Archive | December 6, 2016

Punished (more Chess/Black Knight AU)

After Flight
Luke flew back slower than he’d flown out. Gwen paced him again, but flew quietly, save for a brief conversation she had with her radio.

Luke resisted the urge to show off, to engage in aerial horseplay with her, to race. She was on a mission, and he —

well, he was probably in a lot of trouble, which he had to admit was a strange feeling. He had answered to Regine, sure, for decades, but he’d been answering to her as an equal.

Or, at least, the treacherous voice in his head suggested, you thought you were equals.

She clearly had other impressions.

That was going to sting for a very long time, he knew. Regine had been pulling and pushing at his mind, at his memories, all this time. She’d been making him into what she needed.

It occurred to him that Red Doomsday, his captor, his Keeper, whose lover he had beaten half to death, had treated him with more respect and, as far as he knew – and that’s the problem, isn’t it? You wouldn’t KNOW – left him more of his mind and his volition than the woman he’d considered crew and a friend had. That stung nearly more than what Regine had done.

“Hey,” he called, as they neared the camp. She tilted her head, indicating she was listening. “Fly again sometime? For fun.”

“If we can,” she allowed. “If you can,” she added, which made Luke suppress a growl. “Not pissing off the Mayor just for shits and giggles.”

Luke huffed. “Can’t get used to that.”

“I’d suggest you do. She’s the Mayor, he’s the General. Whoever they were when you taught them… might be time to leave that behind… sa’Hunting Hawk.”

He let that sink in. They were nearly back to the camp. He could see the pennants near Leo’s tent. “I thank you for your wisdom, Captain.” He said it with as little stiffness as he could manage. She was being helpful, even if she was being pushy.

Hell, Mike would probably say being pushy was the only way TO help him.

Luke landed, picking a spot where he wouldn’t upset too many people. There was a figure sitting in a stone chair nearby, a brown cloak covering her. Brown cloaks weren’t part of Leo’s army’s uniform. He hadn’t seen anyone hooded like that…

He had enough time to process that before she pushed the hood back and hopped out of the chair. Cya, of course it was Cya, and she was looking particularly blank as she strode towards him.

“Luca.” Her backhand rocked him backwards. He fought against the urge to lift a hand to protect himself, to hit her back. He missed her first words because he was too busy not reacting. “…sent you here to be an aide and an asset to General Lightning Blade, not to hare off without warning or permission and cause trouble, wasting his time and mine.”

“I-” he started.

“This isn’t where you get to talk,” she cut him off. “You have embarrassed me and done a disservice to General Lightning-Blade’s army. You persist in thinking about yourself as an individual, when you haven’t been that in centuries. You were Addergoole’s. You still represent Addergoole in the eyes of thousands of people. And you are mine and you represent my will and my choices.”

She was dressing him down in the middle of an army. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Leo’s blond hair. He glowered.


“No. You talk when I say you can talk.”

Luke bowed his head, cheeks burning in humiliation and breath catching in fury. How dare she? What the hell did she think he was?

“General Lightning-Blade, I’m afraid I’m going to have to deprive you of Luca’s service for a couple days while I remind him of his position.”

His position? Who the fuck did she think she was?

He missed Leo’s answer, almost missed Cya snapping “come” at him, and nearly missed the part where she was having them teleported back into the city, back to her house.

“The-” he began, when the teleporter was gone.

“No.” She cut him off one more time. “No, Luke. Dead gods be fucked, I am not going to juggle a neverending cycle of you and Leo being jealous for the entire fucking time I’m Keeping you.”


“Luke, shut up until I tell you that you can speak. Look. If you were honestly not flying away because you were jealous, shake your head no now.”

Luke started to and stopped. His wings twitched and he made a very reluctant so-so gesture with his hand.

“Yeah. So. We’ve got to fix this, and we have to fix it fast, before I go bonkers and lock you both in a box somewhere.”

Luke was pretty sure she didn’t mean literally lock them in a box, but he wasn’t certain. He bowed, silently, and waited.

