brooks has told him to do. Some moments in flipping the script are easier than others. Right now, hearing Jai parrot well practiced but untrue words, it’s easy as breathing.

They were never all the same. All pets are not created equal, at least not in the Mistress’s harem. Dare was treated differently than the others. Dare wasn’t favored or beautiful or wanted. Dare wasn’t prized or loved. The Mistress made a mockery of him every time she called his name.

The Mistress is a bitch, he remembers Brooks saying and his whispering the same words.

Dare mentally flips her the middle finger in his head and just the thought of it makes him smile and smirk. “She loved you, Jai. But…”

“No. She loved us.” Jai says.

Dare decides to let it be. Jai is still so beholden to the Mistress and Dare does think that there was actually love between the two of them. Telling Jai otherwise won’t help him.

He picks up another small box and opens it to retrieve the tube inside, wondering why it was shipped separately than the rest. He peels the plastic off and opens the tube to find that it isn’t something that he ordered at all.

“Red?” Jai asks. “Our Mistress would not like that one on you. Pink is your color.”

I’d use and abuse you every day, you sick fuck toy. You’d like that wouldn’t you, Princess Stupid?

Oscar. It’s been a long while since he’s heard that voice in his mind. Now it’s back with full force. There’s nothing in the box except the tube of lipstick, no receipt, no note. To be fair, the item needs no note to have an impact with Dare.

Stupid. Stupid. I’m so stupid. Why am I so stupid?

Jai kisses Dare’s shoulder. “Our Mistress loved you in pink.”

Dare swallows hard and tosses the tube into the box with the rest of the makeup he’d ordered. Out of sight, out of mind. Mikael won’t let Oscar in the club. Mikael sends security with Dare every time he’s out in the world beyond Passion. Brooks… Brooks won’t let anything happen to him.

But Oscar. A Master who wants Dare. The thoughts and emotions accompanying that are confusing. Dare wants a Master or Mistress to want him as a pet. He wants what Mikael and Derek, Gregory and Bran, the twins and Mari have. He’d even take what the Mistress and Jai once had, as fucked up as it had been.

Oscar still wants him. Dare knows that Oscar and he would be as fucked up as the Mistress and Jai… maybe even more so. But still...

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid. Why am I so stupid?

And then he hears Brooks and he tries to let that voice override all the others. Oscar is a liar, Brook had said. Oscar abused him. Oscar is bad for him. Dare could kick Oscar’s ass if he wanted to. In his mind, Dare hesitantly flips Oscar the middle finger, only it isn’t quite as amusing or sure as it was with the Mistress.

You are not stupid, Dare. You are not stupid and you are fucking beautiful.

“Yeah.” Dare says to Jai, to the room, to himself and to no one. “Pink is my color.”

Chapter Text

In his favorite pink lace bra and panties, Dare stands at the circular bar in the middle of the club floor waiting for the bartender to refill some of the clientele's beverages. Bran is on one side of him, Kyle on the other, the both of them doing the same.

Passion is full tonight. Music thumps at a decent level so that conversation can still be had. Mikael always orders it so. Mikael, Dare has learned, likes for words to be used and he also likes to hear at least a majority of what is said in his general vicinity.

All around them glasses tinker and chains clink. Leather cracks and candle wicks burn. Orders are given and obeyed. Masters sit and pets kneel. Some pets sit in the laps of their Masters. Some pets dance to the music. Some Masters watch them dance.

Dare would be lying if he said he didn’t like Passion’s atmosphere at night. This is everything the Mistress’s parties could have been and should have been. It’s comfortable. It’s safe.

“Look at them over there, like fucking kings on their thrones.” Bran says. “And queen.”

Dare follows Bran’s line of sight to Mikael’s usual booth where Gregory and Mari sit with him. Derek, dressed in collar, leather harness and pants with golden laces, kneels on a pallet beside Mikael, knees spread and hands clasped behind his back. Opposite him, JB in tight leather shorts and collar mirrors Dare’s position on another pallet next to Mari.

“Why aren’t you over there?” Bran asks Kyle.

“Because sometimes our Mistress isn’t interested in us as a pair...” Kyle says, tilting his head back and forth as if weighing something before he says it. “We like that… mostly. I mean she still has us together but sometimes it’s one or the other and that’s… that’s okay. We’re two different people and for awhile we forgot that.”

That’s a part of what the Catacombs, Labs and the Mistress herself had done to JB and Kyle, they had taken away their individual identities and made them into one. Even though they’re brothers, they had twisted them up so tightly together than they didn’t know how to be without one another.

The treatment of the twins is how Dare knows that love can be warped and twisted and misconstrued. JB and Kyle had already loved one another. They’d been forced into a different kind of love and there’s no backing out of it for them. What was once forced eventually became a choice for them

Brooks would call it a rebellious act, Dare thinks.

Dare leans over and kisses Kyle’s cheek. “I see you.” He says simply.

Kyle smiles softly in reply and then looks to Bran. “Why aren’t you over there?”

“Because I told my Master to fuck off tonight.” Both Dare and Kyle wait Bran out for further explanation because further explanation is most definitely required after a comment like that. Bran eventually gives it. “He wants to take me on another trip and I’m not sure I wanna go.”

“Why wouldn’t you?” Kyle asks.

Bran lifts one shoulder in a shrug, pushing a hand back through his shaggy shoulder-length locks. He shifts his weight back and forth uncomfortably on his feet as he tries to find the right words. Bran sometimes has to work harder than most to keep his words from sounding angry. “Because everything’s fucking changing and I need to be here to keep us together.”

That answer surprises Dare. It’s unexpected. He reaches out to gently touch Bran’s hip. “He always brings you back, handsome.”

“What do you mean things are changing?” Kyle asks, leaning in closer to Dare.

“Don’t be stu-...” Bran stops himself from saying the word ‘stupid’ in front of Dare and even though Dare knows what he’d been about to say, Dare is thankful for Bran’s not saying it. It might be just a word, but every time Dare hears it his mind spirals down a rabbit hole of horribleness.

“Look at us.” Bran continues. “Everyone’s evolving… forward motion, you know? Like we should be but… what if one of us gets taken away and doesn’t come back?”

Kyle grows silent, his brow furrowed.

It isn’t something that Dare has thought about. He’s taken for granted that what’s left of the harem will always be here. However, Bran is smarter and more observant. Bran watches, listens and notices things that Dare doesn’t. Bran likes to keep all his people safe and accounted for.

Dare doesn’t like what Bran is saying, but he wants Bran to know that he understands. Things are changing. He uses what Lily said to him just days ago. “Derek – Mikael. Bran – Gregory. JB and Kyle – Mari.”

Kyle looks up to Dare as he begins to understand what Bran is saying. “Dare – Brooks.”

“Jai.” Dare says and both Kyle and Bran nod and the three of them say the last name together. “Lily.”

“Fuck our lives.” Bran bares his teeth and growls.

Kyle reaches across Dare and puts his hand on Bran’s arm. “You can make him promise to bring you back, to give you a schedule so that you know how long you’ll be gone and when you’ll be back… so that we’ll all know.”

“Make a Master do something?” Bran asks.

“Yeah, I made my Mistress promise that she would still want me even if she had just JB sometimes.” Kyle answers with a quick nod.

Dare grins. “Plus you’ve apparently already told him to fuck off. It’s only uphill from here, Sweetie.”

Kyle laughs and Bran smirks at that.

Dare continues. “I heard Mikael tell Brooks that a happy pet yields the best rewards, or something like that. Does Gregory want you to be happy?”

“It’s true.” Kyle interjects. “Our Mistress is always telling us that she wants us to be happy.”

Bran nods. “Yeah, my Master says the same damn thing. Fuck him, but yeah. Love is fucking weird.”

It’s the first time that Dare has ever heard Bran say that he loves something. He shows the harem he loves them in small ways. But to know that Bran loves Gregory, that’s a new one.

“You love him.” Dare says.

Bran rubs his hand on the back of his neck. “Yeah, I guess. Yeah.”

“How do you know?” How does anyone know what love is? Dare is fascinated by the concept of it.

“What do you mean how do I know? I just fucking know.” Bran says sharply. “It’s… a feeling.”

Dare feels like that answer is inadequate for such an elusive, complicated and powerful thing. “What kind of feeling?”

“I don’t know, it’s...” Bran pauses, searching for words. “He makes me less angry… usually. And… happy. He also lets me be angry. He… look we’re not some romance novel Fabio type bullshit. He pisses me the hell off sometimes but...”

“It’s completion.” Kyle says, trying to help Bran out. He casts a glance to his brother where JB is kneeling on the floor. “It’s like the mess that is you and the mess that is someone else fits to make a whole, complete mess. It’s complicated and sometimes it’s ugly, but… to be without the other half of the whole, complete mess – it doesn’t feel right.”

Bran flings a hand in Kyle’s direction. “What he said.”

Love makes Bran less angry and sometimes happy. Love makes room for anger if anger needs to be felt. Love is completion, two complete messes coming together. He remembers Lily saying that she felt not only unwanted, but also angry. Should Dare be angry as well? What should he be angry about?

Dare wants to ask more questions but Kyle intercepts his thought process.

“Dare – Brooks.” Kyle says.

Dare looks at Kyle and then follows his gaze to the door. Brooks is there, pink-tipped hair slicked back, hands in his jeans pockets. His t-shirt is new, black with a pink script on it that says ‘King’, The dot on the ‘i’ in King is a small crown.

Brooks spots Dare immediately and walks straight toward him, weaving his way between tables, guests and pets. All of the goings on of Passion around him and Brooks’s eyes never leave Dare.

“Hey, beautiful.” Dare lets Brooks take one of his hands and kiss his cheek beside his lips. “Apparently I’m on the permanent guest list here now. I’m on the capital D side of the list, not the lowercase s side – which might’ve fucked with my head a bit, but inevitably is probably right. Oh, and also, I don’t even have to pay to get in - which is cool.”

Through all of Brooks’s ramble, Dare lingers on the word beautiful. Will it ever get old? “Your shirt, Sir.”

“I found it online and couldn’t not buy it cause it matches your Queen tank top which is super cute on you. Which, okay, now that I say it out loud it sounds pretty stalker-ish of me but I swear I just thought it’d be cute to wear when you wear yours.” Brooks waggles his eyebrows. “You like it?”

“Yes, Sir. I like it.” Dare grins. “I would’ve worn mine tonight if I’d known, but I wanted to look and feel sexy.”

“Oh. Well then mission accomplished.” Brooks lifts both their hands and Dare spins beneath them as he’s learned to do with Brooks when the other man wants to see him. Brooks lets out a low whistle. “Practically perfect in every way.”

Perfect. Practically perfect. Brooks makes Dare feel every kind of good about himself.

“Would you like a Dos, Sir?” Dare asks.

“Actually, can we…?” Brooks seems to falter just now in a way that Dare has never seen him do. Something isn’t right. “Can you take a break?”

Dare looks to Bran and Kyle. “We’ll take care of your tables.” Kyle says.

Their hands clasped together, Brooks pulls Dare away from the bar and then proceeds to stop in an empty space between tables and wrap him up around his waist in a tight hug. Something isn’t right.

Dare lets his arms slip up around Brooks’s shoulders to hold onto him too. Brooks’s face is buried in the crook of Dare’s neck and they stand like that for awhile, neither one of them pulling away, each of them holding onto the other.

It’s some time later that Brooks lifts his head, draws in a deep breath and speaks. “I just needed to see you. I’m sorry. I just… needed you.”

Has Dare ever been needed before? No, he doesn’t think so, not like this. This is something that’s beyond explanation to him. Also, something is upsetting Brooks and Dare doesn’t like that at all. Something isn’t right.

“It’s okay. I’m right here.” Dare lays a hand over Brooks’s chest. “What can I do to make it better? May I please you, Sir?”

Brooks’s fingertips hook underneath the short chain necklace that holds the compass charm on it at Dare’s neck. “Are you mine, Dare?”

“Am I your what, Sir?” Dare asks.

“Brooks.” Mikael has approached them, his icy blue eyes look concerned. The Master is usually very observant and it was probably hard to miss two men of the size of Dare and Brooks holding on to one another in the middle of a BDSM club. “Is everything alright?”

Brooks smirks and shakes his head. “The trials have started.”

Mikael seems to realize something, his brows lifting for a moment and then lowering again before he nods. “I know.”

“Fucking trials… like we don’t already know that they’re all guilty as fuck.” Brooks adds angrily. Dare has never seen Brooks angry before. “It’s all over TV.”

Mikael nods again, glancing significantly to Dare and then back to Brooks. “I know.”

“And you know they’re only doing this to fuck with people liberated from their holding cells, people who escaped, people like...” Brooks nods his head in Dare’s direction. “Pleading not guilty when there’s a mountain of evidence against you? There’s no other reason to plead not guilty except to further victimize the victims.”

“Brooks.” Mikael nods once again, slowly this time. “I know. Would you like to go somewhere and talk? We can meet with Dare afterward.”

Dare has no idea what they’re talking about. He’s stuck at Brooks asking if he’s his. His what? What is Brooks asking him? It would do Dare no good to assume only to be let down.

“I think… I think I’d like to be closer to Dare.” Brooks finally says, his hand holding Dare’s squeezes just a bit.

Mikael offers Brooks a small smile. The Master seems pleased at the change in conversation. “Then you’ll take me up on the offer of a room?” At Brooks’s nod, Mikael’s smile turns into a grin. “Oh that’s good. I’d hate to think that I’d wasted money remodeling a Master’s suite only for you to turn your nose up at it.”

“You already did it? You only offered once.” Mikael actually grins and Brooks’s eyes narrow. “You cocky son of a -”

“Where are your things?” Mikael asks.

Brooks presses his lips together. “In my car outside.”

“We’ll take care of it.” Mikael calls one of his employees over and sets to the work of getting Brooks’s things and setting Brooks up in his new room.

Amid the flurry of activity, Dare is left wondering what Brooks was asking. Is Dare Brooks’s… what?

Chapter Text

Brooks’s new rooms are very nice. There’s a large bedroom area and an empty space that could hold a desk or whatever Brooks decides to put there. Attached is a spacious bathroom and an equally impressive walk-in closet.

For the entirety of the time it takes to go out to Brooks’s car and get his things, Brooks has never let go of Dare’s hand. For the entire elevator ride up, Brooks never lets go. Even in the room, as Mikael’s men set down two large suit cases, a guitar case and a laptop bag, Brooks never lets go.

The men leave them alone and Brooks finally takes a deep breath, slowly exhales and seems to attempt to relax.

“Well, here we are.” Brooks says, looking around the room. He lets go of Dare’s hand and moves around the room.

Dare picks one of the pink pallets and kneels on it, watching as Brooks studies his new accommodations.

Brooks brushes his fingertips over a Bluetooth stereo and touches the toe of his boot to one of several pink pallets on the floor. The bedding has purple in it, which Dare knows is Brooks’s favorite color. It’s purple and gray striped with braided black trim. There’s a seating area with two purple and gray harlequin print fabric armchairs and a small table between them.

The art on the walls is expressionist, left open to interpretation of the viewer. The more Dare looks at the work, the more he notices how each piece incorporates both purple and pink.

In the far corner, where the space is empty, Brooks unfolds some sticks leaning against the wall. Dare realizes, as Brooks locks everything into place and sets it up, that they aren’t just sticks. It’s an easel. Leaning against the walls are several different sizes of blank canvases. On some shelves nearby are paints and colored pencils and drop cloths and brushes of various sorts and sizes.

“Wow. He really thinks of everything, doesn’t he?” Brooks mutters to himself, turning in a circle looking around the room.

It isn’t the first time that Dare has heard this said of Mikael Pomelov. If Derek’s Master is anything, he’s attentive to detail. Dare has payed witness to this on more than one occasion.

When Brooks finds Dare kneeling on one of the pallets, the tension in his muscles seems to ease a bit. Brooks just stares at him for a long moment before speaking again. “Sometimes you take my breath away, Dare… maybe all the time.”

Dare dips his head at the compliment, almost shy about it and he’s not sure why. “You’re gonna be staying here now, Sir?”

“I guess so. Yes. Yeah, when I’m in town.” Brooks answers, slowly crossing the room toward Dare. “Is that okay with you?”

“Yes, Sir.” Except something doesn’t sit well with Dare. “When you’re in town?”

“Well yeah, I’m gonna have to go back to Brooklyn sometimes. Check in with the family.” Brooks sits down in one of the armchairs. His hand rests palm up on one arm of the chair and he waggles his fingers at Dare. “Come here, baby.”

Dare shifts to pick up the pink pallet and carry it closer. He kneels in front of Brooks and reaches out to put his hand in Brooks’s. “Are you okay?”

Brooks shrugs. “It’s been a day. You know? One of those days.”

“Because of trials.”

Brooks leans closer and brushes the fingertips of his other hand along Dare’s jawline. “You shouldn’t have to worry about any of that, my sweet Dare.”

“I...” Dare isn’t really worried about trials. That’s the kind of fine print and paperwork of normal life that he’s been taught to ignore. While he’s shown progress in ignoring less, Dare still picks and chooses what to concern himself with and what to pretend isn’t happening. “I’m worried about you, handsome. You need me tonight, you said.”

Brooks almost smiles, but it’s more like the beginnings of one rather than an actual smile. “Yeah.”

“You’re upset. How can I make it better?”

At Dare’s question, Brooks exhales a breathy laugh and shakes his head. “You wanna make it better for me. You’ve been through hell multiple times over and you still wanna make it better for me. My god, you’re so fucking sweet.”

Dare shakes his head, uncertain. “You’ve been through hell too.”

“Not like you, Dare. Not like you.”

Dare is quiet for a few moments, letting Brooks pet at his cheek and grip his hand tighter. “Different hell is still hell. Your hell happened too, Sir.”

Brooks presses his lips together and nods in agreement after a moment. “Can’t pretend it didn’t happen, huh?”

Dare isn’t sure how to answer that, so he stays silent. Instead, while remaining on his knees, he lifts up off his haunches and lets go of Brooks’s hand. He grips either side of Brooks’s trim waist and pulls him close. Dare buries his face in Brooks’s chest and inhales deeply.

“You can hold me, Sir.” Dare whispers, remembering how Brooks had just needed to hold him downstairs in the club. He feels Brooks’s arms wrap around him, the other man hunches over to press his lips to the top of Dare’s head. Dare wraps his arms around Brooks’s waist.

They hold each other like that for a long while, neither of them saying anything because it’s another moment that needs no words. Dare has had so few moments that don’t need words, but lately, every single one of them has been with Brooks and he likes it.

Time moves forward while the two of them remain frozen together, quiet and still, until finally Brooks kisses the crown of Dare’s head and smooths his hand down over his hair to his back.

“You are everything to me right now, Dare.” Brooks whispers. “You’re everything good and beautiful and perfect. You’re everything I need and want.”

The words touch Dare somewhere deep inside where he’s only ever let so few people touch. He has no idea what words go with the words that Brooks has just spoken to him. Everything he thinks to say doesn’t sound like enough.

“Say something to me, baby.” Brooks says. “Anything.”

Still, Dare is silent for a bit before speaking. “I don’t want you to quit wanting me.”

Brooks’s response surprises Dare, the other man laughs a deep laugh that Dare can hear rumbling in his chest. Brooks cups either side of Dare’s face and tilts his head up. “That would make me the dumbest guy alive to ever quit wanting you.”

There is no part of Dare that thinks that Brooks is or could be dumb.

“What you asked downstairs… if I was yours.” Dare starts. “If I was your what, Sir? What do you want me to be?”

“Mine. Just mine.” Brooks answers. “But also, my pet, if that’s what you want. I wanna be what you need, Dare, and if that’s a Master, then I can try to be that. But I’m new to the whole idea of it and you’ll have to be patient with me while I learn. Can you be patient with me, beautiful?”

The entire time Brooks has spoken Dare’s chest has felt tighter and tighter. His heart has beat faster and faster, thrumming in his ears. His skin tingles with unseen excitement.

Brooks wants him. Brooks wants Dare to be his. And Dare thinks that belonging to Brooks would be a very different thing than belonging to the Mistress at the Gallery or vicariously to Mikael.

“You wanna be my Master?” Dare finally asks.

Brooks answers with his repeated question. “Can you be patient with me, Dare?”

“Always.” Without a shadow of a doubt, always. “Can you be patient with me?”

“Always.” Brooks answers with a slowly growing grin spreading on his lips. The pad of his thumb smooths over Dare’s bottom lip. “Then will you be mine, Dare?”

Dare is quick to answer after kissing at Brooks’s fingertips. “Yes, Master.”

Brooks smirks, his grin lazy and tired. “Master. That’s gonna take some getting used to… but I’m pretty sure that if I set my mind to it, I can do it.”

Dare smiles at that. “Will I have a collar, Sir?”

“Do you need a collar? Do you want one?”

“I have your necklaces.” Dare answers. “I like them. You put them on me and they’re very pretty. I don’t wanna quit wearing them.”

“I like you wearing them too.” Brooks hooks a finger in the shorter chain of the compass charm. “Does that mean you’ve been mine since I put them on you?”

Dare thinks about that a moment. Yes, he’s already come to the conclusion that he’s been Brooks’s for some time, in some form or fashion, whether in the deep recesses of his mind or out here in the open, plain as day.

Dare – Brooks. Or more appropriately, Brooks – Dare.

“Yes, Sir. I think so.”

“Then I think the necklaces are a good collar.” Brooks says, his fingertips tracing the chain of the compass charm and then the longer chain that holds the arrow charm all the way down to its point where it sits nestled just above Dare’s cleavage. “Every kind of beautiful.”

The compliment makes a flushed heat rise into Dare’s cheeks. He feels pretty in them, and he agrees that they serve the same purpose as a regular collar would. They make him think of Brooks. They’re a symbol that Brooks thinks of him too. They make him feel… owned. Dare likes that feeling.

“The Mistress never had sex with you, right?” Brooks asks.

Dare dips his head and shakes it. “No, Sir.”

Brooks’s fingers at his chin bring his gaze back up to the other man. “Her loss. I’m just curious about what kind of play you might like. I’m getting the feeling that you have no idea what you like though… and that’s okay. We can figure that out together.”

The other man is right. Dare has no idea what he likes or doesn’t like. He just knows that he likes sex. He’s been in scenarios where he was told what to do, usually humiliatingly so, but he’s never gotten to really play… except with Salt and Pepper in the Catacombs or Jerome and Doctor Simmons in the Labs, and Dare can’t tell if that’s what Brooks is talking about or not.

“I’m really good at doing what I’m told, Sir.” Dare says.

Brooks nods. “I know you are, Sweetheart. But… that’s a whole different animal than figuring out what kind of play gets you off… unless just being bossed around is what gets you off. Is it?”

Dare has to think about that. While he does like instruction where he doesn’t have to think too much about what he’s supposed to be doing, he isn’t sure that being told what to do is what arouses him. Once the pump was put in his arm the line between what turned him on and what didn’t got very confusing and blurry.

Again, his mind returns to Salt and Pepper, who was arguably, because of his absent memories, his first sexual encounter. Dare didn’t like being called stupid or made to call himself stupid. He didn’t like being made to feel… less than. But some of what Salt and Pepper did with him was… strangely arousing.

Is that fucked up of him to think that? The Catacombs were horrible. They were also extremely erotic at times.

“I’m...” Dare starts.

“You’re what, my sweet Dare?” Brooks encourages him, his fingertips petting at Dare’s skin at his neck and shoulders.

Again, Dare hesitates. “I’m… embarrassed to say it. And I don’t think it puts me in a very positive light and I really don’t wanna mess up how you see me.”

“It’s okay. You can’t mess up how I see you. You just can’t, Dare. Trust me.” Brooks says. “Put your trust in me and talk to me. Do you like being bossed around? It’s okay if you do.”

Trust in Brooks not to think less of him. Trust that Brooks won’t quit wanting him. Trust. Dare is only just now, in this exact moment, realizing how difficult trust is. It’s something he’d quit giving, just going with whatever happened and no longer being surprised when the Mistress or her guests hurt him, humiliated him, taunted him. A long time ago, he’d quit giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Trust.

“I like… I like knowing my place and what I’m supposed to be doing.” Dare says and then slowly shakes his head.

Brooks reads his answer well. “But it isn’t what gets you off.”

“No, Master. It isn’t.” Dare answers.

“And the embarrassing part?”

Dare draws a deep breath, his clasped hands wringing together behind his back. This is a secret that has been so deeply buried inside of him that unearthing it is a monumental endeavor. “I liked… I grew to like… some things that happened in the Catacombs and the Labs. I used to dream about them and get off to them when the Mistress wouldn’t touch me. Sometimes… when some of the other pets and me are having sex, I imagine… things...”

“And those things get you excited.” Brooks says.

Salt and Pepper terrified him. Salt and Pepper also aroused him. “Yes, Sir.”

Brooks is silent for a moment, lips pressed together, before he nods and replies. “That’s okay. We’ve talked about how they did a really good job of twisting everything, the good and the bad, together, so that it was one fucked up ball of confusion.”

“It was very confusing.” Dare whispers with a nod. “But the only times I’ve ever felt pleasure the way I’ve felt it with you, was down there with Salt and Pepper. Intense. It was intense.”

“You’ve told me about him.” Brooks nods.

“Yeah. He thought I was very pretty. He said so a lot. He called me pretty boy.” Dare confesses. “Do you think it’s messed up to like some of what he did?”

“I’ll say it again: fucked up ball of confusion. That’s what the Brutes in the Catacombs excelled at. You’re not messed up, Dare.”

Dare is so relieved to hear it from Brooks. It feels like absolution from guilt. He exhales a long breath that he hadn’t realized that he’d been holding. “Thank you, Master.”

Brooks’s lips pull into a quick smile at being called Master. He cups the side of Dare’s neck. “So I think you should tell me about some of the confusing things you, in retrospect, liked. Then we can go from there.”

“You mean you would try to do them?” Dare asks hesitantly.

“Well, I’d put my natural Brooklyn Meyers charm and both creative and innovative spin on it, but yeah.” Brooks winks at Dare and nods. “With you, I’m open to trying pretty much anything. So talk to me, beautiful. Talk to me.”

For a few moments, Dare is left kneeling there, surprised by how well Brooks has taken some of Dare’s deepest secrets that he’s just unveiled. Then, once he makes himself move beyond his surprise, Dare begins to open up even more, to talk about his Catacombs and Labs experience; what he hated and the few things that he fantasizes about.

Brooks never seems to judge. Dare feels safe talking about it. Dare puts his trust in Brooks that the other man will take everything and find a better way to do it than Salt and Pepper, Jerome and Doctor Simmons had done.

Trust. Dare puts his trust in his new Master and whatever fear or embarrassment he’d felt before has no part in the equation of Dare and Brooks and trust.

And that’s when Dare decides that he finally believes in something. Dare believes in Brooks.

Chapter Text

Dare’s hands are a mess. Or, more appropriately, the plastic gloves he wears on his hands are a mess. He and Brooks are in the bathroom and Brooks has had Dare dying the tips of his hair. This time, he’s requested both pink and purple, alternated over the tips from front to back. As it was when Brooks first tried to mount a horse, Dare’s learning curve with the semi-permanent conditioner colors has been an exercise in hilarity.

His Master sits in a chair in front of him in the bathroom, both of them facing the large mirrors over the vanity. Brooks had wanted to use their reflections to see Dare work.

He’s almost done with Brooks’s hair though, and he thinks he’s finally gotten a rhythm down. “I’ll do this better next time, Master, now that I understand how to do it.”

“It’s just hair, Dare. The color eventually fades and I’ll just make you put more in.” He says. “What do you think about me putting some in your hair?”

Dare looks up to their reflections, his hands working over the tips of the last section of Brooks’s otherwise platinum locks. “Pink in my hair, Sir?”

“Pink and purple. Like mine.” Brooks corrects him.

Dare is surprised to find that he has no aversion to purple. Purple is Brooks’s color. Purple makes him think of Brooks. Brooks makes Dare feel good. Brooks makes Dare happy. Everything boiled down to such simplistic statements, but all of them true.

Dare finally nods. “Yes, Sir. I’d like that.”

Once Brooks’s hair is done, he has Dare sit in the chair and Brooks is the one with the messy gloves on. He puts the top layer of Dare’s hair in a top knot and then starts adding long swaths of pink and purple to the underneath.

“So you think you were an only child, huh?” Brooks asks as he works.

“I think so, Sir.” Dare answers. “I don’t remember a sibling.”

“You know you could ask Derek stuff like that. I bet he has the paperwork of your family at a minimum. He could fill in a lot of blanks that might jog your memory even more.”

Dare dips his head and thinks about whether or not he’s ready for all of that. There’s no one left. It doesn’t really matter if he can’t remember it on his own, does it?

When Dare doesn’t respond for awhile, Brooks continues. “I used to dream about being an only kid. I mean, I’m the baby of the family so I had a lot more leeway than my brothers did. But… brothers. They can be assholes.”

“Were they mean to you, Sir?” Dare looks back up at their reflections.

“Not any meaner than a lot of siblings are. Once we grew up things were different, you know? Adults. Siblings becoming friends rather than competitors.” Brooks explains. “So it’s all good now, you know? Then I was abducted for ten years. Now things are really different. They’re… protective, I guess. They tip-toe around me in a way that they never have before. And if anyone says shit to me they shut it down fast and close ranks. It doesn’t matter that I can take care of myself, to them I’m still their baby brother that was taken away from them for years.”

“They love you.” Dare says.

Brooks nods, globbing more colored conditioner into Dare’s hair and smoothing it in from roots to tips. “They love me. My dreams of being an only kid were childish, you know? I’d be sad without my brothers and vice versa.”

“Kyle says that love is completion.” Even though he thinks that what Kyle, Bran and he were talking about and what Brooks is talking about are two different things, Dare also thinks that they’re similar. Different kinds of hurt. Different kinds of abuse. Different kinds of hell. Different kinds of love.

Brooks thinks about that for a bit before finally nodding. “Yeah, I’d say that’s right.”

“Have you ever been in love, Master?” Dare asks.

“Yeah.” Brooks nods, meeting Dare’s gaze in their reflection. “Yeah, I have.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, I’d say it’s like gaining a piece of you that you didn’t know was missing before. And then… if you lose it, it’s like losing a part of you.” He answers. “Before the Gallery, I thought I was gonna marry Aaron. We’d been together since high school. We had plans, you know? But...”

Dare nods. “But the Gallery.”

“But the Gallery, is right.” Having finished with Dare’s hair, Brooks moves to sit on the bathroom counter in front of Dare. “We have to let it sit for twenty minutes.”

“What about the top part?” Dare points to his top knot of uncolored hair.

Brooks grins. “Just you wait. This is gonna look hella cool. We’re just doing the bottom half.”

Dare trusts that Brooks won’t steer him wrong, so he just nods. “Have you seen him? Aaron, I mean.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him.” Brooks nods. “I’ve seen him and his husband and their two adorable kids. They’re… perfectly happy. It wasn’t easy for us seeing each other but…” Brooks reaches one leg out to press his toes against Dare’s knee. “Sometimes you have to go through shitty things to get to better things.”

Dare starts to smile. “Am I your better thing, Sir?”

Brooks’s smile is ridiculously big and bright. “I’m perfectly happy.”

 

* * *

Dare and Brooks are back at Mark Kincaid’s ranch again. This is their fourth visit to the ranch. Each time that Dare is here he seems to have another ghost of a memory from his past. Between the sessions with Doctor Cohen and frequent visits to the MK Ranch, Dare has been remembering more and more.

He remembers that Molly used to sleep in his bed, the dog would lick his face every morning when he woke up. He remembers that his horse’s name was Cocoa because of her beautiful brown coat. As a young kid he was gonna name her chocolate, but his Mom had convinced him to go with Cocoa. He remembers that brown used to be his favorite color and he simultaneously can’t imagine why he ever liked brown. It’s so dull and drab. Pink is his favorite color.

The last time they were here it was a Sunday. Mark had just gotten back from church. Dare thinks he used to go to church even though the memory of it is so vague that it’s translucent. He’d talked about it in his next session with Doctor Cohen, and while the doctor had tried to elicit another memory from Dare, their work had come up with nothing.

Given all of his recent success, Dare is having a hard time not feeling like a failure because of that.

Brooks had gifted Dare with two cowboy hats before leaving their rooms at Passion this morning. One is straw for outside riding and the other is brown felt with a thin pink band around the bowl of the hat. Dare is surprised that brown and pink look nice together.

Today Dare wears the straw one along with jeans, a pale pink fitted tee with horizontal tears in it down his back and his sparkly sneakers. His hair is in two braids that rest on his shoulders, the pink and purple strands woven in with his dirty blonde.

Brooks was right. Just doing the bottom half looks hella cool.

He and Brooks have been riding in silence for awhile. Dare likes that he gets to be quiet with Brooks sometimes. Brooks doesn’t make him speak even when Dare has nothing productive to say like they did in the Gallery. Brooks doesn’t make Dare speak empty words that Dare doesn’t mean.

Dare is comfortable being quiet with Brooks, likes it even, and maybe that’s one of the most telling parts of their relationship.

Maureen and Charlie meander along with Dare and Brooks on top of them. Brooks has gotten better at steering Charlie in one way or another.

“I had a feeling you’d look really sexy in a cowboy hat, and what do you know, I was right.” Brooks winks at Dare.

Dare feels heat rise in his face and his lips pull into a small smile. “I used to have one just like this straw one. I don’t know if I had a felt one.”

“Well I’m giving myself a high-five on that purchase cause who’s the real winner here?” He points one of his thumbs at himself. “This guy.”

They both laugh lightly before Dare answers him. “Thank you, Sir.”

Brooks nods and takes Charlie’s reins in both hands again. “Also, I think I’m ready to try to go faster.”

Dare grins at him. “You wanna try and run Charlie, Sir?”

“Yeah.” Brooks nods, pausing. Dare waits him out because Brooks makes it pretty obvious that he wants to say something else and finally he does so. “Second also, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m gonna have to go to New York in two weeks. It’s my dad’s birthday and my mom’s throwing this big, fancy shindig at which my presence has been requested in the kind of way that’s also a demand. You know, mom style.”

Dare’s stomach flip-flops at the idea of Brooks going away. What if he doesn’t come back? He’s also kind of jealous that Brooks has a mom to request or demand his presence. “How long will you be gone, Sir?”

“Five days, maybe? A week at most.” Brooks answers. “I can’t say no to my Mom.”

“I wouldn’t ever ask you to say no to her, Master.” Dare says. “She’s your mom.”

“You wanna come?”

At the question and the way Brooks looks at him with hope in his eyes, Dare’s stomach flip-flops in a whole new way for whole new reasons. Him? At a big, fancy shindig that involves Brooks’s family?

Dare looks down to Maureen’s red mane of hair. “Oh, I...” He hesitates and then inevitably shakes his head. “I probably shouldn’t.”

“Why not?” Brooks asks.

“Because...” So many reasons, all of them self-depreciating, start to run rampant in his mind. Dare tries to pick out the least of the worst of them. Dare remembers every word of the definition of tawdry. Tawdry people don’t belong at big, fancy shindigs. “It’s a big, fancy shindig and I might be big, but I’m not fancy.”

“Dare...”

“Also, I’m not sure your family could handle all of my fabulousness.” He hates it the minute he says it. Those words are words the old Dare would use, empty and meaningless, an attempt to divert the conversation. “It also sounds like it’s a family thing and I’m...” Dare continues, coming up with another reason that has nothing to do with his fear of public situations and how he’ll be treated. “I’m your pet, Sir.”

“You’re mine.” Brooks adds, “And yeah, it’s a family affair but a lot of my dad’s rich friends will be there as well as a lot of my mom’s old friends from back in the day. It’s gonna be my first time around all of them since… everything happened and I… I mean I get it. It’s a nervous-making thing. I get it. From where I’m sitting, it’s gonna be rough not having access to you. And I guess it’s selfish that I’m even asking, I just...”

Brooks looks over to Dare again after his ramble. “Will you think about it? You have two weeks to think about it and that’s all I’ll ask of you right now. Yeah?”

Dare lowers the front brim of his cowboy hat on his brow and flips one of his long braids back behind his shoulders before nodding. It won’t hurt to just think about it. “Yes, Master. I’ll think about it.”

“Thank you.” Brooks says, “Thank you, baby.” and it sounds so heartfelt that Dare kind of wishes that it were easier for him to say yes to the occasion. “Now, how about you show me how to make Charlie run and we’ll cross our fingers and our toes that I don’t crash and burn.”

Chapter Text

“I told Mikael that you wouldn’t be downstairs tonight.” Brooks has been standing on the floorboard of the bed or standing near the headboard on the mattress, messing around with hidden compartments in the posts while muttering things like ‘holy shit’ and ‘how the fuck’ and ‘that cocky son of a bitch’ under his breath for awhile now.

After the ride yesterday, the ride in which Brooks had not fallen off his horse and died, Dare had asked to spend the night with the harem. Being asked to go so far away and be around rich normal people, some of them Brooks’s family, had startled him. He needed time to think.

In the harem room, everything was Dare’s kind of normal. The pets talked and fucked and joked, each of them so at ease with one another. Dare told them that Brooks was his Master now and they were happy for him.

This afternoon, however, just after lunch, Brooks had come to get him. Dressed in his short cotton shorts with the word pink on them and a cotton tank with pink roses printed on it, Dare had accompanied Brooks to his suite where Brooks has had an eclectic and diverse playlist of music playing - from rock to country to hip hop to classical to jazz and soul music. He even has some showtunes thrown in.

Some of the songs sound vaguely familiar. Most of them are new to Dare.

And now here they are with Brooks discovering hidden wonders in the woodwork of the bed and Dare watching him fumbling with them to figure out where everything is.

“I won’t be working tonight, Master?” Dare asks.

At the word ‘Master’, Brooks pauses and casts Dare a small grin before going back to his work. “No. We’ll be staying up here. You and me time. That okay with you?”

“Yes, Sir.” If it’s what Brooks wants then Dare isn’t sure why it matters whether it’s okay with him or not. It isn’t the first time that Brooks has asked, however, and Dare does want to be where Brooks is. So in the end Dare nods, watching Brooks pull open another compartment in the middle of the headboard. “Are you looking for something in the bed, Sir?”

“Nah, just… Impressed with Mikael’s presumptuous ass and also imagining all the possibilities that his presumptions give you and me.” Brooks says, his voice tinged with amusement.

“I’ve never seen a bed with so many loose pieces that open.” Dare admits. In fact, the bed is so masterfully crafted that one would have to look closely and know what they were looking for to know that the compartments were there.

“Me either. When I was talking to him last night he told me about them and proceeded to tell me he has one just like it, specially made.” Brooks wrinkles his nose playfully. “Only he said it in that weird accent of his with that air of superiority that he always has.”

“Do you not like him, Sir?” Dare asks.

Brooks’s lips thin and he hops down off of the bed. “He’s growing on me. I know that you like him, so I’m trying. Besides, any dislike I have for him is because of his past. There’s that quote about every saint a sinner and every sinner a saint or something like that.”

Dare is glad that Brooks is trying. From where Dare kneels Mikael has been overly kind to him even though he didn’t have to be. “You spoke with him after we got back last night, Sir?”

“Yeah, I did.” Brooks nods, getting a box from the corner and opening the lid. “We had a few drinks and talked for a long time… too many drinks, but I needed advice and yeah. Mikael may be a lot of good and bad things, but he’s a good Master.”

Brooks casts Dare one of his brilliant grins. “I wanna be a good Master too.” Then he pulls something pink and purple from the box and sets another pink pallet on the floor between Dare’s spread knees. On the pallet, he places the object that he’d retrieved from the box.

The dildo is a swirl of pink and purple with silver specks of glitter mixed in. It’s almost translucent so that Dare can see batteries in it. There are pink straps on either side of the dildo.

“Just look at it. Don’t touch.” Brooks says before moving to the bed to busy himself with the hidden compartments again.

Dare’s entire self has come alive. He flashes back to the Catacombs and the pink glitter dildo that continued to buzz on the floor once Salt and Pepper had replaced it with his cock. But no, he’s not in the Catacombs. No one is belittling him or making him call himself stupid.

A glance to the bed finds Brooks installing pink and purple knotted ropes into each compartment, then hiding them away inside the woodwork.

No, this is Brooks. This dildo isn’t just pink. It’s their favorite colors mixed together. Dare stares at it, thinking about how it will feel once it’s inside of him. Will Brooks put it inside him? Surely he will. His pussy clenches hungrily around the plug already inside.

Just under an hour later and Brooks has attached rope to each compartment in the bed. He hides the rope away, closing all the different compartments except for two in the headboard. “I really can’t believe this is our bed. Like… I never would’ve even thought of hidey holes in the woodwork for restraints. I hate to admit it, but it’s kind of genius, really.”

“Our bed, Sir?” Something that’s theirs. Together. Dare thinks he likes that. If it’s theirs, the both of them, together, then Dare instantly loves that bed.

“Definitely ours.” Brooks grins and winks at Dare. Then he points to the foot of the bed. “Come bend over, beautiful. Let me see that sexy ass of yours.”

Rising from his pallet, Dare walks over to the bed and glances over to Brooks before bending over, his right cheek pressed to the soft, plush gray and purple striped comforter. Their comforter? Yes, he thinks. It’s theirs.

“Arms out to your sides.”

Dare unclasps his hands at his back and puts his arms out to his sides.

“Holy mother-effing wow…” Brooks says behind him, his palm petting over Dare’s buttocks for a bit before sliding up his spine and back down. On the way down, when that hand gets to Dare’s waist, his fingers curl to pull down both shorts and panties. “Beautiful.”

Between the surprise of a dildo and being called beautiful, Dare almost blissfully zones out. Even with Dare bent over the bed and barefoot, Brooks thinks he’s beautiful. “Is it gonna vibrate, Master?”

Behind him, Brooks is fucking him with the plug that’s already in his pussy, the same pink glitter plug he uses every day. “Yeah, it is. Are you excited, my sweet Dare?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare hisses the words with a heavy breath of air. He’s more than excited. Every fiber of his being wants whatever Brooks is about to do with him.

The plug is pulled all the way out and Dare feels empty inside until he feels something else fill him up. The dildo is longer than his plug, maybe even wider. Then he feels teeth clench tightly to the flesh of one ass cheek as the dildo is pulled almost all the way out and pushed in again. A tongue flicks lightly over the bite followed by a kiss.

Brooks fucks him with the dildo and gives the other ass cheek the same treatment: a stinging bite, a soothing lick and a gentle kiss.

Dare is so intent on the way the dildo feels sliding in and out of him that both bites serve to slice into that pleasure with a very different kind of pleasure. Then he feels straps wrapped around his thighs to hold the plug in place.

“Stand up, my sweet Dare.”

Once Dare is standing, a push to his hip makes him turn around. Brooks’s tongue laps up Dare’s cunt and he briefly takes him in his mouth. The sight of Brooks doing this very near short circuits Dare’s brain. The ring that Brooks slips around Dare’s cunt matches the pink and purple swirl of the dildo in his ass.

Brooks pets at Dare’s thigh. “Are you comfortable?”

Has anyone ever asked if he was comfortable? Has anyone ever cared? Every small detail with Brooks, Dare tries not to miss even one. The thought crosses his mind that maybe this is how he should have always been treated, that maybe this is how the Mistress should have treated him. Then he scurries away from the thought quickly, because it’s against the Mistress and that’s wrong. Right?

“Yes, Master.” Dare answers.

Brooks hums his appreciation, his touch sliding over Dare’s skin as much as possible while he pulls Dare’s tight shorts down his legs and lifts the pink lace back into place over the ring and the plug. Dare steps out of the shorts.

Still Brooks touches Dare as he stands up, up his hips and over his abdomen. His knuckles glide over abs and breasts as he lifts Dare’s tee off, leaving Dare in just panties, bra and heels. Then Brooks leans in to kiss him. Dare kisses Brooks in return.

“Beautiful.” Brooks says. “You’re fucking beautiful, Dare.”

“I don’t even know what you’re gonna do yet, Master.” Dare whispers against his lips. “And I already love it. Everything is so good right now.”

“Good. It’s supposed to be good. Now we’re gonna shoot for the best.” It’s a throwback to their first date ‘out there’ and the words make Dare happy. Brooks smiles and kisses Dare again, a smiling kiss that Dare enjoys every bit as much as a regular kiss. “Lay back on our bed, all the way up with your head on the pillows.”

After removing his tee-shirt, Brooks follows Dare onto the bed, crawling up Dare’s body from the foot of the bed once Dare is in place. He straddles his way all the way to Dare’s waist and then reaches up to stretch the two ropes he’d left out of their hidden compartments. Taking one of Dare’s hands in his, he lifts it above his head on the pillows and tightens one of the pink and purple restraints around his wrist. Dare is surprised that it isn’t as coarse as regular rope. It’s soft enough against his skin. Brooks does the same with Dare’s other wrist so that both are bound above his head.

Dare kisses Brooks again and again when the other man kisses him. Then Brooks leaves him there, goes down to the baseboard and grabs Dare’s ankles to pull so that Dare’s Arms are almost taut, but not completely.

Brooks stands at the foot of the bed, looking down at Dare. “Still comfortable, Sweetheart?”

Dare is quick to nod. “Yes, Sir. Very.”

“If you ever aren’t comfortable you have to promise to tell me, okay?” Brooks says.

Dare nods again, unsure if there’s anything Brooks might do that would make him uncomfortable. And wouldn’t the mere admittance of such a thing be the next door neighbor to saying the word ‘no’? Is he allowed to say no?

Dare tries to get out of his own way in his head space. There are two truths he focuses on instead. Brooks won’t hurt him. Dare trusts Brooks.

Oh. And one more thing: everything about this feels right. Dare’s belief in Brooks does not feel as if it’s misplaced.

“Yes, Master. I promise.” he finally answers.

“Good pet.” Brooks says, petting one hand at Dare’s ankle and reaching in one of his jeans pockets with the other.

Suddenly everything is buzzing. Dare arches up off of the bed with the sudden onslaught of sensation both in his pussy and around his cunt. It literally takes his breath away. So much so that Brooks coos softly to him. “Breathe, baby. Breathe. In and out. Come on.”

Dare breathes. In and out. He breathes again.

“There you go, baby.” Brooks’s hand still pets at Dare’s ankle, watching Dare intently. “You don’t cum until I let you cum, beautiful. Got it?”

Dare nods, intensely driven to do exactly as Brooks wants of him. “Yes, Master.” Dare wants so badly to be a good pet for his Master. As good as Jai was to his Mistress, as good as Derek is to Mikael. As good as Bran is to Gregory or the twins are to Mari.

He just wants to be good enough, more than good enough. Dare wants to finally, after all this time, be worthy of being chosen and wanted the way Brooks chooses and wants him.

