This is an excessively late birthday fic for fredbassett. Sorry it's so late. I did start it in Feb, but then RL intervened. Happy birthday (again)!
Title: Duty of Care
Pairing/characters: Becker/Ryan, Connor, OC
Warnings: Slave!AU, non-con, violence, smut, language
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 6690
Summary: It was 15.47 when Becker’s day went to hell.
AN: Birthday fic for fredbassett. Big thanks to fififolle for the beta.
AN2: Set in a slave!AU where Becker is Ryan's slave. Follows on from Training and Further Education.
It was 15.47 when Becker’s day went to hell. He had been in the ARC armoury all afternoon, methodically dismantling, checking, cleaning, and rebuilding every single handgun in their arsenal. Yesterday he had done the assault rifles, tomorrow his to-do list involved the general bucket category of ‘everything else’.
Truth be told, he didn’t actually mind this kind of job. Okay, it wasn’t the most mentally stimulating activity, but he could lose himself in the work, and he took no small amount of pride in a job well done. Plus, he knew even the free soldiers were occasionally tasked with this kind of thing as well, so it didn’t feel quite as demeaning as some of the other boring jobs he did at times. It was a necessary job that would make a difference when they were out in the field, and he had been entrusted with it, and that meant something.
Becker glanced at his watch as he started the last gun. Right on schedule. Ryan had said if he was done by 4 o’clock then they could go to the shooting range and get some practice in, and Becker didn’t quite want to admit to himself how much he had been looking forward to that.
The door opened and Becker glanced up and nodded at Roberts as he came in and closed the door behind him. Roberts was one of the new guys, and a few of his comments about slaves had made Becker wary of him, but it was no worse than some of the shit he’d had to put up with before Ryan had bought him. He went back to disassembling the weapon.
“Haven’t you finished that yet?” Roberts leaned over his shoulder.
“Almost, sir.” By rights, he technically didn’t have to refer to the soldier as ‘sir’, but Becker had learned quickly what sort of people he could be casual with, and what sort to make an effort to show deference to, even if it wasn’t strictly necessary.
“Good. I have a job for you.”
What? Shit, if he was late getting to Ryan’s office then the shooting range would be off, no matter what the reason. Becker bit back any sign of frustration. Knowing Roberts, if he found out there was something Becker wanted to do, he would deliberately delay him just because he could. Bastard.
“I’m under orders to report to Captain Ryan as soon as I’ve finished here, sir.”
“It won’t take long.” Roberts’ smile was that of a predator.
Becker felt the first real coil of unease in his stomach. Then Roberts reached down and unzipped his trousers.
“On your knees.”
Oh fuck. Becker froze. Again, technically, only Ryan could order him to do that sort of thing. But in practice there were far too many households and workplaces where people felt they could do what they liked with slaves. Becker didn’t know if Ryan had specifically warned people off, or if it was just out of respect for the captain, but in his time at the ARC no one had bothered Becker, until now. And Roberts was new here.
Becker put the gun parts down as slowly as he dared, buying himself time to think. He had to be sure of the law. He had to be sure, to the letter, because if he got this wrong he was going to be punished. There was a very real possibility that even if he got it right, one way or another, he was still going to be punished. Becker tried not to think about that.
He stood up and looked Roberts in the eye.
“I’m sorry, sir. I’m afraid I am not permitted to do that, sir.”
“Aren’t you a well mannered little pretty boy?” Roberts smirked. “But that was the wrong answer.”
“Section 14 of Part II of the Slavery Act 1967 states that a direct order to a slave from his or her owner overrides any orders or instructions from another free person in all cases except where the slave’s owner is deemed unfit or of unsound mind, as defined by Section 19.”
All those hours helping his brother revise for his law exams had come in handy for something. Plus, of course, Becker had made sure he spent the first two days of his enslavement reading and learning every page of that fucking law.
Of course, Ryan hadn’t technically ordered him to report back as soon as he had finished in the armoury. It had been more an implied assumption. He hoped to god that Ryan would neglect to mention that fact if Roberts decided to call his bluff.
