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“Wouldn’t touch that if I were you.”

Cain’s hand halts mid-air.

The seller confides, “Got all its teeth, I can promise you that,” and despite the mask, despite the muzzle, Cain knows a threat when he sees one.

That barely-there slit, just enough to get an idea of those eyes. Green—and violent.

Cain remains squatted in front of the beast, and Cain thinks.

Its breath comes steady and calm. A promise. Heavy chains, and yeah it does look capable enough. Muscled, even if malnourished. Used for fighting at some point, probably, but even if the muscle tone’s only for the aesthetics, it’s something to work with.

Cain chews on his pipe, eye to eye with the animal.

He asks, “How much?” and he tries to see, tries to read—confusion? Delight? Cockiness?—that obscured, hidden-away face, but there is nothing for him.

~

“Shake your head for no, nod your head for yes: speech chip?”

It nods.

“Thought so,” says Cain. “Still got your tongue?”

It nods again.

“Didn’t piss them off badly enough, eh? Well, good for you.” He finishes up wrapping the beast into its seat, pats its thigh, looks up at it. “I want to take off that mask of yours. Will you cause any trouble if I do?”

It shakes its head.

Cain stands up, and those eyes follow him. If it’s smart, it won’t try to hurt him right away. And, yeah, it doesn’t. Lets Cain loosen the straps, lets him pull the heavy leather off.

“That’s better, isn’t it?”

Cain ruffles sweat-matted but apparently recently-cropped hair. Dirty shade of blond, and that’s—rare.

Decent tan, freckles. Tint of ginger there, somewhere, and Cain is pleased. The seller could have asked for much more based on the looks of this one. The fact that ‘Dean’ went so cheap is the pinnacle of how there are many more factors to this kinda market.

Roses and thorns and so forth.

“We have a bit of travel ahead of us, young Dean. We will get some food and water into you once we’ve arrived.”

Cain ties a thick bandana over the beast’s eyes before he gets into the driver’s seat, starts up his ship.

Cain relights his pipe. Advises, “Try to catch some sleep.”

~

This solar system isn’t too popular. Lots of humans, lots of waste. Cain can tolerate it. Isolation is a valuable friend.

Out here, nothing but time is abundant. Takes patience until Cain’s purchase has made it inside the house. Naturally, Cain won’t remove those ankle chains just yet. In this galaxy, you don’t make it to his age on foolish things such as trust.

The house waits, patiently, humble. Croaks in the wind like an old friend, an aged tree. It won’t budge, won’t give in to the elements. Cain built it himself, years ago, in a time nearly forgotten.

The kitchen; the biggest room. Cabinets hold rations of food, dried and pickled and preserved in any which way. Cain had already hid the cutlery, the knives, before heading out the door this morning. The beast is obedient so far—kneels when told to, lets Cain chain it to the ring in the wall. Doesn’t turn his face away when Cain’s hand swipes from neck to face, cups a cheek. Lets Cain thumb at the healing scab above its eye.

The insects are loud, outside.

“I have to take the muzzle off. Will you be good?”

Of course, it nods.

Cain still slips the chainmail gloves on.

The goddamn muzzle is a piece of work. Too-tight leather straps lined with wire—impossible that they removed this on the regular. Intravenous feedings, then.

With violent effort and sweat on Cain’s part, the unforsaken thing finally comes off. Cain grunts, curses.

“Ridiculous. We will get you a different one.”

Dean works his jaws with obvious relief. His skin is indented and sore from the prolonged pressure. Cain takes mental inventory of the medical cabinet.

“Nod for straw, shake for bowl.”

Dean blinks. Considers before he opts for the straw. Good call, given the state of his skin.

“All right then.”

Cain pulls the tray back from its storage to set it up in front of the pet. A jug of water, a straw, which Dean goes for immediately. Meanwhile, Cain mashes vegetables with water and nutrient powder until the consistency allows it to pass through the straw with ease; he sets that down on the tray as well.

Cain advises, “Slow, or you’ll throw up,” but Dean’s got it. Not his first time.

Cain takes a seat at the table, has a cup of water himself. Pulls the papers from his bag and goes through them. He didn’t take much time on the market. Best not to linger out there for too long; you never know what kind of attention you draw.

