Story Title: Serin’s Secret Garden
Configuration: m/m, M/m
Characters: Kendrik/Yaden, Kendrik/Luca, Kendrik/Yuri Dracon
Warnings: slavery, prostitution, rape mentioned, violence, sex, sex on stage, various abuse, severe brainwashing, murderous flora, drugs, potentially underage sex.
Word Count: 3.800/53.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index and the Phoenicipedia
Summary: Kendrik and Luca spend an average evening in the Secret Garden…
Feedback: Yes, please! Constructive criticism welcome!
"Whoa, are you sure?" Looking down at the assortment of various sweets on Luca's tray, Kendrik couldn't suppress laugh. "I know you're sweet, but isn't this overdoing it a little?"
Luca looked down at his tray as well, pouting and faking innocence with little credibility. "What? I am smart, I need sugar."
"Yeah, but you also need other things besides that."
"I have others things," Luca mewled petulantly, his eyes glittering with amusement. "Look, there's even two sorts of vegetables."
"You call crisps and fries two sorts of vegetables?" Kendrik gently pushed Luca towards the exit of the buffet. "I have to give it to you, that does require some creativity."
"See? Told you I was smart. S-M-R-T."
Laughing softly at his own silliness, Luca brushed his arm gently against Kendrik's elbow as he turned towards the booths, searching for a place to sit. It was just a tiny gesture, but it spoke of intimacy and gentleness in a way that was completely alien to the Secret Garden.
It was quite common for younger whore to attach themselves to older ones for a little protection, and no one batted an eyelash at Luca and Kendrik spending their spare time together, including some of their nights. That they spent a good portion of that time just cuddling and talking would have been cause for quite some gossip, though, and more than just a little bit concern among the management of this place.
Love affairs between members of the staff were strictly discouraged.
So they tried not to cuddle in public and keep the longing glances to an absolute minimum. Which, unfortunately, only seemed to entice Luca to try and sneak in every little touch, every little gesture of affection that was possible. Kendrik had tried to protest, initially, but didn't get much of a reaction out of Luca. Only renewed efforts from his side, but honestly, Kendrik loved those little touches, those sparks of emotion they carried into his mind. Luca's affection made it much easier to bear the horror of the Secret Garden, after all. So in the end, Kendrik had just given in, and instead made a game out of it - every time Luca got too obvious, Kendrik slapped him and played his role as rough, unsentimental pet that only kept Luca around to vent some steam every now and then.
But every time Luca managed to sneak in a caress that no-one could possibly have noticed, Kendrik said nothing, and merely smiled.
Over the last days, Luca had become quite adept at this.
Here in the cheerfully brightly colored canteen of the Secret Garden, they had to be extra careful not to seem too close. And yet, as they settled in one of the spring-green booths, Luca's leg leaned against Kendrik's just a moment too long, just a little bit too longingly. And Kendrik smiled again.
"So, what's up for you tonight?" Luca asked, not reacting to Kendrik's smile in any way. "Will you be singing again?"
"Probably," Kendrik replied, watching with silent amazement how Luca dug into the first of his three cups of ice-cream with almost ferocious appetite. "My date with Baron Yuri went over quite nicely, so I think I'll ask Mistress Ondine if she'll let me 'mingle', tonight, after the show."
Luca nodded, pensively chewing on a candied cherry. "I still can't get over the fact that you liked your date with that old fart."
Kendrik shrugged guiltily. "I couldn't help it. He WAS nice, you know, like, trying to do the right thing."
Luca eyed him from across the table, licking his spoon. "But you don't trust him, do you?"
"Don't know. He feels genuine."
"You gotta be kidding me!" Luca exclaimed. "He's a Serin Dracon, it doesn't get any nastier than that." His expression mellowed into sweet concern, his soft lips set almost to a pout. "Please don't do anything stupid."
Kendrik would have laughed, but a significant part of his concentration was busy drowning in a wave of hot arousal that suddenly washed over him. Now that he had slept with Luca, it got harder and harder not to think of countless ways they could spend their time together. None of which would be legal in his native realm. But thinking of Luca's sinuous, white body, pressed against him, writhing in pleasure, made Kendrik go twitching all over, in the very best way possible.
"I promise I'll be careful," he said, the words coming out much huskier than he had wanted them to.
Luca only laughed and gently patted Kendrik's foot with his own.
"Do you still want desert?" Luca asked lightly. "I could still fit in a little something."
"More sweets?" Kendrik asked, incredulous. "After all that?"
Luca blinked at him, languidly biting his lower lip. "In your room."
"Hrm." Kendrik knew he ought to have replied something crude, or coolly commanding. But all that came out was a vaguely intelligible sound and a hungry smile. How did that boy manage to make him act so stupid when he was around?
