From rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt.
She felt as if she’d kicked him, which made her feel bad, made her want to curl up in his lap and tell him everything was okay. She sat on her hands instead, shifting until she was sitting cross-legged, straight-backed and looking him in the eye. “Is this really about what I want, Thorburn?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?
“Because, up until now, you haven’t shown much interest in what I wanted.”
“I told you I wanted your honest assessment.” The hunched-unhappy expression was vanishing, replaced with growing irritation. “If you don’t want to tell me, you can just say that instead of bitching at me.”
“I’m not bitching,” she answered, as calmly as she could through her growing tempest of mixed emotions. “I’m…” She struggled against the urge t make him feel better and lost. “I’m just confused, Thorburn. Why now?”
“You’ve never said it wasn’t what you wanted before.”
She blinked at him. “I told you I hated you. I told you I didn’t…” She shouldn’t there. Something was wrong with him and sex. “…didn’t like the collar. Wanted clothes for sleeping. Wanted…” Well, if he took many more of her things away for complaining, she’d be left going to class naked. “That I wanted my stuff.”
His expression was a bit puzzled. “There’s a level of complaining that goes along with being Kept. I could have stopped you from complaining, or punished you more for doing it, but I thought it was better to let you get it off your chest. But you’ve never come out and said you weren’t happy with me… so I thought you were just uncomfortable being Kept.”
“Is…” Yes, there was a difference, wasn’t there? “So… ‘stop treating me like a possession’ doesn’t help, because the stupid Law says I am a possession.”
He nodded. “Exactly. And it takes a little while to get used to that. I didn’t want to overwhelm you, but you need to understand that, or you’ll cause trouble for both of us.”
“I don’t want to cause you trouble.” She was already in enough trouble herself.
“I know you don’t.” He smiled sadly at her. “You’re a good Kept.”
The praise sent an uncomfortably nice shiver through her. He thought she was good. He thought she was a good… slave. Well. “Thanks?”
He studied her. “You were saying,” he said, more gently than his norm and clearly a bit uncomfortably, “that I didn’t treat you the way you’d prefer.”
She nodded, nervous all over again. “I was. That… is not something a good Kept would say, is it?” She frowned at him, a spike of anger pushing through her desire to make him happy. “But it’s true.”
“But you think I’m nice to you?”
She sighed. They were sort of going in circles. “I do. You said you didn’t think I had context, but I’ve been watching. I’ve been listening. Talking to people, when they’ll talk to me.” Penny, mostly, and a couple other Sixth and Seventh Cohorts who were un-worried about Thorburn’s ire. “I watched Ahouva with Kendon… she’s my friend, you know. Or she was starting to be, before he got her.” She took a deep breath. This part was harder. “You’re gentle with me. You hold doors, and carry my tray in the lunchroom. You don’t yell at me, even when you’re obviously angry, and you’ve never hit me. No matter what Curry says, you’ve never let one of your friends… touch me… and you’ve protected me when someone’s gotten too close before. You take good care of me… and I know that not everyone does.” And she was beginning to believe, whoever had Kept him before, they hadn’t been nearly as kind.
He nodded, agreeing with all of her points, watching her carefully. “But it’s not what you’d prefer.”
She flinched. He was being very nice, but she still worried that there was a trap beneath the surface. “That part’s fine. I don’t mind being taken care of… I mean, it’s a little old-fashioned, but I can live with that. And I know that there really are jerks and monsters here, and that being protected isn’t a bad thing.” She trailed off, studying his expression nervously. “It’s not an either or sort of thing, is it? I mean… does the nice stuff go along with the stuff I don’t like?”
“What?” he frowned at her. “Well, that would be stupid. ‘Here, have a cookie and hold still while I beat you?’ No. I’m not that sort of asshole, Ceinwen.”
She relaxed. “Sometimes it seems like everything around here is a trap,” she explained and apologized all at once.
He seemed about to argue, and then nodded, with a rueful smile that she was fairly certain had nothing to do with her. “Okay, that’s fair.” He took her hands. “No more hedging. I promise I won’t punish you for it – now tell me what you don’t like about the way I Keep you.”
The air-twist of the promise slammed hard into the direct order, and Ceinwen spent a second trying to catch her breath, as the urge to answer pressed harder and harder on her. “The orders,” she spat out, just to make the pressure stop, and then flapped both hands at him, hurriedly. “No, no, I know that’s stupid but sometimes they make my head hurt, that’s all. I, Thorburn, sir, it’s really hard to be polite when you make me say things, I don’t like that you took all my stuff away. I don’t like sleeping naked. I feel helpless that way and you said I’d have to earn my nightgown back and then you never told me how to, so I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
She took a long breath, but the order was still pushing her on, despite the stunned expression on Thorburn’s face. “And my stuff. And this collar, which I suppose goes with the stuff, because it’s very pretty and only matches the clothes you bought for me or picked out of my clothes.” She shook her head. “That’s kind of petty, but it’s there, anyway and Thorburn could I please stop now before this gets really, really uncomfortable?”
He already looked pretty uncomfortable. He nodded, and squeezed her hands. “You can stop. But, tell me this – there’s more?”
She nodded mutely. Please don’t ask…
“You didn’t complain about the curfew, or not having time with your friends.”
She bit her lip. “Most of my friends are Kept anyway. I’d like to see them, I mean… but there’s classes? And I guess… isn’t that part of being Kept?”
He nodded, thoughtfully. “And there’s something that’s really bothering you, more than anything, that you were talking around the whole time.”
She gulped. Oh, no… She was nodding, though.
“Something you think will be even more uncomfortable?”
Another nod, her lips pressed as tightly as she could. Tears were already falling, but she couldn’t wipe them away. He was holding her hands too tightly. His face was doing something she couldn’t quite read, but it didn’t look good.
He took a deep breath of his own, looking more than a little worried. “All right.” He released her hands and tugged her against his chest in a massive bear hug. “I won’t ask. And when you’re ready, you can tell me. But for now – well. I think we have some room for negotiation.”
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/164703.html. You can comment here or there.