Halcyon Sunset pt. 1

Team Halcyon is a would-be team of junior heroes in Storm City but the Hall of Heroes isn’t giving them the backing they need to succeed. Strapped for cash, one of their members looks to get a leg up on the competition by any means necessary—little does he know what awaits him on the other end.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This story was written as a paid commission. If you are interested in commissioning your own story from me, please see the [Commissions] page for more information!

—without a doubt, the residents of Seaside City can rest easy tonight following the unprecedented defeat of the dangerous supervillain self-styled as Cataract.

In the conference room of a small 4th-floor office tucked into the corner of the Tacksworth building in downtown Storm City, three young men watched the latest newscast from Seaside City with mixed expressions.

This remarkable accomplishment is owed to Justicar, Seaside City’s newest defender. With his victory, he has doubtless laid to rest any concerns about his age or lack of experience.

A young man with dark hair and dark eyes drummed his fingers on the tabletop while he listened to the news anchor.

With tonight’s triumph, Justicar has sent a clear message to all the villains out there—not just the ones in his native Seaside City, but all of them. Wherever they might be hiding, wherever they might think they have the power, they are not safe.

The familiar cloying sensation of anxiety coiled in the pit of the young man’s stomach as he bounced his leg against the floor.

And to all other junior heroes out there, Justicar’s success poses a simple question: do you have the courage? Can you step up? Are you doing enough to keep your community safe?

"Flicker."

Oh, boy, the young man thought to himself. They’ve gone and done it, haven’t they?

There is no doubt. Justicar has raised the bar. And it’s up to all the other young heroes of his generation to prove they can rise to the challenge.

"Hey. Flicker."

This was bad. The young man could already feel the tension in the air. He wanted nothing more than to flee but he knew he was just going to paint a target on his back if he did so.

"Flicker!"

The table shook. The young man flinched. One of his companions had slapped the table with such force it had sounded like a crack of thunder. "S-sorry," he said, lowering his head.

"For fuck’s sake! Pay attention! I told you to turn the fucking TV off!"

Even though he was expecting it, Flicker still jumped when he was shouted at. He kept his head down and fumbled for the remote, nearly dropping it in the process.

The newsfeed cut off mid-sentence when he pressed the power button and the shift in the atmosphere of the room was palpable. It was as if everyone had taken a deep breath and again, every instinct Flicker had was screaming at him to run away.

"Bullshit!" One of the other young men hissed through gritted teeth as he got up from his chair. He was Hyperion and it sounded as if he was struggling to keep a cool head.

Hyperion tore his mask off and tossed it over the table. He rubbed his face as he paced back and forth behind his seat.

Flicker watched this all happen without raising his gaze. He couldn’t bear to look Hyperion in the eyes. Not when he knew he was part of the reason Hyperion was so unhappy.

The two of them had known each other for the longest time. Indeed, Flicker struggled to remember a time before he knew Hyperion.

They had pretty much been superglued at the hip since childhood. And while that meant Flicker was privy to the intensity of Hyperion’s temper, it didn’t mean he had ever gotten used to experiencing it firsthand.

"You know—" Hyperion whirled around and stabbed the tabletop with his index finger so hard the entire damn thing shook.. "—If the Hall of Heroes spared us half as much of the shit they spoiled that Justicar asshole with, I bet we could have taken down that Cataract guy."

Hyperion wasn’t usually so high-strung. Most days he was a fairly affable, kinda-goofy guy. Flicker thought so, at least. It was just that he sometimes had bad days.

Flicker did not like Hyperion’s bad days.

When he was upset, Hyperion developed a mean streak a mile wide and had a temper fiery enough to rival the concentrated blasts of solar plasma he could project from his hands. It was never a good experience.

"I don’t know about that."

Flicker and Hyperion both turned to look at the third core member of their team, Boreas. Just this once, Flicker hoped against hope that Boreas wouldn’t antagonize Hyperion while the latter was angry but he knew it was a vain wish.

Boreas sat forward in his chair. "I just don’t think this team is equipped to handle someone like Cataract. He’s good. He’s got backers. What can we do?"

Hyperion scoffed. "Not ready? Haven’t you been paying any attention? Just the past two months, we’ve taken down five Tier IIs and a tier III. Our team pays the lowest premiums for collateral damage insurance in Storm City. And hey, even our mentor says it won’t be long before we’re ready to take on bigger jobs."

Boreas rolled his eyes. "Were you even paying attention when Midnight gave us our last evaluation? He said soon. Not now."

"Well, it’s been a few weeks. I’m pretty sure that counts as soon, genius."

Boreas snorted. "We’ve barely even scratched the surface of our powers. Our fighting style pretty much amounts to throwing things at our enemies until we find something that sticks."

Flicker’s eyes darted back and forth between the two. They were always like this and it never ended well. It was as if Boreas took a perverse pleasure in pushing Hyperion’s buttons.

"Hey! Now that’s some ripe bullshit right there," said Hyperion, leaning over the table toward Boreas. "We’ve got strategy! We’ve got tactics! Or did you already forget about that combo attack we came up with?"

"Oh yeah, that one big combo attack that’s pretty much just a complicated flashbang? Nice tactics, major general Hyperion," said Boreas sardonically.

Flicker could tell Hyperion was about to explode. Before anyone could say anything they regretted, he decided to jump in. "Please, guys. Stop fighting! This doesn’t help anyone!"

Hyperion opened his mouth to retort but the door opened right at that moment. One of the team’s support staff, their administrative assistant Cole, strode into the room.

Cole’s expression didn’t bode well and with Hyperion’s mood being what it was, Flicker almost hoped Cole would just turn around and leave. Instead, Cole looked around, gulped, and said, "Um…"

"Just fucking say it already," said Hyperion. "Don’t fucking test my patience. Not today."

Boreas glared at Hyperion. "I get that you’re upset and not thinking clearly, but you can’t treat our support staff like that and expect them to stick around."

