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Special thanks to my beta, Rustler.
Published in 2004 in Ad Seg, a printed fan 'zine edited and illustrated by kaynyne.


by dustandroses

The Routine
Season 1, Episode 1

Schillinger: Like my tattoos? I'm gonna have to get you one.

Beecher: No, thanks.

Schillinger: Oh, yeah. I'm gonna brand you myself.

Beecher: Livestock gets branded.

Schillinger: Livestock. That's what you are. My livestock. Because now, Tobias, your ass belongs to me.

When he was sure the guard wouldn't be back anytime soon, Schillinger rolled off the top bunk, landing with the solid slap of bare feet on the floor. He crossed to the toilet, relieving himself before moving over to the sink to wash his hands. Then he turned around to face the bunk and the silent man on the bottom bed. He unbuttoned his shirt, trying to look casual...as if he deflowered virgin prags every night of the week. Well, he thought, I have had my share - but I get the feeling this one is going to be special.

He grinned widely at the thought, shrugging the shirt off his shoulders and folding it neatly across the back of the pod's only chair. He moved slowly, deliberately, in the dim light, knowing Beecher watched from under his lashes; building his anticipation and Beecher`s dread. He was already half-hard; had been most of the evening, at the prospect of tearing into some fresh meat. Tonight would be a turning point for both of them, he thought, not really understanding why, but feeling it strongly, nonetheless.

After lockdown, Schillinger had let Beecher sit there on his bunk with his arms wrapped around his legs, rocking slightly, for over an hour before he'd decided to step in.

"Beecher?" he'd called from his reclining position on the top bunk. "Are you okay down there?" There'd been no reply - no movement. "Beecher, I want you to stand up, now... by the foot of the bed." Still nothing. He put his book down and leaned over the edge of the bunk to look at Beecher, his view turned upside down from this perspective. He sighed, watching as the pale man continued to rock, staring past the bunks into the pods across the way. He hadn't moved at all in the last hour. Looks like we need to get some things straightened out, right now. Schillinger turned and dropped down to the floor, moving rapidly for a man of his size.

Beecher didn't move, so Schillinger went to the end of the bunk and stood directly in his way, blocking the view of the pod across from theirs. "Look at me." His voice rang out with authority, and Beecher lifted his pale blue eyes to Schillinger's. Beecher drew in a breath, and Schillinger smiled as he realized Beecher was disturbed by the notion that he had followed Schillinger's order automatically, without thinking. "I think we need to set out a few ground rules, while we get to know each other. Pay attention to this, because it's important." He paused to make sure Beecher was listening before continuing. "Number one: I am in charge. You belong to me now, and whatever I say to do, you will do. Is that clear?"

Beecher didn't reply, but his eyes closed, and the stubborn look on his face said everything Schillinger needed to know. He grabbed Beecher by the arm, pulling him out of the lower bunk and throwing him up against the wall at the head of the bed. Beecher's eyes were open and wide with fear now, and he was breathing heavily, but except for the gasp that escaped him as Schillinger dragged him off the bunk, he had made little noise.

Schillinger leaned into him until there were only a few inches separating them, and spoke in a low, threatening voice: "I own you now, Beecher...all of you. Everything you are, everything you've ever been, and everything you will ever be, is mine. Don't try to fight me. I can't be fought." He leaned in close to Beecher's ear, and whispered - his moist breath hot and burning against Beecher's flesh: "You belong to me."

Schillinger pulled his head back, and watched as Beecher's face crumpled. He let go of his arms, and Beecher slowly slid down to the floor. He wrapped his arms around his legs, and putting his head down, began to cry - huge wracking sobs that sounded like they were being ripped right out of his soul. Schillinger smiled to himself. He recognized that sound: it was the sound of surrender.

Schillinger gave Beecher a few moments to recover, but then he pressed the point.

"Keep the pod spotless at all times; do my laundry twice a week; don't go anywhere without my permission; say `yes, sir' whenever I give a command and jump to it, immediately; I like having my feet rubbed...why don't you do that right now, as a matter of fact - and take care of the arches, they`re tender." He could tell how much Beecher hated that, from the sour look on his face. That was good to know. He loved how easy it was to read this little bitch!

But Beecher took Schillinger's feet upon his lap without complaint - and without the requisite "Yes, sir." Which earned him a strong kick - hard heel to soft gut. Just a reminder of who he belonged to now: nothing too forceful - not enough to draw attention...the lights were still on, and Beecher wasn't trained well enough, yet, to explain it away to the guards. He shaped up a bit, after that, though. Doing what was asked of him - if a bit sullenly. But that was okay, Schillinger didn't give a fuck if he was happy, as long as he did what he was told.

Schillinger tugged off his undershirt, laying it on the seat of the chair. He could see his little prag was trembling in fear, and anticipation, perhaps? He laughed out loud at that, and watched as Beecher jerked, slightly, at the sound, clenching his eyes tightly shut. Schillinger could just feel the fear flowing off him...and he stood there a minute and soaked it up. Now, this is power. This is what it's all about! That rush never failed to arouse him. He rubbed his hard cock through his pants...time to get things rolling!

Beecher's head was spinning: the same six words circling around and around... What am I going to do? What am I going to do? He would have given anything for a drink about now. The absurdity of that hit him hard. He wanted to laugh out loud - he could hear the laughter bouncing around in his skull...shrill, and far too close to hysteria. But at the moment, he couldn't think of a better time or place for hysteria than tonight, in this cell...pod...whatever. It was all he could do to keep it in check - he trembled with the effort of holding that hysteria at bay.

