Tag Archive | chess au

Talking, Aftermath (More of the Chess AU)

This comes after Luke and Mike… Talk

“Done already?” Leo asked them. He looked startled.

Mike didn’t know what to think about that, that Leo had expected them to be in there longer.

“Didn’t want to be too long.” The Kept-skirting-orders feelings were coming off of Luke in palpable waves. Mike wondered if he knew it. She wondered how it would change him – this whole thing, the bond, twelve years under the collar, being away from Addergoole.

Leo snorted, with a headshake that looked far too amused. “I’m not even your Keeper.”

“Doesn’t mean you can’t give me orders.” Luke’s shoulders were even hunched forward. It was very nearly adorable.

“I didn’t give you an order, baka.” Leo flicked Luke’s forehead lightly, grinning. Mike fought against her own grin.

Luke wrinkled his nose, his expression showing how much he was fighting against – being offended? Slapping Leo’s hand away? “In that case…” He glanced over at Mike and his whole countenance softened. Mike had no idea what to think about that. She was used to Luke being more scowl-y when it came to her, not less. ”I think we have more to talk about.”

Leo shooed them away. ”I’ll come get you when I need you.”

Mike couldn’t help her chuckle this time. ”Oh, gosh, Luke. You have New Kept Smell. It’s adorable.”

“He totally does,” Leo agreed.

“New… What?” Luke looked between the two of them, clearly lost.

Mike took his arm. ”It’s what some of the students call it. That feeling where you can’t quite tell an order from a suggestion, and everything that your Keeper says feels like it’s engraved in stone. They must be treating you with kid gloves,” she added, sotto voce, as they stepped back into Leo’s tent. She was pretty sure she approved of that. “If you’re still feeling it weeks later.”

“New Kept Smell.” He wrinkled his nose at her. “I’m not a new car.”

“Oh, but darling, you totally are. Come on, how many times have you given the lecture to your Students?”

Luke grumbled. “My Students don’t end up Kept very often,” he pointed out. “Not like…”

“Yours don’t end up Keepers pretty often. But you had three Kept last year, and you can’t tell me you missed it.”

He hadn’t, she knew. He’d only had four first-years; half of them and then one of the second-years had been collared. “I try,” he complained, clearly uncomfortable. He sat down on the floor of Leo’s tent and looked up at Mike.

“I know you try, Feathers, but you’re uncomfortable with — well, so many things. Bertholt, you were a lot better about him that you would’ve been back when we started this thing, but Perseus knew you didn’t like it, he knew why you didn’t like it, and it made things harder on everyone.” Mike sat down and leaned her head was on his shoulder. Much to her surprise, Luke draped his arm over her shoulders.

“I didn’t do bad with Bertholt. I mean.” He shifted a bit. “I don’t like it when they’re Kept.”

“You don’t like it when they’re Kept badly, and you don’t like admitting that they could be Kept well and enjoy it. Like Omarri.” She grinned at him. She was poking, but he was going to have to admit it eventually.

Luke’s wings twitched. The second-year Student who had ended up bending knee to a fourth-year cy’Fridmar, yeah, that had bothered him. Even Regine had noticed. “I’m raising warriors,” he complained quietly. Very quietly.

“I know. And warriors follow orders, don’t they?”

“Their commander’s orders. When there’s someone else…”

“Warriors have lovers, too. Children. Families. I know there’s a lot of pretense about not having connections, but warriors are people, Bird-brain.” She kissed his cheek. ”Tell Leo, by the way, that I’m the only one that gets to call you idiot.”

Mike wasn’t sure why she’d said that. She wasn’t sure why she’d done that. Kissed Luke? On the cheek, sure, but she hadn’t done that in nearly three centuries. She leaned back; even though she knew he didn’t like hitting her in female form, that wouldn’t stop him if he thought she was messing with him.

To be fair, the only times Luke had actually hit Mike, Mike had been messing with him.
He didn’t look ready to hit anyone. He looked a little disgruntled and a little amused. “I don’t think he’ll listen. He’s my commanding officer, you know.”

“But not your Keeper.”

“And neither are you.” He turned to look at her, catching her face in his hand. He’d never done that. She’d seen him do that to other women, but never with him. He’d never touched her like that. ”We’re crew, Mike. We’ve been friends for a long time. And… maybe, in twelve years, maybe we might talk about something else. But it won’t be Keeper and Kept. All right? I’m not going to go there with you… again.”

“Not even for fun?” Needling him was too old a habit; the words were out of her mouth before she considered them. So she batted her eyebrows at him and made sure he knew she was playing.
The look he gave her was far too considerate. Mike swallowed. This was not what he was expecting.

“I don’t know,” he said, slowly, like he hadn’t quite worked the thought out, “exactly how far I’ll be allowed to go. But I might want to try something… in private, of course.”
Mike froze. ”Say that again?” she asked quietly. ”Just… Um. Just say that again?”

He couldn’t mean… could he? After centuries of barely looking at her, at least not as anything but a friend and crewmate…

He should get Kept more often, if this is where it got them.

She blushed the moment the thought crossed her mind, but Luke was clearing his throat and, rather surprisingly obediently, saying that again.

“There’s something I want to try with you, maybe. In private, real private. If I can. We know, uh. We know she’s the jealous sort, but I don’t know. She’s in a… a thing, with Leo.” Luke cleared his throat a couple times. ”I’m not sure where their lines lie. Where her lines lie, when it comes to uh. What I can and can’t do.”

Mike was still mulling over we know she’s the jealous sort. ”You’ve been paying a lot of attention to her for a long time, haven’t you?”

“To Boom.” Luke’s wings shifted, but they were much stiller than they had been before he came here. Mike reached out on impulse and stroked the leathery tissue of the wing; Luke didn’t quite freeze, but he was holding that wing very still to Mike’s touch. ”To Boom,” he repeated, “and, well, yeah. To Cya. Think about it. A Kept a year for decades. At least once – no, twice – that I know of, she Kept in a generational stack. That was a lot of potential damage. A lot of potential good, too.” He sounded a little guilty at the last. Mike wondered if Cya’s lines on her Kept included passive emotional reading.

She decided it was worth the possible challenge, and dipped into Luke’s emotions.

Oh, the roil of defensiveness and worry, Kept-feelings and concern. “Luke – it’s okay for you to have been analytical about Cya when you were security and administration for Addergoole. We all should have been paying more attention.”

“I know that,” he growled. “It’s just this… thing in my brain….”

“The bond doesn’t like you thinking critically or negatively about your Keeper. No, it never does.”

She hadn’t had that problem when Luke had Kept her. She hadn’t ever thought critically about him, collared or no. “The question is – what does your Keeper think about it?”

“I don’t know,” he muttered. Embarrassment flooded through him. “I’m not good with that shit, Mike. With, you know…”

“Feelings?” she offered dryly. “It’s one of your best Words, bird-brain.”

“Talking about feelings,” he complained. “That’s different.”

