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Rhys has been walking through the badlands for what feels like an eternity when he first notices the shack.

At first, he doesn’t think it’s real. Must be a trick of the light or deadly mirage; because who in their right mind would live out here? Not even bandits are that crazy— or at least, he hopes they aren’t, but he’s so dehydrated and bone-tired that it’s hard to care exactly who might be inside, as long as they have water.

Better to be shot in the head than die of thirst, he tells himself as he limps towards the shack, gotta look on the bright side.

It’s not as comforting of a thought as he’d hoped, but what other choice does he have? The caravan isn’t coming back for him. Vaughn and the girls are dead, or they’ve abandoned him; cut him out of the deal like deadweight. Yvette won’t answer his calls; either Vasquez has her locked down, or she’s turned on him too.

(Jack is nowhere to be seen, but that isn’t too surprising. Possibly, he never even existed, and Rhys simply fell prey to some kind of stress-induced hallucination; Pandora having finally pushed him off the edge. That too would not surprise him much.)

The shack is a mess of corrugated tin and bug-eaten wood, constructed as if built in a mad-rush, and Rhys half-expects it to break apart as he knocks on the door. That, or vanish into thin air just like Jack did.

“Is anyone there?” he croaks, the rusty sun-baked door burning his knuckles as he hammers on it. “Anyone? Please, I need help, I’m lost and—”

He doesn’t hear the footsteps, only the quick sound of the door being unlocked, the scream of metal as it’s pulled open and then his own wordless scream. Standing in the doorway is Handsome Jack, his face uncovered and twisted into a terrible death mask; a crude vault symbol literally burnt into his skin, his green eye transformed to a cloudy white beneath it.

Rhys stumbles backwards, but Jack is faster. He grabs a handful of Rhys’ vest and yanks him inside; slamming him hard enough against the wall to knock the wind out of his lungs. A cloud of blue static bursts in his brain, the world reduced to a blur of harsh colors around him. Rhys can feel the cool tip of a gun pressed into his jaw, can hear Jack snarling out something that sounds a lot like who the fuck sent you? but the details are painfully hard to grasp in his shell-shock.

Not again. This can’t be fucking happening again.

“Again?” Jack hisses, and Rhys realizes he’s said the last part out loud. “What the hell are you talking about again? Who are you?”

“How’re you…” Too stunned and exhausted to be properly scared, Rhys grabs Jack forearm, frowning when it doesn’t immediately clip through his hands. “You’re dead. You’re fucking… how are you here again, Jack?”

“I’m. Not. Jack,” he says in what is very definitely Jack’s voice— only softer, rough with disuse. He looks a little disarmed by his panic, but with his gun in Rhys’ face it’s hard to claim much of an upper hand. “Not anymore. When are you people going to fucking get it? Jack’s dead. My contract’s up.”

“What contract?”

“What do you think?” Not-Jack waves a hand over his mangled face, rolling his good eye. “I was a body double.”

“….Oh.” Rhys releases a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Y-yeah that, uh, makes sense.”

Being Handsome Jack’s body double was a position half of Hyperion would’ve killed for— lord knows Rhys had considered it a few times— but with the way not-Jack spits out the words, it may as well have been janitorial duty.

“So now that that’s out of the way, let’s try this again.” The body double adjusts his grip on his gun and Rhys still, his guts suddenly feeling like they’re jammed way too tight inside his stomach. “What the fuck are you doing here?

He drags the barrel of his gun down Rhys’ throat and over his ribcage, settling hard on the Hyperion logo stitched onto his vest. Rhys wonders if he can feel the heartbeat beneath, more rabbit-like than human in his fear. “Maybe you didn’t hear what I did to the last Hyperion assholes who came down here?”

Somehow, Rhys must’ve missed that particular water-cooler story, but it’s not hard to fill in the blanks.

“I’m not Hyperion,” he squeaks. “N-not anymore. I, uh,… look, this’s really embarrassing but I got scammed out of a vault key by some Pandoran con-artists and now my asshole boss wants me dead and my ride got ripped in half and I nearly died of heat-stroke just walking here. B-But I didn’t know you’d be out here, I swear. It’s just been…. a very bad day, okay?”