"I take that as a yes." Luca smiled widely and started eating his chips with the same, gleeful abandon he had been plowing through his ice-creams with.
Kendrik watched him eat in silent fascination. He was growing very fond of Luca, and it had little to do with the fact that he was a stunningly beautiful boy, horny as a rat and naughty to the core. Luca was an indomitable spirit, his cool passion and deep emotions unspoilt by what happened to him whenever he wasn't around Kendrik. Sure, he was wounded, and much too jaded for his age, but he wasn't broken. It seemed Luca was able to cherish what little good happened to him, and to acknowledge the bad and let it slip off him with little more than a shrug. He was an amazing person.
Kendrik knew he would have to make a decision concerning Luca when he wrapped up his assignment here. It was a nagging worry at the back of his mind, and he hated it with a passion. But there was still time, Kendrik told himself, a lot of things could happen until then. He would cross that bridge when he came to it.
“Hey, would you mind if I join you?”
Kendrik looked up and found Leighton standing next to their table, looking a bit tired but otherwise still vibrantly healthy and very male.
"We're almost finished, Leighton," Kendrik replied with a sidelong glance at Luca. "Luca here has to leave any moment now, but I sure wouldn't mind."
"Cool, thank you," Leighton replied with a wide smile that showed his ridiculously white teeth in his tanned face. "How'd you know my name? Have we met already? There's so many new people here, I'm sorry if we have already been introduced, but it's all been sort of a rush since I arrived last night." With another wide, sunny smile, he added: "It's the first time I'm away from Malicorn, you know?"
"I think this is my cue to leave," Luca mumbled, slipping off his bench without so much as looking at Leighton. "See you later, Kendrik!"
For a long moment, Kendrik struggled to say anything. He knew perfectly well what had happened to the young man opposite him, his farmer's muscles and tousled hair still looking as if they had picked him fresh from the pasture. But that poor guy had been here for over three years by now, and every time he realized that he was surrounded by monsters, his memories were wiped and he was reset to the day he arrived here at the Secret Garden.
It made Kendrik want to throw up, made him want to call his husband and see this whole place and every single of its customers ground to rubble and forgotten for all time.
But this wasn't why he was here. This establishment was perfectly legal under the repulsive laws of the Phoenix Empire, and if not here, then the nobles of Serin would get their sick amusement in any other brothel of the planet.
"I'm not sure," Kendrik pressed out with what he hoped would look like a friendly, welcoming smile. "Probably I just overheard someone talking about you."
"Oh, okay, that's good." Leighton replied, visibly relieved. "I really try to memorize everyone I meet, you know?"
"That's sure helpful." The whole conversation creeped Kendrik out, but he knew that the only kind thing he could do was to be Leighton's friend. This time around, and possibly the next one as well. "So, what are you doing here in the Secret Garden?"
"Not entirely sure yet," Leighton replied with a shrug of his massive shoulders. "Madam Tochka invited me over, to talk to her guests and maybe give a few massages."
"Massages, really?" Kendrik tried a friendly smile. "You don't look like a therapist, you know?"
"Oh no, I am just a Malino farm boy," Leighton replied, bashfully rubbing his nose in a gesture that was so adorably insecure on a man of his built that even Kendrik had to admit he had to be a goldmine for the Garden. "I won the last Swine Swinging Contest, you know."
"Really? Wow, congratulations!" Kendrik said, hoping it didn't sound as sarcastic as it felt. "I heard it takes considerable skill."
Leighton earnestly blushed to the tips of his ears. "No, really. I just got lucky, you know, the weather was perfect, and my pigs fell asleep almost on their own. No big deal."
"Well, it was the same weather for everyone else, so I think it did have something to do with you, after all." At least, having the same conversation twice made it easier to say the right things, Kendrik thought with an icy shudder. "It's not a bad thing to take credit when you deserve it."
Leighton's blush deepened another notch, but he remained silent, and instead focused on the steak in front of him with a faintly embarrassed smile.
Kendrik stayed with Leighton until he had finished his lunch, and they chatted about his family on Malicorn, the tournament, the beaches of Malena and the waves of the Kune-Kune sea. In turn, Kendrik talked about his time in the army, though he didn't mention which one. It was nice, and Kendrik genuinely liked Leighton. If it weren't for the occasional twitch in his face, he could still have passed as a perfectly normal person.
When they shook hands for good bye, Kendrik caught a glimpse of Leighton's aura. Still brightly green and brown, it felt nice enough, but the colors had dulled and the edges seemed wrong - as if someone had tried to retouch a photograph with heavy oil paints. All Kendrik could do to prevent himself from grinding his teeth was to excuse himself and make a speedy exit.
How could people do this to another? How could this kind of slow murder be accepted?
But then, this was the Phoenix Empire in a nutshell. As long as you were rich and powerful enough, you could do whatever you want. And they made a working, stable Empire out of that. Gruesome, but working.