“So don’t talk. Act. Come on, you’re good at acting…” Mike trailed off, wrinkling her nose. “I feel like I ought to be jealous.

“Were you jealous before?”

Before meant Kiara, meant Wil, meant way back, when Luke had first been married.

“Of course.” Mike’s lips twisted in amusement. “What? You expected me not to be? Of course I was jealous. More jealous when it came to Manira, though.”

“Because she wasn’t your daughter?”

He must be feeling better, he was teasing her.

She smiled sweetly at him, rather than give him a reaction. “Because she is a Daeva, love.”

Luke flushed. “I didn’t know that at the time.”

“I guessed. If I’d thought you’d known, I would have been quite hurt.” She kissed his cheek. “It’s not like I haven’t had lovers over the years.”

“I know,” he grumbled. Mike felt her eyebrows raising.

“Luca,” she asked, in a tone that was meant to sound mock-scandalized, in part because she was genuinely a bit shocked. “Are you jealous? Of my lovers?

“Well, yes.” He half-sulked, half-glared at her, presumably for poking at a touchy subject. “Yeah. A little, sometimes. Not… well. Yeah.”

“No wonder you’re so cranky all the time,” she teased him, and was rewarded by a very nice sulk. She gave him a hug, for once feeling like she didn’t have to guess what was acceptable. “My darling, the only consolation for how ridiculous we are is that we’re not the only ridiculous ones.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1230636.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Luke and Mike… Talk (More of the Chess AU)

This happens after Slave and after, subsequently, Cya, Luke, and Leo have had an off-screen conversation. Thanks to [personal profile] inventrix for editing.

“Oh, Luke.” Leo had paused just slightly, with that expression that meant he was being Humorous Leo. “You might want to give Linden some pointers, her punch is terrible.”

There had been other words spoken since Luke walked in to find Mike and Leo talking in the General’s tent, but those had stuck with him. Those, and the part where Leo had offered to give them some time alone.

“She was concerned we might not be treating you as well as we should,” Leo had informed him. There’d been a warning there. Luke had taken it to heart.

Luke stared at Mike.

Mike looked back at him. She was in female form, but her clothes said she had been travelling male.

“You’re sure…?” She hadn’t said anything since Leo had left. Now, she looked at him with her head tilted, her expression naked.

Vulnerable. Vulnerable was the word he wanted.

They’d told Mike about the mind-fucking Regine had done. They’d had to tell her twice, but Luke could see, in the way her body language shifted, that she believed them. She didn’t want to believe, any more than he had.

“There’s memories. Sa’… Cya’s good, but I don’t think she could make up the memories that are there, not with all the emotions connected to them.”

“I don’t think she ever studied Hugr,” Mike, who had always been in charge of teaching emotions, mused softly. “So Regine…”

“Took out things that were inconvenient. Stole them. Because, uh. Because I wanted to leave, usually. Because I wanted to change things. When Aleron…” His wings shifted and Luke sat down. He couldn’t deal with this.

“Aleron,” Mike breathed softly. “That long ago? That was, oh, the tenth year. I thought maybe, the Collapse…”

“That wasn’t that much longer,” Luke pointed out dryly. “But… Yeah. At least there. She’s still working. It’s…” He shrugged uncomfortably. He could take anything. He’d always let Mike think he was invulnerable to emotion.

He considered Leo, and the difference between Leo-at-home-with-Cya and Leo-the-General. Maybe he didn’t have to pretend with Mike?

Maybe, someday, he wouldn’t have to pretend with Mike.

“What is it?” She narrowed her eyes at him. She. She hadn’t been a woman in a while. “You’re…”

“I thought you didn’t read my emotions.” His voice was harsh. That wasn’t what he’d wanted.

“I don’t, I don’t. You hate it when I do. But I can read your body language.”

Luke took a breath. “Remembering those things, it was hard. Knowing my crew did this to me, that’s harder.”

“Leo said… he said something like ‘…with your crew it’s not so much of a given, is it?’ He knows, doesn’t he?”

How long had Mike been here, talking to Leo?

“You really punched him, didn’t you?”

“Not very well, I guess. It’s just, I came in here and there you were – in town, walking down the road. Steel collar, your wings all bound.” Her hand lifted up to touch Luke’s collar – silver again, because, he assumed, he wasn’t being punished anymore – and fell back to her lap.

She had seen him like that? Luke looked away. “Being Kept is… it’s not like being in the army.”

“No… no, it’s not. Oh, Luca.” She sighed sadly. “I knew this would be hard for you. But she’s a good woman, no, Cynara? She’s always seemed honorable to me.”

Luke struggled with bond-feelings (at least, he was pretty sure they were bond-feelings) and his own impressions and coughed, giving himself a moment. “I think she’s an honorable woman,” he agreed. “I think she’s being fair with me. But both she and Leo think it’s important that I know what being Kept can be like — and I agree with them.” He looked Mike in the eyes. “It’s important that we all know about being Kept, since we’re subjecting all these kids to it. Over and over again. And, Mike, there was so much I didn’t know about the collar.”

Mike winced and looked away. “Regine is — she’s hard to budge,” she whispered. “I knew, I knew that it could be hard, emotionally. I remember being Greta’s Kept, centuries ago, and how much it hurt that she didn’t really want me. I mean, to be fair, nobody had ever not wanted me, before that. I knew it could be hard — but Regine was right, we needed to, we needed to get kids in and educate them fast, and we needed them wary about the Bond before they went back out into the world. The world was ending, Luke.”

Luke’s wings didn’t move. Days in the harness had made him far too aware of how often he let his wings telegraph his emotions.

“The world isn’t ending anymore,” he pointed out, very calmly. He didn’t want to spook Mike.

She looked up at him as if he’d shouted, her eyes wide. “It’s not.” Her voice was very careful. “You think we should have intervened.”

“I know we should have intervened. Over and over again. There’s probably a Keeping going on right now that we ought to intervene with, either students or someone graduated.”

“Do you know how many people there are out there? We don’t have the resources—”

“The fuck we don’t!” Luke felt bad the minute he’d shouted. He patted awkwardly at Mike’s hands. He had such a harder time with this when she was female. “But we should try.” Luke caught his breath. “Look… we can debate this later. Maybe with Regine, since… since none of it will happen without her say-so anyway.”

“She really… really…” Mike shook her head. “Do you think she did that to me, too?”

“I’d bet on it,” Luke admitted. “Probably not as much. It took you a long time to get to the point where things bothered you. I… hunh.” He considered Mike. “I figured you didn’t want to know.”

“I didn’t. Especially not when it was my cy’ree, being Kept, Keeping. Being hurt, hurting. Because we’d said it was a good idea. I, I said it was a good idea, and I was the one who had been Kept, over and over again, out of all of us. Who’d Kept people.”

“None of us anticipated how nasty some of those kids could get,” Luke offered, an excuse as much for himself as for her. “And they, uh. They got good at hiding it.”