God, I need a drink. How many times had he repeated that phrase since he reached Oz...since he hit Kathy Rockwell, for that matter? And, surprisingly, that thought seemed to ground him, calm him, almost. He realized then, that reminding himself of the little girl whose life he had stolen made it easier to bear this horror. He grabbed onto that thought, and held it tight in trembling fists hidden under the scratchy green blanket and cheap dingy-gray sheets. From under his lashes, he watched Schillinger's obscene slow-motion striptease. He suppressed a shudder as the older man reached for his belt, and unzipped his fly.

When Schillinger had shoved those smelly feet in his lap earlier in the evening, it had been all Beecher could do not to throw up all over them. He'd always hated it when Genevieve asked him to do that, and her feet were a thousand times nicer than his, even when they were all puffy and swollen from pregnancy. Maybe if he hadn't just taken his boots off, they wouldn't have been so bad, but jeez that had been disgusting. But now, as Schillinger folded his pants and set them on the chair behind him, Beecher realized he'd take those feet back in a second, if he could avoid what was coming up. He didn't think that would be an option, however.

He tried to focus - to think clearly about his situation...but the only thing he could think of was Kathy Rockwell's face. He heard the bang of a gavel and Judge Lima`s voice echoed in his head: "Guilty! Guilty!" He felt that his reason had deserted him, and if that was gone... He'd spent years honing his mind at Harvard, training himself to think quickly and resourcefully in times of stress. He could turn an opponent's argument on them in a flash - the captain of the debate team for three years running - top of his class. They had taken almost everything he possessed when they'd thrown him in here; all that remained was his sharp lawyer's mind. And now, when he needed it, that mind was failing him. He was lost. Completely lost.

Beecher realized with a shock that Schillinger had been standing by the bunk staring at him for a few minutes now. He lay there looking up at Schillinger, afraid of what was coming next and not knowing what else to do.

"I want you to stand up now, Beecher, and take off your clothes." Schillinger's voice was soft, but his tone suggested he would tolerate no argument.

After Schillinger's pronouncement earlier, Beecher had obeyed his orders for the rest of the evening, with very little argument. But now anger and resentment were reasserting themselves and Beecher hesitated, unsure of how to proceed.

"Get the fuck up here!," Schillinger hissed angrily, "and take your clothes off. Now!"

Panicked, Beecher jumped up and backed away, looking around, hoping to see a guard, or anyone who could help him. He could see into the next pod - there was a big, overly-tattooed man lying on his side in the bottom bunk, staring at him. But as soon as Beecher turned his direction, he rolled over, pulling the cover up, hiding the multi-colored etchings on his back.

Schillinger backhanded him across the face. He hit the Plexiglas wall of the pod, slid down to his knees, sobbing, and was roughly jerked back up again. "I thought we went over this already, prag. When I tell you to do something, you say `yes, sir`, and then you do it. Immediately. Did I not make myself clear, Bitcher?"

Beecher nodded, and his voice broke as he stuttered, "Yes, sir."

"Well, then?"

He pulled the image of Kathy Rockwell's face pressed against his windshield out of his nightmares, and fortified by it, took a deep breath. Hands shaking, he pulled off his t-shirt and dropped it on the floor.

"What the fuck do you think..." Schillinger began.

"I'm sorry, sir, I`m sorry! I...I wasn't thinking." Beecher quickly realized what he had done, picked up the shirt, folded it sloppily, and looked around, wild-eyed, for a place to set it down. Schillinger stepped to his right, revealing the chair, and Beecher crossed over to it, grateful to know what to do. He fumbled with suddenly clumsy fingers at the button on his chino's, but finally got them undone and zipped down.

Schillinger laughed to himself as he watched Beecher struggle with his zipper, this was just getting better and better all the time. Schillinger was so turned on by this game, he wasn't even sure he could get much harder. Beecher was rattled - terrified - and it was so easy to heighten his horror. Beecher looked up at him hesitantly, his pants finally unzipped, and without thinking twice Schillinger reached out, and pulled Beecher's pants and his boxers down below his knees with one sudden jerk.

Beecher gasped, and started to speak, but Schillinger was way ahead of him. "Get them off, now," he ordered impatiently. As he lifted his leg to pull them off, Beecher fell against the bunk - his shoulder sliding off the post of the bed. He landed on the bottom bunk with a soft grunting noise. Beecher pulled the pants off his feet, with the boxers still inside them; and nervously twisting them up together, he threw them on the chair. Schillinger thought about reprimanding him for that, but decided it could wait...there were more pressing things on his mind... and pressing up against my shorts, he laughed to himself. He let the laughter come to the surface, and Beecher looked up at him in alarm, the terror obvious in his eyes. "Stand up, Beecher."

He saw Beecher hesitate, but before Schillinger even had time to react, he stood. "Yes...." Schillinger prompted him.

Beecher looked puzzled for a second, then replied quietly, his head downcast, "Yes, sir."

