LOVE & STITCHES at The Asylum Part Fifteen


Happy Sunday! 

I promise the chapter isn't as creepy as the graphic makes it look, but when you're discussing costumes for Wren's birthday party, there's really only one direction things can go!

Bianca and I have been writing up a storm and have LOTS more in store for you. I hope you're buckled in for a long ride, because we're having too much fun to stop!

Without further ado, Bianca and I bring you Part XV!










PART 6  




PART 10 



PART 13 




Most of the Doms—and Quint—being a lot older wasn’t a huge deal to Pike, but while planning a party? Yeah, he definitely needed reinforcements. Both his and Curtis’ ideas kept getting rejected. Either stuff was too dangerous or too wild and Wren wouldn’t be into it.

How old even is Wren?

Picturing the guy, Pike came up blank. He had a kinda...ageless thing to him. Sometimes, it was like the world was brand new and the way Wren’s eyes would light up and he’d smile, he seemed really young. Other times it was like he’d experienced a lot. He was calmer than a lot of the subs, but he vibed with Jamie and from the stories around here, he’d gotten in his fair share of trouble.

But Pike didn’t know him well enough to come up with any ideas he’d totally love. Not without a lot more info.

Several sets of trampling footsteps sounded in the hall, along with slamming doors, like when they had fire drills.

Matt’s voice echoed just outside the door. “Holy fuck, Avery. Announce yourself. I almost ran into you.”

“A herd of trampling elephants could hear you two coming, so no danger on this end.” Avery sounded a little crabby, like he still had the munchies and nobody was feeding him.

That’s gotta suck.

“Looks like we found your animal for the ark, Mattie.” Jamie snickered. “Little elephant.”

Matt’s, “Shut up, popslut,” was sorta affectionate in a weird way.

Another sound came, followed by a groan from Reed. “Fuck, I dropped my Nerds.” He paused. “Don’t look at me like that, Uncle Rhodey, you know you ain’t gonna do anything about me swearing.”

Rhodey snorted, his voice closer than the rest. Or maybe just louder. “One of these days I may take you up on that challenge, Tinkerbell. Now get in the loft before I push you all down the stairs.”

“Please not the stairs, sir.” The morning after really wasn’t Avery’s thing. “I’m not equipped to stick a landing today.”

Stepping through the door, Rhodey had his arm around Avery’s shoulders. “Not you, my little viper. You’re lucky I’m letting you walk.”

Another door opened, further, like it was coming from the lower floor. “I’ve never been up here that I remember. I used to think of it as the Lion’s Den. Is that really the dungeon? Let’s not go in there.”

“I knew you were smart. We don’t go in there without Doms, and I usually only go with Jacks and Shea when Blain’s hosting the pet play time.” Danny lowered his voice a bit, but it still carried in the stairwell. “I went in once to get completely destroyed by Curtis and the roof caved in. I think it was karma for me making such a mess sharing the whole tattoo thing… Did you see that video? It was so bad.”

“Ugh. That video.” Jamie groaned, coming to plunk down in Jared’s lap like it was his own personal throne. At first, Jared looked surprised, then he wrapped his arms awkwardly around Jamie’s waist. “Sorry, sir. My ass can’t take hardwood after that beating.” He snickered. “Unless it’s the other kind.”

“And I thought we were the horn dogs.” Reed bumped his shoulder into Matt’s, lowering a bit more carefully to sit next to Curtis. “Is this gonna be a whole lecture about dick pics? No fair them getting forbidden when I still haven’t gotten in on it. And really, other than, like Vani and Tracey, no one minded it all that much, let’s be honest.”

“Yeah, Noah minded once he saw his mother was on the thread.” Lush lips flattened, Jamie shook his head. “Thanks for sending that in the middle of my punishment. I don’t know if you made it better or worse, Seth.”

Jared slapped Jamie’s thigh so hard the sub jumped with the impact. “Respect, boy.”

“Did you miss the whole ‘I did it’?” Pike huffed and sat up a bit, scooting closer to Seth. “You’re welcome, you got a special treat. The timing was...well, to make sure we could have this meeting. Umm…” He handed Fresco to Seth and pushed to his feet after one look at Avery’s grumpy face. “I’ll go get snacks and drinks. Does anyone want a pillow or something?”

“I’ll help.” Matt skirted around Rhodey like he still found him his own personal mountain to travel around rather than over.

Pointing to the bed, Curtis motioned to Pike for a pillow. “Let’s grab one for Reed and one for Avery, unless Rhodey’s in the mood to play human sofa.” Eyes shining with humor, he tipped his head back to look up at Rhodey. “You don’t seem like the objectification kind of subbie.”