“First. You’re in trouble. I’m pretty sure you got that, but I wanted to hammer it home, since you have a hard time remembering that you’re not in charge here.”

He hadn’t been in charge in decades. He flapped… but nodded.

“Second…” She sighed. “We’re going to have to come up with something, if the thought of Leo and I being rough gets you angry. ‘Cause it’s gonna get a lot worse when autumn gets here.”

In autumn, he’d be teaching most of the time. He twitched his wings.

“Third.” She shook her head, slowly, thinking. “Third, you’re going to have to remember that what you do reflects on me and thus on Leo as well.”

“–” He shut his mouth as the order poked at him, reminding him he wasn’t allowed to speak.

She shook her head. “You know it, but you’re not internalizing it. You know the words, but the Keepings you’ve dealt around haven’t been in volatile political situations. Screw up in school, your Keeper looks bad, maybe gets punished, and it sucks for you for a few days – or a few weeks, if you really screwed up or your Keeper’s a real bitch. Screw up here, and we’re looking at what used to be a single nation and now is a bunch of fragmented nation-states, all of them held together, right now, by my paperwork and Leo’s charisma.”

He had a feeling there was a lot more to it than either papers or charisma, but it wasn’t the time for that. Luke let his wing-tips twitch and kept his eyes on his Keeper.

“So I can’t afford to have you going all cowboy on me, even if you’re going cowboy sulking over Leo’s love bites. When you are in public, I need you to be a good advisor, a good aide, a good —”
slave, Luke’s mind filled in.

“Kept. Do you understand?”

Luke nodded slowly. He got the broad idea, even if it tasted sour in his mouth.

“You can talk now.”

Luke wetted his lips. He wanted to say stupid things, to yell at her. He pulled his wings close and growled softly.

“I’m not…” he started, stopped, started again. “I’m not… I shouldn’t be. I’m not in love with you.”

“I know. I’m not your type.” She tilted her head and studied him. “You’re Kept, Luke, and I’m treating you like a person and not a commodity. Well, correction: you’re Kept, and I’m paying attention to you. If I was treating you like a pet, a toy, it might hit you, too, because I’d be paying enough attention to reinforce the bond.”

Luke didn’t really know what she meant by a pet or a toy, and he really didn’t want to know, either. He nodded slowly. “You’re not my type,” he agreed carefully.

“You’re Kept, it’s making you jealous of attention I give other people, notably, my lover. You see how this is going to be a problem?”

“Then what do you want me to do?!” He hadn’t meant it to be a bellow but it came out loud and thunderous, shaking him, shaking her. “I don’t know what I’m feeling, much less how to deal with it!”

She looked, he thought, startled, and then a little abashed. She put her hand on his knee. “Tell me, how do you normally deal with emotions you don’t like?”

“Either I use abatu hugr or I do something physical,” he muttered. “I was trying to — I was trying to just fly it out.” rather than destroy his emotions in the middle of the field, which could get… problematic.

“And that’s fine. If you tell me or Leo where you’re going first. You’re not… pretending to be your own man right now, Luca. You need to remember that.”

“So it’s fine if I fight it out or fly it out, as long as I tell the person that’s covered in bruises from his night with you, first?” What the hell was he saying? Luke flapped, irritated at himself.

And she just smiled. “Yes. If it helps — and I doubt it will — if he’s covered in bruises it means I’m happy, and in a month or two it’s going to be me covered in bruises and that, Hunting Hawk, will mean I had a phenomenal night no, let me finish.”

He shut his mouth.

“We’re lovers. It took us a damn long time and I will not let the fact that you tried to kill him get in the way of me having sex. With my lover. Understand?

“What do you want me for, then?”

What the hell was wrong with his mouth?

“You?” She laced her fingers together and rested her chin on her fingers to look at him. “Luke. You’re a tactical genius, a combat demon — in a good way — and you’ve seen more American History than most classes even brush on. Also, you’re great with kids…. And you’re very warm in bed. Like a furnace.”

