A Little Roughed Up at The Asylum Safe House - Part Five
For those not in the group and didn't get the update, sorry this post came later than planned, I've been dealing with a really messed up wisdom tooth. Starting to feel a bit better, so hopefully I can get back on schedule.
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If nothing else, taking some of The Asylum’s bar stock meant the safehouse had plenty of alcohol. After resetting Pike’s bones and getting him through a night of pain, alternating with trembling and bursts of panic the few times he had fallen asleep, Quint was starting to appreciate Rhodey’s habit of starting the day with a cold one.
Nerves shot, muscles tense from having spent most of the time awake on his side, watching Pike breathe—some deja-vu he’d rather never have to experience again—Quint rolled his shoulders as he stepped into the dining room, glancing toward the kitchen beyond.
The scent of rich, freshly brewed coffee and buttery pastries almost made him groan. His lips curved as he went to the half wall, leaning against it and nodding in greeting to Keiran and Matt, who worked around one another like they’d developed an effortless system.
“Good morning, Quint.” Keiran didn’t even look up as he pulled another cookie sheet out of the oven. He laid it on the counter before glancing over. He gave Quint an assessing once over. “You were right, Matt. He’s going to need one of those double-shot cappuccinos you’re putting together. Think we can skip protocol so you can give him one first?”
Matt hesitated for the briefest instant before shaking his head. “Lawson only had a few hours sleep and he’s going back on watch soon. Not only protocol to serve the Doms first, you don’t want to face him before he’s had his first cup.”
Spoon in hand, Keiran moved to a bowl of icing, tasting a little bit before pointing the utensil at the other sub. “Very true.” He dropped the spoon in the sink, then picked up a fresh one and began drizzling icing over pastries that he’d already set on two plates laid out on a tray. “Bring this in, then. I’ll have a bigger breakfast set up in a bit, but this should be nice to start with.”
“Thanks, Keir.” Matt topped off the tray with three mugs, a coffee carafe, and cream and sugar dishes. He paused as he passed Quint. “I’ll come fix you a cappuccino in a bit if you don’t mind waiting.”
The calm start to the morning, almost like the routine ones at The Asylum, made Quint’s smile come easily. “I’d love that, Matt. Thank you.” He stepped into the kitchen. “And I’ll help myself to some regular coffee for now if that’s all right. It smells amazing.”
“Go for it, man. We’re good on coffee.” Matt sounded more than a little relieved at that. His steps were light as he headed down the hall and his warm ‘Good morning’ resonated before a door shut softly.
Pouring a mug of coffee, then another as familiar, almost silent steps came into the kitchen, Quint lifted his head to meet Jared’s eyes. His Dom took a seat at the small breakfast table near the window, an addition to the furnishing Quint had made when he’d brought one of his larger teams here, knowing one or two wouldn’t be comfortable sitting down at the massive dining room table with the group to eat.
“Good morning, sir.” Quint prepared Jared’s coffee the way he liked it, setting it down before going back to get his own. “I hope you had a restful night?”
Jared took a sip of coffee, nodding slowly. “The rooms are very well appointed, my boy, which certainly helped. Thank you.” He relaxed back into the chair. “Noah slept deeply and woke in good spirits, so I can’t complain. Our boys were both reluctant to leave him, while wanting to serve him, so I settled the issue by ordering them to stay in bed while I came to fetch coffee myself.”
“You’re a cruel master, sir.” Keiran’s tone was light with amusement as he shot Jared a sideways grin and began assembling another tray. “This will be ready in a minute.”
“Take your time.” Jared’s lips slanted at Keiran’s raised brow. “Let them fret about it a little, it’s good for a subs’ soul.”
Coughing to cover his laugh, Quint sipped at his own coffee. Things must be going well in Jared’s household if he was taking some sadistic pleasure in his boys’ discomfort with being served by their Dom. A little bit more normalcy to brighten up the morning.
