Besek is not good for Ashley, is dangerous for Ashley if Glynne wants to be entirely honest. Dangerous for him, too, because that...part of Ashley wants to kill him. And he can't kill her, can't even hurt her, without harming Ashley, and that's not an option. He exists to protect Ashley.
Isapolis is not good for Ashley, either. Glynne notices the way the count watches them, and he hates the way he addresses Ashley. My princess, he says, and his smile may fool Ashley -- she finds some spark of goodness in everyone -- but it doesn't fool Glynne. That man desires nothing healthy from any of them.
So he tries to hustle Ashley to the Twilight's Rest as quickly as possible every time they return, and he keeps a sharp eye out for that count and his butler. (The butler, at least, is polite and courteous, but Glynne has no illusions that he does not report back to his master.) Most nights, he sends Reyna to fetch them dinner from the Libertine, but Besek has been particularly brutal today, and Ashley's falling asleep even before they reach their room. And he feels...he feels a little too much like the count when he watches Ashley sleep.
He strips off his gear and looks up to find Reyna watching him. "What?"
"You look like you could use a break. If you'd like, I'll stay here with Ashley."
"I don't trust you with her."
"Glynne." Reyna steps forward, and Glynne won't let him continue.
"You lied to us, Reyna. And you pretended to be a woman!"
Amusement flits across his face. "So I'd be more trustworthy if I hadn't? Even though I'd still be a liar?"
"That's not what I mean."
"I don't know how else to say I've no wish to harm either or you. Or to get in your way." He glances over at Ashley. "We each have our own reasons for being here, and I respect yours." He meets Glynne's eyes again. "Both of yours."
Glynne clenches his jaw.
"At least take the time to sit and eat a good meal in the company of others. Alexei keeps asking about you. And Iryth worries you're not eating enough."
"Fine." Glynne works his jaw, turns jerkily towards the door. "I'll go to the Libertine with you."
He hates how grateful Reyna sounds. And he hates how there is a small part of him that believes Reyna's concern is real -- Reyna is a liar! -- and he hates the part of him that is touched by it.
Glynne also hates that Reyna is right. Going out to the Libertine is good for him. It is nice to enjoy a hot meal surrounded by the company of others. The Libertine is boisterous enough that Glynne can almost imagine he's back home, enjoying dinnertime at their order. Ashley would be elbowing him in the ribs for having his elbows on the table. "Master Leto raised us better than that!" she'd say, and then she'd flash him that amazing smile of hers, the one that makes him wish he was a poet, because then he'd know just how to describe it.
But Ashley's not here, so there's no --
Reyna elbows him, lightly. "The count," he murmurs, and Glynne straightens up.
"Well, good evening, my brave warriors."
"Count Duphaston," Reyna says.
"I'm so glad to see you both here. I do hope you're well, and that you've both enjoyed your meal."
"What --" Glynne starts, but Reyna nudges his knee under the table.
"We're quite well, thank you," Reyna says.
"Well enough to join me for a drink, I hope," the count says. His tone is still that overly familiar smear that makes Glynne want to hurt the bastard, but there's the unmistakable note of command.
"We should get back to Ashley," Reyna says.
"Ah, yes, she did not look well. I do hope Besek doesn't prove to be too much for her." He places a hand on Glynne's shoulder. "But I'm sure," he chuckles, "her devotion to her Master will give her the necessary strength."
"As will her faith," Glynne says, pushing his plate away.
"As will her faith," the count agrees easily. "Which reminds me," he tightens his fingers, and Glynne curls his hands into fists on his thighs to keep from squirming out from under the count's hand, "have you told her the Pope has ordered Master Leto's death?"
"Well, then, it seems we will much to discuss over our drink." He releases Glynne's shoulder. "Shall we?"
Reyna rises with him. "I'll go --"
"You're invited too, of course." The count smiles, and he doesn't even bother trying to make it charming. "Please do indulge me."