“I’m an empath. I’ve caught some in the last few years, and if I caught those, when they knew what to hide, I should have caught the earlier ones.” Mike shook her head. “You’re right. We should allow Keeping… but we should be a lot more careful about it. We should be watching them.”

“Later.” Luke was feeling the pressure of orders and non-orders. For a little, Leo had said. He’d leave them alone for a little. They could borrow his tent.

A flush came to Luke’s cheeks at the thought of what he could do with more than a little time and a tent that Leo often sound-proofed. He shook his head. “Later,” he repeated. “Right now… Mike, you didn’t have to release me from those promises.”

“That’s what she said,” Mike pointed out, looking confused.

“She meant the oaths from Regine. For you…. look. You know I’d go against orders to protect you, right?”

Mike looked both amused and a bit confused. “I’m centuries older than you. I’m pretty capable of taking care of myself.”

“And I’ve bailed you out against a tougher opponent how many times? Mike.” He patted her shoulder awkwardly. “I mean it.”

“I’ll do my best not to get into any trouble that runs you against orders. Have you, yet? Tried going against orders?”

Luke shook his head slowly. “No. Suggestions, yes. Orders, no.” He meant to smile but it came out as a grimace instead. “The whole thing is hard enough without doing that to myself… I’ve seen what that does to someone.”

“Good.” She reached for his collar again; this time, she let her fingers brush over it. “This is nice. It should be gold… but it’s nice.”

Luke understood why it wasn’t gold. He wondered if he could explain it to Mike. He considered it, and ran into an order, and then another order. “Silver suits me,” he said instead.

“It’s better than the steel.”

Luke grimaced. “If Addergoole ever gets serious about disciplining students who break the rules… we should hire sa’Doomsday to coordinate it.”

Mike winced. “Still can’t believe you getting in trouble. Aren’t you the straight-arrow?”

Luke snorted. “I’m the straight arrow when I like the rules, turns out.”

“Or when, what, someone’s making you forget you don’t like the rules?” She looked like it tasted bad just to say it. Luke didn’t blame her. It tasted bad, knowing it.

“Yeah. Yeah, or that.” He folded his wings close against his back. There were so many things he wanted to say to her. They only had a little while to talk. “I’d rather she not know I know.”

“She’s got to know Cynara has the Words.”

“The thing is… Regine is likely to underestimate Boom. She always have — we always have. Would you think someone you’d taught could untangle your Hugr Workings?”

“Hunh. No. You think they could?”

Luke opened his mouth, closed it again, frowned. “You should talk to sa’Doomdsay,” he said, because that was on his mind and he could actually say that. “About your mind, and about not letting Regine know before we’re ready for her to know.”

“You don’t want Regine to know that we know that you know everything you’re not supposed to know?” Mike smirked at Luke. “When did you get complicated?”

“I guess,” Luke shrugged, “being Kept is complicated, and then I have to come up with, uh, complex ways to deal with it.” He thought about the teenagers they’d Mentored who’d been dealing with this. “We really ought to teach a master class in being Kept. And another one or five in Keeping.”

“Regine wouldn’t like it.” Mike’s comment was almost reflexive. Luke could tell by the way she flinched afterwards. “And the Keepers wouldn’t like it.”

“I think the ones that wouldn’t like it are the ones who need it the most,” Luke muttered. “…and the ones whose Kept probably need it the most, too.”

“You have a point.” Mike sighed and fell silent. Luke watched her, the way he had avoided watching her for years. She had one blonde curl loose, draping over her eyebrow and hiding something of her face. She must do it on purpose; her hair was short-cropped when she was male. And yet he wanted to brush her hair out of her face and let his hand linger.

This was why he didn’t look at her, not her. This was why he liked it better when she wore a male face.

But she’d shown up male, punched Leo, and been female for a conversation that, from the sounds of things, had revolved around her being protective of him. (Her! Protective of him!)

Luke cleared his throat. He should wait. He should wait until he knew he’d be able to see her privately again. He should wait until he knew that he’d be able to… able to… He shied away from the thought process with long practice. Regine had never had to delete those thoughts.

He should wait until he had longer than a little while to talk to her.

“I’ve been thinking,” he tried, “Leo is gay.”

Mike stared at him. “We’ve known that for some time, you know. I know you didn’t like to think about that, with your Students…”

“Not like Aleron.” He tried to be level-voiced; he tried to be calm. He thought he sounded a little too urgent. “Not, uh, interested in any kind of gender. I mean, Leo likes guys.”

“Yes?” Mike had a strange expression on her face, like she was worried Luke was losing it.

“Cya… Cya’s female, which, yeah, we knew already. I’m trying to say-“

“Ohhh.” Mike’s eyes widened. “Because Leo is into guys, but – oh, are he and Cynara…?”‘

There was a lot he couldn’t say, but Luke could definitely insinuate. “They’re… something, and they’re something even though Leo’s gay.”

“Fascinating. I wondered how long it would take them.” Mike looked up at Luke’s expression. “I am an empath, you know. They’ve been… well, fighting it for – no, all I know is that they were fighting it in school. Not all the time in between. I do cheat sometimes,” she added, misinterpreting Luke’s expression.

He cleared his throat. Did he have the balls – ha. Did he have the nerve to go through with this?

He was pretty sure he’d never hear the end of it from Leo if he didn’t. “I’m…” He paid attention to his wings, placing them very carefully half-opened. He spent heartbeats on it, looking at one tip and then the other, as if he couldn’t tell exactly where they were without looking. “I’m not… into guys”

“Luke, I know that. I’ve known that for a long time. Pretty much since the moment I met you.” Mike’s voice rose up a bit, exasperated and, Luke thought, a bit hurt. Damnit. “You don’t like… you’re not into girls that are boys sometimes, either. Women that are men sometimes. You have made that very, very clear.”

She was more hurt than he’d expected. And she wasn’t letting him get a word in edgewise.

“If you’re trying to tell me you’re sleeping with Cynara, one, duh, two, what does Leo think about that, and three, last I checked, she’s female. Which you said… oh. Oh, Luke, are you and Leo… are you into… Into Leo? It’s Cya’s collar, isn’t it? I mean, if it was Leo’s, the bond can do that, even when you don’t feel it normally. That’s what it was like with Greta… oh. What?” Mike frowned. “You said it first!”

Luke cleared his throat and heroically hid a smile at the very young-sounding wail in Mike’s voice. “I don’t have much time.” Not nearly enough time, damnit, why had he started this now? “But I’m not talking about Leo, Mike. Meckil. For one thing, I think sa’Doomsday would flay me.”

“She might. I don’t think she shares well. Which, uh, begs the question…” Mike’s voice turned slowly upwards. “Luke, who are you talking about and why are you talking about this now?

Luke swallowed. “I’m talking about… um. About you. And I’m talking about it… because uh. Someone hit me upside the head — not literally! — with it and, uh. It’s going to be a long twelve years and I am advising in an active war zone…”

Luke didn’t really think he was at any direct risk of dying. They weren’t fighting many nedetakaei, and when they did encounter other fae, most of them weren’t a match for Leo or even Leo’s younger lieutenants, much less for Luke.