Schillinger smiled, nodding. "Good boy. Stand up straight and put your shoulders back." Beecher complied, staring at the wall but letting his eyes slide away from Schillinger, as he walked in front of him. Schillinger grabbed Beecher's arm and pulled him forward and over a few steps - giving Schillinger room to walk all the way around him. On his second circuit around, Schillinger stopped behind him and to his left, running his hand slowly down Beecher's back, coming to rest on his right buttock. He ran his hand up and down that cheek a few times, then leaned in to whisper in Beecher's ear, "Nice ass." He squeezed hard, "Yes, that will do nicely." But before Beecher had time to wonder what he meant by that, Schillinger cackled maniacally, and hit his cheek, with as much force as he could manage.

Beecher jumped and looked around, but at Schillinger's sing-song warning, "Ah, ah, ah...", he turned back around to face the wall, breathing hard and shivering. Schillinger moved away from him, going to his trunk, and rummaging through it - grabbing a ball point pen, a lighter and a tube of lube. Gotta have your supplies ready... he thought to himself, ...a Boy Scout is always prepared. This made Schillinger cackle again, earning a quick, nervous glance in his direction from Beecher, who was still standing where Schillinger had left him. He walked back to Beecher, putting his supplies down on the edge of the sink.

He turned to Beecher, grabbing his chin, and pulling his face around to look Schillinger in the eye. He put his hands on Beecher's shoulders: "You're doing very well, prag. Keep it up, and I'll make this as painless as possible," he promised him. Schillinger paused, waiting for a response. Beecher seemed to catch on finally, dropping his eyes and saying softly: "Yes, sir."

"No," responded Schillinger. "Look me in the eye when you speak to me."

He closed his eyes, briefly, while Schillinger waited, then Beecher looked up at him, pain and resignation in his eyes, and said. "Yes, sir."

Schillinger smiled, and turned away from him, to pick up the items he had set on the edge of the sink. "Lie down on your stomach - put your head up at this end. Hands folded above your head." Oh, God, thought Beecher, panicking suddenly: this is it. As Schillinger turned to face him, he thought, for just a second, about banging on the pod door, screaming; but Schillinger had already warned him that attracting attention to himself was, as Schillinger had put it, "a really bad idea."

Drawing strength from the image of Kathy Rockwell, he did as he was told. Schillinger grabbed the pillow by his feet, dropping his supplies by the foot of the bed. "Lift your head up." Beecher was thrown...this seemed the most insane thing that had happened to him yet, here at Oz...a tiny piece of comfort, amidst all the horror - the offer of a pillow for his head, by the man about to rape him! He almost laughed out loud at the insanity of it, but then Schillinger turned around and pulled the belt out of the loops on Beecher's pants.

The sound was unmistakable. Beecher started to pull away, back toward the pod wall, but the look in Schillinger's eyes was clear, and he lay back down again, breathing heavily, his heart thumping in his chest. Guilty, he repeated to himself, following the beat of his heart's wild rhythm, I am guilty. Schillinger walked to the end of the bunk. He grabbed Beecher's left hand, and wrapped the belt around it. Suddenly, Beecher could no longer breathe...as if a giant fist had constricted around his chest, holding him tight.

He watched, unable to move, as Schillinger wrapped the belt around his other wrist, securing both of them, and pulling the belt tight against the metal pole across the foot of the bed. He worked quickly and with precision. Beecher realized with a shock: He's done this before. He reached out and grabbed Beecher's terrified face, laughing. "Don't worry, Sweetpea...you'll get used to it in no time...who knows, you might even like it, after a while." He patted Beecher on the cheek, almost gently, then he grinned evilly, and moved back around to the side of the bunk.

He wrapped his hand around Beecher's right knee, and pulled it, abruptly, away from the other. At Schillinger's touch, Beecher gasped, and he began to breathe again, taking in huge lungfuls of air. He felt light headed, and suddenly this all felt like a dream. He knew it was just the lack of oxygen, but he clung to that feeling while he could. Hoping against hope that he would wake up in his own bed at any moment, back home - his home, far away from a land called Oz. He would have laughed at that, if he could have stopped gasping. A land called Oz...Visions of Munchkins with Schillinger's and Adebisi's faces banged up against each other in his head...using their lollipops as weapons - fighting over who gets to fuck the new prag, Dorothy.

A weight on his back brought him back to reality suddenly; he tensed, and began to struggle before he even realized what he was doing. He knew there was nowhere to go - not with his wrists tied to the foot of the bed, and Schillinger's heavy weight on his back - but once he'd started, he couldn't stop himself. He felt Schillinger's humid breath on his neck as he leaned down to whisper in his ear. "We can make this simple, or we can make it complicated. That's up to you."

The sound of Schillinger's voice stopped his thrashing. It gave him something to focus on...and he knew, instinctively, that what he was saying was important. "Simple means you take it like a good boy, and don't fight me. If you choose simple, it will hurt some, and you will probably bleed for a bit, but you'll heal on your own, and it won`t be too bad. If you choose complicated, you could end up in the infirmary...there will be stitches; maybe even surgery. It will hurt - a lot, and when you get out of the hospital, I will make it hurt even more. Do you understand me, Tobias? "

Beecher nodded. He did understand. He had a choice, here. A choice that would decide his future for the rest of his time in this hell hole; no - the rest of his life. He realized then that whatever his decision, his life from this point on, would never be the same. He suddenly wanted a drink so badly that he could feel his insides screaming. He put his face down into the pillow, and laughed, quietly - his shoulders shaking. He knew Schillinger must think he was crying, again. But it was laughter, just the same.