Hyperion crossed his arms and huffed. He pointedly refused to look at Boreas and instead fixed an expectant gaze at Cole.

Cole fidgeted. Flicker got up and walked over, placing a hand on his shoulder. "It’s alright. Just tell us the news, please," he said.

"Thanks." Cole nodded at Flicker and gave him a weak smile. "Orthrus Security rejected the proposal," he said.

Flicker grimaced, less so because Orthrus Security had seemed so promising and more because he was afraid the bad news might set Hyperion off even harder. "That… That’s disappointing. But it’s okay. Thank you for telling us, Cole."

Cole was about to say something when the table jumped with a loud bang as Hyperion slammed a fist on it.

"No. Hell no. It’s okay? What the fuck? Are you fucking stupid?!" Hyperion yelled, his eyes boring into Flicker. He turned his ire on Cole and laid into him. "You should have tried better! This is the kind of fucking thing we hired you for! Do you even care about your job? About your team?"

Boreas got up. He got up in Hyperion’s face, stopping short of shoving him in the chest. "Hey. Chill the fuck out. Hop off Cole’s dick. He’s just the messenger."

Flicker wrapped an arm around Cole’s shoulder. The poor guy didn’t deserve to be treated like this but at the same time, he knew Hyperion didn’t mean it. Hyperion was just having a bad day.

Boreas glanced at Flicker and Cole. He frowned. "If you keep acting the way you do, we’re going to lose one of the most hardworking members on this team. Flicker. Come on, man. Back me up on this one."

Flicker squeezed Cole. He looked up at Hyperion, meeting those familiar sea-blue eyes. He could barely bring himself to speak but someone had to say something. "H-he’s right, Hyperion. Cole didn’t—"

"Oh really?" said Hyperion, interrupting Flicker before he could even finish. "Boreas is right, huh? I see how it is. Hyperion’s the bad guy. Again."

Flicker felt a pang of hurt in his chest. "Hyperion, wait. I didn’t—"

"Fine, then," said Hyperion. He reached over and snatched his mask off the table. "If you guys think you can run this team so much better than I can, why don’t you do it?"

"W—"

Boreas caught Flicker’s gaze and shook his head. "Don’t," he said.

"But…" Flicker flinched as the door banged shut behind Hyperion. "Maybe we went too far…" he said softly.

Boreas rolled his eyes. "Maybe if you stopped babying him, he’d stop acting like such a fucking child," he said. "He’ll come crawling back. He always does."

Flicker sighed. He knew what Boreas was saying was true but it just didn’t feel right. "I-I should apologize," he said.

Boreas scoffed and shook his head. "Do what you want," he said. "Should have known you’d stand up for him even when he’s being a dick."

"Where are you going?" said Flicker as Boreas made to leave.

Boreas shrugged. "Somewhere. I don’t know. I have better things to do than entertaining Hyperion’s adult tantrums."

Flicker stared at the door long after Boreas had left. He didn’t feel comfortable leaving things at that. "I need to do something…" he muttered to himself.

"What was that?" said Cole, startling Flicker out of his thoughts. He hadn’t realized Cole had stayed behind.

"Nothing, nothing…" said Flicker. "Just, uh… Just thinking out loud."

Cole squinted at him but didn’t push the question. "Alright," he said as he straightened up the conference room, pushing chairs back where they were supposed to go. "If you need any help just let me know, okay?" he said.

Flicker nodded and smiled. He didn’t know if he was going to take advantage of the offer but one thing he did know is that he needed to do something big. Something that could put their team on the map.

Because he didn’t know how much longer there was going to be a team if nothing changed.


Unlike Boreas and Hyperion who focused primarily on training and their studies, Flicker liked to learn. It was for that reason he knew more about the darker side of being a hero than the other two did.

He’d stumbled upon things by browsing the seldom-visited corners of the ComNet. Most were outlandish conspiracy theories, like the idea that the government was using a cabal of mind-controlling espers to keep the population in line.

If a person knew where to look, though, it was entirely possible to find the little kernels of truth hiding in the wild speculation. More often than not, they pointed to the same thing: there was big money involved in helping heroes and hero teams succeed.

The black market for information, equipment, and finances was staggering in scope. Flicker had only ever scratched the surface but they were unlikely to get the sponsor they needed if they played things straight.

It wasn’t that he was ignorant of the potential consequences—to the contrary, he was well aware—but he just wanted to see Hyperion happy. He wanted the team to succeed. Owing a favor to some likely-small criminal enterprise trying to get a leg up in the city seemed like a small price to pay.

Flicker took a breath to steel his resolve. Once he did this, there wasn’t going to be any going back.

He navigated to the darknet messageboard he’d found. It seemed one of the more trustworthy ones, or at least it looked like there were fewer unsavory characters involved.

He made a post, pretending to be one of the support staff for Team Halcyon. He talked about the team’s plight, and how they were struggling to gain recognition because the Hall was giving the best assignments to more popular teams. How they were struggling to gain sponsors because no one knew who they were.

Flicker felt apprehensive after making the post and could barely take his eyes off his phone while he waited for responses. Fortunately, the post seemed to attract attention. Unfortunately, most of it wasn’t helpful.

A lot of people were harsh. They told him the team just wasn’t trying hard enough, or that a team that couldn’t even get itself up off the ground should just dissolve and clear the way for a team that could probably do better.

The most hurtful comment was the one that didn’t even really apply to Team Halcyon. "No one needs another group of amateurs causing hundreds of thousands in damage. Just give up."

If Team Halcyon was anything, they were fastidious in minimizing collateral damage. But it spoke volumes about how little people thought of them when it was assumed they sucked.

With every new response that came in, Flicker regretted the post more and more. That was until one post, in particular, caught his eye.

It was from a GeminiPrince69 and while the username made Flicker roll his eyes a little, he had to appreciate the content. It was the first fairly positive post that had some substance to it. The rest were variations on "Good luck!" or "I wish I could help but I hope you find what you need."