He wanted to tell Mike that, especially with the ashen look her skin was taking on, but he —

“I’m trying to be honest with you. So. I’m not out here fighting gods —” He’d never been out there fighting gods, not more than the two or three times he’d managed to bully Regine into letting him go. But that was a matter for another time. “— and I’m not in huge risk. But things happen. And, uh. If I let things happen to Leo…”

Mike considered that. “From what I’ve seen, if things happen to Leo, I don’t think I’ll survive long to mourn you. Boom can be, ah… explosive.”

“sa’Doomsday can be very explosive,” Luke agreed dryly. He was letting himself get distracted. It was tempting to just let the conversation flow away from the touchy stuff. “So… if I don’t make it.” He forced himself back on topic. “I want to be sure I’ve said it. And if I do make it, I want to have said it early, so you know. So you know it’s me saying it.”

Her eyes were wide. “Luke?”

“I’m.” He coughed. “I let myself get hung up on things that are kind of ridiculous. So, I apologize. I,” his wings spread out a little bit and he tried to rein them in. “I haven’t been protecting you, sticking close to you, hell, sticking with Addergoole all these years for the fun of it, you know.” He found he was scowling and tried to soften the expression. “But… as much as I can, while…” he touched his collar with both hands, “while I’m paying off the price of my stupidity, do you think, maybe, you and I…”

She was smiling. Luke squirmed. “What?”

“You’re awful at this. I always wondered how you’d be at it.” She touched his cheek gently, taking the sting out of her words. “I think I knew you’d be awful. But I am, too. I haven’t been sticking around Addergoole, around this colonial mess here, around the frozen north, for the fun of it, you know.”

Luke’s wings twitched and he let them. “I don’t have a lot of practice,” he admitted.

“I know, cloud-chaser, I know.” She leaned back and studied him. “I don’t think I can do faithful,” she warned. “This won’t be like it was with your wives.”

“I guessed.” He smirked dryly at her, because he didn’t trust himself with another expression. “I’ve been around a while, Mike. I know you.”

“You know some of me,” she corrected. “It will be interesting to see what happens when we get to know the rest of each other.”

“I know some of you,” he agreed, “and vice-versa.” Damnit, he really did have no time at all. How long was a little while? He did not want Leo walking in at the wrong moment. “Will you let me get to know more?”

“Will your Keeper?” she countered. “Or… do you want to pick this conversation up in twelve years?”

Twelve years should be nothing to a friendship that had outlasted a nation. Twelve years…

“Mike and me, whatever’s between us, it’s been there centuries. It’s not going to go strange or stale in a decade.”

He hadn’t meant to tell Leo that he was in love with Mike. Hell. He’d never even thought those words coherently before Leo starting goading him (”unless you and Linden are secretly in love with each other or something, you’re going to have to go out and meet people….”)

It hadn’t even come out so much as Luke had let himself get agitated, and getting agitated around a mind-reader and an emotion-reader who were in control of his life was not the best idea.

And then Leo had started looking worried, and he hadn’t needed Mind or Emotion readings to guess at it. So he’d said that. That it would hold another twelve years.

And, ever helpful, Leo had said,

“You’ve never been Kept before, though.”

“…No,” he’d admitted, ruefully, unwillingly. “… Fuck. But. Let’s be honest. I never saw Mike and me going anywhere, either.”

And here he was. He took a breath. “My Keeper suggested I talk to you. My… she… Cya would probably prefer you to be her ally, rather than her enemy.”

“She enslaved you,” Mike complained.

“To be fair, we were part of an agreement that, uh, paid for her conception, arranged for her slavery, and then did the same thing to her kids.” Luke had never said the words quite that baldly before. Cya was rubbing off on him.

“She enslaved you,” Mike repeated, clearly not having an interest in being fair.

“Mike? I beat Leo to within an inch of his life, within sight of most of his army. Enslaving me let him not lose face, and, uh, kept his army from beating me to death. I made a stupid choice; I let my pride get in my way. Twelve years in a collar? I can handle that. It’s better than war.”

“It’s better than you dying,” Mike allowed. “How long do we have, do you think?”

“Probably not long.” He spread his wings a bit, testing the air like it would tell him. “But we’ll have other times, I think. I mean, I’m teaching in Fall.”

“Twelve years.” She looked thoughtful. “I suppose that’s long enough for you to teach me how to punch properly, isn’t it?”

That had not been what’d been on Luke’s mind, not at all. “…What?” He knew he was gaping. He didn’t care.

She winked at him. “Private sessions. In your room. Even if all you do do is teach me to punch… it’s still time alone with you. And I have a feeling I’m going to be a slow learner.”

There was nothing Luke could say to that, so he kissed her.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1220416.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Slave, a continuation of the Chess (Black Knight) AU

After Flightless
Landing Page: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1202628.html

“You’re having trouble with the concept of Belonging to someone else. I imagine your students often feel the same, don’t you think?” Cya buckled the harness on him, one strap at a time. “It’s not an easy concept. Your will, your actions, your body, all of it is the property of someone else to do with what they want. I was sixteen; I was used to my dad telling me what to do, teachers, other authority figures. Most of us were, at that point, one level or another. You… the only person that’s been telling you what to do for the last century’s been Regine, your crew… and she spent a lot of time pretending she wasn’t, didn’t she?”

“She covered a lot of it it.” He twitched his wings and ran into the straps. “So, yeah. I got used to thinking nobody was telling me what to do. So?”

“So you’ve had what, almost three centuries of being your own man, and now… you’re not. And it’s not an easy concept to internalize and it’s not an easy concept for me to hammer home, unless I want to seriously break you, which I don’t.”

He stared at her. “You put thought into that.”

“Of course I put thought into it! I mean, dead gods, Luke, you’re talking to me.” She glared at him. He spread his wings — tried to spread his wings — and pulled them close as they bounced against the harness. He was going to get worn spots if he didn’t learn to control his wing-twitches. “If you have figured out anything about me in all this time, it’s that I think about things.”

He knew she planned things. It wasn’t the same thing. He frowned at her. “You considered breaking me.”

“Of course I did.” She shook her head at him. “My children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, Luke, all of them went to Addergoole. I watched Leo struggle with insanity for decades. Addergoole tainted everything in our lives. What would you do if you had in your hands the life that had set up the rape of your children? Your own rape?” She frowned at him. “I’d never been able to figure out how you managed, with your own children there. Then I saw what Regine had done to your brain.”

She swept away that conversation with a wide hand gesture before Luke could answer.

“I considered it. But Leo respects you… and so do I. So I’m going to teach you, instead. And maybe, eventually, you’ll figure out what it means to Belong to someone — to me — without me having to break you to get the point home.”

Luke considered, for a moment, asking what breaking him would look like, and if she thought she could really break him. Some small iota of self-preservation kicked in and he didn’t. “You’re the boss,” he said instead.