Good. This is good. When Pike wakes up it’ll make him feel safe. Secure.
The optimism lasted until Jared’s expression darkened. “Goddamn it, Rhodey. I should have fucking known you’d go too far.” He slammed his mug on the table, almost knocking over his chair as he stood. “Come here, my little Despereaux. Let me see what this heavy-handed mouth breather did to you.”
Only a step into the kitchen Danny froze, looking from Jared to Rhodey as though he didn’t have the slightest clue who to listen to. Dressed in what looked like one of Avery’s black silk pajamas, he didn’t move a muscle for the longest time, which seemed to please Rhodey. He ran his hand down Danny’s back, stopping at his ass and giving it a light tap.
Still enough to make Quint wince. And Keiran, who appeared to be paying very close attention to the jar of honey he still hadn’t opened.
“Go ahead, smalls.” Rhodey went to the table, pulling out the chair opposite to Jared. He smirked at the other Dom. “If you want to play with him so bad, there’s no need to make excuses. He owes everyone here an apology anyway.”
Making an irritated sound, Jared reached out, taking Danny gently by the wrist and drawing him in to stand before him. “If you’re implying what I think you are, you will damn well stop it now, Rhodey. From the sounds of the beating he got last night, he’s been punished enough.”
Danny’s lips parted. Then closed as he lowered his gaze.
“Since when is apologizing a punishment, you old softie?” Rhodey’s tone was fond, his expression not the least bit concerned as Jared studied Danny’s face as though it might reveal something before he gave his full exam. As Keiran came to the table with a bottle of beer, Rhodey’s attention shifted to him. “When I go on watch, he’s staying with you, sweetling. If he moves more than three feet away from you without asking, you let me or Dallas know so he can be disciplined.”
From Keiran’s expression, the request wasn’t news to him.
It had been for Jared’s benefit.
Jared’s jaw ticked. “You’re being excessive.”
“Am I?” Sideways on his chair, Rhodey rested on arm on the back of it. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Lips parting helplessly, Danny shot Keiran a pleading look.
“Ask for permission to speak, mi dulzura.” Keiran winked at Danny before continuing with his breakfast preparations. He kept his tone casual. “If I may, sir, there’s a new pastry I’ve perfected that I think Wren will enjoy. Can you let me know if he does.”
“Of course, my boy.” Jared smiled at Keiran, then gave Danny a pointed look. “Consider permission granted. What is it, Danny?”
Fingers curled into the silk of his pajama pants, Danny inhaled slowly. “I need this, sir. It’s not gonna make everything feel okay, but...it’s a start. Please let me apologize. Even if it’s...not that. I don’t mind if it is that, though. Or whatever. I love everyone here and I have to prove I know what I did was wrong. Rhodey’s helping me. I don’t think any of the damage he did was permanent, even though it kinda feels like it.”
Jared reached up and cupped Danny’s cheek. “I understand, my boy. And I’ll take the words, I know how sorry you are. I’m grateful both you and Pike came back to us in one piece. Now, indulge me and show me we’re both worrying about nothing.”
Nodding, Danny turned, his cheeks going pink as Jared lowered his pajama bottoms and had him bend forward over the table. Quint’s gaze scanned the welts, all red and even, going from the sweet curve of Danny’s ass, all the way down to the top of his thighs.
The belt lashes hadn’t been gentle, and Danny would feel them for quite some time, but it would be hard for anyone in the lifestyle to say they weren’t beautiful, showing the steady hand and skill of the Dom who’d put them there.
“Very nice.” Jared trailed his fingers lightly over the welts. “You cried, but you took your punishment well, my little Despereaux. Did it make you feel some atonement?”
Lifting his head from where he’d rested it on his folded arms, Danny met Jared’s eyes, blinking fast. “A bit, because Pike didn’t die, but… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Shh, I know.” Jared drew up Danny’s pajama pants, then pulled him onto his lap, petting his hair and whispering soothing words as Danny hissed in a breath. Lifting his gaze, Jared met Rhodey’s eyes. “I would have done the same.”
