A Little Roughed Up at The Asylum Safe House - Part Eight

 

Happy Hump day, and day that is special to you for whatever random reason you might be peachy today! <g>

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Part One

Part Two 

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six 

Part Seven


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A liquid flow, spilling through the air, red with a pearlescent sheen. Not like blood. Never like blood, because the beckoning beauty meant rising high, being free and powerful, connected with the one gift Avery’s mother had given him that he didn’t have to leave behind. If he spun fast enough, maybe he’d see her, smiling up at him as she encouraged him to fly.

Dizziness didn’t belong here. Or the heat. Sweat usually cooled him down as the breeze caressed his skin, but right now it was like being boiled alive.

I’m not on the silks. It’s just a dream
.

The place he always escaped to when reality threatened to tear him apart.

Something cold touched his side and he jerked away from it, the contrast almost painful at first. He could take pain, but he didn’t know what was happening. The info. He needed all the info to figure out how to react. Was he caught?

Rhodey will be so disappointed.

The mission would fail because of Avery. He wasn’t sure which mission, but it was unacceptable.

It would serve me right if I’ve been left behind.

But he wouldn’t be. Rhodey would come for him. There had been a time when it was understood that the job came first, but not anymore. His Dom had allowed himself to love. Had opened up enough to let Avery in, and now he’d never let him go. Avery could keep him. Then Dallas and Keiran joined them, becoming strong enough so Avery could keep them too.

Where are they?

Both men were well trained, but they couldn’t withstand torture. Avery jerked again at another touch. Tears spilled as he pictured Keiran, strapped up and bloodied, screaming, refusing to talk, but something in him breaking.

We’ll get him back.

Would he ever be the same?

“It’s okay, Keiran. I’m coming. I’ll fix it.” Avery turned his head from side to side, not sure if Keiran was close enough to hear him. Or if he wanted him to be. “Please hang on.”

Deep, soothing, a voice close to his ear stilled him. “Settle, my little viper. Keiran’s fine, he’s busy making you that vegetable curry soup you like so much, along with a dozen different kinds of broth. He gets a pass on stress cooking at all hours. This time.”

The cold touched his forehead, this time more than welcome as Avery opened his eyes and stared into the dark gray eyes of the man who owned his whole heart and soul. He managed a bit of a smile before a cough tore out of his chest, forcing him to turn his head. Every inch of his body ached, like he’d landed wrong or…

Catching his breath, he met Rhodey’s eyes again. “Was I poisoned?”

“No, my boy, you let some nasty virus bring you down. Naughty sub.” Rhodey’s tone was teasing, his eyes filled with relief. “I’ve never ordered you not to get sick, so I’ll take some of the blame. But don’t do it again.”

Turning his head again to cough, even as he laughed, Avery nodded. “I wouldn’t dare, sir.”

A few blinks cleared Avery’s vision. He took in the room around him. Not a hospital room, though it was set up a bit like one. There was an IV stand by the bed, holding a bag of saline, meaning he’d likely been at risk of dehydration. There was also a monitor checking his heart rate and oxygen levels.

Not standard practice for a cold as far as he knew. His brow creased. “All this for a cold?”

“Pneumonia, but we have it under control. You caught the flu, which progressed rapidly—likely because you were still recovering from a mild case of hypothermia. We’re going to have a talk about paying as much attention to your health as you do everything else around you.” At the other side of the bed, Jared jotted something down on a chart. His warm smile softened his chiding tone as he set the chart down on the nightstand. “Your fever is finally coming down and you seem more lucid. Do you know where you are?”

Avery nodded, wincing at the stiffness in his muscles as he did his best to sit up. He exhaled slowly as Rhodey gently adjusted him up against the pile of pillows. “At the safehouse. Quint’s. We just came back from getting those letters to Jacks and Shea… We picked up the therapist from Vani’s compound. Stephan…” He did his best to sort through his memories, not sure how many of them were confused with the vivid dreams he had. “There was a puppy and...a raven?”

