August 28, 2013 by Lyn
Thursday, November 20, 2003, evening
For two nights, he had slept in a sleeping bag on her bedroom floor.
It wasn’t that uncomfortable; Ciara had spent more than a little time flopped down there reading. And it was no more than he had done to his own Kept, in their time. But it wasn’t kind, either.
She watched him, as he changed into his sweatpants – back to her, as if he was shy. An act? What he thought she wanted? – and sat down on the floor. He looked as if he was trying not to have an expression, and his neck twitched like he was trying not to look at her.
She’d already changed – in the bathroom. She didn’t see any reason to tease him, when she wasn’t ready to trust him that far year. She was pretending to read while watching him, the same as she’d done last night. He was becoming a bit of an unhealthy obsession.
Well, he was hers. Around her, obsessing over her own… possession… was at least healthier than obsessing over someone else’s. At least she wasn’t mooning over Shandar anymore. Or, unknown-silly-Greek-gods-forbid, over Speed, the way she had been in secret for a while.
She studied him, the way he was looking away from her, the tense line of his shoulder. He would be offended if she suggested he was scared, but what else would you call it?
If she had been him, knowing what he’d done to his Kept, she’d be worried how far karma might go – and how exaggerated the stories might have gotten. He probably didn’t know that both Jaelie and Ghita had told Ciara almost the same thing: He was firm. He was immoveable. But he wasn’t a monster. Not like some of the others could be. Not like the rumors of how it used to be.
He looked up at her, looking far more nervous than she ought to be able to inspire. “Mistress?” Of course, he was still moving towards her – still on hands and knees, not quite meeting her gaze.
“There’s nothing that unclear about ‘come here,’ is there?” Two days, and he had not given her an answer, the easy way or the hard way. She wondered how long before she’d have to force a response out of him
He glowered at her. “No. But why?” It wasn’t that far between his sleeping bag and her bed; he sat back on his heels and regarded her. “You don’t want anything to do with me.”
“That is not true.” Ciara frowned at him.
“You don’t want anything to do with me in bed.”
“That… well, that’s closer to true.” She had to admit that one. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you here.”
“Why?” He got more antagonistic the angrier he got; he got angrier the more she confused him. It seemed like she confused him a lot.
He also revealed more when he was angry, no matter how much his anger scared her. Ciara forced a smile. “As I recall, ‘because I say so’ should be enough, shouldn’t it?”
He glowered at her. “You can tell me to do whatever the hell you want. But you haven’t told me not to ask questions – at least not the last time I looked at the damn list – and I want to know why you want me here when it’s time for bed and you don’t want me in your goddamn bed.” His hands were curled into fists on his thighs. “And besides, I don’t like crawling and I don’t like kneeling.”
“And yet you crawled, and you are kneeling.” And she hadn’t ordered either of those things.
“You wanted me over here, and you’re sitting down. I’m taller than you to start with.” He glared at her. “If I walked over, and stood here looming – I’d be looming, and you’d make that face.”
“I didn’t know I made a face when you loomed.” Although she couldn’t argue with the fact that he did loom.
“You do.” His lips twisted. “And I hate it. It makes me feel like a thug. Like.” He stopped himself with a snap of his lips. “What do you want?”
“I want to know what you’re thinking.”
“I think you’re fucking with me.” He sat up straighter, like he was trying to loom while still being on the floor. But he wasn’t that much taller than her.
“And if I am?” How far could she push him?
As far as you want.
“If you are…” He sputtered. His fists clenched on his thighs. “That’s your right, Mistress. But you haven’t ordered me to like it.”
“And I don’t expect you to. I don’t expect you to like anything about this Keeping. On the other hand…” Oh, this was going to be hard. And she was still more than a little scared of him.
“On the other hand, what?” He was angry enough, still, but she could see panic starting to set in. “On the other hand, what, Mistress? What are you going to do to me?”
She wanted to tell him to relax. She wanted to tell him to calm down. She took a deep breath, instead. “This is not an order, Amadeus. It’s a statement of fact. On the other hand: I don’t want you to hate this. It’s not my goal to punish you.”
“Ghita thinks it is. Jaelie thinks it is.” He looked no less worried. “Your Mentor thinks it is.”
“I didn’t do it for them, Amadeus. I didn’t collar you for anybody but me. And you.”
“And me? What’s that supposed to mean?” He rose up on his knees, bringing his nose almost to hers. “You can’t pretend you’re trying to help me.”