It’s just a temporary setback, of course, but Jack’s deranged body double doesn’t need to know that. To Rhys’ surprise, he just nods along, the sighs, like this explains everything.

“There’s always a vault, huh?” He gives him a lopsided smile, the scarred flesh twisting around his lips, and Rhys tries his best not to let his terror show. “Well, welcome to Pandora, kid. It’s the worst.”

“T-thanks, Jack.”

“Yeah, don’t call me that. It’s just Timothy nowadays.”

“Rhys… pleasure to meet you?” He doesn’t realize Timothy is the only thing keeping him upright until he’s let go of his collar, and Rhys’ legs are sliding uselessly out from under him into a puddle on the floor.

He hits the ground hard, his knees aching in protest, head swimming. He closes his eyes, fighting against the sudden nausea, his stomach clenching into a tight knot. In the background, he can hear Timothy pacing the room, rifling through his belongings, and then he’s back beside him, holding a bottle up to Rhys’ lips. The water hurts to go down, but once he’s started he can’t stop, overcome by an unquenchable first, swallowing so fast and quick his throat aches, threatening to burst.

“Hey, take it slow. Don’t hurt yourself,” says Timothy. It’s as if his mood has done a complete 180; gone from trigger-happy loner to good Samaritan in a matter of seconds. Even his face doesn’t look nearly as scary as it did before, as torn and disfigured as it is. Not even a scar like that could make Jack look ugly, the lucky bastard.

“Thanks. F-for not killing me… and now for saving my life.” Rhys still has no idea where he stands with Timothy, not really, but as long as there isn’t a gun in his face, he decides, he’ll take this as a win. “ Guess I owe you twice now.”

“Yeah, don’t get used to that. Knock on the wrong door down here and you’ll be shot and stripped for parts before you can even blink, and that’s the best case scenario. They’re nothing if not creative, Pandorans.”

“So then why are you here? ‘Cos I kinda get the feeling the locals aren't big fans of Hyperion.”

“Yeah, no shit.” Timothy’s smile thins out. “Believe me, Pandora wasn’t my first choice but I had to get off Helios. Jack just kept on pushing the Crimson Raiders. Thought he was untouchable. He might’ve forgot what they were capable of, but I didn’t.” He raises a finger to his deadened eyeball, and Rhys looks down at his feet. “Wasn’t going to let Jack take me down with him.”

“And Jack just… let you go?”

“Nope. Bastard shot down my shuttle pretty much straight away. I was half-dead when I crash landed down here but jokes on him now, huh?” Timothy laughs, but it’s pure reflex, devoid of sincerity. Rhys can imagine him standing in front of a mirror back on Helios, practicing over and over until Jack’s laughter was his own. He would’ve been a good body double, he can tell that much. Wouldn’t ever have been able to tell the difference if he didn’t want you to.

“—After a while, I just gave up trying to leave. I mean, it’s karma, right? I helped Jack tear this planet a new one, and now I get to die here. I’ve made my peace with it.”

Rhys nods, but he’s not really listening anymore. The adrenaline from his near-death experience has worn off, stealing all of his energy away with it. His brains feel inexplicably swollen, pushing up against his skull, crushing out any coherent thoughts. He wants to sleep for at least five years, maybe more.

Thankfully, Jack’s body double is light years more sympathetic than the real thing, or at the very least averse to having him die in his doorway. He helps Rhys up to his feet and leads him through the room, depositing him gently on a torn-up couch in the corner.

“Should probably try and rest. You’re not looking too good.”

“Thanks,” mumbles Rhys, “won’t be too long. Just going to close my eyes for a sec, okay?”

“Sure.” Timothy smooths back his hair from his damp forehead, fixing him with a smile that’s so out of place on Handsome Jack’s face it would’ve made his skin crawl if he wasn’t already half-unconscious with exhaustion. “Take as long as you need.”

 

*

 

When Rhys opens his eyes again there’s no telling how long he’s been asleep for.