“Very good, my boy.” Jared nodded at Rhodey, as though to reassure him that Avery really was getting better. “You’ll still need plenty of rest and fluids. If you can keep some water down on your own, I’ll take out the IV. You’ll be in isolation another day or so, just to be safe, but after that you’ll be able to leave the room.” This time, the look he gave Rhodey was stern. “Make sure he takes it easy, though. It’s unlikely he’ll have a relapse, but let’s not risk it.”

Rhodey sat on the edge of the bed, brushing his hand over Avery’s hair. “It’ll be a long time before I let him lift a fucking finger, don’t you worry about that.”

Snuggling into his Dom’s side, Avery breathed out a laugh, managing not to cough this time. “How am I supposed to serve you if I can’t lift a finger, sir?”

“By letting me spoil you rotten, my precious little viper.” Rhodey kissed the top of his head. “You fucking scared me. I forbid you from doing that again, too.”

Not a request that would sound reasonable coming from anyone else, but Avery’s lips curved as he rested his head on Rhodey’s shoulder, closing his eyes so he could absorb the strength and security of having him near. In all the nightmares he’d been having—he knew they were nightmares now, even though they’d seemed so damn real—Rhodey had been out of reach.

Along with everyone else Avery loved.

Opening his eyes, he peered up at Rhodey. “Sir, I had a nightmare and… Keiran was captured. He was… I need to see him. To know that he’s okay.”

Moving around the bed, Jared’s expression darkened as he gave Rhodey a look that was hard to read. He seemed angry. “Now that he’s doing better, we will be having that talk. I’ll have Seth get the message for your boy to come up with some soup for Avery, but he’s not to come into the room.”

Rhodey’s muscles tensed. “Let’s talk about it now. I know how long you hold a fucking grudge, but you’re not blaming him. He was following my fucking orders.”

“Oh, I do blame you, my man.” Jared’s eyes were like ice, his tone even colder. “I love Keiran, but you made him yours. I didn’t realize what that meant until now. The choices you would force on him. I’ll adjust, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.” His lips thinned as he shook his head. “I only hope Jacks and Shea come back and stop you from doing the same to Danny. If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if you’re being deliberately cruel, taking those I care for from me, one at a time.”

There was a long silence, Rhodey staring at Jared like he was trying to make sense of his words. Avery’s fingers twitched, the urge to feel the weight of his knife in his palm, to hurt anyone who hurt his Dom, almost overwhelming reason. It was a good thing he didn’t, though. Jared belonged to Rhodey as much, if not more than anyone else.

This wasn’t something he could protect his Dom from.

But it was a struggle not to tell Jared how wrong he was. About everything.

Rhodey rubbed Avery’s arm, then eased off the bed, facing Jared. “You’re right, he is mine. Danny’s mine. Every goddamn person here is mine in some way. Do you think it’s all because of Noah? That I’ll stop at nothing to keep them alive just for him?” He put his hand on Jared’s shoulder. “It’s for you, too, you wonderfully over-protective, tender-hearted fucker. Shea and Jacks aren’t going to stop me from ruining that boy. You are. And you’ll keep me from going too far with Keiran too, but only if you don’t let your pride get in the way.”

“You had him fucking drug me, Rhodey.” Jared glared at Rhodey as he raked his fingers through dark hair sprinkled with white and gray. For a second, it looked like he might jerk away. Instead, he brought his hand down to slam it into the center of Rhodey’s chest. “You’ve already gone too far. If he’d talked to me—”

“Then make sure he does next time.” Rhodey’s lips slanted, how unbothered he looked the only thing that kept Avery from getting out of the bed to face a threat that...

Really wasn’t one.

Sometimes, it was difficult to understand the relationships his Dom had with others. Avery hadn’t been close to people other than family for most of his life. He was learning to now, with a very specific few, but even he could tell the bonds Rhodey shared were different than most.

They were meant to survive almost anything.

“You’re going to drive me to drink, you bastard.” Jared gave Rhodey a dry look, shaking his head as he began to pace. “I will not encourage your sub to disobey your orders.”

Rhodey’s lips slanted. “Then you’re admitting it’s not his fault.”

