He leaned against his Owner, his head on the taller man’s shoulder. “Would you drop your Mask, sir?” He was feeling incredibly brave today.
“I suppose I could do that.” Timaios shifted and, when Ctirad peeked, was stone and horns and still smiling. “I would ask you to do the same, but I’m afraid you would take it as some sort of tit for tat situation.”
Ctirad swallowed. “I like you – I like you liking me, sir,” he offered. “I don’t want to ruin that yet.”
“Do you honestly think, with a Change like this, that anything behind your Mask would bother me, my sweet man?”
“I… Nobody else has liked it, sir,” he offered. “And I like what we have right now. I like you talking to me like a person. I like feeling like a person.”
“Good. Very good. Although,” Timaios’ voice took on a teasing tone, “I’ll believe you feel like a person when you manage to call me by my name more than once in a day.”
Ctirad flushed. “Old habits. I’m sorry. It’s just.”
“Hey, hey. It’s okay. You can call me sir as long as you need to.”
Ctirad looked at his Owner. “Yeah?” He could remember, at the corner of his consciousness, when being given permission to call someone sir would have seemed like the most backhanded compliment. But now it felt like a concession, and one he wasn’t sure he’d earned. “I can learn, you know. I can call you Timaios and not need special rules.”
Timaios stroked Ctirad’s hair slowly. “I know you can. But there is a lot you’re going to have to learn in a really short period of time here, and this one isn’t that important to me. So you can call me sir as long as it’s more comfortable to you than calling me by my name, and that’s fine.”
A lot to learn. Ctirad chewed on that. “Should I start learning things, then, sir? If there’s a lot to learn?”
“If you don’t think you already have, Ctirad, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. But tomorrow, I’ll have someone take you out and show you around a little more. The most important things to learn how are how to fit into your public role. After that, it’s all about who you want to be and what you want to be to me, both in public and in private.”
“I thought-” he cleared his throat. “I thought you knew what you wanted me to be, sir.”
“I have a pretty good idea what I’m looking for, but that’s only one half of the equation.” Timaios’ voice was very mildly chiding. Ctirad ducked his head and fought the urge to put his forehead to the floor again.
“Sir?” he muttered. Here it came.
“The oth – Ctirad, you’re not in trouble. Please, look at me.”
He forced himself to sit up straight. “Sir?” This time it came out crisp. Military. Now where had that come from?
“You’re not in trouble,” Timaios repeated. “Ctirad, I want you to be a person. That is, as a note, not an order, because I think you could tie yourself in knots if you thought it was. But that means that our relationship is going to depend in part on what you want out of it.”
“Sir.” This time it was absolutely military. “Sir, I belong to you.”
“And that wasn’t by your choice, I know. But how do you want to belong to me?”
“Well, sir.” He cleared his throat and considered the question. Some animal part in the back of his mind was insisting that it was a trap, the sort of thing that he needed to duck his head and give the safest answer possible to, and even then be braced for the abuse.
Some more human part of him suggested that Timaios might actually mean it.
“That’s a hard question,” he managed after a moment. “Because I- Uh.” He cleared his throat. “I want to be different things, depending on my mood? And other… other things, sir.”
“That’s fine. You don’t have to be the same thing all the time. You can be my kitten when you’re feeling submissive and my bodyguard when you want to beat things up. You can be my boyfriend when you want to pin me to the window of my limo and kiss me, for instance. Although I’d prefer you not do that one while we’re, for instance, in a boardroom.”
Ctirad blushed. “But in, ah, in your car might be all right, s- Timaios?”
“In my car might definitely be all right. Or in the living room.”
“The living room?” Ctirad found his eyebrows lifting. “But the rest of your staff-”
“-don’t gossip, and they will only judge my sex life if it looks like I or my partner are being hurt. Badly hurt, not kink-fun hurt,” he clarified. “Do you think you might want to pin me up against a wall sometime?”
Ctirad looked away and cleared his throat, tried to talk, cleared his throat again, and found himself glancing over at his Owner. “Sir. I. I find that I might want to do anything at all that might make you happy. And if that means pinning you to a wall – I think that would make me happy, too.”
What he could see of Timaios’ face looked pleased. He risked a full look to find his Owner smiling broadly. “You know, I bought you because you were the most valuable thing I could take from Ermenrich, and I wanted to be sure that he felt the loss I was taking from him. But the more I find out about oyu, the more sure I am that I would have bought you no matter what the price.”
Ctirad ducked his head, torn between pleasure and misery. “I don’t think… Sir. I don’t think you took anything he really cared about from him. I’m sorry. But he didn’t really want me anymore.”