Tag Archive | character: senga

Funeral: Mutual Interest

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There was an ancient fae assassin in Senga’s bathroom, and she had her hands in his pants.

“I’m capable of taking care of myself,” he pointed out.

“Yes. But you’re my responsibility now.” She peeled his pants slowly off. He went commando; she was going to get the full show all in one go.

“You have other responsibilities. Besides, you gave me something to do.” He stretched back a little bit, consciously or unconsciously showing off. Flat stomach, muscular chest and arms: he didn’t work out so much as he kept his body in perfect fighting condition. Senga didn’t try to stop herself from licking her lips. He was kind of scrumptious, in a way that wasn’t normally her style.

“You liked it?” She looked up to his face, to find his eyes half-lidded like he wasn’t sure he wanted to see her reaction. “Being given something to do?”

“Yeah. I.” He shifted into something she thought was close to a parade rest and studied her. “Yeah.” He swallowed and considered that. “I didn’t think I would,” he admitted. “I don’t like orders.”

“That is going to make things difficult,” she admitted, a little amused despite herself. “Suggestions are easy enough for most things, though. And, ah, nudges. As long as you don’t actually attack Chitter.”

He snorted. “Nah. She’s … I get her. She makes sense. So. Shower?” He took a step back and reached for the tap but stopped short of turning the water on.

“A shower is why we’re in here, after all,” she agreed, or at least suggested agreement, in part to see what he did with something that sideways.

“It is. Unless it’s to show off your really expensive pumps.” He turned on the water. “And my – well, whatever I’m showing off.”

“Most men would say their abs.” He had very nice abs.

“I’m not most men.” He sounded almost prickly.

“No, that’s obvious.” She tested the water and stepped in. “Better-looking, for one.”

She’d had her back to him for a moment and turned around just in time to catch an uncomfortable expression on his face. “Not many people say that.”

“I’m not most people.” It was too easy a line to ignore. “Besides, you really are quite attractive.”
“… Thanks.” He rolled his shoulders. “So uh.”

“So this is where you wash my back.” She turned so her back was facing him. “And then, if we’re sticking with the old adage, then I wash yours.”

She waited and tried not to be nervous. She didn’t spend a lot of time pointing her back at someone, especially not a stranger.

He can’t attack you, she reminded herself, but the logical part of her brain pointed out that someone named Silent Death who her Great-Aunt had threatened her to take into her home on pain of certain murder if she didn’t could probably work around something as simple as just a Bound Servant bond.

The washcloth brushed across her shoulders so lightly she barely felt it. Then a little more firmly, as he gained confidence in himself, and then a little bit more firmly, just enough to actually wash her back while still being rather gentle. “There’s blood back here,” he pointed out. “The bullets went through you.”

“You saw the holes in the dress,” she countered uncomfortably. She didn’t like to think about the sensation, being pierced through, how close one of the bullets had come to her heart.

He was lingering on that blood spot, too. “It’s one thing to see the dress and another to see the blood. No scar – she does good healing work.”

“She gets enough practice.” It was so the wrong thing to say, but she’d already said it.
“Mmm.” Much to her surprise, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him. He was quite a bit taller than her, enough so that his chin rested easily on top of her head. “I find,” he murmured, so quietly that she could barely hear him over the water, “that I do not like that. I suppose I will help you find jobs that cause you to have fewer holes in your dresses, mmm? And perhaps come along to protect you.”

She didn’t really want to discourage this, she really didn’t, but, “it’s going to be hard to do a honeypot sort of thing with you standing protectively behind me,” she sighed.

“Oh, I can be very, very un-noticable. Even by cameras.” Something in his voice was wild and amused. “But that…” He stepped back and tugged on her shoulder. She took the implied cue and turned to look at him.

He looked serious, a look somewhat ruined by the water pouring over his shoulders. Hopefully Monmartin Manor had a taller shower somewhere. This one was really too short for him. “I am not sure I could stand by quietly while someone attacked you.” He cleared his throat. “You invite intimacy. My previous — That hasn’t happened before.”

“You could probably stand by quietly if you had an order holding your there.” She ran her hands over his chest, following the trails the water was leaving. “I suppose we could test it on an unimportant mission. Then if I’m being set up, I’ll be protected. More protected,” she corrected. “I’m not a helpless flower, you know.”

“I’m getting that impression. You four, you wade right into trouble, don’t you?” He was watching her hands, as much as he could, instead of her face. “It’s interesting. I’d like to see more of it.”

“How about you work on seeing more of me right now and worry about my job later?” Senga suggested. “I’d like to focus on you for a bit.” She picked up a washcloth and lathered up his chest, watching the way his heart pounded as she moved her hands down towards his hip bones.

“You—” He coughed and tried again. “You want to focus on me? I am — that is — I am not very interesting.”

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Funeral: Shower Negotiations

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Kitchen Negotiations

“They’ll be at it all night,” she whispered as she led him upstairs. “Or at least a few hours. They always are. It’s how they handle… being them. All right, here’s the shower. You’re not body-shy, are you?”

“What?” He stared at her, and then at the bathroom – so suburban, with its pastel decorations clashing with the Human Anatomy shower curtain Chitter had insisted on.

“Your body? Can I see it naked?”

“…you Own me. You were there for that part, right? The part where you agreed to own me as your Bound Servant?”

“I was there.” If she was the sort of owner he thought she was, she might slap him for that tone, but she was pretty sure that wasn’t where she wanted to go with this and even more sure that it wouldn’t change his behavior in any helpful way. “And I’m asking. Can I see you naked?”

“…You really are young,” he muttered again, not quite looking at her.

“Can we hold off on references to my age except in cases where I’m missing a pop culture reference or didn’t actually see Lincoln assassinated, please? I’m young. Yes. I want to not steamroll over you, yes. I don’t think those are necessarily the same thing.”