Beecher thought he must be going insane, but he knew what his decision had to be. He would submit. He had no choice. He had no right to fight this. No right. He was guilty. He watched again as the whole horrid vision looped through his head...the brakes squealing, that wretched thump, the face of a little girl with braids as she smashed into the windshield. He saw Kathy Rockwell's face, as she pulled away from the glass, blood streaming down her face. She nodded at him. "You are guilty," she told Beecher solemnly. "I am guilty," he repeated, nodding his head.

"Yes, sir," he whispered to Schillinger, "I understand. I'll do what you say."

Schillinger shoved Beecher`s face down into the pillow to muffle his cries. Then he laughed..."I knew you'd say that."

Beecher felt something wet and hard pressing up between the cheeks of his ass, and he tensed, grabbing onto the bar his hands were strapped to. The pain was sudden and intense, and he cried out, not even realizing that he'd done so. With his face pressed into the pillow, it was hard for him to breathe, and as he gasped for air, the pain grew - multiplied - until it felt like his whole consciousness was centered around that white-hot pain. For what seemed like forever, but was probably only a few minutes, the only thing that felt real to him was the pain, centered in that one spot.

Beecher could hear Schillinger above him - his rhythmic grunts synchronized to the intensity of the pain in his ass - the pain growing as the man on his back thrust into him, jerking Beecher's entire body forward, and shrinking slightly as he pulled out in preparation for the next blow. For that's exactly how this felt to him: Schillinger was using his cock as a weapon - every thrust into Beecher was another blow aimed at destroying everything he was, everything he thought he was. And in his mind's eye, he could still see Kathy Rockwell, nodding at him, sticky blood drying on her face, as he accepted the punishment Schillinger doled out.

But slowly, other sensations began to creep into Beecher's consciousness, and he realized that although the pain was still intense, he was beginning to get used to it - his body was adjusting, and learning how to deal with this - invasion. Beecher wasn't sure what that meant, and he felt disturbed by the thought that his body could learn to accept something as horrible as this was. He felt very cold and wondered if perhaps he were in shock - he could feel the heat of Schillinger's body pressed up against his, and it didn't seem to warm his skin at all.

It felt like his sense of touch was magnified - the belt around his wrists cut into his flesh, and he thought he could feel the grain of the leather as it pulled on his skin. He could feel the roughness of the sheets as his spread knees rubbed painfully against them with every jarring thrust Schillinger made, and he pulled his knees up and to the sides slightly, to give himself more leverage on the mattress, bracing himself with his elbows. He arched his back slightly into the mattress, and was rewarded by a lessening of the pain in his ass. He realized what he was doing then, and it filled him with horror...what the hell kind of prag did that make him? For there was no denying it now, that was obviously exactly what he was.

Schillinger thrust into Beecher as hard as he could, pulling almost all the way out every time, before shoving his way back in. He felt strong and virile: he couldn't remember ever being this aroused before; this hard; this much in control. It was important that this prag never forget tonight, and so he pushed hard to make the pain more real to him than anything he`d ever felt. To train a prag right, you had to imprint yourself across his mind in these first few days. He needed to know in his soul that you were his master and there was no escape from you. The key to that lay in the pain and humiliation, and at those things Vern Schillinger had no equal.

Realizing that Beecher had begun to accept the rape - was no longer fighting the abuse, and was even adjusting his body to Schillinger's movements, he smiled. He was close, at this point - this god-damn bitch is so tight and hot - it's not gonna to take much more to make me shoot my load. And that made for good timing...just a little more mind-fuck for his prag, then he'd lay low for rounds. And after the guard was gone, he could move on to the next phase. Schillinger put his mouth next to Beecher's ear, and breathed into it, laughing harshly and soundlessly as he felt Beecher shudder beneath him.

"Good boy," he whispered into Beecher's ear, his breaths shallow and his voice rough with the intensity of his arousal. "You take it like a good prag." He paused to take a deep breath. It took effort to keep his voice steady, right now, with this pleasure shooting right through him, but this had to be perfect, and that thought gave him strength. "Can you feel me inside you, Bitcher? Can you feel that? Can you feel me? This is your life, now. You know that, don't you, prag? You belong to me." He emphasized that last word with a vicious thrust, feeling as much as hearing the deep sob from below him, and Schillinger smiled. Oh, yeah, this one is just so fucking... perfect.

He took his hand off the back of Beecher's head, watching for his reaction, and was pleased to see that all he did was turn his face to the side to search for an easier breath. Satisfied that he wouldn't try to attract attention, Schillinger moved his hand around to Beecher's chest. He located Beecher's right nipple, grabbed it, squeezing and twisting viciously, and at the same time biting down hard on the nape of his neck, just above the shoulder.

Beecher cried out in surprise and pain, his body stiffening, and that was all Schillinger needed. His body slapping violently against the pale flesh, thrusting hard enough to push grunts of pain out of Beecher, he came - breaking the skin on Beecher's neck with his teeth, and licking the blood that flowed there. He let his full weight fall heavily on the shaken man below him, as he regained his breath, his heartbeat slowing. Sucking hard on the bite mark he had made, he laughed at the bruised skin...thinking he'd leave his mark on Beecher more than once tonight.