Jared snorted so hard he coughed. When he stopped, he still chuckled through his, “Oh, you’d be surprised.”

“Did the lot of you get into Matt’s coffee?” Rhodey shook his head at them, sitting on the edge of the bed and balancing Avery on one large, jean clad thigh. He reached back, grabbing a few pillows and tossing them at Curtis. “Make yourself useful, tiny gangster. And don’t make me drag Lawson out of bed to deal with you.” He looked around the room as Jamie started to hum Tiny Dancer. “Why exactly are we dealing with a sub invasion?”

Heading to the kitchen, Pike opened and closed the cupboard, shaking his hand when it started to ache. There were some snacks, but not enough for a whole group. “I suck at planning this kinda thing. How long do meetings last? I’m already hungry, but what’s everyone else gonna eat?”

“I’ll put coffee on. Let’s get some pop and some juice in pitchers.” Catching Pike’s wrist, Matt made an “Ep,” sound that reminded Pike of Curtis. “Better yet, you sit and tell me where things are and I’ll put together stuff. I can text Keiran to see what he’s got in the galley.”

Pike nodded and took a deep breath, moving around Danny and Drew as they came into the kitchen, still going on about the horrors of the dungeon. He pulled out a chair, sitting on it backwards like Curtis always did and resting his hand on the back. “The cookies are on the top top shelf over there, Quint thinks I don’t know. He got tired of cleaning crumbs out of bed before Seth gets home. I kinda...borrowed a small ladder from Curtis and hid it in the closet so I can reach it. I’ve only fallen a couple times, it’s a really good ladder.”

“You’re lucky you didn’t break anything.” Danny eyed his hand, chewing on his bottom lip. “Unless that’s what happened to your hand? I’m gonna go tell Curtis to take his ladder back.”

Over by the cabinet, Matt reached the top shelf without the ladder, pulling down the packet of cookies as well as a plastic container Pike hadn’t yet seen. “Leave Curtis alone. He’s got enough shit he’s dealing with.” Matt’s tone wasn’t mean, it was just Matt. Prying open the lid of the container, he peered inside. “Oh. Nice. Snickerdoodles.”

“Yeah, and you don’t gotta be a rat, Danny.” Pike frowned at the other sub, who looked like he was ready to tell someone about the ladder. “You know what they say about snitches.”

“I’m not sure. I don’t tell on anyone because I don’t know anything.” Drew lingered in the corner near the microwave cart, looking about as out of place as a red-headed cousin at an O’Rourke family reunion. All blonds and dark black haired family only. Everyone else not meeting those standards had probably been shot.

Coming in without making a sound so it was like he’d appeared in the middle of the kitchen, Keiran cleared his throat, lowering his brow at Pike over the pile of plastic containers in his arms. “Any more threats and I’m taking this all back.” He glanced over at Danny and winked at him. “I’ll deal with the ladder, dulzura. Come help Matt set this out for everyone, there should be plenty.”

“Excuse me, sir? I can help. I’m a service sub, or that’s what Stephan says.” Skirting around the table, Drew stared up at Keiran. “As long as I don’t have to crawl. I’m not good at that. I tend to get lost under things. It’s disorienting with so many legs in the bar. People and tables. All mixed together.”

Keiran gave Drew a warm smile. “I’m not a Dom, I’m a sub, but I get how it’s confusing when I’m being so bossy. Go ahead and help, it’ll make less work for everyone.” He opened one of the smaller containers and set it in front of Pike. “Here, you can enjoy these samples I decided not to add to the rest for Wren’s cake. They’re a bit too sweet for him, but I thought you’d enjoy them.”

Pike grinned, deciding to leave the ladder thing alone and grabbed one of the tiny cake samples, covered in blood red icing. He stuffed it in his mouth, chewing just enough so he could talk around it. The honey and brandy flavoring made his words come out with a moan. “Oh wow, that’s delicious. You can probably just set stuff up on the dressers and the bed. You’ll have to move around Rhodey, he’s like a huge boulder, dropped right in the middle of everything.”

“He’s even bigger than Jamie’s Dom.” Boxes stacked carefully in his arms all the way past the top of his head, Drew maneuvered around the table and toward the door like he had some kind of bat radar. His movements were all graceful when he was doing stuff for someone, but so fucking awkward the rest of the time. As he left, Pike waited for a crash that never came.

The guy’s almost relatable.

Opening the fridge, Matt took out the milk, the scent of fresh coffee filling the room as the coffee maker did its magic. “We have a bet in the books on which of us can fuck all the core Doms first. I’m not in it to win it. Leave me outta Rhodey’s roster. I’d rather be a loser than walk funny the rest of my life.”