He wants this so much that he repeats the words once more. “Yes, Master.” Brooks looks pleased with him.

Chapter Text

Dare has been lying here for awhile, his arms stretched above his head, held in place by the pink and purple restraints Brooks had secured around them. His body can’t stay still. His shoulders shift and stretch. His legs slide along the top of the comforter; one knee bent with the other stretched out, then alternating positions, then stretched completely straight down to his toes, then starting the whole process over again. His hips press down into the bedding, back arched up before going limp again with a sigh.

Even though the vibrating is deep in his pussy and around his cunt, it feels as if his entire self, inside and out, is vibrating.

It’s about control, Dare thinks.

Control is something he’s always striven for, he realizes, even when he was in the Gallery. How to shift the narrative in a room. How to refocus a person or a group on something else. How to take ownership of every perceived flaw or abnormality before it can become a weapon.

Dare has always thought that this was his play acting at being everything he was taught to be in the Catacombs and the Labs. Fake it ‘til you make it. Right now, he realizes that it was about control. Control over a room of people, yes. But also, and perhaps more importantly, control over himself; what little control he was allotted in the Gallery.

The control he seeks right now is absolutely a control that’s only over himself. There’s no need to try to control this room or the other person in it. Brooks wouldn’t hurt him. Brooks would never use weapons of words and laughter at his expense.

This control is focused inward instead of outward. It’s personal. It’s intimate. It’s a control of the mind, body and soul of Dare.

For a long time he’s watched Brooks, dressed only in a pair of his baggy jeans, the band of his briefs peeking out over the low waistband, busy himself around the room.

He’s listened to Brooks’s side of a conversation with his therapist. Yes, he’s changed location. Yes, he’s happy. Yes, he’s still with Dare. Things are new and unsure but he’s happy. Yes, he’s seen the news but he’s trying to ignore it and focus on other things. Yes, he’ll be home for his father’s birthday and what if he brings Dare with him? Yes, he’s prepared for whatever happens at the birthday party. Yes, he’s still taking his medication. Yes, but he can take care of himself and if anyone fucks with Dare they’re taking their own life in their hands. I’m sorry. I know, I’m sorry, still true, Brooks says.

Dare doesn’t fully grasp everything Brooks says during the conversation. He’s too busy trying to stay in control until Brooks says he doesn’t have to do so anymore.

Brooks comes to the bed and touches the thin chains at Dare’s neck softly and delicately. His fingertips trace down Dare’s collarbones to his pink lace clad breasts. Down his abdomen to his hip bones. He strokes Dare’s cunt over the lace until Dare pushes hips up and emits a heady groan. Then Brooks leaves again.

Dare falls back to the bed and gasps for breath, staring up at the black ceiling fan as it goes slowly around and around and around…

Control. Dare is good at control… surprisingly so.

Maybe all of those years attempting to control everything on the outside of him, everything around him, had prepared him to control everything internal right now. He’s doing it. Dare knows he can do it. But how far can he go?

Brooks settles at the foot of the bed, his back against one of the stately bed posts. He unrolls a wrap of charcoal sticks and well-used pencils. In his lap is a sketch pad. He opens the pad to a page, picks up a charcoal stick and begins to work.

There’s no instruction for Dare to stay still, and Dare isn’t sure he could if he wanted to. The buzzing in his pussy and around his cunt are on track to drive him deliriously and wonderfully insane. He focuses on the hum of the fan, the scratch of charcoal on paper, Brooks’s deep breaths, his own heartbeat thrumming in his ears.

He wonders if Brooks is as hard as he is. He wonders how Brooks seems so calm. He wonders how Brooks stays so still. Dare watches Brooks.

Brooks is beautiful; long lashes, sharp cheek bones and chin hidden beneath a well trimmed beard and mustache. Brooks’s hands are elegant, long slim fingers with chipped purple polish on the nails. As he works, his hand gets smudged with black/gray charcoal. Brooks’s lips are thin but well formed and Dare knows how good it feels to kiss them or to be kissed by them. He knows how good those lips feel on his skin. Then there’s the piercings in brow and nose, tongue, ears and nipples that add an indescribable edge to him.

“You’re beautiful too.” Dare whispers, shifting on the bed to try to stave off another wave of near orgasm. While he’s called Brooks handsome, he doesn’t think that he’s ever told the other man that he’s beautiful. Both are accurate, but the word beautiful has such a lovely and personal tint to it with Dare.

A slow smile spreads on Brooks’s lips. “Beautiful, hrm? I’ll take it, Sweetheart. I mean, a guy’s gotta measure up to his pet, right?”

And of course Brooks turns Dare’s compliment back around onto Dare. The other man seems pretty adept at doing so.

Brooks continues to sketch, every few seconds looking over Dare’s body and back to his work. Dare returns to his constant motion on the bed, every shift intensifying the vibration in a different spot deep inside, his upgrades from the Gallery making everything more intense, more pleasurable, more gratifying… just... more.

Control. It’s about control.

Right now his arousal is so great that Dare thinks that if he can do this one thing, wait for Brooks, then he can do anything. And wouldn’t that make him mighty?

Dare watches the fan go around and around. Dare closes his eyes and thinks of the Mistress’s parlor when he’d first seen Brooks again. He thinks about the way Brooks had touched and kissed him. He thinks about how lucky he is to have Brooks and the lengths he would go through to keep him.

The buzzing stops and Dare’s eyes snap open and over to his Master.

“How do you feel, Sweetheart?”

Dare tries to think of an answer to describe the mountaintop of pleasure he’s standing on. Can he go higher? Is there more to be had? Dare wants to push his limits. He wants to be mighty.

“I can take more.” Dare says with a breath heavy voice. “I want more, Sir.”

Brooks grins his approval. “Good pet.” A push of a button and everything comes alive again.

Yes, there’s more. He isn’t at the peak of the mountain yet. Dare can do this, for Brooks, for himself.

It’s all about control.

 

* * *

 

Dare is floating. He’s lying back on a great big ocean and he’s floating, drifting along slowly and peacefully. Everything is good and perfect. Dare feels good and perfect. He’s in a sustained state of ecstasy that’s both blissfully perfect and frustratingly unfinished.

The entirety of his body from the tips of his fingers, down muscled arms and tight abdomen, down brawny legs to the tips of his pink glitter painted toenails is vibrating.

He’s the pop of a firework without the display. He’s the clink of a wineglass with no wine in it. He’s a sentence with no punctuation. Or perhaps, in this incoherent state, it’s more appropriate to say that he’s a series of punctuation with no words.

His Master has periodically touched him; up at his wrists where they strain against their bonds, over his cheek and back through his hair, traced the lines of his abs and cupped and squeezed the pert rounds of each breast. Brooks has touched his cunt and still Dare hasn’t let himself lose control.

He’s close. He’s so damn close. But no… no. Not yet.

Dare lies there, in constant motion, suspended and waiting. How long he’s been in this state, he doesn’t know. Five minutes? Five hours? Five years? Five of… forever? It doesn’t matter. Brooks will take care of him… eventually, so still he waits.

Not yet.

This is everything Dare had wanted. How had Brooks known? How has Brooks pushed him to the very peak of pleasure and suspended him here?

“How do you feel, my sweet Dare?” Brooks’s breath is warm against his ear. Dare feels teeth play lightly at his earlobe and it somehow sends the loveliest of shivers down his spine.

“Please...” Dare whispers.

Warm, wet kisses and tongue dot at Dare’s neck. “How do you feel?” Brooks asks again.

Brooks’s mouth on his skin combined with the incessant buzzing in his pussy is Dare’s world right now. He only just now realizes that the buzzing at his cunt is gone. When had Brooks done that? How had he not noticed?

Control. It’s all about control. Don’t lose it.

“Electric. I’m on fire.” Dare answers his Master’s question. He’s never felt this way before, as if he’s entirely and completely alive. As if he’s standing on a cliff a centimeter away from free fall, held in place only by Brooks’s touch. “Please, Sir. Please.”

His Master slips his hand beneath the lace over Dare’s cunt and strokes him. Dare isn’t sure that he can take it and he hears himself emit a heady groan of pleasure. Again, he whispers a plea. “Please, Master… please.”

Dare feels lace slide down and off his legs. Straps at his thighs snap open. The base of the vibrating plug is pressed so that it touches even deeper and Dare bends his knees up and spreads his legs. “Yes.” He hisses, hips rising off the bed only to fall back to plush blankets. “Please.”

“So fucking beautiful.” Dare hears, as Brooks fucks him with the vibrating dildo, pulling it almost all the way out and then pushing it deep inside.

Yes, Dare feels beautiful. He feels so worshiped and so beautiful and this is everything he wanted but couldn’t verbalize and he isn’t sure he can last.

Control. Stay on the ledge. Control. Don’t fall off. Control. Keep floating. Control.

Dare takes a deep, trembling breath and slowly exhales. He stays on the ledge and keeps floating.

Brooks’s lips are on his and Dare’s lips part to welcome a deep, pierced tongue laden kiss. He feels teeth bite into his lower lip, just enough to barely break skin. He thinks that Brooks likes to use his teeth and that makes Dare like it. It’s sexy and it’s Brooks.

A few more pumps of the vibrator and then it’s removed completely. Brooks is between Dare’s legs, pushing one of his legs up and pressing his cock to Dare’s pussy. “Please. Yes.”

His Master is hard and ready, filling him up so completely. “Say my name.”

“Brooks.” Dare whispers. “Master, please.”

Brooks fucks Dare in a way that he never has. Usually, Brooks is slow to make it last. This time it’s fast and hard as if there’s no time for anything else, as if the both of them had traveled to the brink of patience and waiting and control until there was none left. After forever of foreplay, Dare is ready for it. Maybe Brooks hadn’t been as calm about waiting as it had seemed.

Brooks’s hands tightly grip Dare’s hips, lifting and pulling as if he can fuck harder and faster by sheer strength.

It hurts, where Brooks grips him, but instead of detracting from Dare’s pleasure,, it only adds to it. The urgency between the both of them heightens everything.

Dare hadn’t known that the peak he’s suspended on has even higher to go. And yet, he climbs up… up… up…

Control. Not yet.

He hears something that’s somewhere between a whine and a whimper and only belatedly realizes it’s him making those sounds. Dare has never made sounds like that during sex. Brooks’s skin slaps against his, the both of them gasping for air even as Dare emits the same sound as before.

“Please… please, Brooks.” Dare pleads for the permission he wants from his Master.

Not yet.

Brooks is trembling almost as heavily as the vibrator had. His pace becomes erratic and he finally nods at Dare. “Cum for me, Dare. Come on baby. Cum for me.”

Finally. Finally. Every firework in the sky, every full glass of wine, every exclamation point of finally.

Completion, Kyle had said. Dare thinks he understands.

 

* * *

 

Dare rouses from a deep sleep. Brooks’s room is mostly dark. The light has been left on in the bathroom, casting a dim glow into the room.

He remembers an intense orgasm, or maybe multiple orgasms, ripples of them that lasted longer than he can ever remember one lasting. He remembers exhaustion. He remembers Brooks laying with him, petting over his skin and calling him beautiful until he fell asleep, which didn’t take long.

What a peaceful sleep he’d had.

At some point Brooks has pulled the blankets up over the both of them. It still feels strange to be covered up. Blankets weren’t allowed in the Harem.

Behind him, Brooks embraces him tightly around his waist. Dare can feel the hold. He can feel the heat of Brooks’s chest against his back and the warm exhale of breath at the back of his neck.

His wrists have been released, a light red bracelet of irritated skin remains in their wake and Dare is surprised that he likes the ghostly proof of what happened earlier. He runs his tongue over his bottom lip and he can still feel the break in his skin where Brooks had bitten him. Strangely, he likes that too.

They’re like badges of ownership and Dare wants to be owned by Brooks.

Scattered on top of the blankets are sticks of charcoal and pencils, a sketch pad.

Careful not to move too much to wake Brooks up, Dare reaches out to flip open the sketch pad. In the first few pages he finds a few sketches that almost look like him, but not quite. As he goes along, the sketches become more and more Dare-like.

And then the most recently used pages, three of them. One, very life like, of Dare in this bed with his arms bound above his head, back arched, hips pressing down into the mattress, every muscle taut and strained. The next two are close-ups of Dare sleeping, one with soft lines of a peaceful sleep, another with worry lines of a sleep less peaceful. All three sketches are hauntingly perfect and accurate, putting Dare in the best light, making him as beautiful as Brooks sees him, Dare thinks.

Brooks is a very good sketch artist.

Dare wonders how long Brooks had stayed awake after Dare had fallen asleep. How long had Brooks stayed awake and watched him to produce two sketches of him sleeping?

Brooks stirs behind him and Dare closes the sketch book, settling back into the mattress and the covers. He feels a kiss at his shoulder.

“You okay?” Brooks says in that tired way that’s somewhere between awake and asleep.

“Yes, Sir.” Dare says, thinking about how completely at peace he feels in this moment, how completely cherished and adored, how completely wanted – how completely complete. “I’ll go with you.”

Brooks’s arm around his waist tightens just a bit before easing up again. “Hrm?”

The other man had as well as said that he needed Dare when he’d asked him about going to his father’s birthday, just as he had needed him a few nights ago when he’d moved into the rooms above Passion.

Love is completion.

Dare won’t let Brooks go into an uncomfortable situation alone when he needs Dare there. Experience has shown Dare that he can take a lot of unpleasant things. He can jump into this deep end for Brooks.

“I’ll go with you… to your dad’s birthday.” Dare says quietly.

Brooks rouses even more, leaning up on one elbow. “Really?”

“Yes, Sir. Really.” Dare answers.

A press to his shoulder makes Dare roll from his side to his back. Brooks stares down at him in the dimly lit room. Brooks is silent for a long while, just looking at him. Then he leans down to kiss him… and kiss him… and kiss him…

Love is completion.

Chapter Text

Dare is sitting in an actual chair. It’s been a very long time since he’s done that. He looks out of the window as the plane has begun its decent into the airport. They’re on Mikael’s plane, which means that the seating is somewhat unconventional compared to regular planes. There are seats along the walls of the plane, facing inward, a few seats around a table. Dare remembers being in this plane when they’d flown with Mikael from the truck and then again to the US.

The last few days have been a flurry of activity. Both Bran and Dare had prepared for trips with their Masters. Mikael bought them phones so they can keep in touch. In fact, he’d gifted the entire former Harem with phones. Only Jai had refused his. Everyone’s number is programmed into his new phone, from the harem to Gray to Mikael and even the twin’s and Bran’s Masters.

Brooks, Gray and Derek had instructed Dare on how he should act in what has become known to him as ‘out there’. Out there, meaning the world outside of Passion. Dare is to sit in chairs, not kneel on the floor. Clothing is not optional. It’s a must. Dare is to refrain from asking anyone except Brooks if he can please them because only Brooks is his Master. Dare is to try not to call himself stupid because he isn’t stupid.

They’re trying to help him, but Dare is sure that he’ll mess up somehow.

They’re traveling without Mikael’s security.

Dare is terrified.

Austin, Troy and Mason. Those are Brooks’s brothers names, oldest to youngest, Brooks being the youngest. His father’s name is Logan. His mother’s name is Elizabeth. They have two dogs, Leonardo and Pavarotti, Leo and Pava for short.

Even as the plane lands and their luggage is unloaded into a waiting sports car, Dare plays these facts and all the new rules over and over in his mind. He has to try not to mess up. He has to try to be as normal as possible. He has to try not to be stupid.

“Dare, sweetheart. You have to get out of your own head.” Brooks says as he pulls out of the airport onto a busy street. “You’ve been so quiet. Talk to me.”

Austin, Troy and Mason. Logan and Elizabeth. Leonardo and Pavarotti.

“Is this your car, Sir?” Dare asks.

“It’s one of my Dad’s cars. My mom had it brought here for us because she knows I’m a control my own destiny kind of guy.” Brooks explains. “Meaning… I like to drive myself.”

Dare tries to remember ever driving himself anywhere. He doesn’t remember doing so. “I don’t know if I can drive or not.” He doesn’t even know if he wants to drive himself.

“Maybe next time we go out to Mark’s you can give it a whirl once we’re outside of the city.”

Don’t kneel on the floor in public around people he doesn’t know. Always wear clothes. Don’t ask to please anyone besides Brooks.

“Dare?” Brooks reaches over to take one of Dare’s hands in his, gently squeezing it. “It’s gonna be okay, beautiful.”

It turns out that the Meyers family estate isn’t actually in the greater part of Brooklyn. Yes, they have a town home in the city for when they have business that needs doing, but their estate home is a few miles north of the city. They are, most definitely, a part of the elite 1%. No wonder Brooks’s abduction and recovery had been such a big deal.

Brooks presses in a code on a pad and large iron gates begin to swing open. The drive is well paved and manicured with carefully trimmed bushes and well-tended flowers. There’s a fountain in front of the house in the middle of a circular drive. There are large metal barns off to the side where Brooks says his father stores several vehicles, both modern and classic. Behind the house is a helipad with a helicopter sitting idle on it.

The house itself is something from a fairy tale, three story with faux rock exterior and sleek wooden accents. It somehow gracefully combines both old world and modern styles.

Austin, Troy and Mason. Logan and Elizabeth. Leonardo and Pavarotti.

Dare stares at the spectacle of it all until Brooks has opened his door, has waited for a few moments and is finally reaching in to unclasp Dare’s seat belt. “Come on, sweetheart. It’s gonna be fine.”

Brooks helps him out of the car and doesn’t let go, even as a man comes around the house and takes the keys to said car, saying he’ll park it and bring the bags up to Brooks’s room. Even as the front doors open and two black and brown collies come running out, tails wagging at Brooks. Brooks pets them with his free hand.

“Hey, you guys. Hey.” He says as he pets them. Then he looks up to the woman on the porch. “Hey Mom.”

Elizabeth Meyers is so thin-boned that she almost looks frail. She’s also beautiful. Her graying hair is pulled back into a tight bun, not a hair out of place. Her skin shows signs of aging but she obviously tries to keep up with appearances, tasteful makeup, tasteful blouse, tasteful slacks, tasteful pumps on her feet.

Dare watches her clutch at a cross on her neck as she glances at him and then at her son. Elizabeth smiles. “Leo, Pava. Inside.” Both dogs immediately run back to her into the house. Dare feels a kinship with the dogs. They know how to follow orders. He wishes he could pet the dogs.

Brooks leads him up the stone steps to the front porch where Elizabeth opens both arms. This is where Brooks lets go of Dare’s hand. Dare can’t blame him, but his hands immediately join behind his back as is most comfortable when he doesn’t have Brooks pushing him toward something different.

“Two arm hug, Brooklyn.” Elizabeth says softly.

Brooks replies. “Two arm hug, Mom.”

It must be a private thing between the two of them. Dare supposes that a two arm hug is more complete than a one arm hug. It’s sweet, really. Brooks’s mother holds onto him as if she still can’t believe that she got him back after his long abduction.

Then, eventually, she cups either side of Brooks’s face. “I pray for you everyday.”

“Thanks Mom.” Brooks steps back and places a hand inside one of Dare’s elbows. “This is Dare.”

Again, Elizabeth clutches the dainty gold cross at her neck, just briefly, then she extends a hand to Dare. “Dare, I’ve heard so much about you. You helped my son and for that I’m eternally grateful.”

Brooks’s hand slides down Dare’s arm to force his hands to unclasp and then it’s easy for Dare to shake Elizabeth’s hand. “He helped me too, Madame.”

Elizabeth glances at her son and then back to Dare, a moment of awkwardness before she plasters on a smile. “Come in. Come in. Welcome to our home.”

The home is an exercise in grandeur on the inside. Everything is clean and perfect in a way that reminds Dare of the Mistress’s home. From the artwork on the walls to polished floors, from the crystal chandelier in the foyer to the winding stairwells that go up either side to a second floor landing. A table sits in the center of the foyer with a beautifully large flower arrangement on it.

Off to the side is a living room that also reminds him of the Mistress’s Parlor where he and Brooks had first been reunited. Everything is different, of course. But it’s also much of the same. To the other side is a large dining room with no insets on the wall for pets to be displayed. The table is long and slim, not big and square.

Footsteps sound on the floor and Dare sees an older gentleman coming down the hallway between either side of the stair wells. The man is an older and less pierced and tatted version of Brooks.

“Ah, Logan. Look who’s here.” Elizabeth says, then she gestures to Dare. “And this is Dare.”

Logan’s smile is similar to Brooks’s, bright albeit a bit of a softer bright than his son’s. He embraces Brooks and once again Brooks lets go of Dare to embrace his dad in return.

“You mean she got you back here for this thing?” Logan says, patting a hand at Brooks’s back through the embrace. “What an excellent surprise, Son. I’m glad you’re here.”

Then Logan turns to Dare, seeming briefly uncomfortable before hiding it behind another soft smile. “Dare. Brooks has told us a lot about you. I’m glad to finally put a face with the name.”

At Logan’s offered hand and Brooks’s gentle prodding at his elbow Dare shakes Logan’s hand. “Thank you for having me, Sir. I mean, it’s a pretty good looking face, right?”

Dare only realizes what he’s done after the words are out. He’s fallen back on his tried and true method of getting through any situation by faking it ‘til he makes it.

Logan and Elizabeth are looking at him strangely, but Brooks leans over to kiss his cheek. “Yeah, it’s absolutely beautiful.” Then he looks at his mom. “Are we in my old room?”

“Yes, Brooks. The remodel is finished.” Elizabeth says. “I have some boxes of your things for you to go through as well.”

“How did the Bugatti drive?” Logan asks, clapping a hand on Brooks’s shoulder and squeezing.

“Great, Dad. It was great.” Brooks answers. “We got here in record time and in style. Not that I was speeding, I mean, I would never speed. Speeding is for losers.”

“Don’t pretend we don’t know you.” Elizabeth chides.

And so the conversation continues. Dare is glad to let the three converse and become a background piece to the conversation. If he’s quiet then there’s no way for him to mess up again.

When the door closes on the two of them in what was once Brooks’s bedroom as a child, Dare shakes his head. “I’m sorry.” he whispers.

“Sorry for what?” Brooks puts his hands at Dare’s waist.

“For what I said to your dad, Sir.”

“You mean stating facts? My dad likes facts. He’s a very logical sort of person.” Brooks kisses the corner of Dare’s lips.

“But I...”

Brooks kisses Dare’s lips and Dare kisses back. “Hey. You did just fine, beautiful.”

Did he? Then why does Dare feel like he’s a ball of nerves, like he’s on such uneven ground, like he just made a fool of himself? Why is Brooks still so nice to him even when Dare says such stupid things?

The bedroom they’re in is tastefully decorated. It looks like something out of a magazine just like the rest of the house. Their bags have been brought up to the room and sit in a corner waiting for them.

“Well, at least the remodel has less teenage me. Having you in my room from before, now that would be embarrassing.” Brooks says, spinning in a slow circle and looking over the room.

Dare knows that when Brooks says ‘from before’, he means from before the Gallery.

“Six years after my abduction, she packed all my things up and changed this room to a workout room.” Brooks continues. “Then four-ish years after that, when she was notified that I’d been found, she tried to put everything back the way it was. Imagine that, coming home after everything to your room from before, almost exactly the same, but not.”

It would be strange, Dare thinks, going back to a nearly unchanged place after being abducted, tortured, trained, sold and owned.

“You didn’t fit.” Dare says.

“That’s exactly right.” Brooks said. “And when I told her that several months after trying really hard to make myself fit, she started a remodel of the room… different everything. And this is the result.”

The room is nondescript, impersonal… not even a stitch of purple in it, no art supplies or a skateboard or anything that makes Brooks who he is. “Do you fit now?”

Brooks smirks and shakes his head. “No. It’s okay though… as long as I’m going forward and not backward, it’s okay.”

Dare remembers Brooks saying that forward for him is Dare himself. This time Dare leans in to kiss Brooks and Brooks instantly smiles into the kiss.

“I feel very out of place too.” Dare admits quietly.

“Think about it this way, my sweet Dare: if we’re together we’re never completely out of place. Right?” Brooks says, casting Dare a soft smile that’s more like his father’s than his usual.

Dare thinks that Brooks might be right, although he’d never thought to look at it that way. Like keeping the Harem together after the Gallery, like he and Brooks. When with family, chosen or blood, when with Brooks, Dare is never completely out of place.

Dare nods at Brooks and squeezes his hand. “Yes, Sir.”

Chapter Text

There’s a football game on the TV. Dare remembers Oscar asking him about a football team although he can’t remember which one. He doesn’t think it was this one, and it probably doesn’t even matter. Oscar had just wanted him to call himself stupid and Dare had fulfilled that desire.

Meeting Brooks’s brothers had threatened to break Dare’s resolve to be here for Brooks. He’d tried to remember how powerful and both in and out of control he’d felt strapped down to their bed back at Passion. He’d made himself do as Brooks had instructed. He was a powerful being, standing on that metaphorical ledge in such complete control of himself. He wants to be a powerful being now.

Each of the Meyers brothers has something in common with one another. Each of them have something in common with their parents. Dare thinks about the similarities between himself and his dad, or what he can picture and remember of him.

Austin, the oldest, is a lawyer and is married with three children, all of them girls. Austin jokes that he’s outnumbered in his house but it’s very evident that he’s in love with his wife and adores his three girls. His wife had smiled politely at the introduction and then ushered the three kids out of the room when the middle child had none too quietly said, “Mama, that’s a man.”

“Yes, I know, honey.” She’d said, then looked to Dare apologetically as she guided the kids away. “I’m so sorry. We had this discussion.”

Troy is every bit the intellectual, quiet and reserved but still polite. Dare learns that he’s a NASA engineer and has never shown any signs of a relationship outside of the one he has with his work. Their greeting consists of a nod and a handshake.

Mason is very talkative and outgoing. He’s followed in his father’s footsteps career wise although he has nothing of his father’s temperament. Brooks whispers in his ear that the red head who just giggled at Dare and called him cute was the flavor of the moment. Mason has never brought the same girl home more than once.

All of the women seem to have exited stage left and Dare wonders if he’d scared them away. They hadn’t offered an invitation to him so Dare assumes so.

Brooks is next to Dare on a love seat, his arm flung over Dare’s shoulder to hold him in close and the other hand reaching across to hold one of Dare’s. His brothers and his father are sitting around the room rooting for one of the teams. Is it the one in the purple and gold uniforms? Maybe.

Dare sits with one leg crossed over the other in a way he’d seen Mason’s this time girlfriend sit. He thought it looked very flattering and graceful on her and since he’s new to sitting on furniture with a skirt on, he’s decided to try it. His free hand that Brooks isn’t holding toys with the hem of his pink leather skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Mason groans. “It’s obviously pass interference!”

Austin sips at his wine glass. “Obviously. They’re challenging it anyway.”

Mason rolls his eyes. “I swear, the officiating in the NFL is getting worse and worse.”

“In the NCAA too.” Austin agrees with a nod.

“What do you expect from a subjective sport?” Troy interjects.

“Troy gotta get all logical on us.” Brooks smirks. “This is a sport of emotion, Troy. Everybody knows that.”

“This is the best team we’ve had in a long time and it’s like everyone, including refs, are just looking for ways to screw us over.” Mason says, glancing at Dare. “You like football, Dare?”

Dare opens and closes his mouth, knowing that the answer is that he doesn’t know and that he isn’t supposed to say that. Or maybe, saying that he doesn’t know is okay now. This isn’t the time or place to test that theory though. Things are already uncomfortable as it is.

Brooks rescues him and squeezes his arm around Dare’s shoulders. “We haven’t really had a chance to keep up with it this season.”

The room grows quiet and Dare excuses himself to the bathroom just across the hall. He doesn’t really need to go, it’s just an escape to collect himself and get a breather. He looks at himself in the mirror, his short pink skirt and pink heels with a white ruffled blouse Brooks and Mikael had bought him.

You are not stupid and you are fucking beautiful.

He hears Brooks’s voice in his head and then takes a deep breath before walking out into the hallway. One of the collies comes running at him, Dare isn’t sure which one it is, but he squats down to offer a hand to him. He feels a cold and wet nose at his palm and then Dare pets at the dog’s ears. He loves that this dog seems so happy to see him and garner his attention.

“It’s just really fucked up, you know?” Dare hears voices over the football game. “I mean how are we supposed to hold a conversation with him? You’ve told us not to ask about his past or what he does now or what he wants to do in the future. What’s left after that? Nothing.”

“Mason, we taught you to be kind to strangers.”

“But Dad, you have to agree. It’s awkward as fuck.” Mason says. “And you’re cool with him coming to your party around all our business colleagues?”

“Yes, I am absolutely fine with it and you should be fine with it as well.” the elder Meyers says.

“You have no idea what he’s been through.” This is Brooks’s voice. “You have a small infinitesimal idea of what I went through… now multiply that by a thousand.”

“Mase, if you can’t make conversation with someone you have little in common with, how to you expect to take over Dad’s business some day?”

“That’s different, Austin and you know it. At least then we’d have business to talk about.” Mason says. “Brooks, why doesn’t he get them removed? Have you tried to get him to?”

“Shut. Up.” Brooks sounds angry. Brooks sounds scary.

“Brooks… look, I just...” Mason continues. “Have you thought that maybe you just feel sorry for him? I mean, after Aaron, this guy was all you could think about. Rebound much? Maybe guilty that you supposedly didn’t have it as hard as him?”

“They’re both survivors. Why would survivors guilt have anything to do with it?”

“I don’t know, Austin! I’m trying to figure out what’s up in my own fucked up head space.” Mason says. “I feel all kinds of uncomfortable around him. Maybe it’s that I don’t like things I can’t figure out.”

“Call him a thing again.” Brooks says angrily. “I dare you.”

“People! I meant people.” Mason groans.

“Everyone shut up.” It’s the first time Troy has said anything. “Brooks, you’re shaking. Take a deep breath.”

He hears Brooks take a deep breath and sees Logan get up to go sit by his son. Logan wraps an arm around Brooks.

“I’m sorry, okay?” Mason says. “You know I have a hard time keeping my thoughts from becoming words. Brooks, I’m sorry. There’s just so many questions that I’m apparently not allowed to ask.”

Whichever collie Dare had been petting yips at him for having stopped. Every eye in the room turns toward him, all of them with a deer in headlights look as Dare rises from where he’d been hunkered down petting the dog.

“Fuck me...” Mason momentarily buries his face in his hands.

“Yeah, fuck you.” Brooks stands up and walks away from his father, crossing the room to Dare. He takes his hand in his. “Come on, beautiful. Let’s go.”

“I’m sorry.” Dare whispers. He shouldn’t have come. He knew he shouldn’t have come.

“No. No.” Brooks adamantly shakes his head and stops, turning back so that he’s standing in front of Dare in the hallway. “You have no reason to be sorry. You haven’t done anything wrong. We’re gonna go back. Okay?”

“Brooks, no.” Austin shakes his head. “You’re angry. Let’s all calm down.”

Brooks would leave his family? For Dare? “You could send me on Mikael’s plane, Sir. It’s okay.”

“It’s not okay.” He looks over his family, his hand holding tighter to Dare’s. “It’s not fucking okay!”

Troy steps closer to Brooks. “Breathe, Brooks.”

Brooks breathes.

The room is quiet and Dare is trying to figure out how to fix what he’s broken. He remembers Mikael, Doctor Cohen and Derek saying that when people say mean things that it speaks more toward their own failings than his. People fear what they don’t understand. Maybe if they understood…

“I… I was from Texas before… before the Gallery.” He says, looking at Mason. “I don’t really remember much yet, just little pieces of my past… but I’m working on it. They took my memories. But I know we were ranchers… cattle. I had a mom and a dad. I had a dog named Molly and a horse named Cocoa.”

Saying it out loud right now, it seems so small and simple. What had been so significant to him before seems pretty stupid and insignificant in this room full of successful, fully formed people. Dare is still only partially formed, trying to figure out who he is.

“I work at a club serving drinks.” Dare says.

And then what else had they wanted to know? Past, present and then his future. What does he want in the future? Aside from Brooks, the future is an even bigger question mark than the past is.

“You don’t owe them anything.” Brooks says, still holding his hand and trying to guide the both of them away. “Let’s go.”

Mason crosses the room now, a hand on Brooks’s shoulder to stop him. “Brooks, I’m sorry. I just worry that you aren’t thinking straight after-”

“After what?” Brooks whirls back around and lets go of Dare’s hand to push at Mason’s shoulders, forcing his brother to take a few steps back. “How many times have we all sat around and tolerated the girls you bring home? Huh? How many times have we tried to make conversation with them even though they were only for now for you?”

Brooks pushes at Mason’s shoulders again. “And the one time I ask you to do it for me, even knowing how important he is to me, you can’t do it. You’re such a fucking asshole, Mason!”

Dare has knelt on the floor, his hands clasped behind his back. He does this even knowing that it’s on the list of things he wasn’t supposed to do in public. He does it because it’s the only thing he can think to do. Tears threaten and he hastily blinks to keep them from ruining his makeup.

Logan has moved around to stand beside him, a hand resting lightly on Dare’s shoulder and Dare isn’t sure why. “Boys. Please take a beat and remember that you’re family.”

Brooks barks a laugh that has no humor in it. “You know what, family? You wanna know the reason I didn’t break? You wanna know why I never fully submitted? You wanna know what drove me even before I knew Aaron was married? You wanna know the reason I haven’t crumbled into pieces after being abducted, systematically raped and tortured and used? He’s right here! So maybe show him a little bit of respect and at least fake trying to make nice with him because where he goes, I go… and if that isn’t here...”

Brooks shakes his head and takes a step back, the back of his combat boot running into Dare’s knee. Only then does he turn around and see Dare on the floor. The hardness in his features softens and he reaches down to try to help Dare up. “Oh, baby. No. Come on. Stand up. Come on, Sweetheart. We’re leaving. No more of this. No more, okay?”

Austin is crying after Brooks’s speech and his subsequent reaction to finding Dare kneeling on the floor. After Brooks gets Dare to his feet again, Austin places a hand on Brooks’s arm. “Brooks. Hey, just why not take some time? You can take Dare and cool down and… just don’t leave. Okay?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry. Okay?” Mason says, pushing a hand back through his blond locks. “We all know I don’t think before I speak sometimes.”

“All the time.” Troy deadpans. “And they call me socially awkward.”

“Dare?” Logan’s hand is on Dare’s shoulder then. Dare looks at him through blurry eyes. “I apologize for my son’s ignorance. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I hope that you and Brooks will stay.”

“It’s okay, Sir.” Dare says quietly. History has proven that he can take a lot of unpleasant things and make them into something that resembles ‘okay’.

Brooks stares at his father for a long moment, then glances at Dare and shakes his head. “It’s not okay. I’m sorry, Dad.”

Chapter Text

They’re back in Brooks’s old room and Dare is kneeling on the floor because he needs to. Brooks has been literally throwing things into their suitcases because he needs to. Then Dare’s Master suddenly sat down on the foot of the bed and buried his head in his hands, elbows on his knees. He’s been like that for awhile and Dare hasn’t known what to say. He doesn’t wanna make things worse, especially with Brooks’s family involved.

Dare replays over everything that happened downstairs. He’s always so slow to react. Should he have said something about hearing the discussion about him sooner? Should he have come back up here instead of rejoin? Should he have kept quiet instead of trying to make things better?

What should he have done?

In a horrible sort of PTSD that only seems to pop up at the strangest times, Dare briefly flashes back to the firing squad, harem pets crawling forward. He should have crawled forward.

No. Dare pushes the past away and tries to think of what to do in the here and now. He comes up empty handed.

“I’m sorry.” Brooks finally says some time later.

Dare is quick to absolve him of guilt. “Master, please. I’m sorry. It’s me. I shouldn’t have...” This is his own fault somehow. “I should have done something different.”

Brooks lifts his head from his hands and looks over to Dare. Then Brooks moves to the floor to kneel in front of him in a way that reminds Dare of the Labs, the two of them mirroring one another, staring across at each other, knees spread. Dare’s hands are clasped behind his back and Brooks reaches out to place his hands on Dare’s knees.

Still Brooks is silent for a bit before speaking again. “In his own way, Mason is just trying to look out for me. Fuck him, but he loves me and I love him. You need to know that none of what he said is true though. I’m thinking clearer than I ever have since the woman who bought me was arrested. You are not an afterthought or a rebound. You’re my choice. You’ve been my choice for longer than I care to admit. I want you and you’re mine.”

Dare thinks maybe he’s too far into his own head for Brooks’s words to have the impact that they usually would. He dips his head and answers softly with one of his canned responses. “Well of course I’m yours. Why wouldn’t someone wanna choose me?”

“Dare...” Brooks says. “Look at me.”

Dare looks up to Brooks, offers more of his canned responses, all bravado and no substance. “Even when I fuck up, I’m hella sexy right?”

“Yes, you are, but you didn’t fuck up, Dare.” Brooks reaches out to hook an index finger in the slim chain of the compass charm at Dare’s neck. “Come back to me.”

For a moment, Dare tries to come up with a flirty reply. He comes up empty and chooses to stay silent. A light knock at the door saves him from having to say anything.

Brooks sighs and rolls his eyes to the ceiling. He pulls away from Dare to open the door. Both Elizabeth and Austin are at the door. They look down to Dare kneeling on the floor and back to Brooks.

“May we come in for a moment?” Brooks’s Mom asks.

“It’s not the best time, Mom.” Brooks shakes his head.

“Please.” Elizabeth persists. “I’ve heard what happened downstairs and I would like to talk to you and Dare.”

“Come on, Brooks.” Austin says. “It’s just me and Mom.”

“This family is threatening to undo every step forward he’s made. You think I can just let that slide?” Brooks hisses quietly. “I told all of you how important this was to me. I explained everything in detail. It was selfish of me to want him here with me but-”

“It wasn’t selfish.” Austin says with a shake of his head. “You need him here. We get that. Mason made an ass of himself as per usual, but we get it.”

“No, I don’t think any of you get it.” Brooks pushes his hair back over the top of his head, then steps aside to let them in with a dramatic sweep of his arm. “Just watch what you say.”

“Please, I’m a lawyer.” Austin says, squeezing Brooks’s shoulder as he follows Elizabeth inside. “I always watch what I say.”

Elizabeth steps over to the bed and touches the half packed suitcase. Then she sits down on the side of the bed and smiles softly to Dare. “Hello, Dare.”

“Hello, Madame.” Dare says, still in the head space of directing the conversation, he adds an empty but flirtatious compliment. “You look very pretty right now.”

Brooks’s mom clutches the silver cross at her neck and glances at Brooks and back to Dare. “Thank you. I had a masseuse here last week for a spa day and she did wonders. Do you like spa days, Dare?”

What is a spa day? Dare doesn’t know. He’s about to vocalize words that he’s only thought rather than said for awhile now and he already feels the sting of budding humiliation. “I… I’m not very sma-”

“He would probably enjoy a spa day.” Brooks says, moving closer to Dare and putting his hand on Dare’s shoulder.

Again, Elizabeth looks to her youngest son and nods. “There’s something I should have said to you when I first met you outside. Although, in my defense, you are something to behold… and I mean that in the best way. I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew that after over two years of talking about you, my son wanted, and maybe needed you here. There was quite the build up to our having the pleasure of meeting you. It was such a relief to finally see you in person, how lovely you are.”

Lovely. There’s that word again. But Elizabeth can’t know the connotations that resonate with Dare and that word. In the Gallery, he was lovely; not beautiful or favored or smart or good or handsome or desired. He was a lovely conversation piece to be showed off.

“I am pretty fantastic, aren’t I?” Dare says the empty words quietly but there’s no genuine meaning behind them.

Brooks’s fingertips pull through Dare’s long locks. “You are. You’re beautiful inside and out.”

Beautiful. That’s better. That’s what he’s become accustomed to in thanks to Brooks. He thinks he’s starting to understand Brooks’s need to move forward and not backward. Dare leans his shoulder against the side of Brooks’s leg.

“When I told Brooks that I pray for him every day, I should have told you the same, because I do.” Elizabeth continues. “I have prayed for you since the day Brooks told me about you, about what you meant to him even though he thought you might be dead. I have prayed for you since he went in search of you and rejoiced with him when he found you. I have prayed for you throughout his time with you. I prayed for you yesterday and this morning and I will do so again tomorrow morning because you are extremely important to my son and that makes you important to me too.”

Something about what she’s saying speaks to Dare on a level so deeply hidden that he isn’t even sure where it is or why it’s so personal to him. Elizabeth blurs in front of him as tears fill his eyes. One escapes and he worries that it’s leaving a black mascara streak down one cheek.

“Brooks tells me that you were treated very poorly, worse than him, and I believe it. I am sorry that you were taken and that you were abused. I can’t imagine...” Elizabeth shakes her head and pauses for a moment before switching her train of thought. “Isn’t it miraculous, that after everything the two of you have been through, similar paths and different, that you still found one another? I call it divine intervention. Others might call it fate.”

Dare’s bravado is slipping away. He clings to a few trailing remnants of it, just in case. “Brooks found me, Madame.”

Elizabeth smiles and nods. “He did and I’m so glad for it. Brooks is so happy. I hear it every time I talk to him. I see it when he talks about you.” She sobers. “Mason has always been bull-headed and foolish. I would like to apologize on behalf of this family for what he said about you. And if you can find it in your heart to forgive or tolerate him, I would love for you to stay.”

“Gonna go on the record and say that I’d like for you to stay too.” Austin says. “I mean we have some getting to know each other to do, don’t we? Also, I’d like to apologize for my daughter’s comment when she met you. Her mom and I had a talk with her… again. But also, children… what can ya do?”

Dare knows that he can be a lot to explain. “Sometimes I have to have things repeated to me too, Sir.”

Austin smiles and laughs, looking and sounding a lot like Brooks. “Yeah, don’t we all? Except for Dad. He remembers every-damn-thing, even when you wish he’d forget.”

“Tell me about it.” Brooks rolls his eyes dramatically.

Again, Elizabeth’s smile is soft and genuine. “Will you stay and continue to be our guest, Dare?”

Dare eyes Elizabeth for a moment, his heart genuinely and completely open to her after everything she’s said to him. She’s prayed for Dare, prayed for him before she knew him, before she met him. She’ll even pray for him tomorrow. Dare isn’t sure why that means so much to him.

Does he believe in God? He has no answer to that question yet. However, it’s undeniable the impact that Elizabeth’s words have had on him. It feels like a locked door in his mind has been cracked open.

He’s already nodding when he looks up to Brooks, his Master looking back down to him. Brooks shrugs and draws a deep breath before answering. “Yeah. Alright. We’ll stay.”

Chapter Text

Dare is completely naked save for necklaces around his neck and the pink plug in his pussy. He’s kneeling in the middle of the mattress as Brooks has told him to do. The rest of the night had been somewhat awkward, with a family dinner at the long, slim table in the dining room downstairs. Dare had heard Mason apologize to Brooks again, the brothers even hugged. Dare is glad for that. Maybe now he’s a little bit less of a rift between them.

Dare also heard Brooks tell Mason that he owed more than one apology. When Mason apologized to Dare, Dare immediately told him it’s okay and thanked him, calling him Sir. It’s so rare that anyone has ever apologized to him for anything. Because of that, and the fact that this is Brooks’s brother, Dare is quick to accept and even subjugate himself. He saw Mason exchange a look with Brooks and the brothers had nodded at one another and that was that.

Awkward. Very awkward.

During after dinner drinks Dare had found a companion in, surprisingly enough, Mason’s for now girlfriend. Her name is Holly and she has a dance studio in Brooklyn where she holds classes, teaching both children and adults alike. Even though their first encounter had been strange, he realizes that she’d just been nervous just like he’d been nervous. As she’d grown more comfortable, they’d found a strange sort of solidarity as the outsiders at this gathering of the family Meyers.

Now, upstairs and kneeling in the middle of the bed, Dare watches into the bathroom where Brooks leans in close to the mirror as he trims his beard and shaves the sides of his head. Brooks is just wearing his boxer briefs and that leaves an excess of skin and muscles on display. Brooks is very handsome, even the back side of him is handsome.

“Holly is nice, Sir.” Dare says.

Brooks looks at the mirror, catching Dare’s gaze in the reflection before continuing his work. “The two of you talked a lot tonight.”

“She offered to teach me how to dance.”

Brooks grins. “Imagine that, Mason dating someone who actually has a career.” He stops what he’s doing and shakes his head. “I’m sorry. That was mean of me. I might still be holding a little bit of a grudge.”

“It’s okay, Sir.” Dare watches in silence as Brooks finishes up, thinking through how angry Brooks had been at Mason, how angry Derek sometimes got or Bran almost always is or even Lily or Jai. They all feel anger on occasion, some of them more than others.

Why doesn’t Dare feel anger? Maybe his anger was stolen from him along with everything else the Gallery took.

When Brooks is done, he grabs something from his suitcase and walks back into the room, losing his briefs as he does so and crawls onto the bed until he’s kneeling in front of Dare, knees spread just as Dare’s are. Instead of his hands clasped behind his back like Dare’s, Brooks rests his on his knees, fingertips reaching out to gently touch Dare’s knee.

“Are you sure you’re okay with still being here?” Brooks asks.

Dare tilts his head, arching one brow. "You already told your Mother we’d stay, Master.”

“Yeah, but...” A corner of Brooks’s lips pulls upward and he leans in, his lips finding Dare’s.

It’s easy to open up to Brooks. Dare’s lips part to welcome the kiss before he pulls back just enough to ask the question in return. “Are you sure that you’re okay, Sir, with still being here?”

“Oh you read that reverse question, huh?” Brooks’s fingertips glide lightly down Dare’s jawline. “So smart, my sweet Dare.” He pauses before continuing. “I honestly don’t know how I feel. It’s family. Family is always complicated and imperfect, but I also love them. I’m lucky to have them. And they love me too. It’s nice to be loved unconditionally.”

“Then… then maybe we’re where we need to be, Sir.” Dare concludes.

Brooks hums his agreement and nods. Then he unrolls a long, pink and purple silk something from where he’d set it next to him. He reaches out and drapes it around Dare’s neck and begins to carefully and expertly knot it. “This is the necktie I’m wearing tomorrow.” His nose wrinkles. “I hate neckties. But… I think I can make myself like this one a little more, don’t you?”

Dare looks down, watching as Brooks fashions the knot of the tie and then tightens it up close to Dare’s neck. The ends of the tie nestle between his large, round breasts. “I don’t think I’ve ever worn a necktie.”

“Yay for me. Another Dare first.” Brooks smiles brilliantly, then leans in to kiss at Dare’s lips again. Then he whispers. “Go kneel facing the headboard, sweetheart.”