Schillinger smiled as he lay there on top of Beecher, who was breathing heavily, his gasps sounding very much like sobs. He sucked some more on the bite mark on Beecher's neck, wanting to make that mark clearly visible to everyone who saw him tomorrow. He pulled his softening dick out of Beecher's ass, then got up to clean himself off. Beecher's head turned, as if he were trying to follow what Schillinger was doing. Schillinger grabbed his t-shirt and boxers from the chair where he'd laid them earlier, and slipped them back on before sitting on the edge of the lower bunk. He sat there for a moment, just watching Beecher's body trembling and listening to his ragged, struggling breaths.

Beecher jumped as Schillinger stretched out his hand towards him, but he merely rubbed his hand up and down Beecher's upper arm, in a soothing, intimate gesture. Beecher felt a shiver run through him that he couldn`t control. Schillinger leaned close and spoke to him in low tones, almost like a lover. "Beecher, there will be a guard coming around very soon now. I'm going to lie down on my bunk for a while, and when the guard shows up, I want you to stay still. Do not draw attention to yourself. Do you understand me?"

Beecher's voice was shaky and hoarse. "Let me..." He paused to clear his throat, then tried again. "Let me go. If he sees me tied up, he'll know something is wrong."

"No. Not yet. I'll let you go when I'm through with you. He won't see the belt, unless you point it out to him. And if that happens, you will regret it. Have I made myself clear?"

After a brief pause, Beecher remembered to answer, his voice wavering: "Yes, sir."

Schillinger gave his arm a pat as he stood up: "Good boy." He pulled Beecher's sheet over his body, draping one corner of it over his bound wrists and the bed post to which they were attached. He patted Beecher's covered hands. "Now you behave. I'll be right up there, keeping an eye on you."

"Yes, sir."

"Good boy." Schillinger stood up, and swung up onto the top bunk, settling himself in.

Good boy. Beecher took a deep, shaky breath. Yeah, right...I'm a real good boy. He tried to focus his mind...to figure a way out of this before Schillinger was ready to brand him. Because he knew that was what was coming next. What else could it be? Unless he just wants to fuck me again, he thought bitterly. He had no idea which would be worse. The pain in his ass was excruciating, and he didn't think he could bear being raped again tonight, but he had no idea what would be involved in a "branding", either.

Well, it's a pretty safe bet to say I'm not going to enjoy it, whatever it is, or he wouldn`t have insisted that this stay on. he thought, tugging briefly on the belt binding his wrists. He could feel hysteria rising in him again, and fought to overcome it, closing his eyes and taking deep breaths to calm himself.

Shillinger listened to his prag's breathing from the bunk below. Lying on his back, head propped up on his crossed arms, he grinned. Beecher was just begging to be abused, and there was nothing Schillinger wanted to do more than oblige him. Some people were just born victims, and Schillinger had been born to take advantage of them. He'd always known how to make it work for him. It just came naturally to him, for some reason - the same way some people could sing, or play the piano, or were born with the ability to sweet talk a nun out of her pants. Schillinger's talent, his gift was the ability to recognize the weakness for what it was, to know what to do, what they needed from him to complete their self-destructive cycle.

Because that was what it took. He'd read about it, years ago - although it still amazed him that there were people writing books about this shit. If they didn't understand it instinctively, they shouldn't be doing it. But he understood it. Pitiful fools like Beecher wanted to be punished, to have their worthlessness reaffirmed. They needed someone like him to control them, take their choices away from them, break them. If they had no choice, they had no responsibility. Beecher's managed to fuck up his spoiled little life rather royally all on his own. Now it's my job to make him suffer for it. Well, ok, I can handle that...I'll take his sad, self-destructive little ass, and show him what punishment really means. He's never going to be the same.

There was nothing quite like having total control over another person. And it was even better when it was a man. Women were too easy. They had this built-in inferiority thing going to begin with. A man like Beecher, though... He'd had everything he could want, right there in the palm of his hand - a husband and father, a successful lawyer in the family law firm, an upstanding member of his community. But he had a deep dark secret that in the end, got the better of him. He hadn't told Schillinger he was an alcoholic, but he was here for killing a child while driving under the influence. If that wasn't a drunkard's game, Schillinger didn't know what was. He'd spent enough time around places like this to know a co-dependent when he saw one.

That made it all the sweeter - like having your cake and eating it, too. Because it was always a struggle. Despite the self-destructive habits, there was a survival instinct that had to be controlled - overwhelmed. Beecher would have to be forced into submission, it wouldn't come naturally. But Schillinger was up to the challenge. And he needed something like this. The every day grind of prison life was a soul stealer. He needed something to engage his mind, and running the Brotherhood just wasn't enough. He needed a little spice in his life, and now he had it. This was going to be sweet.

Beecher heard a noise, and opened his eyes to see a light flashing. He quickly put his head down, pretending to be asleep. He wondered when he had decided to go along with Schillinger's orders - but he had no answer to that. He lay there, watching the flashlight's beam sweep across his pod and into the one next to his, without even a pause. He couldn't tell if he was relieved, or disappointed - he didn't want this horror to go on, but he also didn't want to be blamed for attracting attention. He'd never really thought he had a very vivid imagination, but the list of ways he could come up with for Schillinger to punish him was disturbingly long, and he realized he didn't want to continue that particular train of thought anymore.