“If that’s what you’re worried about, your Doms aren’t using nearly enough lube.” Keiran wrapped his arms around Danny, kissing the top of his head. “And Rhodey’s roster is full, Avery and I decided already. We like Danny, but the rest of you would be a handful.”

“Gee, thanks, Keiran.” There was no rancor in Matt’s words, his voice muffled as he stuck his head into the pantry, looking for something. He emerged with a basket of linen napkins and a little folding table that he handed to Drew when the sub came back in. “Set this up. There’s a tablecloth in the bottom. We’ll use it for the coffee service.”

“Yes, sir.” Drew took the items, leaving again.

Pike ate another piece of cake, kinda amazed at all the stuff Matt was finding that he hadn’t even known they had. What else was hidden in the not-food drawers? He gave Drew’s back a curious look as another thought hit him. “Hey, Drew? You wanna ask everyone if they want other drinks? We don’t got a lot of Coke, Quint gets all fussy about not wanting me to need a dentist. I’m being good, but all y’all can have whatever.”

“I can do that, sir.” Throwing him a sheepish smile, Drew got a little pink around the ears. “Thanks for involving me. You have a beautiful home. I bet you’re super proud of it.”

Grinning at being called ‘sir’, which he’d totally been aiming for and was kinda fun, Pike cocked his head at the last. “I mean, it’s a nice place, but Quint’s the one who takes care of stuff. I’m proud of him. And proud of Seth for getting it for us.” He looked down when Fresco started climbing up his leg. The flannel of his pajama pants didn’t offer much protection, but the tiny claws didn’t hurt too bad. “And I’m proud of Fresco for being the bravest, cutest kitten in the world.”

“I bet they’re proud of you too.” Drew’s green eyes warmed, and he hefted the table which caught on his crisp white shirt, the metal making a little tear. He looked down. “Oh, balls.”

“Here, let me help you with that.” Slipping away from Keiran, Danny went to grab the table, leaning in to inspect the tear. “I don’t see any blood, but just in case… Jared? Sir, could you make sure Drew is okay? I don’t know if there’s any internal injuries. How can you tell? Do we need an X-ray machine?”

The murmur of conversation coming from the bedroom lulled, Jared saying something to someone before he appeared in the doorway. “Did he fall?” His gaze ran over Drew, landing on the tear at his waist. Even though it was small, he didn’t miss a thing. “Ah. Thank you for alerting me, my little Despereaux.” 

Alarm crossing his features, Drew backed up into the wall, stumbling a little. “Please don’t stitch me up, sir. It’s only my shirt, and it doesn’t need to be attached to me. I’m sorry I said ‘balls’. I swear I’ll never say it again. I choose life.”

Pike snorted, almost choking on the cake until Keiran patted his back. “You should keep saying it, it sounds cool. And hey, that’s a nice shirt, so why not make it permanently attached? Like a new fashion statement.” He ducked when Keiran’s next ‘pat’ hit the back of his head. “Hey!”

Where Drew had been, there was now only empty space, the sub disappearing with the basket of napkins through the loft door and down the stairs so fast he registered as a blur. Doors slammed all the way to the basement.

“Well, fuck.” Matt growled, tromping after him. “I need those napkins. I don’t care about the mutant.”

“Don’t call him that.” Danny followed Matt, grabbing his arm in the doorway. “I’ll go get him and the stupid napkins. If you guys weren’t so mean, you wouldn’t have scared him away. Stephan’s gonna be pissed.”

Pike shoved out of his chair. “I was teasing.”

Shaking off Danny’s hold, Matt shared a look with Pike. “Don’t. Kirby isn’t part of the Core, and he’s been angling to get into Noah’s pants for years. The only reason he wants in with us is to get closer to his fetish.”

“Matthew!” Jared snapped his fingers, pointing to the spot in front of his feet.

Matt crossed the floor, gaze mutinous.

The crack of Jared’s palm across his face could be heard echoing for about ten miles. “I’m going to say this once, and the next time I’ll do more than cane you in the bar.” Jared waited until Matt’s head came back around. “Straighten out. Immediately.”

Wiping his lip with the back of his hand, Matt nodded, clearing his throat. “Yes, sir.”

Jared pointed to the kitchen. “Get back to work.”

“I hope you’re happy.” Pike glared toward the doorway, but Danny had already taken off. Shoving the chair toward the table, he turned to Jared. “That wasn’t cool. Matt’s just looking out for our people. And Kirby’s got his whole little clique too and they were messing with Seth. I figured it was cool if Danny was friends with him, but...maybe Matt’s right. And Danny’s got shit taste in friends.”