“So… you want me as … what I’m doing for Leo… and… teaching? With a side order of, uh, literal bed warming?” The praise was making him giddy. He really needed to get hold of himself.

“That’s what I want you to do, yes.” She leaned forward to run her hand through his hair. “You’re valuable, Luke. To me, as well as to the army and Cloverleaf. You’re just going to have to remember that you’re valuable to me in a different manner than Leo is.”

He sighed and lowered his shoulders, nodding. “I can try. I can do that,” he corrected.

“Good.” She patted his shoulder. “I’m still going to punish you… but that’ll be short-term. The rest is long-term.”

Twelve years had seemed like nothing a few weeks ago. Now it was starting to feel like an eon.

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Weekend Blog with Patreon, Holidays, and more!

A two-day weekend feels rather short after a five-day “weekend”, but, on the other paw, I didn’t have to go anywhere all that far away, we didn’t have any major cooking (Barely any cooking at all!), and it turned out to be quite relaxing.

I got a new wobble stool for Black Friday (among other purchases), so this weekend, I tested it out, and found it fun, if a little surprising for my back and thighs for the first couple hours. Mobile computing! Or, at least, computing and being mobile at the same time! It’s actually a lot of fun.

We saw Fantastic Creatures this weekend, too, and that was fun, too; it’s not the most deep of movies, but it was visually beautiful, fun to watch, and has already got me spawning worlds of fic in my mind. I’ll call that worth the matinee ticket price.

Other than that — I wrote, we picked apples, we cleaned up the house a bit, hauled some firewood, and went out to lunch at our local Italian bar food restaurant (fish fry and enough Stromboli for three meals). We made cookies and the last of the turkey broth and… well, pretty much chilled. It was a peaceful weekend, and I’ll take it.

In other news, my Patreon has reached the $40 milestone again! I’m excited to get Nimbus out of the tree and see what adventures she gets up to next! (what, I’m supposed to know? I barely know how she’s getting out of the tree! <.<)

I’m contemplating doing a live-writing something sometime during my ~week plus~ work holiday at the end of December (a whole week! And then a Monday!) Details to follow, if there’s interest.

And if you haven’t checked out Selena Page yet, both the Hallowe’en and Christmas stories are available on Smashwords for free:

Speaking of the holidays, Christmas is coming, I’ve finished my re/watch of the Librarians, and I’ve started watching Elementary, which might prove to be good knitting-tv (I hope so; I have a few projects to knit on relatively short deadlines!)

And Baking! I think I’m going to try making “fancy” cookies for my foodie aunt & uncle who are in ailing health. I can’t give them wine anymore… (not kindly) so cookies it is! Anyone have a favorite “Fancy” cookie recipe, holiday or otherwise?

I hope you, too, had a peaceful weekend, and that the week is fun and productive for you.

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In Which Amrit Reaches and Mieve Backs Up

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Amrit Makes Sense.

Every night, she sent Amrit to his bed, in his bedroom, and even though she wasn’t chaining him to his bed anymore, she still locked him in.

He wasn’t gagged and he wasn’t chained. It was a useless move, and she knew it. And yet, there she went, every night, and then slipped into her own bigger, more comfortable, softer bed.

He wasn’t swearing at her recently; he wasn’t arguing (much) with the chores she gave him, and even without the motivation of losing the gag for a couple hours, he was still cooperating and doing he work she set in front of him.

She lingered by his doorway this time. His leg was paining him less; she could tell by the way that he swung it when he moved, and by the way he wasn’t gritting his teeth as much when he didn’t know she was looking. He’d said five days; it’d been four. Pretty soon he’d have the splint off.

And then? She still had his promise, that was good for a few more days. And there was no reason to chain him up if she had all those promises. So why was she nervous?

“Something you need?” His eyes were closed, but he could hear her, of course, and the fact that the door hadn’t closed yet.

“No… no. Good night, Amrit.” What she needed was someone to grab her by the back of the neck and shake her, and even if he was going to volunteer for that, she didn’t think she wanted him to.