He thought about the look McManus had given him earlier today when he'd asked to be moved to Schillinger's pod. Beecher had insisted he knew what he was doing, and he didn't think McManus would let him move again, so soon. But he needed to get out of this pod. He needed to get out of this *prison*. What I really need, he laughed bitterly to himself, is a vodka martini, please. He smiled as the bartender set it down in front of him, and he reached out for it, his mouth watering at the memory of how the liquor would taste on his tongue, the relief he'd feel as it flowed down his throat. His hands would stop shaking, he'd be able to focus, he'd be able to figure some way out of this if he could just have a drink. Just one. The need pierced him - a single sharp, clear pain that left an almost unbearable ache behind.

Beecher was jerked abruptly back to reality when he heard Schillinger land on the floor behind him. Schillinger crouched beside his head for a minute, to pat his arm, "Good job, Beecher. Good boy." Beecher gritted his teeth. He was not some kind of dog to be petted and praised, or livestock to be branded! This is not right! I don't deserve this! No one deserves this! But there was Kathy Rockwell, always there before him, as she had been every day since the accident...reminding him of his weakness, his illness, his lack of control. He did deserve this. He deserved to be punished. He was guilty. He belonged here, strapped to this bed, with this ugly brute of a monster lying on top of him. There was nowhere else he did belong now. Tears streamed down his face, and his shoulders shook as he cried into his pillow.

Schillinger watched Beecher's shoulders shake, and he laughed to himself. Oh, Tobias, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

"Ok, listen up, Beecher. This is important. Are you listening to me, Beecher?"

Beecher hesitated, finally deciding it was better to offer a response of some sort. "Yes." He frowned to himself, that had come out sounding sullen, like a petulant child. When had he turned into a spoiled six year old?

Schillinger was down on his knees on the floor next to Beecher's head in a second, surprising Beecher with the quickness of the move. He grabbed the back of Beecher's head with one hand and pulled his chin around with the other; his voice angry and his face scant inches away from Beecher`s. "If I ever hear you aim that tone of voice at me again prag, it'll be the last thing you ever say. Do you understand me, Bitch? DO YOU?"

Beecher was breathing hard - he felt like he might just panic and start screaming at any second. He tried to control it but he wasn`t sure how. Then Schillinger eased off a bit - he backed up a few inches, repeating the question again, but in a calmer voice. "Do you?"

Beecher swallowed, hard, and closed his eyes for a second, gathering his strength and his scattered wits. After a moment, he answered...soft and shakily, and with no trace of the attitude he'd shown just a moment before. "Yes, sir. I understand. I...I`m listening, sir."

"Good boy." Beecher clenched his jaw at that, he couldn't control the disgust he felt when he heard that phrase. He saw Schillinger note the look on his face and realized he had just given Schillinger another advantage over him. I need to be more careful.

"You know what we're going to do now, don't you?" Schillinger didn't wait for an answer. "This is going to hurt. This is going to hurt a lot." Beecher knew Schillinger could see the fear in his eyes, but he couldn't control his reaction. Schillinger went on. "The decision to be made here is: Are you going to need a gag, or I can trust you to put your head down into that pillow, and not make any noise that will attract attention?"

Beecher's breathing sped up - faster and shallower, he could tell this was important, but he couldn`t grasp the reasoning behind it. Why is he giving me a choice? What is he trying to get from me here? But he just couldn`t grasp it - he just couldn`t concentrate. He spoke hesitantly: "What happens if I try, but I can't - " He broke off, fear and guilt warring inside him - he didn't want to be gagged, but didn't know exactly what he'd be able to take.

"You can ask for the gag at any time. But if I have to impose it, well, that will be a different matter."

He answered quickly, before he could change his mind: "No gag." He paused. "Please. Sir."

Schillinger nodded. "Good choice, Beecher." He got up, crossed over to the sink, and grabbed a towel. "Let's get to work, then."

Schillinger was quite satisfied by Beecher`s choice; that had been a crucial step. It was important to get Beecher to accept the terms of this relationship as soon as possible. Giving him this "choice" helped cement the tie between them. Especially since he chose not to wear the gag. That made him a partner of sorts, or at least an accomplice in his own branding. Unfortunately, he didn't trust Beecher enough to go without the belt, yet. He'd like to be able to wait - the brand would have a different meaning to Beecher, if he faced it without restraints. But he'd told Beecher he would brand him tonight - if he didn't follow through, he'd lose face, and that would lead Beecher to think he could possibly get around his other decisions. No, it was best to keep him strapped to the bed, and brand him tonight. There would be other opportunities to strengthen the bond between master and prag. He'd take advantage of them as they came along.

Schillinger looked down at Beecher, stretched out on the bed below him. His breathing was fast and shallow and he was trembling slightly. Schillinger smiled at that, and leaned over, putting a hand on his ankle, feeling Beecher start at his touch, Schillinger's hand curving around the bones there. He slowly slid his hand up, over Beecher's calf, the soft skin on the back of his knee, his thigh, up over the curve of his ass, his waist, his back, all the way up to his neck. The touch was heavy - possessive and sure. Mine, he thought. This belongs to me. He thought Beecher must have felt his intention, for he shivered as Schillinger wrapped his hand around the back of Beecher's neck. He laughed softly at that, and Beecher shivered again. He moved his hand quickly, to slap Beecher's right butt cheek - hard. Beecher gasped and jerked, but didn't cry out. Schillinger smiled and softly trailed his fingers over the red spot he'd raised, then climbed into the bunk to sit on Beecher's legs, just below his knees. He crossed his legs over the backs of Beecher's thighs, and moved around a bit, until he'd gotten comfortable.