“Hey!” Sliding up next to Jared in his socked feet, Jamie glared at Pike.

“Quiet, Jamie.” Jared latched onto the back of Jamie’s neck. “Pike, I understand you come from a world of mafia enforcers and battle lines, but this is not how we will treat guests in your Dom’s home. Or in this club.”

Keiran was giving Pike one of those looks like he might take away all the cupcakes, as though he was kinda pissed too. “I came here to help plan a party for someone I love very much, but if people are going to be thoughtless and cruel, I’ll be waiting for Jared to let me know what other arrangements we’ll make. And it’s Drew, not Kirby. He’s made his preference clear and you and Matt will respect that.”

From the loft doorway, Drew mumbled something unintelligible, then, “Sir, I don’t need to be up here. Please, don’t make me. It’s alright. I’m good swimming the rest of the day. Or...drowning. You choose.”

“I don’t like hearing things like that from you, Drew. It would upset me very much if anything happened to you.” Stephan’s voice was soft, the gentle scolding almost like he was trying to encourage his sub to rethink what he’d said, rather than just telling him not to.

Which totally wouldn’t work for Pike. He had a hard enough time taking orders.

“Please stay, Drew?” Danny was holding Drew’s hand, trying to tug him back into the loft. “Just for a bit. If things are still bad, I’ll come down with you and we can work on swimming some more. I can have a cupcake if I do fifty laps, I had Wren do the math the other day.”

Kicking at the thick, jewel-toned carpet, hands jammed in his pockets, Matt threw Drew a shame-faced look. Lawson was gonna totally notice that red spot, the fingers of Jared’s hand showing clearly on his cheek. “I’m sorry, Drew. I was crappy to you. Things...we can be tight around here, and stuff with your crew is gonna take a while to get over. But I shoulda been kinder.”

“Thank you, Matt.” Stephan rubbed Drew’s shoulders, giving Matt a nod of approval. Then he lifted his brow at Pike. “Would you like to say anything?”

Pike wet his bottom lip with his tongue. If he wanted the party planning to go well, he needed to keep the peace, which wasn’t something O’Rourkes were good at. And he trusted Matt’s instincts, so he had to be careful about answering in case he was right about Drew.

“Reckon you can stay. And...sorry.” Pretty sure that wasn’t right, Pike folded his arms over his chest and went back to the bedroom, going to squeeze in between Quint and Seth. Where things made a whole lot more sense. “I think I just ruined the cake.”

“There’s cake already?” Curtis twisted around, looking toward the door, Reed now on his lap. “And who got smacked? It doesn’t appear to have been you.”

Tucking his face under Seth’s arm, Pike shook his head. “It was Matt. We were...Drew was… Ugh, I don’t know. And Keiran’s mad, too, so everything’s fucked up.”

“I believe the word you are looking for, little gremlin, is bullying.” One hand on Matt’s shoulder, the other on Jamie’s, Jared steered both subs back into the room. “Matthew has apologized.” He gave Curtis a look, sending Matt toward him with a gentle push. “I expect you will both explain to Lawson without unduly upsetting him.” Jamie, he directed to a pillow at the edge of the circle as Drew came in carrying the basket of napkins and started laying them out. He didn’t look up, doing a pretty good job at being invisible in plain sight, like most of the service subs. “I, for one, need a whiskey. Who’s with me?”

“It’s about that time.” Rhodey frowned at Pike, then motioned Keiran to him. “Don’t hold the cake hostage, sweetling, it’ll make you miserable. We just won’t let Pike have any if he’s going to be difficult.”

Keiran leaned against Rhodey’s side, reaching down to take Avery’s hand. “Yes, sir, I just hate it when things this. I know we have to put up with it when we’re on missions with other mercs, but...not at home.”

Great, now I don’t get cake and I pissed off Rhodey too. I’m on a fucking roll.

“I said I was sorry.” Pike wrapped his fingers around one of Seth’s remaining buttons and gave it a little tug. “Can we just forget about it?”

“Did Drew and Keiran—” Seth’s gaze skipped to the doorway where Stephan and Danny lingered, Jared taking a seat on the floor next to Curtis and Reed. Matt scooted away a few inches. “—and Danny, accept your apology?”

Pike blew out a breath. “Umm...I don’t know? I came in here. Curtis will make sure I don’t say the wrong thing in front of the wrong people. I didn’t think Drew was the wrong people, but Matt’s smart and he caught stuff I didn’t. So…” He lowered his voice. “Should we be discussing this in front of them?”

Making a mock sound of sympathy, Curtis brushed his hand over the top of Matt’s head. “I guess the lines about our words having an impact didn’t stick.” He winced, sucking air through his teeth. “Your poor ass. I am going to have so much fun trying to land my belt on top of those cane lines.”