“You’ve got to have a reason, then.” He looked uncomfortable, possibly because she was snapping at him but just as likely because they were standing in a pastel bathroom that was not really designed for two adults at once.

“Of course. I have to own an assassin Named Death Comes Silently for five years. I’d like to survive my sixth and seventh years from now. In addition, I like to think I’m not a screaming bitch, unlike most of my family.”

He smiled crookedly. “White sheep.”

“At your service. Or, ah, you’re at my service, I suppose. So are you going to take your clothes off, or am I going to shower while you watch?”

He blinked. “You’d do that?”

“Listen. That is….” Senga shook her head. “Have you noticed what I do?”

“Something like femme fatale with a side order of honeypot traps and a whole lot of kicking ass. Explains why you clean up so nicely.”

“…Thanks. There’s a story behind that comment that you will tell me someday, but today is not that day. Yes. I’m more uncomfortable with someone seeming me unarmed than undressed. Why don’t you help me with these buckles?” She turned her back on him and presented him the buckles.

“The dress has three bullet holes in it.” Still, he began unbuckling the dress. He had giant hands, but they seemed more than deft enough as he worked the buttons and buckles. “You could just step out of the holes.”

“Not quite. It’s a surprisingly durable dress, other than a couple holes. I just need to get better at mending these things. Ezer gets all swoony and silly when I ask him to fix up bullet holes. Ah, thank you.” Erramun peeled the dress down off her hips and pushed it to the floor and she stepped out of it. That left her in heels and stockings with a long run.

And then he started rolling her stockings down off her legs, his touch somehow far less intimate and far more careful and almost-clinical than she’d have imagined possible. Still, his breath was trailing down her back as he pulled off first one stocking and then the other and Senga found herself shivering.

“No holes in the stockings,” he commented quietly. “So the only bullets you took were body shots and somehow you managed not to run your stockings while fleeing from gunmen.”

“Really expensive pumps,” Senga answered, or tried to. Somewhere in the middle she gasped a little, as his breath hit the back of her knee. “I can run like the wind in them and they still look pretty damn sexy.”

“Yes, they do.” He lifted her foot to pull one of those shoes off. “But I imagine you don’t want to shower in them.”

“You know,” she managed, almost conversationally, “when I met you, you didn’t seem to be the sort of man who was skilled at, ah, playing valet.”

“I have quite a bit of skill undressing women, thank you.” His voice held a bit of a chuckle in it. “But this, no, I haven’t done this in a long time.” He reached up for her lace panties and both hands stopped, resting on her hip bones. “Do you like it?”

It should’ve sounded needy. Instead it sounded like a challenge.

Senga thought about turning around to see his face, but with him now kneeling behind her, that would put his face – “I do like it,” she answered quietly. “Do you?”

He didn’t answer for a moment. Senga didn’t give in to the urge to turn around.

“I believe I do.” He hesitated again. “I didn’t think I would, you know. Being yours. Serving you.”

“I didn’t think you would, either.” Now she turned around. “Here, stand up so I can return the favor?”

She managed to catch a glimpse of a strange look – somewhere between surprise, shock and discomfort – on his face before he stood up. “Of course. You didn’t think I’d like it?”

“It’s not like we really had a good choice in the matter… I should’ve gotten your shirt off before you stood up.”

He pulled his t-shirt off and dropped it on the toilet. “Let’s just assume you meant my pants.” He gave her a small but genuine-looking smile.

Senga returned it with her own, a little broader. “I did not mean to wander off for a whole day when you were still adjusting to the Bond and all that comes with it.”

She unbuttoned his pants and slid her hand between the zipper and his skin. His stomach was flat, with just a bit of fuzz.

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Funeral: Kitchen Negotiations

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Debrief

“Senga, I am going to hit your man, just so you know.” Chitter glanced over at Senga before going back to the far-more-interesting problem of how to get around Erramun to the fridge.

“Chitter, just so you know, if you hit him, I’m not going to stop him short of the point where he might put you in traction. Especially if you hit him for teasing you.” Senga set her hand on Erramun’s arm, and so she could feel the way his muscles had tensed, even though he showed nothing on his face. “He’s older than us, he’s probably smarter than us-”

“-Smarter than you, maybe. Come on, no old guy is smarter than me. You, on the other hand, you walked into a- errrk.”

Erramun had casually and easily picked Chitter up by her throat with one hand. She had both hands around his wrist, and she was kicking in the air, but she couldn’t get enough breath to complain – or to spit out a spell.

“I think you’ve made your point, Erramun. Please put Chitter down and let her get a soda.” Senga didn’t bother pretending that she wasn’t amused.

Erramun turned around and set Chitter down next to the fridge. “You might be smart, sa’Chitter,” he said, with a tone of humor in his own voice, “But sa’Senga is my sworn Owner, and I’m not going to listen to you insult her.”

Well, that was unexpected. Senga didn’t know what to think about it. “Erramun, we’re crew, Chitter and Allayne and I. And Ezer,” she added. “We’re crew. We mess around and insult each other all the time. Please, stand down. Haven’t you ever had anyone you played around with? What are you going to do when we start seriously horsing around? Throwing fake punches and tossing each other to the ground and that sort of thing?”

“Probably get popcorn,” Chitter put in unhelpfully. “When you and Allayne get going it’s like something on Skinamax. ‘Sunday! Two hot combat-ready chicks in skin-tight dresses! Now only Fifty-nine-ninety-nine!’” Chitter mimed a megaphone with her hands. “‘Watch as they tear each other’s clothes off, one strip at a time! Watch as-’”

Erramun’s growl silenced her. “Just joking,” she muttered, as she dropped her hands down to her lap.

“I understand ‘horsing around’,” Erramun snarled. “But I don’t understand this bitching about your combat skills when you’ve been shot.