First-degree murder. Thirty years—sentenced in XXX70. Born XXX56. So, mid-thirties now. Cain already knows this and turns the page.

Attempted murder of caregiver XXX in XXX78. Another ten years. Cain already knows this, too, and turns the page.

Attempted murder of caregiver XXX in XXX82. Another ten years.

Cain gives a look over at Dean, on the floor, bowed over his food and pacing himself with the chain just long enough to let him reach the straw.

Nothing left to lose. Not ideal.

“Did you do it with your bare hands?”

Dean’s eyes flick up to Cain. To the papers.

Dean nods.

“Not bad,” nods Cain, and keeps reading.

~

Dean doesn’t flinch for the needle.

Cain explains, “Invisible fencing,” around the mouthpiece of his pipe, with his brows furrowed in concentration. “Won’t kill you, but I promise it’s no fun at all.”

It’s still set up, after all those years. And why not? Such a hassle to put up in the first place. Worth every penny, though.

With the microchip successfully injected, Cain tends to the prick with a tissue. Applies pressure first and a bandage after.

Dean lacks both interest and surprise. Has had many masters before and obviously knows the drill. All of them. More than Cain has in store, probably. In the system since he was a kid—Cain can’t imagine.

Cain sorts through his supplies. He picks tweezers and more tissue, ethanol. Dean holds perfectly still while Cain tends to his numerous facial wounds.

“I have no desire to restrain or punish you more than necessary. So, in your very best own interest, I advise you to behave.”

Cain’s shoulder-long, graying hair falls into his face. He works quietly, efficiently. Sweat and dirt helped along some infections. They will take time to heal.

“I’ve had one of you before,” he murmurs, still focused on scabs and cuts and sores. Dean smells of human, of grime and filth and leather. “And we were good, real good. Until one day, he decided to stop being good. I trust that you understand that I had no other choice but to defend myself.”

All done, he puts his tools down. Soaks another tissue with disinfectant and wipes down that oily face; avoids the eyes, of course, the lips.

Cain requests, “Let us not repeat that, please,” and Dean’s got his eyes closed and his mouth firmly shut.

~

The intact hands are a surprise.

Maybe a skilled worker. Maybe a habitually mittened pet (but no deformation as far as Cain can tell).

“We’ll keep this one for now,” with a tug on one of the many belts of the straitjacket; unspoken: even though it reeks. Even though you’ve been wearing it for lords know how long.

Unspoken: maybe if you earn it, eventually.

The beast doesn’t kick, doesn’t move much once the ankle cuffs come off. Dean’s pants are soiled, his boots are falling apart. Cain tosses everything aside to burn later.

With its feet chained down to the according hooks in the floor, the pet allows itself to be cleaned. Relieved, if anything, maybe, to gain that fraction of dignity back. Warm water, soap. Cain’s sleeves are rolled up.

Various metal adornments jingle against each other. Cain would ask if there is a key for the thing entrapping Dean’s penis, but the effort is useless, the thought laughable. Where would Dean even keep it? These things don’t own anything.

The piercings are old, long healed. Cain pays special attention, though. No infections as far as he can tell.

“Someone was really into decorating, huh,” and the beast doesn’t meet his eyes. Doesn’t look anywhere at all, not really, while Cain rolls its balls between his fingers, cleans him between his cheeks. Barbells down the taint, too; the bumps are a delightful surprise. Laser hair removal, and Cain couldn’t care less about that, but the smooth skin combined with the body-warm metal does feel nice.

“They took good care of you, didn’t they?” and Cain looks for those eyes, looks for the flicker of discomfort when he pushes one finger inside. Dean stays distant, though. “Hey. Look at me.”

Dean does. Unbroken, silent.

Cain makes it two, pumps them slow and easy to clean the pet out, enjoy himself. The pressure is tight, crushing. Unpracticed for a while, maybe.

“Still got your balls and everything,” notes Cain, searching Dean’s eyes. “You must have been such a good boy. Up until the very end.”

Dean’s face remains stoic.

The straitjacket is a decent one; dries nearly immediately, clearly up for this kind of challenge. Cain feels himself growing hard in his pants while he dries the pet, rubs its skin to a rose color. Clean and decent-smelling, its charm becomes obvious.

Cain kneads at its balls again, massages its hole with the other hand. Dean barely sways. Used to this. Used, period.