Matt flushed to the roots of his hair. “Sorry, sir.” He turned toward Drew, who ducked under Stephan’s arm, holding the whiskey decanter on a tray with six crystal highballs. “I’m sorry again, Drew.”

Nodding, Drew began to pour, his focus on the glasses. “It’s okay. I get it. We were crappy to you. It’s gonna take a while.”

“Drew, the games you and your friends played were not always well thought out, but they were harmless. It doesn’t excuse the response you’ve gotten and I do not accept you being treated poorly.” Stephan gave Pike a pointed look. “From what I’m hearing, you were following Matt’s lead. You’re a smart young man, Pike. And you’ve had pleasant exchanges with Drew before. Why not make your own judgments? I know you’ve dealt with bullies in your family, and it was much more extreme, but harm doesn’t need to be to that level to have an impact.”

Pike winced, shaking his head. “It wasn’t… Okay, maybe it kinda was like bullying and I didn’t mean it. I just...if I’ve gotta pick a side, you know?”

“The side, my boy, is The Asylum.” Pulling Pike into his lap, Seth settled the flat of his hand on Pike’s chest, pressing him backward so they were snugged together. “And I know I don’t set the best example, so I can’t blame you. I’ll be doing better in the future, however, and so will you.”

An approving look from Jared crossed over Pike’s head to Seth. “Well said, my man.”

Avery tipped backward into Rhodey’s hold, clearly soaking up being petted. “Can we have cake now?”

“Yes, I will still make the cake.” Keiran nudged his chin toward one of the containers. “And there’s samples in there. I made enough for everyone to try, these are the top ten that I think Wren would like best.”

Rubbing his hands together, Jared looked genuinely excited. “I haven’t looked forward to something so much since we all conspired to get Noah to the altar without his knowing.”

Jamie broke into a wide grin. “Yeah... Best. Day. Ever.”

At least everyone was getting along again, so that was good, right? Pike still felt a bit horrible, the more he thought about how he and Matt had talked about Drew. And it wasn’t going away. He glanced over at the sub, who was handing out drinks. “Hey, Drew?”

Letting go of the glass he passed to Rhodey with a formal little nod, Drew turned his head toward Pike. His bright red-orange hair and thick smattering of freckles should’ve made him stand out like a neon sign in a dimly lit room, but somehow didn’t. They were just...him. “Yes, sir?”

“You don’t gotta call me that. It was cool for a minute, but… Yeah, anyway, I was a jerk. It’s kinda...hard sometimes, with new people, but that doesn’t mean I gotta be mean. I’m sorry, for real.” Pike didn’t like this feeling either, it was awkward and vulnerable and something that would’ve been called weak around any of his uncles. But...he wasn’t with them so he swallowed it down. “I’ll be nicer, or I’ll try to anyway? I can be a bit...rough. But if it bugs you, let me know?”

“Nicely done, pixie.” Seth nuzzled Pike’s ear, whispering the words for him alone.

Drew checked in with Stephan, who nodded. The sub flicked his tongue nervously over his lips, then held out his spindly arms awkwardly. “Hug it out?”

“Sure?” Pike glanced back at Seth before rising to his feet. He moved in, wrapping his arms around Drew in probably the weirdest hug he’d ever gotten or given. Then relaxed a bit and leaned back to look Drew in the eye. “Ya know, I’m much better at the other kind of apology if you want that instead?”

A brighter expression replaced the tiny frown Drew had been wearing since re-entering the loft. “Yeah? Me too!”

Curtis snorted, nose and lips pressed to Reed’s neck under the fall of his curls. “The Asylum’s first sixty-nine apology. Win.”

“Drew.” Stephan snapped his fingers, beckoning his sub to him. “No. That won’t be necessary.” A hint of humor lit his eyes as he glanced over at Seth. “Please keep your sub from seducing mine. I fully intend to keep him to myself.”

Shooting Stephan a slanted grin, Seth nodded. “I’ll do my best. I don’t believe there are cameras in all the broom cupboards, however.”

 “There aren’t.” Jamie clapped both his hands over his own mouth.

Keiran snorted, sitting on Rhodey’s lap and trailing his fingers along Avery’s inner thigh. “That’s what you think. The lot of you need to get a lot more creative. Or catch Wren at the right time with pretzels.”

“Is that so?” Reaching over the open snack containers that had been spread out picnic-style in the middle of their circle, Jared lifted Jamie up and pulled him into his lap. “Now. How about we enjoy some excellent whiskey and treats, while we talk about the games for Wren’s party?”