A ripple of excitement and arousal ignites and Dare soaks it up like it’s his lifeblood. He moves to the top of the bed and turns away from Brooks, kneeling with his knees spread and his hands clasped behind his back again.

Dare feels the mattress shift as Brooks comes closer. “You’re so damn beautiful, Dare. Like picturesque beautiful, like posing for an art class beautiful, like sexy as hell beautiful.”

Every compliment is like a jolt of everything good. Dare doesn’t miss one.

Brooks’s fingertips brush Dare’s long hair aside, pushing it over his shoulder to his front. Then the touch slowly glides down Dare’s spine, down… down to his clasped hands where Brooks unclasps them, takes each of Dare’s hands in one of his and guides them up to rest on the top of the headboard in front of them.

“Hold on and don’t let go.” Brooks says.

“Yes, Master.” Dare tightly grips the headboard, intent on doing just as he’s told. He feels his pink glitter plug push deeper inside of him and then pull all the way out.

With gentle guidance, Brooks positions his knees beneath Dare and between Dare’s thighs and gets Dare to lift up. Then, as Brooks guides him back down, he feels the pressure and then spread of Brooks’s hard cock filling him up.

It feels like being called beautiful. It feels like the satisfaction Dare feels just after perfectly applying his makeup. It feels like running Maureen at top speed on Mark’s ranch. It feels like completion.

It’s also just the beginning.

“Alright, beautiful. I wanna watch your muscles work while you fuck yourself on me.”

A glance behind him shows Brooks leaned back with one palm on the mattress.. He winks at Dare and Dare starts to rise up and then push back again onto Brooks’s cock.

“Slow.” Brooks says softly, his other hand at Dare’s hip. “Let’s start slow.”

It’s easier said than done, but Dare slows down. Slowing down makes him feel every inch of Brooks penetrating his pussy, every centimeter. Dare sets the pace slower, lifting up and back down at a snail’s pace. His hands grip tight to the headboard and when he looks down, he sees Brooks’s necktie.

“Do you like your tie yet, Sir?” Dare asks, surprised by the flirtation in his tone of voice. Dare is pretty fond of the pink and purple striped necktie right now.

Brooks smirks with amusement. “I’m a bit distracted by the muscles in your shoulders, back and ass, but… now that I think about it, yeah… it’s growing on me. Might have to work a little harder for me to actually like it.”

On the next push up off of Brooks’s cock, Dare squeezes every pussy muscle he has. The action elicits the most delectable groan from Brooks and a hiss of words “Oh fuck me… shit fuck damn...” So Dare does it again, and again, and again, milking his Master and forcing tantalizing sounds from Brooks as he slowly picks up speed.

He isn’t even sure if Brooks realizes that Dare is gradually picking up speed, but Dare continues to do it. It’s the best of both sides of what Dare wants, the submission of being told not to let go of the headboard and the control of fucking himself on his Master’s cock.

In their bedroom at Passion, Dare had had the submission of the restraints in their bed and control over how long he could refrain from cuming, how high he could go on a mountaintop of pleasure. Brooks continually asked him if he was okay, could he take more. Dare went as far as he could.

This, right now, is along the same lines and Dare loves it. Both a control and a lack thereof over himself. He knows that Brooks could take said control away just as quickly as he’s given it, and Dare likes that too.

How Brooks has found a way to meld those two sides to that one coin together, Dare doesn’t know. He loves him for it though.

Dare loves Brooks, although he’s too scared to say so out loud. He loves him.

Love is completion.

He gasps for breath as Dare continues to fuck himself on Brooks. Brooks’s grip on his hip grows tighter and tighter and soon Brooks is lifting up to meet Dare halfway. It feels so fucking good, but even though Brooks hadn’t directed that he refrain from it, Dare won’t let himself cum, not until Brooks says he can.

Gripping the headboard tight and watching the pink and purple silken necktie swing beneath him between his breasts, Dare feels it when Brooks spills inside of him. And if he didn’t feel it, he’d know it because of the bruising death grip that Brooks has on his hip and the way his Master murmurs a string of barely intelligible curse words.

The only sound in the room then is both of their labored breaths; Brooks in the twilight of orgasm and Dare so close he could tip over the edge at any moment.

Dare feels emptiness for only a few seconds before Brooks pushes the plug back into him. Brooks’s spill is still inside of him and Dare is every kind of okay with that. Brooks is everywhere, surrounding Dare all over, inside and out in the best of ways.

Brooks dips beneath Dare’s arms between the headboard and Dare. Brooks kisses him and kisses him… and kisses him. Dare kisses him back, his entire body trembling with need.

A hand at one of Dare’s biceps slides up to his shoulder. “Let go.” Brooks whispers against his lips, then, when Dare lets go of the headboard, Brooks gently pushes Dare back to lie on the mattress.

Brooks settles between Dare’s legs and one hand strokes at his cunt. Dare groans heavily causing Brooks to laugh lightly and whisper a ‘shhhhh’ at Dare. “My brother’s bedrooms are all over this hallway.”

That makes Dare chuckle too, a breathy, needy laugh. “I’ll be quiet, Sir. Just… please.”

Brooks hums and leans down to kiss Dare again. He dips his head lower to kiss at Dare’s neck and down to his cleavage where Brooks’s tie sits crumpled. Brooks inhales deeply and nuzzles his face there. “As far as ties go, it is a nice tie. In fact, it might be my favorite.”

Dare watches Brooks grin at him and then dip lower over his abdomen, kisses and kisses against Dare’s skin until Brooks finally takes Dare’s cunt into his mouth, sucking him off the way Dare has done so often for others, for Brooks, for…

“Oh my g-...” Dare whispers, very near squirming as he watches his Master’s head bob up and down. “Please...”

Brooks takes Dare deep into his throat and then sucks all the way off with a pop, looking up at Brooks as he flicks his tongue out over the head. “Give it to me, Dare. Cum for me.”

When Dare cums moments later, his cunt is still in Brooks’s mouth. Not a drop escapes Brooks’s lips. Brooks’s tongue cleans him with a few luxurious licks and then Brooks is climbing back up Dare’s body to kiss him. Dare tastes himself in Brooks’s mouth.

Later, they’re nestled beneath the covers, the both of them very near sleep when Brooks says lazily of the silk still around Dare’s neck, “It really is the best necktie.”

Chapter Text

Dare’s sundress is white with various sizes of pink roses printed on it. It’s a dress that Brooks had picked out for Dare himself and Mikael had hired a tailor to fit to Dare’s physique. It has spaghetti straps and the front dips low to show off his cleavage. It perfectly fits his waist and then flares out, the hem falling tastefully to just below his knees. He wears pink heels and a white wide-brimmed floppy hat with a pink sash tied around the bowl of the hat.

As nervous as he is about today, Dare has done his eye makeup extra dramatic. His lips are still perfectly pink. Brooks had curled his hair so that the dark blonde, pink and purple locks fall in soft beachy waves down his back.

Dare feels pretty.

For Brooks’s part, he’s in a gray tailored suit that looks amazing on him. The suit jacket has a pink pocket square over the left breast. His dress shoes are perfectly polished. His hair is slicked back. He wears the same pink and purple necktie that he’d fucked Dare in last night and that Dare has subsequently slept in. It’s perfectly knotted at his neck.

The party is in the back garden of the Meyers estate home. White tables with magnificent floral and crystal centerpieces and fine china dinner place settings have been set out. A dance stage with a live string quartet has been set up.

The day is perfect with a very slight and occasional breeze but clear and sunny skies.

Dare looks up at the clear skies, closes his eyes and imagines the smell of hay and horses and cows. He feels Brooks squeeze his hand and looks over to him. “This is all very nice, Sir. But I kind of wish we were at Mr. Kincaid’s ranch.”

Brooks smirks and nods. “I was just thinking the same thing, beautiful.”

“Dare you look so pretty! I love that dress on you.” Holly greets them, giving Dare a hug first that Dare returns, and then hugging Brooks.

“Thank you, Madame.” Dare says. “You look very pretty too.” Dare says the words but he means them. There’s no faux bravado or attempt to shift conversation behind them. It’s just a compliment, and the truth.

Mason is close behind Holly, Troy trailing him. Mason claps a hand on Brooks’s shoulder and squeezes. “You in a suit… it just isn’t right.”

“You’re telling me.” Brooks says with a tug at the lapels of his jacket.

“Even when he was a kid he hated suits.” Mason tells Dare. “The rest of us could suit up with the best of them but Brooks was always complaining. Mom would sometimes let him take his necktie off before any of us could. Spoiled AF.”

Dare can tell that Mason is trying to make nice and Dare welcomes it. Everyone makes mistakes. He remembers Brooks talking about every sinner being a saint and vice versa. “I like hearing stories of when you were kids, Sir.”

“Oh I’ve got a few whoppers about the baby of the family.” Mason chides with a large smile.

“I think I’ll keep this necktie on for all of today.” Brooks straightens his necktie that doesn’t need straightening and leans in to stage whisper conspiratorially to Mason. “I fucked Dare while he was wearing it last night.”

Troy barks a laugh, his face lighting up with the most expression that Dare has thus far seen from him. He looks so much like Brooks for a moment.

Mason stares at Brooks in shock.

Holly is laughing and wraps one arm around Dare. “Way to go, Dare. It sounds like you two are having more fun than any of us.”

Dare flushes with heat and dips his head around an amused smile. It was long ago that Dare became immune to people talking about sex in any situation. He has no room for embarrassment in just the talking about it. The look on Mason’s face coupled with Troy’s laughter is worth it, in any case.

Austin chooses that moment to appear, carrying his youngest daughter on his hip which Holly instantly tries to tickle. “Okay, what did I miss? Something just made Troy laugh and that’s basically a miracle.”

“Brooks just stopped Mase from sharing childhood stories about him.” Troy says, having quickly reverted to his dry, deadpan tone.

Mason seems to recover. “Oh, you think that will stop me? How about we talk about how you sucked your thumb until you were… like eleven years old?”

Brooks laughs. “Better a thumb sucker than a bed wetter.”

Austin is still looking between them all, confused. “I still don’t know what I missed.”

Holly takes Austin’s daughter from him and bounces her in her arms, forcing a few giggles out of her. “How about I take Abby here while the boys tell you about Brooks’s necktie. Yes, sweetie, let’s go play.”

They all watch the girls leave before Austin looks down to Brooks’s necktie and up to him. “What’s wrong with your necktie?”

 

* * *

They find their name cards at a large round table near the front close to the stage. All of the Meyer’s siblings and their significant others are at the table as well, including Austin’s three kids, the oldest of which smiles at Dare and tells him he looks pretty. Dare smiles and returns the compliment. At the table Dare is seated between Brooks and Holly and he’s glad for it.

The dinner itself is a five course meal, served by a staff in the same way that dinners in the Mistress’s harem used to be. Only this time, Dare is fully clothed and sitting at a table like an actual person. Being a part of this dinner is a mishmash of emotions for Dare, emotions that are so mixed up and tangled with one another that Dare wouldn’t know how to even begin to untangle them.

At one point, when Dare has gotten a compact and his pink lipstick from the pockets of his dress and begun to apply, Brooks leans over and brushes some of Dare’s hair back behind his shoulder. “You okay?”

Dare nods, pressing his pink lips together. “It’s just strange being here on this side of things, Sir.”

Brooks nods his understanding even if he can’t possibly understand. Brooks was never in the Mistress’s harem. Brooks was never at a Gallery dinner party where her harem was put on display and forced to perform for the guests. Brooks was never made the joke of the dinner party as Dare was often made to be.

Dare remembers the times he was the centerpiece of the table and made to perform. He remembers the shadowboxes there he was made to be still unless and until one of the guests or the Mistress herself sought him out. It was never good when he was sought out. He preferred to be ogled, simply looked at, talked about and laughed at. Anytime there was actually any interaction, it was never good.

He isn’t there now, though. The sounds, the clinking of glass, the conversation, the laughter, they might be the same, but it isn’t the same.

Dare looks over to Brooks to find the other man watching him. Brooks smiles at him. Dare smiles back.

It’s okay. Dare is okay.

Speeches are made. Gifts given. Then Logan gets to the stage to talk and thank everyone for being here. He says that only his turning seventy could get all four of his boys in the same place at the same time, which said boys around Dare quickly deny. He mentions Brooks by name and almost tears up, pausing for a moment before collecting himself and moving on. There are murmurs around the crowd. Brooks reaches over to grip Dare’s hand beneath the table.

When Logan finishes by telling everyone to enjoy the day, the string quartet begins again and dinner resumes. One of Elizabeth’s former colleagues gets to the stage to sing an operatic piece that Dare loses himself in for some time. It’s beautiful and haunting and how does someone make such beautiful sounds like that?

No, this is a far cry from the Mistress’s harem. Dare isn’t a conversation piece anymore. He’s Brooks’s pet and in that role, Dare is perfectly happy, as Brooks would say.

After dinner people get up and mingle. They dance and they play croquette and bad-mitten. Staff keeps the drinks flowing and still it’s the kind of party that’s a first for Dare.

A lot of the party is spent talking to Holly. She talks about how dance has always been her thing, how it’s her passion, how she even toured with a prestigious ballet company for awhile until she got an ankle injury. Then, after rehab and after being told she would never dance professionally again, Holly dedicated herself to teaching.

Dare tells her that he used to have a horse and he knows how to ride and even taught Brooks. He tells her about what little he remembers of the ranch where he thinks he grew up. He tells her about his dog and his mom and dad. All of it is sparse and barely detailed, but it’s something. And telling Holly these things, he doesn’t feel quite so inadequate and incomplete as he had yesterday in front of Brooks’s brothers.

Brooks is always nearby. Sometimes he talks to Holly too. Sometimes various combinations of the brothers talk. Sometimes it’s just he and Brooks and those times are Dare’s favorite.

The most difficult is when old family friends approach Brooks to say hello. They obviously mean well, but they always bring up Brooks’s abduction. They’re sorry about what happened to him. They wish it hadn’t happened. They’re glad at the miracle of his return. And what does he think of the trials?

Dare’s Master handles everything with a grace that impresses Dare, but Dare can also tell that it’s wearing on him. Dare squeezes Brooks’s hand in his. Dare leans over to kiss him and that always makes Brooks smile. Sometimes Dare has to wipe pink from Brooks’s cheek or lips and that makes Brooks smile even more. Dare even makes a show of straightening Brooks’s tie a few times, a reminder of the night before for the both of them. All of this to remind Brooks that he’s not alone. Dare knows how to divert a person’s attention from one thing to another.

As the day wears on, Dare even begins to direct the conversations between Brooks and extended friends and family, just as he had once done in the Gallery. Sometimes he turns the conversation onto himself, which is uncomfortable for him but doable. Sometimes he asks questions that guide a conversation in another direction. Dare is good at this in a way that a weary Brooks is not.

At one point, Dare even asks Brooks to teach him how to play croquette. It’s a large swath of time that’s just them and Brooks seems to breathe easier in the activity with just the two of them. Brooks is good at the game. Dare… well, he isn’t the worst player to ever exist, he hopes.

“I know what you’ve been doing.” Brooks says that evening once he has Dare on the dance floor. They dance slowly, swaying back and forth in the same way they had at the block party with Brooks’s arms around his waist and Dare’s arms up around Brooks’s shoulders. “And thank you.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Sir.” It’s a lie. Dare knows exactly what he’s talking about, but also, given all that Brooks does for him, it’s the least Dare can do.

His comment makes Brooks smile again. “I doubt that. You’re a brilliant kind of rock star.”

That makes Dare laugh. “I don’t think I’m brilliant or a rock star, but okay.”

“You are. Brilliant, yes, just as described on the label. A rock star, metaphorical. It’s kind of become slang for being great at what you do.” Brooks explains. “See? That’s you.”

Dare exhales a quick breath of air, almost a smirk and shakes his head. “You… you say the nicest things about me.”

Brooks shrugs. “It’s the way I feel.”

They dance for awhile, Dare thinking about how he’s even starting to believe some of those nice things that Brooks says. Dare wants them to be true. He wants to live up to the version of himself that Brooks thinks he is.

There’s an actual fireworks display to top the night off. Dare is riveted by it. He can’t remember if he’s even seen such a spectacle before and it really doesn’t matter. This one is perfect.

Brooks has an arm around his waist and his other hand reaches across to hold onto one of Dare’s. It’s a near perfect moment and all Dare can think as the party guests start to disperse is that they made it. They made it through this day. They’re both exhausted but neither one of them cracked. In fact, Dare thinks he excelled a little, in the way he stepped in to help Brooks get through it.

That’s something, right?

They’re upstairs, getting into bed, too exhausted for anything but sleep. Brooks wraps his arms around Dare and holds him tightly. He kisses his lips, then lays against the pillow to kiss Dare’s shoulder. His teeth bite his skin there, then he licks and kisses over the bite.

“Thank you.” Brooks whispers again. “Thank you for everything, beautiful.”

“You’re welcome, Master.” Dare smiles softly and closes his eyes.

Chapter Text

Dare is wearing another dress that Brooks had picked out for him. It’s white and pink striped, sleeveless with a tasteful neckline that’s too high for Dare’s taste, so high in fact that both arrow and compass pendants rest over the material and not against his skin. It’s fitted to his waist and then flares out again. He wears a pink cardigan and pink heels.

The church is old school, with towering spires and weathered gray and black stone. As they climb the stone steps, Dare leans closer to Brooks. “I thought you didn’t believe in God, Sir.”

“I also don’t believe in telling my Mom no and one of those things trumps the other.” Brooks answers with a smirk. “Our current predicament can tell you which one wins.”

The entire Meyers clan is here, including Dare and Holly. They all look the picture of perfection, like each of them just stepped out of a picture from a magazine, and Dare wonders if he’s ever been to a church before and whether he looked this good when he went.

They pass through the foyer where Logan and Elizabeth are greeted by clergy who tell them how nice it is to see the entire Meyers family together again. Then they file into a lavish sanctuary with tall pillars and stained glass windows and an elaborate alter with a massive crucifix at the front.

In somewhat of a disoriented haze, Dare follows Brooks into a pew and takes a seat, once again he’s seated comfortably between Brooks and Holly.

The service starts and Dare is somewhere between zoning out and not. It’s a strange sort of dual existence, participating and not, being present and not. Dare is sitting in the pew. He’s also outside of himself and can see himself sitting in the pew.

Brooks’s hand is on his and Dare looks over to see a blurry vision of his Master. He’s crying. When had he started crying? His cheeks are wet with his tears and Holly hands Dare a handkerchief. Dare takes it with shaky hands and dabs it at his cheeks and eyes.

Why is he crying? Why is he shaking? Why is he so thoroughly and deeply affected by hymns and scripture recitation? By the church itself?

Every breath has a tremble to it and Dare can’t quit crying. For all the times he’s stopped tears from falling, he can’t seem to do so now.

“Do we need to go outside?” Brooks leans over to whisper.

Dare quickly shakes his head, loathe to disrupt this family outing or to make a spectacle of himself here.

Brooks wraps an arm around Dare’s shoulders and pulls him in close to whisper to him again. “It’s okay, baby. Whatever it is, it’s okay. We’re together. I’m right here with you and it’s okay.”

The pews he sat in were old and weathered, not as polished and perfect as what Dare sits in now. The building was much smaller. The windows were just windows, no stained glass depicting apostles and angels. Dare remembers wearing jeans and a button down. Sitting beside him, his father wore the same. Both of them sat in the back, their cowboy hats in their laps. On the other side of his father his mother sometimes sat, until she was gone. This was a common occurrence for them. Dare went to church every Sunday with his parents and then with just his dad.

They rode their horses there. Then, after church, Dare remembers waiting on his dad with the horses every Sunday. Dare wasn’t good with people.

When his dad was finished socializing with other local farmers and ranchers, they rode their horses back home. Then they would get back to the never ending labor of running a ranch the size of theirs. There was always work to be done.

Dare believes in God. He believes in a Heaven and a Hell. He believes in right and wrong. He might not be a certain religion but he has faith. That faith might have been stolen from him for awhile, but the door that had been cracked open when Elizabeth had told him that she prays for him is wide open now. Dare remembers.

So why hadn’t God helped him in the Gallery? Why had God let…

Someone drops a Bible or a hymnal and in Dare’s memory, he hears the pop for a firearm go off and flinches in the present against Brooks. He sees his Dad’s face, old and weathered and shocked, with blood trickling slowly from a bullet in the middle of his brow.

Dare’s misery is an implosion in a vacuum sealed space. It’s silent on the outside while every inch of his insides is screaming while he remembers being taken by the Gallery. They killed his dad and then made him forget about it, made him forget his father entirely.

Emotions that Dare has never had the opportunity to truly feel start to flood him.

Dare looks up at the massive crucifix at the front of the church and he feels something he isn’t sure he’s ever felt before. At least he doesn’t remember ever feeling it. It’s so foreign to him that for awhile, as tears slide down his cheeks, as he trembles, as every inch of his insides feels scorched with grief and sadness, he has no idea what this new feeling is. Then, he gets it.

He’s angry. Dare is so angry he could explode from the amount of fury inside of him.

They were coming home from Cowboy Church. Molly was running to greet them. A car. There was a strange car. His dad is dead. His dad is dead. Dare saw it happen. His dad is dead.

Emotions that he never got to properly feel are suddenly like a tsunami, unstoppable, continuously inflating, desperate to be felt. His dad is dead. His dad was killed in front of him and he’s so damn sad and angry and Dare can’t quit crying.

 

* * *

 

Dare has cried through the entirety of the church service. Afterward, Brooks had quickly escorted him out. They wait at the SUV’s that had carried the family from the estate house into the city. Brooks’s arms are around him, holding him tight. His Master whispers kind, supportive words in his ear that Dare barely hears.

Every time he thinks he’s done crying, more tears come.

Brooks holds onto Dare and vice versa. Brooks doesn’t demand words., which is good because Dare has no words right now to give.

Eventually, the rest of the family approaches. One look from Brooks and no one says a word. Brooks and Dare get into the very back seats of one of the SUV’s and Brooks is holding onto Dare protectively again.

The drive is silent except for Dare’s trembled inhale of breath as he silently implodes.

He’s thankful when Mason starts talking about some of the architecture of the church they were just at. Mason and Logan talk about it and Dare doesn’t really care what’s said. He can’t quit crying.

 

* * *

 

Still in the pretty dress he wore to church, Dare is kneeling in Brooks’s old bedroom with his hands clasped behind his back. His head is bowed, eyes closed as if that could stop the tears from falling. Still, they come.

He remembers a coffin-like box that he barely fit into. He remembers his shock and slow reaction to everything that was happening to him. His mind just couldn’t catch up. Dare has always been slow.

Brooks has knelt in front of him, paced the room, left for awhile and come back. Brooks has brought food; a sandwich that looks like it was made in a professional deli, but was probably made in the kitchens at the Meyers estate home. Dare isn’t hungry and eventually the sandwich is taken away.

Brooks grabs his phone and walks out into the hallway. Still, Dare kneels in silence, occasional tears still sliding down his cheeks.

It’s some time later that Brooks enters the room again. He sits on the floor in front of where Dare kneels, holding his phone out.

“Dare? It’s Gray.” the sound of that voice renews his tears and Dare squeezes his eyes tightly shut. “Brooks has told me what happened. I hear that you went to church today.”

Dare draws another shaky breath.

“Did you remember something?” Gray asks.

Dare swallows hard, reliving everything again; church, Molly, the car, the prick in his skin that made the world go sideways, the horse rearing up, the bullet, his dad… his dad… his dad…

“Dare? Did you remember something?” Gray asks again.

Dare nods.

“He nodded.” Brooks says, resting a hand on Dare’s knee over his dress.

“Can you tell Brooks and myself what you remembered?” Gray’s voice asks.

It takes Dare awhile to get the words out, but both Brooks and Gray wait patiently. “I could’ve done something.” he whispers quietly.

“He could have done something.” Brooks says for Gray’s benefit because Dare’s voice is so soft that it’s barely audible. “Sweetheart, what could you have done?”

“I’m too slow.” Dare says quietly. “I’m always too slow… stupid.”

“No. No, baby. You’re not stupid.” Brooks says with a shake of his head.

“What do you think you could have done, Dare?” Gray asks.

“Anything.” Dare says, the anger he’d felt earlier starting to build back up again. “They shot him. They fucking shot him in the head.”

Brooks is looking at him, confused.

“Your father?” Gray’s voice asks.

When Dare nods, Brooks inhales a deep breath. “Oh, my sweet Dare, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, baby. You saw it. You saw them kill your dad. I… I can’t even imagine...”

Gray’s voice sounds over the phone again. “You remembered your abduction.” It isn’t a question that Dare feels he needs to answer. “I want you to tell us about it if you can. We have nothing else to do. We’re here for you. Take all the time you need and tell us what you remembered today.”

It takes him awhile to even get started, but once he does, and with Brooks nodding encouragingly, Dare tells them. He tells them about Cowboy Church. He tells them about Molly and the strange car in the drive on the way into the ranch house. He tells them about the car spooking his father’s horse and the horse bucking, his dad falling hard to the ground. He tells them about dismounting to check on his dad and then the gunshot.

Dare tells them everything in vivid and excruciating detail. He even tells them about the drugs and the box and how slow and stupid he was. Or maybe not stupid. He’s always been slow. In the Catacombs, slow became stupid.

There are long moments of silence where Dare cries and Brooks holds him. There are moments where Brooks tears up as well.

Then Dare goes into his remembrance of Cowboy Church and how he was there every Sunday with his Dad, how they rode their horses and then Dare waited on his Dad afterward so that he could ride back. He tells them about his faith and how angry he is that God did nothing to help him, that God would let his dad die like that, that God let the Gallery take even the Almighty Himself from Dare. They took his family, his faith and his past from him.

His faith was once so strong. Now it wavers and he’s angry. Dare has no idea what to do with anger. He doesn’t think he’s ever been an angry person before. This is new and he has no idea what to do with it.

He tells them that he’s angry at the Brutes and the Doctors and the Guards and his abductors and God. But most of all, Dare is angry at himself.

Dare is his own worst enemy and he’s even angry that he can’t seem to quit crying.

 

* * *

After so many words and emotions, Dare is exhausted. Last night he was exhausted from the birthday party. Tonight is a completely different kind of exhaustion. It’s an emotional exhaustion. His head hurts in that way that ones head always hurts after crying.

Once the phone call had ended, Brooks and Dare had showered together, Brooks cleaning both Dare and then himself. Then Brooks had put Dare in the items Dare is most comfortable in, his pink lace. Dare has been kneeling on the floor in the room for a long while.

He didn’t bother to put his makeup on and he isn’t sure why. It seems pointless right now.

When Brooks returns, he’s saying goodbye to someone on the phone and carries a bowl and a glass of water. He stops to take his shoes and socks off before sitting on the side of the bed near where Dare is kneeling.

Brooks reaches into his jeans pocket and holds out two pills. “You’re gonna take these.” When Dare just looks at the pills as he had looked at the sandwich earlier, Brooks hooks one index finger in the short chain of the compass charm at Dare’s neck. “Dare, sweetheart. Are you mine?”

Dare blinks, swallows hard and nods. He really doesn’t wanna start crying again. But yes, yes he belongs to Brooks and he doesn’t want to not belong to him. “Yes, Sir.” he whispers.

“Take the pills.” Brooks instructs. Dare takes the pills from Brooks and puts them in his mouth, then takes the water and swallows them down. “It’ll help with your headache.” Brooks says.

Brooks takes the glass back and sets it on the nightstand. “Now, you just took medicine and you need to eat.” When Dare starts to say that he isn’t hungry, Brooks stops him. “You will eat, my sweet Dare.” Brooks holds out a bite of what looks like cantaloupe. “Bite.”

Dare leans in to take the bite in the same way he had from Mikael and Gray before they had allowed Brooks to see him. Then another bite. And another… until finally he doesn’t have to think about it or force himself to do it. It’s a remote action.

Brooks praises and encourages him every now and then until they get through the whole bowl of bite-sized fresh fruit.

Later when they’re both laying in bed, Brooks has insisted that Dare lay facing him. He’s kept the bathroom light on just as he does back in their rooms at Passion. The bathroom door is cracked so that only a little bit of light pours in. Brooks is tracing the lines of Dare’s face with his fingertips.

“Sometimes I think that I should have crawled forward.” Dare eventually whispers.

Brooks’s hand cups the side of Dare’s neck. “What do you mean?”

He tells Brooks about the Mistress and her firing squad as the Gallery was falling apart. “I’m just so slow to react to things… but sometimes when things are really dark in my mind, I wish I had crawled forward.”

The touch of Brooks’s thumb as it glides over Dare’s jawline is soft and gentle. “But then I never would have found you and that would break my heart, Dare. It would break my fucking heart not to have you.”

Dare is crying again. It’s been a day of crying. “What your family must think of me...”

“No, don’t worry about that. They know what’s going on and they’re just worried about you.” Brooks says. “My mom wanted me to tell you that she’s praying for you… but there hasn’t really been a right time to say it. So there. Now I did it.”

“You have a very nice family.” Dare says, tears pooling in his eyes again.

“I know. I know I do.”

“Even Mason.”

Brooks smirks. “Yeah, even Mase. I’m pretty lucky… and I know I am.”

“I wish...” Dare starts.

When Dare doesn’t continue, Brooks prods him. “What do you wish, my sweet Dare?”

“I wish we could go out into the middle of an empty pasture and… and not be around people.” Dare says quietly. “Everything would be quiet and still. It would slow down. It would all slow down. I’m so tired, Sir. I’m tired of trying so hard to keep up. I’m so tired of putting on a show for everyone.”

Brooks presses a kiss to Dare’s brow. “You don’t have to put on a show, beautiful.” He brushes some of Dare’s hair back from his face. “Close your eyes and imagine we’re at Mark’s ranch riding Maureen and Charlie. I remember the last time we were there, watching you close your eyes and toss your head back to let the sun bake your skin. You were happy. Imagine a perfect cloudless, sunny day. Just you and me and the horses.”

Dare imagines it just as Brooks has said. He imagines being there and tries to add so much detail that he can almost feel it; the heat on his skin, the light breeze brushing past him, the way Maureen meanders beneath him, and Brooks… Brooks with his thousand kilowatt smile and hearty laugh.

There is no show to put on in this daydream, no words forced out of him, no fake pretending. It’s real and quiet and genuinely good. It’s wrapped up in both Brooks’s arms and this carefully crafted daydream that Dare finally finds sleep.

Chapter Text

Dare is back at Passion. They left the Meyers estate the next morning on the Meyers helicopter. Knowing that Dare wasn’t ready to ‘people’ yet, Brooks said goodbye to his family without Dare. Dare feels bad about that. He also feels grateful and thankful.

He’s been kneeling on one of his pink pallets in Brooks’s suite since his return. Brooks has gone to meet with Mikael and Gray, probably to discuss the state of all things Dare and Dare is fine with that. He’s enjoying the quiet and solitude.

Dare feels hollowed out because of yesterday and this morning and the few times since being left alone to kneel here that he’s felt tears well in his eyes. It’s an expenditure of emotions that Dare hasn’t had in a long time. It’s an emotional side of Dare that he’d turned off and forgotten about a long time ago in the Catacombs.

He remembers now though. He remembers that he was always a sensitive kid, teen and young adult. He used to feel things so intensely as he is right now. He’s always been slow to adapt to new things, new ideas, to change. He’s always been quiet.

How the gallery had so thoroughly flipped the script on him, he’ll never completely understand. They forced words into his mouth along with a need to speak just to fill silence. The changes came at such a rapid pace that Dare couldn’t keep up. They made him squash his emotions and pretend like everything was fine when, in truth, it was the polar opposite of fine. They tore him down so thoroughly that Dare began to believe every horrible thing about himself to the point of sometimes thinking that he has no right to still be among the living.

They made Dare put on a show for them and Dare is so thoroughly exhausted from it.

Dare tries to think of the good things he has now, tries to get away from the darkness in his mind. He has Brooks. He has Lily and Bran, the twins and Jai. He has Derek and Mikael. He has Doctor Cohen. He has Mark Kincaid who lets him ride Maureen. He has cute clothes that make him feel good about himself. He has his makeup.

Getting to his feet, Dare goes into the bathroom connected to Brooks’s suite. He gets the makeup case he’d traveled with, opens it and looks at the items inside of it. Then he looks at his reflection in the mirror. He hasn’t put on makeup since yesterday morning for church. He looks wrong without it. Yes, the person he was before the Gallery would never have worn makeup, but he isn’t that person anymore. He isn’t who the Gallery made him be either. Dare has no idea who he is. What he does know is that he likes makeup and maybe that’s as good a starting point as any.

He gets on top of the counter, sitting with his legs crossed in front of him and leans in to begin applying his makeup. He doesn’t do it for anyone else but himself and that’s probably a first for him. He isn’t putting on a show. He’s doing this because he wants and needs it.

This is something he could probably do in his sleep. After applying the base coat, he adds a deep rose hue, magenta and lilac to his lids and expertly blends all the colors. Pink and purple, like him and Brooks. Then he sets about filling in brows and eyeliner, false lashes and mascara.

He hears the bedroom door open and sees Brooks enter behind him in the reflection of the mirror. Mikael, Gray and Derek are with him.

“Hey, beautiful. Did you finally decide it was makeup time again?” Brooks says, entering the bathroom and petting a hand at Dare’s spine.

“I’m almost done, Sir.” Dare says.

Brooks kisses at Dare’s shoulder. “Take your time.”

Mascara completed and pink lipstick applied, Dare slips down from the counter and clasps his hands behind his back. One more look in the mirror and Dare feels as if he looks more like he should. Applying makeup calms him.

Four men wait for him in Brooks’s bedroom. Dare quietly kneels on a pink pallet and looks down to the floor. He feels a lump form in his throat as he tries to come up with something to fill the silence but can’t find the words.

“Hello, Dare.” Mikael finally speaks first. “We’re very glad to have you back home.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“We missed you while you were gone.” Dare looks up to Doctor Cohen, thinking that it’s nice to be missed. He doesn’t say anything though, instead he waits for the Doctor to continue. “We thought you might be ready to hear the information that Derek has about your past.”

Derek kneels on the floor in front of Dare, facing him. “What do you think?”

Dare thinks for a moment and shrugs his consent.

“Words, sweetheart. We don’t wanna do this if you aren’t ready.” Brooks says, resting a hand on Dare’s shoulder.

“I just put on eyeliner and mascara, Sir.”

“It’s waterproof. I checked it back at my parent’s house.” Brooks answers.

So then they want his vocal consent. Dare presses his freshly pink tinted lips together and nods at Derek. “I’m listening.”

Derek offers him a small smile. “Alright. So, massive ranch in Texas. That’s where you were raised. Your mom was an arts and crafts kind of lady. She would sell crafty stuff all over the state. She died of cancer when you were nineteen. I was told what you remember of your abduction and your dad’s death. That’s accurate.”

Dare looks down to the carpeted floor again. He’d known that it was accurate. Hearing Derek say it is a strange thing, like proof that he hadn’t had before. Dare is still rightfully questioning his own memories since they still have so many gaps and holes in them.

“Some of the ranch hands saw what happened. Their witness reports vary a bit, like they didn’t understand what they were seeing until it was too late. But the consensus is that they witnessed the murder and your abduction. You were limp when the people who killed your father put you in the trunk of their car. They called the sheriff, but it was too late. There was a missing person’s report, but it’s been named a cold case for several years now.”

So there was no big news story, no manhunt like there had been for Brooks. His dad was shot point blank and it was almost nothing to anyone, and made to be nothing to Dare, even, for years.

“Are you okay, Dare?” Gray asks.

“I’m...” Angry. Sad. Ridiculously sad and angry because there’s nothing he can do about it anymore. “Is there more?” He asks Derek.

“Your uncle is running the ranch now. He’s your father’s youngest brother. He says he used to visit the ranch at Christmas time. Do you remember him?” Derek asks.

Dare searches his memory for an uncle or for anything to do with Christmas and comes up empty. There’s family though, extended family… and that’s something. He shakes his head.

Derek nods and continues. “He’s been informed that you’re alive and has been given a vague overview of what you’ve been through. I’m sorry, but he has no interest in meeting with you.”

“Why not?” Dare asks quietly. He feels Brooks’s hand squeeze lightly at his shoulder.

“He says he wouldn’t know what to say to you, knowing what you’ve been through and what’s been done to you.” Derek answers. His brow furrows and he shakes his head. “I’m gonna be honest with you though. Personal opinion? A whole bunch of bigotry and closed-mindedness. You’re better off without him.”

Oh. Yeah, better off without him. Dare repeats the words in his mind. He tries to figure out how he feels about an uncle who has no interest in seeing him and concludes that it’s just more sadness.

“There’s a trust fund that your parents set aside for you.” Derek continues. “It’s… very substantial. On top of that, your uncle has added half of what the ranch was worth when he took it over after his brother’s death to the trust fund… maybe out of guilt, maybe as a way to keep you from claiming it. I don’t know. But you… you’re just fine in the money department… probably for the rest of your life unless you buy a fleet of yachts or something.”

Dare doesn’t care about money. “Keep me from claiming it?”

“Legally, the ranch is yours, Dare.” Mikael says, his ice blue eyes speculative as he opens a black and gold cigarette case and places a clove between his lips without lighting it. “Should you so wish it, we could turn your uncle’s life upside down.”

Is that what he wishes? No, Dare doesn’t think so. Dare might be angry. He might be sad and hurt that his uncle wants nothing to do with him, but he isn’t cruel. “No thank you, Sir.”

Mikael nods and begins to move around the room to look at the way Brooks has made the space his own.

Derek continues. “Claiming your trust fund is gonna mean a paper trail, Dare. That paper trail will mean interviews to close your case file and put you back into the land of existing out there.”

Out there.

Dare doesn’t care about the money.

He shakes his head. “I had a dog.”

“It’s been over ten years, Dare.” Derek says with a sad look in his eyes.

It makes sense. Molly hadn’t been young when he’d gone missing. In fact, she’d been well into her adult years. “Did they kill her too?”

“I don’t know the answer to that.” Derek answered. “I know your horse passed away a few years ago. Your uncle told me that much.”

Dare nods. Again, it makes sense. Sad. Dare is bursting at the seams and overflowing with an immense sadness.

“Oh, and get this… Guess what your last name was.” Derek grins, knowing there’s no way for Dare to even come close to guessing that. He glances up to Dare’s Master. “Brooks. Daren Brooks. Your parents were Philip and Marie Brooks.”

Philip and Marie Brooks, Daren Brooks. Dare thinks through the names a couple of times.

Dare looks up to his Master. Brooks looks like he’d already known this and smiles softly at Dare. “Kismet.” he says. “That just means that if we ever get married you have to take my name instead of the other way around. There’s no way I’m gonna be Brooks Brooks.”

That makes Gray and Derek laugh and Mikael smirk. Dare has too much on his mind right now to really react to anything.

“Your uncle sent photo albums.” Derek adds. “Most of the photos are from when you were younger. I’m guessing your mom was the photo taker and your dad didn’t do so much of that, but we have them if and when you want them.”

“I want them.” Dare answers quickly. “Please.”

Derek nods. “We also have all your paperwork; birth certificate, old drivers license, social security card… stuff like that.”

That’s paperwork that Dare isn’t interested in. He wants the photo albums. He wants to see pictures of himself with his parents, tangible proof that he’d once had a family that loved him like Brooks has a family that loves him. Dare wants to see proof.

“We could put you under witness protection, but that puts you on the FBI radar. There would be interviews where you would be asked a lot of questions by a bunch of strangers about what happened at the Gallery, how they operated.” Derek says. “It would put you back in the land of out there enough to get your money, but not enough for people to be able to seek you out. And hey, no jury duty.”

Dare doesn’t care about the money, but he’s suddenly curious about some specific paperwork in the paperwork of life. Witness protection? “Who would I be hiding from?”

The Gallery fell. Didn’t it? Bran said they went belly up. Certain things Dare has overheard begin to fit together like puzzle pieces in his mind.

Derek hesitates, obviously surprised that Dare is asking questions like he just had. He doesn’t usually do so, and so the surprise is warranted. Dare has been evolving and his mind is starting to think critically again.

“Government agencies around the world cut off a lot of branches to the tree that was the Gallery. They might’ve even gotten a good chunk of the tree trunk, although it’s hard to tell. It’s hard to get to the roots of an organization like them. They're...”

“They’re starting to rebuild, Dare.” Gray says the words that Derek has trouble saying.

“Intel says that they’re still very small, nothing like they were before.” Derek is quick to say. “Intel is also very limited since the take down so it’s hard to trust the accuracy of it. You and I know first hand how good they are at staying hidden underground.”

The Gallery didn’t fall. The room grows silent for a moment, but not long enough for Dare to fully accept that truth. Dare has always been slow.

“Certain current events are assisting in stunting their growth.” Mikael has still been walking around the room, looking at everything.

Dare puts two and two together and after a moment, he says one word. “Trials, Sir.” Okay, two words.

“Yeah, sweetheart.” Brooks pets at the back of Dare’s head. “Trials.”

Dare feels nerves start to rumble in his stomach. “The Mistress?”

“She’s in prison.” Derek is again, quick to answer. “You don’t have to worry about her. Witness protection, we’ve put several liberated abductees from the Gallery under WP because of the rebuild of the Gallery, most of them at their own request.”

“Once in the Gallery...” Dare says softly.

Derek nods. “...always in the Gallery.”

The Mistress is in jail. Is Salt and Pepper in jail? Jerome? Doctor Simmons? Is it possible that the Gallery might try to undo what was done to them by re-enslaving the pets that were freed when they fell? The thought leaves Dare with an uneasy feeling.

Mikael picks something up out of one of many open boxes by the door, peels plastic off and opens it’s contents. Icy blue eyes look to Dare. “What is this?”

“It looks like lipstick.” Brooks says, confused. “We all know that Dare has a makeup thing.”

“It’s red.” Gray looks at Dare. “You didn’t order that, did you Dare?”

Dare shakes his head, his mind too busy with other things to really care about Oscar or red lipstick right now. He can only handle so much at one time. “No, Sir.”

Derek stands up and goes to the stack of boxes. He turns the one Mikael had gotten the lipstick from upside down. “No receipt. No note. Addressed to Mikael Pomelov just like everything the pets order. No return address.”

“Sorted by one of my employees, I’m sure. Sent up here because they know of Dare’s penchant for makeup. But they wouldn’t understand the significance of the red stripe down the side of the plastic wrap. I’m glad that the box was open.” Mikael says.

“And that you have an OCD like attention to detail, Master.” In complete investigative mode, Derek points to the pile of boxes and looks at Brooks. “Mind if we look through these?”

“Go for it.” Brooks says with a shake of his head. “I don’t get what’s up with the red.”

As Derek begins to look through the boxes, Gray explains. “The man Mikael told you about, the one who recognized Dare from the harem, he put Dare in red.”

“And red isn’t Dare’s color.” Mikael says, finding another box with a single red lipstick tube in it.

“Well fuck.” Brooks murmurs. His hand at the back of Dare’s neck stills.

“Have you received any before now?” Derek asks.

“Once.” Dare says with a nod.

“And you didn’t say anything?” Gray asks. “Why, Dare?”

Why hadn’t he said anything? “Because… I’m safe here, Sir. Mikael keeps me safe. Brooks is here now. It’s safe.” While all of this is true, Dare realizes in hindsight that he should’ve said something. He’s always been slow.

In the end, they find eight boxes with single tubes of red lipstick in them. Mikael says he’ll talk to his men. Derek says he’ll take the boxes in for an under the radar analysis. Gray promises that he and Dare will talk about it another time.

“May I request something of your pet, Brooks?” Mikael asks. When Brooks nods, Mikael hunkers down in front of Dare. “Do you remember when we first met outside of that van in the middle of nowhere?”

Dare remembers it well. He remembers how brave and in charge Bran had been. “Yes, Sir.”

“You were very brave then… and strong.”

Dare isn’t sure that he remembers it that way. He’d been slow to react. He’d gotten into the game late after Bran had already leaped from the vehicle.

Mikael seems to sense his uncertainty. The man arches one brow above cool blue eyes. “You flung my men about like they were rag dolls. You are not a small man, Dare. You are quite spectacularly built. Your size and those muscles can be used for things other than show. They can be used for your own protection and the protection of others as you did with Bran that night.”

Mikael places a hand on Dare’s bicep. “They’re for more than show.”

Dare remembers telling Brooks that he’s so tired of putting on a show. Mikael is trying to remind him that he can fight. Dare isn’t sure that he’s ever been the fighting sort.

“I only ask that you try to remember that night and your part in it. I know that you were following Bran’s lead, and that’s fine, but a part of that was also you… just you.” Mikael says. “Remember who you were in that moment, Dare. You are not a weak, scared little pet. You have a Master now and he is the only one that you have chosen to submit to. Anyone else, including all of us, is your choice. You can and must say no if you don’t like something. I’d like to hear you say the word no.”

Dare swallows hard. It takes him a moment, but he whispers the word quietly. “...no.”

Mikael looks pleased with him. “You have people who care about you. Some more sentimental sort than I might even call us family. Will you try to remember your part in that night, not just Bran’s?”

The softness of Mikael’s smile admits that he is that sentimental sort, at least some part of him is. And in the end, Mikael has done so much for him that there’s only one answer to give. “Yes, Sir. I’ll try.”

Chapter Text

“Flung his security detail about like they were rag dolls, huh?” Brooks asks as he holds out another bite of food for Dare to carefully take with his teeth. Brooks says it as if he’s mimicking Mikael’s strange but posh accent.

Dare still isn’t eating much on his own and so Brooks has decided to continue feeding him like this. There’s also the fact that Dare likes the ritual of this between himself and Brooks.

“Yes, Sir. I guess I did.” Dare takes the bite, thinking about that night. Yes, he had been slow to react and Bran was the ringleader, but Dare had helped, hadn’t he? At least a little bit. Dare supposes that he’s never fully embraced his own helping hand that night, always deferring to how brave Bran had been.

Mikael’s perspective was different, he guesses.

“I would’ve liked to see that.” Brooks says with a grin. “Maybe we should be going to a gym. Get into some classes of some kind.”

“Derek’s Master put a gym here, Sir.” Dare answers. “I only go there sometimes though. It’s in the basement and I just…” He shakes his head, unable to find the right words to explain his aversion to it.

“It’s underground.” Brooks vocalizes what Dare has trouble vocalizing.

Brooks is right. It’s underground, like the Labs and the Catacombs were. Dare remembers how liberating it had been to be above ground after the labs, even after all the horrible things he’d been through, even though he wasn’t liberated at all. He could see outside windows and it felt like he could breathe easier.

“Maybe we’ll try it together.” Brooks offers.

If Brooks is there maybe it will be different.