He picked up the ballpoint pen he'd pulled out of the footlocker earlier, and grabbed the lighter, holding the flame up under the metal tip. "Ok Beecher," Schillinger said, as the tip grew hotter and started to glow, "this is it. Put your head down in the pillow now, and get ready." Beecher's muscles got tense suddenly, he took a deep breath, put his face in the pillow, grabbed the bar his hands were strapped to, and held on tight. Schillinger could see his body was shaking as he held the glowing tip up close to his ass, and decided on just the right spot. He pressed the tip against Beecher's flesh, and felt him jump and cry out as he jerked wildly on the bunk. Schillinger lost his grip on the pen and it flew out of his hand and fell to the floor. The smell of burnt hair and flesh was in the air, as Schillinger cursed and leaned over to grab the pen. Beecher twisted to the side, and dislodged him, and he tumbled to the concrete floor.

Schillinger landed hard, and sat there for a second, his eyes wide with surprise. There was a second of silence, broken only by the sound of a deep gasp from Beecher. He held his breath as he stared at Schillinger with fear on his face, obviously realizing what he'd done. Schillinger grabbed Beecher's head, and twisted it savagely to face him. He wrapped his free hand around Beecher`s throat, cutting into his windpipe...making him struggle to draw in air. Pulling him up away from the bed, Schillinger hissed into his ear. "Now you listen up, Beecher! You pull a stunt like that again, and I'll make you hurt so bad you'll wish you were dead. Is that clear?" Beecher moved his head rapidly in as close to a nod as he could get in that position, his mouth working soundlessly, obviously unable to force any sound past the hand closing off his windpipe. Schillinger held his throat closed for a moment longer, until he thought Beecher might be close to passing out, then suddenly let go, and dropped him back onto the bed.

Beecher fell onto the bed, hitting his forehead against his hands which were still clenched tightly to the bar across the foot of the bunk. He gasped for breath, making deep, jagged noises through his bruised windpipe. Schillinger knelt on the concrete floor and watched him angrily. Finally Beecher looked up. When he saw the look on Schillinger's face, he cringed. Taking a deep breath, he spoke, his voice sounding raw and harsh: "I'm sorry, sir. I thought I was ready, but..." he drew in another tortured breath, "but, it just took me by surprise...I just reacted...I wasn't thinking." Another breath, sounding somewhat less labored than the last one, "I didn't mean to - I'm sorry, please...."

Schillinger leaned in close, his voice low. "This is your last chance to do this on your own, Beecher. If you can't handle it, I'll have four of my men hold you down tomorrow, and I'll let them all fuck you when it's over. Is that what you want, Beecher?"

Beecher's eyes went wide, and Schillinger could tell he was beginning to panic again, his voice getting louder. "No! Please, sir, no! I'll be okay, I promise. Please sir, please!"

Schillinger clamped his hand over Beecher's mouth. "Then show me you can do it, and shut the fuck up, Bitcher!"

Schillinger got up, sitting on Beecher's thighs this time, bringing his weight up closer to Beecher's ass, making it harder to move his legs. He worked the lighter. "Alright, let's try this again, and try not to move at all. If it doesn`t burn deep enough the first time, I have to go back over it to make it even. That hurts even worse, Beecher, believe me. Are you ready?"

Beecher nodded. Schillinger thought he still looked pretty tense, but at least this time he knew what to expect. He pushed the glowing tip down onto Beecher's skin. Beecher jumped slightly, but then stayed very still, under the circumstances, his muscles shaking, his breath ragged and fast, but under at least enough control not to jump or twist away.

Schillinger praised Beecher while he heated the tip again, "That was good, Beecher. Very good. You keep that up, and we'll be through with this in no time. Here we go," he warned, as he pressed the tip against Beecher's skin again, listening to the crackling, sizzling noise it made, and breathing in the smell of burnt flesh and singed hair. He watched dispassionately, as a little trail of smoke rose into the air. Beecher's back was arched with the pain, and he pulled himself off the mattress every time Schillinger pressed the pen to his flesh, but he seemed to have himself under control, now. Yes, good. Very good.

When Beecher felt Schillinger's hand run up his body possessively, claiming him, he had been unable to control his shudder. He couldn't believe this was real. Already tonight he'd lived through more horror and sheer nightmare than he'd ever felt in his whole life, and he knew that there was more to come. The sudden slap to his ass had shocked him back into reality, jerking him up to look around, watching Schillinger run his fingers over the spot he'd just hit - laughing softly. Then Schillinger sat on his legs.

When the first burning shock went through him, he bucked automatically - and then again without thought, tumbling Schillinger to the floor. It had been a reflex - a knee-jerk reaction - he hadn't even been aware he was going to do it, until after it was over. A survival technique, from a man who thought he had given up and turned hope over to those more naive than himself some time ago. He realized then that despite his feelings of total abandonment and isolation in this hell hole, he wasn't going to surrender. He might have to endure this place and this man for some time, but he wasn't going to give up. He'd just have to choose his fights carefully. He would survive.

Schillinger climbed back on his legs and he steeled himself for the pain - knowing now what was coming made it a little easier. It was painful, and he grit his teeth against the urge to cry out; but for some reason, it seemed important to him not to, and he bore the agony without sound. He turned his head to try and get a couple of good breaths in before Schillinger did it again, and by the time Schillinger was ready, Beecher was too. He held his breath as he felt the heat come near, and as it burned him, this time he heard the sound. It was a sizzling noise, like bacon frying in a pan, and suddenly without any warning, he was nauseated. He fought that, as well, not wanting to have to deal with Schillinger's reaction to his throwing up all over his bed.