Roberts’ smile faltered slightly.
“In that case, it’s a shame Ryan isn’t here to countermand me, isn’t it?”
His fist came out of nowhere and slammed into Becker’s stomach. Becker staggered back, trying not to double over. Another blow caught the side of his head. Becker tried to get back out of the way but he tripped on the chair he had been sitting in only moments earlier, and crashed against the table. Roberts grabbed the back of his head and shoved him face first into the table, spilling gun oil and mechanical parts across the surface and onto the floor.
The thought that he was going to have to clean that up flitted through Becker’s mind. Then Roberts’ fingers were pulling at his collar, shoving their way in between the leather and the back of his neck and Becker felt the collar tighten around his throat.
Shit, the guy was choking him.
Becker started to struggle in earnest, trying to shove Roberts away and push himself up from the table but Roberts was holding him down. The pressure from the collar increased and Becker gagged for air.
“I was just going to get you to suck me off, but since you’re causing so much trouble I’m going to teach you how a slave should behave, you little shit.”
Becker’s consciousness was rapidly narrowing to a single focus on the collar and what it was doing to him, and he barely realised what was happening until Roberts reached round and pulled Becker’s trousers and boxers down.
Oh fuck. Not that.
He tried one last time to shove himself off the table. Roberts’ knee came up between his legs and slammed into his balls. Becker collapsed against the table top, unable even to scream. Roberts released the pressure on his collar a fraction and Becker gulped in the air while he could.
Then Roberts began in earnest.
Connor was bored. He pushed his chair away from the ADD and spun round in a circle a few times. He almost wished for an anomaly alert to relieve the boredom, but he knew better than to say it out loud. He’d probably end up knee deep in mud for the rest of the day if he tempted fate like that. He was still slightly dizzy from the spinning when something caught his eye.
One of the smaller monitors was showing feeds from the security cameras around the ARC. The picture changed to a corridor before Connor could quite work out what he had seen, and he was sufficiently curious that he swapped the feed from automatic cycle to manual control, and flicked back to the armoury.
Even giving it his full attention, it took Connor a surprisingly long time to work out what he was looking at. Bloody hell! There were two soldiers having sex in the armoury. Eeeew! Also, that did not look comfortable, but then, Connor had to admit he had never actually had sex bent over a table so he probably wasn’t the best person to know how comfortable or not it was.
He was on the point of switching it off when the soldier who was standing up let go of the other one and stepped back. The one on the table didn’t move, and as Connor watched, the first soldier leaned down, appeared to speak to the other, and then stood up and obviously, deliberately, spat on him. He turned and walked out of shot. A few moments later the other soldier slowly slid off the table onto the floor, and stopped moving.
What the hell?
Connor’s hand hovered over his phone for a second, although he had no idea who he might call. He was pretty sure they weren’t supposed to be doing that and what if he got someone into trouble? But at the same time, the soldier still in view on the camera wasn’t moving, and though Connor couldn’t see his face from this angle, he had a horrible feeling it was Becker. From his occasional glances at the cycling images on the monitor he knew that Becker had been working in there for the last few hours.
Connor glanced around the atrium. No one appeared to be paying him or the monitors any attention. He came to a decision, and quickly skipped the armoury feed back by ten minutes. The view now showed Becker sitting there working, as he had been for most of the afternoon. Connor fast-forwarded through until he saw another soldier come in, watched them talk, and then fight, and then...
He had to get Ryan. Unless... what if Ryan knew about it? What if Ryan let his men do that to his slave? Connor didn’t believe that for one moment, but he wasn’t naive enough not to know that it went on in lots of places.
He glanced around again. Still no one paying any attention. This was wrong. This shouldn’t be happening. Or rather, it happened, past tense. Connor hit the fast-forward. He had no desire to watch the details. He saw the soldier walk out and slowed the image again. After a minute or two he saw Becker slowly drag himself to his knees, using the chair to support himself. Connor watched as Becker pulled his trousers back on, and stood up and started cleaning the stuff off the table. He finally saw Becker walk out of the armoury, moving like someone in a lot of pain.