Prince, as Flicker decided to call the guy, had talked about how simply making the post showed initiative. He said the community should be supporting superheroes, not tearing them down because they didn’t meet some arbitrary standard.

Flicker had found himself agreeing with that one. It was supremely validating to hear and pretty much washed the sour taste of all the other comments out of his mouth.

I work for a fairly wealthy man and he’s looking for projects to invest in. He particularly likes young men with the drive and ambition to succeed and I feel like you and the team you’re working for fit the bill.

Let me know if you’re interested. We can set up a meeting so we can talk a bit face-to-face about what your expectations are and what we can offer to help.

In all honesty, Flicker hadn’t expected to get an offer. He’d hoped someone might point him in a marginally productive direction but this was beyond his wildest dreams.

He was naturally a little bit apprehensive but the situation wasn’t getting any better for Team Halcyon. They needed something to work out in their favor and he was just about desperate enough to believe this chance encounter with Prince would do just that.


Flicker entered the coffee shop with no small amount of apprehension. He’d gone without telling anyone and gods only knew how horribly wrong things could go.

He spotted the table Prince had told him about. Someone was seated there. A handsome man in a black leather jacket nursing a steaming cup.

The man looked up when the bell rang and locked eyes with Flicker. He smiled and beckoned for him to come closer.

Flicker took a breath and approached. "Prince?" he said.

The man stood from his seat and extended a hand. "Pollux," he said. "Pollux Prince."

Flicker nodded and smiled. "It’s a pleasure to meet you," he said.

Pollux gestured toward the table. "Should we sit?"

"That sounds good."

Flicker sat down first. He smiled at Pollux but quickly took an interest in the menu once he felt the other man’s eyes on him.

"So, first of all… If things work out the way I’m thinking they will, I want you and your team to know that money is no object," said Pollux.

In truth, Flicker had come with fairly low expectations. He’d anticipated that maybe Pollux’s employer would help by offering them good connections or by helping them get their foot in the door.

He never imagined the topic of finances would come up so soon. Not that he was complaining, of course. Team Halcyon’s biggest problem was cash. They were so strapped they couldn’t afford to take their time to find a sponsor that would properly fit them as an organization.

Flicker’s heart was racing but the offer sounded too good to be true. "A-am I supposed to take you on your word for that?" he said, trying to sound perhaps tougher than he naturally was and failing miserably at it.

Pollux chuckled. "I work for one of the wealthiest men in the Commonwealth but no. I don’t expect you to take me at my word. Do you have access to the team’s corporate account?"

Flicker gulped. "I do," he said. The question had come entirely out of left-field and he couldn’t help but think it was the beginning of some sort of elaborate scam.

"You should check the balance," said Pollux, sipping from his mug with a little smirk.

Flicker frowned. Part of him wanted to believe Pollux was just bluffing but his heart skipped a beat all the same. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked, his jaw nearly dropping to the floor when he saw the number.

"That should be sufficient as a gesture of goodwill, don’t you think?" said Pollux. "The team doesn’t have to give it back. You can think of it as a donation if that helps you sleep better."

Flicker licked his lips. He could scarcely wrap his head around the figure but he knew one thing: this was the kind of financial backing that they needed.

However, money wasn’t the only problem that faced the team. Money was something that would help them but if they didn’t get the recognition of the Hall, then it would all be pointless.

"N-not to be greedy but, um… Is money the only thing your employer has to offer?" said Flicker, somewhat more timidly than before.

Pollux cocked an eyebrow. "Do you really think you’re in a position to negotiate?" he said.

Flicker took a breath. He was alone in this. If he didn’t stand up for himself, no one would. So he sat up straight and looked Pollux in the eye. "No, I don’t think so."

Before Pollux could respond, Flicker continued. "And I appreciate the generosity of your employer. I do. But I want us to be more than a rich man’s paid-for squad. I want the team to make an actual difference."

Flicker looked down and realized he was holding on to the edge of the table with a white-knuckled grip. He let go and placed his hands on his lap.

"Money won’t go far enough to solve our problems," he said. "We need information. Tips. Ears on the street. We need to be able to anticipate supervillains showing up so we can be there to stop them."

The stern look on Pollux’s face relaxed as he laughed. "Since the Hall isn’t giving you the assignments you need to get your name out there, you want to take it into your own hands. Is that right?"

Flicker hesitated. Put that way, it all smelled suspiciously of insubordination. But it was necessary. He nodded. "Yeah," he said. "We have to."

Pollux smiled. "Good," he said. "I like that look in your eyes. And that’s exactly the kind of determination my employer is looking for, too. So what do you say, Robin? Do you want to work with us?"

Flicker’s eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. His thoughts derailed, scattering into static as his blood ran cold in his veins. He floundered for words but couldn’t find them, so shocked to hear Pollux address him by civilian name.

Pollux laughed. "It’s alright," he said. "I thought it would be more expedient to give a demonstration of what we’re capable of than just telling you."

Flicker gulped. It was an effective demonstration, alright. Civilian identities were supposed to be one of the Hall’s most protected secrets.

The corner of Pollux’s mouth curled in a little smirk as Flicker struggled to verbalize a response. "Our organization has intelligence capabilities, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Even if the Hall doesn’t give you the juicy missions, you’ll know of the best opportunities well in advance."

Suffice to say, Flicker was shaken up. He hadn’t felt comfortable doing this without telling anyone in the first place and he certainly didn’t want to do anything stupid without first consulting the team. "I-I’ll have to talk to—"

"The rest of the team, right?" said Pollux with a small smile. "That’s alright. Take all the time you need. Honestly, my employer told me to withdraw the offer if you’d accepted immediately."

"Hah… G-good to know…" said Flicker, a trickle of cold sweat rolling down the side of his face.

Pollux reached into a messenger bag placed on the seat beside him and retrieved a fairly thick manila envelope. He handed it over to Flicker. "Here," he said. "Details of the deal are inside if your team wants to look over them. My number is in there too so call me when you’ve made a decision."