Stopping short, Jared tipped his head back, lips moving like he was whispering a silent prayer. The Dom was very good at not letting many get under his skin, but he never seemed to manage as well with Rhodey. “I admit nothing.” Jared met Avery’s eyes, then nudged his chin at a mug that had been placed on a rolling tray by the bed. “Finish your water. I’ll send Keiran up.”

It was very hard not to grin at the obvious win for his Dom. And for Keiran, because Jared being upset with him would break Keiran’s heart. Keeping his tone respectful, Avery inclined his head. “I will, sir. Thank you.”

“Mhm.” Jared gave him a long look before starting toward the door. Then he paused, glancing back, his tone gentler now. “I know you want to see him, Avery, but we’re limiting who comes in here so no one else will get sick. It won’t be for much longer.”

Not sure what to say without sounding like he expected the facts to change with the right amount of pleading, Avery simply lowered his gaze and nodded. The door closed softly and Rhodey returned to his side, picking up the mug of water and bringing it to Avery's lips for a few sips. He picked up the cool cloth again, the touch of it against Avery’s cheeks a comfort he didn’t need as much anymore.

He almost said so before his lungs decided he needed to choke on air. Grabbing a pillow, he hugged it against his chest, pressing it over his face to lessen the pain of each gasp.

Rhodey ran his hand up and down Avery’s back. “Pillow down and slow breaths, my little viper. If you’re struggling, I’ll get Seth to put you back on oxygen when he comes in.”

“Don’t...need...it...” The raspy way the words came out made Avery sound like a liar. He took a moment to catch his breath, groaning as he dropped the pillow and pressed his hand to the center of his chest. “I’d rather be working on building my resistance to poisons again with Keiran. This is awful.”

Chuckling, Rhodey pressed his lips to Avery’s temple. “You wouldn’t be saying that if the antidotes hadn’t been on hand. But if I ever catch either of you testing those again without supervision, you’ll get more than a beating.”

That had been a fun day, and none of the poisons had been that dangerous. Still, Avery gave his Dom a solemn nod, his voice a bit clearer this time. “Yes, sir. We won’t get caught.”

“Bad boy.” Rhodey drew Avery against his chest, then leaned back against the headboard. “Jared’s right, though. You should have rested for longer after your ordeal with Pike. I’m sorry I didn’t consider that more carefully. All fun and games aside, you will stay put next time if I decide you need the rest, or to heal. Don’t force me to have Keiran spike your tea.”

Avery smiled a little at that, eyes closed as he listened to the rhythm of Rhodey’s heart, beating steadily beneath his cheek. “I wouldn’t mind if he did, I trust him. And I trust you and I’d know he was doing your bidding.” He covered his mouth at another cough. “I’m glad you haven’t gotten sick yet, sir, but...should you be chancing it? Everyone here needs you to keep them safe.”

Fingers brushing lightly along Avery’s spine, between the ties of what seemed to be a standard issue hospital gown, Rhodey made a thoughtful sound. “They might, but we have good people here to man the fort if worst comes to worst. I’m right where I need to be.”

“I guess it’s one way to make sure you get some rest too, sir. Keiran probably wouldn’t drug you...” Eyes drifting shut, Avery fought to stay awake, even though his body didn’t want to cooperate. “Will you...wake me up when he comes? Please? Even if I can’t see him, I want to hear his voice. Him and Dallas. They’re...ours. You...you said so.”

Voice low, lulling him even closer to sleep, Rhodey continued stroking his back. “I will, my possessive little viper. Now get some rest.”

Nodding, Avery gave in, letting the darkness take him.

This time, there was only the silks. The thrill of soaring in them to familiar music, surrounded by the people he loved in the place he called home. Fear was gone. Rhodey’s presence a constant even when everything else faded away.

There would be other missions. Other threats. But right now?

Those who mattered were safe. Avery was safe.

And he had only one command to obey.

Rest.

****

The sound of cards being shuffled almost had Keiran knocking over the pot of broth as he straightened with a tray full of freshly baked rolls. Both Matt and Wren had been fixing up different kinds of tea for their Doms, and he didn’t think they’d stop to play, but it always worried him that Wren would slip up and give in to temptation.