She closed the door, locked it, and went back to her bed. It had been warmer and more pleasant with Jerome there — but he’d left without a good-bye or a backwards glance when she’d freed him. Every other slave or Kept had done the same — except the one that had attacked her. She was better off keeping Amrit locked in his room and she in hers.

She stared at the ceiling for a while, the shadows dancing in the dark, before she managed to fall asleep, no matter how tired her body insisted she was.
“You know I can haul water,” he was insisting, early enough the next morning that the sun was still tinting the trees instead of hanging in the sky. “Come on, you don’t have to do all the hard labor around here. Isn’t that why you brought me here?”

“You’re still injured,” Mieve argued. “And it’s not easy to keep your balance while hauling buckets of water, much less while limping.”

“There’s only so much I can do about anything while I’m injured, and it’s driving me bonkers. Come on,” he wheedled. “There’s only so much firewood a guy can chop. There’s only so many seeds I can stand sowing.”

“There’s a lot to be done,” she countered, but her heart wasn’t in it. “All right. Watering the garden is fine.”

“Maybe you can talk your bees into a little honey for the bread?” he offered, with a playful smile she’d never seen from him before. “That was really tasty the other day. You don’t sell all of it, do you? Your honey?”

“A lot of it. But no, I keep some.” She couldn’t help but smile in response to his look. “We can have toast and honey with lunch today.”

“You’re the best.” He graced her with yet another smile. “Show me everything that needs watering? I want to be sure I don’t water your weeds.”

She pointed out the beds of dirt and tiny seedlings that held plants, and he nodded and repeated it back to her. “Buckets, well, watering can. I can do that.” He glanced at her, then seemed to make a decision. “Do you sell your honey very often? You haven’t gone anywhere since you, uh, brought me here, and I didn’t see you bring back anything but me, then.”

Mieve frowned. “That could be useful information, couldn’t it?”

He held his hands up. “I’m just saying, if you need to make a run, I could help — or you could tie me up with chains and promises.” He huffed quietly. “I want to run, okay? I’m not going to lie. But in the meantime, I don’t want to screw up your whole routine.”

“Why not?” She twisted her lips; that hadn’t been the smartest thing to say. She followed it up with… well, she hoped it was an explanation. “You weren’t exactly happy to be here. What changed?”

I broke his leg.

That was not a reasonable thing to change someone’s entire attitude towards the positive.

“I, uh…” He frowned, and seemed to be arguing silently with himself. “Well, it’s like this. You could’ve done a lot of things when I broke the chain and ran — tried to run. You could’ve enjoyed the chance to punish me. I mean, you weren’t even all that bad before, even when I was being rude and miserable. You still fed me, you kept all your bargains.”

He coughed and shifted most of his weight to his good leg. “So, you know. You kept your word. I knew what that meant; I knew that if I ran, you’d keep your word again, you’d break my leg. Right? I knew I couldn’t get caught, I knew what I was getting into. I mean, yeah, I hoped if you caught me you wouldn’t…” He flapped both his hands at her in frustration. “You’re getting that expression again. Don’t, please don’t, okay?”

Mieve cleared her throat. “What, uh. What expression.”

“The one that says I’m a horrible person, I tortured him. You’re not – I think, I mean, I don’t know you that well yet, and you didn’t. You kept your word, which is what I expected. But you let me do it myself when I explained, so you weren’t, uh. You didn’t need to hurt me, you didn’t need to damage me, you just had to keep your word, no matter how much you hated it.”
“I’m not a monster.” The words went out of her mouth without consulting her first. She ducked her head, knowing she was flushing, feeling the heat in her cheeks, and sighed.

“And someone said you were, didn’t they? The humans, they all think all of us are monsters, and, you know, I see why. If you first experience with the fae is, like, the bastard calling himself Zeus or that bitch Hera that took over New York City, or some Nedetakaei monster that took advantage of the chaos, yeah. They’re gonna hate every fae they see for a while after that. But that’s nothing to do with us.”