Kendrik shivered all the way back to his cell, and it wasn't because he was wearing only slacks and an unbuttoned shirt. The simple fact that such a place could exist unchallenged made him freeze inside. He knew he had to do something about the Secret Garden as soon as his mission here was finished, but he didn't have the slightest idea what exactly.
Whatever he did, he couldn't save them all. So who would he leave here to rot?
Caught in a dark cloud of gloomy thoughts, Kendrik hardly noticed anything around him. Only in the very last moment, he realized that there was someone standing in front of the door to his room, talking in low, threatening tones.
"I know you're in there, you little coward," Kendrik heard him hiss. "Your shining knight won't be here for long, and then you'll see what you get for treating me this way." Clive slammed a heavy hand against the door, growling like a wolf. "No one is treating me like this, and I'll make you regret it. I'll rip you up from ass to ear and fuck your bleeding bones until you beg to - "
That was about as much as Kendrik needed to hear.
Not even thinking twice, Kendrik broke into a light run, covering the last few meters between him and Clive in a few, long strides. Clive had barely enough time to turn his head. Kendrik's straight left hit him like a freight train, right onto the cheekbone, in front of the ear, and sent him flying against the wall and sprawling onto the floor.
Not in the mood to show any chivalry, Kendrik was above him in an instant, kicking Clive hard and fast, twice, just for good measure. But even in his black mood, Kendrik had no intention of killing him. He wanted Clive to hurt, to fear for his life. To suffer just as much as he had made others to suffer. And that wouldn't happen if Kendrik just stepped onto this throat.
So with a strength a man of his size and weight shouldn't naturally posses, Kendrik pulled Clive to his feet by his chin and belt, slamming his head against the wall behind him. Clive was so dazed he could hardly raise his arms to defend himself.
Pinning Clive against the wall with a hand over his throat, Kendrik continued to pummel him with hits, into his stomach, against his chest, all over. No jabs, nothing too hard it would probably do any critical damage. But Kendrik made sure Clive would be black and blue all over for the next weeks, sufficiently in pain to remember this moment for a long time to come.
"Kendrik! Stop!" suddenly a sharp voice cut through the air, commanding enough that Kendrik stopped his fist an inch in front of Clive's battered face.
Risking a swift glance to the side, Kendrik saw Mistress Ondine standing in the hallway, a clipboard in her hands and a stern, startled expression on her flawless face. Behind her, a gaggle of teenage whores stared at them, open-mouthed.
"What is this about?" Ondine asked firmly, though it sounded more like a genuine question, not a reprimand. "You are damaging the property of the Secret Garden."
Kendrik's first instinct was to reply something deferential, apologetic, evasive. But the odd, level way that Ondine had asked him made him think twice.
"Please put it on my Master's bill," Kendrik answered in the end. "As entertainment for his pet. I'm sure he's good for it."
Ondine blinked once, hesitated, and then gave him the faintest hint of a smile, all perfect grace and manners.
"Well, in that case, Master Kendrik," she replied as evenly as if they were talking about a few pieces of broken china, effortlessly replaceable. "Please enjoy yourself to your heart's content."
And with a flawlessly measured nod of her head, she turned around, snapped her fingers to get the whores' attention and walked off, her perfect ass swaying.
Still pinned against the wall, Clive made a choked, pleading sound, helplessly gesturing in Ondine's direction. But she didn't hear him, and Kendrik was rather sure she wouldn't have reacted even if Clive had screamed her name.
The sound turned Kendrik's attention back to his victim, and for a long moment, Kendrik pondered what to do next. A part of him wanted to beat him up further, though that would do little more than even out the bruising he had already given him. Another part clamored to kill Clive, to end it here and then, to make sure he'd never again harass anyone else. After all, he had just acquired him to do with him as he pleased, and within the sick framework of this place, that included killing him any which way he wanted to.
Or rather, destroy him, Kendrik corrected himself mentally. Slaves were items, and items could not be killed, only destroyed.
As if searching for an answer, Kendrik let his eyes wander over Clive's battered face, searching his eyes for any redemptive quality that he might possess. But all Kendrik could find was pain and anger, a slow, boiling rage that wasn't quenched, but fanned by the treatment Kendrik had given him. In Clive's eyes, Kendrik saw unveiled hatred, wrath, and the roiling desire to dominate.
With his hand still at Clive's throat, it was an easy thing for Kendrik to dive deeper into his emotions. Locked into combat as they were, it was almost as easy as if they were having sex. Fueled with anger as he was, Kendrik hardly needed to look for Clive's motivations. Barely buried underneath his desire to dominate was the simple fear of being dominated himself, of being submitted to another man's will, of being helpless. Clive was so fundamentally selfish that he couldn't even imagine someone helping him, or even him being worthy of help. In Clive's mind, it was all a matter of win or die, and this moment, right here, with Kendrik holding him at his mercy, was his worst nightmare come true.