Glancing over his shoulder toward the dining room, his brow lifted slightly as Pike dealt out the cards to Reed, Jamie, and himself. If Jamie was out of the bedroom, Noah was probably sleeping. Jared was upstairs checking on Avery and Seth had gone out with Curtis and Lawson to check the perimeter—and probably to make sure Ezran was all right.

With Dallas chopping wood and Quint off catching up with Stephan, that left Keiran to make sure the other subs didn’t get themselves in trouble.

After a couple of quiet days?

They were bored. Trouble was pretty much guaranteed.

The question was just how much they’d manage to get into before lunch.

“This must be karma coming to kick my ass.” Keiran spoke under his breath, placing the rolls on a rack to cool, then bringing some carrots to the sink to wash. “I’d rather the belt.”

Moving to his side, Matt nudged him gently, taking over with the carrots and seeming to catch on quick. “If we were at the club, I’d be worried. Here? What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I hope you’re right.” Keiran rapped his knuckles on a wooden cutting board. “But I think you’re underestimating them.”

Almost as though to prove his point, Pike spoke around a mouthful of the homemade chips Keiran had put on the table to tide him over between meals. “All right, so this isn’t just strip poker.”

Just shoot me.

Picking up the closest utensil—a meat tenderizer, so a bit more threatening than he’d intended—Keiran gestured at Pike with it. “You’re not playing strip poker anywhere near my kitchen.”

Somehow, the bratty little sub managed to give him the sweetest look and make him feel like a big bully. Combined with pleading looks from both Jamie and Reed?

I’m a goner.

“Come on, Keir-Bear.” Reed put his hand over his cards, looking like he was very uncomfortable sitting in an actual chair, but was doing his best to adapt. “We’re out of the way and we won’t get too rowdy. Besides, until Dallas brings more wood in, this is the warmest spot in the house.”

Eyes pressed shut, Keiran tipped his head back, at a loss for any good reason to say ‘No’. He couldn’t really claim the dining room as part of the kitchen, even though they were partially connected. And between Reed still healing from donating part of his liver and Pike’s broken foot…

Matt had a point. How much trouble could they really get in? With the tea almost ready, the Doms should be back any time now.

“Fine.” Keiran put the meat tenderizer on the counter, then folded his arms over his chest. “But first I want to know what Pike means by this not ‘just’ being strip poker.”

Some mischief filled Pike’s eyes as he picked up his cards. “Well, I figure if someone’s losing by a lot and doesn’t want to get naked too fast and lose, they can offer up something else. Mix things up with truth or dare, you know?”

That information had Wren frowning and shaking his head as he positioned two mugs on the silver tray he’d claimed from the few they’d found in the cupboards. “That won’t work. The game could go on indefinitely.”

Jamie shifted in his seat, eyeing Wren. “If it’s going to mess with you—us playing… We can do something else? I think I saw a few boardgames in the cabinet upstairs. Then you can join in.”

“No, it’s okay. You playing won’t bother me, but playing any kind of game with winners and losers always brings on that urge to get back in.” Wren wrapped his arms around himself, inhaling slowly. “I know it’s worked for some people, but I...can’t.”

Understanding filled Jamie’s eyes as he got up from the table and went to the other sub, pulling him in for a hug. “Hey, it’s good you know your limits. I think Rhodey brought some more word puzzle things and suc-dic-ko books.”

“Sudoku.” Wren’s voice held a hint of laughter. “That’s a good idea. I’ll grab one of those after I bring Noah and Jared their tea. Jared should be coming down soon.” He brought his lips close to Jamie’s ear. “You’ll get in less trouble if you win. Pike has a terrible poker face so watch him. And Reed cheats, so make sure he doesn’t swipe extra cards.”

This sounded like Wren was getting a little too close to participating, but Keiran didn’t want to shame him for it when he was trying so hard. He cleared his throat, reaching over to grab a container of pastries and sweets. “Lunch will be another hour at least. Why don’t you bring some of these with the tea? Oh, and try this.” He opened the container, picking out one of the saffron honey jalebis he’d made and holding it out for Wren to take a bite.