A knock at the door interrupts them and Brooks sets the bowl of food aside and goes to answer it.

“Sir, I see Dare?”

That’s Lily’s voice. What is she doing here?

“You must be Lily. I’ve heard about you from Dare.” Brooks says.

“Yes Sir.” Lily replies. “Lily. Brooks.”

“Yeah. I’m Brooks.” Dare can imagine Brooks smiling at Lily. Then Brooks steps aside and lets Lily into the room.

Lily crosses the room and kneels beside Dare. After watching Brooks for a moment, she unclasps her hands from behind her back and wraps both arms tightly around Dare. “Derek tell us. I’’m sorry. So very sorry. Your daddy is dead.”

Dare had given Derek permission to talk to the others. He feels tears threaten again. When will there be no more tears? Years of repressed memories and the inability to grieve or feel much of anything say that there are more to come.

Before Brooks can fully close the door, it’s pushed open again and Bran enters the room. He stares hard at Dare.

“May we come in, Sir?” Dare hears, and Brooks steps aside as the twins follow behind Bran.

“You too?” Brooks asks to someone standing out in the hallway. “Come on in.”

Jai enters the room behind the twins. He looks at Dare and shakes his head. “Our Mistress would never...” Jai seems to realize the lie in that statement and dips his head without finishing it. Jai played witness to more than any of them where the Mistress is concerned. Jai was her first and most favored pet.

“I’m so sorry, Dare.” Kyle says as both he and JB kneel and embrace Dare and Lily.

Bran nudges Jai’s elbow and Jai follows suit to add to the multi-headed embrace.

After a moment, Brooks shuts the door and gestures to Dare at Bran. Bran growls at him, baring his teeth and then goes to join the others.

“Fuck them for what they did to your dad.” Bran says angrily. “And fuck that asshole uncle of yours for not wanting to meet with you. You hear me, Dare? Fuck ‘em.”

Dare is happy to let Bran feel all the anger right now. Anger is still new to Dare and he isn’t sure that he likes it. Instead, he just feels sad and immense gratitude that he has these people who care about him enough to seek him out just so that they can give him a hug, no strings attached.

 

* * *

 

“It was an eventful trip.” Gray says in their session two days later, getting a kleenex from the box on the coffee table and handing it over to Dare.

Dare takes it and dabs at his cheeks as he nods in reply. He’s just had a long discussion with Doctor Cohen about his trip to Brooklyn with his Master. Dare couldn’t get through the whole thing without crying. This isn’t the first tissue he’s been handed by Gray.

“The altercation with Brooks’s brother aside, it sounds like it was mostly okay until the family went to church.” Gray says and again Dare nods.

Words have become more difficult for him lately. Frankly, he’s surprised he got through telling Gray about the trip. It took an extraordinary amount of patience on Gray’s part and Dare is thankful that the doctor has such a deep well of it.

“Do you think you’d like to travel with him again?” Gray asks.

Dare thinks about that for a moment, about all the good and bad things that had happened on their trip. Then he shrugs indecisively. Then he nods. “Yes, Sir. I guess, if Brooks wants to take me with him.”

“Of course I can’t speak for him, but from what he’s said to me about you, i think he’d like for you to be where he is.” Gray says.

Dare likes the sound of that. “He says that if we’re somewhere together then we’re never really out of place.”

Gray smiles softly. “I think that’s a wonderful sentiment.”

Dare nods his agreement.

Today, in his first session since the Brooklyn trip, Dare isn’t really very helpful in pushing the narrative as he usually might have been. Gray has had to work extra hard to pull things from him, thoughts and emotions and anything really. After a brief bit of silence, Gray tries again, ever persistent.

“May I ask you why you didn’t tell us about the red lipstick, Dare?” Gray asks.

Again, Dare is silent for awhile, thinking through an answer for that question. His brow furrows at the thought of Oscar and what the red lipstick means. Why hadn’t he said anything? “There’s a lot of reasons, Sir.”

“Tell me.”

“He’s a Master, Sir.” Dare starts with that simple truth. Masters do what they want and Dare doesn’t argue it or question it or dispute it. Maybe he should, but he doesn’t. “And I don’t… I don’t want him to be angry with me if he comes back.”

Gray nods. “But he isn’t your Master.”

No, he isn’t. “That’s another reason, Sir. Brooks is my Master now. Masters don’t take pets from other Masters without permission and Brooks wouldn’t give him that.” He trusts Brooks to keep him safe.

“Yes, that is one of the unspoken rules, decorum, if you will.” Gray says calmly. “But don’t you think that the lipstick, the continuous arrival of red lipstick, is an indicator that he might go against those rules?”

Dare purses his lips and draws in a deep breath, trying to figure out what Oscar might be saying with the red lipstick. “Maybe he doesn’t know that I have a Master now.”

“That is possible. But also, maybe he does know and he doesn’t care.” Gray counters. “To me, the lipstick is his way of saying that he still wants you. It’s also a cruel sort of taunt, don’t you think? Given your history with it, I mean.”

Dare hadn’t thought of it that way. There’s no denying the way the red tube of lipstick toys with his psyche, though, no denying the way it tears him back down. The red lipstick makes him feel undone, imperfect, like he’s stupid, like he’s a joke. The red lipstick makes him think about how he should have crawled forward.

“Dare?” Gray interrupts Dare’s thoughts. “What are you thinking?”

What is he thinking? Gray waits him out as Dare finds a succinct summary of his thoughts. “I don’t understand why people are so cruel, Sir.”

The truthfully insightful response seems to catch Gray off guard. The doctor’s brows lift high and the man’s eyes look as if they’re filling with tears. He presses his lips together and shakes his head. “I don’t understand that either, Dare.”

“My...” A lump forms in Dare’s throat and he feels tears threaten again. “My Dad was innocent. He was an old man. They didn’t have to...” He trails off, shaking his head.

“No, no they didn’t have to.” Gray agrees.

“And the Brutes and my guard.” Dare says of Salt and Pepper and Jerome and their treatment of Dare; the way they taunted and raped him.

“They didn’t have to either.” Doctor Cohen shakes his head.

“The Mistress...” It’s all he says of her, but Dare knows that just those two words are speaking ill of how she treated him.

“She didn’t have to either, Dare.” Gray says. “You’re absolutely right.”

The agreement is enough for Dare and he pats the tissue over a tear that is trailing down his cheek. He draws in a shaky breath, trying to get a hold of himself… again. When will he quit crying? When will he get enough control again to make the tears stay away like he used to do?

He’s been quiet for a long time again and Gray inevitably speaks again. “It helps me to believe that there are more people in this world that are kind rather than cruel.”

“Do you really believe that, Sir?” Dare asks.

“I do.” Gray nods. “Think about all the kind people in your life now.”

Gray is right. There are a lot of people in his orbit that are very kind to him without having any real reason to be so. However, when Dare thinks about the numerous people in the Gallery compared to the small life he’d lived before the Gallery, the math doesn’t add up. His branch of the Gallery was only one of how many other branches all around the world? Kidnappers and murderers, Brutes and Doctors and Lab Techs and Guards and Mistresses and Masters… clientele who purchased other beaten down human beings… all of them, too many to count. When he takes that into account, it doesn’t feel to Dare like there are more kind people in the world than there are cruel.

“I don’t...” Dare starts to tell Gray that he doesn’t believe him, but then decides that those words are too close to disagreeing with a Master and chooses to grow silent again.

Even when Gray prompts him with an asked ‘you don’t what?’, Dare just shakes his head.

Eventually, Gray concedes to Dare’s silence. “I’m sorry that you’re hurting, Dare. I’m glad that you’re feeling it though. I think you were made to suppress your true emotions for a very long time. I think all of those stifled emotions, years of them, you’re finally feeling them. You can only truly move forward from them if you let yourself feel them.”

Forward, not backward. That’s what Brooks always says. Right now Dare’s view is very grim and dark. Forward. What’s forward? Mason had wanted to know that, hadn’t he? What’s Dare’s future? What does he want?

Brooks. That’s still all there is. Brooks is the light in the darkness.

“Just don’t go into hiding, physically or emotionally. There are so many people here and elsewhere who care about you and your well being.” Gray says. “Don’t let yourself disappear from us. We would be so sad to not have you in our lives.”

Dare swallows hard and nods. Gray is very astute. Dare has felt himself metaphorically curling in on himself. It was once his natural state to be an introvert. Now Dare doesn’t know what his natural state is, but he can feel the goalposts shifting, so to speak. He just doesn’t know where they’ll stop.

“I have something for you.” Gray says, getting a stack of three large binders from beneath the table. The binders are covered in colorfully printed fabrics, bordered with ruffles of silk and lace and tied closed with ribbons. “Photo albums. Derek was told that your mother put the fabric on them.”

Dare takes the stack of albums and he feels like he’s holding his entire life summed up in three crafty binders. Is this what he is… or was? Everything summed up in three binders?

He doesn’t care. They’re his. They’re all he has and they might as well be crafted in gold rather than cotton, silk and lace.

“May I keep them, Sir?” Dare asks Gray hopefully.

The doctor nods and smiles softly. “They’re all yours.”

 

* * *

 

Dare has carried the binders back to Brooks’s room, hugging them tightly against his chest like the precious treasures they are. His Mom held these binders, crafted them with her own hands. Dare is thinking about that as he enters Brooks’s room.

His Master has been working on an oil painting in the corner of the room. A large canvas is on the easel and Brooks has started the beginnings of a landscape. He smiles brightly at Dare as he enters the room.

“Hey, beautiful. I was just thinking it was close to time for you to be done with Gray.” Brooks says. “What’cha got there?”

“Photo albums, Sir.” Dare answers, kneeling on one of his pink pallets and still clutching the albums to his chest.

“Ohhh. We get to see baby Dare, huh?” Brooks puts his paint brush in a cup of water and wipes his hands on a paint spattered cloth before coming over to join Dare. Brooks sits on the floor beside him. “You gonna show me, sweetheart?”

Up until now, Dare has been too scared to look inside the albums. But at his Master’s prompting, some of that fear slips away. He slowly releases his death grip on the books and sets them down on the floor in front of him. The print on the fabric on the top one is cowboy hats and lassos. It has a brown silk ruffle around the edges and a silk ribbon. On the front little wooden letters are glued onto the fabric that spell out ‘The Brooks Family’.

His mom had done this, Dare instinctively knows.

Dare pulls the ribbon bow undone and carefully opens a portal into his past. There are pictures of Dare on their ranch; one of him on top of a horse with his dad behind him, one of him on a smaller horse by himself, one of him with his mom down on his level holding a baby calf in place while Dare excitedly pets him. There’s a photo of Dare with a toothy smile with one of his front teeth missing and a photo of him blowing out candles on a birthday cake. There’s a photo of Dare holding a baby chick carefully in his hands, his face half buried in the downy feathers. There’s photos of Dare up in a tree and on top of a skid-steer with his dad. There’s a photo of teenage Dare up in a deer blind with his dad and another photo with Dare at a lake somewhere, holding a fish he supposedly caught.

There’s photo after photo of Molly the bloodhound and Dare with Molly, even one of Dare asleep with the large bloodhound curled up at his feet. There’s also numerous photos of Dare with a chocolate horse that must be Cocoa.

One photo has both of Dare’s parents in it. His dad is grinning and his mom is looking at his dad and smiling brightly at him as if she’s mid-laugh. She’s beautiful, with long dirty blonde hair just like Dare’s. He’s ruggedly handsome with an older version of Dare’s face. His arm is around her waist and hers around his shoulders and still they lean into each other. The photo is crooked and slightly blurry and Dare wonders if he’s the one who caught the image.

“They loved each other.” Dare says quietly, having cried on and off throughout each turn of the page.

“It looks like it, my sweet Dare.” Brooks has ooh’d and aah’d over every photo, pointing things out and talking about how adorable Dare is. “Also, when you were a kid you looked like your mom but the older you got, you look a lot like your dad… so I guess we know how sexy you’re gonna be when you get old.”

That makes Dare feel the beginnings of a smile on his lips. “My Mom used to call me that.”

“Sexy?” Brooks jokes.

“No, Sir.” Dare says, his smile growing a bit. “My sweet Dare. I remember it now. It was her voice in my head… while I was in the Catacombs and the Labs. They took everything but that. I didn’t know who it was saying it to me… in my head. I forgot her.”

Brooks leans over and kisses at Dare’s shoulder. “But you remember now.”

Dare nods slowly, remembering how shy and slow he’d always been, how his Mom had always encouraged him with those words.

I dare you to be brave, my sweet Dare. I double-dog dare you to be brave.

Chapter Text

It’s a week later that Dare finally steps foot in Passion during working hours. It’s his first time working wearing actual clothes over his lingerie. It was Dare’s choice to do this and Brooks had supported him through every detail of his attire for tonight. He wears skinny black leather pants and his ‘Queen’ tank top over his pink lace along with four inch pink glitter heels. His makeup is bold and dark. His long nails wear a fresh coat of pink glitter. On one of his wrists is a thick leather cuff with silver studs in it that Brooks had put there and of course he wears both necklaces.

Dare feels sexy.

That’s two things Dare knows that he likes. Dare likes makeup. Dare likes clothes. He likes how both of these things can make him feel about himself and in that context, it has nothing to do with any version of his past self, neither before the Gallery nor in the Gallery. Knowing that he likes these things is only about his present self.

Being back at work is strange after everything that’s happened in Dare’s mind over the last few weeks. A part of Dare is glad to be back. Another part of Dare is more unsure of himself than he play-acted before. He isn’t quite sure that he fits here in the same way as he had. It isn’t that he doesn’t fit. It’s that he fits in a different way and Dare isn’t sure of what that way is just yet.

Brooks is sitting in Mikael’s booth in jeans, combat boots and his ‘King’ t-shirt. His platinum hair is spiked up into the mo-hawk he likes to sometimes wear, the tips of each spike pink and purple. Brooks had let Dare apply some dark kol around his eyes that adds to the sharp edges that Brooks already has.

Having Brooks here helps. Every time that Dare’s uncertainties get the best of him, he looks over to his Master. Where Brooks is concerned, Dare fits just fine.

Anyone would be hard pressed not to notice the differences in the two Masters. Mikael, in his ever perfectly pressed suits and neckties in direct contrast to Brooks’s more relaxed and even rebellious attire. The similarity between the two is more subtle, neither one of them willing to back down or even bend for the other. Every Master seems to have a mostly companionable and sometimes heated understanding with one another. Brooks is absolutely one of them now.

How anyone could have ever tried to make Brooks submit, or think that they had fully succeeded in doing so, is beyond Dare. Brooks played the game, played the system of the Gallery, until he got out. Brooks’s Mistress never made him fully submit, Brooks had said.

Dare wonders what she did make him do. How did she make him stay?

“We’re glad you’re back.” Kyle says when the place first opens for business that night.

Dare smiles at him and nods. “I’m trying not to hide myself away… from… you know.” From the other pets, from himself, from friends and the world at large.

Kyle nods, one hand lightly touching Dare’s bicep. “I know.”

The night is uneventful. Dare gets a few compliments on his outfit from Masters and Mistresses who live here with them and some of the steady clientele. He’s been told that his ass looks great in leather and Dare has to agree because he’d stared at himself in the mirror in Brooks’s bathroom for a long time before coming downstairs to work.

Dare serves drinks and cleans tables. He always looks over to Brooks. Sometimes Brooks and Mikael are talking. Sometimes Brooks is staring at Dare across the room.

At the end of the night, Brooks waits for Dare to help the others clean up and close down. Then they both get into the elevator that takes them up to the top floors where Master’s suites take up every room.

Brooks kisses him and Dare opens up to that kiss. Strong hands at his waist pull him close as the kiss deepens. Dare can taste the Dos Equis that Brooks had steadily drunk all night on his Master’s tongue. Dare’s hands smooth over Brooks’s shoulders and biceps.

“Mine?” Brooks asks against Dare’s lips.

“Yes, Sir.” Dare answers. “Yours.”

Dare feels Brooks’s grin against his lips before the other man kisses him again, this time adding a playful touch of teeth that Dare has grown accustomed to.

“May I ask you a question, Master?” Dare asks when the kiss tapers off. Brooks answers with a hum and a nod and Dare continues. “How did she make you stay with her?”

Brooks leans back to look into Dare’s eyes. “I’m gonna need a little more than that, baby. What are you asking?”

“Your Mistress.”

“The woman who bought me.” Brooks says the words he’s recently begun to say instead of calling her his Mistress.

Dare nods. “Yes, Sir. How did the woman who bought you make you stay with her?”

“I...” Brooks takes a hold of one of Dare’s hands and steps backward. He indicates one of the pink pallets and Dare kneels on it. Then Brooks sits on the floor in front of him, legs crossed.

Dare worries that he’s made Brooks uncomfortable and that’s not at all what he wanted to do. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, Sir. I just… I’ve been thinking a lot tonight.” Which is quite the admission toward evolution for a pet who was made to believe that he was too stupid to think for himself.

“No, it’s okay. It’s just… the question surprised me is all.” Brooks answers, reaching out to touch Dare’s knee as he often does when they kneel and/or sit like this. “I told you that she didn’t make me submit so I’m sure you’re confused.”

Dare nods.

“She knew my parents. Can you believe that?” Brooks says.

What? The woman who bought Brooks knew Logan and Elizabeth? Dare is shocked and he doesn’t know what to say.

“Yeah. I vaguely knew her because she was one of my Dad’s clients at one time… years ago. Her house which was basically my prison for years? Designed by Logan Meyers. My parents know now, because I told them. They feel all kinds of guilt about it.” Brooks shrugs the truth of it off. “How could they have known she was that kind of person, though? How can you ever know, right?”

It’s true, Dare thinks. You never really know what people do in their private lives. Dare waits quietly for Brooks to continue.

“Anyway it was years ago when I was just a kid so no one in my family had seen her in a very long time. At first, after I was shipped off to her like the product I was, all she had to do was bring up what she could do to Austin, Troy or Mase and I would fall into line. Eventually I caught on that those were empty threats and that I could get away with a lot.

“I had a lot of freedoms in her house. I did a lot of things for myself and I even held every day conversations with her. She uhm… she liked for me to talk and even be combative to an extent. She liked for me to take control… of her and of myself. That control was always on a leash though. It only went so far. And if those boundaries were breached, which I was known to do on occasion because I’m me, she would put me in my place.”

Still, Dare is confused. His expression must say as much because Brooks laughs lightly and shakes his head.

“The collar you saw me wearing that evening in your Mistress’s parlor, it was a shock collar. She controlled it. If I stepped too far out of line, she used it.”

Oh. Like Bran, but not integrated into his spine. Dare’s brow furrows. “She shocked you.”

“Yeah.” Brooks nods, looking down to his fingers resting lightly on Dare’s knee. “Then, when I was immobile, she would restrain me and beat me until I apologized to her and pretended to be submissive again.”

Dare can’t imagine Brooks in that position. Even attempting to imagine it hurts his heart and just does not compute. He unclasps his hands and reaches out to lace his fingers with Brooks’s at his knee. “I’m sorry, Sir.”

Brooks shakes his head, looking back up to Dare. “It didn’t happen often because I’m not dumb… but it happened often enough. I did try to kill her one time, during sex. I had my hands around her neck and she was turning red, then blue, then purple beneath me. But I had a fucking crisis of conscience at the last minute. I was one big constantly electrocuted bruise for the next three weeks. I can pretend to be a lot of things, but apparently pretending to be a killer was crossing my line, not hers.”

Dare can understand that. He can’t imagine ever killing anyone either. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it either.” He says quietly.

“You never know what you’re capable or not capable of until you’re there in a moment that’s pushed you over the edge. That’s one of my darkest secrets, my sweet Dare.” Brooks curls his fingers laced with Dare’s holding Dare’s hand tightly so that their palms press together. “I sometimes wish I had killed her. I dream about it sometimes, about following through. If I had just kept choking her for a few seconds more… I hate that she was nice to me most of the time and that that made me give a fuck. She didn’t deserve any of my fucks to give. I should have killed her.”

Dare shakes his head. “I think that that would change you, Sir. Killing someone is no small thing. It would change you and I love you the way you are.”

The corners of Brooks’s lips pinch and pull into a smile. “You love me?”

Dare’s heart skips a beat. He hadn’t even realized that he’d said it. “I...” He thinks to cover up the words somehow, but then decides that he doesn’t need to put on a show for Brooks. “Yes, Sir.”

Love is completion.

“Of course you would say that after I tell you the worst, ugliest part of me.” Brooks says.

Dare feels a spike of anxiety. “Should I not have said it, Sir?”

But then how had Brooks reacted when Dare had told him the worst, ugliest parts of himself; that he grew to fantasize about some of what happened in the Catacombs, that he sometimes wishes that he’d crawled forward and ended it all back on that horrifically terrifying day? Brooks had kissed him and embraced him and made him experience and think of beautiful things.

“You said just the right thing, beautiful. You just… surprise me. You continuously surprise me.” Brooks says. “You have the sweetest, kindest, most pure heart of anyone I’ve ever known so for you to feel that way towards me… and I love you too. I have for a long time, I just haven’t wanted to scare or confuse you by saying it.”

Brooks loves him. Dare doesn’t question it because Brooks has demonstrated that love in so many ways. His actions more than measure up to the words. And the words make his heart feel every kind of warm and perfect.

“It is scary.” Dare says after a pause. “You could… you could really hurt me.” For all the ways that Dare has been hurt before, he actually fears the kind of hurt that Brooks could inflict. Other hurts, it’s been proven that he can withstand them. He doesn’t think he could do so with Brooks.

“I’m gonna try like hell not to hurt you, Dare.” Brooks counters with an emotional promise. “Will you let me try?”

There’s no other answer but for Dare to nod. Brooks is the only thing in his life that he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he wants moving forward. “Yes, Sir.”

“Will you try not to hurt me?”

Dare nods again. “I would never, Sir.”

“I know, baby.” Brooks says, reaching out to cup the back of Dare’s neck and pull him closer. “I know you wouldn’t. You’re too sweet for that.”

Dare meets Brooks’s lips in another beer laced kiss and he crawls on top of him, knees straddling either side of his Master as Brooks lies back and Dare follows to draw out the kiss.

On all fours, Dare kisses Brooks, adding a hint of teeth in the same way that Brooks does with him. The gesture makes Brooks hum his approval. Dare feels hands on his breasts, the fingers curling and hooking into the low-cut neckline of his tank top. Brooks tugs the neckline of the tank top down to reveal Dare’s lace clad breasts. Brooks’s hands cup and squeeze before sliding down over Dare’s slim waist and around over his hips.

“Your ass looks great in leather, by the way.” Brooks says.

“I know. I’ve been told, Sir.” Dare answers.

The hands on his hips still and Brooks turns his head away from the kiss to get Dare to lean up to look down at him. “Got some compliments tonight, huh?”

Dare nods.

Brooks slaps one hand against Dare’s ass and rolls the both of them over, switching their positions so that Dare lies back on the floor. He bites at Dare’s lower lip and whispers a word. “Mine.”

“Yours, Master.” Dare tastes the copper of blood in his mouth and cups the back of Brooks’s neck as he feels Brooks kiss and bite at his neck in a way that he knows will leave a bruising mark.

His Master spends the next half hour slowly undressing Dare and lavishing his body with attention. He leaves mark after mark on his skin; at the side of one of his breasts, on his abdomen above one hip bone, inside both thighs, on one shin…

Dare lets him leave each one, watching as he does, feeling loved and owned with each mark left behind.

There are no restraints used when Brooks makes love to him. None are needed, not in this moment. They touch when they want to touch, kiss when they want to kiss and it’s the purest form of freedom that Dare has ever felt.

Chapter Text

Dare is thankful to find another routine over the next week. He stays with Brooks in his room during the days, poring over the photo albums or posing for Brooks to sketch or paint. He works in the club downstairs at night with his friends and Brooks helps him pick out an outfit to wear each time.

At Brooks’s suggestion, Mikael has relocated the gym to the third floor, completely remodeled the space of several rooms for it. Dare and Brooks intend to begin working out two to three times a week.

They’ve been out to Mr. Kincaid’s ranch once this week and intend to go out again next week.

On Friday Dare and Brooks redo the pink and purple color in their hair and Brooks tells him that they’ll start doing this for each other every two weeks.

He still meets with Doctor Gray Cohen twice a week.

Dare has schedules for everything set in his mind and he finds that he likes having a schedule, or a routine. It gives him stability and things to look forward to. It makes him feel like an actual human being.

Each time he goes through the photo album, he ends with an envelope of photos that haven’t been put in the sleeves of the pages yet. The photos in the album are more recent, not long before his mom passed away, he thinks. One has him petting Cocoa. Another has him and his dad leaning against a skid steer each of them with a beer in their hands and their eyes squinting into the sunlight. The last one is from far away, cowboys on their horses tending a massive herd of cattle on wide, open space of flat land. Dare can just make out himself and his dad only because of the horses they ride.

Maybe these are the last photos his mom took.

Only less than a handful of the photos have sparked memories for Dare. Most of them are just photos of a life he knows he lived but doesn’t remember. All photographic evidence implies that it was a good life. The emotions he still feels over remembering his dad’s murder would suggest that there was a great love lost that day.

Dare still cries. He’s cried every day at least twice. Sometimes he wishes he would quit crying. Sometimes he fears the day that no more tears come. What will that mean? Will he quit feeling things so intensely again? Will he go back to pretending that everything is fine? Dare doesn’t want to go back to being what the Gallery made of him.

It’s a Wednesday in Dare’s second week of his new routine. That means that they’re heading out toward the MK Ranch to ride Maureen and Charlie.

The windows are down in Brooks’s purple sports car. The radio plays something of the rock musical genre. Brooks’s hand is on top of Dare’s over the stick shift and it’s Dare sitting in the driver’s seat with his other hand on the steering wheel.

Driving a car is exhilarating. Driving Brooks’s sporty purple car with the big engine that makes the speed quickly accelerate at the slightest touch to the gas pedal is even more so. It seems like Dare just has to think about pressing the gas and the speedometer is already hopefully, prophetically inching upward.

“See? You’re doing just fine, beautiful. Like riding a bike… kind of.” Brooks casts Dare one of his brilliant smiles. “Also, you look hella sexy behind the wheel.”

That makes Dare smile. He’d been nervous as he’s ever been when Brooks had suggested it once they were outside of the city limits. Then the learning curve had been similar to Brooks on Charlie, only that Dare has done this before. He remembers it in a vague sort of way. Nothing concrete.

Now he’s doing fairly well at staying in between the right lines and keeping the car at the right speed. When Brooks encourages him to go faster, Dare shakes his head.

“But the speed limit is seventy-five, Sir.” He says.

Brooks just grins saucily at him. “Some rules were made to be broken, Sweetheart, especially with an engine like this. But since this is your first time driving, I’ll let it slide.”

Dare is thankful to stay at the correct speed limit. While he knows that Brooks likes to step over the line, push the pedal and hit the gas, break the rules, Dare is good at following orders and rules. He likes having orders and rules to follow.

Several minutes later, Brooks speaks again. “Alright, downshift and slow down.” Dare does as he’s told. “Left blinker instead of right.”

Dare glances over to Brooks and back at the road. Mr. Kincaid’s ranch is on the right. They always turn right. Dare puts on his left blinker and feels Brooks’s hand squeeze his as he helps Dare know when to shift down until they’re at a stop.

Once the opposite side of the highway is clear, they turn left onto a dirt road and Brooks pushes the buttons to roll up their windows.

“Keep going.” Brooks instructs.

Dare drives down the dirt road until Brooks instructs him to stop. Once he’s stopped, Dare puts the car into park and looks around. They’re in the middle of a field. In the distance there’s some rolling hills and behind them, when Dare twists in the seat to look back, he can see the Kincaid ranch in the distance across the highway.

“Is Mr. Kincaid meeting us here, Sir?” Dare asks.

“Nah. It’s just you and me for now.” Brooks says. “This was a part of his land though.”

“Was?”

“Yeah.” Brooks laces his fingers with Dare’s. “I bought it.”

He bought it. Brooks bought this land just under an hour from the city where Passion is. Is Brooks moving out of Passion? What about Dare? Is he leaving Dare there? Dare feels the beginnings of panic, worrying that he somehow messed up and is in danger of losing Brooks.

His seat belt unhooked, Brooks turns in his seat to face Dare, both hands holding onto one of Dare’s. “You have a dozen questions, I’m sure. Mark offered me some of his land awhile back. I finally said yes. My dad is designing us a house and stables as we speak.”

Dare exhales a breath he’d been holding at the word ‘us’. Brooks wants Dare with him, just as Doctor Cohen had assumed.

“Stables, because I’m guessing we’d eventually like to have some horses of our own, right?” Brooks asks.

He’s been asked a question and Dare is too stunned to answer. He’s looking out at the empty field, trying to imagine a house designed by Logan Meyers on it, along with stables. Brooks bought this land. It’s Brooks’s. His Master is using words like ‘us’ and ‘we’ to show Dare that he wants Dare here with him.

Dare’s throat feels tight again and his eyes water.

“Sweetheart.” Brooks brings Dare’s hand cupped by his own up to his lips to kiss the knuckles. “Can you imagine it? Us living here?”

Dare nods. Yes, he can imagine it. He has newly resurfaced, albeit spotty, memories of himself on a ranch. He has photo after photo to reference from his mom’s albums.

“Do you like the idea?” Brooks asks.

Again, Dare nods, wiping at damp cheeks with the back of his free hand.

“Oh good. I was worried I’d done too much.” Brooks smiles a smile so bright that it could rival the sun. “And we’re still close enough that we can go into the city every day… whenever we want.”

Brooks lets go of Dare’s hand and gets out of the passenger seat. He comes around to open the driver seat and reaches in to turn off the engine and unhook Dare’s seat belt. “Come on, Sweetheart.” He says.

Outside, Dare stands in his sparkly pink sneakers on the dirt path. Brooks’s arm is around his shoulders, holding him close. “So imagine it. We’ll have a nice house with a wrap around porch. It’ll have an art studio and a big kitchen. We’ll have big fireplaces in both the bedroom and the living room. The stables will be top notch because my dad doesn’t design anything that isn’t top notch. We can get as many horses as you want and you can ride all day if you want to.”

Dare can imagine it, everything just as Brooks says. “Can we get a dog, Sir?”

Brooks laughs and nods. “I was kinda hoping you’d ask for one. I mean what’s a home without a dog, right?”

Dare nods his agreement, eyes roaming over the flat land to the south, the rolling hills to the west and north. He spots something before the hills, a glimmer in the sunlight. “Is that a pond?”

“Yeah, it is. Our pond. It’s a pretty decent size. Mark says there’s fish in it.” Brooks explains.

His Master bought this place for the both of them. It had to be expensive. Then he’s building structures on it and that’s more money spent.

He thinks about how Mason had asked about Dare and Dare had had no answers for his future. Now there’s an answer right here in front of him and Dare wants it so badly. He wants to be a part of it, not just a useless bystander.

“Do… do you think I should...” Dare starts but doesn’t complete the question.

Brooks leans over to nuzzle against Dare’s cheek. “Do I think you should what, beautiful?”

Before he says the words, Dare thinks long and hard about what he’s about to ask. The silence stretches thin and yet Brooks still waits him out. Everyone is so patient with him no matter how slow he is. “Do you think I should do what it takes to get the money… so I can help?”

Dare doesn’t care about the money, not really. He does care that Brooks is spending all this money on him when Dare could help in the matter.

“You don’t have to help, baby. We’re just fine money wise.” Brooks says. “So really, it’s up to you. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. There are some decisions that only you can make, Dare. No one else can make them for you, nor should they.”

So the ball is back in his court. Become a full member of life ‘out there’ or request witness protection from the feds and become half a member of life ‘out there’. There’s always the option of staying silent and hidden as well and that truly does appeal to him save for the fact that Brooks is spending so much on Dare.

“What do you think, Sweetheart?” Brooks asks, brushing some of Dare’s hair back behind his shoulders. “Do you wanna live here with me?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare doesn’t even have to think about it. Yes. Yes, he wants to live here with Brooks. That’s the easiest question to answer. This is everything he wished for when he was at his lowest after remembering the worst parts of his abduction at the church; open space, quiet, just him and Brooks.

The answer is an unquestionable and emphatic yes.

 

* * *

 

Dare is kneeling on the floor in Brooks’s room at Passion slowly flipping through the photo albums again. This has become a favorite past time of his. He tries to catch every detail of the background in the photos, tries to memorize every nuance of his parents’ faces, of his old home and the life he’d once had.

Brooks is working on a painting in the corner of the room. As the landscape piece comes together, Dare realizes that it’s the backdrop of the land that Brooks bought from Mark.

It’s been ten days since Brooks took Dare out to see the land. What a wonderful surprise it had been. Dare can’t quit thinking about it, fantasizing about it, dreaming about it.

Mr. Kincaid had said that he couldn’t think of better neighbors to have and that makes Dare feel even better about all of it. Mr. Kincaid is such a kind man.

He worries what the other pets will think of his living somewhere else, but at the end of the day what Brooks is offering him is nearly everything Dare wants on a silver platter.

A knock raps at the door and the door is already opening even as Brooks calls for them to ‘come in’.

In one of his perfectly pressed and tailored suits and ties, Mikael enters the room followed by a concerned looking Gray in his usual khakis, tee and sweater. The latter of which casts a small smile at Dare. Dare smiles back at Gray until he hears the sharp tone of Mikael’s voice.

“What is this, Brooks?” Mikael holds up an envelope.

Brooks sets his paint brush in a glass of water and wipes his hands off before taking the envelope. “A letter. Opening my mail, Mikael?”

“As you can plainly see, it remains unopened.” Mikael answers. “But what, I wonder, would a contracting company want with you? Did you buy a house?”

Brooks’s eyes narrow, his head tilts to the side. “So what if I did?”

“Then you’re leaving Dare here.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“Nope.” Brooks shakes his head. “He’s mine.”

The two Masters stare at one another for a lengthy amount of time, neither of them giving the other an explanation or an inch of ground until finally Gray puts both hands up between them.

“Alright. As fun as this showdown is, I think we all need to calm down.” Gray looks at Brooks. “You can understand why we’d like to be informed of any plans you have for Dare.”

Still, Brooks is silent for a bit, staring hard at Mikael before looking across the room to where Dare watches him from where he’s kneeling. “I bought some land to build a house on. It’s across the highway from Mark Kincaid’s ranch. I bought it from him. My dad’s designing us a house and stables. This is just paperwork that I have to sign to hire the contractors he wants to use.”

Now it’s Mikael’s turn, icy blue eyes narrow at Brooks. “Why would you not tell us this? Were you trying to keep it a secret?”

Brooks rolls his eyes to the ceiling. “It’s still in the early planning stages, Mikael. It’s not like we’re moving out of here tomorrow or even next week or next month. And yeah, I did kind of want it to be just mine and Dare’s for awhile. I wasn’t aware that I required your permission… which, fuck that, cause I don’t.”

Mikael looks to Gray. “I don’t like it.”

“You don’t like it?” Brooks says with a smirk. “Well that’s just too damn bad, man. You’re literally not the boss of me or Dare.”

Again, Gray puts a hand up. “What Mikael means to say is that there are still some… ongoing factors that might prove troublesome should you take Dare away from this space in a permanent fashion.”

“Will he be quitting Passion?” Mikael asks.

“That’s up to him, isn’t it?” Brooks says. “We’re less than an hour from the city. If he wants to continue working here, he can.”

“Which would require transport and a routine.” Mikael says. “Routines are pesky little things that make abductions very easy.”

For a moment Brooks considers this facet of their plans. It looks like it’s a new truth that Brooks hadn’t thought of until now. Brooks being who he is, he doesn’t let Mikael have the truth without throwing a verbal throat punch his way, “You would know.”

Mikael ices over completely, going still, one brow arched at Brooks. Mikael looks like a terrifying thing to Dare, something he’s never seen Mikael be in his presence. His tone is every bit as cold as the rest of him is. “Had you properly done your research, you would know that I never did the abducting, only the buying, training and selling.”

Brooks doesn’t look away from Mikael, but he swallows hard and concedes a nod. “I know. I crossed a line. I try really hard not to bring up your past anymore cause I know you’ve changed. But… Dare wants this too. He needs it. If you had seen him after church that day...” Brooks shakes his head. “...the things he wished for.” Brooks lifts the envelope again, shaking it. “It’s this.”

Some of Mikael seems to thaw and he sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose in thoughtful silence for a few moments. “There is a mountain of fine print that needs to be discussed and handled before you make a move like this… not because I like to micro-manage, which is fair criticism toward me because I admit that I do have a bit of a problem with control and the lack thereof, but because he is not safe out there, not in the long term and especially not right now.”

Brooks is silent, lips pressed together.

Mikael continues. “And if he is found, if he is discovered for his place in the Gallery as one of the Mistress’s harem, what will stop them from coming to look for the rest of them, hrm? You heard what Derek said about what’s going on out there. Even you are not safe, Brooks.”

It isn’t something that had occurred to Dare. None of what Mikael says had occurred to him. The discovery of Dare could lead to the discovery of Lily, Bran, Kyle, JB and Jai. It isn’t fair, but Dare has learned that life is not fair. Dare didn’t think of any of this. Dare has always been slow.

And what does Mikael mean? What did Derek tell them? What’s going on ‘out there’?

When he looks back to Brooks, his Master looks just as deflated as Dare feels. Brooks hadn’t thought through any of this either.

Brooks finally shakes his head. “I didn’t think...”

“No, you didn’t. You acted impulsively and knowing that this is what Dare wished for, no one can fault you.” Mikael pauses and takes a deep breath. “I apologize for my equally impulsive reaction.”

“There, see?” Gray takes a step back and nods. “Everyone’s getting along. Emotions are high on all sides because we all care so much. That’s it. We all want the same thing.”

“Yes, we all want the same thing.” Mikael agrees with a nod. “We can make this work, but you have to include us in every facet of your plans. You cannot blindside us like this. There are too many innocent people, including your own pet, at stake. We have to do this very carefully and very much in the right way.”

Mikael holds a hand out to Brooks. “Agreed?”

Brooks stares at that hand for a moment before shaking it. “Yeah, agreed.”

 

* * *

 

“I don’t understand, Sir.” Dare whispers into their dimly lit bedroom that night. That too is growth, Dare saying that he doesn’t understand something rather than calling himself stupid. “Is it because of the trials? I mean, the reason I’m not safe.”

Brooks’s arm tightens around Dare’s waist. “Kind of. There’s lots of reasons, baby. I was riding on an adrenaline high, happy to have a way to help you, and I didn’t think things through. It’s my fault.”

“It’s okay, Sir.” Dare is quick to absolve Brooks of guilt. “I like the land.”

“I know you do. So do I.” The smile is audible in Brooks’s tone. But when he speaks again, he’s completely sobered. “But Oscar is still out there and Mikael is right, a daily commute into the city is a routine that’s easy to catch on to. Oscar knows you’re here. And then there’s… there’s other things happening.”

Normally, Dare would have let it be. He’s begun asking questions though. Critical thinking has returned. “Other things like what, Master?”

Brooks draws in a deep breath and slowly exhales, drawing out a moment of silence before answering. “Some of the liberated pets from the Gallery have gone missing after returning to their lives from before or building new lives after being freed. At first it was just one or two, but now it’s substantial enough for it to be a trend.”

Oh.

This information makes Dare’s stomach roil uncomfortably. He doesn’t want to go backward, only forward… with Brooks.

“Derek says that the Feds think...” Brooks continues, “They think...” until he can’t.

Dare finishes it for him. “The Gallery is rebuilding.”

“And reclaiming.” Brooks adds. “That’s what they assume, anyway. They have no proof, just coincidence. Maybe everyone just decided to disappear and lay low with the trials going on.”

Dare knows that it’s a long shot that a substantial number of liberated pets have suddenly decided to lay low at the same time. If the Gallery is reclaiming then all of them are in danger, including Brooks and Derek.

There’s a gentle kiss pressed to the back of Dare’s neck and Dare feels Brooks align his front with the entirety of Dare’s back. Dare looks across the room at the unfinished painting of the landscape of what could have been their home. He’s just barely able to make out the details with the light streaming in from the cracked door of the bathroom.

Once in the Gallery, always in the Gallery. There is nothing else.

Chapter Text

Weeks pass and Brooks has gone back to drawing his artistic inspiration from what he calls his favorite muse: Dare himself. Dare is sketched, painted, oiled and plastered in varying positions, both clothed and not. He likes the way Brooks looks at him as he creates his art, as if Dare were something beautiful, worthy of replication in every medium. All around their room, Dare sees artwork of himself, lovingly created by his Master.

Every night Dare works in the club downstairs, rotating through different sections as the week goes on as Mikael likes for them to do. Brooks always helps Dare pick out an outfit to wear so that Dare feels just as sexy as if he were wearing just his pink lace.

It was Dare’s idea to skip going out to Mr. Kincaid’s ranch on the first Wednesday after learning what is going on ‘out there’. They’ve skipped going out for five weeks now and Dare misses it immensely. Going out every Wednesday is a routine though, and routines are easy to catch on to. Dare won’t be the reason that someone he loves gets found or reclaimed.

With the relocated gym completed, Dare and Brooks have been working out nearly every morning. Several times Derek has come to grab Dare and taken him to the gym to teach him self-defense moves. Derek isn’t a small man, but Dare is substantially taller and broader than him. Once Dare catches on to a move, he easily overpowers his friend so they move on to simply sparring.

It takes Dare awhile to do anything but defense with Derek. Derek attacks and Dare tries to thwart or avoid it. Derek has to really prod Dare to make him go on offense, attack Derek so that Derek can show him how to counter some defensive moves.

No matter the strides Dare makes in this area, fighting isn’t really his thing. Dare easily lifts, flips and floors Derek and then apologizes profusely as he helps his friend up. He hits Derek fairly hard and asks if he’s okay. He accidentally gives Derek a black eye and the guilt is very near a tangible thing. Derek always tells him that it’s okay, hit harder, try harder… Dare does try harder for a moment or two and then goes back to worrying over the other man.

Derek jokingly calls him a gentle giant but Dare doesn’t see the lie in it.

After one session when they’re both sitting on a mat with bottles of water, Dare asks Derek. “How many pets have gone missing?”

“Brooks told me he told you.” Derek taps his fingers against his water bottle. “Fourteen, two of which were under WP so… something’s obviously up.”

“I feel so stupid...” Dare says the ‘s’ word for the first time in a long while. It feels like it’s appropriate in this moment, a truth rather than self degradation.

“You’re not stupid, Dare.” Derek places a hand on Dare’s. “Why do you feel stupid?”

Dare shakes his head. “I thought we were in the clear. I thought there was no way they could...”

“I see. I know. Me too.” Derek sighs. “Realistically… sadly… organizations like the Gallery will always exist. Human trafficking has been around for a long damn time and I don’t think it’s ever going away. These people are hard to completely tear down, Dare.”

“Cause of the roots.” Dare says, recalling a previous conversation with Derek.

“Yeah… the roots of the tree are the hardest to get at and they can always regrow the tree.” Derek agrees. “Their reclaiming people is just them flexing their power, same as their forcing trials to re-victimize the victims when everyone knows they’re guilty - cocky assholes.”

Dare is silent for a moment, thinking that the tree analogy is an excellent way to think of the Gallery as a whole. So how would one get at the roots? Dare isn’t sure that he’d even know where to start. He knows that right now the roots regrowing the tree are holding him back from the life he and Brooks could have.

“Is there a way I can help?” Dare hears himself ask the question before he even knows he’s going to ask it. He’s unsure of what he’s really asking.

Apparently Derek is just as confused. “A way you can help what?”

“To get at the root.” Dare asks, still unsure of exactly what he’s asking in this moment. All he knows is that these people killed his dad and they’re still operating. Dare did nothing back then, all those years ago. The anger and guilt he feels over that has no outlet and so he’s left with it simmering and occasionally boiling to the surface. If he can do something now, he wants to. “Is there anything I can do?”

Derek stares at him for a long moment, looking surprised by the question, thoughtful and then resigned as he finally shakes his head. “I would never do that to you, Dare. I’d never be a part of putting you through all of that again.”

All of that again, meaning it would involve going back into the Gallery. The idea of it terrifies Dare. But when he thinks of the image of his dad, shocked with a fresh bullet piercing his brain, it gives Dare just enough bravery to wonder why he couldn’t look that terror in the eyes to destroy the people who destroyed his life from before. Why can’t Dare play the system in the same way that Brooks had?

Because he’s probably too stupid… or slow, to do what Brooks did in the name of getting at the roots. That’s why.

The thought deflates Dare’s momentary internal bravado.

“Oscar.” Dare says the name that he only rarely says out loud. “What is he to the Gallery?”

“You said he was a guest at one of the Mistress’s dinner parties?” Derek asks.

“At several dinner parties.” Dare clarifies.

Derek seems to weigh that for a moment before answering. “Most of the dinner guests were connected to the Gallery somehow, either directly or indirectly – meaning, they either worked in the Gallery, high up, or they did business with the Gallery from the outside.”

Dare thinks this through for a long moment. “So Oscar was one of those?”

“Evidence points toward yes, but we have no way of knowing exactly how he’s connected. We don’t even have a real last name for him.” Derek squeezes Dare’s hand in his. “And I think I know where you’re going with this and no…. we’re not letting you be bait to get an inside man. We don’t even know if Oscar is inside the Gallery.” Again, Derek squeezes Dare’s hand. “There’s no way I’m letting you be bait, Dare. You’ve been through enough. So no.”

The truth is that Dare hadn’t even realized that that was where he’d been going until Derek had spoken the words out loud. But once Derek has said them, Dare realizes that that was exactly the thought he was having. The idea is both brilliant and terrifying to him. Right now, terrifying outweighs brilliance so he lets it go.

“It feels like they’ve put us in another cage.” Derek’s eyes snap over to Dare at the comment, so Dare continues. “There was the box they transported me in, then the first room in the Catacombs, then the dark closet they put me in, then the room in the Labs, then the Harem room and the Mistress’s house. I couldn’t get out of any of those rooms, Derek. They were cages. And here I am again...”

Derek slowly nods, his hand squeezing Dare’s. “I’ve felt the same way, Dare. They can dress it up however they like, but it’s still a cage… and I’m so damn tired of it.”

“Me too.” Dare whispers. There are so many things that Dare is so damn tired of.

 

* * *

 

“Don’t move, my sweet Dare.” Brooks says. “We’re trying something new today.”