Connor checked his watch against the time on the screen. It was now nearly ten minutes old.
He had to tell someone. Ryan. But more importantly he had to see if Becker was okay. Someone had to see if he was okay.
Connor saved the evidence while he quickly scanned through corridor camera images to find out where Becker was going. As soon as his destination became obvious, Connor locked his computer down, and headed off into the ARC as fast as he could. He ran into Abby just outside the atrium.
“Abby, great. I need you to do me a favour. Find Ryan. Tell him something’s happened.”
“Bit more specific?” Abby asked, looking confused.
“Just find him. Tell him something’s happened to Becker. Get him to meet us in the changing rooms.”
Connor raced off down the corridor. He intended to be the first to get to Becker.
Becker let the hot water pound down onto him, the steam billowing and filling the shower room. At least there hadn’t been any anomaly alerts or training drills, so there was little chance of anyone else wanting to use the showers at this time of day. He had the place to himself, although he knew he couldn’t stay here long. The thought of someone finding him and everyone in the ARC knowing about what had happened was a humiliation too far.
Fuck. What the hell was he going to tell Ryan? Was there any possibility he could get away with not telling him? Probably not. And Becker knew it would be much worse if he didn’t say anything and Ryan found out another way.
He should have known something like this was going to happen sooner or later. It had all been going too well. Ever since Ryan’s ‘easy way or the hard way’ talk, things had been steadily improving. He had to admit that Ryan had been right; as soon as Becker had stopped fighting against his position and resisting Ryan, their relationship had become a great deal easier and more relaxed. That wasn’t to say he was happy about it; that was never going to be the case. But Ryan wasn’t a monster, he was a fair master, and a decent man, and Becker even dared to suspect that if they had known each other under different circumstances they might have been friends.
But he had allowed himself to relax too much. He had become complacent. And now look what had happened.
Becker switched the shower off and wrapped a towel around his waist and headed out into the changing rooms, and almost ran straight into Connor. Connor whirled round, his eyes wide, looking even more jumpy and on edge than Becker himself.
Becker had to admit he actually liked Connor. In the three months since he had started to work at the ARC, Becker had gradually realised that Connor was quite possibly the only person in the whole building who barely even registered the fact that he wore a collar. Connor treated everyone to the same friendly and cheerful demeanour, no matter whether he was talking to Lester, Cutter, Ryan, the canteen ladies, the cleaning staff, or the ARC’s only resident soldier slave. Connor refused to answer to ‘Sir’, or even ‘Mr Temple’.
Connor was quite possibly the only person in Becker’s new world who he considered might be a friend.
That still didn’t mean he had any intention of letting the young man know what was going on.
“Connor? I’m sorry, were you waiting for the shower? I didn’t know you were here.”
“Becker! Are you okay?”
Becker tensed. What did Connor know? How had he found out? Had Roberts been bragging already? He wouldn’t put it past the bastard.
“I saw what happened in the armoury. On the security camera. I... I wanted to see if you were okay. Shouldn’t you have gone to the med bay?”
Security cameras? Christ, of course. But if Connor knew then who else did?
Becker ached all over. He hurt, and his throat felt like he had a golf ball in his windpipe every time he swallowed. He desperately wanted to get dressed, but that would mean dropping the towel in front of Connor, and right then it was about the only sliver of dignity he possessed. And he really did not want to have this conversation.
“Just forget it, it’s fine.”
“What? No, it’s not fine! People can’t just do that!”
“I think you’ll find they can.”
“Does Ryan know? Does Ryan let them do that?”
Becker couldn’t understand why Connor was so outraged.
Then Ryan walked in.
Oh, shit. Becker stood to attention as best he could considering he was wearing a towel and still dripping wet.
Ryan’s sharp gaze travelled from Becker to Connor, and then back to Becker again.
“What’s going on?”
No one spoke. Becker knew he had to say something, but he had no idea how to even start.
“I’ll ask again. What is going on here? Why have I just had a garbled message from Abby to find the two of you? Becker, you have ten seconds to start talking.”