She cleared her throat. He was trying so hard to be kind, and it was doing anything but helping. She didn’t want to stop him, but she just couldn’t listen. “It wasn’t a human,” she whispered. “Wasn’t even one person.”

“You’re not hiding out here because nobody spooked you,” he pointed out dryly.

“No. No, I mean. There’s always humans saying things like ‘the only good fae is a dead fae.’ I mean, I don’t know, they could be fae saying it, just to fit in. I knew I couldn’t risk being out in public too much, and I’m not strong enough to take on a whole hunting pack of Nedetakaei or anything. But that’s…” She shrugged. “Like you said. They’re scared, and they’re lashing out. That’s different.”

“Then who… shit.” She looked up in time to see Amrit lean against the wood behind him and sigh. “Shit. Your former Kept? Shit. Because, what, you buy slaves?”

“Well, you weren’t exactly happy with me for that,” she pointed out.

“Yeah, well, I suppose an argument could be made that you’re supplying the demand so they’re supplying the slaves, but it’s not like, uh. Well, you’re not that bad, you’re not bad at all.” He shrugged. “You’re not a monster. You’re right. And, you know, that’s why I don’t want to screw up your life here. I’ll stay through winter, okay? I’ll make sure I’m doing my share, because I don’t want to just be mooching off of you and then leaving. And you can have all that in a promise, if you want… and, yeah. Yeah,” he sighed. “I was pissed. I was really pissed. I’d been stupid enough to sleep where I could be grabbed, because I can’t be attacked all that well unless you cut off my head— hell, for all I know, I’d grow a new body, but let’s not try that, okay?” He grinned suddenly at Mieve; she smiled back, although less enthusiastic than his wide, open expression.

“I…” He shrugged and his smile twisted a bit. “I was pissed. And, uh, like I said. I don’t take orders well. And I really, really hated that gag. The one they put on me,” he added hurriedly. “The one you put on me was, well, pretty good, for a gag.”

“That was the idea,” she admitted. Hesitantly, because they were getting along so well and she didn’t want to ruin it, but she needed to know, she asked, “why are you telling me all this?”

“In a blatant and probably-futile attempt to get you to trust me a little bit,” he admitted. “And, uh. Well, I can talk to you.” He worked his jaw. “I can talk. So I’m feeling talkative? I figure sooner or later my promises will run out and you’ll put the gag back in, and then we’ll be back to where we were.”

The thought filled Mieve with disappointment. She frowned, puzzling over it. “Maybe?” she offered. “I mean…” She shook her head. Like he said, he was trying to get her to trust him. He was just playing all the cards he had at his disposal for that, and guilt was probably one of those. “Nah. Forget it.” She shrugged. “You’ve got a couple days left in your promises. If you want to go hunt, the bows are in the garage.”

She stomped away, doing her damnedest not to examine the emotions roiling around in her.

I just want you to trust me. She’d certainly heard that before. She had even believed it a few times. And, to be fair, the people she’d believed it from had wanted her to trust them. She still had some of the scars.


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First: Slaves, School
Previous: Getting to School

This time, it seemed normal to have the voice in his collar steer him down the hall, although Des was glad when the stairway appeared lit. The white-marble stairs curled upwards in a narrow spiral that would have been challenging to navigate in the dark; even in the light, the narrow treads were tricky.

Sun poured in through narrow windows, all of them either frosted, bubbly, or blue enough that they allowed no sight of the outside world. Desmond was a bit turned around, but he was fairly certain he was in the back of the Central Office; it was possible the windows would have looked at the Potentate’s Palace, which was forbidden, of course, or they could have simply overlooked an alley or a sewer, which would have been unpleasant.

(that is, assuming sewers were allowed near the Potentate’s Palace. They might not be. Des had heard Stories of that place — everyone had heard them. They were up there with Beyond the Edge of the Ocean fairy-tales and I Crossed the Mountains myths — and, of course, rumors about the Potentate. But presumably even the Potentate shat.)