It’s dark in the shack, save for the strands of sunlight streaming in through the cracks; suffocatingly warm. Summoning his ECHO Interface, he tries calling Vaughn and Yvette again, without success. Looks like he’s going to have to convince Timothy to take him to Old Haven somehow— assuming he even has a car. It doesn’t look like the guy leaves the house much, to be honest. The place is cluttered with dirty dishes and an alarming amount of guns, mostly Hyperion-brand; dutifully polished and very likely fully loaded.

Who was the better shot, he wonders, Jack or his body double? Probably the one who’s still alive.

From the back of the shack he can hear Timothy snoring, occasionally breaking off to murmur something in his sleep. There’s no way to say exactly what possesses him to get up and follow the sound; maybe some curious itch in the back of his brain, or a desperate need to know if he’s still real. That he hasn’t abandoned him like everybody else.

Whatever it is, it brings him to the foot of what could generously be described as Timothy’s bed, and Rhys squints down at him with a strictly scientific curiosity. His body is thin, but underlined with muscle; covered in a dizzying array of scars, some old, some fresh.

It’s more than a little breathtaking being so close to someone who looks so much like Jack, and his chest tightens with awe, like he’s in the presence of a god. Rhys can feel all the old feelings he’s tried so hard to bury bubbling up to the surface, threatening to overtake him.

He still looks so much like Jack. How is that possible?

And that’s when Rhys goes and ruins it all by touching him.

Later, he’ll curse himself for being so reckless, so unbelievably stupid, but for now he’s galvanized by an almost hypnotic fixation, utterly uncomprehending of the danger involved. His breath stuck in his throat, he traces the alien-blue vault symbol across Timothy’s face, as if tracing the waypoints of an ancient map, divulging the hidden secrets beneath.

He’s so enraptured by the sight that he doesn’t even realise Timothy’s eyes are open until he feels his hand grab his wrist, tearing it away from his face, and then all he can do is just stand there; frozen in the realization of his own unbelievable stupidity and quite-possible incoming murder.

“Sorry,” he whispers, “this, uh… it isn’t what it looks like.”

I just had to make sure you were real, he tries to say, but his throat closes around the words. He’s seen the way Timothy’s staring at him before— there’s the same glint in his eyes that Jack’s AI had as it swiped at his throat, cornered and hungry for blood.

Timothy’s going to kill him.

He digs his heels into the ground, pulls away, but Timothy yanks him forward and he collapses over the mattress, sprawling over him like spillage. He tries to get up, but Timothy cups his face with calloused palms, holding him fixed in place (he’s so strong; was Jack this strong too?) as he leans forwards to meet him, his lips surprisingly soft against his, a sharp contract to the jagged edges of his scar that rub against Rhys’ jaw as he kisses him.

Oh. Oh.

The room is suddenly unbearably hot, searing all rational thought from his brain. This isn’t happening. It can’t be happening. He must still be asleep, absorbed in a particularly lucid wet dream.

It’s not like Rhys hasn’t imagined nearly this exact scenario thousands of times: pictured in great detail the weight of Jack’s hands as they palm his stomach over his shirt, and then under it, the almost animal-like way he strips him out of his clothes, like they’re running out of time. This is all a dream, it must be. That’s the only explanation.

“Is this for real?” he asks, a hysterical edge to his voice. Timothy just hums against his shoulder in response, mouth wet against his neck.

The warm air is unbearable on Rhys’ naked skin, closing in like an inferno as Timothy settles beneath him, his hipbones sharp against Rhys’s knees. He’s quick to press two fingers inside of him, quicker still in the way he works him open with brutal efficiency.

There’s an ache to it, but Rhys is far too gone to care and he fucks himself on Timothy’s fingers greedily, his thighs tensed and shaking with the effort of it all. He’s so wound up that he almost cries in relief when Timothy finally reaches for his own cock; pulling down his underwear just far enough as is necessary, like an afterthought, like he expects things to be over sooner rather than later.

(That thought alone should kill the mood, should have Rhys reconsidering everything that has lead him to this point, but it doesn’t.

It doesn’t because that’s exactly what the real Jack would do; fuck him fast and rough; hold him down and use him for his own pleasure without a single care for what Rhys feels. At least, that’s what he does in his dreams.)