It may not have been the wisest answer. She smirked at him. “Yes, that’s the whole point. Tell me when you actually believe it.”

“I…” He fell silent. He couldn’t, not with that order.

“All right.” She touched her fingers to his collar and chanted a Working; Luke recognized the words as Transmute and earth, metal: she was changing his collar to steel. The weight seemed immediately more, the collar thicker, wider. “You’re going to try being a slave for a couple days. There’s a place down by the Alpha gate that needs a kitchen boy and you, Luca, are going to be a good boy for them until I come get you.”

“A kitchen boy.” He worked his jaw and clenched his fists. “You want me to be someone’s kitchen boy.”

“Not what I said, Luke. I said you’re going to be a kitchen boy.” She chanted another Working and a chain dripped off her hand, hooked the chain to his collar. “Come on. We don’t want to keep him waiting.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1211221.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Landing Page: Black Knight (Chess) AU

A double-crack alternate universe in which Leo gets an army and then takes over the northwest.

[personal profile] inventrix: Only a Flesh Wound
Black Knight
[personal profile] inventrix: House Arrest
White Queen
White Knight
Red Queen
Captured Knight
Captured Knight continued
[personal profile] inventrix: Keeping Up Appearances
[personal profile] inventrix: Reversal
[personal profile] inventrix: All According to Plan…?
Other Pieces
Knocking Over Pieces
[personal profile] inventrix: Uncomfortable Developments
No Title
Phase II (and a bonus intro to something later)
[personal profile] inventrix: Chain of Command
Blonde Bishop
[personal profile] inventrix: (no subject)

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1202628.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable


After Punished
Landing Page: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1202628.html

“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.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1210583.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

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.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1209236.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Flight (more Chess/Black Knight AU)

After Blond Bishop
Luke flew.

He didn’t want to do anything but fly for a few minutes, so that’s all he did, letting the wind carry him, letting the air hit his face, letting his wings do their own thinking and his body shift with the currents.

When he started to think again, he flew higher, making the work take all his attention. It had been a while since he’d gotten a good flight in. He should…

The thought hit him like a punch in the guts and he lost his glide for a moment. He flapped hard, caught himself, and found the thermal again, the panic momentarily overwhelming the sudden surge of guilt.

Once he was stabilized, he had no such protection. He should ask Cya if he could do this more often...

But he hadn’t asked, he’d just freaked out like an idiot and flapped off.

Which had a chance of seriously pissing off his Keeper, not to mention irritating his boss.

He snarled at the wind. He didn’t want a boss. He didn’t want a Keeper. He certainly didn’t want these kids with centuries less experience less than him and erratic behavior patterns bordering on insanity to be in charge with him. He didn’t want… he didn’t want…

He stalled out, his wings stilling, his whole body stilling and, just as quickly, twitched and moved again, correcting for the wind. Mid-air was not the place to be having existential crises, not unless he wanted to find out exactly how much damage his body could survive.

A treacherous voice in the back of his head wondered if Cya would rush to his side, if Mike would be there in a heartbeat, if anyone would care.

“Don’t be stupid,” he snarled at himself. He wasn’t her lover; he wasn’t her paramour. He sure as hell wasn’t any of that for Mike. And there was no reason anyone ought to be rushing anywhere, although, he considered, Will would probably show up just to yell at him. Yell at him and not let him die. Will was like that.

He was being stupid. He was being stupid, and he was being a stupid Kept which, he was beginning to realize, was an entirely different animal from normal stupidity. He ought to go back and, it seemed, he wasn’t doing anything of the sort. He twitched his wings in the currents and moved up higher still.

He became aware that someone was following him about half an hour out from the army camp. He shifted and twisted until he could get a good look at them: an elf, with wings. A long, lean woman with strawberry blonde hair and improbably pointed ears… and improbably pointed wings. She was pacing him with ease, and she was wearing the uniform of Leo’s army.

A flier, and he hadn’t met her. Luke stamped down a surge of anger and flapped hard, pulling himself higher in the air, moving faster.

She kept up. He kept flying, higher, faster, pushing himself until even his supernatural lungs burned, and she was right behind him. He dove down a couple hundred feet – and she paced him.

Leo’s army was nothing if not loyal, Luke had to admit, loyal, devoted, and obedient. He found an outcropping big enough for both of them and landed, doing his best not to show how hard he was panting.

She circled twice, talking into her radio, before she landed as well.

“Sir.” Her voice was neutral.

“Miss.” She had the insignia for Captain; “Captain. I’d say you don’t have to follow me, but you do, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you have any other orders?”

“Of course, sir.”

Luke snorted. “C… sa’Doomsday would love you.”

“Yes, sir.” Her voice was carefully neutral.

“I’m not… I’m not running away.” He shifted, wings folding in a bit. He didn’t like the concept. He didn’t like using that phrase. He wasn’t some recalcitrant slave…

…except, fuck, he was.

“Yes, sir.” It sounded as if she meant “no, sir.”

“My Keeper’s not only a Finder, she employs a teleporter and she controls most of this part of the country. Err, world.” Was this woman even old enough to remember when the US had existed? “Even if I weren’t Kept, I couldn’t run away from her. And the Keeping bond doesn’t really allow for escape.

She smirked at him. “True, sir.”

His wings twitched. Oh, it had been a while since he’d really given himself a workout. “I just mean… I just needed to fly.” He sounded pretty pitiful. “I needed to feel the wind.”

The captain’s wings stretched towards the air behind her. “I know the feeling. You worried the General, sir.”

“Yeah, well,” he muttered, but he knew he was being both childish and unwise.

But the captain raised her elfin eyebrows at him, and he felt like he ought to continue. “…Not like it’s not mutual,” he admitted.

“You were his Mentor, sir?”

“Why do you keep calling me sir, Captain? Pretty sure you outrank the civilian — Kept — adviser.”

“You were the General’s Mentor, sir.” Her expression suggested that should explain it.

He sighed. There were worse things to be honored for, he supposed. Like all those Students he’d had that hadn’t made it. “All right. Just… Call me Luke, okay? I don’t feel like much of a ‘sir’ right now.”

“Can do. Call me Gwen, sir… Luke.”

“Got it, Gwen.” He spread his wings and leaned against a rock outcropping. “I’m being an idiot,” he confided, because Mike was a long way away, but this girl had something Mikelike about her nose and chin, if he squinted.

“Bolting probably wasn’t the brightest thing,” she allowed. She was smirking at him. Somehow, that made Luke feel better.

“Yeah. I. Uh.” He tugged on his collar uncomfortably. “This is, uh. New.”

“Keeps you young, right?” she joked. At least, he hoped she was joking. “New experiences?”

“Hunh.” He kicked the rock behind him a little while that rattled around in his brain. “Haven’t done ‘new’ in a while.”

“Don’t show at all or anything.” She leaned back against her own rock, mirroring him. “You’re not antsy and twitchy about everything you don’t understand, you’re not glowering at all the kids and their weird ways, let’s see, you’re not complaining about the old times –“

“That was only once!”