Coming into the room with a very high bundle of fabric in his arms, Jacks nearly tripped over them all. “And try on costumes. I’ve been sewing for two days, and only sewed my fingers together once.”

“Stephan, sir? Would you like to join in?” Jamie tipped sideways on Jared’s lap, peeping around Jacks. “And I might be late for our session. It started a half hour ago.”

“Just a little bit, but I expected a delay due to exceptional circumstances.” Stephan winked at Jamie, then reached over to nudge Danny. “Go help your Dom, Drew will be fine. He is not among people who make a habit of being malicious, it was a brief bit of unpleasantness.”

Danny eyed Pike and Matt like he didn’t really know them anymore and nodded, going quietly to take some of the costumes from Jacks.

“Now. The movies Jared told me were Wren’s faves are all represented.” Shaking out a tight dress with polka dots and a bloodstain complete with plastic prop knife sticking out of it, Jacks threw it to Danny. “You get to be the basement chic who doesn’t believe going to check out that noise is a bad idea.” 

The dress hit the ground and Danny’s lips parted. “Sir, she always dies first! And usually in the scariest, bloodiest way and then people find her body and...this is an omen, I just know it. I thought I was going to be something like a...I don’t know, one of the non-scary things in horror movies? What is even today, everything just keeps getting worse.”

Rhodey took a long drink of his whiskey, muttering under his breath. “And the award for cluelessness doesn’t need any more nominees.”

“My boy is not clueless, Rhodey.” Jacks threw the merc an unimpressed look, clearly having stayed up way too many hours and missing like a billion clues himself. 

“I forgot my darts, sir.” Dark bangs falling over one eye, Avery glared at Jacks, speaking to Rhodey. “Should I get some steak knives from the kitchen? They used to belong to Jared and were very well balanced.”

Chuckling, Rhodey patted Avery’s thigh and shook his head. “No, my sweet little viper, that won’t be necessary.” He gave Jacks a lazy smile. “I agree. Our little mouse is not clueless at all.”

Completely naked, Jamie took the costume Jacks handed him, which looked like someone had severed an artery over the white fabric. “What games are we playing?” He flagged his naked butt at the group. “Pin the tail on me?”

“That’s not a horrible idea.” Pike held up his hands to make a frame around Jamie’s ass, closing one eye. “It’s a nice sized target. Like maybe dildos attached to arrows?”

“Hmm...” Reaching up, Jared pinched Jamie’s plump ass, making a red mark. “I like that. No arrows, but if you can find his pucker, I’ll allow you to stick in a nice fat dildo. You’ll be blindfolded, of course. As the tradition dictates.”

Reed snorted, shaking his head as he caught his own costume, frowning a little when he looked it over. “Am I gonna be a priest?”

“No, that’s...that guy from Children of the Corn.” Keiran’s brow furrowed like the name was on the tip of his tongue, then shook his head. “I haven’t watched it with Wren in a while, but it’s one of his favorites. Very disturbing, but it was interesting.”

Subdued, Matt took his costume from Jacks, looking it over. The hockey mask kinda gave it away. “Oh cool. Thanks, Jacks.”

“You’ve got the size and height. I almost gave it to Reed, but his hair would have to be in a stocking and I didn’t want to make him too hot.” Jacks winked, his model-perfect lips curving. “He’s already sexy enough.”

Grinning at him, Reed plunked the black, round rimmed hat that went with his costume on his head. “Right back atcha, stud.”

“For games, I think Rhodey and I could bury some bodies. And whoever digs up the most parts, wins?” Twirling a knife between his fingers that he’d found somewhere on his Dom, Avery looked at Rhodey like he expected to be praised to the moon and back. “We can do that, right, sir?”

The weirdest thing was, Rhodey actually looked like he was considering it until Danny dropped out of sight, crawling under the bed. Shaking his head, Rhodey pressed his lips to Avery’s temple. “Clever, little snake, but we’ll keep the best ideas for ourselves.”

Jared tossed the Andre-the-Giant-sized holocaust cloak to Rhodey. “I guess you get to be lit on fire.”

“This party idea just got a lot more interesting, I haven’t done that in a while.” Rhodey held up the costume while still balancing both his subs on his lap. “Would it make you feel better if I keep a fire extinguisher nearby, Danny?”

“Not really, sir.” Danny’s voice was muffled. “Can we just have a party with black balloons and spooky music? I don’t think Wren will have more fun if someone actually dies.”

“Oh, he might, but then I’d be on duty and I really would like to enjoy the haunted house we’re making for him.” Pulling out a cigar from his inner jacket pocket, Jared focused on its end. “We do need all the cobwebs and set pieces though. I’m not good at planning out something like that.” He looked toward Pike. “Would you be willing to take that on, little gremlin?”