“Idiot,” Chitter complained, “that’s how I handle her and Allayne going into combat situations and leaving me behind. You think I like it? You think I like that the only thing that saved Senga was her instincts, not my leet hacking skills? Do you think I enjoy watching her get shot? No.” She stepped up to Erramun and glared upwards at him. “Haven’t you ever had friends? Haven’t you ever had to send someone into battle and bite your tongue and hope to whatever gods don’t really exist that they’re not going to hit a patch of bad luck or some set-up or someone trying to kill them because their great-aunt was insane? Geez.” She took a step back and shook her head. “We’re crew. Get used to it or sleep in the garage.”

“Chitter.” Senga was amused, but, still. “Don’t try to make Erramun sleep in the garage. He’ll get used to it, or he’ll figure out how to handle it, at least. Erramun?”

Erramun grumbled. “You are all insane. You’d better let me come on missions with you. I don’t know if you can survive without me.”

Senga studied him for a moment, deciding how angry to be. “You know that Chitter is my friend and you’re a stranger, right?”

He shifted backwards a step, noticing the change in tone, looking at her, noticing her body language, and then shifted backwards another half-step. “I know that your great-aunt wanted me to protect you.”

“And she must have wanted me to protect you, too, or she would have arranged things the other way.”

“Nobody who knows me would give me someone to keep under my collar, you know.”

“Great-Aunt Mirabella is not known for being kind about these things, just practical. So there was a reason.” She studied him for a moment. “Which we can discuss later.” He’d gotten tense again; when she said that, he relaxed.

“The Monmartin manor isn’t in bad shape. It’s going to take a little bit of cleaning up, but if you give me permission, I can do a lot of that myself.” He looked – strange. After a moment, she realized that he was acting nearly subservient.

“That’s right, you had a bunch of time to yourself. It went pretty fast for us,” she added, feeling apologetic.

“I got a lot done. I,” he coughed, “Tidied things, too.”

“Oh no!” Chitter ran into the dining room. “You didn’t… oh. Oh.” She sounded relieved; Senga didn’t bother to go check on her. Instead, she looked around the kitchen. “I think ‘tidied’ is an understatement.”

“It was a long day, and I didn’t have anything else to do.” He shifted again, looking – departed gods, he looked worried!

“It’s great,” she assured her. “We’re not so good at that sort of thing, as you – ah, as you did notice. Tell you what, you look a bit tired, and I’m exhausted. Why don’t we take a shower and hit the hay?”

He raised his eyebrows. “That sounds pleasant. And tomorrow…?”

“Tomorrow, we can all start moving into Monmartin Manor.” If nothing else, if the manor hadn’t been totally ransacked, it had some lovely defenses.

“Sounds good. There’s enough space there that I can get a soda without upsetting … sa’Chitter here.”

“He’s making fun of me! Sengaaaa!”

“No, Chitter, he’s being respectful, because he’s a Bound Servant and you’re not. Were you raised in a barn?” Allayne huffed from the doorway.

“Oh, good, you’re in mostly one piece. And as a matter of fact… yes, I was. As you damn well know.”

Senga took Erramun’s hand and led him upstairs before Allayne and Chitter could get truly into it.

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Funeral – Debrief

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Best-Laid Plans

It was nearly a full day before the team made it back to the house. It’d been a short reconnaissance and information-gathering job, at least according to the brief, but she had three holes in her dress that had been holes through her until Allayne had thrown a healing at her. She’d had to do some interesting running to get her prey where she could subdue them one by one, and then even more interesting running to get to their backup-backup meetup spot without being seen.

Ezer was still cursing in her earpiece when they pulled into the driveway, their second nondescript rental car returned to its proper location. “Those fucking bastards. Reconnaissance. Reconnaissance does not mean getting my people fucking shot at.”

“Awww, Ezzie, I didn’t know you cared.” Even when Senga knew what Allayne was doing, that purr through the earpiece still sent shivers straight down her spine to her groin. And it did the same thing to Ezer a hundredfold. “Chitter, did you get what we needed?”

“Got it all and a couple soupcon of extras, too. If we don’t get hazard pay for this, I’m posting nude photos of the client to a photo-manip contest.”

“The client is anonymous,” Ezer complained. “Chitter, do you even know the meaning of that word?”

“Of course I do.” If Allayne was all purring and sex, Chitter sounded like an unrepentant twelve-year-old. “It means that their data is hidden under a hankie or maybe two and I just have to lift it to figure it out. Anyway, there’s a tall sulking angry person in the kitchen, and he’s between me and the Mt. Dew. Senga, are you nearly home?”

“Coming in the door now. How did you even beat us home?”

“Magic powers, of course. Senga, he’s a giant. How did you end up with a giant?”

“I can hear you, you know.” Erramun’s grumble came loud and clear through Chitter’s earpiece.
“Ack, it talks! He talks, he talks, Senga, you did give him orders about not killing me, right?”

“Nothing about not shaking you, though.” Senga headed into the kitchen and dropped her earpiece in the bin Chitter held out. “Erramun, why are you looming at Chitter? Erramun, Chitter, Chitter, Erramun. Stop glaring at him. It’s not his fault he’s tall.”

Erramun shook his head and looked away from Chitter. She, in turn, kept glaring up at Erramun.

“I’m not looming at her,” he muttered. “I didn’t know who she was and she – you’ve been shot.”

“Three times,” she agreed. “I hate being shot. It ruins so many dresses.”

He looked her over, moving away from his looming position to brush his hands over the dress, feeling the blood-soaked places and running his fingers very carefully over the healed wounds. “Someone did a good job. You can’t even tell there was damage here. To you, I mean. Your dress makes it pretty obvious.”

“Allayne is really good at speed healing. She has to do it enough.” She didn’t move away. His fingers were cold but his touch wasn’t unpleasant at all.

“You get shot enough that this is an issue?”

