July 31, 2016 by Lyn
One week after The Morning After the Night Before
Content warning: Ib & Callista’s story (this and the preceding 2 stories) gets DARK, and after this story, it’s rather unrelentingly dark up ’till the end of year 5. Skip this, The Devil You Know, and The Morning After the Night Before if you don’t want to read the slow abuse of a Kept.
“I brought you a present, pretty-spider.” Ib sounded upbeat, almost perky, as he wandered into the room, turning the lights on. Something jangly dropped on the bed, and his boots thudded heavily on the floor, coming towards her.
Callista cringed further back in her corner of the closet, swallowing the bile that wanted to come up. If she puked right now… she wasn’t going to puke right now. He sounded like he was in a good mood. She hoped he was. His rare dark moods were unbearable.
“Are you still alive in there, little spider?”
Spider. He loved calling her that. The Changes her body had strained through last weekend had given her four more arms, which right now were folded around her knees. The starvation, if it kept up, would make them all knobby and bug-like, too, if it didn’t kill her.
“Spider?” His tone grew shaper. “Callista?”
“I…” Her throat was dry; the word came out as a croak. She coughed, swallowed, and tried again. “I’m still alive.” She was still pretty sure that was a good thing, too. Still being alive meant there was still a chance for freedom. Somehow.
“I’m glad.” The lock on the closet clicked, and the door slid open. By now, she knew enough to shield her eyes; the light would be unbearable otherwise. She had hands to spare, after all.
“Aah, look at you.” His voice sounded almost fatherly as he grabbed her between her first and second sets of arms to lift her to her feet. “When’s the last time you had a shower, Spider?”
“Wednesday, I think,” she answered hesitantly. He’d know better than she would; she wasn’t even completely certain it was Sunday now.
“No wonder you stink. Come on, let’s take care of you.” He wrapped his arm around her waist, steadying her. His touch terrified her, but she was grateful for it nonetheless; had she stumbled, he might have made her crawl around on hands and knees like the spider he called her.
He sat her on the toilet and leaned against the door, watching her. A week ago, the lack of privacy had mortified her. Today…
He watched her for a heartbeat, another heartbeat, his expression pleased. “You may go,” he said magnanimously. Only then did she relieve herself, though there was little to void.
“Good girl.” He waited till she’d wiped herself, then helped her stand and led her into the shower. Her feet caught on the edge of the tub; he picked her up and set her gently down on a stool there like an invalid. She supposed starving to death was similar.
His hands were gentle over her as he bathed her, the washcloth gliding over the new and healing bruises gently. Only occasionally would he brush harder, smiling oh-so-tenderly at her little noises of pain.
She opened her mouth to the water, hoping he wouldn’t catch her, but, of course, he did. Instead of slapping her, though, he filled a cup at the tap and held it for her while she drank. “You’re going to be good for me now, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” At least for now. At least until he began to trust her. At least until she could stand on her own again, until she could find the wicked-looking knife and hold it without shaking.
“That pleases me.” He turned off the shower and stood regarding her, water dripping from his wings. “If you can stand up on your own for a minute, I’ll give you your gifts.”
She didn’t know if she wanted them, but she’d told him she’d be good. She pulled herself up, her feet spread for balance, her lowest left hand on the tub wall. Her ankles were shaking. She was going to do this, damnit. The world was spinning. She was not going to fall, not going to show weakness. Her lip where she’d bitten it was bleeding again. The blood was warm and sweet against her tongue.
He wiped her mouth with a washcloth and wrapped her carefully in a towel. “Tsk,” he murmured, “people will think I’m not taking care of you if you’re bleeding like that, pretty-spider. And we don’t want that, do we?”
No-one would rescue her. That had been made painfully clear. And if they wouldn’t rescue her… “No.” She didn’t want them to see her humiliation.
“That’s my girl. Now…” He lifted her out of the tub as if she weighed nothing. “Crawl on out to the bed, my spider, and I’ll give you your presents.”
She dropped to her hands and knees, the towel draped over her back like a saddle blanket, and slunk carefully to the bed. She was getting the hang of the extra arms, and it was nice, sometimes, to have a few more limbs to share the burden.