“And you’re not doing that thing where you could clearly do it better if only the stupid kids would listen to you.”

Luke huffed. “That’s not…”

“No. That’s ’cause you’re collared and your boss is sleeping with your Keeper.” She smirked at the way his wings twitched. “You know it’s true.”

“I’m not some idiot child who gets whipped this way and that by the collar,” he grumbled. “And I am not jealous of a girl young enough to be my great-great-great-grandchild.”

“She’s also old enough to be my great-great-great-grandmother. What’s that have to do with anything?” She raised her eyebrows. “Immortal fae. Age pretty much stops mattering after the first hundred years, doesn’t it?”

“She’s in love with Leo!” he bellowed.

“Well, yeah. And you’re Kept by her.” She patted his shoulder with a smirk. “You’ll get used to it eventually.”

He growled at her. “I’m not some lovesick child.”

“Tch, sir, you’re repeating yourself. We both know you’re not lovesick, an idiot, or a child. What you are, however, is Kept. And since you’re not a child or an idiot… maybe you ought to come to terms with it?”

Luke growled and pressed his wings against the rock behind him. “Why don’t…” He stopped himself and growled again instead. “Fuck.”

“Nobody said it would be easy.” Her smile was not particularly friendly. “We flying on, or are we flying back?”

Luke turned and punched the rock. His snarl seemed to echo the surge of guilt, fuck, was he not even allowed to be angry? “Flying back,” he snarled. “I’m going to have to face this shit eventually.”

But nothing said he had to do so in good grace.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1207598.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Blonde Bishop

After Phase II and after [personal profile] inventrixChain of Command
Landing Page: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1202628.html

The Bishop is Mike. I’m not sure why.

Mike would laugh at him.

Mike probably was laughing at him, or, at least, he would be if any of Luke’s letters got through. Cloverleaf claimed to have a postal system, but you never knew, and Luke was old enough to have outlived several other mail delivery set-ups.

Some part of him thought, perhaps, that all the wiggle room in time when Cya sent him on errands was some sort of trap. She was the unapologetic dictator of an ever-expanding Empire; it wouldn’t be beyond her to have his mail intercepted so she could read it.

He could have just asked permission. Some part of him rebelled against the idea. He was a prisoner of war. He’d made a mistake… and been rewarded and punished in the same swoop. That’s what this was. Punishment for attacking Leo, a cover for his freedom from his oaths to Regine. And it seemed Cya had decided it would also be instructional.

It suited his impressions of her that she multi-tasked even this.

He touched his left wing-claw thoughtfully. The jewelry had been… Interesting. Wearing it in public had been strange, this weird combination of shame and pride — for the thirty seconds it had lasted.

Leo had been far less ambiguous in his reactions, returning him to sender like…



Like Luke’d sent students back to their Keepers when they’d shown up for PE with a collar too punitive, too difficult to actually do PE in, or with jewelry locked on.

Shit. Well, if he ever actually went back to teaching, he could make some changes there. Regine had hobbled him way too much.

Mike would laugh at him… and then probably have a list. Mike’d had a list quite a few times over the last couple decades.

Mike was going to spend a lot of time laughing at him. Luke shifted his wings and tried not to feel too stupid or too angry about that.

Or about the rest.

There had been the mess with the wing-jewelry. Luke hadn’t exactly liked the jewelry, but when he looked at the shame and pride – or, rather, when he thought about Mike laughing at him about it – what he came up with is Cya is saying I’m hers. Like the collar. But… more.

He should have anticipated it would cause problems. He had been more tied up in how he thought about it, and the disjointed feelings of having been bound and touched and somehow ending up feeling like he’d done something more intimate than sex.

And then Leo had sent him back.

Luke’s wings twitched again. That had been… humiliating. The look on Cya’s face, that had been something else. She wasn’t angry, she wasn’t sad. She shut down. Luke had found very quickly that he didn’t like it when she shut down.

And she’d politely asked for General Leofric’s time at his earliest convenience.
Luke had winced, because the two of them were snipping at each other too politely, too remotely. This was going to go badly. It was going to drag on, to become something awful.

…And now Leo was wandering around with obvious bite marks on his neck and chest, and, from the way he was moving, quite a few more bruises and scrapes over the rest of him. He hid it well, but he’d gotten torn into last night and wasn’t bothering to heal it.

Or had been ordered not to heal it.

Cya had not been pleased when Luke had been returned to her. It certainly hadn’t been the first time she’d been displeased with her general.

“If you think I’m pissed at you, Luca, you might imagine how angry I am at Leo.”

Exactly how pissed was she this time?

Luke paced, because he didn’t have anything to do at the moment, and because if he looked at Leo again, he was going to explode. Mike wasn’t going to laugh at him. Mike was going to be rolling on the floor, doubled over with laughter. Guffawing. Chortling. They were going to have to make up new words to explain the laughter.

Did she send me here all decked out just to piss off her paramour? ‘Cause it certainly worked like that, and Cya has plans for everything. That’s what everyone kept telling him, at least.

It had been bad enough to think about being decked out because she wanted everyone to know he was her Hawk, to jess as she saw fit.

It was a hundred times worse if she’d just done it to piss of Leo. He wanted to punch something. He didn’t have anything to punch. He certainly couldn’t haul off and punch Leo. That had landed him here in the first place.

“If you think I’m pissed at you, Luca, you might imagine how angry I am at Leo.”

Leo might be moving like he was hiding bruises, but he wasn’t acting like he’d just been chastised. Then he turned in exactly the right way, and Luke could see the teeth marks delicately embedded in Leo’s earlobe.

Those weren’t marks of abuse.

He was an idiot.

She hadn’t been mad at Leo at all.

Luke flapped his wings once, twice, and took to the air in a cloud of dust.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1207055.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Phase 2 (and a bonus intro to something later) (more Chess/Black Knight AU)

Directly after Movement
Landing Page: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1202628.html

Cya touched his cheek. Luke found himself leaning in to her hand. He tensed, but the touch remained gentle.

“Try to mind your breathing for a minute. In… out.” Her voice had lost all the false sweetness; she sounded like an entirely different person. “In… out.”

Luke paced his breathing to her words and found it an easy pace for long, deep breaths. Slowly, he felt the tension in his wings and shoulders release.

“How’re you feeling?”

They were still barely past halfway through. “I’m okay.”

She tapped his nose very lightly. “Didn’t I tell you not to lie to me?”

He pulled back. “No?” Hunh, he should’ve lied to her. “I mean…”

“How’re you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been put through the wringer,” he admitted. “But I can take more.”

“You’re doing well.” She patted his shoulder. “After this, we’re going to have a conversation about safe words.”

His cheeks heated up. Luke fought against his wings’ urge to flare out and mostly succeeded. “I know about those. I am in a crew with Mike Linden-Blossom.”

“Good. Then I won’t have to give you the primer.”

“But I don’t…” He quelled at a look from her. “Am I going to need them?” That wasn’t the impression he’d been given of their relationship.