Reyna glances at Glynne. He'd be able to have a complete conversation with Ashley in this type of scenario, but Glynne can't even begin to decipher Reyna's expression. But Reyna can, apparently, decipher Glynne's, because he nods once before looking to the count. "I'd be honored."
The count's smile widens. "Excellent."
The count's manor is too brightly lit. So many candles are wasteful. Glynne clenches his jaw. Reyna touches his arm once, briefly, and...it's hard to give Reyna the benefit of the doubt, but he lets that small part of him that believes Reyna's concern for him (and for Ashley) is real convince him that Reyna intends the gesture to be reassuring.
He does not need reassurance.
The count leads them past the front rooms, the public areas, Glynne suspects. The decor gets more and more...deviant the further back they go, tables with legs shaped like Majin in various bound poses, their agony almost palpable.
By the time the count ushers them into his chosen room, Glynne is expecting to see stuffed Majin for furniture. He's not expecting a...torture chamber. A rack dominates the center of the room, one that would make the Pope's favored interrogators envious, if envy weren't a sin. Glynne focuses on that, because what little he sees of the walls makes him...nervous. And it's clear that the rack is going to be the center of attention, because there is a chair positioned in front of it, and a small table next to it with a decanter of red wine and a single glass.
"You don't have any intention of wasting time, do you, Count Duphaston," Reyna says.
"I wouldn't want to keep you from your dear friend any longer than necessary." The count turns to face them, and now his smile is predatory. "And since I doubt I will get this chance again, no, I have no intention of wasting time." He pours a glass of wine, and Glynne's sure the count chose it because it looks so much like blood.
"What do you want?" Glynne asks.
"You on the rack," the count purrs, slinking towards them. He cups Glynne's chin in his gloved hand. The leather's cool against his skin.
"If that was all you wanted, you wouldn't have had Reyna come."
The count's eyes spark. "You do not want Reyna here. That's reason enough."
Glynne clenches his jaw.
The count releases him. "You can leave."
"Then you'll tell Ashley about Master Leto."
"But of course." The count does that annoying chuckle of his again.
"Fine then." Glynne curled his hands into fists at his side. "I'll stay."
"And do as I wish?"
"Yes," Glynne manages through clenched teeth.
"And what about you?" the count asks Reyna.
"I will do what is necessary to protect Ashley."
The count looks entirely too satisfied. "Wonderful." He steps back and makes a show of arranging himself on the chair.
Glynne flexes his fingers and glanced at Reyna. Reyna's face is impassive, but his breath is shallow. Glynne doesn't know what that means. But perhaps...well, his face feels hot, so he has to be blushing, and his mouth is dry, pulse rapid. He's not sure if it's nerves or anger. Both, probably.
The count reaches for the glass of wine. "I want Reyna to secure you." He tilts his head back to glance sidelong at them. "After you've stripped."
"I suppose you want to watch."
"Oh, do what you think is best."
"Glynne," Reyna whispers.
Glynne ignores him and moves to stand in front of the rack. In front of the count. He can't bring himself to look at the count as he undresses, and he's a bit ashamed to realize he's staring at Reyna, using Reyna as a focus.
Reyna meets his eyes without flinching. His gaze doesn't travel, and his expression doesn't change, and that allows Glynne to detach himself from his actions. So he hardly feels anything as he shrugs out of his vest, pulls off his shirt.
And then he has to break eye contact with Reyna to remove his boots. When he rises, he makes the mistake of looking to the count, and the man's gaze is too hungry.
Glynne's hands tremble as he unlaces his pants. He can do this for Ashley. He will do it for Ashley. He'll do anything for Ashley.
"Very nice, but not what I want."
Glynne steps back to the rack. Reyna moves to him, then, and he closes his eyes and lets Reyna secure him to the rack. Reyna's touch is efficient and quick, and he secures the ropes tight enough so Glynne won't be able to work loose but no so tight that he'll lose circulation.
"There," Reyna says, and Glynne feels obligated to open his eyes. He won't let the count see him as a coward.
The count sips his wine as he looks Glynne over. He takes his time with it, and the frank appraisal makes Glynne's flush deepen.
