This was supposed to be for @dahob’s prompt, but it really ended up somewhere else. Enjoy it anyway!
“You should try Keeping someone.” His Mentor was gentle but insistent; he gave Ambrus-called-Ambrose this speech at the beginning of each year.
“I like being a bottom. And it’s not like I need to provide more kids to the program.”
“Still. You should understand what it is to top.”
His third year there, he finally gave in. Understand what it is to top. Fine. Fine, he’d Keep someone. At least then his Mentor would stop pushing him.
It wasn’t hard to grab someone. It wasn’t hard for the normal students to grab people, and he had a generation and more on them. In the end, he simply walked up to her and made the offer. He layered it with enough flowery words and enough silly affection that the prickly girl with the thorns in her hair to match her personalty stepped into his sugar-sweet trap.
It was almost shameful how easy it was.
On the other hand, it got hard really quickly after that, and just kept getting harder.
“This is sick. I got through six weeks. Six weeks! And then you had to come and… trick me.”
“Don’t cry.” He wasn’t ordering her, he was pleading with her. And to his horror, she stopped crying with a strangled choke. “Shit. That wasn’t an order.”
She looked up at him through the tangled vines of her hair. “You’re not very good at this, are you?”
“No.” He sank down on the bed. “No, not really.”
“They why did you do it? Why catch me? Why…” She tugged on her collar in a gesture he recognized all too well.
Dryly, he gave he an honest answer. “My Mentor thought it would be a good idea.”
“I wonder if he talked to my Mentor about it.”
“Valerian, right?” His memories of Laurel were an interesting and heady mix. “I’m sure I could convince her it was a good idea.”
“I bet. You could probably convince people up was down.”
“It wasn’t a compliment.”
He sighed. “Are you going to spend the whole year hating me?”
“Depends. Are you going to spend the whole year ordering me around?”
“Well, that is, generally, the point of having a Kept, as I understand it.”
“Kept? Is that what this is called? Better than ‘pet,’ I suppose.”
“That’s a specific sort of… never mind.”
She pushed her vines out of her face and looked at him. He was startled to find how pretty she was, under the thorns. “Tell me.”
Ambrus responded well to direct orders. He sat down on the bed, near Phillipa but not touching her, and began to tell her about pets, and toys, slaves, and lovers, and all the permutations of being a sub that he had encountered.
“You know a lot about this from the other end, don’t you?” She wasn’t angry anymore, and he hadn’t had to lean on his power to get her there.
“I do.” He shrugged. It wasn’t anything he was ashamed of; if anything, trying to Keep someone was the embarrassing part.
“Teach me.” She shifted to sit a little closer to him, took his hand in hers, and put it on her collar. “It could be educational.”
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