“One of the soldiers attacked him,” Connor blurted.
Ryan’s gaze flickered to Connor for a second, and then back to Becker.
“Is this true?”
“And by ‘attacked’, what exactly do you mean?”
Connor opened his mouth, and then snapped it shut again. Becker swallowed, and forced himself to say it.
Ryan took a step closer. His expression gave nothing away, but suddenly there was a tension that had not been there a second ago.
“Tell me exactly what happened,” Ryan said. His voice was dangerously quiet, the words an unmistakeable order wrapped in a calm, reassuring tone.
“He came into the armoury and told me to give him a blow job, sir. I refused. He hit me and overpowered me, and then forced himself on me, sir.”
Becker felt curiously detached as the words rushed out. It was nothing more than a cold, clinical report. That was all Ryan wanted.
“Did you attempt to resist or fight back?”
“Yes sir, at first.”
“Did you hit him?”
Becker paused. Had he? He couldn’t remember.
“I don’t think so, sir.”
“Don’t think so isn’t good enough. Did you hit him or assault him in any way when you resisted?” Ryan stepped even closer until he was right in front of Becker, blocking his view of Connor. “This is important. Take your time, think. I need you to be certain.”
Becker nodded, and licked his dry lips. Had he? He clenched his fists, and it occurred to him that his knuckles were one of the few places on his body that didn’t hurt right then. No, he hadn’t fought back. There hadn’t been chance.
“No, sir, I didn’t hit him.”
“That’s all you’re worried about?” Connor suddenly burst out. “One of your men beat him up and... and raped him, and all you care about is whether he fought back?”
“Shut up, Connor,” Ryan snapped. “This is important because when I find the bastard who did this I need to know whether he’s going to make any legitimate counter allegations of a slave assaulting a free man. Do you understand that?”
“Yeah, oh.” Ryan ran a hand through his short hair. “Connor, can you give us a minute. In private. But don’t go far.”
Becker saw Connor backing away to the far side of the changing rooms. It wasn’t exactly ‘private’ unless they were going to converse in whispers, but he felt an unexpected rush of gratitude to his master for even that small bit of dignity.
Ryan indicated the bench.
“Sit down, before you fall down.”
Becker did as he was told, wincing at the movement. Ryan sat beside him, blocking Connor out again.
“Who was it?”
Ryan nodded, as if that news didn’t come as a surprise. “Why didn’t you come straight to me?”
“I’m sorry, sir, I just... wanted to get cleaned up. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Understandable,” Ryan nodded again. “If you’d come to me we could have dealt with this properly. Now you’ve washed all the evidence off it’s your word against his, and we both know how that’s going to go down.”
“With all due respect, sir, we could have all the evidence in the fucking world and there isn’t a court in the country that would hear the case.”
“Uh, guys,” Connor called in a tentative voice. “We do actually. Have evidence, I mean.”
Becker and Ryan both looked over at him and Becker realised he was waving something around. Ryan held his hand out, and Connor brought it over and placed a USB stick in Ryan’s outstretched palm.
“The security camera recording of the entire thing,” Connor supplied helpfully.
Ryan frowned briefly, and then pocketed the USB stick.
“Thank you, Connor. We’re going to have to talk later about exactly why and how you have this, but thank you.”
Becker was about to point out, yet again, that no matter what evidence they had, it wasn’t going to help when it came down to a slave against a free man, but at that moment there was a loud knock on the door.
“Is everything okay in there?” Abby’s voice came through the closed door.
“Shit,” Ryan muttered. He stood up. “Connor, does anyone else outside this room know about this?”
“Not from me, they don’t. Maybe if there’s one of your guys monitoring the security feeds they might have seen it, but apart from-”
“Yes, fine,” Ryan interrupted. “Do not say a word to anyone for the time being. I need to decide how to handle this, and the less people who know the better. I mean it, Connor. Not a word.”
“Connor? What’s going on?” Abby called again.
“Connor, can you get rid of her for now?” Ryan asked.
“Yeah. I, uh...” Connor glanced at Becker, looking worried.