For a second, Kendrik could feel Clive contemplating a million ways to get back at Kendrik, to hurt and punish Luca for what Kendrik had done. But even this little spark was enough to set Kendrik's own cold anger roiling again.
With icy fury, he grabbed Clive's fear with his mind as mercilessly as he held his body, welding the image of this very moment to the base of Clive's character, to his fear of anyone stronger and meaner than him. Cold and methodically, Kendrik tied everything he could find in Clive's mind to that fear, his lust, his anger, everything, until this fear was the unavoidable center of everything that happened in his mind.
Outward, Kendrik could see Clive's eyes widening in mindless fear, his face blanching underneath the angry pink of the onsetting bruises.
Kendrik knew that Clive was a simple enough creature that this treatment would make his fears stronger than his aggressions, that from now on, he would react with withdrawal where before he would have acted with cruelty.
And yet, Kendrik wondered if that would be enough.
Since the departure of Mistress Ondine, hardly half a minute had passed. Kendrik's body was still flushed with adrenaline, and his power over Clive was a dark, toxic allure all by itself.
Would it be enough? Kendrik wondered. It was quite possible that Clive would one day be able to shake this manipulation off, becoming the same, vile character as before, maybe even more so. Again, Kendrik pushed harder, the mental equivalent of driving a nail deeper down into the wood even though the head wasn't visible any longer. He knew he could push him even further, up to the point where emotion became obsession, where obsession became psychosis. Like bones snapping when there was too much force, minds broke when the emotional burden became to much to bear.
Powered by anger, Kendrik knew he could easily break Clive. Permanently, even without killing him. Reduce him to a whimpering wreck, for the rest of his days.
But that wouldn't be right.
With a deep sigh, Kendrik broke their eye contact and let go of Clive. Maybe he would recover and be as evil as before. Maybe he would change and become a nice guy. Probably he would get killed by some Dracon in ways so abhorrent that Kendrik couldn't even imagine them.
Whatever it was, it was not Kendrik's place to make that decision.
"Get lost," he snarled at Clive. "Get your sorry ass out of my sight, and remember that every little whore here might have a big, big friend somewhere. Remember me when next time you think of hurting someone."
Stumbling, Clive limped away from Kendrik, ducking as if expecting another blow any second. Kendrik kept his eyes on him until he disappeared into another corridor. It was a pathetic sight.
Still breathing heavily, Kendrik turned to open the door to his room. Much to his surprise, it didn't move, even though the door couldn't be locked from the inside. Kendrik tried again, but there obviously was something on the inside blocking the door.
"Kendrik, is that you?" he heard Luca ask from the inside.
"It's me," Kendrik replied.
Even before Luca opened the door, Kendrik could feel himself reaching out for the boy, his mind passing the distance between them effortlessly. Now that he knew that Luca was close, Kendrik could hardly bear to be without him, to feel his cool and calm mind around the sore and angry emotions of his own.
It took Luca only a few seconds to remove whatever contraption he had used to block the door, then he pulled Kendrik inside, hugging him with almost the same motion.
"Oh God," Luca whispered against Kendrik's chest. "When I heard Mistress Ondine, I thought... I don't know... Are you in trouble now?"
"No, darling," Kendrik replied, his eyes closed, his head leaning against the inside of the door. "My master will probably find this rather amusing."
"Oh. I don't want you to get in trouble because of me."
For a long moment, they just stood there, holding each other, calming each other. Gently, Luca took one of Kendrik's hands, only to make a startled sound.
"Goodness, is this blood? Kendrik, are you hurt? Are you alright?"
Kendrik looked down at his blood-splattered hands, feeling a feral grin growing on his face.
"It's all Clive's, I think," he heard himself say. "I'm perfectly fine."
Luca's expression changed most remarkably. In the space of a few seconds, his huge, blue eyes went from horrified to surprised to daunted to incredibly turned on.
"Really?" he whispered huskily, suppressing a small laugh.
His lithe body leaned closer to Kendrik's, and this time, it wasn't for comfort. Luca took Kendrik's hand with both of his, eying the glittering blood with something between malicious glee and fear, then raised it to his mouth and started licking off the blood. First, just with the tip of his tongue, then by taking Kendrik's index and middle finger into his mouth completely.
With the remaining adrenalin still coursing through is blood, Kendrik didn't even manage to waste a single thought on how questionable this whole moment was. The only thing the realized what how incredibly turned on he was by Luca's look and the way he licked his fingers. How incredibly soothing Luca's honest arousal was in contrast to all those sick games being played around them. How much he longed to be with him.
They barely made it onto the bed.