“We all do. Well, okay, both. Chitter doesn’t get shot much at all.”

“That’s because I, unlike you two, am clever and stay out of the line of fire.” Chitter stuck her jaw out and glared at Senga. “What were you thinking?

“Well, let’s see,” Senga retorted, “’Ow, fuck, ow, ow, fuck, ow.’ Or did you mean before the guns came out? I was thinking ‘that door was way too easy and this place is way to quiet. If this isn’t a trap, I’m going to eat my hat.’”

“We were set up.” Chitter’s expression went strange, blank the way it did when she was looking at the numbers in her head. “It wasn’t bad intel, it wasn’t the sort of thing where they say ‘low threat’ because they’re not in the threat radius. If you thought it was a trap…”

“What are you into, Senga Monmartin?”

“Me? Everything I need to to get the job done. This was supposed to be an information-gathering mission, meet a nice man, talk to him a bit while Allayne did her thing and Chitter did hers. Like Chitter said, it was a trap. Someone figured out what we do and decided they wanted to set us up.”

“Not just for dying, either. Think about the way that part in the bathroom went.” Chitter was frowning at her phone. “If you had done things just a little differently, you would’ve ended up trapped with two corpses with the cops on the way.”
“Setting me up to be arrested is not exactly the same as setting me up to die,” Senga protested.

“But it might be enough to protest the will results,” Erramun pointed out.

“My cousins can’t put anything together that fast. They’re not their mother, not by a long shot.”

“So who else has a vested interest in seeing you dead or inconvenienced?” He leaned back against the counter, looking relaxed for the first time since she’d taken ownership of him.

“Who says it was her, tall, dark, and broody? Who says it’s not you? Come on, you’re her Bond Servant, if she dies, you’re miserable for ten minutes; if she ends up in jail, you’re miserable for years. Unless she releases you, and then you’re both eff-you-sea-kay fucked.”

“Are you always this eloquent?” he glowered down at her.

“Yep! That’s why Allayne and Senga do the social things and I sit in the van with my toys and keep them out of trouble.” She grinned up at him, unrepentant and pleased. “Could you move, by the way? I want some more soda.”

“And you do such a good job of keeping them out of trouble, too.”

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Funeral – best-Laid Plans

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Introductions

Senga smiled crookedly at Erramun. “We fix problems. Sometimes we end things, sometimes we start them, but mostly people just pay us to solve situations they need solved.”

“That sounds really, really vague.”

“It’s meant to be really, really vague.”

“So which side of the law are you on?”

“We’re a legal organization. Most of the time, we stay on the proper side of the police and of the law. Sometimes we fudge things a bit,” she admitted. “Those moments where the Ellehemaei in us has to be more important than the law-abiding citizen.”

“And in those times?”

“We clean up after ourselves. So, back to advice.”

“It’s advice you want when you run a cleaning service and you’ve just been handed someone named Death Comes Silently.” He sounded bitter rather than dubious. “You want advice.

“Well, I don’t want you for wetwork, although if you fade away without something to kill, I’m sure I can come up with someone who needs ending.” She looked him in the eye and watched his responses.

There was a little twitch of surprise and then a tiny smirk that barely touched his lips. “I can live without killing. I’m not one of those. But if I was-?”

“If you were, we’d have to shift our business model a bit, but I’d keep you fed.”

“…Generous. So you don’t have a problem with killing, but you don’t want me for wetwork. So…”

“So I don’t mind killing generally, but I don’t like it in the specific. It’s messy, it gets to be too easy, and it’s really hard to be sure someone’s evil enough to deserve killing. So. Death Comes Silently. What do you do that isn’t death?”

“Come Silently?” He smirked a little bit.

“I think that was actually a joke. Or at least a pun. So, ah. You’re the world’s quietest at orgasms or you sneak?”

“I do a lot of things very quietly. I’m pretty good at B&E, actually.” His smile had vanished and he was really looking at her again. “You really want me to advise you?”

“I’ve just been handed an Ellehemaei several times older than me, at a guess. You know things I don’t. You’ve have had to have been living in a box to not know more than I do.”

She didn’t miss his twitch, but she didn’t think he wanted her to see it, so she ignored it.

“You’re not gonna lose face, having your Bond Servant tell you want to do?” He was holding himself very still in his chair. Not like he was afraid, she thought, but maybe like he didn’t know if he moved, if he could stop moving.

“There’s a difference between telling me what to do and advising me. And mostly, we’re family, my crew. The good sort, not like my cousins. If I have you giving me advice, they’re going to think it’s cool.” She set her hand on his knee and watched how he went even more still.“Okay,” she said, more quietly. She stood up and locked her door, then throw up a complex Working that meant that nothing short of a bomb was getting into her room – or out of it. “I think we need to have a more important conversation first.”

“More important than what you want to do with me? I’d like to know what I’m going to be doing for the next six years.” He stood up, then, as she closed the distance between them, sat back down again.

“What’ve you been doing for the last six years?” Damnit, no, she was letting him distract her. Well, maybe he needed to say it.

His face shut down.

Maybe not.

“You going to order me to tell you?”

“Not yet. So. I don’t get to know what you did for the last six years and you want to know what you’re going to be doing for the next six. So. Advice and back-up, until I know more.”

“So… rather than ordering me into telling you, you’re going to blackmail me into telling you?”

She found herself smiling. “Seems fitting for me. You think being advice and back-up is a punishment?”

“I’m not so old I need to be the grumpy old sensei in the back of the room just yet.”

“Well, I’ll keep that in mind. Now that we’ve decided we don’t agree on that in the least,” she sat back down on her bed, “more important things.”

“-than what you’re going to do with me?”

“Well,” she smirked at him, unable to resist the straight line, “I thought we’d talk about what I’m going to do with you.”

He glowered. “Make sense, woman.”