He sinks down onto Timothy’s cock with a long hiss. The burn is immediate and intense, but it’s a good burn, tempering his excitement; his cock red and flushed against his stomach as he begins to move. He has to squirm a bit to find the right angle, unsure and out of practice but when he finally gets it right he’s rewarded with a burst of warmth in his chest that has him throwing back his head, nails clawing red lines into Timothy’s chest, stroking his cock in rough counterpoint to the desperate roll of his hips.

“Oh, god, that’s good, that’s so, so good.”

Timothy doesn’t reply. Turns out Jack’s doppelgänger doesn’t share his love of hearing himself speaking. His eyes are closed, the snap of his hips jerky, automatic, as if moving in a dream. Is Timothy also imagining he’s with someone else, someone from a past life he left behind, or is he content with the anonymity; the warm, willing body that’s crawled into his bed?

It’s not like Rhys has much room to judge. He’s fucking a stranger with his dead boss’ mangled face attached to it. At least they both know what this is.

With that realization, it’s inevitable that his thoughts drift fully to Jack; to the fantasy of him he’s created, the one that’s seen him through so many cut-throat days up on Helios.

In it, he’s Jack’s personal assistant. Not a very good one, given the way Jack keeps threatening to airlock him every time he makes his coffee wrong, but he must be doing something right because Jack can’t keep his hands off of him, either. Keeping making him strip naked and sit on his lap while he argues with R&D over the ECHOnet, slapping him each time he makes an involuntary sound, until Jack just loses patience and shoves him over the desk, fucking him so hard the whole of Helios can hear it; hear him whine and sob and beg for it, even as Jack’s hand closes around his throat.

He can hear Jack’s voice, pitch-perfect in his head; god, you really are something, you know that? No one else around here would let me do half the shit you do. That’s why you’re my favourite, Rhysie, now stay nice and open for me, okay? Show daddy how much you want it, Rhys, Rhys buddy, what the hell are you doing?

Somehow, the last part sounds like it’s coming from both inside and outside his head; heavy as thunder, threatening to split his head in two. Almost as if…

No, no, it can’t be. It can’t fucking be. Not now.

“Oh my g— are you fucking kidding me? I’m offline for two minutes and this’s how you’re passing the time?”

No, there’s no way he imagined that.

The world goes underwater-slow as Rhys turns to follow the sound; coming to stare straight at the very pissed-off hologram of Handsome Jack, cradling his head in his hands.

“I mean, I knew you were in love with me, that’s to be expected, but this? Seriously? You’re dreaming of prime rib and fucking leftover Skag-meat here, kiddo. The hell is wrong with you?”

Rhys swallows around the lump building in his throat. It’s not a bad question.

“And him.” Jack turns his glare on Timothy, narrowing on his guileless expression. “So he’s just walking around looking like that now? Where the hell is his mask, huh?”

He rounds back on Rhys, smile demented. “Well that’s too bad for you, kid, because now that you’ve seen it I really am going to have to kill you. So sorry about that. Couldn’t keep it in your pants for five minutes, now you gotta die. How’s it feel? You feel good about that?”

For lack of a better option, Rhys chooses simply to stare down at Timothy’s chest, watching the way it rises and falls with each thrust; still so traitorously good inside him. As if by ignoring Jack he’ll simply give up and disappear.

“You’re not trying to ignore me, are you? That’d be funny, yeah, seeing as I’m in your freaking head, you idiot.” Damnit, there goes that plan. Rhys has no choice now but to give Jack his full attention, his pace all but slowing to a crawl as he locks eyes with him, transfixed in terror. “But go ahead, don’t listen to me. Won’t have to kill you if he,” Jack glowers at Timothy, “murders us both first.”

Rhys lets out a shocked gasp that Timothy must mistake for pleasure; or else he doesn’t care because he’s picking up from where Rhys left off now; his hands around his wrists, thrusting up into him hard, the angle deep and rough, and fuckfuckgodfuck it’s good, it’s really good, no matter how disgusted Jack looks at him, no matter how badly he wills his cock to stop twitching; a godawful amount of precome streaking down his stomach.