Becker nodded at him. “It’s okay. And thanks, Connor.”
Connor nodded back, and then left, closing the door behind him to the sound of Abby demanding to know what was going on.
Ryan waited for him to go before he turned back to Becker. Where before his face had been a mask of professional calm, now there was more than a hint of concern.
“Becker, are you okay?”
Becker resisted the urge to resort to sarcasm, or tell him the truth.
“I’ll live, sir.”
“That wasn’t what I asked,” Ryan said softly.
Becker swallowed and winced again. What the hell was he supposed to say?
Ryan sighed and ran a hand through his hair again. “I’m not due to finish for another couple of hours, but I can get one of the lads to drive you home.”
Becker shook his head before he even realised that he was refusing an instruction from his master.
“Please, sir, no. Don’t take me off active duty. Don’t give them the excuse to think even less of me.”
Ryan seemed to be studying him.
Please don’t make me say it, Becker thought desperately. He didn’t want to admit that right then the only place he felt safe was with Ryan.
Ryan reached out and his fingers gently traced the swelling bruise on Becker’s forehead. His gaze dropped lower, and he frowned.
“Show me your neck.”
Becker lifted his chin and Ryan carefully moved the collar. Becker couldn’t stop the hiss of pain, and Ryan released the pressure immediately.
“Sorry, I had to check.”
Becker nodded. “He used the collar to throttle me, sir. It’s how he overpowered me.” It was also probably the reason why he hadn’t managed to fight back or land a blow himself, which at least meant he probably wasn’t going to be flogged as well as raped.
“Did he use a condom?”
“Yes, sir.” Becker knew that because Roberts had left it on the floor for him to clean up afterwards.
“That’s one less thing to worry about, at least. Are there any other injuries I need to know about?”
“Just a few new bruises, sir.”
Ryan studied him for another few seconds.
“All right. I hope I’m not going to find out later that that was a lie.”
Ryan went to his locker and passed Becker a bottle of water and a packet of painkillers. They were the really good ones, Becker noted, not just over the counter paracetamol.
Ryan watched while he got dried and dressed again, no doubt checking for obvious signs of damage. Becker knew he ought to be used to the scrutiny by now, but he couldn’t help wishing he could have just a little privacy every now and then. Especially right now.
Without warning, Connor came back.
“Right, I told Abby that Becker was sick, so that ought to keep people away for a while.” He looked from Ryan to Becker, and back to Ryan again. “So, now what?”
Becker wasn’t sure what surprised him the most – the fact that Connor seemed to think he needed to help, or the fact that he seemed to be quite so enthusiastic about it.
“Thanks, Connor, but I can deal with it,” Ryan said.
Connor pulled himself up to his full height. Ryan still loomed over him.
“Deal with it? Is that soldier speak for ‘nothing’s going to be done because he’s a slave so no one gives a shit’? Is that guy just going to get away with it?”
“No, he’s bloody not!” Ryan snapped, barely managing to quell his ‘give me strength’ expression. “But much as I’d like to, I can’t just go and beat the shit out of the bastard.”
“We’ve got evidence. We can charge him with assault or something.”
“I appreciate the thought, Connor, but that’s never going to happen, evidence or not,” Becker pointed out, yet again.
“We have to do something.”
Becker wasn’t entirely sure when ‘we’ had started to include Connor, but at that moment he saw Ryan’s expression change from annoyed to speculative.
“We will do something,” Ryan said. “Do you really want to help, Connor?”
“Then I need to ask you a favour.”
Ryan was waiting in the armoury when Roberts came in. The soldier had a remarkably calm and neutral expression considering he had been summoned here out of the gym and simply told to report to the armoury with no explanation.
“Roberts,” Ryan greeted him.
“Sir.” Roberts stood to attention.
“Corporal, I was wondering if you could help me with a little problem.” Ryan indicated the table where Becker had been working. The disassembled parts of the last handgun were neatly laid out on the table. “This gun appears to have been damaged. I was informed that you might be able to shed some light on how this happened.”