“Telling me what to do already?” she teased, and then almost regretted it as his face underwent contortions trying to deal with a guilt-surge. “Easy, easy. I’m not mad at you.”

“I don’t care if-” He trailed off, grumbling. “Fine. You’ve got me by the short and curlies. What are you going to do with me?”

“Now that’s an image. And maybe I’ll think about that later,” she admitted. He was a handsome man. “You’ve been under a collar before.”

“I’ve been Owned before.” He touched his bare neck and shifted his shoulders. “The last one didn’t survive.”

“I don’t think you’re going to kill me. If you were, I think you would’ve done it in the funeral home. Would have been easy; you wouldn’t have even had to get your hands dirty if you didn’t feel like it, you could just say ‘no.’” Senga shrugged. “So. So’ve I. I know how it gets weird in your head. I can’t stop that, it’s the way the natural law works for fae.”

“I know that,” he snarled.

“You know it, but you’re twitchy and fighting it and making yourself feel like shit, if I’m any good at people – and I’m pretty good at people, and it’s just gonna get worse, and you know that too. The bond’s pushing at you, it does that. It’s magic.”

“I know that!”

This time it was a shout.

“Then why are you acting like a nervous virgin in his first collar?” She didn’t shout back, but she snapped it out.

“Who are you to tell me anything about how I’m acting or what I’m doing or how I’m feeling?” he bellowed back at her.

“The person who’s responsible for it,” she retorted. “Remember? I just agreed to take you as my Bond Servant, which means that I agreed to be responsible for you, body, mind, and heart, for the next six years. This, I have a vested interest in what you’re doing.”

“You don’t know anything!”

“Then maybe you should tell me.”

“I-” He cut himself off and glared at her. “All right.” He looked far too angry for the concession she heard in his voice – or maybe, she supposed, he was angry because he was conceding. “I will tell you one thing. But then I’m going to ask you a question.”

“I welcome it.” She folded her hands in her lap and waited.

“I don’t like the collar.”

When it became clear that he wasn’t going to elaborate, Senga tried her best raised-eyebrow look at him. He looked back at her implacably for several minutes before finally sighing.

Senga was fairly certain she’d only won that staring contest with him because he was currently her Bond servant. She made a mental note not to be in a position where she had to try that otherwise.

“I don’t like the physical collar. The sign of it. The way it feels. The restriction.”

“Aah.” She studied his neck for a minute. “That makes me wonder what sort of collars your previous owners put on you. That being said…” She considered her words for a minute. The collar, within fae society, was the sign that he was hers, sworn to her. If he wasn’t wearing one, it suggested that he wasn’t under her control.

Considering she was pretty sure everyone was going to think that anyway – she was definitely going to think it! – she had to play this one carefully.

Her thoughts were either a lot more transparent than she’d meant them to be, or he was having the same thoughts. “You can’t afford to look weak, or everyone will assume I’m in charge.” He shifted a little. “I’m not an in-charge sort. I don’t want that.”

“I don’t want it either. It’s the feel you hate?” She looked at him again and thought about a strip of leather like a dog collar around his neck. She thought about pulling on the d-ring in front and watching him resist it. She thought about him wearing nothing but the collar…

…this was not helping her have calm conversations. On the other hand, if those thoughts were transparent, he hadn’t picked up on them. He looked nervous.

“I’m not a dog,” he muttered. “I don’t like being treated like an animal on a leash.”

“…Aaah. Well then.” She reached out and touched the side of his neck. “That, I can work with.”

He leaned his weight ever so slightly into her hand, as if pretending he didn’t want to feel the touch. “You can? What are you going to do?”

“I can’t afford to look weak,” she reminded him slowly. “You’re going to have to wait until I do it. Until then-”

Her phone buzzed, interrupting her thoughts. She forced down a curse while she glanced at the screen.

“Well. Job calls. You can make yourself at home, or you can go check out Monmartin Manor and see how much we’ll have to do.” She tossed him her car keys. “I assume you know where it is.”

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Funeral: Introductions

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Coming Home

Senga shifted herself between Allayne and Erramun quickly. “Don’t kill her, either,” she whispered. “Allayne, this is Erramun, sa’Death Comes Silently, a former associate of my great-Aunt Mirabella’s and, ah, currently, thanks to Great-Aunt Mirabella, my Kept, my bond servant. Oh, we got the Manor, too.”

Allayne looked Erramun up and down. “Forget the Manor, your aunt gave you a man? How do I get to be part of your family?”

“Generally,” Erramun answered, with a dangerous rumble to his voice and an obvious lack of being impressed by Allayne, “by losing some of your current family, often violently. At least, that’s what seemed to happen to Senga here. Sa-” He frowned down at her. “You can’t call me sa’, you own me. And I can’t call you sa’, I don’t know your name.”

“You seriously Own him. You Own him. You went to a funeral and came back with a man. Only you, Senga, only you. I told you you should have taken me with you.” Allayne clucked cheerfully. “Well, hello to you, Erramun oro’Senga. And if she wants to call you sa’, I wouldn’t argue with her. She had a fun sense of protocol. Probably comes from growing up with Mirabella as family matriarch. I know that would make me absolutely crazy, and I think Senga here just sublimated it into some strange manners.”

Senga coughed. Erramun looked a little off-put and a little confused. Allayne often had that effect on people she wasn’t in the middle of hooking in.

“Allayne. I survived the funeral, I have to figure out relocated Erramun and then relocating us to the Manor-”

“-you have a bond servant now. Delegate. He can figure out how to move himself, he can figure out getting us into the Manor, and then you and I can gossip about your horrible cousins.”

“She has a point,” Erramun pointed out. “I can get my stuff.”

“You don’t have a car here.”

“You are…“ He trailed off, turning a slightly-funny color, and bowed. “I’m sorry. My temper got away with me.”

