“I need a beer,” Cya informed her Kept.

“So go get one.” Fafnir had not yet, in the week since Hell Night, adjusted to being Kept; indeed, he was, if anything, adjusting in the other direction. “Better yet, get me one, too.”

He would have to learn. She had. Then again, she’d never required that much correction.

And Dysmas’ hand had been subtle, subtle enough that it had taken her all of last year to work out everything he’d trained into her – and she was still finding pit-traps.

She stared at her Kept for a moment, wondering how she was going to handle him. She didn’t have her former Keeper’s subtlety.

She didn’t have to be subtle, she realized. She didn’t want a pet, and she didn’t want Fafnir cleaning up messes in his brain for the rest of his school time. She hadn’t exactly been tidy with Cabal, after all.

He still talked to her. She couldn’t have done that badly, right?

“What?” She was, she realized, still staring at this Kept. Deciding what to do with him.

“When you are Keeper, you get to tell your Kept what to do. Right now, I’m Keeper. That means I get to tell you what to do.”

“Oh, come on, Cya, don’t…”

She frowned repressively at him, and was mildly surprised to see that it worked. “Do not tell me what to do.”

He jerked a little as the order hit home. “Cy…” The order cut him short and he settled for glaring at her.

“If I need to give you a direct order every time I want you to do something, I will. It is my preference that you learn to anticipate.”

“I’m not your fucking slave!”

“I could release you and go get someone else to Keep.” She didn’t normally snap like that; maybe she should try with someone else.

“Or we could just go back to dating. The dating was nice.”

“This is how things are done in Addergoole. This is dating, for here.” She closed the distance between them, looking down at him. She didn’t want to trade him in; she just wanted him to act like a proper Kept. “Go get me a beer, Fafnir.”

He stood up as if he was on puppet strings. “Goddamnit, Cya, what the hell?”

“And don’t complain about it,” she added, possibly a little vindictively. “If you can manage to not make sullen miserable faces the whole time, you can get yourself a beer as well.”

His shifted his face into a rictus grin and then, after a moment of apparent thought, managed a halfway decent normal expression. “Better?”

She wondered if he’d realized he had to go past her crew to get the beer. “Better. Get yourself one, too, if you want.”

He didn’t say thank you, but she didn’t really blame him. She watched him go, contemplating his tail and the nice ass underneath. Maybe next year she should get someone who didn’t want to fight it the whole time. There were nice subby boys out there, plenty of them at Addergoole, and as a fourth-year student – a fourth-year student in Boom, no less – nobody was going to mess with what she wanted.

But right now she had Fafnir, heading back with two beers and not-quite-a-scowl, and she needed to deal with him. “Thank you.” He’d even remembered which beer she liked.

“Cya…” He paused, with an expression she recognized as finding-the-edges-of-an-order. “Why are you doing this to me?”

It was a fair question. Did she have a fair answer? She ran her hands down his back a few times while she thought about that. Because this is the way it is didn’t quite seem like enough.

“Because I need you to not fight this, to not fight me.” That, at least, was honest. “Because, Fafnir… you are what I get to have for myself, in this place. Next year, if you have your own Kept, you’ll understand, maybe. But this year. This year, I need you to be mine.”

He turned to face her, resting his forehead on her shoulder. “I don’t like it,” he muttered. “But…”

The but, she knew, was when she had him. She fell silent, and let him surrender on his own.

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