Tiny shuffles of Dean’s naked feet across the wooden floor. The ankle chain is cruelly short; Cain thinks he’ll keep that one. He’s already hard and aching by the time Dean’s finally on the futon, belly-down and a soft grunt that apparently doesn’t trigger his chip, and that’s good to know. Means it can maybe moan a little, can huff and puff and be adorable. He’d always liked that about Cas.

Cain works his pants open and off, slicks himself with the bottle of liquid he’d so knowingly put aside earlier. Straddles the back of Dean’s thighs and steadies his cock so he can push it up Dean’s ass, and the sensation is maddening, immediate relief. Cain groans. Balances his weight on his shins and one hand, pulls Dean’s cheeks apart with the other so he can watch himself sinking in, rocking deep; the glisten of the lube and the dark pink of Dean’s insides.

No complaint, no struggle. Easy and silent but for that quiet, nasal breath. A hint of a grunt when Cain bottoms out with a sharp thrust—nothing more, nothing less.

Cain pants, licks his lip. Thumbs at where he’s sunken in to the base, where Dean’s body is nursing at him without meaning to, where it’s soft and slick.

Cain drives his hips upwards, how he knows it’s good for the pet, too. Just wants a reaction, anything. But Dean takes a while, and it’s only a slight change, then—a shift of his hips, subtle and sweet, and Cain smiles to himself, the darkness of the room.

~

The garden is in full bloom. A lot of work, and Dean takes up on it seemingly gladly. Dressed in one of the old sets of linen shirt and pants, he looks so much like Cas. The fit’s tighter and maybe it’s just the chains, the demeanor that blends the two. Dean shovels in peaceful silence. Hauls water and chemicals.

“Careful around these,” orders Cain. He picks one of the terrariums up to show to the beast. “They’re almost ready to hatch. See?”

Cain’s finger nudges against the glass. The thick black cocoons shimmer dangerously, engorged with life. Dean nods.

Cain fixes a pot of tea and shares it with Dean, out on the porch, overlooking the canyon. Dean’s eyes are bright and focused. Barely any scars on his arms. His brandings lick at the line of his throat, climb out of the wide neckline of his shirt.

“It’s gonna rain soon,” mutters Cain, scratches through his beard. “Have you seen rain before?”

Dean nods.

“Wanna sit outside and watch? Or head inside?”

Dean’s eyes flick to the left, to the house. He nods his chin towards it.

Cain sighs, “All right,” and gathers their plates, the remains of their snacks.

Dean accepts restraints with an amount of dignity that he should have lost years ago. Doesn’t fight the muzzle, the chains, because he knows they are necessary. He acknowledges what he is.

Cain slips his hand into Dean’s lap, and Dean tenses. Ever since Cain cut that cage off, Dean’s body betrays him—shows pleasure, allows him to receive pleasure, without his consent. The animal is shaken up about it.

Cain mocks, “I didn’t even touch you yet.”

He shifts his grip from a tug to a swivel, and Dean’s stomach flinches for that, his face crumbles for that. How long must it have been since he has been touched this way? Years?

Dean allows himself to be pushed down, onto his back. Keeps his thighs splayed open wide and Cain can hear his breath stuttering behind the muzzle upon Cain leaning down, running his tongue in one long drag up the underside of the pet’s cock. Cain smiles.

One thumb to the pierced crown, toying with the metal ring. Slides it through the gap it’s settled into, forced into. Dean gets very wet very easily.

Cain’s own cock throbs in sympathy. He tugs it free and strokes himself, settles comfortably between Dean’s legs. The rain hammers down on the metal roof above their heads.

A frustrated sigh when Cain takes his hand off Dean’s cock, leaves it to twitch, to tap Dean’s lower belly. Cain slicks his fingers instead to rub down to where the pet is still open, still slightly wet from earlier this morning.

Dean hasn’t come yet, not a single time.

Cain crooks his fingers to rub him out where he’s obviously swollen, where he needs it. Dean’s cheeks are flushed and he lies back, relaxes, passive again and so open, so surrendered. Lets Cain do what Cain wants, because he has no illusions. Presumably hasn’t had them in a long, long time.

Cain grinds three into the pet’s prostate, deep and steady, and Dean’s eyes slip closed.