Brooks has laid out several purple and pink swaths of fabric on the floor and expertly designed them so that the colors swirl together in twists and turns of the two colors that Dare has decided make up himself and his Master. Dare has been instructed to lie back on the fabrics as carefully as possible so as not to disturb the style of them and even then Brooks tweaks a few swaths of fabric surrounding Dare,

Dare is wearing pink heels, his pink lace panties and a black crop top tank top with a pink glitter crown on it. The crop top barely covers his breasts, showing a hint of their rounds at the hem. Brooks had curled his hair so that the soft ringlets fan out against the fabric he lays on around his face. Dare has done his own makeup in his usual dramatic fashion.

Brooks carefully straddles Dare’s waist and opens a case of body paints next to him. There’s a rainbow of colors and Brooks begins to dip his fingertips in bottles and paint Dare’s available skin.

Is this art? Dare doesn’t know. He’d be willing to let Brooks do whatever he wants and call it art though.

For several hours Dare lays there as Brooks swipes paint onto Dare’s skin with his fingertips from his neck down to the tips of his toes. Dare lets Brooks fashion his legs how he wants them with one straight and one slightly bent. Brooks rests one of Dare’s hands above his head and the other paint covered hand over his paint covered abdomen. Brooks makes sure both pendants rest perfectly at Dare’s neck and chest and then he stands back and looks down. A few more tweaks of the purple and pink material surrounding Dare and Brooks seems pleased with the result.

“Don’t move, sweetheart. It’s perfect. You’re perfect.” Brooks grabs a ladder he’d had resting against the wall and brings it over. Then he gets a camera and climbs the ladder.

After a few adjustments to the camera, Brooks begins to snap photos from above while giving Dare instructions. “Turn your head slightly to your left. There, that’s right. Bend your right leg a little bit more. Perfect. Think about Mase making an ass of himself on a daily basis.”

This makes Dare smirk and smile a bit.

“Yeah, that’s beautiful.” Brooks says, continuing to snap photos. “Now think about the ropes hidden in our bed and the way I wrap them around your wrists.”

Dare sobers and looks up to his Master. He isn’t sure what the look on his face is, but it makes Brooks grin wickedly and snap a few more photos.

“If we ever get to have our house on our land, do you want a bed with ropes hidden in it?” Brooks asks.

Dare nods slowly and whispers an answer. “Yes, Sir.”

Brooks snaps another photo, then the camera lens hums as it zooms in closer and the shutters close around another photo. “Fuck the entire world, Dare. You’re absolutely gorgeous and you deserve everything good. I wish I could give it to you right now.”

The words only emphasize the fact that Brooks is in the same cage that Dare is in. And when he thinks about it, everyone in this building is in the same cage.

Again, Dare feels a spike of anger.

Brooks snaps a few photos of whatever Dare’s face looks like now and it serves to quell some of that anger.

“This moment isn’t bad, Sir.” Dare says.

Brooks grins at him. “Meaning it’s good?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I guess good moments are good enough for now… at least until we can get to a good life.” Brooks climbs down from the ladder and stands over Dare with a foot on either side of his hips. He points the camera down and snaps another photo.

Dare hates the doubt that has settled in his gut about his Master’s plans for them. He can’t help it though. To him it feels like they live in a world where there’s more bad than good and where the bad guys are the ones that always come out on top.

“Do you think it’ll actually happen, Sir?” Dare asks.

Brooks kneels with a knee on either side of Dare’s waist. “Our land.” Brooks snaps a photo. “Our house.” And another photo. “Our stable with our horses.” The camera flashes again. “Our dog.” Brooks takes another photo. “Our life.” And one last one before he lowers the camera. “I will fight like hell to make this happen for you Dare.”

“For us?” Dare corrects Brooks, but poses it as a question so that it seems less like a correction.

Brooks nods around a growing grin. “For us.”

If Brooks can fight like hell to give Dare and he the life they both want, then maybe Dare can glean some of that fight from him to use for himself. Dare wants to be brave like his mom always wanted him to be. He wants to be strong like Mikael thinks he could be. He wants to be smart like Brooks has always said that he is.

That’s the problem with the words slow and stupid; they can be applied to counteract almost any of those positives. While the word stupid is moving further and further away from Dare, the word slow goes even further back with Dare to before the Gallery even.

His parents loved him, but his parents were also human. They should have never let those doctors call him slow. Some labels stick for a lifetime.

Brooks’s lips are on his and Dare welcomes the kiss for the distraction it presents to his spiraling thoughts. He also welcomes it because when Brooks kisses him it makes him feel every kind of good.

“Stand up, baby.”

Dare lets Brooks help him to his feet. The paint covering his skin is dried now. Brooks is kissing him again and walking him backward to one of the corner bedposts at the foot of the bed.

“Stay.” Brooks whispers against Dare’s lips, kisses him again and then steps up onto the foot board. He asks Dare to lift his arms and Dare looks up to watch his Master slip the pink and purple ropes around his wrists.

Dare remembers another time when his arms were strung up above his head. Salt and Pepper had done this to him in the Catacombs. This is something completely different. Brooks’s touches are gentle at his wrists, checking the ropes, that touch gliding down his arms to his shoulders.

When Brooks gets back to the floor, the other man stands in front of Dare, grinning. His hands rest lightly at Dare’s waist as he leans in to kiss him. “You look so sexy right now, covered in paint.”

Brooks’s touch lifts up Dare’s abs to caress the visible underside of Dare’s breasts beneath the cropped tank top and that feels like such an intimate touch to Dare. He can’t pinpoint why, given all the ways in which he’s been touched by Brooks and others.

Then Brooks’s fingertips rest over the pink glitter crown embossed on the black tank. “My Queen...”

Dare feels a grin tug at his own lips at that. “Is that a good thing, Sir, to be a queen? It feels like a good thing.”

“Definitely a good thing.” Brooks nods. “Even better that you’re mine.”

Dare likes it. He likes being Brooks’s Queen. “Does that make you my King, Sir?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s a given, baby.” Brooks kisses Dare again and then moves to the bedside table. He returns with the pink and purple swirl vibrator. After pulling down the back of Dare’s lace panties, Brooks carefully replaces the everyday plug with the dildo in Dare’s pussy, securing the straps around Dare’s thighs and then pulling his panties back up.

Dare’s body is already alive with anticipation, but when Brooks turns the vibrator on with the remote, Dare’s entire self rises to a whole different level.

“What would you think if other people saw all the artwork I’ve done of you?” Brooks asks, having gotten some cloth to begin wiping dried paint away from Dare’s skin.

It’s difficult to focus properly with the vibrator buzzing away in his pussy, but Dare looks around to the artwork that’s begun to accumulate around the room, art of himself in various states of undress and dressed, in various positions, some sexual and some not. He remembers the enlarged portrait of himself in the harem room at the Gallery.

“The Mistress had big poster sized photographs of all of us in the harem room. I was embarrassed of mine at first, but after awhile you get used to it.” Dare says thoughtfully. “Your work is different… although I have no idea why or how. I’m not embarrassed of it.”

“It’s because I love you and I would never do anything to embarrass you.” Brooks answers, having cleaned Dare’s hands and arms above his head and now finishing up with his chest and neck area. He moves down to Dare’s abs. “What I do is art, not porn. The execution and the intent is the difference.”

It’s art inspired by love. Dare can see that in every shadow of charcoal, every brush stroke… “And you want people to see it.”

“I’m thinking about doing a whole gallery showing centered around you.” Brooks admits. “Someday… when we can.”

It’s yet another way in which Brooks has been boxed in by the rebuilding Gallery. Brooks has even lost the freedom of his art and that just serves to make Dare angry again.

Brooks caresses the side of Dare’s face, studying him carefully. “This look on your face, it’s new… but I’ve seen it a lot lately. What is it?”

Dare shakes the anger off and shrugs. “I’m just tired, Sir.” Tired of feeling trapped. Tired of the bad guys winning. Tired of his own inability to do anything. Tired of being slow and… sometimes stupid. Just tired.

His Master looks at him, concern in his eyes for a long moment before he arches a brow and half grins. His hand slips down to grab at Dare’s lace covered cunt. “Too tired to play?”

“Never, Master.” Dare answers after a quick intake of breath at the touch.

Brooks grins brightly at him and Dare gleans some of that from his Master to cover up for the darkness that seems to be growing inside of him.

The next half hour is Brooks cleaning every bit of paint off of Dare from the tips of his fingers where they’re bound above him down to the tips of his toes. The constant touch combined with the vibrating dildo in is his pussy is a heady combination, near maddening when Brooks finally seems confident that he got every bit of paint and walks away into the bathroom.

Dare is left there at the edge of another level of arousal, feeling at a loss without Brooks’s touch, still climbing with the way his Gallery upgrades make the vibrator feel so damn intense. He glances at Brooks where his Master is washing his hands at the sink and then closes his eyes and rests his head back against the post behind him, trying to settle himself, trying to control his level of arousal.

Eventually, he hears the click of shutters and opens his eyes to see Brooks looking down at the screen on the back of the camera. “Fuck, that’s gorgeous...” His Master mutters, seeming to say the words more to himself than to Dare.

When his Master looks back to him, Dare sees a look that he’s become extremely acquainted with where Brooks is concerned. It’s the look he sees from across the bar at night when Brooks has decided he wants to fuck Dare so bad he can barely sit still to wait. It’s the look his Master has when they’re deciding what Dare should wear for the night when Dare isn’t sure whether the clothes are going to stay on long enough for him to get out the door and go to work or whether they’re about to be ripped off and he’s going to be late.

It’s want. It’s hunger. It’s desire. It’s obsession. It’s something carnal that’s deep inside most everyone, very near unexplainable in the simple human nature aspect of it.

Brooks sets the camera aside and walks slowly toward Dare, shaking his head. “How the fuck did I get so lucky? I never thought...” he pauses, again, shaking his head. “I dreamed of you, but I never thought...”

“I’m right here.” Dare says when Brooks seems to trail off thoughtfully. “I’m yours and you’re mine and I want you to fuck me.” Dare’s surprised at the lack of submission in his voice. He’s just commanded, not just with words but also in tone of voice, that his Master fuck him. It’s something Bran would do.

It’s so startling that Dare belatedly adds another word to soften his prior sentence. “...Sir.”

A corner of Brooks’s lips pulls upward in a mischievous grin. “Is that what you want?”

Dare nods, his body practically writhing with his want against the bedpost. “Yes, Sir.”

“Well, beautiful, we both know that where you’re concerned, I’m a sure thing.” Brooks says, stepping closer. His knuckles run lightly up Dare’s bare abdomen, tripping over the muscles there until they push up beneath his crop top to his cleavage. “But I think you should say please. Don’t you?”

The look on Brooks’s face, the playfully seductive tone, the way he’s only inching into his control over Dare rather than snatching the control Dare just displayed away, that touch… the touch… the way Brooks touches him, and the buzzing, the incessant vibrating in his pussy, all of it is a heavy mixture of adrenaline added to his arousal. Dare knows that his cunt is leaking pre in his pink lace panties.

“Please.” Dare says, the word a drawn out and supplicant sort of prayer.

“Please what?” Brooks asks, his hand cupping one large breast, lifting the weight of it and then pinching at Dare’s nipple. The move has caused that half of Dare’s crop top to hike up above his breast.

Dare emits the most wanton of sounds as Brooks toys with one breast and then moves to the other to give it the same treatment. His crop top is scrunched up completely above his breasts now. “Please fuck me. Please, Master. I’m yours. Please. Please fuck me.”

“You’re my Queen.” Brooks leans in to kiss at Dare’s lips, his teeth snagging on the bottom lip and tugging.

Dare nods, replying only when Brooks teeth have let go to allow him to. “Yes, Master. I’m your Queen. Please, fuck your Queen.”

“Asked so nicely...” Brooks grins, his fingers hooking in the waist of Dare’s panties to push them down to Dare’s muscular thighs. “How can I refuse? Your wish is my command, my Queen.”

Another kiss and then Brooks guides Dare to turn around and face the bedpost. Dare rests his cheek against the cool, smooth wood and tries unsuccessfully to steady his breath. How does Brooks do this to him? Dare spent years wanting and being left disappointed, never being used. Now that he has Brooks, he wonders how he ever thought that his treatment, or lack thereof, all those years in the Gallery was okay.

Dare is wanted. And when Dare wants, Brooks gives… tenfold.

Brooks wonders how he got so lucky? Dare is in a constant underlying state of shock that this is his life now. Yes, he would indeed do anything to protect it, he thinks.

The vibrating stops and Dare feels left wanting for something, anything to stimulate his pussy. The straps are released and the dildo slides out and Dare feels a void, his pussy searching for something else to fill it. No, not just something else, for his Master.

“Please...” Dare whispers.

“Yes, beautiful.” Brooks whispers, a hand gripping at Dare’s hip as he quickly rams his cock into Dare’s pussy. “Yes. Always, yes.”

Dare groans heavily as he’s filled with his Master. Brooks wastes no time giving Dare what he’s asked for. Dare pushes back against each fuck, forcing his Master’s cock deeper and deeper. Brooks fills him completely, hitting every perfect spot deep inside of Dare.

“Please may I cum, Sir?” Dare asks, his voice tight and breathy. “Please?”

“Not yet.” Brooks sounds just as harried, just as tense. “Almost. Almost, beautiful.”

Dare buries his face in his bicep, knowing that he’s probably smearing his makeup as he does. In this moment he doesn’t care. His entire self is a live tripwire of pleasure. He’s a disconnected power cord bouncing and sparking, dangerously volatile. Above his head, his hands grip the bedpost he’s bound to so tightly that he thinks he hears the wood creak.

Brooks fucks him and fucks him while Dare has grown still to try to stave off his impending orgasm. The bed shakes. The fan hums overhead. Skin slaps against skin. Grunts, groans, a gasp of breath, a trembled exhale.

“Now, Dare.” Brooks hisses, his hands at Dare’s hips bruisingly tight. “Now.”

Brooks’s wish is Dare’s command.

Chapter Text

It’s several days later and Passion is in full swing. It’s one of the busier nights and Dare is happy to have the work to do to keep his mind off of the dark tangle of thoughts that have become increasingly more persistent in his mind.

Dare feels useless. He feels like he has no control over anything and strangely, in line with getting some of himself back and figuring out who he is now, Dare wants to be able to control a certain number of things. He doesn’t want to be in a cage anymore. He wants the freedom to choose certain aspects of his life as surely as he chooses what shades of eye shadows to blend together each morning. He wants to be able to say no and that some things are not okay.

These thoughts are gnawing at his insides. The occasional burst of anger that he has no idea what to do with bounces around, pummeling his psyche with nowhere to go until he pushes it deep down inside and hides it away. While he still grieves, most of his sadness has turned into a free fall of anger that has no outlet.

Anger with no outlet is a dangerous thing, Dare thinks. He’s begun searching for a way to expel it and has yet come up empty handed. Anger doesn’t come naturally to Dare. He isn’t adept at handling it.

Yes, Dare is thankful for the distraction of work.

He’s working the section that includes Mikael’s table tonight, which also makes him happy because every time he rotates to Mikael’s table he gets to see Brooks.

Gregory is at the table as well tonight, Bran resting down on all fours on a pallet in full dog head space beside his Master. Bran has a leash attached to his collar, the other end which Gregory holds. There’s a bowl in front of Bran full of water that Bran occasionally laps at or chews on the edge of. Every time Dare stops by the table, Bran yips at him and paws Dare’s ankles or licks his toes.

For Dare’s part, his dark blonde hair hangs straight down his back, the pinks and purples underneath peeking through as his long hair shifts as he walks. His makeup is on point, dark and dramatic. The low cut pale pink shimmery crop top he wears barely covers his breasts. Brooks had told him not to wear a bra with it and Dare has decided that his Master was right, the top looks better without a bra. He wears his skin tight faux leather pants and black four inch heels that have pale pink bows on their backs.

Dare feels sexy. Brooks always makes sure that Dare feels sexy.

He swings by Mikael’s table winking at Brooks across the table as he picks up empty glasses and bottles. “Another Dos, Sir?” He asks his Master if he wants another drink first.

“Yes, please.” Brooks grins at him.

Bran yips and licks at Dare’s pink glitter painted toes. It tickles but Dare lets Bran do it.

“And you, Sir?” he asks Mikael.

“Another wine, yes Dare.” Mikael says distractedly, looking at his phone. Dare can see a text conversation between Derek and Mikael on the screen but doesn’t read the details. “Thank you.” Derek’s Master says belatedly. When Derek is involved, almost all of Mikael’s attention is drawn to his pet, even on a phone screen.

Gregory isn’t finished with his scotch yet but Dare asks anyway. “And you, Sir?”

“I’ll go ahead and take another. Thank you, Dare.” Gregory says. “I also left some treats for Bran behind the bar, if you don’t mind getting those as well?”

“Yes, Sir.” Another small grin at Brooks that’s mirrored back at him and Dare turns on his heels to give his Master a good show as he sashays away to the bar.

It’s one of is favorite things about working Mikael’s table. He gets to tease Brooks all night, not from across the bar, but up close where he can see every reaction on his Master’s handsome face.

“Another Dos with lime, Master Mikael’s wine, another bourbon on ice and Master Gregory says there should be a bag of treats for Bran behind the bar.” Dare tells the tender who nods and gets to work, setting everything on the tray.

Dare looks back to see Brooks half listening to Master Gregory while Brooks’s eyes are on Dare’s ass. That makes Dare smile as he turns back to the bar. Mission accomplished.

Jai presses into Dare’s side, a hand sliding around Dare’s waist. “You look very pretty, Dare… although I prefer you in your pink lace.”

It’s improvement for Jai, honestly. This time Jai didn’t say it was something that their Mistress would prefer.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Dare leans over to kiss Jai’s brow. “And you look very sexy too.”

Jai smiles and slides a folded piece of paper over to Dare. “This was left at the front coat check for you.”

Dare watches Jai walk away. It’s rare to see him outside of the safety of coat check when Passion is open unless he has a reason to be.

“I think this is what Master Gregory is talking about.” The bartender holds up a plastic baggie with small brown dog treats in them. “Anything else?”

Dare slips the folded paper in the waistband of his leather pants and shakes his head. “No, thanks.”

He takes the tray back to Mikael’s table and starts placing drinks in front of the correct Master. Then the bag of treats in front of Gregory.

Bran’s Master looks up to him and smiles. “Thank you, Dare.”

Mikael murmurs a thank you as well and Dare looks at Brooks. “You’re welcome, Sir.” Dare means that he’s welcome for the show of his walking away and Brooks seems to glean that truth.

Brooks grins with amusement.

Dare works a few more tables before the paper secured against his skin starts to bother him, reminding him of its existence. He slips to the employee bathroom to take care of some business then exits the stall, washing his hands. He unfolds the paper and finds thick red ink… no, it’s lipstick, sloppily written and smeared as it pressed against itself when the paper was folded.

The note reads:

Find a way to come outside unnoticed or everyone will know exactly who is in this club. 2 flashes.

Dare has to remind himself to breathe.

Oscar.

Dare’s hands hold tightly to the sides of the paper, thinking about everyone here in jeopardy of being discovered: Jai, Bran, Lily, JB, Kyle…. Brooks… Brooks… Brooks…

Should he take the note straight to Mikael? What would happen if he didn’t go outside? The note clearly says what will happen.

What does two flashes mean?

Is he doing this? Can he do this? Is it stupid of him to do this? Is it more stupid for him not to do it? He remembers Brooks telling him that there are some decisions that only he can make. This seems like one of those decisions.

No, he probably can’t do this. He’s… slow, stupid, slow…

He was too slow to do anything right from the beginning when they killed his dad. Dare feels almost sick thinking about how they killed his dad right now, how they made him forget, how they didn’t let him grieve, how he was too damn slow.

Sick morphs into anger. His anger has nowhere to go. He doesn’t know what to do with or about anger.

Yes, he’s doing this. He’s terrified, but he’s doing this.

They’ll never get out of this cage if someone doesn’t do something.

He reads the note again.

Find a way to come outside unnoticed or everyone will know exactly who is in this club. 2 flashes.

Dare crumples the note and starts to toss it into the trash bin before he stops himself. He spreads it out, unwrinkling it as best he can and places it in the middle of the bathroom counter. This way Mikael can tell Derek what happened. Derek has FBI connections. This way Brooks will know what happened. He’s almost proud of himself for thinking of it in the moment, for not being slow.

Dare can do this.

Carefully and slowly, Dare unclasps both necklaces at the back of his neck and sets them down. It’s wrong and it’s sacrilege for a pet to remove their Master’s collar with a plan to go to another Master, which is exactly what the necklaces are to Dare and is exactly what Dare has just done. That’s why they need to be removed though. He can’t make this decision as Brooks’s pet. He has to make this decision as Daren Brooks. If all goes according to plan, this way he’ll get the necklaces back someday… maybe.

Right?

He stares at the necklaces on top of the note in a long moment of indecisiveness. What if Brooks never gives them back? What if Dare never makes it back? What if…

No. Dare looks up into the mirror. I can do this, he thinks. I can do this. It’s my decision to take action, to not be useless, to find some control.

Be brave, my sweet Dare. I double-dog dare you to be brave.

With his mom’s voice in his head, he exits the bathroom and grabs his tray, making another round at his tables. When he stops at Mikael’s table, all three Masters are in a deep conversation that stops when Dare arrives. All drinks are still partially full.

Dare looks at Brooks. “Everyone good?”

After a pause, Brooks grins at Dare. “We’re great, Beautiful.”

Dare stands there for a moment, looks to Mikael and then back to Brooks. Should he tell them? There’s a moment here where he silently begs them to tell him that he isn’t smart enough or good enough or brave enough or strong enough to do what he’s decided to do.

No one tells him that he isn’t enough. The people at this table think that Dare can do anything.

Brooks tilts his head slightly, eyeing Dare curiously. It’s Mikael who asks, “Are you alright, Dare?”

everyone will know exactly who is in this club.

Dare forces a smile and nods, putting on the charm. “Yeah, it’s good. This table is just too full of handsome right now.”

All three Masters seem amused with this and Dare feels like he did the right thing. He turns away but Brooks calls him back.

“Hey, beautiful!” Dare twists to look back at his Master. “You sure you’re okay?”

Again, Dare wishes they would somehow through some miracle osmosis tell him no. But then he shakes that off. Dare has things he wants to try to do, past wrongs to make up for, anger still unfelt to work through. So he smiles and nods at his Master. “Yes, Master.”

Brooks nods and smiles back.

Dare attends to a few more tables before looking to the front and the lobby where coat check is. That seems too obvious and noticeable. Mikael has bouncers and guards at the door. The fire exit has two guards standing sentinel as well.

These guards have always been there and always made Dare feel safe. Now they present a roadblock.

Dare looks to the swinging doors that lead to the kitchens, a space he’s never been in, and starts to inch that way. When he looks back to Mikael’s table, he sees Brooks looking frustrated as he shakes his head at Mikael. Gregory seems to be mediating between the two.

Dare slips into the kitchens.

There are men and women back here working, cleaning plates and glasses and cutlery, cooking the few meals on the limited menu the club has to offer. It smells simultaneously of delicious food, beer, booze and cleaning supplies.

At the far end is a metal door with an EXIT sign above it. There are no guards. Dare’s heels click over tile as he tries to walk through the kitchens like he knows what he’s doing. He turns heads, obviously. Because it isn’t often that the pets and the kitchen staff are around each other. There’s no reason for any of the pets to be in the kitchens.

Also, Dare is not the kind of pet you see every day.

Dare pushes the metal bar on the door and the cold air outside hits him as he steps outside. No alarms go off. It’s easy.

He’s standing in the alleyway and he starts to walk along the side of the building toward the parking lot. A hand touches his arm and Dare whirls around to find one of Mikael’s guards with a cigarette in one of his hands. The man must usually stand at the kitchen exit and had stepped out to the other side to smoke. Dare has been around this man before, but he can’t remember his name.

“What are you doin’ out here, Dare?” the guard asks. “It’s cold, Sweetheart. You should be inside.”

Dare presses his pink tinted lips together and looks over to the parking lot. A slick black SUV flashes it’s lights at him twice. The windows are tinted so dark that it’s impossible to see inside the vehicle.

2 flashes.

Dare swallows hard and turns back to the guard. “Please tell Mikeal to look in the employee bathroom, Sir. And tell Brooks… tell him I’m sorry, and I’m gonna play their game like he did so we can have… so we can get out of the cage.”

“I don’t understand.” The guard shakes his head, tossing the cigarette down and putting it out with the toe of his shoe. “Come back inside, Dare. Come on… you can tell them yourself.”

“Are you gonna try to stop me from leaving, Sir?” Dare asks.

The guard seems to think about that for a moment. “Boss says that we shouldn’t stop any of you from leavin’. It’s your choice and this ain’t a prison. But you seem like you’re not yourself and I don’t think whatever’s happenin’ right now is the same thing. You got a Master. He’s inside. You should talk to him. You can talk to Mikael.”

Dare shivers at the cold and shakes his head, trying to think of what to do. “Can you go get them for me, Sir?” His words come out with visible puffs of air in the frigidly cold night.

The guard smirks. “You think I’m fallin’ for that? It’s cute.”

“I’m sorry, Sir.” Dare says.

“Sorry for what?” The guard shakes his head. “You ain’t done nothin’ to be sorry for. Come inside, Sweetheart. Come on. It’s cold. We’ll take you to Mr. Pomelov and your Master.”

“Tell them what I said.” Dare says, without adding a ‘Sir’ or even a ‘please’ to the end. Then he punches the guard in the face. Hard. The man is so startled and Dare’s punch isn’t at all light, he’s so startled that he falls back to the gravel.

Dare turns and walks through the parking lot. The back door to the SUV opens and Dare hears the guard calling his name as he gets inside and shuts the door. The sudden silence is very near deafening.

He’s doing this.

Through the front windshield, Dare sees the guard running toward the SUV, weapon drawn, calling his name. Blood is streaming down from the guard’s nose. Behind the guard, the metal alleyway door slams open and Brooks comes running outside, eyes wild as he spots the guard aiming at the SUV that’s pulling away. Brooks must have come looking for him, followed the trail.

He sees Brooks scream the word ‘no’ and slam the guard’s arm down before he can fire. Even now Brooks is trying to protect him, not knowing where in the SUV Dare is seated, unable to see into the SUV, not knowing if the glass of the SUV is bulletproof or not…

Dare loves him so, so much.

Brooks is clutching the guard’s shoulders and screaming questions at the man and that’s the last image Dare sees as the SUV pulls out of the parking lot.

There are two men in the front seat of the vehicle. Dare is in the backseat by himself. Neither of the men speak and neither one of them look like Oscar. Dare remains silent as the SUV drives through the streets, his fingers sliding over his bare neck that has no necklaces on it.

He feels naked. He might as well be naked.

They’re outside of the city when the SUV pulls over at a truck stop. Both men exit the vehicle and get Dare from the back seat. Both men wear suits and ties as well as long coats over their suits and scarves around their necks. The hands on his bare arms guide him to another SUV, this one white instead of black. Dare gets in the backseat again, without much prompting.

He’s doing this.

“A guy has no right to look that hot.” The driver says as he gets in the new driver’s seat and starts the SUV.

Passenger Seat guy smirks and looks at Dare. “You’re being a very good pet.” He uses his teeth to take the cap off of something and then sticks something sharp in Dare’s arm even as Dare speaks shaking his head.

“You don’t have to, Sir. I’ll be good.”

The world almost immediately starts swimming.

Passenger Seat guides Dare to lie down in the backseat, even going so far to push him further in. “There you go. This is for the best. Get some rest, Pet.”

Both men are back in their respective seats in front of Dare and the new vehicle is moving.

The driver glances back at Dare before looking back to the road. “I mean look at those tits. What the actual fuck, right?”

“He’s Oscar’s.” Passenger Seat says. “Turn the heat up. It’s cold and he isn’t wearing a coat. We’re supposed to take care of him.”

The driver turns the heat up. “I know. Oscar finally got a newer, hotter upgrade from the last one… cause holy damn this one’s...”

When the driver doesn’t finish, Passenger Seat looks back at Dare, reaching back to carefully pull Dare’s crop top back down from where it had slid up to bare his breasts in the shuffling of his limp body. It would be a kind gesture except that the man doesn’t miss the opportunity to get a handful of one round breast and squeeze before he does the good deed.

“Yeah, he is.” Passenger Seat says as he turns back around to the front. “Maybe Oscar won’t get tired of this one.”

Dare’s world descends into a fuzzy blackness.

Chapter Text

There are numerous times when Dare almost wakes. He sees flashes of streetlights, flashes of black starry skies, flashes of sunrise, flashes of tall buildings and trees and mountains and more buildings and a sunset. Several times Passenger Seat turns back to prick his arm again with another syringe. Several times Dare feels hands on his body, everywhere… they touch him everywhere.

He dreams of flat land filled with cattle. He dreams of Brooks’s hearty laugh and his sweet, delicate kisses. He dreams of Bran licking at his toes and Jai hugging him from behind and Lily fixing his hair and him being the meat in a twin sandwich. He dreams of Mikael looking at him approvingly and Gray’s soft smile and never-ending patience. Dare dreams of looking through his photo albums while kneeling on a pink pallet. He dreams of wearing a white sundress with pink roses on it, a white floppy white hat with a pink sash tied around the bowl and being on Brooks’s arm around so many normal people.

He dreams of being Brooks’s Queen.

The car has stopped when the back door is opened and both men are helping Dare out of the vehicle. They help him stand and lean him against the… the now black SUV. When had they changed vehicles again? Dare has lost track of time. Have they changed vehicles more than twice?

Passenger Seat smooths Dare’s sleep mussed hair down and straightens his pale pink slinky crop top. “There we go. Makeup’s a bit smudged but it’ll have to do for now.”

“Those abs...” the driver says. “He’s got no right.”

Passenger Seat chuckles. “Your crush has to end now. He’s Oscar’s.”

The driver mumbles something and turns toward the house.

As Passenger Seat seems to try to make Dare look presentable, in what seems like slow motion, Dare looks over to a massive adobe house. The house has three stories and sprawls across several acres of land. Dare’s mind is still hazy and he tries to quickly sharpen his senses.

“Alright.” Passenger Seat grabs one of Dare’s arms, more to guide than hold since Dare doesn’t have small arms, and starts leading him toward the front door where the driver waits at the door. “Time to go see your Master.”

Dare knows they’re not talking about Brooks and that hurts his heart and makes his fear spike sky high. He tries to shut that hurt out as well as the fear. He did this for a reason. He just has to keep up... not be slow.

Please let me keep up. Please help me play the game. Please don’t leave me alone., he silently prays to God.

He climbs the brick steps, still trying to clear his mind. The driver opens one of the double front doors. There are armed guards on either side of the front door. Dare is led into an entryway and down a hallway, right turn, then a left turn to another hallway.

Oscars voice is yelling from a room down the hall. Dare recognizes it. The man sounds very angry about something. Dare is brought to an open door and he sees Oscar standing behind a desk looking out of a wall of windows as he speaks angrily into his phone.

“We have a certain standard to uphold.” Oscar barks. “You keep bringing me riff raff that aren’t worthy of licking my dog’s ass then you’re gonna end up six feet under on the back forty like the rest of them. Trust me, I’ve got plenty of room and a great gardener.”

The driver knocks at the door and Oscar whirls around. His anger gives way to a smile. “Do your job.” He still manages to sound menacing into the phone even though he’s smiling. Then he ends the call, sets his cellphone on the desk and walks around to the front.

“There you are… finally where you belong.” Oscar says, cupping a hand at Dare’s cheek to lift his chin. “And look at you… fucking sexy as ever. Drugs still in your system, pet?”

“They definitely are.” Passenger Seat says. “He swayed and wobbled the whole way through the house.”

Oscar nods, then his hand slips away and comes back to hit Dare’s cheek hard enough to whip Dare’s head to the side. Dare’s still hazy so the slap surprises him, his skin burning and stinging where he was hit. “You stupid fuck toy. All the lipstick I sent you and it took a fucking note spelling it out for you to know that I want you? I don’t like being kept waiting.”

Dare has to play this game. He can play this game. He lowers his gaze. “I’m sorry, Sir.”

Oscar hums and pats Dare’s cheek over where he’d slapped none too gently. “That’s okay. My stupid fuck toy is very pretty and that’s all you need to be, eh?” When Dare doesn’t answer, Oscar grabs his chin, forcing Dare to look up at him again. “Say it, Dare. It’s okay for you to be stupid because you’re so fucking pretty.”

“It’s… It’s okay for me to be stupid because I’m so fucking pretty, Sir.” Dare says, his throat feeling tight over the word ‘stupid’.

“That’s right, pet. That’s right.” Oscar looks around Dare. “Scan it in.”

A guard enters the room and dips low to the ground to hold an electronic device close to Dare’s ankle over the bar code. There’s a beeping sound. The guard stands and looks at the screen on the device. “Item 9464213: reclaimed. I’ll send it’s info to your email and the network.”

“Yes, good. Now listen closely Fuck Toy cause I’m gonna spell things out for you again now that I know that it’s necessary for that tiny brain of yours.” Oscar says, resting a hand on Dare’s shoulder. “My boys are gonna take you upstairs to my bedroom. You’re gonna strip, shower, clean the outside world off of you inside and out. You’ll fix your hair then you’ll put your face on like you usually do. Make yourself all pretty for me with red lipstick. Then you’ll kneel in the bedroom and wait for me. Got it?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare says.

“Call me Master.” Oscar orders.

Dare messes up here. He knows he does because he hesitates for a fraction of a second, thinking of Brooks. In the end, he answers quietly and obediently because this impossible decision he made is already a success. “Yes, Master.”

Oscar’s eyes narrow at the hesitation, but the man nods and snaps his fingers.

It isn’t the driver or Passenger Seat that barks at him to heel. It’s the guard who scanned the bar code on his ankle. Dare is led by the guard through several winding hallways and up a flight of stairs. At one point on the first floor Dare spots some elevator doors with a down arrow on the side of them. He wonders what’s beneath this house. Labs? Catacombs? Brutes and Doctors? Tortured pets?

Dare can’t help the way his mind slips to Salt and Pepper and the pink glitter dildo buzzing and buzzing as he was fucked. He can’t help the way he both hates the memory and the way it turns him on. He tries to think of pink and purple and Brooks.

The guard is armed with several weapons. They pass guards at different intervals, also armed. Dare is well accustomed to seeing this. The Mistress’s house was the same way. Even Mikael’s guards are armed at Passion, although they aren’t so obvious about it.

They finally reach Oscar’s Master suite and two double doors are standing open to reveal a large room with a big bed that’s currently being fitted with clean sheets by a woman wearing nothing but a white apron, thigh high white stockings and black platform heals. The apron is a joke, barely any material and covering nothing. She continues her work quietly, paying them no heed.

“Follow your orders, pet.” The guard says. “The maid will take your clothes with the dirty sheets so leave them out here.”

This is it. Dare is about to divest himself of the last items that Brooks had touched. Brooks had dressed him in the pale pink slinky crop top that Dare now slips over his head. Brooks had slid his hands over the faux leather pants that Dare peels off of his legs and the silk pink panties that fall to the floor with them. Brooks had bought him the heels he unbuckles at his ankle and slips off to add to the pile.

Dare stands and looks at the pile of clothes, only moving to the bathroom when the guard barks at him to get moving.

It’s something Dare has done every morning for years now, before putting his plug in he cleans himself out just as he was taught to do in the Labs. It had quit being something he was taught to do a long time ago and has become just something that needed doing, part of his routine.

While he’s doing everything in the glass walled shower, the guard comes in and takes the pink plug Dare had set on the counter. He replaces it with an opaque red plug. He sets a bottle of lube next to the red plug. Dare needs no instruction in this.

As he cleans himself, he thinks through what he’s discovered already. Oscar is indeed a part of the Gallery. He doesn’t just do business with them. He’s a member. He might even run his own branch if Dare’s suspicions are correct after seeing the elevator doors that go down. The scan of the bar code on his ankle is proof enough of Oscar’s involvement.

If Oscar runs a branch of the Gallery then that has to make Oscar himself a part of the tree trunk. Heads of branches have to be a part of the trunk of the tree, maybe even close to the roots.

I can do this.

Mikael had told him that he wasn’t a weak, scared little pet and Dare repeats that in his mind now. He hears Brooks tell him that he isn’t stupid. His mind is full of all the wonderful things that have been said to him over the last few years. He clings to those things like they were a life raft.

Given the way Oscar speaks to him, Dare has to try to remember the truth that Brooks taught him to see rather than the lies. He has to.

Dare steps out of the shower and uses the lube before inserting the red plug into his pussy. The guard points to a vanity in a joining room of the bathroom and closet. Dare sits in the chair in front of the mirror and flips on the blow dryer.

Forty minutes later, Dare has dried and flat ironed his hair. His eyes have a deep smokey eye and false lashes. His lips are tinted red.

Back in the bedroom the maid is gone. The dirty sheets are gone. His clothes are gone. Dare is so glad that he thought to leave his necklaces back at Passion.

I’m not stupid.

The bedding is red and black and gold. The walls paneled in a deep mahogany color. Thick red and gold drapes encase each window. There’s a long red pallet with black and gold accent pillows on the floor at the foot of the bed. Next to the armchair is a smaller red pallet and that’s where Dare goes to kneel, clasping his hands together behind his back.

“You’re out of practice.” the guard says. “Spread those knees wider. Show off that dick of yours.”

Dare isn’t sure why, but he flinches at being told that he has a dick. It’s stupid, really, because obviously he does. There are some things that haven’t been changed since the Catacombs though, some things that Dare has defiantly made his own, as Brooks would say.

He dutifully spreads his knees as wide as they will go, but then looks up at the guard. “It’s a cunt, Sir.”

The guard laughs, tosses his head back and laughs. “I’ll remember that.”

Dare is left alone after that. He’s left alone for a long time.

Dare loses himself in a fantasy, closing his eyes and imagining Brooks’s rooms back at Passion. He imagines that his pallet is pink with ruffles of silk and lace, not red. He imagines the bedding is purple and gray and not red, black and gold. He imagines the scent of paints and paint brush cleaner. He imagines that he’s watching Brooks create beautiful art in the far corner of their room.

It’s a long time after the sun has gone down that the doors to the bedroom open. Dare opens his eyes and sees Oscar taking his suit coat off and the same maid as before taking it to hang it in the closet. The maid goes to the windows and closes the drapes and then leaves the room, shutting the doors.

Oscar lights a cigar and takes a few puffs before turning back to look at Dare where he’s kneeling. The older man just stares for a long moment before speaking.

“Now see… that’s the kind of standard I want.” Oscar says, gesturing to Dare and then pacing back and forth across the room as he talks. “The shit they’ve been bringing me… you wouldn’t believe it. Like they went to the garbage bins of human beings and picked from the litter. Tell me Dare, how do I inspire them to bring me your level of beauty?”

Dare isn’t sure what to say. “I...”

“I mean… look at this face.” Oscar is right in front of him, having lowered himself to Dare’s level. He’s grabbed Dare’s chin to crane Dare’s head back. “Fucking beautiful. Makeup, no makeup… fucked up makeup, you’re like a goddamned angel just waiting to be defiled. You remember that first night… when I fucked up your makeup, Dare?”

Dare nods, remembering how undone he had felt, how thoroughly messy and wrong, how humiliated. “Yes, Sir.” It had been hammered into his psyche how important his outward appearance is. Dare still hasn’t been able to move on from that lesson. He still works so hard to maintain perfection on the outside.

“Even then, still fucking beautiful.” Oscar’s hands slide down to touch Dare’s breasts; kneading, fondling. “And then these… a testament to what we can accomplish when we have such a perfect blank slate to start with. I tried to replicate you, you know… none of them were right so I had to get rid of them.”

Dare wonders what he means when he says get rid of them. Dare knows what it feels like to be cast aside, unwanted. He remembers Oscar’s comment about six feet under on the back forty and he thinks he knows the answer. Those poor pets…

“No, you’re the one for me… my fallen angel to defile and degrade.” Oscar says, continuing to kneed at Dare’s breasts. “A perfect, big strong man who’s been made into a perfectly weak, stupid little sissy boi. That’s what you are.” Oscar sighs and takes another puff of his cigar. “You’re every kind of kink for me.”

The man stands and goes to the bathroom where he relieves himself and then goes into his closet.

Dare’s head is spinning with everything Oscar just said to him. He tries to focus on the business aspect that he’s learned. Oscar is unhappy with the people who have been abducted and brought to him lately. What does he do with the ones he doesn’t like, Dare wonders.

Oscar returns completely naked. The man has bronzed skin from head to toe. He isn’t unattractive by any means. He’s older with peppered, graying hair and a square jaw. He has just a bit of a belly on him that’s more pronounced as he sits on the side of his bed and plugs his cellphone in.

“Come here, Pretty Princess. I’ve got a load to put in your mouth.” Oscar grins at Dare as Dare crawls across the floor to the bed. Oscar had liked for him to crawl when he’d come to visit Passion before everyone had found out about him. Dare wants Oscar to be happy enough to talk to him. “We’ll call it your dinner.”

Dare kneels between Oscar’s thighs and takes a deep breath before leaning in to do what he knows how to do so well. It’s just a cock. Dare has had lots in his time since his abduction. Aside from the fact that it isn’t Brooks, it doesn’t really phase him to perform this act.

“Don’t worry. Tomorrow there’ll be actual food for you. I know you must be hungry and we can’t have my muscled sissy boi withering away.” Oscar says. “That’d be real dumb of me and we both know that I’m not the stupid one between the two of us.”

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.

No, it doesn’t really phase him to perform this act. It’s the words that phase him. Words are so powerful, Dare has learned.

It’s okay. This is okay. I can do this.

“Fuck. You’re such a good cock sucker. I missed your perfect, sissy mouth.”

Dare knows he’s good at sucking cock. He could probably do it in his sleep. He knows where to slide his tongue, how to take it deep into his throat, how to dip even lower to suck ball sack into his mouth and then lap back up to the mushroom head to dip his tongue in before taking it deep again. This is something Dare is good at.

Oscar grabs a fistful of Dare’s hair and pulls his head back and his mouth off of his cock. “Jerk me off. Gonna give you a nighttime facial to go with that pretty makeup of yours.”

Wrapping one hand around Oscar’s saliva slicked cock, he starts jerking him off.

“Aim it at your face, Pretty Princess.” Oscar instructs.

I’m a Queen. Dare thinks, even as he does what he’s told to do.

He closes his eyes as cum shoots onto his face. He keeps jerking until there’s no more.

“Rub it in good, Dare.”

Dare uses both hands to rub jizz into his skin.

“Rub the excess onto those big, perfect tits.”

The cum on his face is already drying as Dare rubs what’s left onto his breasts.

“Perfect.” Oscar looks very pleased with him and Dare can’t tell if he’s glad that he pleased him or not. He’s ashamed that a part of him might be glad to have pleased this Master. Oscar makes no move to return the favor of pleasure as Brooks would have done. Dare tries to tell himself that he’s glad of it.

The room is absolutely shrouded in darkness at night. Brooks doesn’t like complete darkness. It’s why Dare’s Master keeps the bathroom door cracked open with the light on inside. Oscar doesn’t want any light. The curtains are thick and heavy to block out any ambient light from the outside. Dare decides that he doesn’t like the absolute darkness either.

He’s told that he’ll sleep at the foot of the bed on the long red pallet and pillows and Dare has just laid down there, the lights turned off with Oscar slipping beneath the covers when he hears the Master speak again.

“Guess my sissy boi didn’t get dinner after all. Facial is a good call though. Gotta keep you looking pretty, pet.” Oscar laughs.

Chapter Text

In the harem, Dare remembers feeling unworthy or inadequate, even jealous when the Mistress would call Jai favored or Lily beautiful or Derek handsome. He remembers longing for her to call his name and want just him. He remembers wishing she would want him… he wanted so badly to be wanted, to be more than a conversation piece.

He’s more than a conversation piece with Oscar. Dare is desired at a very near obsessive level and at one time that might have been enough for him, no matter how he was treated. It isn’t anymore.

Brooks happened.

His Master made him feel loved and adored and favored and beautiful and worthy and… enough.

Right now, having experienced Brooks is a catch-22. He wouldn’t trade it for anything because now he knows what it feels like to be all of those wonderful things. It also makes things difficult with Oscar because now Dare knows what it feels like to be all of those wonderful things.

Oscar wants Dare. Oscar is cruel.

Dare has spent the entirety of day two with yesterday’s makeup smudged on his face and dried, flaky cum on his face and breasts. His hair is a mess. The only thing fresh about him is a new coat of red lipstick that Oscar has applied several times throughout the day, each time being less and less precise in how he applies it.

The Master has kept Dare with him throughout the day, putting the mess that is Dare on display for all of his other employees. Dare has been kneeling on a red pallet in Oscar’s office for most of the day. He’s crawled beneath the man’s desk, thankful that it’s ornate styling leaves him hidden from the entry to the room, and sucked Oscar’s cock several times, sometimes even when Oscar was meeting with someone. He’s swallowed cum a few times and received a fresh facial a few times. He’s let Oscar bend him over the desk so that the Master can fuck him, pull out in time to spray his spunk all over Dare’s ass and spread it out to let it dry and flake like the rest of his cum on Dare. Oscar never tries to make Dare feel pleasure. Each time after having his pussy fucked, Dare is ashamed to be left wanting.

More important than any of that, Dare has listened. He’s listened to his Master belittle him, yes. But he’s also been privy to Oscar’s side of business conversations, to conversations between him and his employees as they’ve filtered in and out of his office.

Oscar is definitely high up in the hierarchy of the Gallery. He’s important.

Later that night back in Oscar’s room, Dare is kneeling on his red pallet while Oscar paces back and forth in the bedroom when an impromptu call comes through. He hears the Master say ‘yes, Sir’ in several consecutive replies and it’s the first time Dare has heard him defer to anyone all day. Dare wonders who he’s talking to.

When the phone call ends, Dare watches Oscar go to the bedside table to get a cigar out of a wooden box and light it up. As Oscar plugs in his cellphone for the night, he looks stressed or worried for a very brief moment, then covers that up when his eyes land on Dare.

“My Pretty Princess… you’re such a mess, aren’t you?”

Yes, Dare feels like an absolute mess right now, skin coated with dried cum and smeared makeup, lipstick that isn’t all on his lips. He itches to fix his outsides but makes no move to do so.

“Yes, Sir.” he answers.

“Call me Master.”

Again, Dare hesitates before applying the title to Oscar. “Yes, Master.”

Oscar tilts his head, studying Dare. “Still pretty. You’re a pretty mess.” When Dare says nothing, Oscar arches a brow. “What should you say when your Master compliments you?”

Oh. Yes, he should say that. Dare has to try not to mentally curl in on himself as he’s prone to do now when he’s belittled or degraded. There was a time when he would have laughed it off and tried to pretend like he was in on the joke. Can he still do that? He isn’t sure.