“Oh, yeah, so, that guy who’s currently balls-deep inside you? The one who looks like a low-rent version of me?” Jack’s sneer break into an uneven smile, his eyes shrinking down to digital-blue slits. “Yeah, he’s a real killer, kiddo. Single-handedly halved Elpis’ population just for looking at him funny. Loved every second of it, too, no matter what sob story he gave you. No surprised he’s hiding out on Pandora, really, he’s just another bandit.”

Jack settles against the wall, arms crossed, eyes fixed mid-distance. Looking anywhere but Rhys now. “He’s also not my biggest fan— no idea why— but how d’you think he’s gonna feel when he finds out you’re carrying me around in your walnut-sized brain? Did you think about that, Rhysie? Like, at all? Did ya?”

Rhys opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out. His tongue is too heavy, his throat constricted. Even if he could speak, what would he say? What magic combination of words is going to get him out of this situation? There’s nothing. He’s done for. He’s fucking done for.

Beneath him Timothy gasps, completely oblivious to the mounting tension around him. His eyes are closed, mouth curved into a tight oh, scar pulled into two tight lines running down his face. It’s far too debased, far too open in contrast to Jack’s cool rage. He wants to believe that Jack is lying; that Timothy is harmless, but the constellation of scars across his chest tells another story.

Oh, fuck, what have I done?

“So if you wanna bounce on his cock and pretend it’s mine, sure, whatever,” says Jack, shrugging as if he really couldn’t give a shit. “Just don’t come crying to me when he’s coming in your corpse.”

Shut up.” The spell breaks at the worst time; Rhys speaking without meaning too, instantly regretting it. Jack opens his mouth, but he’s interrupted by Timothy; his eyes snapping open as if stunned awake, propping himself up on shaking elbows.

“I didn’t say anything?”

“…N-not you.” Shit, shit, shit, this is bad. This is really fucking bad. “Uh, I mean… sorry, I was… talking to myself?”

“Nice one,” snickers Jack. The bastard sounds like he’s enjoying this too, despite both their lives being in very immediate danger.

There’s nothing Rhys can do to possibly explain this; not without getting himself killed, or worse (and there’s always a worse down here, he’s learnt that much already.) The only choice is to get the hell out of here as fast as he can, and he sets about doing just that, scrambling off of Timothy as fast as he can without hurting either of them. What he forgets is that Timothy has him by the wrists, and instead of letting go he just tightens his grip, keeping him trapped on the bed with him.

Oh god, thinks Rhys, not you too.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” Timothy’s voice is a sharp contrast to Jack’s; gentle and soothing, as if tending to a small child. “What’s wrong? You’re freaking me out.”

“I—”

Rhys has no excuse planned, but it turns out not to matter. He feels his cybernetic arm stir in its socket, looks down to see it jerking to life, ripping itself out of Timothy’s grip and wrapping itself around his throat in one blurred go.

“Oh, so, the reason I was all MIA back there? I was figuring out how to do this.” Beside him, Jack is clawing at empty air, his teeth bared, a vicious glint in his eyes. He tightens his grip and Rhys’ cybernetic obeys; its fingers clamping down on Timothy’s windpipe, cutting his breath off into a wet gurgle. “Yeah, that’s right, bitch. Take it. C’mon, just let it happen.”

“Jack, stop it,” Rhys screams, trying desperately to pry his cybernetic fingers off of Timothy’s throat. “Please, d-d-dont do this, you have to stop. Fucking stop it, Jack.”

(It’s useless, he knows that. No one has ever successfully talked Handsome Jack out of anything. In fact, the begging is probably making things worse, egging him on, but it’s not like he can do much else now that Jack has turned his own body against him.)

Absurdly, Timothy looks like he’s taking things a hell of a lot better than Rhys is; even as his face begins to purple, his muscles clenching into a tight coil. He takes one desperate, wheezing gasp for air and then goes kind of… flat, dead behind the eyes; mentally checked out as he slams his palm into Rhys’ elbow, shocking the grip loose.

Jack snarls, but he must be just as surprised as Rhys is because it takes him a second to recover and by that time Timothy has shifted out from beneath Rhys and thrown him down onto the mattress with ease; following it up with a fist to his gut, hard enough to make his eyes water. Yeah, he’s definitely done that before.