He climbed stairs. The first floor was interesting; he studied the patterns of the windows and tried to imagine how they would look from the outside, if anyone was there to see them. The second floor was do-able, although the treads grew narrower and the windows were spaced further apart. The third and fourth floors were difficult. Des was not out of practice with exercise, but nowhere else in the city were there this many stairs. The windows were slits now, barely wide enough to let in any light.

::Here is the issue.:: The collar sounded, inasmuch as it had a tone of voice, a little subdued. ::You can stop at any time. Once you get to the fourth floor, you won’t be sent home. The further up you go, the harder it will be. Go up high enough, and it might kill you. Us. It might kill us.::

“You can be killed?” There was so much about what he’d just heard that Des wanted to question, but he started with that.

::I can be… ended. And I will be, if you die.::

“Does it hurt?”

::Dying? It hurts quite a lot, sometimes. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all.::

“Being ended, I mean. For you?” Did collars feel pain?

::Ah.:: The collar was quiet for a while. ::I do not know. Nobody has ever asked a collar what it feels like to be ended, or, if they have, I don’t have that information.::

“I’m sorry.” He slowed his pace for a few steps, focusing on exactly where his feet went. He hadn’t stopped yet; he was afraid if he did, that would be it. “You said I could stop any time.” The stairs were only wide enough now to hold his toes and the balls of his feet. The railing was slippery and, in some places, missing altogether.

::You can stop any time. But the further you climb, the better chances you have. We have.::

“Chances? Of?” There was a door on a very narrow landing. Even getting it open without knocking himself down the stairs would be tricky, and it had no handle. “Do the doors get harder, too?”

::The doors are… I believe they vary.:: The collar was quiet for a moment. Des contemplated the stairs in front of him. “Better chances?” he asked again.

::better chances.:: The collar seemed to be thinking, or maybe it was just being particularly cryptic. Des took a couple steps. The stairs had a slant to them, making it hard to keep his balance. He sighted up the stairs until he found the next landing and jogged it in one quick go.

The landing was slanted, too, but he could spread his feet and catch his breath. “Better… chances?” he panted.

::You – we – will be placed somewhere. That’s a given, once you’ve been called. But there are a lot of places we can be placed. Some of them are pleasant. Some of them offer opportunities for advancement. Some of them are pits.::

“Pits.” He studied the next stairway section. It looked normal. He didn’t trust that one bit. “Can you…. hrrm. Can you help me at all?”

::I can help, but you have to direct the help.::

“Okay, can you make pressure in mid air? Like the way that you fought back those blasts?”

::You fought those blasts; I merely directed it.::

“Okay, okay. So can you direct me?”

::Where do you want the pressure?::

“Behind me. At the small of my back.”

::All right. Put your hands behind your back, flat-palmed, and think about the force you want.::

Des spread his stance a little bit, trying to keep balance, and did as he was told. Slowly, he felt a warm pressure build up behind him. “Good. Thank you. Can I move my hands?”


“Slowly I can do.” He shifted his hands carefully back up in front of him and started up the next set of stairs. The moment he put his foot on the step, it shifted under him, twisting towards the center of the stairway and towards the next step.

That wasn’t so bad, but he had no faith that the next one wouldn’t go the other way and dump him backwards. He leaned a little bit on the pressure behind him, felt where it was, made sure he had his wind back, and ran.

The stairs shifted as he touched them, or sometimes before, left, right, up, down. Once he missed a step and had to lunge forward, scrabbling with both feet and both hands to stay on the stairs.

That showed him that the stairs he had his ::hands:: on did not move, which meant he took the rest of that flight on all fours, his hands giving him a stable base even if his feet were skidding.

::Clever:: It sounded as if his collar approved. ::How far do you want to go?::

“How far do you want me to go?” he countered. The stairs had moved from spirals to short flights, back and forth, back and forth. He couldn’t see any further ahead — maybe ten steps, and then a short landing — and the stairs in front of him looked shiny.

::As far as we can safely go. But I don’t know how far that is.::

“Well, then.” Desmond took a breath. “We go till I fall down, really fall, and then we finish that flight and take the next door.”


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