Roberts’ expression didn’t even flicker, but he wasn’t meeting Ryan’s gaze.
“I’m afraid I have no idea how that might have happened, sir. Perhaps you should ask Becker. I believe he was working with the guns earlier.”
“Yes, he was. He says it wasn’t him.”
“With all due respect, sir, he would say that if he thought he was going to be flogged for it. In my experience, sir, slaves can’t be trusted.”
“Oh? You have much experience with slaves, then?” Ryan inquired. He already knew the answer. He had done his homework on Roberts.
“We had several at my father’s factory, sir.”
Ryan nodded. “Well, the fact remains this gun has been damaged, and since the ARC is a government facility, that technically makes it government property. I’m sure you understand the consequences of wilful damage to ARC property, Corporal.”
Depending on the scale and nature of the damage, such a crime was punishable by enslavement. Of course, that was usually reserved for deliberate attacks on government buildings or equipment, not for mere negligence or accidental damage. But, spun the right way, a case could be made. Especially considering that people’s lives were at stake if the ARC weaponry wasn’t fully functioning in the field.
“Yes, sir. But I’m afraid I have no knowledge of how that gun became damaged, sir. And I believe Becker was the last person to take responsibility for the guns, sir.”
Ryan was almost impressed by the man’s poker face. He was significantly less impressed by the blatant way he was taking advantage of the system to lay the blame on Becker.
Ryan nodded. “Very well. I may have to look up the required punishment if Becker was responsible.”
“I believe a minimum of forty lashes is recommended, sir.”
Yes, Roberts would know that. And he apparently had absolutely no guilt or second thoughts about letting Becker take such a punishment for something that wasn’t his fault. Ryan had to force himself to take a breath to stay calm. Considering how unfortunately easy it was for practically anyone to become enslaved these days, Ryan could not understand the mentality of people who treated slaves as sub-humans.
“Forty is quite harsh. Rightly so, of course. But if that is the case I’d like to be sure it really was Becker. Maybe the security footage might throw some light on what happened.”
It was a barest flicker, but that got a reaction out of Roberts.
“Perhaps it was an accident, sir.”
Ryan let that hang in the air for a moment.
“Perhaps it was. Perhaps it was damaged in the field and Becker was interrupted before he got round to checking that one. Accidents do happen.”
Ryan made a point of looking around at the room.
“Right, well. I have a job for you, Roberts. I think the armoury could do with a good clean and tidy up, don’t you?” That was actually not the case at all. Becker was meticulous about cleaning up as he went along when he had been working in here, and Ryan knew it.
A look of distaste briefly flickered across Roberts’ face.
“With all due respect, sir, isn’t that a slave’s work?”
The man clearly didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut and his head down.
“Usually, yes. But it seems that Becker is not currently in a fit medical state for such work.”
“I wasn’t aware slaves got sick leave, sir.”
“No point running him into the ground unnecessarily. Especially not if there’s someone else to do the work.” He stared Roberts down for several seconds. “What are you waiting for, Corporal? I gave you a job to do.”
Roberts moved to the table and reached for the gun parts. Ryan stepped close behind him and slung an arm around Roberts’ neck.
“Just so you understand, Corporal, the gun may be ARC property, but Becker is mine. And I don’t like it when people mistreat what’s mine.”
Roberts tensed. “I don’t know what you me-”
Ryan’s forearm tightened across Roberts’ throat, not enough to choke him, but enough to be uncomfortable. He leaned close enough that his mouth was right beside Roberts’ ear.
“Let me put it in words you understand, then, Corporal. If you harm Becker again, if you touch him, if he is ever blamed for something that can in any way be traced back to you, I will do everything in my power to ensure that you find yourself with a nice new item of neckwear. Is that clear enough for you?”
Ryan let go and stepped back.
“I’m glad we understand each other.” He turned and walked to the door, but stopped before he got there. “Oh, and Roberts? In case you were thinking of making a complaint, of perhaps accusing me of assault, I think you’ll find that the security cameras have been experiencing some minor technical difficulties. Which I believe would make it my word against yours. I’m sure you appreciate how that works.”