“Thank you, Sir.” Dare says quietly.

Oscar moves to a table with a crystal decanter of some liquor in it and pours himself a tumbler full. Then he moves to sit in an armchair near Dare’s pallet. “You don’t talk as much as you used to. That’s alright, I always thought your Mistress misused you by forcing that meaningless drivel into your mouth. Except the part where you call yourself stupid, that bit is just stating fact.”

I’m not very smart. I’m...

“Now, I’d like for you to state facts about yourself, but less about your obvious beauty and more about other things. Things like...” Oscar considers for a moment. “You can call yourself a Pretty Princess Sissy Boi. Go ahead.”

“I’m a Pretty Princess Sissy Boi.” Dare says quietly, looking to the floor.

“Or you can call yourself a stupid fuck toy.” Oscar gestures to Dare with his glass before taking a sip. “I mean it’s true, right?”

Dare is about to call himself stupid again… out loud. He swallows hard and nods, looking up to Oscar. “Yes, Sir. I’m a stupid fuck toy.”

Stupid. I’m so stupid…. Fuck. No. No I’m not.

Then he has an idea. He can play the stupid game in his favor… maybe. Can he do that? Would it work? Is he quick and smart enough to play that game?

Oscar is talking again, his fingers smoothing down Dare’s jawline. “You could call yourself my stupid bimbo cum slut.”

“I’m… I’m your stupid bimbo cum slut.” Dare parrots the words back at Oscar. His mind is turning, trying to cast away everything Oscar is making him say about himself and focus on the beginnings of an idea.

“Oh, I have a good one… you could-”

“Master?” Dare interrupts, tilting his head and fashioning a confused look on his face. It’s the first time he’s called Oscar Master without any prompting and it’s done very strategically on Dare’s part.

The intrusion into the Master’s game of belittling Dare is enough of a surprise to make Oscar shift gears as well. “Hrm? What is it?”

“Do you have a Master?” Dare asks carefully.

Oscar stops mid sip and smirks, setting his drink on a small side table and picking up his cigar from the ashtray. “Why would I ever need a Master? What makes you ask?”

“I’m just… confused, Master.” Dare calls Oscar Master again because he knows that the older man likes it.

Oscar runs his thumb lightly over Dare’s dried cum covered brow. “Tell me what that little, tiny brain of yours is confused about, Pretty Princess.”

“Well… you seem very powerful and strong.” Dare starts. “You told people what to do all day.”

“It stands to reason. I am the boss of this place.” Oscar brags, puffing on his cigar through an amused grin.

Dare draws a deep breath, pushing on with his line of questioning. “But you just said ‘yes sir’ a lot on the phone, like I say ‘yes sir’.” Oscar sobers and Dare tries to look innocently confused. He tries, for the first time in his life, to look stupid. “I’m just confused, Master. I don’t understand.”

Oscar leans forward in his chair, leveling Dare with a look. “I do not have a Master.”

“Yes, Master.” Dare says, dipping his head in submission and still trying to look confused.

The older man takes pity on him. “Look. Look at me, Pretty Princess.”

Dare looks back up to Oscar.

“It’s okay not to understand. Your brain is not meant to understand the intricacies of anything but sex. Yes?” Dare nods at Oscar’s words and the Master continues. “You’re a stupid fuck toy. No one expects more of you.”

This isn’t going how Dare had hoped. He tries again. “But-”

“No.” Oscar shakes his head. “I said yes sir as a sign of respect, not deference. Do you understand the difference?”

Dare doesn’t say anything, just makes it look like he’s thinking it over while he sees if Oscar will say more.

“I’m the boss here. I run this show of a bigger show.” Oscar explains. “The man on the phone runs the bigger show. Understand?”

Again, Dare stays silent, still trying to look confused, like he can’t work it out, like he’s too stupid to work it out.

“Stupid sissy boi… you’ve been in the Gallery for years. You were in only one of the many branches that got destroyed. That destruction got me promoted here at this new branch where I’m in charge. As with any company there are different departments and then there’s one who runs all the departments. The Gallery is no different in having one who runs all branches.”

Yes. Dare did this. Dare is milking this information from Oscar by playing dumb. Dare is playing the game and it’s a powerful, thrilling feeling.

“So...” Dare hesitates, as if he’s still having trouble working it out. It’s just a different version of the playacting he’d been forced to do since his abduction. “So you’re the boss of all of this here.” Oscar nods. “But there are other bosses.” Oscar hesitates and nods. “And then there’s one big boss of all the bosses.”

“Exactly.” Oscar looks proud of Dare for finally having figured it out.

“Do you say yes sir to the other bosses, Master?”

At that question, Oscar looks less pleased. “No, I call them Master or Mistress as their title demands and their last name. They all call me Master Ceballos.”

Oscar Ceballos. Now Dare knows his full name.

“Is your boss not a Master?” Dare asks, fishing for the last name of the big boss and forgetting to look and sound confused and stupid about it. He realizes his error too late. Dare got over-confident and now Oscar is looking at him strangely.

Oscar’s eyes narrow. “Enough of this, Sissy Boi. Anything else you say for the rest of the night, you’ll say with a lisp.”

A lisp? What does that mean? This time his confusion is genuine. “A lisp, Sir?”

“As I said, your former Mistress misused you.” Oscar says with a roll of his eyes. “All esses will be spoken with a ‘th’ sound. Now, call yourself a sissy boi.”

Dare thinks the word under the new lisp rules first and shakes his head. How embarrassing.

A hand slaps hard at his cheek. “Shaking your head is as good as telling me no and this will be your only warning.” Oscar says.

“I’m sorry, Sir.” Dare says, his skin flushing with heat at what he’s about to say. “I’m… I’m a thithy boi.”

Oscar is grinning at Dare’s obvious discomfort and embarrassment. “You should have used it for the apology as well. Go back and do it all again.”

Dare takes a few breaths and thinks through what he’s about to say again, with a lisp. “I’m thorry, Thir. I’m a thithy boi.”

The Master chuckles and puffs at the cigar again. “Better. Again, but add the word stupid in front of sissy boi. It’s best for us to be accurate, isn’t it?”

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.

“I’m thorry, Thir.” Dare tries again, for a third time feeling more and more stupid and embarrassed in every way even as he says the words. “I’m a thtupid thithy boi.”

Oscar settles back in his chair and arches a brow. “Now, is there anything else you wanna talk about, Pretty Princess?”

Quickly, Dare shakes his head, all of his bravado from moments before gone in the humiliation of having to talk with a lisp while calling himself stupid. He’s effectively been put in his place and he doesn’t want to speak anymore.

“Oh come on, pet.” The toe of Oscar’s dress shoe pokes against Dare’s thigh. “I’m sure you can think of something.”

Again, Dare shakes his head, but he doesn’t want Oscar to think he’s saying no so he has to speak. “I can’t think of anything.” No esses.

Oscar doesn’t let him off the hook. “You can’t think of anything….”

“Thir.”

“Call me Master.”

Dare looks down at the floor. “Mathter.”

“And why do you think that is, Pretty Princess?” Oscar continues, reaching out to rap his knuckles against the top of Dare’s head. “Why is your tiny brain suddenly so empty?”

Dare knows what Oscar wants him to say and right now Dare feels the truth of it to his core. “Because...” Oscar’s shoe slams hard against Dare’s thigh and Dare quickly corrects himself. “Becauth I’m thtupid, Thir.”

“Master.”

“Mathter.”

“Say all of it.”

“Becauth I’m thtupid, Mathter.”

“That’s right. Because you’re stupid.” Oscar nods. “It really is a good thing you’re so pretty and so good at sucking cock… otherwise, what use would there be for you?”

After picking up his drink to down the rest of its contents and setting his cigar in the ashtray, Oscar stands up. “On your feet. Go into the bathroom.”

Dare gets to his feet and goes into the bathroom, instantly confronted with his reflection; hair disheveled, makeup faded and smeared, dried cum on his face, breasts and ass. He had handled this mostly fine all day long until right now, until being put in his place and confronted with his reflection. Now he wants so badly to fix all of the imperfections. His eyes fill with tears.

Oscar turns him and grabs his chin, globing fresh red onto Dare’s lips, around Dare’s lips, down his chin. He colors in the areola on each of Dare’s breasts, bright red comical dots on his chest.

Once again, Dare is turned to face himself in the large mirrors over the marble counter tops. He’s staring at his own horrible reflection as he hears the slide of a belt, the tugging of a zipper. Then he feels the red plug unceremoniously pulled from his ass.

Oscar quickly pushes into Dare and starts fucking him. “Hands on the counter.”

Dare leans forward just enough to put his hands on the counter and dip his head, his tangled hair falling to curtain both sides of his face.

“Nah ah… no.” Oscar says. “Lift your head and push your hair back. Look at yourself. Look at how pretty you are.”

Looking up, Dare uses one hand to push his hair back on both sides. He looks at the mess in the mirror, a tear sliding down his cheek.

“Such a Pretty Princess Sissy boy.” Oscar says as he fucks Dare.

And damn it all to hell, because of the Gallery upgrades, Dare’s body responds to being fucked just as it did earlier today in Oscar’s office. It feels good even as every other part of him feels absolutely horribly broken down.

“It’s okay to be stupid, my pet. It’s okay.” The Master says. “It’s okay that you’re stupid cause you’re a Pretty Princess Sissy Boi. Say it.”

Dare doesn’t want to say it. He could have easily parroted the words earlier, but right now his emotions are raw. He knows that saying no is not an option though. Not yet. He doesn’t have enough information to make this decision he’s made worth it.

So Dare looks at himself in the mirror and says the words, not just parroting them, but really saying them because that’s where his head space is at right now. “It’s okay that I’m stupid bec-”

A harsh yank on his hair has him stopping. “Do not disobey me.”

Dare is so turned around and upside-down right now that he’d forgotten. He remembers now. “I’m thorry, Thir.”

Another yank of his hair. “Master.”

“I’m thorry, Mathter.”

“It’s okay. I make allowances for my stupid fuck toy.” Oscar says, ramming hard into Dare’s ass. “Try again.”

“It’s… Ith okay that I’m thtupid becauth I’m a Pretty Printheth Thithy Boi.” His voice cracks in the middle of saying it. He’s full-on crying.

Oscar doesn’t seem to notice or care. “Again.”

“Ith okay that I’m thtupid becauth I’m a Pretty Printheth Thithy Boi.” It isn’t fair. It’s so fucking confusing how he can be so turned on, his cunt so rock hard as he’s being fucked and simultaneously feel so low at the same time.

“Again.” Oscar orders.

Dare gasps as Oscar’s cock hits a place in his pussy just right. “Ith okay that I’m thtupid becauth I’m a Pretty Printheth Thithy Boi.”

“Again, my pet.”

“Ith okay that I’m thtupid becauth I’m a Pretty Printheth Thithy Boi.” Dare says to his reflection in the mirror and then stifles a groan as a wave of pleasure ripples through him.

“You’re so fucking stupid.”

A slap at his hip is all the prompting Dare needs. “I’m tho fucking thtupid.”

“Say it again.” Oscar’s voice is tight.

“I’m tho fucking thtupid.” Dare says.

“Keep saying it, pet.”

“I’m tho fucking thtupid. I’m tho fucking thtupid. I’m tho fucking thtupid.” He feels Oscar’s hot, wet seed filling his pussy. Dare’s cunt is dripping with pre. “Ith okay that I’m thtupid becauth I’m a Pretty Printheth Thithy Boi. I’m tho fucking thtupid...”

Oscar holds either side of Dare’s waist, his brow pressed to Dare’s back between his shoulder blades as his cock deflates in Dare’s pussy. The older man waits for a few moments just like this as he catches his breath.

“You will not call me Sir anymore. Don’t think I don’t notice what you’re doing. You’ll always call me Master.”

“Yeth, Mathter.” Dare answers in a whisper.

Oscar’s limp cock slips out of him. “Put your plug in and go lay on your sleeping pallet.”

“Yeth, Mathter.” He gets the red plug and it easily slides into place in his pussy.

Dare goes to the bedroom, feeling absolutely filthy and undone at the same time as feeling aroused and unsatisfied. He lays down on the red pallet at the foot of the bed and closes his eyes, trying to think of anything but what he just went through, anything but wishing that Oscar would let him cum. He can’t seem to get his head out of it. He can’t get his mind to move on to something else.

Maybe sleep will help. Dare closes his eyes.

Later, after the Master has shut the lights off and gotten into his bed, he hears Oscar speak again. “Tomorrow you can speak normally again. Right now I wanna hear you say it ten more times. Do you think you can count to ten?”

“Yeth, Mathter.” When the only response is an amused chuckle, Dare starts speaking the words Oscar wants him to say into the dark room. “Ith okay that I’m thtupid becauth I’m a Pretty Printheth Thithy Boi.” That’s one. Nine more to go.

Chapter Text

Dare wakes up when he hears the Master in the shower. Sleep has helped make him feel slightly better than when he’d first laid down last night. He tries to focus on the information he’d garnered before things had gone so horribly wrong, the information he’d gotten so close to. He should be proud of how he’d worked that conversation. Yes, it had ended up badly, but the bad doesn’t negate what he’d done before it got bad.

Dare had played the game.

Stupid. I’m so stupid. So fucking… Shut up. Shut up. No. No...

Dare had played the game and he should be proud. Right?

Brooks would be proud.

It was smart, what he had done last night, not stupid. He should have continued playing dumb, that’s all. He got too excited, over-confident in the information Oscar was sharing. He learned a lesson: keep playing dumb.

The shower turns off and Dare gets to his knees on the pallet, spreading his knees wide and clasping his hands behind his back. Looking down, he can still see red lipstick tint residue on his nipples and he knows there’s probably the same all around his mouth and down his chin. There’s still a bit of dried cum on his face and breasts. Probably on his ass too. Yesterday his reflection had showed him black streaks of eyeliner and mascara down his cheeks as he’d cried. It’s probably still there.

Dare tries to smooth down his twice slept on hair and then re-clasps his hands behind his back when he decides it’s useless.

He feels like shit, honestly… but he tries to make himself look as alluring as possible in just his stance alone; the spread of his knees, the curve of his spine that pushes his ass back and his chest out, his lifted chin and lowered eyelids.

If Oscar is happy, if the man is pleased with him, he talks. Dare wants Oscar to talk.

Please, he silently prays, please let me shower and redo my makeup and hair today. I really need something good right now. Please.

He isn’t sure that this is a place where God can hear his prayers. It’s a prayer nonetheless.

“Looking like a fucking angel over there, pet. Get over here.” Oscar stands at the bathroom counter, leaning back against it, completely naked.

Dare crawls across the room to the bathroom. After a ‘get to work’ Dare starts giving the Master head. It’s remote action and Dare is glad for the tiniest of positives of doing something that he knows he excels at. Dare swallows Oscar’s cum as it spills down his throat and again, Dare is thankful that it isn’t a new facial.

His Master hums, gripping Dare’s head to hold him there in place for a bit, Dare’s nose nestled in against the hairs above Oscar’s cock. Dare breathes steadily through his nose, taking in the scent of whatever musky body wash Oscar had just used.

Then Oscar pulls Dare’s head off and tilts his head back so Dare is looking up at the man. “Look at you, my fallen angel… you’re a fucking mess. Ready for a new day?”

“Yes, Master.” Dare answers, forcing himself not to glance longingly at the shower, forcing himself not to start crying and begging to be clean and pretty even though he wants to do all these things right now.

“Take your plug out and clean your insides out.” Oscar says. “Hurry.”

No shower. Again, Dare swallows past a lump in his throat.

He goes to the shower and does as he’s told. No shower, just cleaning his pussy out. Oscar sits in the chair at the vanity where Dare’s makeup and hair supplies are and watches him the entire time.

Three times, Dare fills his pussy with water and holds it, just as he had learned to do in the Labs and has continued to do every morning since. Three times, he expels what’s inside.

As he does this he thinks about how Brooks had said that the Gallery played head games. That’s what this is, Dare thinks. Oscar is breaking him down, knowing how much Dare prides himself on his outside appearance, how important the outside appearance had been made to him over his time at the Gallery, Oscar is toying with that, just as he has from the first time they met.

Head games. Dare isn’t very good at combating head games.

He finishes and steps out of the shower. He’s told to clean and lube the red plug and Dare does so and then replaces the plug in his ass.

“Now come here and kneel.”

Once he’s kneeling in front of Oscar, Dare quickly closes his eyes as the Master reaches for the false lashes he wears and rips them off.

“Keep them closed.”

Dare keeps his eyes closed and feels Oscar’s thumbs smooth over his eyelids. Then he feels what he thinks is eyeliner spread across the tops and underneaths of his eyes. He feels something wet and then new false lashes glued on. A mascara brush pulls through his lashes and the false ones and Dare feels it touch his skin where it shouldn’t.

“Master… I can-”

“Quiet, pet.” Oscar continues, his thumbs smoothing over Dare’s cheeks and then there’s the familiar slide of lipstick on his lips. “Rub them together.”

Dare rubs his lips together.

“Such a Pretty Princess.” Oscar chuckles and Dare feels the lipstick slide over his nipples again in circular motions. “Now, I have some things for you to wear today. Stand up and heel.”

Dare opens his eyes and stands up, glancing in the mirror at the clownish way his face is made up. Bright blue unevenly covers his eyelids all the way up to his eyebrows. Hot pink smudges on his cheeks. Thick, uneven eyeliner all around his eyes and the mascara, places where the brush touched obvious above and below his eyes. His lipstick is uneven again and the red on his nipples is just further humiliation. And all of this on top of the ghost of unwashed makeup from two days ago.

“I said heel.”

In the large closet Dare is handed a red tutu like the one Oscar had had him wear before at Passion. Dare slips it up his legs. Once at his waist, Dare realizes it’s shorter than the last one, covering nothing, a joke, just for show.

“And for my Pretty Princess, your tiara…. The rubies and diamonds are real. Nothing but the best for you.”

Head games, Dare thinks as he slips the glittering ruby and diamond tiara on top of his mused, unwashed hair.

Oscar tops it off with red six inch platform ruby sandals that Dare puts on for him. When he stands back up he towers over the Master.

The day is spent in Oscar’s office again. Dare is trying very hard to keep his spirits up with only minimal success. It’s difficult to think positively when he hasn’t showered in three days, when he knows that he looks ridiculous rather than beautiful, when he’s starting to be able to smell himself on top of the dried sex on his face.

Throughout the morning, Oscar cums on him twice, once on his face and once on his breasts. He makes Dare smooth it into his skin and then clean his hands off on his abs and thighs.

Around lunchtime, Passenger Seat comes in and takes one look at Dare and chuckles before addressing Oscar. The laugh makes Dare stare harder at the floor. “You seem in a good mood, Sir.”

“For obvious reasons. I finally have the correct pet and he is everything the others were not.” Oscar says, leaning back in his chair. “So? What do you think?”

“I still can’t tell for sure.” Passenger Seat says. “If he’s undercover he’s given no signs of it and he’s a really good actor.”

Dare slowly looks up, his interest piqued. Undercover. Who are they talking about?

Oscar hums thoughtfully. “I’m thinking about getting rid of him altogether. We don’t want to take any chances. If there’s even the slightest suspicion...”

“I wouldn’t blame you, Sir. It just seems… I mean we have no real evidence that he’s an outside agent.” Passenger Seat says. “Ever since the take down, there have been tons of rumors about different people left in the operation. Every one of them can’t be true.”

“Hysteria breeds disinformation and vice versa...” Oscar says thoughtfully. “At your request, I’ll give him another month. If you discover any of the rumor is true, I expect to hear about it immediately. We won’t be infiltrated again.”

“Yes, Sir.” Passenger Seat nods and turns to exit the room.

“Oh and Jacob...” Passenger Seat looks back at Oscar’s behest as the Master gestures to Dare. “Doesn’t my pet look like the Pretty Princess Sissy Boi that he is?”

Passenger Seat’s name is Jacob. Dare tries to focus on that and not the heat rising in his skin at having his current undone state pointed out.

Dare looks up to the man now grinning with amusement at him. “Yes, Sir. He’s very pretty… although the tiara’s a little crooked.”

“As it should be.” Oscar says. “I did his makeup myself.”

Jacob nods. “Quite the artist, Sir.”

No. Brooks is the artist. This, what Oscar has done to him, is a joke… a cruel joke. Head games.

Back in Oscar’s room later that night, Dare once again silently prays to God to let him shower, let him clean off makeup on top of makeup on top of makeup and reapply a fresh coat as it should be. The answer to that prayer is no as Dare is fucked and made to call himself stupid again and then sent to his pallet.

The next morning, another prayer is answered with no as Oscar repeats the previous day, making Dare clean his insides and that’s it, then slopping makeup on top of the makeup that’s already there.

By the eighth day of the same treatment, Dare is pretty low. He’s quit listening to Oscar’s conversations unless Oscar is speaking directly to or about him. He’s just a pet, a dirty, ugly mess of a pet. How Oscar can stand to fuck his pussy or use his mouth in the state Dare is in, Dare doesn’t know. The Master still calls him pretty even though Dare knows he’s not. Maybe that in itself is a head game. Dare is losing at whatever game this is.

It’s day eight that Dare hasn’t showered or done his own makeup or washed any makeup or cum off of his body.

Dare has quit praying. It’s obvious that God isn’t listening.

The Master calls him a fallen angel and Dare wonders if that’s true and if that’s why God doesn’t hear him or answer his prayers.

Dare is on his knees beneath Oscar’s desk, sucking him off while the Master talks to someone on the phone. Dare is still in the crumpled red tutu, expensive tiara, platform ruby heels. There’s dried cum on almost every inch of Dare’s skin. Oscar cums in his mouth rather than on his face and Dare finds that one good thing and clings to it, swallowing the jizz down and whispering ‘thank you, Master’ as Oscar has started demanding he do.

The phone call continues as if nothing had just happened but Dare isn’t listening. In the confined space beneath Oscar’s desk, the smell of sex and unwashed skin is all there is.

Dare is at a very low state.

He thinks he made a huge mistake in thinking he could do this. He’s too stupid. He’s too slow. He’s not strong or brave enough. There are so many treatments Dare could have taken, so many cruelties he could have endured. What Oscar is putting him through now is Dare’s Achilles heel and he thinks that Oscar knows that. Dare has no idea how to combat this and he’s losing… he’s lost.

Stupid… stupid… stupid…

He left the safety of Passion, he left Brooks because he’d thought he could do something to get at the root, to get them out of the cage that the Gallery still has them in. He’d left because he felt anger for possibly the first time in his life along with immense guilt and he’d had no way to sooth either.

So fucking stupid.

Oscar’s fingertips smooth over Dare’s cum crusted cheek and Dare looks up to find the man staring at him. The phone call had ended and Dare hadn’t even realized. “So serious, Dare. What are you thinking?”

Dare is in too dark a head space to answer with anything but the truth. “I’m stupid, Master.”

“Yeah, but that’s okay.” Oscar’s thumb smooths over dried red lipstick at Dare’s lips. “Cause you’re so very pretty, my fallen angel.”

Tears fill Dare’s eyes and he shakes his head, knowing that as the tears escape, they’re leaving new fresh black streaks down his cheeks on top of what’s already there. “I don’t feel very pretty, Master.”

“You are, my stupid fuck toy… you’re so very pretty. You’re just in a state of being reborn. This is growing pains, nothing more.”

“Growing pains?” Dare asks, confused.

“Yeah.” Oscar nods. “Who’s your Master?” When Dare hesitates in answering, Oscar arches a brow. “See? That’s the problem. You haven’t accepted that you’re here yet, that I’m your Master and that I could make everything better for you if you just accept it.”

There isn’t a single lie in what the Master has just said that Dare can see. Still, he hesitates because Brooks is his Master… or is he? Dare had removed the necklaces. That’s a huge thing, like cutting a leash or breaking chains. Dare had made a choice and now he’s here with Oscar.

“Now what are you thinking?” Oscar asks.

“I’m thinking you’re right, Master.” Dare doesn’t even hesitate to answer.

Oscar smiles, tugging a side of the tiara on Dare’s head so that it sits more crookedly on Dare’s messy hair. “I want you more than I’ve ever wanted any other pet, Pretty Princess. You need to want to be mine.”

For five more days Dare is treated in the same fashion, left in the same getup, makeup piled on his face on top of makeup, not allowed to bathe or shower and used as the stupid fuck toy he is.

The Master periodically repeats the words ‘you need to want to be mine’. And Dare has started to hear them in his head space on repeat.

Dare is at a very low place. He calls himself stupid. He’s mentally curled in on himself like the introvert he is. He can’t get outside of the now, of what’s happening to him now, to look at the bigger picture. This experiment is a failure, he thinks. He’s stupid, so fucking…

It’s still dark in the bedroom when he hears the sheets moving as if his Master is starting to wake up. Dare gets up onto his knees on his pallet at the foot of the bed and looks up the mattress at the outline of Oscar.

“Master.” He whispers. Dare is crying and he isn’t sure why. Maybe because he’s letting go of Brooks right now. It feels like he’s letting go of Brooks in the twisted recesses of his mind. “Master.”

Oscar stirs and leans up on an elbow, looking down at the foot of the bed. “What is it, pet?”

“I want to be yours.” Dare says, his voice shaky as he says it. Still, in this moment, it’s true. “I do. I want to be yours.”

“Get up here, Pretty Princess.”

Dare crawls up onto the bed and by the time he gets to Oscar, the man has sat back against some pillows and pushed the covers down to bare his cock. Dare instantly buries his face in Oscar’s crotch, so deep into subservience to Oscar that everything about now feels right from asking Oscar to be his to begging to suck his cock.

“May I, Master?” Dare asks, nuzzling his mess of a face against the older man’s prick. “Please…. Please? I’ll wear it or drink it… anything you want, Master. Please?”

“That’s my Sissy Boi...” Oscar’s hand slides back over Dare’s unkept hair. “Take it. Please your Master.”

Dare hums his approval and does as he’s told. This time it isn’t just remote action, he’s paying attention, he’s trying to make Oscar experience pleasure rather than just get him off. Oscar makes sounds that tell Dare that he approves, that he’s enjoying it.

Disappointment washes over Dare as the Master grips Dare’s hair to pull him off and sprays his load in Dare’s face.

“Rub it in.”

Dare rubs the cum into his already dirty face with his hands and then wipes his palms off on his breasts.

“Who’s your Master?”

“You are.” Dare answers, starting to cry again. “You’re my Master.”

“Go wash your insides out and I’ll put your makeup on.”

No shower. What had Dare done wrong? He’d thought he understood what would get him beyond this hell but he’d been wrong… because he’s not smart enough, because he’s made a stupid decision in thinking he could do this, because he’s stupid.

Chapter Text

Another four days of Dare groveling to Oscar, begging the man to let Dare please him, are met with the same response. Dare cleans himself out and Oscar applies his makeup in a clownish fashion. Dare wears his tutu, tiara and heels. Dare lets Oscar cum all over him and never gets to wash it off.

All Dare can think about is how gross he is, how horrible he feels, how dark everything seems, how stupid he is. All Dare can think about is how to please Oscar enough to get the man to make things better for him.

None of the grossness of Dare phases Oscar’s attention or desire for him. Dare is wanted. Dare wishes he could disappear.

On day five after Dare has let go of Brooks and made himself want Oscar as his Master, Dare has just been given another morning facial when he begins groveling again. On his knees, he rubs the cum into his face as he speaks the words he knows his Master wants to hear. “Thank you, Master. Thank you for still wanting me. Thank you.”

Oscar seems pleased with him, watching Dare rub the excess cum onto his thighs. “Who is your Master?”

“You are. You’re my Master. I want you.” Dare grovels some more. “May I please you again? Please, Master? I could make you feel so good again, Master.”

“I have no doubt that you could.” Oscar says with a chuckle. “How about a treat this morning?”

A spark of hope ignites inside of Dare. He barely stops himself from looking to the shower, but only just barely. “If it pleases you, Master.”

Please. Please oh please let me shower.

This time his silent prayer is to the man standing before him, not God. Oscar controls everything. Oscar is all there is.

“Heel.”

Dare’s hope deflates as Oscar walks out of the bathroom, but he still rises from his kneeling position to follow his Master out of the room. He’s led through several hallways, still on the second floor, to a room where there are massage tables and pedicure chairs like the one Brooks had taken him to on their first date, There are tables with nail equipment on them.

The handful of people in the room look at Dare when he enters behind his Master. A few of them look amused at the disheveled state of him.

The color Oscar snatches off of the wall is fire engine red, of course. He barks some orders to one of the women and tells Dare to sit in the pedicure chair. Dare does so and the woman gets to work. The pink glitter on his toenails is wiped away and Dare’s feet and shins are massaged and exfoliated. It feels heavenly for even those parts of him to be clean. After filing them down, the woman paints his toenails red.

Oscar is there the whole time, checking his phone, talking on his phone. Dare thinks that Oscar likes to be where Dare is and that that’s a good thing.

Dare is told to move to one of the tables and he does so. The pink glitter nail polish on his fingernails is chipped and badly in need of reapplying. He’s sad when the last of it is wiped off of the last nail. He has no more pink except in his hair underneath the top layer of dirty blonde.

The woman asks Oscar to look at a diagram and his Master replies. “Square rounded, very long.”

She isn’t painting his nails. For the next hour, Dare watches as she fashions very long acrylic nails to his actual nails. Dare has never had his nails so long… or red. The woman doesn’t comment on the dried cum on Dare’s hands or the way he stinks of sex in general.

“What do you think, Pretty Princess?” Oscar asks once the woman has stepped away and Dare is just waiting for his nails to dry.

“Do they please you, Master?” Dare asks.

Oscar nods. “They do.”

“Then I like them, Master. They’re very pretty. Thank you, Master.” He misses his pink glitter, but if red will help him claw his way out of the current hell he’s in, then he’ll like red. Also, both of his feet and legs are clean from the knee down and that in itself is worth a dozen glittering diamond and ruby tiaras.

Oscar seems pleased with this answer. So pleased that after some consideration, he calls to one of the men in the room. “Candy. Here.”

A medium height and very slim man jumps up from where he’d been seated reading a magazine. His spiked hair is dyed bright pink and he wears Dare’s favorite color as well; a pair of very short spandex booty shorts and a crop top, also pink. Dare is envious of his pink.

“Platinum blonde on top with a streak of red at the front.”

“Yes, Sir.” Candy says brightly, twirling toward the back of the room. “This way.”

When Dare just stays where he is, his Master touches Dare’s cum covered cheek and nods in Candy’s direction. “Go with Candy. You get another treat for being such a good pet.”

The next two hours are spent with Candy working on Dare’s hair. There are really no words to describe how the first wash of Dare’s hair feels. There are no words for the surprise when Candy later removes a towel and Dare sees in the mirror that his hair is a platinum blonde in color, almost white. His dark blonde locks are gone. The pink and purple is gone. There’s one swath of hair in the front that’s fire engine red.

Candy trims the dead ends off of Dare’s long hair and then blow dries it. Then he uses a straightener on it.

“You have great hair.” Candy whispers to Dare at one point. That’s the only time they talk.

While Candy is flat ironing the last of Dare’s hair, Oscar steps up behind him. “Exactly what I imagined...” he says. “Do you like it, Pretty Princess?”

“If it pleases you, yes Master.” Dare says, still unsure of what he’s looking at in the mirror.

The bottom line is that he’s clean from the knees down and his hair is washed and styled. The rest of him is still layered with makeup and cum, but those two other things outweigh the fact that the rest of him is still a mess. Dare is grasping at any good thing right now. “Thank you, Master.

“You’re very welcome, Pet.”

The rest of the day is like the others, spent kneeling in Oscar’s office and letting the man use him when he wants. Oscar doesn’t cum on his skin today though. He cums in his mouth or in his pussy and Dare thinks that that’s a step up too.

That night after dinner, Oscar disrobes and takes Dare into the bathroom. Dare looks at himself in the mirror, still startled by his long, platinum blonde hair and the very long red nails he sports. He’s surprised when he hears the spray of the shower come on.

“Here, pet.” Oscar says.

After removing the tutu, tiara and heels, Dare joins him in the shower. He closes his eyes and breathes a sigh of relief as the warm water from the five shower heads cascades over his skin.

Oscar starts washing the grime from Dare’s skin. “Who is your Master?”

“You are, Master.” Dare doesn’t even hesitate.

“Who’s your Master?”

“You’re my Master.”

As Oscar cleans makeup, cum and grime from Dare, he asks the question again and again. Dare answers again and again. Oscar cleans every inch of Dare’s skin, twice over as this back and forth continues to play on repeat. Then Oscar’s lips are on Dare’s.

Again, Dare doesn’t hesitate to open up to the kiss. It feels so good to be clean, totally and completely clean. It’s a prayer answered, finally, and Oscar answered it.

“What do you say, Dare?” Oscar asks.

“Thank you, Master.” Dare says, full of genuine gratitude. “Thank you.”

Out of the shower, Oscar even dries Dare off, patting a soft towel over Dare’s body to wick up all the water and even scrunching Dare’s wet hair into the towel. The older man goes to his closet and brings back a box which he sets on the bathroom counter.

There’s a thick red leather collar with diamonds and rubies around the center of it that Oscar withdraws. The collar has a gold tag on it with the name ‘Dare’ engraved on it.

“Real gold. Real diamonds. Real rubies for my Pretty Princess.” Oscar says. “Made especially for you.”

When Oscar goes to put it around his neck, Dare doesn’t think twice about assisting him by lifting his platinum locks out of the way. Oscar hums his approval, clasping the collar at the back of Dare’s neck. The collar is a heavy, weighted thing around his neck, nothing like the delicate necklaces Brooks had given him.

“Who is your Master, Dare?” he asks again.

Dare is quick to answer. “You’re my Master.”

In the bedroom, Oscar instructs Dare to bend over the side of the bed. Oscar removes the red plug and fucks him as he usually does, hard and fast. Once again, Dare’s body responds to the stimulation. This time, however, once Oscar has spilled inside his pussy, Oscar reaches around and strokes Dare’s cunt. Weeks without release and it doesn’t take him very long to get close.

“Master, please.” Dare whispers.

“Who takes care of you, Dare?” Oscar asks, his voice heavy with post orgasm pleasure.

“You do. You take care of me, Master.”

“You have my permission to cum, Pretty Princess.”

Finally.

Oscar makes Dare lick his spill up off of the tiled floors. Then he sends Dare to his pallet on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Dare cries that night. He cries because all of his pink is gone. He cries because the purple is gone too. What would Brooks think of him with platinum blonde hair with a streak of red in it? He cries because he misses Brooks. He cries because he feels like he truly belongs to Oscar now. He cries because it feels so good to be clean and he cries because of the cost of getting into the shower.

The cost might have been too steep.

 

* * *

 

The next morning, Dare wakes up and kneels on his pallet at the foot of the bed. As he has every morning for several days now, he calls out to his Master and waits to be invited into the bed. He pleases Oscar and is given the gift of swallowing his cum and not wearing it.

Oscar removes Dare’s red leather collar. “Go shower, Pretty Princess. Clean inside and out. Then fix yourself up for me.”

They’re words that Dare has been desperate to hear. After his shower, Dare goes to the vanity table and starts to blow dry his long hair. As he’s curling it, Oscar comes into the bathroom and gets into the shower. The curling iron is a little more difficult to handle with his longer nails, but he manages.

Finally, he gets to put his own makeup on. Dare leans in and sets to work. As with the curling iron, Dare has to learn a new way of holding everything because of the long nails, but his makeup is still flawless in the end. Lastly, he adds the red lipstick that he knows will please his Master.

Oscar exits the closet in a suit and tie and fastens the heavy collar back around Dare’s neck. Then he drops red lace lingerie in Dare’s lap. Dare immediately gets out of the vanity chair and slips the panties and bra on. Both fit perfectly this time, rather than the too small pair that the older man had brought into Passion awhile back.

“Heels too.”

Dare grabs the ruby red platform heels Oscar has had him wear and hurriedly puts them on. When he looks in the mirror, Dare still doesn’t recognize himself. He’s pretty though, he thinks. Dare feels pretty for the first time in so many days.

His Master takes him in the same direction as yesterday and Dare thinks they’re going to the same room where the last of his pink glitter polish and the purple and pink in his hair had been taken away. Instead, they go across the hallway. There’s three men in the room already. One man is sitting in a chair while another is inking a tattoo into his arm. Dare stares at the ink only belatedly realizing that his Master has been talking to another man.

“...real delicate.” Oscar says. “Nothing too ridiculous.”

“You got it.” the man says.

“Lie up here face down, pet.”

Dare gets onto the table and like yesterday Oscar stays in the room but is on his phone either tapping on the screen or stepping just into the hallway on a phone call.

Dare is getting a tattoo and he wonders what it will be. Brooks has tattoos. Would Brooks still think he’s beautiful with platinum hair, ridiculously long red nails and tattoos? Dare doesn’t know.

The location of the tattoo is on his lower back, just above the waistline of his panties. The words ‘tramp stamp’ are used several times. It hurts, but Dare is clean and his makeup and hair are fresh and pretty. Dare focuses on those positives.

It feels like hours later when Dare is sat on a stool and the same man begins to ink over his left collarbone. Again, it hurts and Dare tries to be very still as instructed while the man works.

Oscar comes in from the hallway after his latest phone call ends and looks at Dare’s back. “That’s exactly what I wanted.” Dare hears the telltale sign of a photo being taken.

“One more bit and this one’s done too.” the man says, continuing with the ink on Dare’s chest.

His Master comes around and looks at the front and smiles. “The little hearts make it. Color them in with red.”

“Will do.” The man switches canisters on his machine and then does as instructed.

“One more thing.” Oscar fishes a small jewelry box out of his coat pocket and opens it up to show two large ruby earrings. Dare has no doubt that they’re as real as the ones in his collar and tiara and when they leave the room just a few minutes later, he has his ears pierced and sporting the glittering red gems.

It’s later during the day when Dare is kneeling in Oscar’s office that his Master removes the gauze pad over his left collar bone. “Go look in the mirror on the back of the door.”

Dare stands and moves to the door, half closing it so he can look at the stranger in the reflection. There, in tiny bubbly script that looks like a teenage girl wrote it are the words ‘Sissy boi’. The dot over both of the I’s is a small heart colored in with red.

Dare feels a lump in his throat. Brooks would definitely not find that beautiful. Would he?

“Do you like it, my fallen angel?”

“Yes, Master. Thank you, Master.” Dare says, because that’s the only answer there is.

“Come here.”

Dare returns the door to open and goes back to kneel on the red pallet beside his Master. Oscar enlarges a photo on his phone and shows Dare. “Your tramp stamp.”

The script on this one is elegant, like the script on a dinner party or wedding invitation. It would be elegant if the words weren’t ‘Pretty Princess’ with a bunch of red roses on either side of the words.

Brooks would definitely not find that beautiful, Dare thinks again. This time he doesn’t add a question to the thought because Dare knows that Brooks wants a queen, not a pretty princess. Dare’s insides feel sad and nauseated.

Oscar doesn’t even have to ask though, because Dare wants to stay clean and able to put his own makeup on his face. “I like it. Thank you, Master.”

Oscar tugs the lacy cups of Dare’s bra down to beneath the rounds of his breasts, his thumbs teasing at Dare’s blessedly lipstick-free nipples. “Who’s your Master, Dare?”

There isn’t a moment’s hesitation when Dare answers. “You are. You’re my Master.”

His Master looks pleased.

Chapter Text

For the next week, every morning is a repeat of the last. Dare gets up and waits until he thinks his Master is rousing to call out to him. He pleases him and then showers, cleaning himself inside and out before making himself up for Oscar. His Master always showers while Dare is sitting at the vanity fixing his hair or doing his makeup. Then Dare wears red lingerie and heels and kneels in Oscar’s office with him.

His head space is slowly coming back out of the dark depths he’d plummeted to while Oscar had toyed with him to make Dare his. Dare is starting to think critically again, to pay attention to things while still putting on quite the show of adoration and servitude toward his Master.

He’s starting to remember why he’s here: a future with Brooks where they aren’t in a cage, revenge for what the Gallery did to his dad, to finally do something right and helpful, to prove to himself that he isn’t what the Gallery made him think he was, to deal with his anger and the immense guilt he feels over his inaction when they’d killed his dad.

Dare remembers.

Right now, Dare isn’t so sure that Brooks would even want a future with him given all that he’s done with Oscar and all that Oscar has done to him. But the other things… Dare can maybe do something about that.

It’s a little over a week later that his Master answers a call and starts saying the words ‘yes, sir’ again. It reminds Dare of how well he’d steered the last conversation after a phone call with Oscar’s boss… until he’d forgotten to play dumb. Lesson learned.

In hindsight, Dare thinks that that’s where he messed up, where Oscar had figured out that Dare was toying with him, that Dare wasn’t his pet. That moment had begun a downward spiral that Dare has no desire to repeat.

However, Dare had learned some things that night so all wasn’t lost… even if he got lost for awhile in Oscar’s mind games.

Dare listens as Oscar talks business with someone, throwing in the occasional respectful ‘yes, sir’. He tries not to react to anything, not to even appear to be listening.

“Of course you can trust me. How far back do we go, my friend?” Oscar says. “Who helped you rebuild and who did you put in charge of your most profitable and yet untouched by the authorities branch, hrm? Why would you even question your trust in me?”

Even this is information that Dare thinks might be helpful. Oscar and his boss go back a long time and Oscar helped his boss rebuild. But if there’s a lack of trust, that’s a chink in the armor.

“Yes, Sir. But you have said yourself that you don’t know if you can do this by yourself. Let me help. You know I’ll do whatever it takes to help. I’ve already proven that to you. I am your employee but I am first and foremost your friend.”

The conversation devolves into a series of yes and no and humming in thoughtful agreement. Dare is busily trying to work out a way to get Oscar to talk about the inner workings of the Gallery with him.

When the phone call ends, Dare waits a moment before asking. “May I please you, Master?”

“Need your Master’s dick in your mouth, do you?” Oscar rolls the desk chair back and Dare takes the invitation to get under the desk and open Oscar’s belt and pants.

Getting his dick sucked has always seemed to put Oscar in a deliriously good mood. Dare tries to make it more than just an act he has to perform. Even when someone comes into Oscar’s office and holds a conversation with him, Dare continues to lap and suck at his Master’s cock with vigor. The desk hides Dare from the visitor but it’s still obvious what’s happening. Oscar doesn’t let himself cum until he’s once again alone with Dare. His spunk fills Dare’s mouth and Dare is quick to swallow it down.

Oscar has leaned back in his chair and eyes Dare beneath his desk between his thighs. “Hrm… my sissy boi… you seemed to enjoy that as much as I did.”

“Yes, Master. I did. Thank you, Master.” Dare says, then ventures into conversation with Oscar again. “You seemed sad on your last phone call. I wanted to make you happy, Master.”

Oscar seems to buy it, his lips pulling into a genuine smile and a hand reaching out to swipe at a bit of cum in the corner of Dare’s lips. He puts his thumb to Dare’s lips and Dare sucks the cum away.

“You can feel accomplished then. You made me very happy.” Oscar stares at him in silence for a long moment, just touching the lines of Dare’s face. Dare waits him out, leaning into the touch because he knows that that will continue to make his Master happy. “I know it was a rough learning curve, but you are above and beyond any and every wet dream I’ve ever had, Pretty Princess. I’m absolutely obsessed with you.”

That isn’t the direction Dare had hoped the conversation would go, so he just smiles softly at the other man and nods. “Thank you, Master. I wanna make you happy and make you feel good. I think I had forgotten how stupid I am.”

It pleases Oscar for Dare to call himself stupid without any prompting. The man grins, hums and nods. “Time out there away from the Gallery muddled your mind. We fixed that, didn’t we?”

Dare nods. “It feels good to just think about sex and pleasing my Master again. You know, to not have to worry about anything else.” Dare slides his hands up Oscar’s s thighs and he leans in to kiss at his Master’s flaccid cock. He nuzzles there, drawing in a deep breath of spent sex and making a show of being the perfect pet. “I don’t like it when you seem sad or stressed or worried either.”

His Master slides his fingers through the long strands of Dare’s platinum hair. “You mean you’ve grown to care about me.”

“Yes, Master. I guess I have.” Dare says, trying to make himself look confused or stupid again. “Am I not supposed to care about you like this?”

“Good God, don’t ever think that. Your only concern should be me… at all times.”

“For sex… which I love. I love sex with you, Master.” His words make Oscar grin again and Dare thinks he’s doing so well in keeping the conversation going while seeming too stupid to know the answers to basic questions. “But… am I supposed to care about you beyond sex? Because it feels like I’m starting to...”

“Because you thought I sounded sad?” Oscar cups the side of Dare’s face.

“Yes, Master.”

“You can care about me, Dare… in whatever way you want to care about me.” Oscar says. “And… I wasn’t sad. I was… a little bit stressed and concerned about my friend.”

Here we go. Dare puts on a confused, quizzical face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend, Master.”

“That’s right, they took your memories. I’d forgotten that.” Dare doesn’t correct his Master. He doesn’t let on that he’s started to remember. Oscar seems to consider something for a moment before continuing. “Reuben and I grew up in the same neighborhood many moons ago before you were even a twinkle in your mother’s eye, Pretty Princess.”

Reuben. Holy fuck. Dare has a name.

He’s careful to keep his features innocently dumb with a crooked grin on his lips. “And you both grew up to be Masters?”

Oscar smirks and nods. “That we did. Our parents were founders of the Gallery although Reuben’s father eventually took full control. Reuben and I were thick as thieves… always getting into trouble. Then his father died and Reuben took over and asked for my help. I guess you could say I did all of his dirty work for him for many, many years.”

And then, as Dare has already learned, when the Gallery was crippled, Reuben must have given Oscar his own branch to run and control.

“You must really trust each other, with everything.” Dare says, a recall of the conversation he’d just overheard. Dare is quick to shake his head, his eyes wide with wonder. “I can’t imagine having a friend like that.”

At the word trust Oscar’s eyes grow dark. It sounded like Reuben had been questioning Oscar’s loyalties after all. When he seems to refocus, however, that darkness leaves. “I can be your friend like that.” He says to Dare.

That went the wrong direction, but Dare goes with it in hopes that he can steer it back to Reuben later. “Can Masters and pets be friends?” He asks as dumbly as possible.

“Fuck, you’re adorable right now.” Oscar laughs and leans over, cupping either side of Dare’s face and pressing a kiss to his brow. “My stupid little Sissy boi. Yes. Masters and pets can be friends as long as all rules are still followed.”

Dare makes himself smile at his Master. “Then I’d like to have a friend, Master. You’d be my first.”

“I do think I like the idea of that.” His Master says, sitting back in his seat. “Close me up.”