He couldn’t hurt her. He couldn’t hurt her. Still, she took a deep breath. “No. I did this so you’d stop stalking me, remember?” As if she wasn’t scared at all, she brushed the back of her hand over his cheek.
His chin went up, and she could see the effort it took him not to lean into that touch. “That’s for me, then? I don’t see how.”
“No. But you wanted me, didn’t you?”
“I wanted to Own you.” If he clenched his fists any tighter, he was going to hurt something. “I didn’t want to be here, kneeling, under your collar.”
She let her hand drift down to the collar. “Tied up in orders. Barely able to shit without permission.” She’d found a little bit of profanity got her a long way. He flinched, leaning away from her hand.
“Yeah. This is not my idea of a good time.”
She caught the collar in her hand and tugged. “Unless it’s the other way around.”
“So this is a punishment.” He fought against the tug of the collar, leaning away from her. She tugged harder, until he had to risk breaking the collar or his neck or give in.
“No.” He gave in, by inches, scowling. She met him halfway, and planted her lips on his frown. “This is a Keeping.”
He jerked back, or tried to, and, finding himself still held, growled instead. “What…”
She used her power to hold him where he was, instead of using an order. For now. “What’s the question, Amadeus?”
“What the hell are you doing?” When he was this angry, she noted, he actually got a wolf-growl sound in his voice. “What are you playing at? What do you mean, ‘this is Keeping?’“ He’d stopped fighting against the collar-tug, and was sitting very still.
“Well, it is.” She shifted her grip on his collar but didn’t release him. “I am Keeping you.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s not a punishment. Or whatever the hell it is.”
“Amadeus.” She sighed at him; she had to keep repeating herself, and she didn’t know why he wasn’t listening. “I Kept you to stop you from stalking me. That is why I collared you. What happens now… that has yet to be determined.”
“Well, when the hell are you going to get around to determining it? I can’t keep waiting for the other shoe to fall.”
Aaah. She let go of the collar and put her hands on his shoulders. It was interesting, the way he tensed even more at that. “It’s not entirely up to me.”
“You’re the Keeper. Everything is up to you.” He looked from one hand to the other, not quite looking her in the face in the middle. “You’re in charge. It’s what the damn collar means.”
“Have you thought about my offer?” She tightened her grip on his shoulders. She wanted to be sure he felt it.
“Your offer? He put his hands in his lap, folding one over the other, and didn’t look at her. “What offer?”
Well, that would explain a lot. “The collar.”
“The… Oh.” He fell silent. “I didn’t think you were serious.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Who offers something like that?”
“I’m new to Keeping, if you’ll remember.”
“Mmm. You’re new to being fae, too.” He glanced up at her through a fringe of hair. “You meant it? The collar?” One of his hands twitched but didn’t make it wherever he’d been planning on going with it.
She guessed, and touched the edge of his collar. “Yes. Either we keep on as we are, with you tied up in orders, with this collar, or we find a different way to go on, with you wearing something less restrictive – and living less restrictively.”
“Why would you offer that to me? I tried to Keep you. You wanted this to get me to stop stalking you.” His hands twitched again; she released his other shoulder and took hold of his collar again with both hands.
“Several reasons. As you’ve said, it’s hard to cover all the loopholes.”
“You’re doing better than I thought you would.”
“I’m paying attention. But, well – I’ve got to live with you all year.”
“You could let me go.”
“I think that would be a bad idea, don’t you?”
“…Probably?” He sighed. “I could sleep in my own room. Nobody would have to know.”
“Are you that against the idea of getting along?” She slid her hands back off the collar and on to his shoulders. Tugging on the leash was probably not the way to make him feel like getting along.
“I’m not against it.” He turned to look at one of her hands. “You know – you really don’t know, do you? The bond, being yours. It makes me want to make you happy. Having you irritated at me sucks. Being irritated at you sucks.”
“But you don’t want to take the lighter collar and everything it means.”
“It doesn’t work that way!” He got his voice up to a shout at work and then dropped his voice back to almost a whisper. “That’s now how being Kept happens. You do what your Keeper wants and try not to piss them off.”
“And if you piss them off?” She kept her hands where they were. She didn’t want this one to be read as a threat.
“Then you deal with that and try to make it better, I guess.”
“And that’s how you dealt with your Kept?”
“Yeah. You know that. You talked to them.”
“I did. But I wanted to know what you thought about it.”
“That’s pretty much it. You make your Keeper happy.”