“That was your temper getting away with you?” Allayne asked. “I mean, man, I can see it, you shouted and threw shit and-”

“Erramun,” Senga asked carefully, “what am I missing?”

“Other ways of getting from one place to another,” he answered, and then frowned.

“You know -” she trailed off. He wouldn’t thank her for talking about the way the Bond was pressing on him in front of Allayne. He probably wouldn’t like it even when they were alone. “If you want to go get your things on your own, you can feel free to do so. Be back before dark, and if you have more than will fit here and in the garage, we’ll have to work something out.”

“I don’t have much.” He bowed and left – presumably before she could give him any more orders.

Senga spent the next hour fending off questions from Allayne she didn’t want to answer, packing up as much of her stuff as she could, fending off questions from Chitter once Allayne had gone there, and trying to remember Monmartin Hill Manor.

She’d been very young when they moved out – not quite to her fifth birthday – and she remembered mostly the feeling of being torn from a place rather than many details. The closets had been huge for a four-year old. The whole place had been bigger than she could even fathom at that point.

Putting all of her team in there was still not going to fill it.

Maybe she could put Erramun on the far side of the building. That would make him happy.

No. She folded another set of dresses into a garment bag. No, it wouldn’t actually make him happy; that wasn’t how being a bound servant worked. He’d think he was happy right up to the point where he was screamingly miserable, and then it would echo through the building.

No, she’d accepted responsibility for him; she was going to have to actually accept him, one way or another.

She was in the middle of packing up a box of weapons when he stomped back into her room. He was carrying three large duffle bags and wearing a glower – as well as older jeans and a t-shirt. He looked at once more comfortable and less.

“This is it.” He hesitated, and then said, when she didn’t question him, “I put three boxes in storage with a friend of mine. Stuff – I don’t want anyone else getting their hands on.”

“Anyone but your friend.” She wasn’t offended, she told herself sternly. He didn’t even know her. Of course he didn’t trust her.

“He won’t open them and he won’t touch ‘em without my permission. He’s a good friend.” He smirked crookedly. “Offered to kill you for me.”

Senga tensed, and tried not to show it. She could tell he noticed from the way his smirk shifted. She was really going to have to up her game around him.

He snorted. “I said no. The day I can’t handle a collar is the day you kill me, not the person holding the leash. And besides,” his smile faded into a grimace, “those damn envelopes.”

“I know the feeling. She liked her blackmail, didn’t she?”

“Mirabella? Always got the feeling she liked knowing things. Blackmail was just a convenient result of knowing a lot of things.”

“You knew her better than I did.” Senga sat down on the edge of her bed and looked up at him thoughtfully. “I get the feeling there’s a lot you know better than me, actually.”

He looked down at her for a moment before his smile faded and he sat down slowly on the only chair in her room. “Well, I should hope so,” he joked weakly. He wasn’t quite meeting her eyes. “I’ve got a few years on you, I think.”

“Probably more than a few. So – how would you feel about advising me?”

“I’m not your Mentor, I’m your Bond Servant.” The retort had very little heat in it, and she thought he’d surprised himself with the concept. “But – you’d take it? Advice?”

“Probably better than most of my family, though that’s not saying much. When I’m on a job, I’m not going to want you following me around telling me what to do – especially since my job might be the one area I know what I’m doing more than you do. But the rest of the time, yeah.”

“What exactly is it that you do, anyway?”

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Funeral: Coming Home

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Theft and Ownership

Erramun was pretending he wasn’t shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Senga swallowed a sigh and looked at him. “I might be young.” She let a little acid drip into her voice. She had been around her family, after all, and it had been a long day already. “But I know a thing or two about the collar, and I’ve been on both sides of it. A collar isn’t a collar isn’t a collar, any more than a nice chain necklace isn’t a leather dog collar isn’t a bar of steel wrapped around your neck.”

She saw the flinch he tried to hide at the last one, and took a mental note. “Did my great-aunt know?” she asked, a stab in the dark but worth it with the way he was reacting, “someone had kept you as a slave before?”

He eyed her. She could see the way his shoulders turned slightly toward her, even as she kept most of her attention on the road. Traffic in this part of town could be deadly, even without the added threat of nearby family. “I don’t have to tell you that,” he said, slowly but with an implied threat. “You haven’t given me any orders to honesty.”

“Should I?”

“Depends if you want me to be polite or honest.” He was inching towards facing her. She kept her eyes on the road.

She snorted. “You’ve met my family. Which do you think I prefer?”

She almost missed the way his hands curled into fists on his lap. “I don’t like guessing games.”

“I don’t play them. I’m not the sort of bitch my cousins are” It wasn’t quite an apology, but she wasn’t feeling very apologetic.

“What sort of bitch are you, then?”

Apparently, neither was he.

She coughed to cover a laugh and let the traffic flow around them, pretending for a moment like getting the car to the right-most lane to turn onto her side street was taking all her attention. “I’m the sort of bitch who’s more honest than you want with friends and never honest at all with enemies.”

“And what about with your bound servants?”

“Well, I suppose we’re going to have to find out. It’s been a while since I had one, and the last one was a volunteer. It’s a bit of a different situation. What about you? What sort of bitch are you?”

It wasn’t a nice question. She didn’t think he’d appreciate her being nice.

“I’m not generally anyone’s bitch. Mirabella knew that. I think she’s fucking with me, giving me to you. I’m not sure why else she did it.” He shrugged. “You still haven’t ordered me to honesty.”

“You still haven’t told me if she knew you’d worn a collar before.”

Both of his hands went to his neck. “I’m not wearing a collar now.”

“No. You’re not.” This part of the drive often actually did require concentration. She handled the five-way intersection, sped up to avoid the oncoming tractor-trailer, and braked to turn into her driveway. “Except you are.” She tapped his chest, feeling a little daring but, hey, she Owned him now. She was going to have to get used to touching him eventually. “Metaphorically.”