They’re chest-to-chest now, Timothy’s face hovering inches above his as he pins his cybernetic arm to the mattress, Rhys has no doubt that he could wrench it from its socket if he really wanted to. He smiles down at Rhys, eyes empty, scar twisted to hell.

“What the hell are you trying to do?” He says and he sounds amused, as if Rhys just told a bad joke instead of trying to strangle him to death mid-sex. Just like Jack would react, a small voice in Rhys’ head tells him, he’s too powerful to feel real fear anymore. “You’ve been on Pandora for too long, kid.”

Dimly, Rhys wonders if Timothy isn’t a clone at all; if he’s been the real Handsome Jack all along, and the AI fuming by his side is just a weak facsimile. He closes his eyes, goes limp. Hopes that Timothy really isn’t Handsome Jack; that he’s capable of mercy. That he’ll kill him quick and relatively painlessly.

He yelps when he feels the knee between his legs, tries to curl up into himself but Timothy kicks them open and shoves back into him. He fucks him hard, with none of his previous care; each punishing thrust setting Rhys’ senses alight. Now, he’s hyper-aware of the scratch of the mattress against his back, the blood rushing in his head, and the way Timothy’s skin drags against him, slippery with sweat, his cock trapped against the heat of his stomach.

No, no, no, this can’t be happening. Why is this happening? If he thought Jack watching him fuck his body double was humiliating, this is ten times worse.

Jack was right, he thinks, there’s something wrong with me. Something really, really wrong.

“So, you’re no Hyperion assassin. No offense, kid, but that grip was terrible.” From somewhere behind him, Jack makes a noise halfway between a scoff and a growl, but Rhys barely hears him. All he can focus on is Timothy, the way his good eye shines bright and wild in the dark.

The interrogation apparently doesn’t warrant any pause, and Rhys stifles a gasp as Timothy’s cock drags against that spot, his vision wavering. “I’m gonna say that you’re just some weirdo come looking for Jack. Wouldn’t be the first. Let me guess— he ruined your life, and now you want payback?”

“No, n—” The words dissolve in a retch as Timothy shoves his fingers into his mouth, muffling the not yet. There’s a vague smile on his face, his gaze fogged over, as if he’s trying to remember something, the thought just out of reach.

“Most of the time, they just try and kill me before I can even tell them I’m just the body double, but some— some try and fuck me. And sometimes I let them. I mean, hell, why not? They’re the only people down here who look at me like I’m not a complete monster. The only people who are ever going to look at me like that, thanks to Handsome fucking Jack.”

“Oh, come on.” Jack snaps, pacing back into view. “Is this hell? Am I in hell right now? Sure feels like it.”

For once, Rhys isn’t inclined to disagree. There’s a giddy emptiness expanding in his gut; the same as when he’d noticed Henderson’s swollen corpse floating outside Vasquez’s window; bringing with it the knowledge that he’s put something into motion he can’t stop without fully knowing what he’s dealing with.

Only, this time, caught between two Jacks in the middle of nowhere, he doesn’t have a clue how to play the situation to his advantage; how to flip it on its head, come out on top. This time, he’s truly powerless.

“Stupid me,” continues Timothy, snapping Rhys back into focus with a particularly cruel snap of his hips, “I actually thought you were different. When you said you got lost, I believed you. Bought the whole fake vault-key story hook, line and sinker. Never even dreamed you were just playing dumb so you could murder me in my sleep.”

Rhys shakes his head. “Jack made me do it,” he slurs around Timothy’s fingers. It’s almost sickening just how relieving it feels to finally tell someone, even like this. “He’s an AI I downloaded into my head. It wasn’t my idea, I promise.”

Jack shoots him a murderous look, but Timothy just laughs and shrugs. “That’s a new one. Could be true for all I know.” He sighs, pushes his fingers deeper into Rhys’ mouth, making him gag and drool around them. “You know, I shot the last guy who tried something like this, and he made this face like he was thanking me. Like he deserved it. What the fuck is up with you Hyperion, huh?”