Dare starts to tuck Oscar’s cock away and close his pants up. “Do you think someday we’ll be thick as thieves like you and Master Reuben?” He’s fishing for Reuben’s last name, but he doesn’t get it.

Oscar helps Dare with his belt and then hooks his fingers in the front of Dare’s red ruby and diamond studded collar to pull him up high enough to kiss. Dare kisses him, his lips parting to make the kiss seem more genuine, like he’s pushing for more. Oscar seems to like that, but then Dare is told to kneel on his pallet and his Master doesn’t answer Dare’s last question.

 

* * *

 

Holiday decorations are going up around the house. The Mistress never decorated for the holidays and Dare still can’t remember any of the Christmases before the Gallery. Even though it seems like such a normal thing to do, Dare is very interested in the newness of it for him.

There are trees and garland and ribbons and wreaths. Lights galore. They even put lights on the outside of the massive house, which seems like a huge undertaking.

Dare wonders if there are decorations going up at Passion. Dare misses Brooks. He misses everyone at Passion, but he really misses Brooks. He wonders if Brooks misses him. He wonders if Brooks is angry with him. He wonders if Brooks is still at Passion without Dare there.

A voice in his head tells him that Brooks wouldn’t want a Pretty Princess Sissy Boi. Brooks would want a Queen and Dare doesn’t feel like a Queen anymore.

Outside it’s barely even chilly. He remembers how cold it had been the night he’d made the decision to take Oscar and the Gallery itself on. He’d been able to see his breath in the air it was so cold.

Now, in a red bikini top that barely covers his nipples and a string bikini bottom that isn’t even trying to cover his cunt, Dare reclines on a chair by the pool while Oscar talks into his phone a few feet away. It’s not too hot outside, but it’s not even near cold either.

The sun warms Dare’s skin and with his eyes closed, Dare imagines Mr. Kincaid’s ranch, the open pastures, the sun baking his skin.

The amount of ‘Sir’s’ in Oscar’s conversation tell Dare that Oscar is once again talking to Reuben. Oscar is giving the man advice about another branch in another part of the world far away from this part of the world. Dare thinks that that’s what Reuben uses Oscar for; advice, an ear to bounce ideas off of, a sounding board…

Dare wonders what kind of dirty work Reuben had Oscar do before he was promoted.

When it sounds like the phone call is coming to an end, Dare hears Oscar ask “Will you come? You shouldn’t be alone at Christmas.”

Dare holds his breath. If Reuben comes here, then he’ll see his face, maybe get his last name, maybe learn more about the Gallery rebuild itself.

He only exhales when he hears Oscar say “Good. Good. We’ll expect you and your pet then.”

The phone call ends and Dare feels the reclined seat shift and Oscar blocks out the sun, sliding his fingertips up over Dare’s abs. “The pool is heated, you know. You could get in.”

Reuben is coming to visit. Reuben is coming. A part of the roots of the Gallery is coming here, maybe even the roots.

“Do you want me to get in, Master?” Dare asks. “I’m not sure that I know how to swim. I can’t remember.”

Dare can’t believe his luck. If he learns more about Reuben then this won’t have been for nothing.

He has to keep Oscar happy. Dare rolls over in the seat onto his stomach and pushes his ass up with his spine arched just right. “Or… you could use your sissy boi, Master.”

Oscar chuckles low, grabbing a handful of one ass cheek. “Are you asking for it, Pretty Princess?”

“Yes, Master. Will you fuck me?” Dare asks. He wants to keep Oscar happy. No, he has to keep Oscar happy. “Please?

Dare is fucked right there by the pool. Then Oscar teaches him to swim. Learning to swim is surprisingly a good moment between the two of them and Dare learns so quickly that he thinks he might have already known how, only forgotten along with everything else.

The whole time Dare’s mind is buzzing with the news. Reuben is coming to visit.

Chapter Text

For a week Dare has been very good. He’s shown Oscar that he wants him in every way he can think of. He’s begged for his Master. He’s called himself stupid and a Pretty Princess and a Sissy Boi. He’s groveled and flirted and generally made Oscar feel like the lord of his house.

For a week Dare has been allowed to shower, clean himself out and do his own hair and makeup. Oscar chooses various options of red lingerie every day for Dare. Oscar chooses red shoes for Dare. Sometimes he has Dare wear the tiara and sometimes not. Dare never removes his collar. Oscar does that before his shower and replaces it afterward.

For a week his Master is very pleased with him.

One day in the middle of the work day Oscar takes Dare to the front of the house. Dare stands just behind his Master in the foyer, his hands clasped behind his back.

“You remember the day I made you talk in a lisp, the truth I had you speak?” Oscar asks.

How could Dare forget? He has nightmares about that day, the start of the downward spiral that had forced him to let go of Brooks. He’ll never forget it. Yes, he remembers. The memory of it makes his stomach do uncomfortable somersaults. “Yes, Master. I remember.”

“You don’t need to say it in a lisp, but those words are how you’ll greet Reuben.” His Master says. “Do you understand?”

“Yes, Master.” Dare answers with a nod, grateful for the small kindness of not having to speak in a lisp.

Dare hears vehicles pulling up in the drive. After telling Dare to stay where he is, Oscar moves to the double doors and opens them, stepping out onto the porch. Dare watches three SUV’s park, guards get out of the first and the last SUV’s. Then, out of the middle, steps a tall, slim man in a suit. He has long graying hair held back in a ponytail that makes Dare think of Doctor Cohen. The man wears dark sunglasses.

“Reuben. Come here, my old friend.” Oscar spreads his arms and Reuben steps up onto the porch. The two men embrace. “Welcome. Welcome. Happy holidays.”

Out of the same SUV, a naked pet gets out. The woman is hourglass shaped with light brown skin. Dare thinks she’s tattooed from her head to her toes. The woman clasps her hands behind her back and moves to stand just behind Reuben.

“The canvas for now?” Oscar asks.

Reuben doesn’t even look at the woman behind him. “Yes. It’s almost time to get a new one. I’ve almost completely filled her up.”

Dare doesn’t understand what Reuben means until the trio enter the foyer and Dare can get a closer look at the woman’s skin. She isn’t tattooed. There are tiny scars all over her body, lines of raised, discolored skin in different designs all over her; lines and stars and crisscrosses and diamonds and swirls. Even her face…

Yes, all of her skin is almost completely filled up. How did he do that to her? What happens when he’s done?

“And this must be your pet… what a specimen he is.” Reuben says, stepping up to Dare and removing his sunglasses to openly inspect him. “Look at all that skin...”

Dare knows what he’s supposed to say. He swallows hard and then says the words. “It’s okay that I’m stupid cause I’m a Pretty Princess Sissy Boi.”

Oscar looks pleased and that’s a relief to Dare.

Reuben looks surprised, amused and then tosses his head back and laughs. Once his laughter is contained, he reaches out to touch the bubbly script of the tattoo ‘Sissy Boi’ at Dare’s collar bone. “Oh, Oscar… I’m glad that you found one that fits you.”

“As am I.” Oscar says, placing a hand on Reuben’s shoulder. “Come, I’ll show you and your pet to your room. Let you get settled in. We’ll do dinner tonight and Christmas tomorrow morning.”

As Oscar and the nameless pet climb the stairs behind the Masters, Dare gets a closer look at her skin. He tries not to stare, but can’t really help himself. Scars… everywhere. He offers her a small smile. She doesn’t smile back.

 

* * *

 

Dinner has been eaten and they’ve retired to the living room where a massive Christmas tree is decorated. Dare can’t quit looking at how pretty it is. The lights are low for a relaxing evening which just makes the lights on the tree stand out and shine brighter. It’s magical.

He wishes he could remember a Christmas… any Christmas. He wishes that this didn’t feel like his first. He has the urge to lay on the ground with his head and shoulders beneath the tree so he can look up into all of the sparkling lights. The urge makes him wonder if he used to do that when he was younger. It’s not an urge that he would dare to give into right now.

Instead, he kneels quietly on a pallet next to Reuben’s pet. Dare is so much bigger than her that he very near dwarfs her.

Oscar and Reuben sit drinking scotch, smoking cigars and talking of old times when they were children. The men laugh and joke and poke fun at one another.

“He is very pretty, Oscar.”

The words force Dare’s attention away from the Christmas tree. Both men are now looking at him.

“Yes, he is. I almost can’t believe that I get to wake up to that sucking my prick every day.” Oscar’s words could be sweet minus the crassness and in circumstances different than this. Again, Dare is struck by the fact that he’s wanted. Being wanted used to be all he wished for. “I call him my fallen angel.”

Reuben smiles and nods. “I can see it. And I’m certain that you love defiling him.”

“You know me well.” Oscar answers with a chuckle before puffing at his cigar again.

“He was one of the Mistress’s harem in Europe, yes?” At Oscar’s hum and nod, Reuben continues. “I never got to see them as a whole, although I did go to one of the dog fights where her dog slaughtered several others and won.”

Dare’s chest feels tight. Reuben is talking about Bran… about the dog fights the Mistress would take him to. Bran used to come back to the harem bloody and beaten. Dare remembers cleaning his wounds. Dare misses Bran.

“I saw them as a whole a handful of times.” Oscar continues. “They were all interesting, but this one...” He gestures to Dare. “He is everything I’ve ever wanted. I coveted him when he was hers, offered to buy him several times. She never thought I was of high enough rank for him, nor did she see the profit in letting me have him.”

“That is my doing. I was greedy in keeping you for myself for so many years.” Reuben says. “She probably has no idea that you helped requisition every ridiculous request she had. Don’t get me wrong, she was very adept at running one of the branches. But her obsession with creating a harem for herself… if she hadn’t been so successful as a branch head I would never have allowed it.”

“I’ve never minded doing what you needed done.” Oscar replies, then gestures to Dare. “And look, I got here in the end.”

Reuben is looking at Dare again, sipping at his scotch. “She killed the rest, didn’t she?”

Again, Dare’s stomach roils with nerves at the direction of the conversation. He flashes back to the firing squad and vaguely wishes he had crawled forward. He has to force his mind away from the memory and the dark thoughts that accompany it.

“Some of them.” Oscar answers with a nod. “And then some of them escaped.”

“Together?” Reuben asks and Oscar shakes his head, unsure of the answer. So Reuben looks directly at Dare. “Did the harem pets she didn’t kill escape together, pet?”

It's an impossible question. To tell the truth is to put the others in danger. To lie is to put himself in danger. Dare is already in danger, isn't he? Dare presses his red tinted lips together. “At first, Sir. Yes. Then we went our separate ways.” It isn’t a complete lie. One of them had opted out of life. Another had chosen to go home. Half truth. Half lie.

A glance at his Master has Oscar looking at him with narrowed eyes that seem none too pleased. Dare feels a chill run down his spine. An impossible question, maybe. But what has he done?

Reuben seems to accept Dare’s answer with a nod. “That branch was once what this branch now is. It was highly successful. You can see why I wanted to keep her happy, why we had to bow to her whims.”

Oscar nods. “I can see that. You did the right thing. She wanted a harem, we gave her a harem.”

“We used to be twenty strong.” Reuben has to relight his cigar and takes the time to do so. “I’m thinking of opening number six.”

“The five are profitable enough? Running smoothly?” Oscar asks.

Five branches? This is one of five branches. Dare is quick to file that away.

Reuben nods. “Yes. We’re doing quite well. Reclaiming is also helping us. It reasserts us as a contender to our rivals. The leader of the pack may have fallen off, but we’re not dead yet.”

The men clink glasses and sip from their tumblers. Then the conversation slips away from business and back to the more personal side of things. The men laugh and talk, the conversation flowing from one thing to the next.

Imagine Dare’s surprise when Reuben slips close to Oscar, cups one side of his face and kisses him. It’s a familiar action between the two men and Dare can imagine it and more having happened between them when they were younger.

For a long while, they make out on the sofa, half discarding clothes, kissing, touching, fondling. Then Reuben whispers against Oscar’s lips. “Want to trade for the night?”

Oscar grins and glances to Dare. “Marking?” Reuben nods and hums his answer which prompts Oscar to reply. “I get to say where.”

“Of course, my friend.” Reuben answers.

“Dare, come here.” Oscar sits up.

Dare crawls across the floor to Oscar and turns around with his back to the men when instructed to do so. He hears Reuben laugh and comment on his tramp stamp, the elegant script of the words ‘Pretty Princess’ with bouquets of red roses on either side of it.

His Master touches his upper left shoulder. “Here. This side, right here. And take care to make it pretty.”

Dare stares across the room at the nameless pet that Reuben is almost done with. Marking. Oscar is going to let that happen to him. Dare’s stomach is a jumble of nerves.

Oscar’s hand is on his shoulder. “You are Reuben’s for the night, Pretty Princess. You’ll do as he says.”

“Heel, pet.” Reuben says as he stands. The man looks at Oscar. “Thank you for having me here. I would have been alone otherwise.”

“You’re never really alone, old friend.” Oscar answers.

Upstairs in the guest bedroom, Reuben pours himself another glass of something from the provided decanter. He drinks it down in one quick swallow and then circles Dare, his touch sliding around his skin. “So much skin… beautiful.”

Dare doesn’t like being called beautiful by this man. He’s also struck by the fact that at one point in the past he would have hungrily soaked up the description from anyone willing to give it.

In spite of his fear, Dare stands very still as Reuben touches him. He isn’t in a position to fight back right now and he wouldn’t dream of telling a man like Reuben no. How is Reuben going to mark him?

Standing in front of him, Reuben cups both of Dare’s red lace clad breasts. “Most pets we try to do this with don’t turn out as well as you did.” His hands slide down Dare’s sides to his hips. “Do you like having breasts?”

“Yes, Sir.” Dare answers, and it’s the truth. He’d had this conversation with both Derek and Brooks. He doesn’t want them removed. They’re a part of him now.

“Good.” Reuben pinches his nipples through the lace. “You look lovely with them.”

“Thank you...” Dare decides to throw a line out and see if Reuben bites. “...Master Reuben.”

Reuben grins and steps back, looking at Dare with the eyes of a man who might have had too much to drink. “Master Perez.”

It worked. Dare has a first and a last name. Reuben Perez.

“Master Perez.” Dare readily corrects himself with a nod.

“Take your bra and panties off. Lie on the bed, face down.”

Dare’s nerves spike to ridiculous heights. He unclasps his bra at his back and removes it, then slips his panties down his legs. Reuben takes them and presses both of them to his face to inhale a deep breath of the fabric, then he admires the view as Dare moves to the bed in just his red platform heels.

Dare hears more than sees Reuben discard his clothes. The bed dips and he feels Reuben straddle his waist. He hears the flick of a lighter and smells cigarette smoke. Not the cloves that Mikael likes to smoke, but an actual cigarette.

Reuben’s hands smooth over Dare’s shoulder, then Dare feels something cool and wet touch his skin. Then his entire body goes tense as he feels a blade slice into his skin at his shoulder. The sound he emits is tiny as Reuben carves into his skin.

It hurts. Badly.

“Stay still or I’ll be very unhappy with you, pet.” Reuben says. “Your Master wants it to be pretty and I can only do that for him if you are still.”

Dare stays still as he feels the sting of the blade slice into his skin again. Tears fill his eyes and he closes them, trying to be anywhere but here in his mind. He thinks of his photo albums back at Passion. He tries to imagine every detail of the photos. He thinks of Brooks and the way it felt for a man like Brooks to want him. He thinks of Derek’s smile and Bran’s tongue lapping at his skin. He thinks of how Kyle cares for everyone around him and how JB tries to pretend he doesn’t care, but does. He thinks about Lily’s small reassuring voice and the way she likes to make Dare’s makeup pale rather than dark.

The entire night is spent with Reuben cutting into him. Sometimes Reuben laps at his skin, kisses him over the deep cuts, toys with the plug in Dare’s ass so that Dare can’t find the line between pleasure and pain.

Strangely, after awhile the pain is so constant that it doesn’t seem so bad. Dare can take it.

The sheets beneath Dare are bloody when Reuben fucks him the first time, soaked in his own blood. Reuben is bloody. Dare is bloody. The bed is bloody. Then Reuben turns him over and grins a bloody grin down at him. That’s Dare’s blood on his lips, chin and teeth.

“I got a little carried away on your back… but your Master loves me. He won’t mind.” Reuben says, drawing the flat edge of the blade over the mountains of Dare’s breasts, down his abdomen. The older man seems to become transfixed by something and then straddles Dare’s legs, leaning over to cut into the right side of Dare’s abdomen.

The pain starts all over again. The pain of the sheets scratching at his raw, shredded back. New pain at his front. Dare is lost to the pain of it all even an hour later when Reuben fucks him for the second time.

When it finally ends, Reuben falls asleep on top of Dare in a mess of Dare’s blood.

Everything hurts. Dare’s entire world hurts.

Chapter Text

Christmas is pain.

Dare is sent away in the morning and he carefully walks down the hallway with his red lace clutched to his chest. He feels weak. Very weak. Probably from blood loss.

At his Master’s room he knocks on the door and waits. There’s no answer. A guard takes pity on him and takes him to a room where a doctor sees to him, cleaning the deep cuts on his back and his abdomen.

Everything hurts.

Dare is given something for the pain and then the guard makes him walk through the house again, saying that his Master is ready for him now.

As he enters his Master’s room, Reuben’s nameless pet is leaving. She has two black eyes and a busted lip. Her rib cage looks like it’s bruising. There are smaller bruises all over her. What had Oscar done to her? He’s never beaten Dare like that.

Oscar is at the sink in the bathroom, brushing his teeth. He turns and looks at Dare and stops what he’s doing, looking down at the lower left side of Dare’s abdomen where the marking on Dare’s front is.

His Master narrows his eyes. “Turn around.” Dare slowly does so and when he gets back to facing his Master he sees that Oscar looks displeased. The man seems to swallow down his displeasure and gestures at the shower. “Clean inside and out.”

Dare sets yesterdays lingerie in the hamper and moves to the shower to get to work. The water hurts his skin. Every time he twists, reaches, moves a certain way, pain shoots through him. Hunkering down to clean out his insides is excruciating on his abdomen. He gets through it though, happy to be clean.

Outside of the shower, Oscar puts ointment on places where it’s started to bleed again. That hurts.

Dare sits at the vanity and dries his hair, which hurts his shoulders and back. He straightens his platinum locks because it’s faster and less work than curling. Then he leans in to do his makeup in somewhat of a pain-filled blood loss haze.

Oscar has set out some red boy shorts with white trim and a black buckle belt. The top matches and ties in the front beneath his breasts. It’s a Christmas outfit, Oscar tells him. The tall spike heeled boots are black with red bottoms. Oscar places a Santa hat on Dare’s head.

Everything hurts.

Downstairs, Dare is made to give out gifts from under the tree. Guards and staff from the salon and the tattoo room and the kitchens gather together. After gifts are distributed, Dare kneels on a red pallet by the tree and is happy to do so. If he’s still, if he doesn’t move, the pain is less.

The festivities are somewhat muted, everyone deferring to Reuben and Oscar, but still everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

Nameless pet kneels next to him, silent as always. At one point, Dare whispers to her. “I’m sorry that he did that to you. You didn’t deserve it.”

‘He’ could be either of their Masters. But Dare remembers how important Brooks’s whispered words had been to him back when they were both owned. He wants to give that gift to Reuben’s pet for Christmas.

Nameless glances over to Dare and then looks back to the ground. It’s some time later when she whispers back. “I’m sorry he did that to you too. You didn’t deserve it.”

She makes him think of nameless in the harem who cowered in the corner and then was the first to crawl forward when the Mistress had set up her firing squad. It makes him sad. Dare has wished for years now that he had named her before she died.

“Do you have a name?” he asks.

She shakes her head.

“Can I name you?” Dare asks.

Her wide, bruised eyes look up to him and finally she nods.

“How about...” Dare thinks for a moment. “Vivienne. Vivienne is a really pretty name, I think.”

A corner of her lips pinches slightly. “Vivienne. Thank you.”

“Viv for short.” Dare adds.

Her smile grows for the briefest of moments. It’s short-lived because of their circumstance. Dare is sure that she’s in pain too.

Christmas is pain.

 

* * *

 

That night when only Oscar and Reuben remain, Dare realizes how much the pain meds from this morning had been keeping the pain away. He can barely think beyond the pain in his back. It feels like his whole back has been sliced to shreds.

“What a lovely day.” Reuben says. “I needed this, Oscar. Thank you.”

“It’s been a good day.” Oscar nods, eyeing Dare across the room. Dare has been ignored for most of today and he’s fine with that. Now he’s terrified that his Master will send him with Reuben again.

Reuben has poured two drinks and brought them over, giving one to Oscar. “I owe you an apology. I got carried away last night. A yet unmarked specimen is… well, it’s like the euphoria of fucking a virgin.”

“I understand.” Oscar says, sipping at his drink.

“I did stick to one side, like you asked.” Reuben says. “I never crossed his spine. It’s all on the left.”

Oscar smirks. “On his back, at least.”

“When he’s flipped over, that part is on the left too… our left, not his.”

Both men laugh, Reuben highly amused with himself and Oscar shaking his head and finally replying. “The things I let you get away with. You’ve always been spoiled.”

Their laughter infuriates Dare. His anger is so palpable that he’s scared that they’ll see it. He’s quick to push it deep down inside, lock and hide it away. He can’t afford anger right now.

Reuben runs his hand down Oscar’s arm. “Forgive me. I let you beat on mine.”

Oscar looks at him. “You won’t have that one for much longer.”

“Still...” Reuben says. “Forgive me. He’s still just as pretty as he was before. Forgive me, Oscar.”

A smile slowly spreads on Oscar’s lips as he looks over to Dare. “He is pretty, isn’t he?”

“Very.” Reuben nuzzles at Oscar’s cheek.

“You’re forgiven.” Oscar turns into the kiss. “You at least made the designs interesting.”

“I always do.” Reuben answers. “You’ll have to replace the bedding in the room I’m staying in.”

“It’s already done.”

Vivienne and Dare are then given a show of the two men fucking one another. Reuben fucks Oscar first, then Oscar fucks Reuben. It’s an act that’s once again familiar between the two of them.

In the aftermath, the both of them lounging naked on the couch, Reuben tells Oscar. “You never answered me about six.”

Oscar kisses Reuben’s cheek. “If the five are profitable, we should move to six.”

“You mean me, not we.” Reuben says, asserting his control, reminding Oscar who is in charge.

“Yes, Sir.” Oscar agrees. “You.”

“I’m thinking Ireland. It’s a void we’ve yet to fill.” The silence that Oscar meets this with seems strategic to Dare, a way to remind Reuben that he needs Oscar’s input. Reuben tries again. “Or...”

“Ireland is good.” Oscar finally says with a nod after Reuben seems to second guess himself.

The dynamic between the two is fascinating. Dare thinks that Oscar runs more of the show than Reuben does.

“That’s what I thought.” Reuben answers with a nod. He kisses Oscar again. “I miss you. It isn’t the same without you by my side.”

“I’m still by your side.” Oscar says. “We talk almost every day. Any time you need advice, call.”

“Trust has been difficult since I moved you here.” Reuben admits. “I’ve realized how much you used to do for me and… there’s no trustworthy replacement for you. A part of me wants to bring you back.”

“What if I start to look for a trustworthy replacement?” Oscar asks.

“Would you?”

Dare watches as they continue to back and forth. If Dare can somehow convince Oscar to let Reuben pull him back in, then that might get Dare even deeper too.

His mind is full of so many things he’s learned since Reuben came to visit. He can’t sort through it right now because the pain is getting worse and worse. The markings, as Reuben called them, override anything else right now. He wants to ask for more pain medication but he doesn’t want to interrupt. He doesn’t want to draw attention to himself.

So Dare stays silent and still, waiting.

 

* * *

 

That night Dare is so thankful to be with Oscar in his room and not sent with Reuben that he instantly asks his Master. “May I please you, Master?”

“Did my Sissy Boi miss his Master’s cock?” Oscar asks.

“Yes, Master.”

“Come, let’s look.”

Dare follows his Master into the walk-in closet where there’s a tall, wide mirror that folds in on each side. It’s Dare’s first time to really look at the cuts.

Oscar helps him get the Christmas boy shorts off and Dare can see several red and angry flowers on his right lower abdomen. The cuts are curved for the petals and leaves and stems and the center of each is a burn from a cigarette. Dare must have been so lost in the pain that he hadn’t noticed being burned by a cigarette. The design is an intricate bouquet and Dare wonders if Brooks would call it art.

He misses Brooks.

Oscar’s fingertips slide over the scabbed cuts and that makes them sting more.

“Master, I hurt.” Dare says. It’s the closest he’s come to asking for help with the pain he’s in.

“I know, Pretty Princess.” Oscar kisses at Dare’s shoulder and unties the Christmas top at Dare’s breasts to take the thing off. He turns him so that he can look at his back.

Down the entire left side of Dare’s back from his shoulder to the top of the ‘Pretty Princess’ tattoo, there are angry red lines. Tiny lines. Line after line; horizontal, vertical, diagonal, zig-zag… so many lines. It almost looks tribal in nature. It looks a lot more like what’s on Vivienne’s skin.

Oscar’s touch slides down the line of Dare’s spine. “He’s right. He didn’t cross your spine.”

As if that could soothe Dare’s pain. Dare feels a spike of anger again, surprised to feel it in this moment. Here, right now, in this moment with this man his anger is a dangerous thing. So he breathes slowly, swallows it down, pushes it away to be felt another day.

“Did he lick up your blood?” Oscar asks as he studies the enormity of the back markings.

“Yes, Master.” Dare answers.

“Did he fuck you?”

“Yes, Master.”

“How many times?”

“Twice, Master.” Dare thinks it was twice. If he doesn’t remember cigarette burns then what else doesn’t he remember? It scares him that he doesn’t remember some aspects of last night.

“I bet that felt good. He has a very nice cock.” Oscar is rubbing light circles on the side of Dare’s back that hasn’t been cut.

“Uhm...” Last night is one confusing mess of pleasure and pain and Dare has no idea how to explain it.

“Better than my cock?” Oscar asks.

Oh. This is another game.

Dare looks in the reflection at his Master and shakes his head. “No, Master. Yours is better. I like yours better.”

“See? It’s good to try other cock now and then. It reminds you of where you belong.”

“Yes, Master.” Dare agrees, because there’s really no other choice. “May I please you, Master?”

“I think that first...” Oscar’s touch slides down Dare’s side, curling around to dig the pads of his fingers into the fresh cigarette burns. “...you need to tell me why you lied to Reuben yesterday.”

Dare cries out and tries to hunch over but Oscar’s other hand fists in Dare’s hair to pull him back. Dare is pushed forward against the mirror. “I didn’t lie. Master, I didn’t lie.”

“Oh, and now you lie to me?” Oscar digs his fingers into the fresh scabs again. “I am not a hundred percent certain, of course, but I’m almost positive that the rest of the Mistress’s harem was with you at that club. It’s my fault, really, I should have paid closer attention while I was in there. But once I saw you there was nothing else.”

It hurts so badly that Dare sees stars. Tears have gathered in his eyes as he turns to face Oscar. “Master, please.” Dare kisses at his lips and dips down to his knees in front of him, nuzzling his face into his crotch. “Please… I’m sorry.”

Oscar sighs, his hand still fisted in Dare’s hair close to the roots. “I can understand, Dare. You’re trying to protect them. I understand. Personally, I have no interest in the rest of them. You’re the one I want. It’s the lying that I can’t let slide.”

Dare closes his eyes and continues to nuzzle at Oscar’s crotch over his dress slacks. “I’m sorry. Please, Master. May I please you?”

“You saw Reuben’s pet today?” Oscar asks.

Dare nods. “Yes, Master.”

“Do you want to know why I don’t treat you that way?” His Master doesn’t wait for Dare to answer the question before continuing. “It’s because I don’t think that my Sissy Boi could take it. Sissies are such weak, fragile little things”

And Dare does feel weak right now. He’s felt weak since waking up this morning in a pool of his own blood.

Holding onto Dare’s hair close to his scalp, Oscar rotates Dare’s head in a circle. “You’re weak. Say it.”

“I’m weak, Master.” Dare whispers.

“You’re weak because you’re a stupid little sissy boi.”

Dare says the words quietly, hating the way he’s already crying and it really does make him sound weak. “I’m weak cause I’m a stupid little sissy boi.”

“You couldn’t handle the abuse that she took.” Oscar continues. “She barely even made a sound while I beat the shit out of her. And look at you, whining because of a few little cuts. That’s the sissy in you. You understand, don’t you?”

A few little cuts? Reuben had carved deep into his skin. It’s more than a few little cuts. There’s another threat of anger that Dare pushes away. A few little cuts. He doesn’t dare argue though, not now.

Dare presses his lips together and nods. “Yes, Master.”

“What do you understand?”

Dare tries to come up with the right words to please Oscar. “I understand that I’m weak, Master.”

“And why are you weak?”

“Because I’m a stupid little sissy boi.”

Dare feels the collar unclasp at the back of his neck. Oscar takes the collar away and Dare hates how the absence of its weight around his neck in this moment feels like such a low blow. His mind is so twisted up right now.

“Take off your heels. Go kneel in the shower.”

Dare removes the black boots and then goes to the walk in shower and turns to face Oscar before kneeling on the cool tile.

“You are never going to lie again, not to Reuben and not to me.” Oscar says, walking toward Dare and opening his fly. With his dick out, he aims and pisses all over Dare.

Dare is quick to close his eyes and mouth, shocked at what’s happening right now. When the piss meets the fresh cuts on his lower abdomen it stings so, so badly. It stings so badly that Dare barely contains a small whimper.

“Don’t you dare move.” Oscar zips up his pants and walks away. “You’ll stay in here just like this until I feel like you’ve learned a lesson.”

“Yes, Master.” Dare doesn’t say it, but the lesson has already been learned.

Christmas is pain.

Chapter Text

Dare is on day five of kneeling in the shower. Oscar has brought him minimal food and water. Oscar has had a physician come in and check his cuts once. Oscar seems to be working out of his bedroom rather than his office because he wants to be near Dare. Oscar is drinking a lot of water, coming into the bathroom every few hours to piss on Dare.

In all this time Dare hasn’t really slept. Dare has dozed a bit on his knees in the shower, but between his position and the pain he’s still in, sleep is impossible.

It’s been a very traumatic five days. If Dare is honest, it’s been a very traumatic months since he’s been here. For all of his reasons for being here, for all the information he’s obtained, right now there’s nothing more than his Master’s piss and his being caught in a lie.

Reuben is gone. Dare is thankful for that. Dare also worries about Vivienne.

Each time Oscar comes in to relieve himself, Dare apologizes for lying and calls himself a weak, stupid sissy boi. Oscar tells him that he did this to himself by lying and that he needs to keep learning this lesson.

Dare can’t think, not objectively, not right now. He can’t think about anything except that what Oscar says is true. He did this to himself. The tattoos, the platinum dye job, the ridiculously long nails, the cigarette burns, the cuts, being pissed on, the ache in his knees from kneeling on hard, cold tile for so long - it’s all his fault.

Dare is so tired.

Dare waits

He almost dozes and jerks himself awake. He whispers words to himself as if Oscar is in the room, apologies and pleas of leniency. He calls himself a stupid sissy boy to no one but himself. Oscar isn’t in the room but he whispers the words anyway.

On the fifth day, Oscar enters the bathroom in the morning and instead of pissing on Dare, he pisses in the toilet.

“Master, I’m sorry.” Dare whispers around a dry throat. “I’m a weak, stupid sissy boi and I’m sorry for lying. I’m so sorry.”

“Shower.” Oscar says simply. “Clean yourself inside and out.”

Dare gets to his feet, his knees protesting as he does, and starts the shower. The water reinvigorates his wounds but he makes no show of the fact that it hurts. Dare wants to be clean. He wants to smell like Oscar’s body wash instead of piss.

After he’s done cleaning himself, he kneels in the shower again because his Master didn’t say what he should do next. He hears Oscar’s voice in the bedroom. His Master is on a phone call.

Dare waits.

It’s some time later and Oscar is still on the phone when he comes to get Dare. He snaps his fingers at Dare and Dare quickly crawls out of the bathroom after him. Again, Oscar snaps his fingers and points to Dare’s sleeping pallet at the foot of the bed.

Dare kneels.

Oscar ends the phone call and stands before Dare. “I know why you lied… but you will never do it again, my fallen angel.”

Dare nods. “I’ll never do it again, Master. I’m sorry. May I please you, Master?”

“Sleep.” Oscar says. “I have some things to take care of.”

“Thank you, Master. Thank you.” Dare lays down on his pallet. It doesn’t take him long to sleep.

 

* * *

 

Dare sleeps for an entire day and Oscar lets him. He dreams of Brooks. He dreams of Brooks kissing every inch of his skin as if Dare were the alter and Brooks were there to worship. He dreams of whispered words like ‘beautiful’, ‘queen’ and ‘I love you’. Then the dream turns into Brooks slicing into his skin and Dare screaming and crying at the pain. ‘What I do is art, not porn.’, Brooks says in his dream. Then Oscar fucks him and calls him a pretty princess.

There are tears in Dare’s eyes when he wakes. He rubs them away. He needs to make Oscar happy today. He needs to get back to a head space where he can analyze everything he’s learned. Right now he is not in that head space.

Dare tries to start the morning routine as normal and Oscar lets him. He sucks Oscar off and then goes to shower to get clean, inside and out. Then he sits at his vanity and fixes his hair as Oscar showers. While Oscar dresses, Dare does his makeup to perfection. Then Dare joins Oscar in the closet where his Master picks red heels, panties and bra for Dare to put on.

Back at the vanity, Dare checks his appearance one more time and can’t help it when his eyes are drawn to the carved bouquet in his lower right abdomen, the scabbed over cigarette burns. He twists to look at his back under the guise of checking his hair.

Remembering Viviene’s light brown skin, Dare wonders what his will look like when it heals. Would Brooks still think he’s pretty? Dare has no answer for that. It’s a blessing really, because the answer scares him anyway.

His mind is so twisted up right now. Up is down. Left is right. It feels like a slow descent into madness had begun in the guest bedroom with Reuben and his blades and then continued in the shower as his Master pissed all over him. Now that he’s clean, Dare isn’t sure whether the descent will continue or if he can right the wrongness of it all.

Surely he can right the ship. He’s done it before.

Oscar stands behind him and puts the red leather collar back around Dare’s neck. Dare moves his long hair out of the way, watching the rubies and diamonds glitter at him against the bright lights of the dressing table. He’s ashamed to enjoy the weight of the collar if just because it means that Oscar is pleased with him again.

“There.” Oscar says, his hands on Dare’s shoulders. “All is as it should be just in time to celebrate the new year, Pretty Princess. Kiss your Master.”

Dare turns around to press his lips to Oscar’s. The kiss is short lived before Oscar barks an order “Heel.”

The day starts out normally in Oscar’s office. Dare kneels on his red pallet and gives Oscar head twice that morning. Lunch happens and Dare is so hungry. It doesn’t feel like enough food. Oscar fucks Dare over his desk.

As the sun starts to go down, Oscar takes Dare toward the front of the house. In the foyer Dare can see that there’s a party in full swing. Guards and staff enjoy themselves, some through dancing, some through sex. Dare watches everything with a bit of detachment, his mind on Oscar and what’s going to happen next and how he can keep Oscar in a good mood.

Everyone wants a conversation with Oscar so it’s easy for Dare to become background noise. For hours, he stands just behind his Master while Oscar works the room and steps out front to join other guests.

Dare looks up. There are no clouds in the sky. He stares at the blanket of stars and almost smiles. Everyone at Passion can see these stars too… at some point, they see them. Brooks sees them.

“Tomorrow is gonna be a new year, Pretty Princess.” Oscar says, turning to Dare and holding out a champagne glass.

Dare unclasps his hands from behind his back and takes the champagne flute. He watches as Oscar gets a small pouch from his pocket and pours a powdery substance that instantly bubbles and dissolves in Dare’s glass. He doesn’t put any in his own glass.

“Count with me Dare… if you know how to count backwards my stupid sissy boi.” Oscar says, arching his brows with amusement.

Everyone around them starts to count down from ten. Oscar joins them, gesturing that Dare should do the same.

Dare starts to mouth the numbers while looking at his glass, wondering what Oscar put in it. It doesn’t really matter in the end, does it? He’s not in a place to make Oscar unhappy right now. He has to drink it.

As they inch closer to zero, Dare thinks that this is the first New Years celebration he’ll be experiencing that he can remember. Oscar has his first Christmas and now New Years.

“Happy New Year!” Everyone yells.

Oscar clinks his glass with Dare’s and drinks his own.

Dare drinks.

“The whole thing, Sissy Boi.” His Master goads.

Dare drinks until it’s empty.

Oscar kisses him and Dare kisses his Master back.

Fireworks begin to pop off in the sky and it makes Dare think of Brooks kissing him at Logan Meyers’s birthday. Everyone in the house comes out to watch, but Oscar takes Dare’s hand and leads him inside the house.

Going up the stairs to the second floor is a challenge because Dare’s world is getting blurry and tilting sideways. Oscar helps him though. They don’t turn toward Oscar’s bedroom, instead traversing the hallways that lead to the salon, the tattoo room and the clinic.

Time skips and Dare looks down to see a doctor using a syringe to put some kind of drug into the pump under his skin in his left arm. It doesn’t even occur to Dare to make a move to stop it. All of his limbs feel so heavy.

Dare hears Oscar’s voice but doesn’t understand the words he’s saying.

“Tiny pricks. Hold still.” A doctor says as he injects a needle into Dare’s nipples.

What is happening? Dare thinks he lifts a hand to push the one holding the needle away, but then Oscar is beside him, holding both of his hands down.

Another time jump and Dare is lying face down on a table, his legs spread to either side of it. Oscar is standing beside him holding Dare’s red lace panties.

This position reminds Dare of the table in the Catacombs when Salt and Pepper had abused him, had begun making Dare feel stupid.

I’m not very smart. I’m stupid.

“Level thirteen is the third from the highest we have now. A fourteen or fifteen would be too much for what you want.” Dare hears someone say. “His records say that he was only a level six and when he was done, the highest we had available then was twelve.”

“Such an ugly number, thirteen.” Oscar’s voice says. “I prefer fourteen.”

“Are you sure?” the doctor asks. “It has the potential to make them a slave to it.”

“Do it.”

“Tiny pricks.” Someone behind him says and Dare feels a pinch in his pussy, only just now realizing that he’s spread open so wide. Why is this happening? Dare has already been through this.

Dare is back on his feet and looks down to see Oscar pulling his panties back up his legs. His Master grins at him as he makes sure they’re fitted just right on him.

“Thank you, Master.” Dare says, thinking that maybe a thank you is appropriate for getting to wear panties again.

“You’re welcome, Pretty Princess.”

Dare is walking again, leaning into Oscar’s side and letting the man keep him upright. He’s so tired. Time skips and he’s crawling onto his pallet at the foot of the bed, wondering if he was told to do so.

Once he’s on it and he looks up, he sees Oscar standing over him. His Master looks pleased rather than upset so he thinks maybe he was told to lay here.

“Sleep, my fallen angel.” Oscar says, lighting a cigar. “And Happy New Year.”

 

* * *

 

The next morning Dare feels like his entire body is humming. He can’t get comfortable. His cunt is hard and dripping with pre. His pussy itches in a way that has Dare arching his back to press his ass against the pallet beneath him to push the plug deeper.

He’s naked save for his collar, so his Master must have taken his lingerie and shoes off of him after Dare had passed out.

It’s an unmistakable truth: Dare wants to be fucked. His entire self is silently begging for it. It’s all he can think about at the moment.

Dare gets to his knees and looks up the bed at the shadow of his Master beneath the blankets. “Master...” he whispers.

He’s greeted with a chuckle as Oscar shifts on the bed to look down at Dare. “I’ve been waiting for you to wake up, Pretty Princess.”

“Please fuck me.” It isn’t what he meant to say. Dare blinks and shakes his head. “I mean… may I please you, Master?”

“Get up here.”

As Dare crawls up onto the bed, he’s never felt so aroused in his life without a clear reason to feel it. There’s no rhyme or reason to this. Dare is brimming with need as he reaches Oscar’s cock and instantly takes him into his mouth.

A fist in Dare’s hair pulls his mouth off. “What do you need, Sissy Boi?”

“I need you in me.” Dare’s hips are already undulating, pressing back as if just the move will push his plug deeper. “I need you in me, Master.”

“Take your plug out and have a seat on what you need.”

Wasting no time, Dare reaches back to remove the plug. Just that amount of friction causes a potent groan to escape Dare’s throat. Oscar laughs, entirely amused by him. Then, after just a bit of a learning curve to get his angle right, Dare sits on Oscar’s cock, letting it fill his pussy. “Ahhh thank you. Thank you, Master.

“Fuck yourself, my fallen angel.” Oscar says, his hands at Dare’s hips. “Fuck yourself on your Master’s cock.”

Dare’s entire self feels wild with want, a jungle of sexual need that he can’t explain. It’s a pervasive sort of desire that takes up every inch of his insides and leaves room for nothing else. It’s sexual delirium, pushing Dare further into the abyss of questionable sanity.

Oscar pinches lightly at his nipples and they’re so sensitive to his Master’s touch that Dare almost cums right then and there. Again, Oscar is amused with him.

He fucks himself on Oscar’s hard cock, moving up just enough and then slamming himself back down to take his Master as deep as he can. Eventually Oscar begins to lift his hips, slamming up to meet Dare with each fuck.

Dare has no idea what’s wrong with him. He just knows that the itch is being scratched and it’s glorious. He can’t stop, won’t stop… not until he’s made to stop, which he is when Oscar releases his spill inside Dare and Dare shudders and spills on his Master’s stomach. Still, Dare tries to move, to keep scratching the itch, but Oscar stops him.

“That’s good, pet. That’s good. It’s enough.” Oscar says.

Catching his breath, Dare cants his head back and closes his eyes. Oscar touches at Dare’s abs, over the ripples of muscle. “My defiled fallen angel… I think you’re finally complete.”

Dare doesn’t know what Oscar means by that. He looks down at his Master and notices his spill on Oscar’s stomach. “Oh, Master. I’m sorry...”

“They said you might not be able to control it for a few weeks.” Oscar laughs lightly. “I’ll forgive you if you clean it up.”

Dare dips down to lap at his spill on Oscar’s stomach and chest. Already, the tickling in his pussy has started again. What’s wrong with him?

“Master, I feel...” how does he describe how he feels? Aroused? Horny? It seems too embarrassing to say after only just having had such wild sex.

“I know. You got some of the newest upgrades our technology has to offer.” Oscar’s hands slide down over Dare’s ass. “You’re gonna be a needy little sissy boi, aren’t you?”

Dare thinks through the night before; the New Years gathering, the countdown, the fireworks, the champagne, the drugs…

The drugs.

What happened after the drugs? Dare tries to remember and comes up blank. He doesn’t like not remembering. It terrifies him, in fact. Has he started forgetting again? In a panic, he thinks of the things he remembered from before his abduction, reassuring himself that he still remembers them. He does. Dare exhales a held breath.

Oscar is removing his collar. “Shower, my pet. Clean inside and out.”

A ripple of aftershock pleasure races through him as Dare moves to get off of the bed. His pussy clenches around nothing, wanting something inside of it. No, wanting more than just something inside of him, wanting to be fucked.

What has Oscar done to him?

Chapter Text

Over the next two weeks, Dare’s new normal is full of carnal desire. Every minute of every day he wants to be filled and fucked and allowed to cum. His emotions are all over the place; high and low and everywhere in between. His body is a stranger to him, inside and out, and he isn’t sure how to make it do what he wants it to do.

Oscar seems to find great joy in seeing Dare squirm, in listening to Dare beg, in both succumbing to Dare’s requests and in saying no and watching him squirm some more. The man finds great joy in seeing Dare occasionally cry for no good reason or for every reason. Oscar seems to find great joy in the mess that is Dare.

Dare has had to work very hard to think of anything but sex and his need for it.

It’s only in the third week that Dare starts to finally find some equilibrium. It isn’t that the need goes away or even dies down, it’s that he learns to deal with it and live with it and hope that his Master will occasionally give him his release.

This morning Oscar took Dare to get his roots redone. The dirty blonde had started to show. Candy fixed Dare up with platinum blonde and fire engine red. His nails on both fingers and toes are fresh too, his fingernails now even longer than the previous set.

Now, after lunch, Dare kneels on his red pallet in Oscar’s office. His Master is on the phone with someone.

As Dare kneels on his pallet with his knees spread wide, he uses a trick he’s only recently learned. He shifts his red lace clad hips just right to push on the base of the plug with the back of his red ruby heels. It does nothing for how hard his cunt is, but it’s just enough friction to momentarily satiate the itch in his pussy. The move is unnoticeable to his Master aside from looking like Dare is squirming.

“So he’s the one Mistress O’hare wants?” Oscar asks into the phone.

Once again, Dare presses the base of the plug against the back of his heels beneath him. It feels so fucking good. Dare has to work to keep his breathing steady.

Oscar sighs and then smirks. “So then if the father is in the way then kill him. It’s not like we haven’t done it before.”

Dare freezes, his breath coming in short little gasps from his own arousal.

“We want Mistress O’hare happy, so yes, you have my permission to rid us of anything that’s in the way of getting her the pet she wants.”

It feels like Dare’s heart is thrumming in his ears. He swallows hard past a growing lump in his throat. Is that how the conversation had gone in the decision to kill his own father? Easy as a phone call and a yes?

His mind is reeling. Oscar had said he did the dirty work for Reuben before taking over this branch of the Gallery. What did that dirty work entail? Dare remembers Reuben and Oscar talking about how they had helped Dare’s former Mistress to form her harem to keep her happy. What was the word they had used? Not abduction… requisition. Oscar had helped requisition the pets of the harem… including the first few? Including Dare?

Years ago, first there was Jai, then Lily, then Dare.

“We know from experience that those become cold cases in the end.” Oscar says. “Do what you have to do.”

A cold case. Like Dare’s abduction and his father’s murder.

The phone call ends and Oscar rolls back from his desk, unbuckling his belt. He snaps his fingers at Dare and Dare blankly crawls beneath the desk to give Oscar what he wants.

He feels so perverted and desecrated in the performing of the act, in how aroused his body is even while he’s adding things he’s overheard together and reaching a horrible, sickening conclusion.

Dare has been sleeping with the man who either ordered or carried out his dad’s murder.

Even now he’s sucking the man’s cock while using the long tips of his nails to press at the base of the plug in his pussy, to scratch the itch, to try and find some kind of release. Instead of release he feels like he’s falling down a rabbit hole of insanity and that there’s no bottom, no end in sight, no release. Tears fill his eyes as he sucks on Oscar’s cock.