She sighed. “That’s not what you’ve been doing.”
The big guy flinched, and then, right on the tail of the twitch, growled. “No. I’m a lousy Kept. You knew that when you put a collar on me.”
“No, when I put a collar on you, I knew you were angry, a stalker, and with a very firm idea about what being a Kept meant.”
“But not for myself!”
“But you’d never planned on being Kept.” She squeezed his shoulders again. “I understand that. I didn’t plan on owning someone this year. But, Amadeus, here we are. And you’re telling me that what you’re supposed to be doing is making me happy.”
“I don’t have a fucking clue how to do that!”
“Have you tried asking?” She snapped it out. “Remember, I’m new to this being fae thing. I’m new to this Keeping thing. If there’s something that I’m not giving you that, as my Kept, you need, it would behoove us both if you would tell me.”
“’Oh, by the way, you need to tell me what to do?’ Yeah, that’ll happen.”
“I was thinking, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t tell what you want from me and it’s making me crazy.”
“If I do that, I’m going to get another three pages of orders.”
“The general idea is to get less orders as time goes by, not more.”
“It is?” His eyes narrowed. “If you’re trying to Stockholm me, this isn’t how it works. Or trying to paper-train me.”
“Paper-train you?” People actively tried to induce Stockholm Syndrome in their Kept? That was a little bit sick.
“Like a puppy. Crate-train, I suppose. After a while, you don’t need the crate anymore…”
“If I was trying to crate-train you, what would I need to be doing differently?”
“Nunh-unh. You are not asking me to help you break me to your collar and chain.”
“You have quite a bit of terminology for this.”
“We’ve talked about it a bit, my crew… my former crew.” He looked away. “Mostly watching what other people do. Gregori was more interested in the practice than I was. It takes a lot of patience.”
“Coincidentally, something I have a lot of.” She moved her hands from his shoulders to his upper arms. He didn’t pull away, but he didn’t look at her, either.
“I’m not going to help you do that to me.”
“Not unless I order you to.”
Some of the color left his face, and his jaw tensed. “Unless you order me to. Right. Is that what you want… Mistress? To have me tame and docile, at your beck and call?”
“You’re already at my beck and call.”
“But if you did this, if you could do it – I don’t think you have it in you – then you wouldn’t need orders for it.”
“Are you trying to talk me into this or out of it?”
“Out of it! It doesn’t matter, you can’t do it on your own and I’m not going to help you!”
“Shhh. Don’t shout at me, Amadeus.”
“Are you going to write that on the list, too?”
“No.” She rubbed his arms. He didn’t want comfort from her, but his body was accepting it anyway.
“No, that’s an order just for today. Amadeus, I don’t want to break you.”
“You want me tame. Docile.” He didn’t pull away from her touch, but he was looking at her throat, not her face.
“Those are your words.”
“Then give me the words you want to use… please. Please, Ciara.” His voice broke on her name. “There, you have me begging. Is that what you wanted?” Now he pulled away, enough to turn around, so his back was to her. “Damnit. Is this what you wanted? I don’t have any idea what you want.”
She wanted to hug him and make it all better. Instead, she took hold of his collar. She didn’t pull, but she didn’t really need to. “All right.” She was going to have to change her plans a little bit. “Okay, Amadeus. Come back.”
“I didn’t go anywhere.” Even while arguing, he turned back around. “Okay?”
She let her hand travel around his collar while he turned; once he was facing her, she used it to pull him in towards her, so that she could plant a kiss on his cheek. “Do you think, if I made it clear what I wanted, you could accept the collar? Enough to be trustworthy, at least?”
The flinch at the kiss was a tiny thing; the flinch at trustworthy was bigger. “If you tell me what you want, I’ll serve you.” His voice was still growly. She found that interesting. “I don’t mean just pages of ‘don’t do this’ orders.”
“I know you don’t. Neither do I. So.” She took a breath. “I want you in my bed. As long as you keep your touch chaste, I’ll rescind the orders about touching me while we’re in bed together.”
“That’s it?” His gaze darted up to meet her eyes, before just as quickly moving away.
“That’s it for right now. It’s bed time, after all.” She released his collar. “I’ll come up with something else tomorrow.”
“I can’t wait.” As heavily sarcastic as he sounded, Ciara couldn’t help but think that there was a little bit of sincerity there, too.
Now all she needed to do was figure out what to want from him.
This was written because I wanted to, and to fill in holes in Amadeus’ and Ceinwen’s story.
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