Cain watches him closely—how tense Dean holds his stomach, how frequently he squeezes his insides back at Cain. And just when Dean drifts off, when he rolls his hips to chase the pleasure, Cain retrieves his fingers. Cuts him off, just like that, and Dean can’t speak or make much noise but Cain’s good at reading the subtle things in life.

Dean’s disgruntled breath. The furrow of his brows.

Cain threads his cock up Dean’s ass instead, easy and deep and Dean’s body sucks back at him, desperate and on the edge and Cain thrusts slow, wrings a tight hand around Dean’s balls to keep him in line.

The pet splutters behind the muzzle. Would it beg if it could?

Cain takes his time. Works himself luxuriously because why not; spanks Dean’s balls until those are throbbing and visibly sore. Dean is fucking him back at this point, works its hips as far as it can and its cock is rock hard and nearly purple with blood. Cain ignores it.

Something—sad, desperate, when Cain finishes, pulls out creamy and thick. Rubs his thumb down the ladder of barbells along Dean’s taint and pushes some of the mess back inside. Dean groans as far as the chip allows.

Cain soothes, “Good boy,” and brushes his knuckles along the marks on the inside of Dean’s thigh.

~

You’d think you’d catch it gazing longingly at the horizon at some point. But Dean doesn’t. Or: doesn’t while Cain is awake.

Dean doesn’t even peer out the windows. Kneels and waits when it is told to. Stand-by. Empty.

Cain is no fool. Nothing of this means anything. All it’d take would be one moment of letting his guard down, getting himself lulled into the security of eh it’ll be all right, of just this one time. It’s what had cost Dean’s former caregivers their lives. There is no breaking ones like Dean.

Cain interrupts it scrubbing the floor. Snaps his fingers and Dean straightens his back, sits back on his haunches.

Cain cards through Dean’s hair. Getting awfully long. Should shear it, but then again it suits it so well. Convenient for Cain to bury his fingers in, tug and hold onto.

Dean just looks up at him, waiting. For a command, anything.

“I’ve got some money saved up,” muses Cain. “How about we get rid of that awful chip in your throat?

Dean barely reacts—subtle, held-back; knows it won’t come for free, might just be an empty promise, and oh, how many of those has this boy gotten?

“I’ll warn you. If you can’t behave, we’ll put it right back in. No cussing me out or nothing, you hear?”

Dean nods. It’s still got the sponge clenched in both its hands.

“Good. Our conversations have been rather one-sided,” jokes Cain, and he wonders if Dean can read.

Lies. There will be lies. But Cain hopes Dean will enjoy being able to talk again to an extent that will make him careless with his words, that they will bubble up and escape him like butterflies, like insects yearning for fresh air, for sunlight. That, underneath all the barricades, Cain will be able to get a glimpse of the real boy. Of the feral little thing that murdered in cold blood and would do it again.

And Cain wants to ask. Oh, he wants to.

What stories Dean will make up! About why he did it, how he did it, what it felt like. The things Cain can use to make him talk when he’ll shake his head, will tell Cain no despite knowing better. About those early years under his first caregiver, about the person (or people?) who put all that metal into him, who taught him how to behave and crawl and be used. Cain wants it all. All that pain, all that suffering. Like a bruise sucked to the surface, blooming right in front of his eyes.

The first time Cain lets it keep the muzzle off in the bedroom, Dean is visibly confused. The promise of the speech chip removal is a sweet one for sure, but Cain has no illusion about whether Dean would risk it for the chance of freedom.

And Dean still doesn’t fully settle until Cain’s propped him upside-down, up against the wall with all his weight bearing down on his shoulders and the humbler keeping his hips tilted. Its breathing is compromised, of course, and the blood bottles up in his head and he’s pinking up fast, and he looks up between his legs, up at Cain who looks down, soothing, kneading at Dean’s presented balls.

“You’re flexible like that, aren’t you?”

Cain helps folding Dean in. Dean’s breathing quickens, gets louder.

Cain encourages, “You can do it, come on,” and Dean cranes his neck until he can latch onto the pierced head of his own cock, and he makes a noise, unwilling and choked-off and desperate and Cain watches, fascinated.

He can hear the piercing clicking against Dean’s teeth.

Cain orders, “Go ahead, do it right,” and the pet closes its eyes, purses its lips.