"This is some shady shit, Flicker." Boreas flipped the cover page of his copy of the deal closed. "How did you even get in contact with this guy?"

Flicker scratched his cheek. "I… uh… I got in contact with an old friend from school."

Boreas frowned. "Who, exactly?" he said. "Give me a name, at least. You can’t just expect me to believe you randomly got in contact with some old friend from school."

"Um… I-it was Stuart."

"Stuart who?" said Boreas, leaning forward in his chair, tapping his fingers on the surface of the table.

"S-Stuart Li—Lane. Stuart Lane," said Flicker as he did his best to look anywhere but Boreas’ eyes.

"Stuart Little. You were about to say Stuart Little." Boreas looked at Hyperion. "Dude, you can’t seriously believe this, right?"

"Nah, man," said Hyperion after a long moment of silence. "Stuart Lane was a classmate of ours. We had him in Home Economics. He was always a bit of the secretary type."

Flicker stared at Hyperion. While he was glad, Hyperion had backed up his lie, he hadn’t expected it at all.

Hyperion smiled at Flicker. "Honestly, I never would have thought to catch up with old acquaintances. Good job, Flicker."

Flicker felt as if his cheeks were going to burst into flame. "T-thank you," he said. "I-I just wanted to do something for the team, you know?"

Hyperion chuckled. He reached over and patted Flicker on the shoulder. "You did well, man. Anyway. If no one else has any objections?"

Nathan, their publicist, looked up from his copy of the document with a start. "S-sorry, what was that? I was…" He scratched the back of his neck somewhat sheepishly, "I was already planning a marketing campaign…"

Hyperion laughed. "I’ll take that as a yes on the deal, then," he said.

Boreas threw his hands up. "Alright," he said. "Fine. But if things go to shit, don’t say I didn’t warn you."

There were a few other things on the agenda that the team quickly addressed before wrapping up the meeting. Most everyone left at the end but Hyperion stayed behind. He walked around the table and stood in front of Flicker.

"Why did you back me up?" said Flicker softly.

Hyperion shrugged. "I’m sorry I’ve been so rough recently," he said. "I’m really glad to have you on the team. I don’t care where you found this lead but… this is exactly what we need."

Flicker blushed. He couldn’t help but stare into Hyperion’s eyes when they were standing so close together.

He wanted to reach out, to touch Hyperion’s handsome face. Hyperion looked like an angel, the light streaming in through the window catching in his messy blond hair, making the strands glitter like fine gold.

"I-I was just doing what I thought was best…" said Flicker, swallowing the lump in his throat as the fought the urge to press himself up against Hyperion.

"And you delivered," said Hyperion with a grin. "I’ll see you tomorrow."

Flicker nodded. "I-I’ll see you tomorrow," he said, giving Hyperion a little wave as the other left.

"Wow…" Flicker whispered to himself. He couldn’t help but smile, standing there in stunned silence. Things had gone better than his wildest dreams.

He jumped when the door to the conference room opened suddenly and Hyperion peeked in. "Oh yeah, before I forget… I think you should be our representative to our new sponsor."

Flicker stared. "Huh?"

Hyperion laughed. "You earned it, man. And hey, I’m not gonna tell you what to do, Mr. Representative… But maybe you should get that contract signed as soon as you can."


Flicker gawked as the contragrav limo pulled up in front of the building. It was a fancier ride than anything he’d expected.

The chauffeur stepped out from the passenger side and walked over to open the door for Flicker. Pollux poked his head out and motioned for Flicker to come in.

Flicker gulped and entered the limo. The inside was every bit as plush as he expected it to be. He sank into the seat and barely managed to suppress the groan that threatened to spill from how good it felt.

"Nervous?" said Pollux.

Flicker nodded. "Yeah," he said.

Pollux laughed. "Don’t be. It’s just like a normal car. Only difference is, this one flies."


Flicker couldn’t help but gawk at the mansion they were dropped off at. He felt like a country bumpkin seeing the city for the first time. The super-rich really lived in a world different from everyone else.

Pollux must have noticed. He laughed and said, "You made the right choice. With this kind of backing, it’s absolutely possible that one day, Halcyon will be a household name."

Flicker nodded. "I hope so," he said. Scratching his cheek, he added, "And honestly, I figured your employer would have a big house when you said he was rich… I just didn’t expect it would be this big."

Pollux chuckled. "Believe it or not? It looks bigger on the inside," he said as he tapped the knocker a few times.

The door opened and a young man greeted them. "Pollux! Welcome back!" He was wearing a pair of short shorts and a too-big shirt as he rushed out and wrapped his arms around Pollux.

The guy was cute, Flicker had to admit. His soft dark hair was messily tousled. His smile lit up his whole face. And there was just the faintest hint of ditziness in his rich dark eyes that just made him look like a human-shaped puppy.

Pollux threw an arm around the young man and said, "Flicker, this is Castor. Castor, this is Flicker. He and his team will be working with us in the future."

"Hi!" said Castor as he held a hand out to Flicker.

"Hi. It’s nice to meet you," said Flicker as he shook Castor’s hand.

He couldn’t help but smile as Pollux kissed the top of Castor’s head and then leaned down to kiss him on the lips.

It was then that a thought occurred to Flicker: if he remembered his mythology right, Castor and Pollux were supposed to be brothers in the stories. While the two didn’t look particularly similar, he had to wonder if there wasn’t something incestuous going on there somehow.

Flicker blushed. Not that he’d ever admit it out loud, but it kind of turned him on.

"Well, pet, it’s great to see you but we have to go and meet with the boss, okay?" said Pollux.

Castor giggled. "Okay," he said. "Come see me after, okay?"

"I promise, pet. So run along, okay?" said Pollux. He chuckled and shook his head. "Sorry about the delay. After you?" he added as he turned to Flicker.

"Thanks," said Flicker, stepping past the threshold after Castor.