Holding his breath as Wren chewed, head tilted slightly, Keiran almost fist bumped when Wren made that rare sound of enjoyment which had become a constant goal. Dimple showing, Wren licked his lips. “That’s delicious, Keiran. I’ll bring some, Jared will be happy that you’ve found something else I like.”

Throat tightening, Keiran nodded, bringing his focus to adding a variety of treats to the tray. Over the past two days, Jared had been pleasant enough that he couldn’t complain, but still…

Things were different. Like Keiran had been shut behind some steel door that was locked tight.

And the key had been buried somewhere.

Somewhere...far away. That he might not ever find.

“He’s...taking good care of Avery. It’s the least I can do.” Keiran closed the container, bringing it back to the counter and setting it down before bracing his hands on the ledge. Neither Avery or Rhodey had come out of that room. A few times he’d heard Avery coughing and it took every ounce of strength not to run up those stairs. He understood why he couldn’t risk getting sick, not when he was cooking for everyone, but it was like everything in this damn house just had to be miserable.

Or maybe it was just him.

I should make more bread.

Within the next ten minutes, he managed to distract himself by putting on another loaf and starting on three different dishes for lunch. The scent of steak and roasted garlic filled the space along with the fresh bread, all coming together to settle him a bit. None of the subs were naked yet, so that was a plus.

But the second the back door opened as Quint and Stephan came in, an argument broke out.

“You were hiding that ace up your sleeve! I saw you!” Pike slammed his cards down on the table. “There’s gotta be a penalty. You lose double.”

Reed’s eyes danced with laughter. “What sleeves, man? I lost my T-shirt two hands ago!”

Glancing back and forth between them, Jamie looked confused. He spoke from the side of his mouth, leaning closer to Matt. “What’s going on? The cards haven’t been dealt yet, how could anyone be cheating?”

Back braced against the wall, where he’d been since he’d returned from delivering the thermoses full of tea outside to watch the game with detached interest, Matt lifted his shoulders. “Pretty sure this isn’t about the game.”

Waving Stephan on, Quint stepped up behind Pike and placed his hands on his shoulders. “What’s going on? And where are your pants?”

Pike tipped his head back to grin up at the other sub. “I borrowed Keiran’s stripper pants because they’re easy to get around my cast. And they were easy to get off when I lost, but Reed’s cheating, so I should probably take them back.”

“They’re not stripper pants.” Keiran frowned at Pike as he dipped a spoon in the soup he had simmering. Distracted, he didn’t wait long enough to touch it to his lips and hissed as he jerked it away. His elbow hit the edge of the pot and searing pain coursed up his arm. “Damn it!”

“Careful, my boy.” A gentle hand against the small of his back guided him to the sink. Jared turned on the cold water and brought Keiran’s arm under the stream. “No more dealing with this lot while you’re cooking. Quint, have them move the game to the living room.”

Quint nodded, cutting off the protests with a sharp hand motion, grabbing Pike’s crutches and helping him to his feet. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately. Between this and sneaking out in the middle of the night to cook marshmallows, I swear you’re begging for Seth to beat your ass.”

“Seth can’t while he’s isolating to make sure he doesn’t make either of us sick.” Pike grinned up at Quint. “But he said you could and you definitely should. I am a very bad boy.”

“I’m not spanking you while you have a broken foot.”

Lifting his head up, Jared gave Pike a warning look. “I’d have no problem disciplining you if it becomes necessary, little gremlin. Your behind isn’t broken.”

Rather than object, Pike exchanged a look with Reed, who Jamie was helping up.

The two were up to something, but Keiran wasn’t sure what.

“Hey, man, sometimes that’s what you need. A good beating to get you back on track. Quint should stay close so Seth doesn’t get pissy about it.” Reed trailed his fingers over the bandage on his side. “I wouldn’t mind a beating about now. Be nice to have something else hurting.”