He growled. She growled back at him, and was pleased to see he looked startled. She’d practiced that growl. “I’m yours,” he muttered. “That’s different.”

“How, exactly, is it different?” She parked the car and turned in her seat to look at him. “The collar is the symbol of being Owned.”

“Make up your mind!” He glared at her. “If a collar isn’t a collar isn’t a collar, than if I’m not a slave, I’m not collared.”

“This is going to be a long conversation.” She shook her head and resisted the urge to pinch her nose. “Did my Great-Aunt Mirabella know you’d been collared before?”

“Yes,” he muttered. “She did. Happy now?”

“Not yet, but it’s a good start, thank you. This is my house, or at least it is ‘till we take possession of Monmartin Hill Manor, which will probably take a little time. Let me show you around, and then we can go get your things.”

“Joy.” He let himself out of the car and slammed the door. His shoulders were tight and he looked like he wanted to punch something.

She was going to have to deal with this sooner rather than later. “Hey!” She caught his attention with a nice snap of her voice. “Nobody said you could play rough with my things.”

He sneered at her. “Nobody said I couldn’t, either.”

“Oh?” Not too much she wanted to do on the driveway, in front of potential witnesses, and he probably knew that. “And here I was thinking you were happier if people didn’t tell you, too much, what to do.”

That caught him by surprise. Good. She took a few steps towards him. He didn’t step back, but from his expression, he was thinking about it.

“You’re collaring me. That means you get to tell me what to do.”

“Get to, yes. Starting with let’s have this argument inside, shall we?” She tilted her head at the front door. “My team’s home. Welcome.”

“Team?”

“Crew, team, family.” She started inside, waiting at the doorway for him.

She watched him consider doing something like running away, and watched the moment when he lost that argument with himself. It made him angry, or angrier, at least; his jaw tightened and he stomped as he came towards her.

She stepped in and let him come in after her and look around. The place was, she knew, nothing special – it looked very lived-in, and like the people living there were busy people without a lot of money. “I can see why you need a Kept,” he muttered.

“Yeah, we talked about having a housekeeper come in once a week, but decided that around here, that might stick out. Besides, now it turns out we’re moving, anyway.”

He eyed her in obvious surprise. “You’re going to move your whole team?”

“Have you seen the Monmartin Hill house? I could put my whole team in one bedroom of that place and still have room left over to throw a party. Just you and I – even if the staff is still there and wants to stay there – we’d rattle around in there like mad. Besides, I like my team being where I know where they are.”

“Controlling much?” He sneered it like the insult he meant it to be.

“Needy more than controlling.” She grinned back at him like he’d paid her a compliment she was dodging. “I’m a bit clingy. I suppose it comes of being an orphan. So, until we move, this is the house, and upstairs is my bedroom. Kitchen, dining room – well, in theory.” The cheap table they’d picked up at Goodwill houses three computers, seven monitors, and three file boxes, as well as at least one cat. “We eat through here in the living room. Chitter lives downstairs, prefers the basement or just likes the sound buffer. Allayne and I have the upstairs, and Ezer when he’s around.” She strode through the living room and up the stairs.

Erramun followed, although she wasn’t entirely sure why. “But now you’re moving.”

“Well, its not every day someone gives you part of the family fortune back. This is my room. It’s yours, too. Ah.” It wasn’t a big room, by any stretch of the imagination, but sh’d gotten a nice big bed and put it in one corner. Dresser, chest, gun case, and a free-standing punching bag took up the rest of the room. “Well. I never planned on sharing the space. I guess we’ll move soon.”

Erramun looked around the room dryly. “I might be able to hang myself up in the corner there,” he offered. “By the dresses and other things that don’t seem to fit you at all.”

“Har, har.” She was just glad he hadn’t offered to put himself in the gun case. Maybe he thought she kept makeup in there or something. “How long do you think it’ll take for you to pack up your stuff?”

“Oh, maybe twenty minutes.” He looked around her mess again with a wider smirk. “I travel light.”

“One of us ought to.” She was not going to take offense. “So, let’s-”

“Senga! Sennnnie! How did it go-oh?” With all the class and delicacy of a freight train, Allayne crashed into the room.

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Funeral: Theft and Ownership

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Family Problems

Senga’s good mood only lasted until they got to the parking lot. Erramun had stopped growling, but he didn’t look happy – not that she expected him to; she wouldn’t have been in his situation, and she wasn’t sure she was in her situation.

“I think you frightened her,” she murmured. “This is my car.” She nodded her head at the nondescript vehicle in the nondescript color behind them, a mintish-green Corolla she’d bought because it looked like a hundred other cars within any given three-block radius.

He raised his eyebrows. “Making a lack of statement?”

“Exactly.” She beeped the car open and slid into the driver’s seat. “Unless you’re worried about your ride being stolen, why don’t you come with me now, and we’ll come back for your vehicle later?”

“I walked.” He slipped into the passenger’s seat. “I don’t – didn’t – live that far from here. But.” He coughed and shifted in his seat, not looking at her. “There’s stuff I don’t want to leave there too long.”

“Right. I’ll show you my place, then you can go get your things. I have to get ready to take possession of a manor, anyway.” She wrinkled her nose.

“Family manor? Why’s your cousin want it?”

“Same reason she wants you, possibly. Because it’s mine.”

“She probably wants to use me as a murder weapon,” he pointed out, managing to look at Senga this time.

“Well, she might want to use the house as a kill zone. It’s been used for that before.”

“And what about you?” He sounded like he was forcing the words out. Considering the situation, Senga couldn’t blame him.

“Me?” She eyed him sideways. “I’m not in the business nor habit of murder. What I want to do with you – well, I’m going to have to figure that out, aren’t I? I didn’t expect to get anything from Great-Aunt Mirabella, much less…”

“…a slave.”