Rhodey took a swig of beer, then shook his head. “Not to him, you wouldn’t have, but it’s all good, my man. He brings out a softer side of you and I can’t say I mind seeing it.”
Still petting Danny, Jared made a thoughtful sound. “Perhaps. It wouldn’t hurt for you to let him bring it out in you as well.”
That brought a grim smile to Rhodey’s lips. “Yes, it would. It would hurt him and everyone else here. I can’t afford to be too soft, but I can make sure he has it from the rest of you.” Rising, he finished off his beer, bringing the bottle over to the sink. “I’m gonna head out. No one goes anywhere alone. No one goes beyond sight of the house.”
“Well damn, I guess that means I can’t fuck you in the shed.” Tone bright with laughter, Curtis came into the kitchen, carrying Reed. He sat him carefully on the counter, keeping one arm behind his back to support him. “We’ll have to just go with plain ol’ exhibitionism.”
A wry expression on his face, Rhodey clapped Curtis on the back before heading out. “Tag. You’re it.”
That got both Curtis and Rhodey an unamused look from Jared, but he didn’t comment as he sipped his coffee, holding Danny snug against his chest.
Frowning, Quint pressed his lips together as he studied Curtis’s carefree expression, resisting the urge to ask the man if he was out of his mind. He was acting in a Dom capacity at the moment, so that likely wouldn’t go over too well. “Sir, Reed really shouldn’t be out of bed. And it will be over a month before he’s in any condition for sexual activity.”
“Which you well know.” The look Jared gave Curtis held reproach. “What in the world do you think you’re doing?”
Curtis sobered, looking from Quint to Jared. “I was joking. He needed a change of scenery and there’s good light in here. I figured it couldn’t hurt for just a few minutes.”
“Don’t give him a hard time about it.” Reed’s tone was a bit breathless as he adjusted himself to lean against Curtis a bit more, likely trying to take the pressure off his side. “I was going fucking nuts, stuck in that bed. And I heard what happened…” He paled as his gaze snapped to the doorway. “Holy shit, Ez. What happened to you?”
Coming over to the table, Ezran dragged out a chair and dropped into it, lowering his head to his hands. “I don’t…” He went quiet for a few beats. “When I came back to The Asylum, it was to say goodbye. I wasn’t planning to stay. I did something…” There was something lifeless about his tone. “It doesn’t matter now.”
“Don’t fucking tell me that.” Reed moved to slam his fist on the counter, but Curtis blocked him, shaking his head and giving his boy’s thigh a light squeeze.
He turned his focus to Ezran. “It does matter. Talk to me, my man. If you’d rather do it alone, that’s fine, but what happened last night—”
“I’m fucking sorry, all right? I wasn’t thinking. I was just…” Ezran raked his fingers into his black hair, which he’d let grow long enough for the sharp, angular style to partially cover his eyes and touch the collar of his dark blue T-shirt. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want anything to happen to Danny or Pike, I was just so fucking pissed that everything I’d done was just cut off.”
Moving silently, Jamie hovering close with a guiding hand, Wren ahead moving a chair out of his path, Noah approached Ezran. He crouched down as Ezran lifted his head, reaching out to put his hand on Ezran’s knee. “Talk to me.”
Shame filled Ezran’s eyes, then pain as he looked at Noah, gaze going over the bandage on Noah’s head. He sucked in a breath. “I’m a fucking hypocrite. I was so mad at you. You did what you did because of me, but I was still mad because you weren’t with us. And then I...go and pull this shit. I don’t regret it, though. It was fucking worth all the consequences.”