"Tighten the ratchet." The count sets his glass down and reaches down to stroke himself through his pants. "One notch."
Reyna obeys. Glynne's back arches, and he inhales sharply, but the position is merely uncomfortable, not painful.
The count smiles and unbuttons his pants. "There are instruments on the table behind the rack. I want you to use them on him, Reyna."
Glynne hears Reyna move behind him. "I don't know how."
"Take the smallest." The count has his prick free now and is stroking it hard. "And the oil. Glynne, I am sure will appreciate it."
Reyna comes back around into his line of vision. He has a small vial of oil and a thin metal rod. Glynne licks his lips. "You want Reyna to --"
"Yes," the count purrs. "Beg for it. And Reyna, don't take pity on him. Make him earn it."
Reyna glances back at the count, then turns to face Glynne. He searches Glynne's expression for...what? Permission? Acceptance? It's too late to refuse the count. And he's not going to let the count tell Ashley about Master Leto. "Please, Reyna," he says.
Reyna begins oiling the rod. "Tell me what you want, Glynne."
Glynne tries to imagine what the count wants to see. The first part is easy. "I want you to insert it in me." He swallows. "Down my shaft." But that's not all the count will want to see.
The count wants to see him suffer. "Then I...does that table move? Let me see what's on it."
Reyna holds his gaze for a moment then nods once. The table is on wooden wheels. He pulls it out, and Glynne takes a moment to study the instruments. Rods of various sizes. He does need the smallest one. So kind of the count to grant him that.
There are also rings and leather ties. All right. He can guess what the count wants. And if he's wrong, well, then the count can come out and say what he wants. He hasn't been shy so far.
"I want..." Glynne licks his lips again. His shame is making him hard. Not completely, but he can feel himself thickening, and he hates that, because his shame does feel good. But it's all right if he takes pleasure in this because it's beyond his control. He's already made his decision to submit for Ashley. Anything that happens happens to protect her.
"After you've inserted it, I want you to bind me with those straps. I want you to..." What does the count want? "I want you to tease me. Hurt me. Keep me from release until he's had his."
"It that acceptable to you, Count Duphaston?" Reyna asks.
"I have not heard enough begging."
"Before I have him beg, I would like to know if you approve," Reyna says. The rod now is thoroughly oiled, but he keeps working it so it slides between his fingers. Glynne's not sure how he's managing to keep hold of it.
"How considerate of you." The count laughs. "Yes, I approve."
Reyna looks at Glynne. His expression is impassive again, and that...helps. Glynne's not sure how he'd feel if Reyna seemed to be enjoying this. He...doesn't trust Reyna, but having him here is better than being alone with the count. He's not sure...
Well, the count would be rough. Reyna might not be gentle, but he won't be rough. Because come morning, he'll be going back out into Besek with Glynne, will need Glynne fully functional for battle.
"Please, Reyna," he begs, and then he's not sure what he says. Enough, obviously, because it's not long before Reyna comes to him, standing to the side so the count can watch. Then Reyna takes him in one hand and teases his slit with the tip of the rod.
"Please," Glynne says, trying to ignore how good Reyna's hand feels squeezing him, how it brings him right to the edge of pain. And then Reyna begins inserting the rod, and Glynne can't stop his low moan.
It hurts. Burns. The oil and Reyna's fingers had warmed the rod to skin temperature, and the stretch...it hurts, and it feels good. And each time he decides it's pain, the sensation flips to pleasure, and then when he settles on pleasure, it flips back to pain.
And the entire time, Reyna keeps sliding the rod down him. Slowly. Bit by bit, and Glynne refuses to beg him to stop. And then he doesn't want Reyna to stop, even though he can hear the count's ragged breathing as he strokes himself, takes pleasure in this.
"Glynne," Reyna says when the rod's fully inserted.
"Don't go easy on him now," the count says.