He watched the other young man walk away with a bit of a swish in his step. His cheeks warmed when he noticed the imprint of something in the rear of Castor’s shorts.

He was a virgin but he wasn’t so innocent he didn’t know what the flared base of a buttplug looked like pressed up against skin-tight short shorts.


"After you," said Pollux as he held open one half of a set of beautiful wooden double doors that led to a cozy study.

"Thank you," said Flicker as he took a step past the threshold. He could barely suppress his gasp as he looked around.

The place was incredibly well-appointed. The carpet was plush and toward the left side of the room was a gorgeous wooden desk. It looked old but well-loved, the stain polished to a dull shine.

There was a bookshelf behind the desk. It was full to bursting with a dazzling assortment of volumes. At a glance, Flicker could see books both old and new.

To the right was a beautiful fireplace with a gorgeous stone mantel and an actual fire crackling merrily inside.

In front of the fireplace was a beautiful wooden coffee table flanked by a pair of sofas on either side. Two people were seated on one of the sofas.

One was a young man in a midnight blue hoodie and basketball shorts. His casual outfit stuck out like a sore thumb in the study, which looked like it had been taken wholesale out of a page in a Victorian England history book.

Flicker recognized the hoodie. He owned one, himself. There was a Tempest decal on the upper arm and though he couldn’t quite see it because the young man was slightly turned to face the other man on the couch, he knew well enough there was another such decal over the left breast.

The second person on the couch was older and better-dressed. He was wearing a three-piece suit tailored impeccably to fit his body in all the right places.

Flicker was sure the suit alone was worth more credits than he made in a single month. And it looked absolutely fantastic on the man, too, with his handsome jawline and dark, slicked-back hair.

The man looked up as Flicker entered, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Their eyes met and Flicker couldn’t help but wonder at how very blue the man’s eyes were.

Flicker couldn’t help but get lost in them for a moment, only to tear his gaze away with an embarrassed flush when Pollux cleared his throat.

"Flicker, if I am not mistaken?" said the handsome man as he gestured toward the couch across the coffee table from him. "Please. Do sit."

Flicker nodded and gave the handsome man a nervous smile as he walked over. He hesitated a moment before sitting down. As anxious as he was, the cushions of the sofa were so comfortable he couldn’t help but relax a little.

"Now, if you would allow me to make introductions," said the handsome man. "I am Marcus. You have met Pollux, one of my representatives and a valued employee. And finally—" Marcus motioned to the young man beside him, "—this is Corey."

Flicker gulped audibly as he reached across the coffee table to shake Marcus’ hand. "I-I’m Flicker. I-I’m here as Team Halcyon’s representative."

As he turned to shake Corey’s, he briefly had to wonder who this random person was. Not that he was judging or anything, but Corey really did seem entirely out of place. He was having a hard time figuring out what he had to do with the contract.

"Corey is present to witness the signing of the contract," said Marcus with a small smile.

Flicker was a little skeptical. This was supposed to be a formal process, so he wasn’t sure why the witness was dressed so casually.

Marcus smiled. He must have noticed the look on Flicker’s face. "You must be tired, having come so far."

Flicker had traveled quite a distance. The ride from Storm City all the way to Selene City had taken a few hours and the exhaustion hadn’t hit him until Marcus pointed it out. "Just… Just a little…" he muttered, stifling a yawn with his knuckles.

Marcus chuckled. "Still, we do what we must, no? Today is a momentous occasion for your team. You must know now is not the time to be distracted by trivial things… Yes?" He glanced pointedly at Corey.

Flicker’s eyes followed Marcus’ gaze. He supposed Marcus was right. He had to focus on the deal. On the future of the team. The odd outfit Corey was wearing was far less important. "Y-yes," he said, turning his gaze back to Marcus.

Marcus smiled. "Please. I know you and your team members have likely scrutinized them during your deliberation but I nevertheless invite you to examine the terms of the deal once more."

Flicker nodded. "Thank you. I’ll do that," he said.

He leaned forward and flicked through the pages of the document that had been placed before him. There was a lot of legal language there that was difficult to parse but as far as he could tell everything seemed to be on the up and up.

As he was going over the text, movement in the periphery of his vision caught his attention. He glanced up and saw that Corey seemed rather uncomfortable.

Flicker frowned.

Corey was scratching at his hoodie. For whatever reason, he was flushed. Sweat was beading on his brow as he fanned himself with the collar of his hoodie.

Marcus noticed where Flicker was looking. "Apologies," he said, glancing at Corey before turning his gaze back to Flicker. "You must have noticed it is rather warm in this room. Unfortunately, the A/C is currently not in operation."

Flicker hadn’t really noticed until Marcus pointed it out but now he couldn’t help but notice. "I-It’s alright," he said as his cheeks warmed.

It wasn’t like a little heat bothered him, anyway. Hyperion made the temperature rise a couple of degrees whenever he got angry. And besides, it wasn’t like Marcus could do anything about it so there wasn’t any point in making a big deal.

"Again, I must apologize. You are beginning to find it unbearable, are you not?"

Flicker tugged at his collar. It wasn’t that bad quite yet but it was steadily getting worse. He could feel a slight trickle of sweat down the back of his neck.

"You ought to lean back and relax," said Marcus with a small sympathetic smile. "That should help. You think so… Do you not?"

Flicker nodded. "Y-yeah… I think so…"

Marcus chuckled. "Better, yes? Comfortable?"

Flicker made a soft sound and nodded. The couch was amazingly comfortable.

"Good."

A few moments passed in silence as Flicker sank deeper into the couch cushions. He could feel the tension melting away from his shoulders.

Marcus was the one who spoke first. "You must feel rather safe here," he said. "I appreciate your trust."

Flicker hadn’t realized he’d closed his eyes. He looked at Marcus in surprise.

It wasn’t that he had any objections to what was said. For some reason he couldn’t quite put a finger on, he did feel rather safe and comfortable in Marcus’ home.

"W-what do you mean?"