“A Kept. A responsibility.” She managed a small smile. “They’re not quite the same thing, you know.”

“I was alive when your grandmother was nursing at the teat,” he countered.

“Unlikely, but possible. I’m young, but my family isn’t. And my grandmother was Great-Aunt Mirabella’s sister.”

“…Unlikely, then,” he agreed. “You still don’t have to educate me in what being your bond and bound servant means.”

“Of course I do.” She maneuvered the car through traffic and wondered how she was going to explain this to her team. “You know what the words mean and probably know the law – and the fae Law – better than I do, but that doesn’t mean you know anything about how I handle having a bond servant.” If they were going to use that term, which was strange, archaic, and just like Great-Aunt Mirabella, she was going to make sure they were using it the same.

He was eyeing her sidelong. “You are young. What do you mean, ‘how you handle it?’ A collar is a collar is a collar.”

“Now that,” she said, feeling a little bit irritated and letting it show, “is just about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day, and I’ve been around my family.”

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Funeral – A description of Senga

Working on in-text character descriptions. Senga, from Erramun’s POV

Erramun took a moment while Senga was bantering with her cousin to really look at her.

She wasn’t so much short as she was shorter than him, which, to be fair, wasn’t saying much. She was wearing a very nice dress in sedate black which very nearly concealed most of the weapons she was carrying and, to a less trained eye, might hide the muscles in her arms. It couldn’t hide the way she moved, though, like she was tracking something. He wondered if, under her Mask, her Change was feline.

Her hair had been done up; it looked fancy, but it stayed out of her way. Black-brown and straight or straightened, for all she called herself the white sheep, he was amused to see her hair was darker than her honey-brunette cousins. She looked comfortable in the fancy-dress, and looked like she could kill someone without breaking a sweat. It was an interesting combination – but one that was less surprising than it might have been, given her family.

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Funeral: Family Problems

First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Ellehemaei Inheritance Law

Senga looked over and up at Silence. He was looking over and down at her. He lifted his eyebrows at her. She shrugged at him.

“You’re right,” she admitted, “I’m screwed if you say no, and you’ve got more to lose by saying yes.”

“You don’t have shit to lose by saying yes,” he growled.

“Why don’t we talk about that when we’re out of here, one way or another? Because this isn’t exactly my cup of tea, either.”

“Yeah, well..”

“I’m sorry to rush you,” Mr. Maladono interrupted, not sounding the least bit sorry, “but I have several more cases to get through today. Mirabella’s will was, as you might have noticed, quite complicated, and there are quite a few people who wish to contest the terms or amounts of their inheritance.”

“You’re going to need more bodyguards,” Senga muttered. She looked up at Silence. “Well? This is your call. You’re the one that’s going to be wearing the collar.”

“You’re the one who — well, no.” He leaned backwards and stared at the ceiling for a minute. “Senga Monmartin, I Belong to you for—”

Mr. Maladono’s loud throat-clearing interrupted in.

“Oh, departed gods fuck all. Senga, I’m yours.”

“Erramun, Death Comes Silently, you Belong to me. Don’t kill me. Don’t maim me, either, and let’s get out of here before either of us maims someone else.”

“Sounds good to me.” He snarled it, tugging at the collar of his shirt. “I mean, sounds good to me, mistress.”

Senga caught a flash of expression on Mr. Maladono’s face that she didn’t like, something like a pleased smirk. Maybe he enjoyed these clauses. Maybe he’d written them in with Great-Aunt Mirabella.

Maybe he was just an asshole.

Right now, he wasn’t her problem. Her problem was taller, looked nicer, and also looked like he was about to kill her, regardless of orders to the contrary.

She walked out of the funeral home as quickly as she could while still looking casual. Next to her, Erramun stalked. His face was set in something that looked irritated rather than furious, but she could see the hand closer to her was clenched at his side.

“Senga! Senga, you little bitch, don’t ignore me!” Eaven hurried up to her. Senga stopped, mainly because she didn’t want her cousin screaming her name in the middle of a wake filled with very important people of many different stripes. “Senga, you know you don’t deserve any of what mother left you. Just give it to me all now and there won’t be any trouble.”

“The Monmartin house?” Senga raised her eyebrows. “I think I deserve the house I grew up in.”

“You don’t have any use for that. A penny-ante thug like you? What are you going to do with an estate?

Erramun took a step forward so he was looming over Eaven. “It’s her inheritance. It’s her business what she does with it.”

“And you?” Eaven sneered. “Are you her inheritance, too?”

He smirked. It was an expression that looked like a tiger about to eat a fat gazelle. “It looks that way.”

“I always knew you were born to-”

“Eavan.” Senga cut her cousin off with far more shortness than she’d ever dared use in the past. “Eaven, I think it’s best if you don’t finish that sentence. We are leaving now. With that which we were given. And I’d suggest you do the same.”

“I’m going to get it. The manor. The money. Him. You know I am. There’s never been anything that she’s denied me.”

“And maybe that’s why you don’t have as meaty an inheritance as you wanted. Because you got it all along.”

“Is that what this is all about? You’re jealous because my mother gave me the goodies your mama never could?”

“My mother’s dead,” Senga pointed out, her voice flat. She’d cried those tears a long time ago, and, besides, it’s not like Eaven didn’t know that – and didn’t like to rub it in.

“You’ll be joining her soon enough if you don’t give in. You know you can’t win, and you know you don’t deserve it. So make life easy on yourse-”

She trailed off, staring at Erramun. He was growling, low and animal-sounding. “Senga, put a leash on him before he hurts someone.”

“I’m fairly certain the point of him is to hurt people. And I’m fairly certain I’m not going to put a leash on him. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around, cousin. Do enjoy what your mother left you. And, oh.” She couldn’t help leaving with a parting shot. “Try not to let your sister steal everything she didn’t get from you. I’m sure she’s going to be trying.”

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