“You may. And, if you don’t, well, no harm in making sure we have them established anyway.”

“Planning ahead.” He smiled, surprised her could muster up some of the feeling behind it.

“Planning ahead,” she agreed, and graced him with a very warm smile. “Exactly.”

“But not for this?”

“No.” She looked rueful. “The point of this is, uh, pretty much plowing over any ability you might have to consent. On the plus side, I’m not going to do anything sexual or even excessively intimate — because I’m intentionally brutalizing your ability to consent.”

Luke stared at her. He had never heard… He’d heard something like that once, from Mendosa. Maybe more than once. His wings twitched a bit. “Should, uh. Should I be worried?” He tried to make it a joke.

She smiled at him, but it didn’t look amused. “Little late for that. All right, round two.”

Luke braced. He could take it.

“That’s quite a look, you know. Handsome and stoic.” She touched his cheek. “You do very well in the I-can-take-it sort of poses. And kneeling… stretch your wings out for me a little? I want to look at them. Like that, yes, very good, thank you.”

What was she doing? Luke posed his wings, feeling a little ridiculous and yet… so good. So warm. He smiled cautiously for her.

“Mmm. Nice. I’m happy I have you as a Kept, you know.”

“You are?” He stared at her in surprise, almost missing the warm and fluffy feelings overtaking him.

“I am. You’re smart, you’re competent, you’re powerful. To be selfish, you’re attractive, too. Quite handsome.” Her grin was nearly a leer. “And you’re fun to be around. If Keeping you was how I get to have you around for a while, well, it’s a pretty good way to get it.” She took ahold of his collar. “There are side advantages, too. And if I want, I can look at you naked all day long.”

Luke wanted to be offended. His wings twitched and he glowered at her. But the feelings were starting to go to his head; he felt giddy, and the frown would not stay on his face.

You really think I’m handsome? He managed not to say it like some starstruck teenager, but it was a close thing, and she was still layering praise on – his skills, his looks, his wings. Even the way he’d noticed that Leo was reaching for godhead. Luke closed his eyes and leaned back and let it wash over him, trying to ignore the feelings like bliss and the tightening in his pants.

It seemed to take no time at all. Then she was touching his cheek again. “Easy, soldier. Come back to me. Come back.”

Luke blinked at her. “I’m right here.” He splayed his wings, only to realize they were already out. “What…?”
“Here, come sit on the ottoman and get comfy. There you go. You were pretty far gone.”

“Were you… were you reading my mind again?” He was disoriented, uncertain. He felt warm and a little confused.

“No, no, just getting you bond-drunk. How do you feel?”

“Drunk,” he agreed. “And, uh. Unclear. Like…”

“Tell me,” she urged. No, ordered.

“Like sprawling in a sunbeam,” he admitted. “Or, ummm….” She was just going to make him tell her again. “Like cuddling with you, putting my head on your lap.”

“Both entirely normal responses. Why don’t we do both? There’s a sunbeam over there, and you can put your head in my lap.”

“But..” Luke couldn’t even come up with exactly what he was saying “but” to, just that there was a but to be said.

“Lesson time is over, but Kept need time in skin contact with their Keeper. You lay down, I run my fingers through your hair, and you’ll recharge your batteries.” She moved over to the sunbeam on her living room carpet as she spoke. Luke was fairly sure none of that had been orders, but he followed her anyway.

Batteries. Something she’d said earlier popped up helpfully. “Are you really disappointed in me for not coming here, uh, ‘home’ sooner?”

She patted her lap; Luke huffed and lay down, getting his wings comfortable and delaying a bit while he did so. Finally, he put his head midway down on her thigh.

“I’m not disappointed. I’m not even really surprised.” Her fingers felt far nicer in his hair than fingers ought to, than anyone’s fingers had since… He swallowed that comparison and the surge of guilt. “Hey, now, what was that? I’m not mad at you.”

“No, just… Do you really have to know?”

“I really have to know. Tell me.” No matter how gentle she made her voice, it was still an order. Luke sighed.

“I was thinking about my wife. Former wife. Nobody’s really touched me like that since… well, since her. And it’s nice. But, you and me, uh, it’s not her and me.”

“Of course not.” Her fingers kept combing through his hair. “And it’s not meant to be. The Bond makes the touch feel nice, just like it makes praise feel wonderful and criticism feel like the end of the world. But you’re not my husband, and I’m not your wife. That’s not the deal we made.”

Luke tried to ignore the small surge of distress that sent through him. It was probably the Bond, he reminded himself. It had to be the Keeping messing with his head. “Good,” he muttered. “I think Wil would have something to say about that, even after all this time.”

He didn’t miss the thoughtful look that passed over Cya’s face, but he had no idea what it meant.

(an undefined time later, days, weeks maybe)

She had a look on her face that Luke had seen, once or twice, generally on Mike Linden-Blossom’s face or on one of a certain kind of cy’Linden. She was determined, she was, uh, hungry, and she was going to get what she wanted.

He turned around to grab the teleporter and send the boy to get Leo. This was not what he’d signed on for and not what he wanted to do. He no more wanted to step on Leo’s toes than he wanted to piss off his Keeper.

“Come here.”

He mouthed the shit but didn’t voice it and did as he was told.

She was holding a leash. Luke almost bolted.


…he stayed.

She clipped the leash to his collar. “Safe words. Red, stop, yellow, slow down, try something else. Got it?”

He shifted uncomfortably. When had his collar gotten a leash-loop? “Look. You’re a great Keeper, but I don’t want to–“

“No sex involved. There are so many reasons that’s a bad idea. But. If I don’t blow off some steam it’s going to be bad. Really bad. So I’m going to tie you up a bit and pretend it’s enough.”

He swallowed a surge of guilt: he wasn’t enough. He wasn’t what she wanted. “I could go get Leo…”

“Do you think I really want to interrupt a god for a booty call?” There was bitterness in her voice.

Luke coughed. What did he do with that? “He’s not really…”

“And would you want to tell that to his worshippers? I mean, his army? His loyal subjects?”

Luke considered the army. “No. No, ma’am.”

“Then come upstairs with me, Luca Hunting-Hawk oro’Cya, and let’s tie you up a little bit.”

“Yes, uh, yes ma’am.” She had him on a leash. It wasn’t like he was going anywhere other than where she pulled, not without a physical fight, and he dd not want to get into a physical fight with her. He had a feeling that would end spectacularly badly for him.

She led him upstairs, keeping tension on that leash the whole time. Speaking of tension, she was vibrating with it. He really ought to go get Leo. He had absolutely no good way to do that. He…


…He knelt.

“Green, yellow, red. Remember that. I’m going to ask you to let me try something before you tap out, but if you get freaked, Luca, tell me.

“Yes, ma’am.” When had she stated calling him Luca?

“Unfold your wings for me, let me see them.”

Luke forced himself to stoicism, He didn’t know where this was going and he wasn’t sure it was going to be good. “Yes, ma’am.” He spread his wings wide and tried not to shiver as she ran her fingers over the patagia and stroked the fingers of bone.