The corner of Marcus’ mouth quirked into a little smile. "Nothing so serious. I simply thought heroes such as yourself would find it rather difficult to find the peace of mind to relax in a stranger’s home."

Huh, Flicker thought to himself. He supposed Marcus had a point there. They were trained to be hyper-vigilant, after all.

"And yet, here you are," said Marcus. "You are feeling relaxed and comfortable right now. Yes?"

Flicker nodded. "Y-yes," he mumbled. If he was being honest, the only thing ruining the vibe was the heat, which was getting worse by the moment.

Marcus leaned forward. His bright blue eyes seemed to dance in the firelight reflected in them. "And you feel the same way at home, no?"

"I-I… Yes…" Flicker murmured.

A smile tugged at Marcus’ lips. "Then that must mean you already think of this place as a second home. "

"I-I suppose so," said Flicker softly. He did feel safe and secure in the manor in a way he didn’t anywhere else.

Besides, there was the agreement. It stood to reason the team would be around more often in the future. He could definitely see the place becoming a second home of sorts in the future.

Even now, he felt so warm and so welcomed it was difficult not to start thinking of the place as a second home already.

"And surely, you would not feel safe in accepting this place as a second home if you did not trust the person who owned it. Yes?" said Marcus.

Flicker nodded. Home implied safety, comfort, and security. It was hard to feel any of those things if there wasn’t any trust.

"Then you must trust me, yes?" said Marcus.

Flicker hesitated for a moment. It seemed odd to jump to trust so soon but Marcus had already helped so much. "Y-yes," he said. "I-I trust you, Marcus."

Marcus smiled. "To change tack somewhat… What is it you do on severely hot days at home?"

Such days were relatively rare in the highly-controlled environments of the Artemisian Commonwealth but it wasn’t like Flicker hadn’t ever experienced them. Besides the fact that the seasons were simulated with all their natural variations, no system was perfect and breakdowns happened on occasion.

"I… I guess I take a bath…" said Flicker.

"And if a bath is not an option?"

Flicker shrugged. "I guess I’d take my shirt off," he said.

Marcus smirked. "Well, if this is your second home and if today feels unbearably hot, then…"

Marcus was a genius. Flicker couldn’t believe it had never occurred to him. "You wouldn’t mind?" he said as he sat up.

"Not in the slightest."

Flicker shot Marcus a relieved smile as he shucked his blazer off. He draped it over the side of the sofa and immediately felt a little better, even if the heat was still a bit intense for his liking.

Marcus quirked an eyebrow. "You are not satisfied with just that… Surely?"

Flicker scratched his cheek. The tips of his ears felt hot at being called out so blatantly.

Marcus was right, of course. Flicker just hadn’t wanted to overstep. He might have started considering the place a second home but it was still a home that belonged to someone else. It would be impolite to just tear his clothes off, even if it was uncomfortably hot.

"N-no… Not really…" he said after a moment. He figured he could be honest since Marcus seemed to be a trustworthy man.

Marcus chuckled. He shook his head and seemed almost fond as he said, "This is your second home. That means you are comfortable enough to disrobe as far as you must… Right?

"I am certain nothing less than going bare-chested would suffice. You certainly think so too… Do you not?"

Flicker sighed softly. "I do," he said as he licked his lips and wiped the sweat from his brow.

While Marcus was right, and he certainly felt secure enough to take his shirt off, it was just a bit embarrassing. He didn’t normally show much skin and it felt impolite to strip off in someone else’s house without permission.

"Then you should go ahead," said Marcus. "I do not mind in the slightest."

Flicker stood up, perhaps a bit more hastily than he had initially intended. But now that Marcus had given him the go-ahead he could hardly wait to get his shirt off.

He tugged the hem of the dress shirt out of the waistband of his pants. He was in such a hurry he even used some of his super-speed to undo his shirt buttons, a fact he sheepishly realized only after he’d done it.

The shirt fell open to reveal Flicker’s torso. He was a slender young man, with a flat stomach and a narrow waist. He didn’t have much definition—not like Hyperion or Boreas, at least—but he had enough, at least, that he had a faint cleft between his pecs and a faintly-visible six-pack.

He slid his arms out of the sleeves—slowly, this time, or at least at a normal pace—and set the shirt aside, placing it on top of his blazer. It was slightly damp with sweat but it wasn’t too bad, at least.

It was a relief to have the shirt off. Flicker hadn’t realized how suffocating it had been until he could feel the air on his bare skin. It was like his body had cooled by a couple of degrees in an instant—even if the air was still rather warm.

As he sat back down, Flicker glanced over and noticed Corey was stripping as well. He slid his hoodie off, revealing a remarkable body underneath.

Even though Corey was rather lean, he had solid muscles. Firm pecs and cobbled abs tensed as he pulled the hoodie over his head, a thin sheen of sweat making his skin glisten in the firelight.

Corey dropped the hoodie off the side of the couch and leaned back with a sigh of relief. His hard biceps bulged as he folded his arms behind his head.

Marcus smirked. He reached over and ruffled Corey’s hair.

Corey leaned into the touch. He lowered his arms, placing them on the sofa on either side of him as he made a little noise of contentment and closed his eyes.

"Good boy," said Marcus.

Flicker watched the exchange with wide eyes. It felt like he was witnessing something incredibly intimate and yet he couldn’t look away.

His cheeks flushed and a shiver ran down his spine when Marcus uttered those two words. There was something about hearing those two words spoken in Marcus’ smooth baritone that made his cock twitch despite his attempt to maintain a professional façade.

Marcus turned his gaze back to Flicker. Somehow, his bright blue eyes seemed even brighter, even deeper. "Corey is such a good boy. Don’t you think so?" he said.

Flicker gulped. He couldn’t help but look into Marcus’ eyes. Hearing those words felt like a trickle of ice-cold water down his spine.

He nodded, his mouth suddenly feeling too dry for words.

