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“Stay here.” Cya walked into another room, only to come back a few moments later, carrying… what looked like sheets of leather and a few buckles. Luke frowned.
“Can you Make things or shape them more easily?”
“Shape, usually.” He looked at the leather in concern. “What am I shaping?”
She ran her hand over a very thin slice of wood and muttered a Working. When she was done, there was a technical drawing in black – char? – on the light wood sheet. “This.”
Luke studied it for a moment. His wings flared out in protest, knocking something off an end table and catching a throw pillow with his bottom wing-claw. “This is for me.”
“It’s for you.”
He picked up the pillow and muttered a Repair Working on it to give himself a moment to think. It was a harness. It was designed for wings like his – designed for his wings in particular, he’d bet – and, when it was buckled on, he wouldn’t be able to get it off without a Working, because the buckles were behind his wings.
It didn’t look like it was meant to be tight, except the cross straps across his chest and down both sides of his back, and the two brace pieces above and below his wing-joins. It was just two loops – one over the top of his wings, one around the bottom of them – that meant he’d have very little range of movement. It wouldn’t be quite like when she’d wrapped him in rope, but it would definitely keep him from flying.
And if it wasn’t rope, he had a feeling she meant him to wear it out. In public.
“Make the leather as close to your wing color as you can. I’ll do the buckles. If we do this right, it should very nearly blend in with your wings.”
He wasn’t sure if that was better or not. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Do I need to order you to do it?”
Did she need to? Luke looked at the plan. She wanted him to do it. She wanted him to make his own restraints. He could do it.
He looked up at her. She knew what she was doing. She knew, damn her. “Yeah.” His voice creaked. He didn’t care. “Make it an order.”
He knew it came out like challenge. If she was someone like his students, the look on his face probably would have led directly to a fight. He could use that right now, the violence, the exercise.
He wasn’t going to get it from her, and he was pretty sure he wasn’t allowed to get it from Leo.
She saw it in his expression, he knew she did. She did, and all she did was raise her eyebrows and smirk at him. “This drawing, Luca. Create the harness illustrated thus to fit you. Now,” she added, when he hesitated.
It wasn’t a real hesitation, he wanted to say, but the now took away any pretense that it wasn’t an order and he found himself doing Workings before he’d really thought about about what he was doing.
He didn’t like Working without forethought, and a low whine came out between Words. Damnit. Now she was going to think he was whining about having to make the harness.
You were the one that told her to make it an order, genius.
He twitched his wings at himself and looked at the harness he’d half-created. Another set of Workings made the leather the same color – and nearly the same texture – as his wings, but pretending it wasn’t there was going to be a lost cause. Everyone would be able to see it.
He looked over the thing one more time and made a couple more adjustments, a couple short changes, and, because he was feeling difficult, an embossed pattern on the front of the harness. Cya passed him buckles – each of them exactly the color of the leather – and he Worked them into the thing according to her blueprint.
Mike liked metaphors. He was pretty sure Mike taught at least one book about “forging your own chains.” He wondered what Mike would think about this.
“Good,” she murmured. “Now kneel, so I can put it on you.”
Luke let the order push him so he didn’t have to think about what was going on. He wished, for the first time he could remember wanting an order, that she’d tell him to hold still, too.
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