Coming to Reed’s other side, Matt brushed a kiss over his cheek. “I love you, but if you don’t take your pain meds, I’m gonna ask Curtis and Lawson if I can come up with some kind of punishment.”

“That’s fucking hot.” Reed ducked his head when Jared frowned at him. “Free pass.”

“Hrm.” Jared shook his head, turning off the water and eyeing Keiran’s arm. “I’m going to put some salve and a bandage on that to keep it from blistering. Then you can come up with me while I bring Avery some of that soup you made.” He tipped Keiran’s chin up with a finger. “You can’t go into the room, but it’ll do him some good to hear your voice. And I believe you need to be near him too.”

Any kindness from Jared was more than welcome, but Keiran wasn’t sure he deserved it. Still, he wouldn’t test the Dom’s patience by showing anything but gratitude. “Thank you, sir. I’d...love that.”

Once the rest of the subs had cleared out of the room and Keiran had been patched up and finished serving up the soup on a tray with homemade crackers, Jared picked it up, nodding for Keiran to follow. He spoke quietly as they made their way up the stairs. “In any other circumstances, I would not let this go so easily. But I forgive you, Keiran.”

Keiran almost tripped up the steps, blinking fast as his vision blurred. “I know what I did was horrible, sir. I didn’t...even think when I did it. I should have, but it’s...automatic. And it shouldn’t have been. Not with you.”

“Yes, that hurt me very much, my boy. I know what Rhodey expects from you. More often than not, you must do exactly what he says and I do understand.” He stopped at the end of the hall, meeting Keiran’s eyes. “You are still your own man. One I consider a friend. I need to know that still matters to you, even if there are difficult choices.”

Swallowing hard, Keiran looked down at the tray. As a submissive there were plenty of times when the answer wasn’t so simple as giving up control. He didn’t mind that. Dallas being a switch meant drawing his own lines at times, finding a different kind of balance, and he was comfortable with that. More so than many other subs would be.

With Rhodey, he could reach a different level of surrender and it felt good. Most of all when they were in a situation where there could be no doubt.

But he knew what Jared was asking from him.

“I need to earn your trust back. I can’t say there will never be a time where I might have to do something you won’t agree with, but…” Keiran lifted his gaze. “I respect you. And I’ll try my best to make sure I show that, no matter what happens.”

Jared inclined his head. “That’s all I ask.” His lips curved as he nudged his chin and they continued down the hall. “If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like some more of that tea tonight. I haven’t slept that well in a long time.”

That brought a smile to Keiran’s lips. “Of course, sir. And I...well, I wrote up everything I’ve learned about the herb if you’d like to take a look. I wasn’t sure when you’d...be open to that, but I spent a lot of time with a naturopathic physician on a few of our missions when I told Rhodey...umm…” He cleared his throat, not sure Jared would really want to hear this part. “The kind of skullcap I have is very good quality. There are some cheap ones that are contaminated with germander, and they can create liver problems. It’s rare this kind impacts the liver, but I still didn’t give any to Reed, just in case.”

“What was it you were going to say, my boy? Nothing will shock me.” Jared’s tone held some amusement. “Don’t forget, I still consider Rhodey my best friend.”

Keiran scuffed his socked feet on the polished wood. “I know how to use a gun—not as well as I should, but I’m getting there. I don’t like to, though, unless there’s no other option. I wanted another way to be useful on missions. Specializing in poisons seemed… I wouldn’t use it on anyone who wasn’t a threat, but it turns out I’m very good at it. The herbs were part of learning how to mix certain things and expanded on what I already knew.”

A wry smile curved Jared’s lips. “That’s very practical. And not as surprising as you may think. Don’t forget, both Seth and Quint were doctors and their skills were valuable for more than healing. I’m able to use some of my knowledge in the ring.” He held Keiran’s gaze for a moment. “I’m also a very good shot and I’ve taught a few soldiers, if you ever want some help. Rhodey’s a decent teacher. I’m better.”

“That would be...wonderful, sir.” Keiran’s chest filled with warmth and he had to fight the urge to wrap his arms around the Dom and spill the soup everywhere. He reached for the door to open it for Jared, ducking his head when Jared shook his and waved him back, tray balanced on one hand. “Sorry, I almost forgot.”