It’s a truly joined effort. The view is fascinating.

“If you can, you may come.”

Dean doubles up on his efforts.

Sweats, beautifully, shaking muscles and his face deep red. Cain spits onto his twitching hole and massages it with his thumb, feels Dean sighing for it, tensing for it; the added pleasure.

Cain sinks his thumb in to the knuckle and Dean has to take a breath. Thuds his head down and pants, open-mouthed, shivering.

“Come on, now. No slacking.”

It’s beautiful when it happens. Is a mistake, maybe, to let Dean have this, but this is about Cain’s pleasure, too—watching Dean coming apart, feeling him so close while he does.

Shakes like he’s being tased and Cain pumps two and then three fingers up his ass while Dean just keeps coming and coming, floods his own mouth and if Cain was a fool he’d demand for Dean to keep it there, let Cain drink from him, kiss him clean after. Dean convulses quietly, off-beat, rhythmic pull on Cain’s working fingers.

Cain leans down to mouth at Dean’s balls, sucks them into his mouth one after the other and feels Dean flinching; too much, too soon. Once the chip is gone, Cain will be able to truly hear his pet, will hear him moan and beg and cry. He can still put the muzzle on, can still gag the beast if it’s silence that he craves.

Cain is dizzy with the options. How easy it all is, how achievable.

He dreams of Cas, that night. How tender he’d be, careful and soft and those eyes, those cursed eyes. Cain dreams of those eyes, of Cas’ hands on him, feeling him out and learning him, loving him. And Cas did—love him. If he knew it or not, he did.

Cain wakes to the subtle clatter of chains, numb breath.

He turns his head, breathing heavily himself.

Dean does his nightly push-ups. Tucked tight due to the chains, but he makes it work somehow. Cain watches him, the naked, strong line of his body, the marks and brandings and scars and tattoos—the bulge of his muscles, right underneath all that marred skin, unharmed, unyielding.

Cain lets him have it.

~

It’s mind-blowing. Beautiful.

“Try again.”

Dean does—parts his lips on the bloom of that D, but all that comes out is the garbled vowels of his own name. That layer of shame glosses over the pet’s face anew but Cain praises nevertheless. It’ll take time. They’ve got more than enough of that.

A new scar will form, will soon turn invisible next to all the others. They tucked some of the most damaged skin—Dean won’t scratch and tear at this one like he did back when the chip had went in.

Dean’s voice is coarse, and it is rough. Much like him.

Cain can now say, “Don’t hold it in,” and can beat him harder, can bring the paddle down over Dean’s ass until Dean allows himself to break the hard-earned skill of keeping himself completely silent, can hear him grunt, first, small and fearful of the electric shock that won’t come, not anymore.

Dean’s skin breaks before Dean can let go, but that’s okay.

If Cain had children, maybe this would stir him different. Would be even more emotional, even more wonderful.

He’s always enjoyed teaching, and Dean is a good student.

Tests the words, the letters, syllables. Repeats until he taps his throat, their sign for him being sore and needing a break, and Cain serves him tea.

It’s such a juvenile thing to learn to talk, and it’s clearly invigorating for Dean. Makes him appear younger, spirited, bright, and Cain can’t help but wonder just how he used to be, back then. Before the system, before humanity betraying him. Just a child. A young boy.

Dean raises his right hand to his forehead, pointer and thumb extended; lowers his hand back down, atop the other.

Articulates, “Brother,” and Cain considers that, frowns over his pipe.

“Because of your brother?” Dean nods. “Did they do something to him?”

Dean slides his thumbnail across his throat.

Cain says, “Oh,” and, “My condolences.”

Dean signs, “Thank you.”

“Younger?” Cain signs accordingly. “Or older?”

Dean speaks, “Younger,” and picks up the next piece of laundry.

The land has been dry for days, now. Cain peers out into the yard, smokes, sweats. He hums in an afterthought to acknowledge Dean’s words, but Dean doesn’t need that. Works, now, in silence, far away, right by Cain’s side.

~

“You understand, don’t you. Why I have to do this.”

Dean nods, pants, shakes.

“If there was a way into your head, I could trust you. Maybe.”

Dean flinches for the soft touch of Cain’s fingers just above the muzzle, underneath his eye. Stretched taut like he is, all movement is his stomach, rolling with his breath.