“What consequences, Ez?” Reed started to sit up, wincing and letting Curtis draw him back. his voice broke as he stared at the bruises on his brother’s neck. “Who hurt you? Did they—”
Ezran quickly shook his head. “No, I made sure he couldn’t go that far. A fucked up part of me almost let it happen, but…” He shrugged. “It wouldn’t have changed anything. He’d done it before, that’s why I chose him.” He dropped his gaze to Noah’s hand. “I thought it would fix me. It didn’t work and I...almost got caught. There’s enough evidence that I’m gonna go away for a long time, but that works out, because there’s guys on the inside I can—”
“No.” Noah’s tone was sharp, his muscles tensing as he pushed to his feet. “No, Ezran. You’re going to let me and Rhodey take care of this. Whatever you did, I know you had a damn good reason to—”
“I killed a man.” Ezran stood, staring at Noah. “I stabbed him in the fucking heart.”
Noah inclined his head. “Why?”
Lips parting, Ezran blinked. He laced his fingers behind his neck, pacing away from Noah, then back. “Does it fucking matter? I did it. I should have stayed and let the cops bring me in, but I took off at the last second. They saw me, though. This is happening. I want it to happen.”
There were a lot of things Quint didn’t know about the core of The Asylum. Many things that weren’t in any file, but this didn’t need to be. It didn’t take a genius to guess what had happened to Ezran. Not this time, maybe, but at some point.
He’d been looking for some kind of revenge he couldn’t find any other way.
And it hadn’t done what he’d hoped it would. Not for long, anyway.
If given the chance, he’d try again.
“Ezran, please…” Reed brought his brother’s attention to him, reaching out and holding Ezran’s gaze until the young man moved close enough to take it. “You can’t leave me. Not like that. Not for good. You’re surrounded by mercs, they know how to make things go away and—don’t fucking shake your head. Look at you, the fucking bastard deserved it. But it’s over now.” He tightened his grip on Ezran’s hand before he could pull away. “Please just let it be over.”
Expression closed off, Ezran shook his head. “It’ll never be over. I tried to do things your way. I tried having a normal life and I suck at it. I’m too fucking broken, okay?” He tugged at his hand again, forcing Curtis to brace Reed before he could slip off the counter. For a second, Ezran hesitated as though to make sure Reed was all right, then backed away from him. From his entire family. “Just let me go.”
As he strode out the back door, Curtis pressed his eyes shut, wrapping his arms around Reed when he tried to get down and follow. “Just for now, Reed.” He glanced over at Keiran, giving a short nod. “Go ahead, Rhodey needs to know about this. He won’t let him get far. Ezran’s got the skills to be out there for a bit without getting in any trouble.”
“Come, sir. You should sit down for a bit.” Jamie tugged at Noah’s hand, exchanging a look with Wren, who went over to grab the tray Keiran had been preparing, even as the other sub slipped out of the kitchen. When Noah sat, Jamie perched on his Dom’s knee and curled up against the right side of his chest. He let out a soft sigh as Noah looped an arm around his waist. “I know some really good lawyers if he...if he really wants to do things this way.”
Noah smiled a little, shaking his head and patting Jamie’s thigh. “Thank you, my little cat, but no. He’s not getting that option. We’re going to let him have a chat with a few of our mercs to help him get past the guilt. We’ve taken enough damn hits, this won’t be another one.”
Making a thoughtful sound, Jared brought Wren to his side once his boy had placed the tray on the table. “It might be a good idea to take advantage of our reprieve here and see if Vani has a therapist to spare.”
Eyes widening, Jamie stared at his Dom as though to figure out if he was joking. “A killer shrink? Is that a thing?”
Even Wren looked skeptical, which made Quint laugh. His spirits lightened as he considered one man who might do the job very well. One who had gotten Quint through a few of his own rough spots.
Jared had a good point, there was no better time than the present. There were several wounds that needed a different kind of healing, and if done right, every single one of them could come out of this stronger. More able to face whatever challenges came next.
Because ‘a killer shrink’ was most definitely a thing.
And Stephen always does his best work with a captive audience.
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