After (no Title)
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“I do hope eventually that isn’t a negative for you.” She patted his shoulder. “But I don’t think ‘eventually’ is going to be ‘today’. Okay, the next…” she glanced at a clock over her shoulder, where it was in plain sight for Luke. “…half hour is going to be experimental. It does not reflect on you as a Kept in general, nor does it set any precedents. Understand?”
“It’s a sparring session?” Luke guessed. “Wait…” he winced. “It’s the sort of sparring session where you show the new kid he’d not as hot of shit as he thought he was, isn’t it?”
“That is a pretty close analogy. All right.” She glanced at the clock, nodded, as if to herself, and started. “I’m really disappointed in you for not coming home sooner. I know this isn’t what you wanted, but the least you could do is remember that you have a Keeper, and that your Keeper might want to see you once in a while.”
The guilt hit Luke like a punch in the gut. It’s explanatory, he reminded himself, but the part of him steering didn’t want anything to do with that. “You told me to help Leo,” he protested.
“Did I ask for excuses?” She asked it so sweetly, it was hard to reconcile the panic Luke was feeling with the tone of her voice.
He shifted, pushing himself to his feet. “I have to…”
“You have to do what you’re told. And what you were told was to kneel there and take it, darling. So…?”
Luke knelt. He brought to mind Ambrus when he’d first come to Addergoole, and he lowered his head and folded his hands in front of him. He wasn’t submissive. He wasn’t a pet. He was a warrior, a soldier. He was a teacher, a fae older than the nation that he’d watched fall to ruins.
He was Kept. He knelt and did as he was told.
Her voice was by turns sweet and scathing. She cut into Luke – his behavior, his word choices, his hair, even the way he smelled. She found fault with just about every part of him. And when she was done with that, she started reiterating points.
It was awful. It was torture, without out even the luxury of shouting. Only iron discipline kept Luke from sobbing, from trying to explain himself, from yelling at her — and he slipped in that last one, once, and bellowed at her.
She just shook her head and told him she was disappointed in him.
It lasted forever. It went on, and on, and on, while Luke clenched his jaw and clenched his wings. There was nothing left but her voice, and there was no getting away from it.
When she took a breath, Luke looked at the clock. It had been fifteen minutes. He was only halfway done.
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