Pike nodded, grinning as he snatched the costume Jacks tossed to him out of the air. “I’m all over that, sir. Some of it, Reed will probably get from the local stores, but I’ll make sure it’s not all sparkly. And I can order the coolest stuff online.” He spread out the costume over his lap. “Wicked, it’s the sexy Purge girl. I’ve watched those movies with Wren like a thousand times, they’re my favorite. Thanks, Jacks!”

Sleek muscles twisting along his hips like he walked a Milan catwalk, Jacks turned to smile over his shoulder at Pike. “I know our boys.” He threw a pile of fabric to Jared that landed in his lap. “And Doms.”

While the Doms and subs all tried on their costumes, Drew freshened drinks, and Seth handed Pike a credit card from his wallet. “Use my name. Remember you’re not to log into any accounts as yourself. Oh, and Vani’s laptop. So we won’t have to worry about Wren associating it all with us.”

“Yes, sir.” Pike palmed the card, excited to do some serious damage making this party the best thing ever. “And I’ll let Matt or Reed bring in the packages and let Quint check them first.”

Quint lost the bit of tension he’d gotten during the exchange, putting his hand on Pike’s thigh and squeezing lightly. “I’d appreciate that very much. I know how excited you get, but let’s not take any chances.”

“That’s my good boys.” An affectionate touch landed on Quint’s cheek and Pike’s thigh, Seth glancing between them both. “We need more games.” He looked around the room. “How about a macabre croquet party? We can decorate coconuts as shrunken heads.”

Going into the bathroom, Jamie shut the door and locked it.

“Ix-nay on the oconuts...cay.” Reed shook his head, pushing to his feet and leaving his costume on the floor, pausing on his way to following Jamie and crouching down in front of Curtis, cupping his cheeks in his hands. “You okay, sir?”

Holding Reed’s wrist and his gaze, Curtis gave him a warm smile, kissing his palm. “No worries here, love. I don’t remember the coconuts or the island the way Jamie does. Delirium has its rewards.”

 “Good, or...kinda, I guess. I’m gonna go check on him.” Reed hugged Curtis, then jogged across the room, going over to knock on the bathroom door. “Let me in or I’m picking the lock.”

The lock clicked, and the door cracked open, Reed slipping through.

“Sorry about that.” Seth gave Jared a sheepish look. “I should’ve remembered. How about we use another sturdy food item. Same game?”

“How about pumpkins?” Pike’s stomach rumbled. “Mmm, and pie. Lots and lots of pie. Is it too late to add that to the menu, Keir?”

Keiran shook his head. “Not at all, but Wren isn’t fond of it. I’ll make some for those who are.” His eyes shone with amusement. “But pie isn’t a game.”

“That all depends on how it’s used...” Matt spoke up, pushing his long sandy-blond bangs off his forehead and out of his eyes. “We could use whipped cream pies in a fun creepy clown game.”

“Oh!” Jacks nodded enthusiastically, adjusting the hem of Rhodey’s holocaust cloak as he knelt by the bed at Rhodey’s feet. Which was actually kinda fucking hot... “I hadn’t chosen a costume yet. I could totally be the creepy clown throwing pies at people. If I get you, then I get to tie you up in the funhouse room where you have to escape.”

Quint chuckled when he caught Pike’s eyes, reaching out to grab him a big sandwich with roast beef from one of the trays. He handed it to him with a pretend serious look. “No getting hit on purpose so you can just eat the pie.”

“No promises.” Pike grinned at him around a huge bite of bread and meat, groaning and snuggling back against Seth. Things were on track again. “Hey, maybe we can make it like one of those escape room things? Once you get in the haunted house, you have to find the clues to get out?”

Under the bed, a light shone, Danny mumbling to himself as he typed a text. “Thank you for the invitation, but I regret to inform you that due to an unforeseen emergency that will definitely happen, I will be unable to attend the party.”

“You’ll attend, my boy, but we’ll make you a safe room, where you can staff the food and drinks that aren’t hot dogs made to look like bloody severed fingers.” Peering under the bed, Jacks motioned to Danny to come out. “And no telling lies. You know your other Dom would beat your ass, and then we’d get into an argument that wouldn’t result in sex.”

Danny wiggled out, giving Jacks a little pout. “It’s not a lie, something will probably happen. Don’t tell Shea?”

Patting Danny’s ass, Jacks handed him the last costume. It was a full princess outfit complete with cone shaped hat and stilettos. “You get to be the maiden in the tower safe-room. I was joking about the other one.” He threw Rhodey a ha ha gotcha look. “I know my boy.”