"I want him to tell me what's next." Reyna removes his hand from Glynne's prick, and as ashamed as he is, Glynne realizes he can reach new depths, because he whimpers, has to admit, to himself, at least, that he misses Reyna's hand on him.
"The leather. Please, Reyna, bind me."
Reyna reaches for the leather straps and whips him with it. It doesn't hurt, but it still makes Glynne shudder. "Please," he begs. "Reyna, please, bind me. Tie it tight so..." he makes the mistake of lifting his head to look at the count.
Reyna grabs his jaw, and his fingers are iron hard. He jerks Glynne's head to the side, forces Glynne to look at him. "You're begging me, Glynne, at least for this part."
He still can't decipher Reyna's expression. But that's all right, because he's focusing on Reyna again. "Please." Reyna's thumb is near the corner of his mouth. He licks it, a quick swipe with his tongue, and just for a moment, Reyna's pupils dilate.
Then Reyna slaps him. "You presume too much." He reaches down and squeezes the base of Glynne's prick, keeps squeezing until Glynne sucks in a sharp breath, and then he's binding Glynne with the leather strap, criss-crossing the strap up his length, knotting it at the ridge of his head so the pressure is maddening.
"Now, Glynne, you're begging the count. 'Keep me from my release until he's had his', is, I believe, what you said."
"You're forgetting the part where you hurt him. Tease him," the count says.
"I haven't," Reyna says, reaching down to squeeze Glynne's balls. "However, considering the control you have demonstrated, Glynne is best advised to appeal to you, not me. That is what you want, isn't it, Count Duphaston? Glynne begging you, directly?"
"You seem certain of it, so it must be true."
Reyna squeezes again, hard enough to make Glynne cry out. He blinks tears from his eyes. "Please. Count Duphaston. Sir, let me --" Reyna drags his nails down Glynne's thighs. Glynne shudders.
He doesn't know how to say all the things he wants. Reyna pinches him. Slaps him. Twists him, and each time, the pain ripples into pleasure, and Glynne can't tell what he's saying, but it's enough, because the count's lazy strokes turn rapid, and his eyes darken, and soon enough, he tenses, and then his seed spills out over his gloves, pearly white against the black leather.
"Please, Reyna." Glynne's sobbing. He's past the point of shame now. He's covered with a sheen of sweat, and the ropes burn against his wrists and ankles. "He's had his release. Let me have mine."
"Those are the terms," Reyna says, loosening the knot of the leather strap.
His prick throbs with his pulse. Reyna strokes him, and his hand feels so good. So very good. Glynne has his release, even with the rod still in him, and that's...that's an interesting sensation. Glynne doesn't try to quantify it, just accepts that it feels good. Intense. He arches, then slumps back against the rack, barely registering the hot splash of his seed across his belly.
Reyna places a hand on his chest, presses him down until his breath is steady. The count, Glynne notices, is licking his seed from the fingers of his glove. The wine glass sits empty on the table beside his chair. He smiles at them over his glove.
Glynne steadies his breathing. The rod is still inside him, and Reyna's watching him. Seeking permission, Glynne realizes. He nods at Reyna, and, just as carefully as he inserted the rod, Reyna removes it.
Glynne shudders, but Reyna doesn't falter, though his fingers tighten on Glynne's chest.
"A most enjoyable show," the count says.
"Are we done, then?" Reyna asks, setting the rod down on the table at his side.
"Yes." The count sounds too satisfied, but Glynne's too exhausted to worry about that.
"Good." Reyna moves to release Glynne from the rack. He steadies Glynne without making it obvious that's his intention.
Glynne allows it until his legs stop shaking.
"Well," the count rises. "I'll allow you to dress, and then I'll see the two of you out and hope you choose to indulge me again."
"Not likely," Glynne says.
"Perhaps, perhaps not." The count flashes them that smile of his, the one Ashley finds charming but Glynne knows is manipulative, and bows. "Secrets have a way of finding their way to me."
Glynne's legs turn watery again. He will not let the count learn Ashley's secrets. He steadies himself with Reyna's help. No matter what, he'll protect Ashley.