Ryan walked out and closed the door without waiting for a response.
He headed back to his office, where he found Connor and Becker sitting together in front of a laptop. Connor was working his technical wizardry while Becker watched over his shoulder. Becker stood up as soon as Ryan walked in, but Ryan waved him back down.
“That was cool,” Connor grinned. “The look on his face was priceless.”
Ryan ignored that. “Have you done what I asked?”
“Yep. If anyone looks at the security footage for the armoury for the last ten minutes, there was an unexplained power surge that seems to have caused the camera to shut down temporarily.”
“Thank you, Connor.” He meant it. Connor might be undisciplined, unprofessional, and largely incapable of knowing when to keep his mouth shut, but his heart was in the right place, and Ryan had been both surprised and impressed with the way he had stood up for Becker today.
“No problem. You’ve still got the other...” Connor threw a slightly guilty look at Becker. “You know, the other... thing, haven’t you?”
Ryan resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Yes, I have the USB stick. I’ll be putting it somewhere safe in case we ever need it, although I hope that won’t be necessary.”
“Okay. Cool. Well, not cool, obviously, because hopefully we won’t need it and this’ll be an end to it all now you’ve warned him off an-”
“Connor! You’re babbling.” He might be grateful to the lad, but there was only so much of Connor that Ryan could cope with in a day.
“You should probably go before people start wondering where you are,” Ryan prompted.
Connor, surprisingly, got the hint, and picked up his laptop. Becker caught his arm before he could leave.
“Thank you, Connor. For everything today.”
“It’s okay. If you guys need my help again, you know where I am.”
Ryan gave Connor a pat on the shoulder on his way out. Then he turned to Becker.
“Right, I reckon it’s home time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t be bothered cooking tonight. Fancy fish and chips?”
It turned out that Ryan had, in effect, given Becker the night off. Ryan had bought fish and chips on the way home, so Becker was saved the job of cooking and cleaning up. Then, after dinner, Ryan had insisted that Becker take a bath, after which Ryan checked and treated every single bruise and scrape that Becker had sustained that afternoon, including a thorough but surprisingly gentle examination of rather more intimate areas.
It was easy for Becker to convince himself that Ryan was merely taking care of his property; an unhealthy slave was no use to anyone, after all. But occasionally he caught an expression on Ryan’s normally calm and impassive face that he couldn’t quite fathom. He wanted to call it protective, but Becker knew he couldn’t afford to misread anything from his master. That way lay dangerous territory, and the potential for a lot of trouble. Not to mention a lot of pain.
Even considering the apparent care with which Ryan had treated him that evening, it had still come as a complete surprise to Becker when Ryan had told him he could sleep in his own room that night. Becker had a small room in Ryan’s house where he kept his clothes and what few personal possessions he still owned, but he spent most nights sharing Ryan’s bed, performing rather more personal duties for his master. But not tonight, apparently.
As he lay there, waiting for the latest lot of painkillers to kick in, Becker’s mind wandered. Part of his brain kept insisting that what had happened today was no different to what happened nearly every night, it was just a different cock shoved up his unwilling arse. And yet he knew on some level it was different. What Roberts had done made him feel sick in a way that he hadn’t felt since... since the first time Ryan had fucked him. The first time he had properly realised that Ryan could do anything that he liked to him, and Becker was powerless to stop him.
Becker frowned. At what point had he stopped hating it? At what point had he accepted it? Shit, even the fact that he had accepted Ryan fucking him to be normal was a genuine surprise, but it was true. A few months ago that had been unthinkable. A few months ago he had been determined that he was never, ever going to let himself get used to being a slave. He was going to fight it with everything he possibly could, no matter what the punishment.
Fuck, he’d been a complete idiot back then. And while he was still clinging to some vestiges of pride, he had got used to his position with Ryan, and he had gradually come to realise that acceptance and trust had gained him far more genuine respect and independence than resistance ever had.