She waited patiently at the bedside, sitting back on her heels, all six arms folded demurely behind her back, the towel puddle on the floor behind her. She could sit like this for hours; it was almost comfortable.
He patted her on the head lightly. “You’re being very good today, aren’t you? Are you trying to make up for your disobedience this morning?”
She was trying to not get locked back in the closet, to not get hit again. But he wanted the lie, so she gave it to him. “Yes.”
“Well, you’re doing a good job, spider. Here.” He dumped the bag out onto the bed with a jangle and a soft thump of fabric, and fished through it until he came up with a silver collar, O-rings jangling against it. “Give me your neck.”
She piled her hair on top of her head with two hands, baring her neck to him. He cut off the leather thong, and locked the metal collar in its place. The metal felt cold and permanent against her throat.
“Give me a wrist,” he said, and, without thought, she did – her upper left hand. Something every bit as cold and metallic clicked shut, pressing against her pulse. “Another.” He repeated that, over and over again, 6 wrists and 2 ankles, until she jingled softly with every movement, and every move reminded her of her captivity. Last was a thin, flat-link chain with its own little O-rings, loose on her waist but too snug to fall off her hips.
“There.” He sounded satisfied with his work; she moved a little, experimentally, and everything jingled. “Very good.” He patted her on the rump lightly. “Isn’t that nice?”
It was a lot nicer than many of the things he’d done to her, and the sound wasn’t at all unpleasant, almost like wind chimes. She shook two arms again to hear their ringing. “Yes.”
“I’m glad you like them.” He gestured at the pile of clothes on the bed. “I had some shirts made for you, for when you go to class.”
“Thank you.” The top one on the pile looked like nothing more than a scrap of fabric, but he liked to show her off when she was being good. Maybe he liked to show off her bruises, too?
“There’s one more gift.” She couldn’t keep from tensing at the current of pleasure in his voice; his deep chuckle told her he noticed the flinch. “You’ve been very good tonight, pretty-spider. You have nothing to fear from me right now.”
Until the next time she couldn’t stand to obey him, until the next time he was bored. “Thank you.”
“Put your arms behind your back.”
Twitching just a little more, she did so, knowing he was going to catch all those lovely jangling O-rings… and, of course, he did so, pulling them all together with a zip-tie. She tested it with a little tug, but neither the tie nor the cuffs had much give to them.
“You don’t need your hands right now, sweetheart. I’ll take care of you.”
“Thank you.” She was helpless whether or not he bound her, but he enjoyed making her viscerally aware of it.
“You’re welcome.” He walked over to his dresser, giving her another chance to test the bonds. They didn’t give, of course, and the cuffs pressed uncomfortably against some of her bruises when she pulled too hard. By the time he came back, she was sitting demure and still again.
He was carrying a bowl, carefully, as if it were over-full, and her nose caught a faint but delicious smell wafting towards her. A high-pitched whine escaped her throat, and, without meaning to, she leaned towards him, swallowing hard against the threatening drool.
He pulled his chair up in front of her, the bowl so close she could have taken it from him, if he hadn’t bound her wrists. “Can you sit still for me?” he asked gently.
“Ye-es.” She sat back on her heels, firmly enough that the new cuffs clanked together. She could sit still, she could sit still. She licked her lips and focused on the way her heels dug into her ass, on the coldness of the ankle cuffs so close to her upper thighs, on the way her arms twisted to try to meet all at one place.
“That’s my good little spider,” he praised her. “Open up.”
The memory of pride teamed with a week of harsh experience against her snarling hunger, but it was a short-lived battle. She opened her mouth, letting him spoon the soup into her like a mama bird.
It was warm, and thick, and delicious, some sort of puree with too much sugar. It could have been creamed spinach and she would have devoured it just as quickly, licking hungrily at the spoon and entirely unabashedly whining for more.
“That’s all, spider,” he said finally. Unable to help herself, she whined again and, laughing, he showed her the empty bowl. “See? All gone.” “Thank you,” she whispered. She was still hungry, but she could feel the soup settling in her empty stomach.
“If you behave,” he said, steel behind his gentle voice, even as he put his Mask back up, pretending to be innocuous, “then I will treat you well. And you’re behaving very well tonight.”
“Thank you,” she repeated. She wasn’t sure she could manage more.