"Who the fuck was that?" Cain asked, rounding on the smaller fighter with a snarl as soon as the door closed.

Deimos shook his head quickly, gave a shrug with one shoulder. He wanted to avoid Cain's temper even if it didn't scare him anymore.

Cain took the motions for what they were, but his glare didn't lessen. "Like shit you don't know. What, you whoring around when I'm not looking, Deimos? Is that it?"

Again, the mouse shook his head, and he wasn't lying. He screwed around with Phobos sometimes – when the navigator was bored or too drunk to remember he was high class – but that wasn't what Cain was talking about. Touching your navigator was just something you did, just "a fuck a day to keep the blue balls away," as Cain had once so eloquently put it.

But sleeping with another fighter, that was different. That was fucking around with hierarchy when they all claimed to be the biggest, baddest wolf. Everyone knew that letting another fighter have his way made you weaker, less in control, less you and more territory.

And didn't he belong to Cain? Didn't he want to?

"No one," he forced out, and he had to swallow with how short and harsh the words were.

Cain's stare was cold as he searched for a reason to doubt the small fighter. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a cigarette, lit the end with a quick flick and snap of a lighter, letting the seconds pass before finally sitting on Phobos' low bunk. Smoke blew from the corner of his mouth, rising to the corners of the room with wispy fingers.

"So," Cain said at last, take another drag, "did he make a move on you?"

Deimos hesitated, wondering how much of the story he could bend to his favor, how vague he could make the truth to keep Cain satisfied.

"Well?" Cain asked, sharper this time because Deimos had taken too long to respond.

He nodded. (Yes, the fighter had made a move.)

"He touch you?"

He nodded again. (Not like a brush of the figher's hand against his ass had meant anything, not that touches ever really did.)

"Did you like it?"

Deimos shook his head, careful to keep his gray eyes flat, free from emotion. (Because that touch had been soft and inquiring instead of demanding, and even though he preferred the latter, the fighter's subtler interest had been flattering. Of course he had liked it.)

Cain looked his mouse up and down, darkly satisfied with the way Deimos was still standing, almost like he was at attention. Cain blew smoke, running his tongue across his lower lip, tasting tobacco and salt.

Chest rising and falling shallowly, Deimos kept still, knowing that motion meant notice and notice meant trouble. It was knowledge hard but quickly earned during childhood, enforced in those first few days of Basic, savored aboard the Sleipnir. It was knowledge he didn't think he'd ever let go of.

"Did he kiss you?" Cain asked quietly, voice low but heavy with… anger? Disdain? It was hard to tell.

Deimos shook his head, mildly surprised but not about to show it.

Cain gave a tch, sneered with ease. "Don't know why anybody would kiss a broken mouth anyway."

Deimos didn't know if Cain was referring to his voice, long since destroyed by chemical burns, or something lewder, something sadder, something that happened when you didn't learn quickly enough and motion led to notice led to trouble led to-

He shrugged and let that be his answer; didn't let Cain know that words didn't have to come from his own damaged throat to hurt.

"Come here," Cain finally said, patting the mattress. He ground the cigarette against the bottom of his boot before flicking the butt across the room.

Deimos watched him closely, expecting Cain to demand that he strip or kneel between Cain's legs. It had been a while since he had done either, Cain too preoccupied with his string of new navigators, but Deimos secretly hoped he would be told to take off his clothes. Shame crisscrossed his body in pale, ugly lines he hated to look at, but when Cain laid him down, when Cain sat across his lap and ordered Deimos to be still, Cain's hands and lips touched those scars with tenderness, tracing each mark like he could erase the past, kissing Deimos' throat like he wasn't just another fighter, just another beast, capable of kneading rather than gnashing.

Sometimes, it made Deimos feel beautiful.

When Cain spoke, though, it was to demand something else entirely.

"Kiss me," he ordered, shoulders tense like Deimos might mock him. "On the cheek, kiss me."

Deimos blinked once, twice, unable to contain his surprise as he tilted his head to the side. He waited for a scoff or a sneer, but neither happened, and the longer he waited the angrier Cain looked. Wondering what purpose this could possibly serve, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Cain's cheek, drawing it out for a sweet moment, savoring the familiar scent and warmth.

When he started to lean back, Cain grabbed his wrist tightly. "You're mine, myshonok," he said, eyes softer than they had been before the kiss, and Deimos wondered at that, nodded before that look could change.

Cain let him go, apparently appeased by whatever he had seen in his mouse's expression. "Turn around."

This, Deimos could predict. He did as he was told, standing as still as possible as he faced the door. He heard Cain shift on the mattress, heard the words "Take off your shirt" like they were spoken right behind him.

Deimos slid loose of his jacket, letting it drop to the floor, then his shirt alongside it. His skin felt overly sensitive as he stood half-dressed in the cool room, waiting for any kind of touch. As much as he wanted to look over his shoulder, he stood motionless, trying not to hunch his shoulders against the scrutiny.

And then there was breath by his neck. It ghosted a trail to each of his shoulders, interrupted only by light, fleeting kisses. Deimos closed his eyes against the feeling, letting himself relax as he felt Cain's hands across his back, down his sides, warm and calloused and exploring like they didn't already know the map of his body, like Deimos hadn't already surrendered himself to those hands so many times before.

His eyes were still closed when Cain circled him, and then his chin was lifted, and he looked up into his fighter's dark eyes right before Cain dipped his head, mirroring the earlier little kiss in a way that left Deimos' cheek tingling. When Cain finally stepped back, Deimos held his breath in surprise, tempted to raise a hand to the spot Cain had touched.

Instead, he just stood there, let the feeling wash past him. Didn't say anything, didn't move. He couldn't find it in himself to break routine, even if this night was already so different from the others.

Then Cain motioned to the bed, indifferent to the fact that Phobos could walk in at any time. "Undress already."

And Deimos knew this feeling, at least. He knew what to do, how to be.

He lay down and let himself belong to Cain.