Today had reminded him just how powerless he really was. Roberts may have been dealt with, but there were plenty more people like him out there who had no qualms about taking advantage of a slave in any way they wanted. Independence was an illusion if he had no means to back it up. But today had also shown Becker that he did have people willing to support and protect him. Ryan, and, for reasons that he still couldn’t quite work out, Connor, had come to his rescue when he needed it. Whether he liked it or not, he needed to trust them completely. He needed them, full stop.
Before he had time to think too hard about what he was doing, Becker got up and stripped out of the t-shirt and jogging bottoms he was wearing. Naked save for his collar, he walked across to Ryan’s room and knocked on the door. There was a brief pause, and then Ryan said, “Come in.”
The room was dimly lit by a bedside lamp and Ryan was sitting in bed with a book, and what could only be described as a slightly puzzled expression. Becker closed the door behind him, went over to the bed, and dropped to his knees and bowed his head.
“I wanted to thank you, Master.”
There was a slight pause.
“You’re welcome. But you know it’s my responsibility to protect and take care of you.”
“I know that. I just...” Wasn’t expecting it.
Ryan tucked a finger under his chin and tugged, prompting Becker to lift his head and actually look at Ryan.
“Is there something that you want, Becker?”
Becker’s eyes flickered to where Ryan’s cock was currently hidden under the duvet, and then back to his face again.
“I thought you might want me to see to your needs, Master.”
Ryan actually looked surprised at that.
“I thought you understood that wouldn’t be necessary, under the circumstances?”
Becker nodded. “No, I know, and I don’t mean like that. But there are other ways.”
Ryan studied him for several seconds, and Becker began to feel increasingly uncomfortable. Had he made a mistake? Was this going to backfire horribly?
Then Ryan pulled the duvet aside and indicated the space in the bed beside him.
Becker moved round the bed and lay on his side next to Ryan, wincing slightly at the movement. He glanced at Ryan for confirmation, and then he trailed his fingers along the length of Ryan’s cock, watching it harden under his touch.
Strangely, he had never done this for his master before. It was normally a blow job or getting fucked, both of which he found equally distasteful most of the time. He increased the pressure, and heard Ryan’s breathing hitch. Becker repeated the action, his entire attention focussed on finding ways to get Ryan to make that little sound again. His fingertips brushed the tip of Ryan’s cock, smearing moisture as he stroked back down to his balls.
“Too slow,” Ryan growled.
Becker risked a quick look at Ryan’s face, but he was watching Becker’s hand on his cock, his glazed eyes suggesting he was already further gone than his words implied.
Becker obeyed, wrapping his hand around and squeezing harder as his movements began to accelerate. He knew there was a fine line that he had no intention of crossing into too fast, too hard. There was more riding on this than simply his master’s pleasure, and he couldn’t afford to make a mistake. Not now. He heard Ryan’s stifled gasp, felt him tensing, and Becker added an extra twist and suddenly Ryan was coming all over his hand and across his own chest. Becker continued to stroke him through his orgasm, drawing a quiet moan from Ryan that he was pretty certain Ryan hadn’t intended to make.
Becker bit back another wince when he leaned across Ryan to grab the box of tissues. Ryan lay still, watching him as he carefully cleaned up the mess. Becker sensed the questions that Ryan wanted to ask, but Ryan remained silent while Becker worked.
He was about to slip out of bed and go when Ryan caught his wrist and tugged him back. He let go, only to reach down and touch Becker’s cock. Becker flinched back, barely controlling the instinct to push his master away. Apparently he didn’t have to, though. Ryan let go and pulled back immediately.
“Sorry. That was stupid,” Ryan muttered.
Becker forced himself back under control.
“I’m sorry, Master. I shouldn’t have-”
“No. I shouldn’t have.” Ryan hesitated, and in the half dark of the room Becker couldn’t read his expression. “Go on. Go back to your room. Get some sleep.”
Becker didn’t wait for Ryan to change his mind. He could feel Ryan watching him all the way out of the room, and even fancied he could still feel his gaze after the door had closed.
He shut himself in his room and leaned against the door for a moment, his heart racing.
Becker had no idea what the hell had just happened, and that scared him far more than any predator like Roberts.