“Oh, that’s rich,” says Jack. Somehow, he sounds more bored than angry now, his limited attention span reaching its limits. “Hey, what’s the over-under that psycho-boy over here is gonna strangle you to death after he blows his load in you? Kid looks a little unhinged is all I’m saying.” He sighs, blowing imaginary hair out of his face. “My second shot at life, and you just have to go and fuck it all up, don’t you?”

“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” Rhys says, not caring if Timothy can hear him. What does it matter? He’s going to die anyway.

“God, y’know, I think I’m actually going to enjoy watching him rip your lungs out. It’s what you deserve, you stupid little—”

“Are you talking to him?” Timothy interrupts, his tone casual, almost indulgent; like he’s doing Rhys a favor by playing along with his madness. Rhys nods as best he can with Timothy’s fingers jammed between his teeth, and Timothy follows his eye-line, staring right through Jack as he speaks.

“Well, you tell that piece of shit that I’m glad he’s dead and I’m only sad I didn’t shoot him first.”

Jack smiles down at him, but there’s no anger left in it; only cold, dead intent. “Oh,” he says, “that’s nice, that’s real cute.”

He glances down at Rhys, and then back at Timothy, jaw twitching. “Hey, y’know what, Rhys? You tell this moron that as soon as I find a new body I’m going to come straight back down to this shithole he calls a home, tear his balls off, and feed them to him. Hey, go on. Tell him. Say it, Rhys. Say. It.”

“P-p-please.” Rhys’ gaze snaps between the two of them, his heart pounding in his chest. It’s hard to tell which Jack he finds scarier now— the one in his head, or the one with his cock inside him. “Please, don’t kill me. I’m sorry, I fucked this up, I’m really—”

“What?” Timothy raises an eyebrow. “I’m not going to go kill you.”

“I am,” mutters Jack in the background, but all Rhys can focus on now is the way Timothy moves to cup his face, his thumbs rubbing away the tears that Rhys didn’t even know were there as he kisses him; stealing his breath as he sucks on his tongue, panting hot and slick against him.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay. I forgive you. It’s not your fault you’re crazy.” Rhys shivers as Timothy runs his teeth along his jawline, mouthing at the spot behind his ear that has his gut flexing painfully. He sounds even more like Jack now, and his eyes are flat, almost reptilian when he pulls away. “This’s a dream come true for you, right? You just got carried away.”

Rhys nods. There’s no point using words; both Jack’s seem to know what he’s thinking even better than he does. He can feel his body fragmenting; one half rendered immobile under layers of terror, the rest of him horribly reactive; a hot spiral of arousal twisting through his gut, sharp as a knife, shredding his defences.

Fuck, it’s this fucking planet. There must be something wrong with the air down here, or else he’s horribly concussed, because he’s still into this. Has to bite back his moans as Timothy grounds into him, hiding his face into the crook of his arm so neither him nor Jack can see the way his face flushes, his thighs trembling and slippery around Timothy’s waist, pulling him deeper and deeper.

“God, you don’t know how lucky you are that you’re just crazy.” Timothy murmurs in his ear, voice sweet and cloying. “That you didn’t meet him for real. Just trust me, kid. He’d eat you alive.”

“Yeah, is this really getting you off?” Jack’s voice crackles to life in Rhys’ head, startling him out of his trance. There’s an edge to it now, his words dripping with something other than sarcastic condescension. “Hell, Rhys, you find me a body and I’ll fuck you a gazillion times better than this. Just absolutely ruin you— you wouldn’t be walking for at least a week, guarantee it.”

Fuck, why does that sound so good? In his lust-addled state it’s not hard to imagine Jack, the real flesh-and-bone one, joining them; curling his fingers through Rhys hair, scraping his scalp with his nails as he forces his mouth down onto his cock while Timothy fucks him; the two of them using him over and over, forcing him to take everything they give him.

God, does it sound good.

Apparently, Jack must agree with his assessment because before Rhys knows it his cybernetic hand is curled around his cock, a metallic thumb rubbing over the slit, making him hiss and buck up into the sensation in a way that would embarrass him half to death if he wasn’t already certain he’d lost his mind.

