Big Glass

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Big GlassBig GlassThe big, empty hall would soon be abuzz with light, gentle music, laughter, and eager conversation. For now, waiters and waitresses in immaculate black uniforms moved with quick steps to smooth wrinkles from tablecloths, line up glittering champagne glasses, and polish the empty glass cases in anticipation of their displays. The glass walls of the displays were already gleaming, but even the tiniest speck of dust needed to be brushed off before the crowds arrived. One waiter steadied himself as a couple of his fellows busily unrolled a thick, plush carpet, accidentally bumping into each other as they ran along their ways.The elaborate, gilded doors swung open with a sudden rush of air as the silent hinges gave way, concealing any creaks or squeaks that may have escaped. Immediately the wait staff ceased what they were doing and rushed to stand in two straight lines, in order by height, with the women on one side and the men on the other, every pair of eyes turned studiously down towards the ground.Shining chrome cases, long and slim, began to float in noiselessly, hovering above the freshly laid carpet. The containers were strictly supervised by two men who stood in the doorway, their eyes hidden by the darkest sunglasses, stern expressions on their face while the wind from outside ruffled their coats, though they didn’t seem to be at all bothered. The entire operation was unfolding like a perfectly choreographed ballet. The containers continued to file in, but as the first ones in made their way to the back of the hall, the staff snapped into motion again, the lids of the containers opening with a pneumatic hiss. The female staff busily ran around carrying in a variety of ornate couches and chairs, opening the glass cases with gloved hands, while the male staff members lifted perfect, sleeping people from the cases.The bodies of the sleeping individuals were perfect, no flaws visible on their skin, wholly visible as they remained naked and exposed, but wholly unaware of their nakedness in their slumber. sleeping young men and women were carried from their silver carrying chambers and arranged in cases, some alone and some in groups and pairs, lounging on the couches and chairs looking both seductive and innocent. The final touches of sheer, shimmering cloths were added, d****d carefully over each individual to add color and intrigue to their still sleeping forms. A young woman with short, violet hair slumped forwards and bumped her forehead against the glass wall of her display and had to be adjusted immediately while one of the men in sunglasses chuckled to himself.”A good variety this time,” he said to his partner who nodded in affirmation.”That one’s stirred up a good deal of excitement.””As she should,” came the reply, “coming directly from Rishul, properly trained.””If only they all came with training.” Both of them looked around at the now finished ballroom, occasionally catching one of the sleepers shifting their positions. The staff were closing and locking the cases now and activating the cases screens, which scrolled a soft white text describing the origins of each person in their cases, along with a never-fading starting price for the annual slave auctions. Here and there in the room the text would glow green, displaying a message about the individual inside. Most of the news was good news, though some cautioned the potential buyers about a possible personality flaw, or a problem in their past.”That’s all,” came a command from one of the men, though none of the staff could see which, and then the now-empty containers began their silent procession outwards while the staff exited the other way, shoes clicking quietly on the marble floors. In a matter of moments the hall was empty, save for the sleeping merchandise, anticipating the arrival of the rich, famous, and influential to see what, and whom, would be available for them to bring into their houses to be slaves, pets, for those who have everything.Only a few hours had passed since the preparations were complete, but already the hall had been transformed. Cheery music streamed through the light chatter that permeated the air, occasionally punctuated by laughter. An air of excitement was palpable as men and women strolled through the hall drinking champagne, eating from golden plates, and looking with bright, curious faces at the figures in their cases, consulting glossy catalogues with colorful pictures and profiles of the occupants within. Women in sumptuous gowns oohed and ahh-ed over sleeping girls with pastel hair and young men with beautiful faces while the men chuckled amongst each other, comparing the physical merits of the occupants, both sets of eyes reading different parts of each slave’s profile.The lights dimmed and the music came to a gentle halt and the conversation in the hall dropped down to the occasional murmur. A man dressed in a fine red suit with a purple robe appeared on the stage, long green hair glittering with a serum that must have taken hours to evenly apply.”Ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a pleasant, but echoing, voice, “welcome to our annual slave auction. We have many fine specimen here tonight for your delight, each of which has been handpicked for their physical attributes. Featured in tonight’s collection are several that have been trained by Rishul himself,” he paused here to gesture towards a man dressed in head to toe pink, a matching blush in his cheeks from the alcohol, “and some who even come directly from Lordens. We will start the auction with specimen 001.”The light in one of the cases came on to illuminate a beautiful girl with brown hair and a very small physique, her ears finishing in a small point. “Specimen 001 was bred and trained in the Brights District, directly from the source of appropriate behavior. She has been guaranteed virginal with a soft voice, and quiet temper. She has no special physical attributes, nor any history of behavioral problems. Our starting bid,” he paused while a large figure manifested itself in a hologram to his left, displaying an enormous sum of money to the richly dressed, “is at 1.3 million telk. You may begin your bidding now.”Numbered cards on delicate silver wands hit the air. Men and women bid for the beautiful female slave and as the number of her bids kept rising, she slept on. The final figure was some 2 million telk, and a smug couple stepped forwards to the stage to collect their prize, while the auctioneer moved on to the next. The process repeated itself over and over and the air grew more and more excited as the remaining people saw the winners leaving with their spoils and envied them. Barely awake, recently purchased slaves stumbled out, supported by their new owners, covered in white cloaks to cover their naked forms. A trio of red headed young men went to a portly man, the lavender-haired girl who had bumped her forehead was whisked away by a stern-looking older woman, and they steadily began to leave, none left unsold.”We resume the auction with specimen 032. This specimen was taken from the Pren District and has been rehabilitated. Several tattoos have been removed. He is beautiful, anally virginal, but may have temper problems. He does not have any remarkable physical traits, but is quite skilled in both painting and drawing.” A murmur of intrigue rippled through the crowd as they looked at this newly rehabilitated specimen, highlighted in the warm glow of his display’s light. Long, yellow-blond hair was tied back to reveal his now-flawless physique. Peaceful in sleep, it was hard to imagine he had any temper problems, let alone anything that would seriously deter a potential buyer. The rapid influx of bids confirmed these theories. The numbers rose quickly and the auctioneer looked more excited than he had before when an abrupt hush fell over the crowd and the bids stopped at an even 1 million telk, the lowest bid of the night. The soon to be winner was slowly walking up the thick carpet while the crowds parted to let him through.A long, flowing silver robe opened to reveal a suit of deepest navy and very long, shiny black hair that moved like water over the robe. A navy-gloved hand extended gracefully to accept the deed of ownership as the proverbial gavel signified his winning bid. An intermission was announced and the auctioneer bustled over to address the new owner directly.”My Lord,” he breathed as he dipped into a comically emphasized bow, bumping his own nose with his knee, “I appreciate your patronage of our lowly event, but perhaps I could interest you in another of our fine slaves. This one,” he lowered his voice, “is a rehabilitated criminal, not suited or trained for a man of your stature. Perhaps this one,” he pointed to another sleeping man with pink hair, “he was trained by Rishul-“”I’ll have this one,” came a deep, but soft voice that carried an absolute air of finality. “My last slave failed to captivate my attention. Perhaps this one will be an improvement.””Yes, Lord Sensir.” The auctioneer stood upright immediately and snapped his fingers. Two of the black-clad waiters came over, supporting the blonde between them, the ill-fitting white robe dragging on the carpet as he slumped and stumbled, ungainly on his feet. The Lord Sensir said nothing and made no gesture except to swiftly pick up his new acquisition into his arms and make his way towards the exit without another word or a backwards glance.The paperwork told him that the blond was named Connor. After settling into the back of his vehicle, Connor sleeping on the floor, Sensir had turned his attention to the thick dossier that accompanied his purchase. The files told him that Connor was an artist of great talent, and had been taken from a correctional facility and placed into a training program for slaves just 6 month previously, but had managed to be given saleable marks. Previous images showed a Connor with horribly colored black hair, several unattractive piercings on his face, and badly done tattoos on his shoulders, though there was no trace of his former rebellion left on his person. Connor let out a soft sigh and his hand fell from where it had rested on his stomach, resting on Sensir’s soft boots, though he made no measure to remove his foot from beneath the curved fingers.”We’re home, sir.” His driver said as the car stopped with a light chime to signify their arrival. The door was opened for him and Sensir stepped out before the black construction before him that was his home. Outwardly, it was a large black cube constructed of perfect glass, but inwardly the luxurious dwelling was only befitting one of the aristocratic ranks, of which Sensir was one. A trio of maids stood at the door to greet him, and a young man in a black suit was ready to retrieve the sleeping Connor where he still lay inside. He heard his assistant speaking to him, relaying the messages he had missed while he was out, but Sensir was hearing none of it. His eyes, and thoughts, were firmly fixed on the newcomer who was being guided carefully up the stairs and out of his sight.Connor was not born to the life of a slave. If anything, he aspired to one day become a man of prestige and riches to where it was not only possible for him to own a slave, but it was expected of him to have a well-groomed slave of his own. He imagined that one day he would own a beautiful, young female slave to