A smirk tugged at the corner of Marcus’ mouth. "Come to think of it," he said, "you are shirtless just like Corey, aren’t you? Did you take your shirt off so you could be a good boy too?"

Flicker was confused. "N-no," he said.

He’d taken his shirt off because it was hot. Marcus had even given him permission. It didn’t make sense Marcus was acting as if he didn’t know why Flicker had taken his shirt off.

There was a small voice in the back of Flicker’s head that was suspicious but he trusted Marcus so he let go of his skepticism. He must have misunderstood something.

Marcus chuckled. "You know this is a safe space," he said.

Flicker nodded. Marcus had gone through so much trouble to make him feel safe and welcome, after all.

"And you trust me, yes?"

Flicker nodded again. Nothing Marcus had done so far was untrustworthy. If anything, Marcus had been nothing but magnanimous the whole time. It was difficult not to develop some sort of positive affinity for him.

"Then you should understand that you can be honest with me," said Marcus. "You may tell me the truth—tell me you took your shirt off because you wanted to be a good boy like Corey."

Flicker hesitated.

Marcus leaned forward. His blue eyes seemed to be gazing right into the core of Flicker’s soul. "You know this is the truth."

Flicker blushed. He briefly lowered his eyes as he felt his cheeks were on the verge of bursting into flames.

Shyly, he nodded. Marcus was right, again. He had taken off his shirt because he wanted to be a good boy like Corey; the heat had been nothing more than a convenient excuse.

Marcus chuckled. "Good boy," he whispered.

Flicker shivered. The low, sultry tone of Marcus’ voice brought a quiet, unbidden moan to his lips.

It took a moment for him to register what he’d done—the noise he’d made—and his cheeks burned with embarrassment.

Marcus smirked. "You liked that," he said.

The matter-of-fact tone in Marcus’ voice only made Flicker’s cheeks hotter. He’d betrayed how true it was with his little moan but having it pointed out was another thing entirely.

"Praise makes you feel good," said Marcus, his blue eyes fixed on Flicker’s.

Flicker nodded. He felt like an open book to Marcus, those brilliant blue eyes reading into his soul with such unwavering accuracy.

A smile tugged at the corner of Marcus’ lips. "You want more," he said.

Flicker’s breath caught in his throat. This wasn’t something he would have admitted under most circumstances but he felt so safe and so comfortable and so welcomed in Marcus’ house he couldn’t help but lay his heart bare.

"I-I do…" Flicker whispered, a thread of eagerness finding its way into his voice. The response was exactly as he’d hoped.

"Good boy," said Marcus.

The two words sent a thrill of pleasure through Flicker’s body. It started in his ears before sliding down the back of his neck, following the curve of his spine.

Flicker moaned again. This time, he couldn’t help himself. It came out louder than before.

A sharp command from Marcus momentarily cut through the haze of pleasure and satisfaction that smothered Flicker’s thoughts. "Sign the contract."

Flicker pushed himself off the backrest of the sofa. He leaned forward, though it was a bit awkward as he was fully erect in his pants.

He fumbled for the pen that Pollux slid onto the coffee table and didn’t even think twice about what he was doing. He just wanted to feel the thrill of that praise again. So he signed—just like Marcus had told him.

Marcus smirked. He reached forward and tugged the pen out of Flicker’s hand. He turned the paper toward him as well and signed the document, sealing the deal.

"Such a good boy," said Marcus. "So obedient. So eager to please. Perfect, in fact. Good boys do everything their owner tells them. You know this to be true."

Good boys do everything their owner tells them. It was an odd phrase but one that somehow seemed to resonate for Flicker.

It wasn’t a phrase he’d ever heard before but deep down he knew it was right. A good boy was an obedient boy. After all, disobedience was generally a bad thing, wasn’t it? And a good boy wouldn’t do bad things.

Marcus chuckled. "And now that you have signed the contract, I own your team, yes?"

Flicker nodded.

"And if I own your team, the team which you are a part of, then…"

Flicker’s eyes widened with sudden realization. He looked at Marcus, heart beating fast in his chest. "Y-you own me?" he whispered, feeling uncertain and yet, for some reason, hopeful that Marcus would answer in the affirmative.

Marcus smiled. "Exactly so," he said. "And you want to be a good boy, do you not? You want to be praised?"

Flicker gulped audibly. His cock was so hard. "Y-yes," he said, nodding.

"Then you will be an obedient boy, wouldn’t you?" said Marcus. "You will do as I say?"

Flicker nodded. "Y-yes!" he said, trying not to sound too over-eager.

"Why?"

Flicker chewed on his lower lip. "B-because you’re my owner a-and good boys do whatever their owners tell them to do," he said, his cock twitching in his pants as he said the words.

Marcus stood up. He walked around the coffee table. He pet Flicker on the top of the head and said, "Good boy. Play with your nipples for me."

It was remarkable how quickly Flicker processed the order. Not even his high-speed perception managed to register the words before his fingers were already on his chest, pinching and tweaking his nipples.

"Such a good, obedient boy you are," said Marcus as he threaded his fingers through Flicker’s hair. He clenched his hand around Flicker’s black locks, trapping soft tufts between his fingers as he used the leverage to tilt Flicker’s head backward.

Flicker kissed the pad of Marcus’ thumb as the older man cupped his chin.

"Open wide," said Marcus.

The slightly-salty taste of Marcus’ thumb sent a shiver down Flicker’s spine as he parted his lips to permit its entrance into his mouth.

"Lick."

A quiet whine escaped Flicker. He swirled the tip of his tongue around Marcus’ thumb. He felt like he was floating on a cloud, his thoughts a messy haze of lust and submissiveness.

"Look up at me. Good boy," said Marcus with a little smirk.

Flicker shivered. He spread his legs as Marcus nudged his feet apart. His cheeks burned with embarrassment as the obscene outline of his hard cock was exposed.

