For [profile] rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt – more of “Birthday Present,” from the December Giraffe Call.

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Content warnings: mind control.

“I’m not…” Noam gave up. If this infuriating bitch wanted to think he was stupid, let her. What would it matter? He was trapped. he couldn’t move, and, even if he could, he’d been paying attention. He couldn’t really get away from her – the school had no exits, or, if they had, he hadn’t gone through enough of the dungeon to find them yet – so running was, at best, a stalling measure.

It’s her birthday… You should thank me.

“Thank you,” he said, not certain if it had been an order or not. “You think Brenna will like me?” As conversational gambits went, that one was pretty lame, but she already thought he was a moron, and he wasn’t really trying to make friends with her. He had her pretty firmly in the category of not-friend, and planned on keeping her there.

“I know I had a ribbon around here somewhere… Aistrigh unutu. There, that ought to match your patterning better. Hold still.”

“Already holding still,” he muttered.

“Aren’t you clever,” she crooned sarcastically, as she tied a teal-green ribbon around his neck. “Yes, I think Brenna will like you. She’d been complaining that she can’t find anyone.”

“She talks, then?” He hadn’t been certain.

Hera chuckles. “She’s shy. It’s probably why she can’t find anyone. But you’ll be good to her, won’t you?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Well…” She patted his shoulder and studied him thoughtfully. “I plan on giving you to her, you know, not Keeping you myself and letting her just play with you. That would be entertaining, I suppose, but you’re really not my type.”

“I guessed,” he muttered. Too pretty, too dumb…

“Mm-hrmm. I like my men shorter, brighter, and stronger. Less Dionysus and more Hephaestus.”

The back-handed complements and insults were giving him whiplash. She liked him, but she thought he was stupid. Not her type, but pretty and god-like. He wanted to nod, couldn’t, so just made a little noise instead.

“Don’t grunt, dear, it’s not pretty. Here, take you… no. you’re holding still like a good boy.” She stood on her toes to unbutton his shirt and tug it out of his pants, leaving him blushing at the contact. “There. You may move enough to take your shirt off. Leave it on my bed.”

He shrugged his shirt off and let it fall on the mess of her blankets. Like this, almost all the markings of his Change were showing. He hoped she decided that was enough, and didn’t make him show the rest of them.

“Mmm.” She studied her work critically. “One more ribbon… Aistrigh unutu… you can move enough to put your wrists behind your back, crossed over each other.”

He didn’t like where that was going, but he did it anyway, rolling his shoulders a little bit, trying to get comfortable. She walked around behind him, muttering to herself, nothing he could quite hear, and tied the second ribbon around his wrists, rather firmly.

“Don’t try to get out of that, mind you. You can move now. Follow me; we’re going to go see Brenna.”

“My shirt?” he asked, even though he had a feeling it was a lost cause.

“Mmm. I’ll bring it by later, don’t want to ruin the effect. Hush now, and not another word until Brenna says you’re hers.”

He hushed and followed, because he didn’t have any choice in the matter, frowning at her back. He felt conspicuous, exposed, and cold, all of which were pretty accurate, shirtless, bound, and following a girl more than a foot shorter than him like a trained puppy.

What if someone sees me like this? was quickly replaced by Is he looking at me? as they came upon Jabez. The short, dark, dragon-like boy shared a PE class and a History class with Noam, but they’d never really spoken. His eyes slid right over Noam now.

“Hera,” he nodded at the short girl, and

“Hey, Jabez,” she replied, and that was it. Noam might as well have not been there at all.

“Don’t frown,” Hera scolded, when the other boy was out of sight around a curve. “It makes you look sullen.”

He felt sullen. But he smiled anyway, trying to make it not look horribly fake.

“That’s better.” She patted his shoulder as she stopped by a door in another pod. Noam’s heart did weird things in his chest as she knocked, and he spent a bad couple minutes trying to find a loophole in her orders. He didn’t really have to stand here waiting like a… well, like a birthday present, did he?

But he did, and he had just sighed in frustration when the door opened.

Brenna hadn’t been expecting company, he was fairly certain: she was wearing a long t-shirt over leggings, her hair pulled back in a kerchief. Her TV was going in the background, and the smell of popcorn filled the room.

“Hera!” She stepped back into her room a couple jittery steps, looking uncertain. “And… Noam?” Her voice squeaked a little. “Hera, what did you…”

“Happy birthday, Brenna.” She pushed Noam forward until he almost bumped against her friend’s threshold. “He’s yours now.”

“You… got me a boy?” She reached out for Noam, and, somehow, he managed not to flinch back. “You got me Noam?

Was that a good thing or a bad thing? He didn’t know, and he couldn’t ask, so he smiled gamely at her. She’d always seemed like a nice girl. Could she fix this?

“I did. Take him, Brenna, I think you’ll have fun breaking him in.”

No, no, he didn’t want that. He shook his head unhappily, nervously, but Brenna just smiled. She had, he noticed, what would be a very nice smile under other circumstances.

“I think I will. This is the nicest gift I’ve gotten this year. Come in, Noam, you’re mine now.”

“Tell her your hers,” Hera urged from behind him, as, for lack of anything better to do, Noam stepped into Brenna’s room.

“I’m yours,” he said unwillingly, and then clamped his mouth shut.

“Very good. Hera…”

“You two have fun,” Hera chirped, and headed down the hall. Brenna closed the door, locking a struggling Noam – he could struggle! He’d better do it fast! – in with her.

“So…” She looked him up and down, smiling uncertainly. “This might be fun.”

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