Cain slides the cane along Dean’s torso—the red stripes of the welts, the darkening purple in the spots he was overly enthralled with. He taps the cane down on the underside of Dean’s erection, once, and Dean whimpers, jolts all over. The cane teases him, tickles up-down, bumps along every pulsing vein.

“As is,” hums Cain, “I can’t. So, forgive me for the shackles. For that horrible thing I need to keep strapping around your head. Believe me—if I had a choice, I would not. But you know that.”

The cane lifts just a few inches high.

“It is for both our protection.”

Leather and teeth muffled, “Yes, master.”

~

Dean groans so sweet, so lost.

Tosses his head, clearly flushed under the broad blindfold.

Eventually: “Please…!”

Cain tightens his grip around the base of Dean’s cock, lets it drop from his mouth.

Peers up, focused. “Yes?”

Dean whines, “Yes,” and Cain praises, “Good boy,” before he switches his grip to Dean’s balls, brings his flattened free hand down over them a couple times until Dean sobs, free and fucking loud, and Cain draws a deep, wonderful breath.

Cain knead-pulls at him, now, and Dean visibly relaxes. Turns his head to the other side, breathing open-mouthed and audible, rattles with it, the extortion.

Jolts when Cain presses down over the fat base of the plug buzzing away in his ass to click it onto the next setting, and he falls back, groans long and loud and grits his teeth, and if Cain hadn’t strapped him down so carefully, he would be squirming like a worm.

As is, can’t—quivering, open thighs, and his taint works hard under Cain’s thumb and his cock is purple with blood; one engorged, heavy, twitching mess and he slurs, “Please, please,” and Cain tuts at him, rubs his prostate out from outside, a symphony of where the toy pulses him stupid.

“We agreed on next week, Dean,” reminds Cain, and the pet sobs pitiful, truly stressed.

Cain digs his thumb in.

“Ten more seconds and I’ll turn it off.”

~

Cain hears, “They’re hatching.”

Once by Dean’s side, Cain joins him in watching the moths. Not once in all these months had Dean attempted to break the terrariums. Must have known, probably, that this material wouldn’t splinter.

Fascination makes him seem so much younger. Spellbound, wide-eyed. His fingers—scarred and rough from his past and dirty from the gardening—are splayed wide, like he’d touch the animals inside if only he could. Help them peeling their heavy cocoons off, unravel their wings.

“Are you gonna set ’em free?”

Cain tells him, “Yes,” and grabs one of the terrariums. “Would you like to do us the honor?”

Dean nods, and his mouth does something odd; quirks, and maybe it could have been a smile, almost, some other time, in another life.

They walk up to the very edge of Cain’s property. Dean struggles with the opening mechanism; Cain shows him how.

The moths tumble, still newborn, still unsteady. Dean gently shakes their cages to encourage them, to imply that it’s okay, that it’s time.

They slowly make their way into the air, one after another. Dozens. They will help pollinate the garden, but simply watching them is a spectacle worth the hassle of raising them. They’d fetch a decent price, but Cain is no man of money.

Their midnight-black wings flap audibly in the close-to-a-storm, heavy air. They shine with a tint of blue, like chemicals.

Cain watches Dean watching them escape from where he stands—right on the cusp of the fencing. Doesn’t know, maybe, that only one more step would zap him, would send him to the ground and into a whole new world of pain. Oh, how many times Cas had tried. How badly he’d hurt himself, over and over. Maybe hoping to come out of it stronger than before, immune, a God.

The back of Dean’s neck is beautifully tanned. He observes the moths until the flock dissipates.

Cas would get sentimental with the animals, too. Would talk to them a lot, whispers and secrets and Cain would wish to know them, too. But that was not his place, was out of his reach. There are things you cannot force, not even with these beasts.

The rain starts up around late afternoon and sticks with them like a promise. Cain always sleeps well during rainstorms.

The night hasn’t fully settled yet. The wind blows heavy, whips around the simple house with untamable violence.

Dean’s binds are heavy, and they are firm.

Immobile, on his back, he flexes his hands—relaxes them. Flexes his feet, his legs—relaxes them.

His head is turned so he can watch Cain. His breathing. How unmoving he is, as per usual, in his sleep. As if he was bound to his very own hooks.

Dean’s eyes are bright, and they are open.