"You are a horny little thing." Marcus chuckled. "So shy—so meek—on the surface. And yet look at you, how shamelessly you throb with every eager act of submission…"

The tips of Flicker’s ears burned. He averted his gaze, shame coiling in the pit of his stomach.

Marcus’ firm grasp forced him to turn his gaze back to meet Marcus’. "Now, now. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Good boys do not hide their desires, and they desire their owners most of all."

A low moan spilled from Flicker as he saw Marcus in a whole new light. The way he loomed over him, imposing and authoritative, made his heart flutter.

"Good boys are eager and worshipful," said Marcus as his bright blue eyes seemed to bore into Flicker’s very soul. "They revere their owners and want nothing more than to please their owners in whatever way their owners might desire."

The haze in Flicker’s head grew thicker. He wrapped his lips around Marcus’ thumb, lightly sucking as he swirled his tongue around the tip.

He was so fortunate to have met this amazing man. He had never had the pleasure of knowing anyone so generous, so magnanimous, and so welcoming as to open his home to him upon their first meeting.

If Marcus weren’t standing in front of him, blocking his way, he might have fallen to his knees already. Marcus deserved his obedience, his worship, his total submission.

Marcus released Flicker’s hair but Flicker didn’t move an inch. He kept his neck inclined, gazing upward into Marcus’ eyes.

Flicker’s heart skipped a beat when he heard the quiet rasp of a pants clasp being undone, the sound of a zipper being pulled down. There was the faintest sound of a waistband snapping back against skin and then the thumb gently rubbing his tongue pulled out of his mouth with a soft pop.

The hot, spongy head of what Flicker could only assume was Marcus’ cock pressed against his lips. At the same time, the clean, slightly-musky scent of it filled his lungs and drew a moan from his throat.

"This is your owner’s cock," said Marcus, his bright eyes seeming to glow and dance in the firelight. "Kiss it."

Flicker did as he was told. He pursed his lips and kissed Marcus’ cock head. They came away wet with the slickness of pre-cum leaking from the tip.

"This is a good boy’s most sacred duty—and the greatest reward he can receive from his owner. For a good boy finds pleasure in service, and the highest form of service is in bringing pleasure to his owner," said Marcus.

Flicker’s pupils dilated. His nostrils flared. His chest rose and fell rapidly with every shallow breath as heat flushed through his entire body.

He wanted to serve. He needed to serve. Meekly, he whispered, "P-please… M-may I serve you?"

Marcus smirked. "Have you been good?" he said. "Only the best boys receive the honor of serving their owner’s cock with their body, but all good boys crave it with every spare moment."

Flicker hesitated. His heart skipped a beat. He was sure he had been good but he couldn’t be certain. "I-I don’t know…" he whispered.

Marcus laughed. It was a surprisingly light sound, one that made Flicker’s stomach flutter. He wanted to hear it more.

"Silly thing," said Marcus, rubbing the corner of Flicker’s lips with his thumb, "you have been. And this is your reward. Now, take the head into your mouth."

Flicker closed his lips around the crown of Marcus’ glans. It was hot on his tongue and the salty-sweet taste of pre-cum seemed to fill his senses.

A profound sense of fulfillment coursed through him. He’d never felt so whole before. It was as if everything was right with the world.

Just as Flicker was about to suckle on the head of Marcus’ cock, Marcus clicked his tongue and said, "Ah. No. Good boys wait for permission to do anything to their owner’s cock."

Flicker did his best to look apologetic with a cock in his mouth. It must have been sufficient as a smile tugged on Marcus’ lips.

"Absent any further instructions when told to take their owner’s cock into their mouths, good boys instead savor the taste, the texture, the shape, and the heat of their owner," said Marcus as he rubbed his thumb in slow circles over Flicker’s cheek.

Flicker didn’t think he’d ever been so acutely aware of something placed in his mouth. It was a struggle to remain still, to do nothing when there was so much he could do to pleasure Marcus. But good boys didn’t act on their own initiative unless permitted. That much was clear.

Marcus smiled. "Good boys internalize the sensation of their owner on their tongue. They capture it in their minds that they might dwell on it and crave it no matter the occasion."

Flicker nodded ever so slightly, careful not to jostle Marcus’ cock. He would memorize every detail, every sensation. The texture, the taste, the scent, the shape. He would burn it into his mind so he might never forget.

"Good boy," said Marcus with a light chuckle.

Flicker shivered, a groan spilling out of him at the praise.

"Look at you," Marcus murmured. "So wound up."

Flicker had been so focused on Marcus that he hadn’t even noticed. He was so hard, harder than he had ever been in his life. And somehow, despite having never touched himself even once, he felt as if he were on the edge of the most explosive orgasm of his life.

"You must be feeling light-headed," whispered Marcus. "Your thoughts adrift in a haze of arousal and the mindless bliss of submission."

It was true. Flicker could barely think straight. It was a miracle he hadn’t started outright drooling. He didn’t think he’d ever felt so submissive, so turned on.

"Now that you have had a taste of this sensation, you will crave it in every moment. Nothing will bring you so much joy as submitting to your owner. Nothing, that is, besides your owner’s pleasure and his approval."

Flicker gulped. It was true. He was hooked. He didn’t know how he’d ever live without this.

"There is only one way you can continue to feel this way," said Marcus.

Flicker listened intently. He wanted to know. He needed to know.

"Become mine," said Marcus. "Become mine in totality. Body, mind, and soul. Give yourself to me wholly and without restraint."

Flicker’s cock throbbed. If that was all, he could do it. He wanted to serve. He needed to serve. And if all he had to give up was the entirety of his being, then it was a price he was willing to pay.

"There will be no going back," said Marcus.

Flicker didn’t want there to be one.

"Good boy," said Marcus.

Flicker’s cock pulsed. He was leaking profusely against his thigh. He was close, so close.

"Then come for me, Flicker," said Marcus. "Come for me and be mine forever."

Those were all the words Flicker needed to hear. He came. And as the searing, white-hot pleasure overtook his mind, he had one last thought: Yours forever.

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