He didn’t want me anymore. The words still hurt. Ctirad willed them not to, but his will and his pain were not listening to each other.
“Some day,” Timaios growled, and Ctirad’s misery only increased, “I am going to take that man and pin him to a wall until he has some idea what he put you through – no. Until he is sorry what he put you through. He bargained very dearly for you indeed, Ctirad, and cared a great deal to have you be taken from him, but such is the nature of a bastard like him that he would rather have you believe that you are un-valued, begging and pleading for every bit of attention and praise, than have you know that you are valuable to him.” He cupped his hands around Ctirad’s chin and looked down into his eyes. “You are very valuable to me already, Ctirad, and were you to serve me as long as you served Ermenrich, I believe I would consider you a treasure beyond worth. And he certainly had some small idea of what you could be worth…. I’ll stop, I’ll stop.” He released Ctirad’s chin and wrapped his arms, instead, around shoulders that seemed to be shaking. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Could you tell me what it is that I said?”
“Value.” Ctirad’s voice broke. He would be humiliated, except he was so far beyond anything like that. “You think I’m worth something. And… if I serve you as long as I served him?” He found that his voice wasn’t working at all. He took ragged breaths, struggling to comply with Timaios’ request. “I-” He couldn’t get through it. He couldn’t say anything at all. He swallowed a sob and tried again.
Timaios’ hug grew even tighter. “You may serve me as long as you wish, Ctirad, and I don’t believe I would ever get sick of you, or bored with you, or tired of you being as you are. But some day, you will need to stand on your own two feet again – either by my side or on your own…. easy, easy.” He held Ctirad tightly. “I’m sorry. I know the bond does some stupid things to you at ideas like that. All I’m trying to say is: You’re worth a great deal, and I think Ermenrich knew it. That he was enough of an ass to not tell you how much you mattered to him, well, that is on him.”
It wasn’t all on Ermenrich, though. “But I believed it.”
“Of course you did. He told you the sky was green until you believed anything he would say, simply to make the pain stop, didn’t he? And I bet, after a while-”
Ctirad swallowed. “After a while, he didn’t have to tell me, at all. I would even tell other people.”
“Some day, yes. We will punish him together, you and I, if you want. Because there are not words for what a miserable bastard he was to you.” Timaios’ voice had dropped again to a growl. “But for now, mmm. How about we do something easy? What would be the easiest for you, Ctirad?”
He looked away. “Orders,” he answered quietly, embarrassed. “Orders, and ropes. And uh… shutting off?”
“Of course, my kitten. We can do that for a little while.”
Some day, he was going to say no to that, and Ctirad was going to die of misery for having even asked. But today, he reached over to a cabinet and pulled out lengths of rope. Ctirad held very still, even holding his breath, feeling like he didn’t dare move or this was going to fall away and vanish.
“Come over here, kitten. I’m going to have some fun with this.” Timaios ran his hand over the coffee table and did a Working on it while Ctirad slunk over, letting the orders steer him. Like this, he didn’t have to think at all. He didn’t have to do anything but let the control take his body where it would.
Where it would today seemed to be straddling a table that was now considerably softer than it had been, and a bit differently shaped. As Timaios moved him, he shaped the table, so that the width of it went from Ctirad’s shoulders almost to his hips and the length of it was just long enough that, when bound to the legs, his arms and legs were splayed but not uncomfortably stretched.
“Wiggle for me,” Timaios moved. Ctirad wiggled, but short of standing up with the table, he couldn’t get much play anywhere. “Good. Now. Hands and knees stay on the ground unless I move them, understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Ctirad murmured, and then stopped talking, as Timaios slipped a soft gag into his mouth.
He closed his eyes. He let himself float. He wiggled a little bit in his restraints, but the table kept him from moving downward or forward, the bonds kept him from moving upward or backwards, and with his hands and knees ordered onto the ground, he was very limited.
He couldn’t move. Thus, he didn’t have to move. He couldn’t speak; he didn’t have to speak. Timaios touched his flank and he shivered, letting himself lean into the touch as much as he could. All he had to do was react. He squeezes his eyes a little more tightly shut and let his body take over, twitching and shivering and reacting to all of the touches Timaios laid on him.
He couldn’t remember ever feeling so free, or so safe.