That earned him an understanding look. “No matter how skilled and strong you become, I’m still looking out for you, my boy. Now stay by the door. Avery is probably resting, but I need to wake him up to eat and he’ll be happy to know you’re near.”

Standing back, Keiran nodded. The door was opened and closed too quickly for him to get a good look inside the room. He pressed against it, Jared and Rhodey’s voices muffled by the thick wood, Avery’s too faint to make out if he spoke at all.

He sank down to the floor, hugging his knees to his chest. What if Avery came close to talk and couldn’t hear him? Was he really okay? A lump formed in Keiran’s throat and he tipped his head back against the door, smiling a little as Dallas came silently down the hall and crouched in front of him.

“Any news?” Dallas wrapped his arms around Keiran, pulling him in for a hug.

Keiran rested his head on his Dom’s shoulder. “Not much. He’s having some soup, so he must be feeling a bit better. But…” He looked over as Dallas sat on the floor beside him. “Jared forgave me. And he’s going to have Avery talk to me through the door. If...that’s even possible.” He wrinkled his nose. “I should’ve gone to get you. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, I was in the zone. Lawson put me on wood chopping duty because I was pissed off and doing my best not to lose my temper. It was good fucking timing, I was about ready to punch something.” Dallas let out a soft laugh. “Curtis was starting to look real good.”

Snickering, Keiran shot Dallas a sideways look. “Don’t let Rhodey hear you say that. You and Curtis fighting will only lead to you both letting off steam in a way he clearly objects to.”

“I know. He makes it so easy, though. Whenever he gets possessive…” Dallas’ lips curved. “I never thought being owned like that would get me off. But it does. I love sharing it with you. The whole arrangement is twisted, but...I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Neither would I.” Keiran was grateful for the distraction, but the room going quiet had him sitting up, hand going to Dallas’ knee as he held his breath.

The door creaked, as though someone was leaning against it from the other side.

“Keiran?”

Hand to his mouth to hold back a sob, Keiran nodded. “I’m here, Avery. Dallas is, too.”

“Hello, sir.” Avery coughed, then groaned. “Being sick sucks. I do not recommend it. And...I miss you.”

Closing his eyes, Keiran kept his tone as light as he could. He hadn’t realized how hard this would be. For so long, he and Avery barely spent a moment apart. Guarding the safehouse while Avery and Rhodey left was the first time in so long, he’d been counting the hours until they returned. And when they had, they were still apart and it was...really hard.

“I miss you, Avery.” Keiran knew it was sentimental and silly, but he didn’t care. He turned and put his hand against the door, smiling as Dallas’ hand covered his, imagining Avery doing the same on the other side. “I miss you so fucking much.”

Avery laughed, coughing again. “Enough to get yourself in trouble?”

“That and more.”

So much more.

****

Part 9

****


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  1. Love when we get to see the dynamics with Rhodey's boys, and that includes Jared. Now, what trouble are those sneaky subs going to get into 🤔

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  2. I will never look at a sudoku book in the same way again, they will forevermore be known as suc-dic-ko 😂

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  3. So happy to see Avery on the mend. Loving the dynamic between the guys

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  4. It's like waiting for the bomb to drop anticipating what trouble the subbies are gonna get in to.

    I feel bad to say it but sometimes I like it when Avery gets sick or injured just so I get to see Rhodey take care of him...sorry Avery I can't help it...ily2!!

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  5. Poor Avery those hallucinations would be terrifying, glad he's on the mend. I can't wait to find out what plan Pike and Reed have come up with and talked Jamie into.

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  6. absolutely great charter i love the dynamics of these guys i love rodey caring and oh boy what are reed and pike up to

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  7. I like your short stories and your books. But I think the relationship between Quint and Jared had not enough been deepened. There was no intimate moment between them.
    Sorry or English I’m from France.

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  8. Avery and Keiran are breaking my heart lol They are so sweet and I hate that they can't be together.
    I can't wait till Shea and Jacks can get there.

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