Her touch felt good, but every time she touched him, it felt more and more like the way a woman touched her partner, and damnit, he was not going to do that to Leo, not going to help her do that to Leo, if he had any say in the matter. He set his jaw and tried to think about military figures and the way he should probably find a new tactic for Leo’s mounted fighters.

She started moving his wings — carefully, delicately, but definitely moving, pulling them behind his back, folding them until the claws at the top touched — and all of his self-distraction flew out the window. “This would be lovely if I pierced you, here, here, here,” she murmured, her fingers unerringly finding places where he had no blood vessels. “then I could just clip, clip, and bind your wings together. Maybe another time. Take your shirt off.”

That required a Working, but Luke didn’t have any orders against Working. He removed his shirt as quickly and smoothly as he could, trying not to think about what she’d said. Piercings. He could still fly, with holes that small in his wings, but not if she pinned them together, clip, clip, clip.

She had leather and rope out, and he almost said dead gods be thanked until he saw that she also had a small pile of jewelry. Luke swallowed. This was going to be interesting. It was going to be… humiliating? He wasn’t sure, and that bothered him more than the hungry expression on her face.

“Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” she muttered. “Never got to play with a pair of wings like this. Hrm. Let’s see.” She sorted through a handful of jewelry and pulled out a set of what looked like ear cuffs until she started muttering Workings at them. “There.”

Luke hadn’t worn jewelry on his wings since he lost a bet with Mike over a hundred and fifty years ago, and nothing he’d worn had been quite this… jingly. She hooked the cuffs onto the bone that, on a bat, would be the forearm, and then linked the chain to another on the second finger, with a little loop hung over the claw-tip, then repeated on the other side. “That looks… very hot. And shouldn’t impede your flying, should it?”

He tested his wings. “No,” he admitted reluctantly. That meant she meant for him to go out like this.

“The rest… well, that’ll impede your flying a bit, but you don’t need to fly anywhere right now. Fold your wings back up, there we go.” She muttered Workings as she went, as the leather-and-metal strap went around his chest and his wings, pressing his wings to his back, and hooked to his collar with a pectoral piece. She added another strap, and another, until Luke could barely twitch the tops and bottoms of his wings.

It felt strange. His arms were free, his legs were free, but he felt trapped, restrained, held. His heart was pounding in his chest, and his mouth was dry.

He could tell her to stop at any time. He could find out if she would stop at any time. He could say a Working and snap the metal holding this all together.

“Almost done, almost done.” She pulled out some thin rope — blue rope, just a shade darker than his wings. Luke closed his eyes and didn’t say a word, didn’t whisper a Word. “Just a moment…”

He could feel her fingers on his top claws, removing the little claw-caps, wrapping the twine around his claws until they were snugged together, replacing the caps. He could feel her gathering the finger-tips of his wings together and doing the same, although on the more tender skin, the rope felt softer, squishier. “There.” She patted his shoulder. “Wiggle your wings for me?”

Luke tried. There was barely a quarter-inch of give in any direction. His breath was coming in short bursts now, and his chest felt tight. “Can’t,” he managed. He forced out a chuckle, and the chuckle pushed past the panic. “I’m in your hands now.” He had never felt so absolutely helpless.

She put her fingers on his lips. “Not a word, then, darling. Wiggle as much as you want, but I don’t want to hear a word.”

And with that, she took away his Workings, his arguing, his voice. Wiggle, she’d offered. Luke gave in to the urge and struggled against the bindings, his shoulders twitching as he tried to move his wings, his thighs tensing. Even standing would be difficult with his balance like this. Fighting would be almost impossible. “What…” he tried to say, but his mouth moved without sound and a surge of guilt struck him.

“It’s all right.” Her hand was cool on his cheek. “Just give in to it a little, if you can. It’s okay if you struggle. It’s okay if you wriggle. I just want to watch you…. I’m just going to watch you. And then I’ll let you go, and everything will be fine.”

Luke swallowed air in gulps, thought of seventeen different angry retorts and swallowed even the start of any of them, an sat back on his heels. He closed his eyes. He couldn’t speak. He rolled his shoulders. He couldn’t move his wings. He clenched his fists. His Keeper wanted him bound, and he was bound.

His Keeper wanted him bound, and he was bound. Luke’s next breath was peaceful. The feeling of the straps against his wings was no longer oppressive. Cya wanted him like this. He pushed his wings into the straps, feeling their restraint like a caress. and so he was like this.

“That’s my boy.” He barely heard her words, but the praise sent warm waves through him anyway.

Luke’s wings, by Cal: http://artventrix.tumblr.com/post/38236069011/whyyy-did-i-decide-to-draw-him-with-his-arms

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Movement (more Chess/Black Knight AU)

After (no Title)
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“I do hope eventually that isn’t a negative for you.” She patted his shoulder. “But I don’t think ‘eventually’ is going to be ‘today’. Okay, the next…” she glanced at a clock over her shoulder, where it was in plain sight for Luke. “…half hour is going to be experimental. It does not reflect on you as a Kept in general, nor does it set any precedents. Understand?”

“It’s a sparring session?” Luke guessed. “Wait…” he winced. “It’s the sort of sparring session where you show the new kid he’d not as hot of shit as he thought he was, isn’t it?”

“That is a pretty close analogy. All right.” She glanced at the clock, nodded, as if to herself, and started. “I’m really disappointed in you for not coming home sooner. I know this isn’t what you wanted, but the least you could do is remember that you have a Keeper, and that your Keeper might want to see you once in a while.”

The guilt hit Luke like a punch in the gut. It’s explanatory, he reminded himself, but the part of him steering didn’t want anything to do with that. “You told me to help Leo,” he protested.

“Did I ask for excuses?” She asked it so sweetly, it was hard to reconcile the panic Luke was feeling with the tone of her voice.

He shifted, pushing himself to his feet. “I have to…”

“You have to do what you’re told. And what you were told was to kneel there and take it, darling. So…?”

Luke knelt. He brought to mind Ambrus when he’d first come to Addergoole, and he lowered his head and folded his hands in front of him. He wasn’t submissive. He wasn’t a pet. He was a warrior, a soldier. He was a teacher, a fae older than the nation that he’d watched fall to ruins.

He was Kept. He knelt and did as he was told.

Her voice was by turns sweet and scathing. She cut into Luke – his behavior, his word choices, his hair, even the way he smelled. She found fault with just about every part of him. And when she was done with that, she started reiterating points.

It was awful. It was torture, without out even the luxury of shouting. Only iron discipline kept Luke from sobbing, from trying to explain himself, from yelling at her — and he slipped in that last one, once, and bellowed at her.

She just shook her head and told him she was disappointed in him.

It lasted forever. It went on, and on, and on, while Luke clenched his jaw and clenched his wings. There was nothing left but her voice, and there was no getting away from it.

When she took a breath, Luke looked at the clock. It had been fifteen minutes. He was only halfway done.

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