He wanted a drink so badly. He wanted to be numb - to not feel anything at all, and only alcohol could do that for him. Schillinger had told him the branding would kill the nerve endings, and he'd go numb, but Schillinger didn't know what Beecher wanted, what he needed. There's numb, and then there's numb. He laughed to himself. Oh yeah...very funny Tobias. Very funny. He seemed to have crawled into his own head, and although he was still aware - could still feel the heat and the pain, the weight of Schillinger on his legs, the smell of burned flesh in his nose - he began to separate himself from them, somehow. He stepped further into his own mind, and left everything else behind.

He felt so fragile, as if he was made of very thin glass and might shatter with absolutely no notice or provocation. He wasn't used to feeling this way - with Genevive, he'd always been the strong one. She'd been so slender and small. He may not have been a big man, but he'd always felt he might break her when they made love - that her frail body might not be able to hold his weight. He knew this was an illusion, she'd given birth to three children - he'd seen what she went through there in the delivery room; every time he had been amazed at her resilience, in awe of her bravery - not at all sure he could have survived even once if he'd been in her place.

But the illusion had always been there. He was "Husband", "Protector", "Father", "Provider". He knew these roles - even if he may not have been the best at them - he thought he even understood them. But now, all that was gone. He was so lost, there was no place for the man he'd been here in prison - in Oz. He might as well be "over the rainbow", for all he understood of this world. Nothing was ever going to be the same.

Beecher felt a deep, sudden sorrow for all he had lost, everything that had been stripped from him in a moment's time. But even as he did so, he realized it had been his own fault. Nobody had pushed him behind the wheel of that car, so drunk that he could hardly see. He was the one who had fished for the car keys, started the engine, and driven off - swerving down the street. He knew he shouldn't have been driving, but he'd done it anyway, hadn't he? It was his own fault. The guilt belonged to no one but him.

He looked over at Kathy Rockwell, as she starred at him solemnly. He reached out a hand and touched the blood running slowly down her cheek from the wound on her forehead. I'm sorry, he told her, knowing it wasn't enough, but not having anything else to offer her.

I know, she replied, nodding her head.

What can I do? What do you want from me?

Penance. He looked at her, puzzled, not sure what she meant.

Don't worry, you'll know when it's over. In the meantime, I`ll be here...I`ll be watching you.

He nodded. He thought he understood now. She needed to know he'd paid for his crime. He wasn't alone here, after all...he had Kathy, didn`t he?

Beecher realized there hadn't been any more burns in the last few minutes. He put his head down on the pillow, taking a deep shaky breath. He also realized Schillinger had been right - his whole right buttock felt numb - he could feel the pain, but it seemed very far away. The smell of burnt flesh was strong in the small enclosed space, but although his stomach rebelled at the scent, he was able to control the urge to vomit. Schillinger seemed to be admiring his work. He hadn't said anything, but he was whistling something under his breath, and occasionally chuckling to himself.

Schillinger climbed off his legs, standing and stretching in the darkened pod, like he was trying to work out the kinks of sitting in one position for too long a time. He stood next to Beecher for a moment, then squatted down next to his head and began to untie the belt holding his hands to the bed. Beecher sighed, his hands still shaking, as he rubbed the dark red marks that had dug into his wrists. Schillinger was staring at him - he looked up at him - shying away from his eyes - they seemed to see more than Beecher really wanted to show.

Schillinger caught Beecher's eyes finally, and began to speak, softly, making sure Beecher was paying attention. "You're mine now. You know that, don't you? I've marked you - I own you. Everything. You belong to me now, body and soul."

Beecher laughed, softly, shaking his head. For some reason, this disturbed Schillinger - he felt a chill run up the back of his neck - his hackles standing on end.

"No, sir." Beecher said, slowly, quietly - it seemed he was unable to keep the smirk off his face, out of his voice. "You may own my body - I don't think there's anything I can do about that. But you'll never have my soul. It doesn't belong to me anymore." He started to laugh. "You'll have to talk to Kathy Rockwell about that." Schillinger stared at him as the laughter bubbled out and turned into something with a hint of hysteria.

Schillinger awoke in the middle of the night with Beecher's hysterical laughter ringing in his ears - his heart pounding, breath rapid and uneven. Then he realized where he was, and took a deep breath, trying to calm his mind and body. He lay awake, staring at the ceiling, thinking back over the events of the night. He should be pleased with how this night had come out - he was pleased. It had been an excellent beginning to his and Beecher's new relationship. Everything had gone as well as he could have wished - in some ways much better than he expected. But for some reason, it rang hollow. It didn't satisfy the way it should have. Something had happened, somehow, at the very end Beecher had wrested control away from him, and he just didn't understand how that had happened.

He decided he wasn't going to let that bother him. He'd resolve this in the morning, when he saw Beecher face to face again. It was just the adrenaline rush caused by the branding. Everyone went through that moment when the endorphins kicked in, and you felt that headlong rush you couldn't stop if you wanted. Things would be different in the morning, he knew. He rolled over, and deliberately refused to think about Beecher. But the last thing he heard as he drifted off to sleep was that crazy laughter, and he shivered, as if someone had run an ice cube down his spine.

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