Drew smiled at Danny, holding out a whiskey. “I’ll wait on you as your trusted and loyal servant who they let stay in the tower with you to comfort you before your beheading.”

“That would be so cool! Can he get a costume too, Jacks? Like one of those really neat old fashioned suits?” Danny hugged the dress to his chest, smoothing it down and swaying from side to side, his eyes glowing with happiness. “I’m so glad I’m not the first victim and...I’d be okay dying in this dress. This is some of your best work ever, sir. I’ll be careful not to get it dirty.”

“It’s totes washable, little mouse.” Beaming, Jacks tugged a lock of Danny’s dark brown hair. 

Behind them, Avery spoke up. “Um... I’m sorry, Danny and Drew... But only Core can go to the safehouses. And—” He glanced at Stephan. “—sorry, sir, but he’s your sub and the jury is still out.”

The smile wouldn’t have left Danny’s face faster if Avery had stuck the knife he was always playing with right in his stomach. “You… I thought I was...part of the Core.”

“You are!” Sitting up straighter in Rhodey’s arms, Avery nearly knocked heads with Keiran. “I meant I’m sorry your friend can’t come.”

Stephan gave Avery a nod like he accepted all the random-ass rules. “I understand. And Drew will be keeping me company. But…” He smiled at Jacks. “I would like to commission that costume anyway. There’s no reason our boys can’t reenact that scene in The Asylum at some point, just for fun.”

“No commission necessary.” Face a mask of despair, Jacks threw Rhodey a pleading look. “Are you sure we couldn’t just blindfold them or something? It’d mean a lot to Danny for them to be there. And...if anything happens, you can blame me.”

Expression hardening, Rhodey held Jacks’ gaze. “I don’t mind being the asshole as needed. And this will be one of those times. You were careless once and so was Stephan. Wren is too vulnerable to take any chances, and with Pike there as well? No. Absolutely not. I’m not bringing along an untrustworthy asset and a civilian who could be tempted tomorrow to lead the wrong people right to us.”

“You know half the subs are going to need therapy after we get done with this party.” Curtis, who’d stolen a few puffs of Jared’s cigar, and handed it back to him now, met Rhodey’s gaze. “What do we need to do in order to finally clear Stephan?”

“I haven’t decided yet. Him not bitching about it helps.” Rhodey took a sip of his whiskey, then nudged Keiran. “Go grab me a cigar, sweetling. You know the ones I like.”

Jamie shuffled out of the bathroom with Reed. The latter held a towel that he softly dried Jamie’s damp locks with, the two looking like maybe they’d showered together. Or Jamie had showered and Reed had just gotten water everywhere like he and Curtis usually did.

“Sorry for being extra, guys.” Standing on his tiptoes, Jamie kissed Reed’s cheek. “I love my costume, Jacks. It’s going to be a rad party, Pike. Thanks for arranging it for my sub-bro.”

Smiling a bit, torn with the whole thing with Drew and happy that Jamie seemed to be better, Pike nodded. “I’m glad to do it, even though you just made things all incesty.” He chewed his bottom lip, looking over his shoulder at the one person he hoped might be able to talk on Rhodey’s level and change his mind. “Sir, if I can make sure Drew’s at the party, it might make up for how I acted before, at least a little? And Stephan...he helped me a lot. There’s gotta be a way, right?”

Seth’s arms tightened around Pike’s waist. “I don’t—”

“Oh for fuck’s sakes.” Avery growled, pushing his hand through his hair. “Fine. How about if anything at all bad happens, then Drew and Stephan are a no-go. We mob-style shoot them in the head before we leave the safehouse. Everything is cool, then they live.”

Reality slammed into Pike, stealing the air from his lungs. One wrong step. One wrong word. That was all it took before even the blood you didn’t spill was on your hands.

Some things...never change.



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  1. Well that took a turn 😮
    From from “I dropped my Nerds” to Danny’s RSVP to mob-style execution in such a short space. Gotta love The Asylum

  2. Rhodey calling Curtis "little gangster" was aweseom, but Rhodey and crew being clueless to Danny and Pike, not cool at all!

  3. Party planning at the Asylum, you never know what you're gonna get.

  4. Sounds like an epic party...

  5. Poor poor Matt! I love seeing the Core grow closer and more familiar with one another. Reed is so caring, and I love seeing Drew and Stephan’s relationship grow! And Danny’s rsvp 🤣🤣🤣

  6. Poor matt!! Jared hitting him was not cool and I doubt jared would have with any of the other subs.

    1. I feel the same way!!!! I always felt Jared dislike him and is always hard on him.


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