“Yeah, you like that? You into that?” The condescension in Jack’s tone shoots straight down to Rhys’ groin, setting his nerves on fire, his cock aching in his hand. “Good, ‘cos I’m serious. I’ll do it. I’ll jerk you off with your robo-hand right now, just gotta kill this little worm for me first, okay, sweetheart?”

One final squeeze and then Jack lets him go, trailing his fingers up his bare chest only to lace them around his throat. “Shit, since you seem to like it so much, I’ll even rough you up for free.”

The pressure builds around his windpipe bit by bit, steadily cutting off his airways. Jack climbs onto the mattress, positioning himself so he’s clipping straight through Timothy, their bodies melting into one as the world blackens at the edges, colors bursting center-field and it’s so much more than he can take.

He wraps his free hand around his cock, filling in the absence; trying as best he can to replicate Jack’s touch as his orgasm comes crashing into view. If Timothy finds any of this odd, he doesn’t let it show. He doesn’t seem all together there, if Rhys is being honest; eyes glassy, lips moving without sound, as if submerged.

Like this, Rhys has even less idea of what he’s thinking— him, or Jack. He’s too vulnerable, completely helpless. It would be so either for either of them to murder him; Timothy could snap his neck in a second, or Jack could strangle him with his own hand so, so easily.

Both of them could kill him right now and there’s nothing he could do about it.

“Jack,” he gasps, forcing the words out before his lungs deflate completely, “Jack, I’m gonna come, oh fuck, oh fuck, Jack.

Jack loosens his grip at just the right moment, and he sucks in an automatic gasp of air. The oxygen floods his system immediately, leaving him dizzy, spilling him over the edge as he screams Jack’s name. Above him, Timothy mutters something under his breath, but Rhys isn’t listening. It’s brutal, the way his orgasm forces itself through his entire body, leaving him twitching and boneless in its wake. Floating through dead space for what feels like forever.

A million miles away, there’s a cool hand tracing through the mess on his stomach, and he can hear himself coughing, his body catching up to the fact that it very nearly died.. He feels half-dead, weak, his limbs paralysed, head heavy and hazy. It can’t be very arousing, but Timothy doesn’t seem to care. Only a minute later and he’s bearing down on him, a forearm pinning him to the bed, hips stuttering to a stop with a low howl.

For awhile they’re all still; savoring the moment, or sick with the weight of it all, the moment only broken when Rhys’ cybernetic begins to move again. He watches through heavy lids as Jack brings his hand— Rhys’ hand, goddamnit, goddamnit, it’s not his, it’s still not his— up to his face, forcing him to look at the damage, his fingers wet and glistening with come.

“Clean it,” says Jack, and god help him, he does, so fucked-out that he barely tastes it, can only feel the humiliation flush on his cheeks as he licks away the last drops with his tongue, unable to break eye contact with Jack. There’s a hardness to his gaze, and Rhys has no doubt that if Jack had a body he’d be getting off on this nearly just as much as he did— not on the sex itself, but the power; the sight of someone humiliating themselves so thoroughly on his command.

“God, you’re sick, aren’t you, babe?” Jack fixes him with a smile that’s pure venom. “Of course I get stuck with the biggest slut on Pandora.”

Rhys swallows. If there was any doubt where he stood in Jack’s eyes before, it’s gone now.

The hologram flickers out of view, and Timothy collapses down on top of him in a deadweight heap, burying his face in Rhys’ neck, shaking softly, his cheeks damp with tears.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” He pats Timothy awkwardly on the back, the lining of his throat stinging with each word. “Don’t cry. It’s fine.”

It’s absolutely not fine, none of this, but who is he to say otherwise?

“I’m sorry,” whispers Timothy. “This isn’t me. I’m not Jack. I used to be a good guy, y’know? I am… I’m still a good guy. Or I’m trying so goddamn hard to be, but I just get reminded of Jack and my mind goes red."

He rolls off of Rhys, staring unfocused at a spot on the ceiling, eyes drying in real time. “He gets under your skin. You don’t even know it until he’s asking you to do things you never would’ve dreamed of, and god help you, you’ll do them. You won’t have a choice.”

“Yeah,” says Rhys. He raises a cybernetic finger to the port in his temple, circles the tender flesh there. Feels the crackle of static beneath the skin. “Yeah, I know.”