Content warning: slavery, humiliation, other things of that ilk loosely hinted at.
“Please, mistress.” Brock swallowed against his dry throat and his pride. “Please,” he repeated. He hated it. He hated the kneeling, hated the begging, hated calling her mistress.
He hated more the way she looked at him when he did those things, like he was a passably-trained pet. “You know what you have to do, dear. I told you.”
Brock ducked his head again. “Please, mistress. It’s… I can’t.”
“You can, my pet, and you will, or you will sit in here and starve.”
It had been three days with nothing but shallow bowls of water. Brock had started begging near the end of the second day. He knew already what the fourth and fifth day looked like. His mistress had her lesson plans, and she stuck to what worked.
Brock touched his head to the floor. “Mistress? Is there any other way?”
“There is starving, my dear. You do what you need to do to earn your food, the same as everyone else here.”
He swallowed hard against a lump in his throat. “I… I will do it.”
“I know you will.” She patted his head. “You’re a good boy, you know. You just have to be reminded.”
The praise felt hollow and horrible and good. Brock waited, basking in it and hating it, hating her and wanting her to say more nice things, and remembering, most of all, that he wasn’t in the clear yet.
“Now come here, dear. I’ll give you a little to tide you over. We wouldn’t want you fainting in the midst, would we? …again.”
Brock winced. “No, mistress.” He crawled forward through the small entryway in his cage. If he’d had any more pride to swallow… but he was long past that. “Is it…”
“Noone you know, pet.” She set a bowl in front of him, rice, with a trickle of sauce on it. Brock waited, patiently. He didn’t know whether to be pleased or worried by her answer. Someone new, it could go either way… “You may eat.”
“Thank you, mistress.” Waiting, thanking, holding still until he was told to move… Brock had learned many lessons since he’d been captured. Now he knelt forward and ate, slowly and carefully. The food was bland, boring… the food was food, and that was all that mattered.
“That’s my good boy.” He barely felt it when she clipped a leash on his collar. “Now come.”
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