He’s been crying so much lately. Why? Everything has been as good as it can be with Oscar. Dare has been doing everything right. Dare is still a mess.

In spite of his psychological free-fall, when Oscar’s spill fills his mouth Dare swallows it down and whispers words that he knows this murderer wants to hear.

“Thank you, Master.”

He hates the hope he feels that Oscar might bend him over the desk and fuck him. Insanity. Horrible, sickening, all-encompassing insanity.

What has he become?

 

* * *

 

Dare has been stewing for the rest of the day, thinking over everything he knows of Oscar and Reuben and the Gallery. He continually presses the base of his plug against the back of his heel to try to keep his thoughts from being overpowered by sex and his need for it.

It’s late after dinner and they’ve retired to his Master’s bedroom. Oscar has just lit a cigar. “You’ve been very quiet today, Pretty Princess.”

Dare remembers the strange car in the drive while he and his dad returned from Cowboy Church.

“May I please you, Master?” Dare asks even as he presses the base of the plug against the back of his heel again.

“Missing your Master’s cock, are you my stupid little sissy boi?” Oscar asks, grinning as he puffs at his cigar.

The car moved forward and spooked his father’s horse. Dare remembers this.

Dare looks up to Oscar, his eyes hard with a growing anger that he’s trying so damn hard to push back down inside of him. It’s still too dangerous for this… right? Why can’t he push it back down? Why can’t he seem to control himself physically or emotionally lately? Why is he such a mess?

“Yes, Master.”

Oscar sets the cigar in an ashtray on the bedside table alongside his charging phone. Then he sits on the side of the bed. “Come here.” Dare crawls across the room to his Master, kneeling before him. “Tell me what you want, Sissy Boi.” Oscar says.

Dare remembers dismounting Cocoa and running to where his dad had crashed hard against the ground. His dad was okay, sitting up and rubbing the back of his head. Dare should have done something right then, looked around and noticed what was happening. Call it slow or stupid, Dare has always been that thing. Right now it feels like they’re one and the same.

His guilt is a living, breathing thing in his heart. The building, uncontrollable anger is only making it worse.

It’s very clear in this moment that Dare has no control over any part of himself. No matter how often he’s been able to do it before, he can’t stop this tidal wave no matter how hard he tries. Why can’t he stop it? Where is the control he’s had for so long?

Oscar wants to know what he wants. There are so many things that Dare wants. He knows what Oscar wants to hear though. “I want you in me, Master.”

“Of course you do, my stupid sissy boi.” Oscar says, fingers gliding down Dare’s cheek. “Bend over the bed.”

Dare remembers the prick in the skin of his neck and the world going sideways. He still had time to do something then… right? He should have done something. He’s always been slow.

“Master, may I ride you like I did the other morning?” Dare asks, unsure of why he’s asking it really.

Oscar hums thoughtfully, then stands and undresses from the waist down. He gets up onto the bed and lies back. “Come on, my fallen angel.”

A fallen angel… maybe. Yes. So stupid and slow. God doesn’t listen to him anymore. His parents had deserved better. His dad had deserved better. Everyone, even Brooks, deserved better. Especially Brooks.

Dare remembers. His dad had looked concerned at him right before the bullet hit his brain, as if he knew everything was about to change for his son and his end was near. Dare could blame the drugs for his inaction at this point, but his mind is too fucked up to allow himself that bit of grace.

Should have done something. So fucking stupid.

His mind is in a vacuum of memories of that day as Dare stands up and looks down at Oscar for a moment. Then he climbs on top of the other man, knees straddling, pausing to lap at his cock. “Master, they won’t really kill someone’s father, will they?”

Oscar looks down to Dare, studying him for a moment and then shakes his head, his hands sliding down to Dare’s hips. “It’s the price of doing business. Your panties are still on, Sissy Boi. How are you supposed to fuck yourself with your panties on, stupid pet?”

The price of doing business.

Like a broken record, Dare relives the few seconds it took between the prick at his neck and the bullet in his father’s brain. He remembers it again and again. Everything feels tight and dark and sad and angry… so damn angry.

It’s just a few cuts.

The price of doing business.

Dare tries to push his emotions down, to lock and hide them away. He can’t. What’s wrong with him?

Everything. That’s the answer to the question. Everything is wrong with him.

His Master pinches at Dare’s oversensitive nipples and Dare feels instantly like he might cum. He hunches over and tries to catch his breath as Oscar laughs at him.

The price of doing business.

“You mean like how you killed my dad?” Dare asks.

His Master’s eyes narrow at him. “But those memories were taken from you.”

Not a denial.

Dare takes several deep breaths to stave off his arousal. His heart is once again thrumming in his ears, in his head, in his fingertips and toes.

The price of doing business.

It’s just a few cuts.

Finally seeing something he doesn’t like in Dare’s expression, Oscar slaps at Dare’s ass. “Get off.”

Dare doesn’t move.

Oscar tries to push Dare as he attempts to get up. “I said get off, you weak, stupid sissy boi.”

Dare is too big of a guy for Oscar to throw off of him.

Dare puts one hand around Oscar’s neck and holds him down. Really, one of Dare’s large hands would be enough. The horribly long nails make it a bit of a clumsy hold so he leans forward and adds a second hand.

He remembers the prick in his neck, the look on his dad’s face just before the bullet pierced his brain.

The price of doing business.

Oscar, his face red, claws at Dare’s hands. “Get off. Stop this now.” the man is barely able to squeak the words out.

I had a fucking crisis of conscience, Brooks had said. Dare has no such crisis at the moment. He can’t control the emotions gushing out of him. Everything is wrong with him. Everything.

Dare presses, thinking of how Brooks had said he’d almost killed his Mistress at one point. It’s like Dare is semi-detached from the act; anger boiling out of him at a rapid pace and Dare unable to put the lid back on. Anger and guilt and an insanity that’s been building over time… it’s a horrible mix.

The price of doing business.

“You killed him.” Dare whispers. “You didn’t have to.”

“Dare...” Oscar’s face is blue now, almost purple as he thrashes beneath Dare.

Dare is too big for a man like Oscar to combat. “You didn’t have to.” he whispers again as Oscar stills beneath him. Still, Dare’s large hands hold on. “You didn’t have to do it.”

Even though his Master is still and not breathing, Dare in his haze, holds onto the man’s neck for a long while. He holds on until the anger slowly seeps its last remnants out of him, until he finally seems to come back into himself.

As his hands release their hold they tremble. The anger is gone. The guilt remains. The madness remains. An intense panic begins to take hold. Dare can’t control any of this. He can’t find control over the emotions oscillating back and forth and up and down in his psyche.

The price of doing business. Everything has a price, from getting into the shower to being treated like a human being. There’s a price for all of it. There will be a price for this too, for killing Oscar.

What has he done?

Dare cries. For a long time he straddles Oscar’s dead body and he cries, his shoulders hunched and his breath heaving with his tears.

What has he done?

They’ll kill him now. When they find Oscar’s dead body in the morning, they’ll kill him.

The price of doing business.

What has Dare done?

Now he won’t be able to get more information because they’ll kill him. He’s finished.

What has he done?

It’s some time later, the tears have dried up and Dare still straddles Oscar’s dead body in a haze of shock.

A ping from Oscar’s phone on the nightstand draws Dare’s attention. He finally moves away from Oscar, scrambling for it. He grabs the phone and tries to unlock it. Nothing.

Then he remembers that Oscar can use a thumb print and Dare lifts Oscar’s limp hand to unlock the phone.

He dials 911.

A woman answers and for a moment Dare has no idea what he’s supposed to say. He’s in shock. Should he confess to murder? How does he explain the absolutely terrifying predicament he’s in?

“Hello? 911, how may I assist you?” the woman says again.

“I...” He killed someone. He’s deep into the lion’s den and they’ll all kill him for killing the pack master. Someone needs to know what he’s discovered before they kill him. “I need Agent Derek Morgan of the FBI.”

“Can you repeat that?”

“I need Agent Derek Morgan of the FBI.” Dare repeats, his voice sounding foreign and monotone to himself.

Dare paces the room, occasionally glancing at Oscar’s dead body and getting stuck there.

I killed him. I killed him. I killed him.

“Is there any way I can help you?”

“I need Derek Morgan of the FBI… please. Please.” Dare says, stuck on that string of words in the same way he’s stuck on the dead body on the bed. “I need Derek Morgan of the FBI. I need Derek Morgan of the FBI.”

“Okay, okay… just stay on the line.”

Dare hears a keyboard typing and he glances to the bed and gets stuck with Oscar’s dead body again. He keeps thinking that Oscar will sit up and punish him in some way. Dare doesn’t want to stay in here.

Exiting the room, Dare is immediately confronted with a guard. The man looks at him for a moment, noting the phone in Dare’s hand and then trying to look behind him into the room.

Dare doesn’t think, he acts. He wraps one arm around the man and literally lifts him off the ground before slamming him to the floor. The man’s head hits the tile so hard that he’s knocked unconscious. Dare drags him into the bedroom and then shuts the door.

He paces the room and speaks blankly into the phone again. “I need Agent Derek Morgan of the FBI. Please. Please.”

Again, he walks out into the hallway. He rounds the corner and runs into another guard who has the same curiously surprised expression on his face. This one is different. Dare drops the phone and a fight ensues. Dare is bigger than the guard and ends him in a choke hold from behind – but not before earning himself a busted lip and a black eye.

Dare drags the body back around the corner to Oscar’s room, gets him inside and stares at Oscar again. He gets stuck. Time passes.

I killed him. I killed him…. They’re gonna kill me.

Back out in the hallway, he picks up Oscar’s phone and puts it to his ear. The woman is still typing, her voice sounding far away and speaking with someone else. He walks to the staircase and goes down the back way to Oscar’s office. It’s the easiest way to meet with as few guards as possible. After shutting the door to the office, Dare kneels in the dark on his red pallet beside Oscar’s desk.

“You still there?”

“Yes, Madame.” Dare whispers. “I need Derek Morgan of the FBI.”

“I’m trying, okay?” the woman says calmly. “Just hang on.

It’s some minutes later that another voice comes on the line. “This is Agent Aaron Hotchner, I work with Agent Morgan.”

“I need Derek Morgan with the FBI.” Dare repeats.

“We’re trying to connect to him.” Aaron says. “May I ask who this is?”

Like a broken record because he’s terrified and in shock, Dare repeats the words. “I need Derek Morgan with the FBI. Please. Please help me.”

“Okay, we’re working on it.” Agent Hotchner says. “He’s not in the office today so we have connect to his cell.”

Dare hears the Agent’s voice muffled as if he’s speaking away from the phone and then back. “We’ve got him. Here he is.”

“This is Agent Morgan.”

At the sound of the familiar voice, tears that hadn’t been present before in his shocked terrorized state start to fill his eyes. His throat is too tight to speak.

Again, Derek tries. “Hello? This is Agent Morgan. Hotch, any hits?”

“Garcia says it’s a New Mexico phone number, but wherever it is it’s sufficiently scrambled. No location yet.” Aaron says. “She’s working on it.”

“Hello? This is Agent Morgan.”

“Derek...” Dare finally whispers. “It’s Dare.”

“Oh god….” the relief is evident in Derek’s voice. “Dare. Where are you?”

Dare can’t answer that question. “I wasn’t ever told that.”

“Okay… okay… we’re gonna find you. Okay? Just stay on the line.”

“I killed him.” Dare whispers his confession.

There’s a pause before Derek answers. “Who did you kill?”

“My Master.” Dare says and then shakes that answer off. “Oscar. He killed my dad.” Or at least he’d had a hand in killing him. Dare never got a straight answer aside from knowing that Oscar was involved.

“Okay. It’s okay, Dare. Just…. Hotch?”

“Nothing yet.” Hotch answers.

“They’re gonna kill me.” Dare whispers this terrible truth into the phone. “For killing him.”

“No, they’re not.” Derek says adamantly. “We’re not gonna let that happen.”

“Mexico. Just across the border.” Aaron says. “Garcia’s alerting the authorities.”

“Dare? You hear that? We know where you are.” Derek says. “It’s gonna be okay. Just stay on the phone with me, okay?”

“Okay.” Dare says with a nod, a spark of hope coming alive somewhere deep inside of him. If anyone can get him out of this alive, it’s Derek.

There’s silence for a moment before Aaron speaks again. “Choppers in the air.”

“You hear that, Dare? People are coming to get you.” Derek says.

Dare hears shouting from upstairs, the slamming of doors might as well be slamming in the face of whatever hope he’d just felt. They know. They know that Oscar is dead.

“It’s too late.” He whispers, crawling from his pallet to huddle beneath Oscar’s desk. He hides himself in the small space he’s knelt so many times to give his Master blow jobs. Dare pulls the rolling desk chair close to conceal from the other side. “They know.”

“Are you hidden?” Derek asks after a brief moment of silence.

“Yeah.” Dare nods, even though no one can see him. Tears slide down his cheeks. There are things he needs to say and Dare begins to work through the words slowly and softly in the dark room. “Listen to me. His name was Oscar Ceballos. He’s been running the Gallery with a man named Reuben Perez.”

“Dare...” Derek starts.

“No, you have to listen. This can’t be for nothing. Are you listening?”

“Oscar Ceballos and Reuben Perez.” Derek says. “Got it.”

“There are only five branches operating right now but they’re thinking of opening a sixth in Ireland because the five they have are doing well. They had twenty before they were taken down.” Dare continues. “Derek, this one has an elevator that goes down. That means...”

The door to Oscar’s office opens. The light comes on. Dare falls silent. He doesn’t even breathe. Of course they can’t see under the desk from the door. As long as they don’t enter the room and come around the desk, Dare just has to stay silent.

“I know what that means.” Derek says through the phone.

Whoever was at the door leaves, leaving the light on. Shouting can be heard throughout the house even louder now that the door is open.

“Dare?” Derek says.

“One of the heads of a branch is a Mistress with the last name O’hare.” Dare whispers quietly.

“O’hare.” Derek repeats the information. “Dare, I hear shouting.”

“They’re gonna find me.” Dare whispers, wiping tears from his cheeks and chin. His tears are drying up, emotion slowly being taken over by shock again, by acceptance and shock. “It’s okay. I’ve helped, right?”

“You’ve more than helped. Do you know how many abducted people are gonna be liberated from there today? And maybe more if we can get into their network there.” Derek says. “You got names, Dare… and now we have a location.”

Dare smiles a little sadly and nods. “Tell Brooks-”

“No, you’re gonna tell him yourself.” Derek says. “Brooks loves you, Dare. He’s been so upset… worried.”

“He doesn’t know the things I’ve done.”

“He loves you.”

“Tell him I’m sorry.” Dare says because he needs to say it. Then he tries to think of anything else that needs saying before the end. “There are probably a lot of bodies buried in the land here. My Master talked about it a lot. He’d threaten people with it.”

“Okay.”

“If you get Reuben Perez, he’s the roots, Derek.” Dare says. “He had a pet named Vivienne with him here. Try to save her. She didn’t deserve what he did to her. He hurt her.”

“We’ll get him. We’ll try.”

“Everyone will be free.” Dare says wistfully, knowing full well that it will take a bit more luck to completely destroy the Gallery. They need to get into the files, to know where every branch is. If Dare hadn’t killed Oscar tonight then he might have had time to find a way into the files. Now there’s no time and Dare needs to believe that he did something smart and good, that it wasn’t for nothing. “No more cages.”

Derek seems to know that Dare needs to believe it because he doesn’t attempt to break anything down to make it more complicated than that simple statement. “No more cages. You did this, Dare.”

Yeah. Dare did this.

Dare notices movement outside through the large windows behind the desk chair. He cranes his neck to peek outside. There’s one of the guards there, looking straight at him and speaking into a radio at his shoulder.

“They see me.” He whispers into the phone.

“Do you hear choppers? Helicopters. Do you hear them?” Derek asks.

Dare listens and only hears screaming and running through the house. “No.”

There’s another beat of silence where Derek seems to resign himself to the possibility of something. Derek’s acceptance makes Dare accept it as well.

“It’s okay.” Dare whispers.

“Dare, you’ve been so brave.” Derek says.

“It wasn’t stupid?” Dare asks, tears coming anew. “Sometimes I still feel so stupid. Right now I feel stupid.”

“No. No, not at all stupid. They lied to you in the Catacombs, Dare. You’re not stupid and you’ve never been stupid. You’ve been so brave and smart.” Derek says, his voice thick with emotion. “You’ve saved lives.”

Dare is quiet for a moment before whispering. “I love him too.”

“I know.” Derek nods. “I’ll tell him.”

Dare nods, hearing footfalls in the hallway. “They’re here.”

The chair is shoved back and weapons are aimed at Dare. “Get out from under the desk.”

Dare moves to exit his hiding place and is roughly hauled out by the guards the rest of the way.

“Dare? I’m so proud of you.” Derek’s voice sounds in his ear through the phone.

The phone is snatched away from him and Dare is ushered, pushed really, through the house toward the front and the grand stairwell. Dare can see guards running and barking orders at each other outside of the open double doors. All of the guards surrounding Dare stop when they hear the rumbling sound of helicopters incoming. Dare’s entourage moves toward the front door, weapons aimed.

Dare stands back and watches.

Shooting starts outside and more yelling. At the sound of gunfire, Dare gets to his knees in the foyer. He remembers the harem and how he should have crawled forward, but didn’t.

All hell has broken loose outside. It sounds like a war zone.

Be brave, my sweet Dare. I double-dog dare you to be brave.

Dare thinks that if he can make it to the people flying the helicopters, maybe he can make it through this. The people flying the helicopters are Derek’s people.

Still on his knees, Dare inches to the double doors and looks outside. Oscar’s men fire on helicopters landing in the distance, they fire on shadowed figures in the brush slowly approaching the house. Those shadowed men approaching fire on the house. The glass of a window by the front door shatters, shards of glass imploding next to Dare. Some of the broken glass embeds in the right side of his body.

Dare winces.

Should have crawled forward. So fucking stupid.

It’s too much. There’s no way he’d make it.

The gunfire plays havoc with his psych again. In his panic and shock, everything goes quiet around him. All he can hear is his own breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out. In and out.

So slow. He’s always been slow.

No, he can’t do this. He can’t.

A hand touches his shoulder from behind and Dare startles and looks up to see a man in combat gear. There’s an American flag on the breast of his bullet proof vest. He puts one index finger up to his mouth indicating that Dare should be silent. Behind the man, Dare sees others in the same gear coming through the house from the back.

Oscar’s guards are about to be fucked.

Chapter Text

Dare has gone back into Oscar’s office to kneel on his pallet. It’s where he’s most comfortable in this house and after watching the battle where a dozen or so of Oscar’s guards were killed and then guards and employees of Oscar’s household zip tied and lined up, Dare needs a space where he can think. He presses the base of his plug to the back of one of his red ruby heels to stifle the itch.

He’s still alive. How is he still alive? Why is he still alive?

Should have crawled forward. Why didn’t you crawl forward? I killed him. I should be dead too.

This is what going crazy feels like. Sex and blood and death and red lace. Sex. Sex. Sex…

Oscar is dead… right? Who will fuck him now?

What a thought to have in this moment. Yes, Dare has lost his mind.

One of the soldiers walks by the room, stops and backs up, looking inside at Dare for a moment before entering the room. “Do you speak English?” the soldier asks.

Dare nods.

The man gets a paper from his pocket and looks it over before looking to Dare, back and forth a few times. He still doesn’t seem to be sure of something when he asks. “Are you Daren Brooks?”

Dare shakes his head.

The soldier looks confused for a moment before posing another question. “What’s your name?”

“Dare, Sir.” Oh. Daren Brooks. “I was Daren Brooks.”

The soldier seems unfazed as he continues with a nod. “You did this. All of this. It’s pretty awesome.”

Dare doesn’t really feel awesomes. He’s kneeling here in his red lace and heels and ruby and diamond studded collar and Dare still feels every kind of terrified. The over-the-top upgrades have him really messed up and aroused even through his terror.

His emotions are all over the place in a very distant sort of way and blanketing all of those mismatched emotions is an intense sort of shock.

“I killed him, Sir.” Dare admits his crime again, wary of the punishment that he’s sure will come.

“Who?”

“My-...” Dare stops himself from saying ‘my master’. “Oscar Ceballos.”

The soldier smiles. “Yeah, we know. It’s okay. He was a bad guy.”

It doesn’t seem like it should be that simple, but Dare is thankful for the simplicity of it in the moment. He’s in such a strange head space in which any and all of his complicated and wayward emotions seem very far away.

Dare looks at the laptop and the computer on Oscar’s desk and then back to the soldier who has followed his gaze. “The network, Sir.” Dare says.

“You’re really trying to bring this whole place down. Like I said, awesome.” The guard smiles a bit and speaks into a communication device.

Within minutes another soldier is in the room with a heavy metal briefcase, working at Oscar’s computers while attaching his own computer. The quick typing on the keys reminds Dare of the phone call with the 911 operator.

I should be dead. Why am I not dead?

“I don’t know what to do now, Sir.” Dare says quietly. Tears are threatening again and he desperately needs someone to tell him what to do.

“Now we get to take you home. Well, first I’m gonna let our medic get those shards of glass out of your skin, but then home.” the soldier says. “I’m told we’re supposed to be very careful with you. Precious cargo, they called you. You ready to get out of here, Dare?”

Is he allowed to leave? After everything, Dare still feels like this is too easy even though it hasn’t been easy at all, like there should be a catch and that he needs to be quick enough to see it before it can trip him up. But there’s no Oscar to tell him what to do, only this soldier. Dare needs to be told what to do so badly that he decides that yes, if this soldier says he can leave, then he can.

Dare nods and stands up. He follows the soldier through the house to a man in the lobby who indeed carefully removes the shards of glass from Dare’s right side and cleans and tends the wounds.

In the lobby there are still members of Oscar’s household zip tied and kneeling on the floor. Out of the group that’s left, Dare only recognizes Candy. The slim man adorned in pink looks scared. Dare is scared too even though he can’t seem to fully feel it right now.

Candy looks at him and Dare looks back. Dare offers the man some semblance of a small smile. Candy starts crying. Dare wonders if Candy was once a pet in the Catacombs.

Eventually, he follows the soldier out toward a waiting helicopter. One of the soldiers hands Dare a heavy camouflage coat that Dare shrugs on. Even as big as Dare is, the coat swallows him. He’s given noise canceling earphones and is strapped in by the same soldier who found him. Then the helicopter is lifting into the air.

 

* * *

 

Dare doesn’t say much during transport. It feels good to be quiet. There’s a helicopter, a plane and then an SUV. Dare doesn’t speak and he isn’t made to speak. At a government medical base in Virginia, Dare is checked out. Even when asked questions, Dare doesn’t speak. The doctors seem to agree that he’s in shock. The cuts from Reuben’s marking were deep enough that they’re already scarring, but none of them have been infected.

Dare is handed a pair of baggy camouflage pants and told to put them on. He does what he’s told.

It’s Derek who enters the room and makes a beeline for Dare. Derek wraps Dare in a tight hug and doesn’t let go. Dare doesn’t even think to hug him back.

Neither of them say anything for awhile.

“Agent Morgan, you need to let go. He’s in shock.” A doctor says behind Derek. “His reactions may be unpredictable.”

“Dare would never hurt me.” Nonetheless, Derek pulls back and nods to the doctor before looking back to Dare. “I’m so glad you’re okay. You scared the hell out of all of us. We thought we lost you.”

“Is he dead?” Dare whispers numbly, the first words he’s spoken in a long while.

“Oscar?” When Dare nods, Derek nods too. “Yeah, he’s dead.”

Dare looks down to the floor. It’s still hard to believe. He did that. Dare’s hands did that.

“Do you wanna fuck me?” Dare asks quietly, thinking that maybe some relief will help him find his way back to something resembling sanity. “Will you fuck me?”

“Dare, no. Not here. Not right now.” Derek is silent for a bit before speaking again. “Well you’re not hidden from the government anymore.”

That makes Dare smirk and shake his head. It seems such a trivial thing.

“Do you wanna go home?”

Dare hesitates, unsure of what home means anymore, of what he’ll find when he gets there.

“Hey.” Derek says, his hand resting on Dare’s shoulder. “Everyone wants you home.”

Dare nods, following along because that’s the easiest option right now. He’s so tired and yeah… he guesses he’s in a state of shock. Again, he needs someone to tell him what comes next, what to do next, and Derek is giving him that in a roundabout way.

Derek drives the SUV that takes them out of the federal buildings and through the streets toward Passion. Derek tries to start conversation with Dare several times but Dare is too lost in his own mind for that. Dare watches blankly out of the windows and shifts in his seat to make the plug move in his pussy.

When they pull into the parking lot at Passion, Dare looks out of the window and remembers the last time he’d been here. “Is the guard okay?”

Derek thinks for a minute before realizing what Dare is asking. “The one you punched so hard you broke his nose? Yeah, Manny’s okay and he says you have a hell of a right hook. I told him I taught you that.”

That’s his name. Manny. Manny is nice. Dare’s hands hurt Manny just as surely as they killed Oscar.

Derek helps Dare out of the SUV and walks with him to the front of Passion. There’s a sign on the front door that reads ‘Closed for the Night’. They walk through the lobby where Jai usually attends coat check and through the gauzy curtains into the main club area. It’s empty of any customers. Dare is kind of glad that it’s empty.

Passion might be closed for the evening, but Mikael’s booth is occupied.

Mikael stands sentinel where both Gray and Brooks sit. Mikael’s piercing blue eyes find Dare first, his eyes traveling over Dare as if cataloging, taking stock. Of course no one can see the worst of it with the big army jacket Dare wears over his red lace.

Brooks follows Mikael’s gaze and instantly stands up and turns to look at Dare. Brooks looks the same; baggy jeans, a worn tee shirt. His feet are bare. His purple and pink tipped hair is partially slicked back like he’d begun sleeping on it and only finger combed it when he was woken up.

Brooks crosses the room in several long strides and stops short when Gray stops him.

“Brooks. Remember what we talked about.” Gray says, standing from the booth as well.

Brooks nods, his eyes never leaving Dare. “I’m told you’re not supposed to rush at people who are in a deep state of shock. They said you’re in a deep state of shock, baby. It’s okay though… you’re home now. Can I hold your hand?”

It takes Dare a moment to respond with a nod, unclasping his hands from behind his back and holding out his hand in the same way he had when Brooks and he had first found each other again so long ago.

Up close, Dare can see that Brooks’s eyes look tired and red. He can see that Brooks looks like he’s lost weight, features sharper than they were.

Brooks still looks like a dream. Dare wants to ask Brooks to fuck him. Brooks deserves better.

Brooks takes Dare’s hand, his thumb sliding over the very long red nails. “Holy fuck. Thank you.” Brooks whispers very quietly. “Thank you...”

Dare has no idea what he’s being thanked for. It probably doesn’t matter. Once Brooks knows what he’s done and sees what’s been done to him, Dare doesn’t expect him to stay. That should make him sad, but emotions still feel so very far away. He remains silent because silence feels so good right now. Silence is safe.

“God, I was so scared. Fuck.” Brooks continues, tears sliding down his cheeks. He doesn’t let go of Dare’s hand.

“Doctors looked him over.” Mikael says to Derek.

“Yes, Sir.” Derek nods.

“Brooks, I’d like for our physician here to look him over as well.” Mikael continues. “You’ve met him. Doctor Javid.”

“Yeah.” Brooks says, still holding tightly to Dare’s hand. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. We wanna be sure. Holy fuck, you’re here.”

“Yes, we want to be absolutely sure.” Mikael says

“He hasn’t said much since leaving the compound.” Derek says. “Not to the soldiers who brought him in or to doctors or to me.”

“That’s alright.” Gray says, stepping closer. “I agree that he might be in a deep state of shock. He needs time.”

“Oh baby, let me look at you.” Brooks finally steps back enough to look over Dare. His gaze roams over his face and one of his hands pulls through a long swath of platinum hair. His fingertips lightly touch Dare’s busted lip and the bruise beneath one eye.

Dare stands very still as Brooks’s eyes roam over him. When Brooks spots a part of the carved bouquet on the lower right of Dare’s abdomen, Brooks pushes aside the coat to see. Mikael and Gray step closer to look. Brooks lets go of Dare’s hand to push the coat off of Dare’s shoulders and behind him, Derek takes the army coat away.

At the sight of the Sissy Boi tattoo, Brooks’s jaw stiffens. Mikael’s eyes ice over. Gray exhales a long held breath.

“Oh Dare...” Gray says with a shake of his head.

“It’s okay.” Brooks says, looking up into Dare’s eyes. He arches a brow at Dare and forces a small smile. “It’s okay, Sweetheart.”

“It’s on his back too.” Derek says.

Brooks instantly walks around to look at Dare’s back, the left side completely and artfully cut up, the Pretty Princess tattoo. He stays there for a long moment and Dare stands there waiting, waiting for the entire world to implode. But then Brooks is back in front of him telling him it’s okay. Only when Brooks is back in front of Dare do Mikael and Gray go to look at Dare’s back.

“Are these cigarette burns?” Brooks suddenly gets down to look closer at the carved bouquet, the burned skin at the center of each flower. “That fucker put his cigarettes out on you?”

Brooks is angry. Dare doesn’t know what to do with anger now that he’s expelled his own. He expelled it by killing someone. Dare has no idea what that means for him or for him and Brooks.

“Brooks, the collar.” Mikael says from somewhere behind Dare, redirecting Brooks’s fury towards something more productive. Derek’s Master walks around to Dare’s front again, studying Dare but speaking to Brooks. “You need to be the one to remove that collar.”

Brooks stands up again and eyes the red leather collar around Dare’s neck. “Look at me.” Brooks says.

Dare vaguely looks at Brooks.

“Look in my eyes, beautiful.”

Brooks just called him beautiful and Dare’s eyes mist over. Brooks smiles at him and reaches back behind Dare to carefully unsnap all three snaps of the collar. With it undone, Brooks lifts the weight of it off of Dare’s neck.

Dare feels his own features crumble as tears escape his eyes.

Brooks passes the collar to Mikael and then finally wraps his arms around Dare, unable to keep himself from doing so with Dare crying as he is, deep state of shock or not. “It’s okay, Dare. It’s okay.” Brooks says quietly. “I’m right here and you’re home. It’s okay. You’re home.”

 

* * *

 

His tears have dried up again. Dare is quietly following Brooks through the hallway toward Brooks’s room. It’s a robotic sort of action as Dare has mentally curled in on himself again. He has no idea what will happen once they get to Brooks’s room.

At the door, Brooks ushers Dare inside. Dare is surprised to find his pink pallets still scattered throughout the room on the floor. The bedding is purple and gray, the sheets and comforter rumpled and thrown back as if Brooks had gotten out of bed in a hurry. Brooks’s artwork is still scattered around the room. It’s like nothing has changed.

Dare feels drastically changed.

“Come on, beautiful.” Brooks takes Dare’s hand and leads him into the bathroom.

Dare watches the other man dip down to unbuckle the red heels from Dare’s ankles and pull them off. With the heels off, he and Brooks are the same height. Brooks reaches back to unclasp the red bra and then the camo pants and red lace panties are pushed down over his hips. Dare steps out of them.

Watching Brooks remove his t-shirt and jeans feels surreal. He’d reached a point with Oscar where he never thought he’d see this again. After killing Oscar, he’d thought he would die with him… or because of him.

I should be dead. I killed him and I should be dead.

Brooks is still so very handsome. Brooks is exactly the same. Dare is not.

After turning the shower on, Brooks slides his hand down Dare’s arm to get him to unclasp his hands. Brooks holds Dare’s hand as he leads him into the shower.

There’s a moment of time where everything pauses, where Brooks just stands in front of Dare with his hands smoothing over Dare’s skin. Brooks’s touch is gentle and careful of cuts in Dare’s skin where the wounds are still healing.

Dare hesitantly reaches out to rest a hand on Brooks’s chest. He glances up to Brooks and the other man seems to understand the unspoken question.

Brooks nods. “Yes, baby. It’s okay. You can touch.”

Then Dare looks down to his hand again where it rests against Brooks’s chest. It looks wrong. He gets lost on the long red nails at his fingertips. He remembers how his palms felt around Oscar’s neck and he pulls his hand away.

“No.” Brooks grabs Dare’s hand and presses Dare’s palm to his chest again. “Stay with me. You get to touch, Dare. It’s okay. Stay with me.”

Dare looks back up to Brooks. The other man is being so nice to him, but he doesn’t know. He has no idea what Dare has done. At the very least, Brooks needs to know why.

Leaving his hand resting at Brooks’s chest, Dare swallows past a sudden lump in his throat. “I… I left because-”

“I know why.” Brooks nods, still holding Dare’s hand against his chest. One hand slides down to hold onto Dare’s wrist. “I was so fucking pissed… and terrified, but I know why you did it. You did it because they still had control over us… and because you felt things you weren’t equipped to deal with yet. I should have… we all should have noticed that you were drowning in emotions you couldn’t...”

Dare is arching a brow at Brooks, surprised by how precisely he understands where Dare was at.

Brooks smirks. “I might've spent a lot of time with Gray while you were… we talked a lot.”

Doctor Cohen and Brooks had talked a lot. About Dare. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that makes it worse.

All Dare knows is that he’s a tangled up mess inside and he doesn’t even know where to begin to untangle himself. Emotions are still hit or miss. And on top of all of this, his pussy itches so damn bad. He needs…

He has no right to ask that of Brooks right now. He will not use Brooks in that way… anyone but Brooks.

Dare feels frozen in time and place just as he had on that red pallet back at Oscar’s home when the soldier had found him. He needs someone to tell him the next step.

“I don’t know what to do.” Dare whispers, barely audible over the spray of water. “Please tell me what to do.”

“Hey.” Brooks cups Dare’s cheek. “We’re gonna get clean. Then we’re gonna sleep. Okay?”

It seems so simple. Dare nods. “Yes, Sir.”

“Okay.” Brooks nods. “Tomorrow is a new day. You’re home. You’re home and that’s all that matters right now.”

Brooks is so gentle and careful in every way as he cleans Dare. Then Brooks dries the both of them off and leads Dare into the bedroom. There’s no long pallet on the floor for him and Dare is practically tucked into bed. After turning out the lights, Brooks slides beneath the covers with Dare.

The room isn’t completely dark because Brooks leaves the bathroom light on with the door cracked open.

Dare feels Brooks’s arms around him and it feels both good and uncomfortable. He wants to ask for sex, but he doesn’t. He wants to say so many things, but he doesn’t. He wants to crawl out from beneath the sheets and lie down on the floor at the foot of the bed, but he doesn’t.

“I love you so fucking much, Dare.” Brooks whispers into Dare’s ear. “I love you.”

In the dimly lit room, Dare feels tears escape his eyes. There is no part of him that thinks he deserves that love right now. How can Brooks still love him? How will he still love him when he knows everything? Brooks wants a queen. Dare is a pretty princess.

Brooks should be as disgusted with Dare as Dare is with himself.

Dare wants to return the sentiment, but he doesn’t.

Chapter Text

It’s early, before the sun is up when Dare wakes up. Normally he would be kneeling and looking up the bed for any sign that Oscar is waking up to ask if he can please him. He isn’t with Oscar. Oscar is dead. Brooks is next to him, curled in against Dare’s side and fast asleep with one hand on Dare’s shoulder.

Dare stares at him in the still mostly dark room. Brooks is beautiful. Dare’s body is craving sex and Brooks is right here. Dare doesn’t feel like he can use him though. He can’t. He won’t. Brooks is more than that. Brooks is too good for that. Brooks deserves better.

Very carefully, Dare slips out of bed. Brooks only stirs a little bit but doesn’t wake up.

Dare pads across the room and into the hallway. His intent is to go to the harem room where sex has always been both free and cathartic, but out in the hallway he finds two men. Gregory and Bran are talking in hushed tones. Both men look at him when he steps into the hallway.

“Fucking shit...” Bran says, reaching a hand out to touch the wounds on Dare’s right side from shattered glass down to the carvings on Dare’s lower abdomen. Bran snarls and growls looking from the carvings up to the sissy boi tattoo. “Fuck them. You hear me, Dare? Fuck ‘em.”

“Hello, Dare. We’re so glad to see you safe and home. I was just explaining to Bran that you need time with Brooks.” Gregory says. “That he cannot spend all of his time out here in the hallway waiting on you. As you can see, he needed to see you with his own eyes.”

“Fuck that.” Bran grips both of Dare’s shoulders. “You dumb fuck.” Bran shakes his head. “No, wait. I don’t mean dumb. You’re not fucking dumb, okay? What you did? That was fucking dumb.” Then Bran is hugging him tightly.

Dare doesn’t return the embrace. He grips either side of Bran’s waist. “Will you fuck me?” He whispers the question into Bran’s ear. “Please, Bran. I need it. You can fuck me. Please.”

Bran pulls back, glaring at Dare in a way that’s intense but not angry. Then he grabs one of Dare’s hands at his waist and lifts the hand, studying the long red nails. “What did he do to you?”

“Bran… be easy.” Gregory warns.

“Please fuck me.” Dare says again.

“I think you should go back in to Brooks, Dare.” Gregory says. “It’s-”

“No, wait a minute. He isn’t usually the one asking for it. He’s a joiner, not a beggar. Dare doesn’t usually ask for it.” Bran says, his voice tight. He’s still holding Dare’s hand. “What the fuck did they do to you?”

Dare shakes his head. “I can go ask someone else.”

“Look, you know I’m good for a fuck, especially with you, but why are you begging? Why do you need it so bad? Why do you need it now? Why not ask your Master?” Bran counters.

“He’s not-”

“Yes he is.” Bran interrupts, then asks the question again. “What did they do to you, Dare?”

“Bran. Let it be, pup. That is an order.” Gregory says. “It is too soon for this. You have seen that he is here and alive and now we can go back to our room.”

Bran’s lips press together in silence. He only stands there for a handful of heartbeats before he pushes Dare against the wall by the door and kisses him. Dare kisses him back before Bran whispers against his lips. “I’ll fuck you, okay? I’m sorry. You need it? I’ll fuck you.”

The two pets grope and claw at one another, Dare so thankful that Bran will fuck him and Bran desperate to help Dare in any way he can.

Gregory lifts a hand as if to knock on Brooks’s door but the door swings open anyway. Brooks stands there, naked, and looks startled at the gathering outside the room.

“Hello, Brooks. Bran needed to see Dare.” Gregory says.

“Of course.” Brooks looks over to where Bran has Dare pinned against the wall, still waking up and trying to suss out what he’s seeing happen between the two pets.

Gregory hooks a finger in Bran’s collar at the back of his neck and pulls. It works in pulling Bran back, but Dare follows him forward. “He’s asking for sex.” Gregory tells Brooks quietly.

“Please.” Dare whispers into Bran’s mouth.

Brooks arches a brow, understanding the abnormality of that from Dare. He grips Dare’s shoulder and guides him back against the wall, standing in between Dare and Bran to effectively break the two pets apart.

Initially, Bran growls and then barks at the intrusion. Gregory gets in front of Bran and pets back through his hair and Bran takes a few deep breaths before getting control of himself again. He gestures angrily at Dare. “He’s begging for sex. Something’s not right.”

“Bran says that Dare does not usually ask for it, much less beg for it.” Gregory sighs and shakes his head. “I apologize for the intrusion.”

“No, it’s fine. You and Bran are welcome any time.” Brooks says. “Things are just… confusing right now. We don’t know everything that happened to him.”

Dare looks around Brooks to Bran and mouths the word. “Please.”

Bran seems to weigh whether to fight to get to Dare or step away. Finally, after a moment and some consoling from Gregory, Bran shakes his head at Dare. “Fuck. Another time, alright? Go with him right now.” He gestures to Brooks. “He’s your Master.”

Dare watches as Gregory takes Bran away, Brooks still holding Dare in place against the wall. Dare is crying and he isn’t sure when he started crying or why. Nothing about him makes sense anymore.

Nothing feels stable or sure or right at the moment.

Brooks makes Dare focus on him with a hand against his cheek that forces him to tear his eyes away from a retreating Bran. Then Brooks kisses him in spite of everything that just happened and Dare kisses him back.

Brooks kisses him and kisses him until Dare’s lips become less robotic and more compliant and reciprocal. The other man doesn’t seem to mind that they’re both naked in the hallway. Brooks doesn’t even seem to mind that Dare had just been throwing himself at Bran and begging Bran for sex.

“It’s okay.” Brooks whispers against Dare’s lips, his thumbs smoothing tears from Dare’s cheeks. “It’s okay, Sweetheart. What do you need? Tell me what you need.”

What do you need, Sissy Boi?

I need you in me.

Dare quietly says the same words he’d said to Oscar. “I need you in me.”

Brooks nods, resting his brow against Dare’s. “Okay. Okay, you can have me. I just need you to answer a question. Can you answer a question for me, beautiful?”

Dare hesitates and nods.

“What did they do to make you need it this bad?” Brooks asks.

Dare had been worried that that would be the question. What will Brooks think of him? What Brooks thinks of him means so much to him. For a brief moment Dare starts to slide out from between Brooks and the wall, intent on finding someone else to fuck him. Brooks stops him, holding him in place.

“I don’t...” Dare shakes his head, about to say he doesn’t know but then realizing that he does. “I can’t remember it exactly There were… drugs.”

“That’s okay.” Brooks nods, kisses Dare again. “What do you remember?”

“He said I got some of the newest upgrades their technology has to offer… so I could be...” Dare shakes his head again.

You’re gonna be a needy little sissy boi, aren’t you?

Brooks presses his lips together, his jaw tight. Then he forces a small smile. “So you could be what, Sweetheart?”

“Please let Bran fuck me.” Dare whispers.

“I can fuck you, Dare. I’m right the fuck here and you’re mine.” Brooks grinds himself against Dare and Dare emits a heady groan. Brooks draws several deep breaths before speaking again. “So, he messed with your upgrades. He messed with them so you could be what?”

Dare is silent for a long time. Brooks is still as patient as ever. When Dare finally answers him, it’s barely audible. Dare is prepared for Brooks to leave as he says the words. “So I can be a needy sissy boi.”

Brooks rewards his answer by nuzzling against Dare’s neck, up to his cheek and over to his lips. “Fuck him.” Brooks whispers against Dare’s lips. “He is beneath you, Dare. You’re so fucking far above him.”

Again, Dare’s lips part for Brooks’s kisses. The kisses continue, forcing Dare’s mind to quit straying to all the horrible, pervasive thoughts that have been plaguing him. Brooks’s touch slides down from his cheek to his neck and shoulder, down over the round of one breast. When his knuckles glaze over one nipple Dare gasps, very near hunching over from how sensitive the upgrades have made him.

In the end he’s just leaning into Brooks and not against the wall behind him. Still, Brooks kisses him.

Dare can see what Brooks is doing. Kisses, when used in a certain way, in the way that Brooks is using them, can almost force intimacy. You don’t have to kiss to have sex. You can kiss and it can mean very near nothing, like when Oscar kissed him and followed it with cruel words. Brooks isn’t letting it mean nothing. Brooks is forcing intimacy. Brooks isn’t letting Dare just have sex from him.

Dare knows exactly what Brooks is doing.

It crosses Dare’s mind to put a stop to it before either of them can get in too deep before the whole truth is between them. It’s only a brief, fleeting thought. Dare still greedily lets Brooks kiss him. Dare kisses Brooks back.

Intimacy.

It isn’t just sex when Brooks guides Dare back into their room and shuts them in. It isn’t just a harmless fuck like it would have been with Bran when they stumble to the floor and Brooks continues to kiss and touch and love on Dare. Brooks doesn’t let Dare roll over so that Dare doesn’t have to look at him while they fuck. Brooks makes Dare look at him as he pulls the red plug from Dare’s pussy and pushes one of Dare’s legs up. It isn’t just fucking when Brooks pushes into Dare and Dare cries out, partly in relief and partly in the urgency of being with Brooks.

This isn’t fucking.

This isn’t making love either.

This is something else entirely… like the summoned ghost of an intimacy so deep and profound that Dare’s body draws it in like a gasped breath even as he tries to keep his distance.

“Thank you.” Dare whispers as Brooks slowly slides his cock in Dare’s pussy. “Thank you, Sir.”

“Look at me.” Brooks says.

His eyes are ridiculously blurry when he looks up at Brooks. Dare’s emotions are a mess. Dare is a mess.

“You’re mine.” When Dare starts to shake his head, Brooks leans down to kiss at his lips again. “No. Don’t you shake your head at me. You’re mine.” Brooks says, kissing almost desperately at Dare’s lips. “I can give you anything you need, Sweetheart. You’re mine. Yeah?”

Dare presses his lips together, closes his eyes and nods. For now, yes, he belongs to Brooks. There isn’t a part of Dare that expects this to last though.

“You don’t have to go looking for it. I’m right here.” Brooks says. “Use me.”

No. That’s exactly what Dare hadn’t wanted to do, to use Brooks for something so perverse to simply satiate a sick need that’s been forced on him. Brooks is better than this. Brooks deserves more.

And yet… still, Dare doesn’t put a stop to it as Brooks fucks him, as Brooks makes him look at him while he fucks him, as Brooks kisses him and touches and brings Dare to climax as well.

How selfish he’s become. How needy and selfish…

Needy little sissy boi...

Dare has his release. The itch has been scratched. When Brooks pulls out of him Dare’s pussy searches for more. Still… he wants more. His body wants more.

Insanity. If he weren’t already insane, this would surely drive him there.

He takes deep breaths, still writhing beneath Brooks as he tries to find control, as he tries not to debase himself anymore in front of Brooks, as he tries not to diminish what he and Brooks once had any more than he already has.

“My plug...” Dare says quickly, looking for the red plug and reaching for it.

Brooks gets to it before Dare does, grabbing it, rising from the floor and going to the trash can to toss it away. “Come on, beautiful. It’s a new day and we’re not gonna dress you in red, okay? Not even with the plug.”

They shower together. Brooks washes Dare and then instructs Dare to wash him. Dare does as he’s told. While Dare cleans his insides out, Brooks steps out of the shower, dresses in jeans and a tee and then speaks on the phone to someone. The phone call is ended by the time Dare is finished.

Dare is told to bend over the counter and Brooks gets a pink glitter plug from one of the drawers and sets it on the counter beside him. Dare stares at it. Pink with little specs of silver glitter in it. It surprises Dare, how much he wants it and not just because it will make it easier to scratch the itch. He wants it because it’s pink.

He doesn’t even realize that he’s rocking back to fuck himself on Brooks’s slick fingers until Brooks has finished lubing him up and is pushing the pink plug into his pussy. He’s so embarrassed. They just had sex. Dare’s body is already silently asking for it again.

Oscar would have l