take the parties, to show off, to sleep with every night and, maybe, to bring into the bedroom with his wife, if he were to get married. He dreamed that he would have a slave whose good looks would turn heads, and whose sexual prowess would keep him satisfied and satiated night after night. He never feared like the c***dren born in slums, to poor families, to shantytowns, to prostitutes, or just generally born to misfortune. His family was middle class and had never fallen to the point of disgrace where it was necessary, or even expected, to sell a c***d to a trader. But life didn’t always stay on the trajectory it starts on. The past years had been a blur of prisons, cellblocks, courtrooms, classrooms, and faces that he’d either never see again, or that would haunt his dreams.It wasn’t an immediate surprise to him when he opened his eyes and was in a room that he had never been in. The surprise came when he realized that the room he was in, and the bed he lay on, were of a quality that had lingered in his dreams. The slightest movement from even the smallest of his bones prompted the mattress beneath him to conform to his body, and the sheets were kept at a wonderful, comfortable coolness to make sure that the sleeper was never disturbed by the heat. The room was also wonderfully cool and quiet, the air conditioner humming nearly silently. He sat up slowly and immediately felt a rush of pain flood his head, but he looked around in wonder, curiosity temporarily pushing the pain away.The entire room was shades of white, from the off white comforter to the bright white of the furniture. A table with a vase of white flowers was in the middle of the room, directly in front of the bed, which Connor noticed was circular shaped and hovered above the thick white carpeting. He could see a seam in the wall that he assumed lead to a closet, or else to the door leading out. He tried to move to explore, to swing his legs out of bed and stand, and noticed that his limbs weren’t responding as they should have.”So you’re awake,” came a pleasant voice from the corner. Squinting through the pain that had just returned to his head, Connor could see a figure dressed immaculately in red coming over. As they got closer Connor could see shining black hair without a single strand out of place, a bright smile, golden glasses, and a glass of water in the newcomer’s hand.”My name is Rider,” he handed Connor the glass, making sure his grip was solid around the glass before letting go, “and I’m to be your caretaker here.””Caretaker?” Connor could hear his voice, cracked and strained, and immediately became aware he was thirsty so he began to clumsily drink from the glass, ending up spilling most of it all over his chest, which he noticed was bare, and the comforter. Before he could even think of apologizing Rider had taken a handkerchief from his pocket and dried Connor’s chest, and whisked the comforter off of the bed.”My job is to ensure you are always in top condition for your master.” Rider smiled and looked at Connor expectantly, but when he was met with a blank stare he continued. “I’ll make sure you’re dressed well, in good shape, properly groomed and hygienic, and that you’re happy and comfortable here. I’ll also be in charge of ensuring you behave, and that your behavior is always to a standard appropriate of your master.”Even though Rider had only said the word twice, the word ‘master’ was enough to send a fresh wave of agitated pain through Connor’s mind and he gritted his teeth. “I’m nobody’s fucking property.””Unfortunately, Connor, you now belong to a master and my job is to make sure you behave as such,” said Rider in the same friendly tone without hesitation. “Though if you make my job miserable, or attempt to make things difficult, I can only promise that your life will be as miserable as you attempt to make ours.””So, what, you’re my inferior? Gotta do what I say?” Connor knew he was taunting the only person who was currently helping him, but the pain and the anger were clanking around in his head. He also realized that he sounded petulant and immature, but continued to give what he could only hope was a haughty look to Rider.”Absolutely not,” Rider stood and tucked the handkerchief back into his pocket. “You belong to the master and I am your caretaker. So long as you mind your place, life here can be quite comfortable for you.” He seemed to be waiting for a response, most likely gratitude or wonder, but when all he got was the angry glare and cold silence from Connor, Rider kept smiling his unwavering smile and continued on. “The sedatives are still making their way out of your system, so don’t try and tax your body too much or you’ll injure yourself. Keep hydrated and sleep, I’ll have bread and broth sent up to you when you feel hungry. Lord Sensir won’t be returning for another couple of days, by then you should be feeling up to meeting him.””Where’d he go?””That isn’t my place to tell you. You must still be tired, so I’ll leave you to sleep.”Connor was about to retaliate that he was absolutely not tired, but the wave of fatigue sloshed over him before he could grumble out his contrary statement and he slumped back down against the comfortable pillows and closed his eyes. He heard and felt Rider place a new comforter over his body, but he didn’t open his eyes or acknowledge the gesture; his mind was too busy spinning the past few moments over and over in his head as he tried to make sense of everything as well as piece together the emptiness that must have been the past few days.”Goodnight, little Connor.” It was the last thing he heard before the emptiness became u*********sness and Connor once again fell into a deep, almost peaceful sleep.”Turn to the left,” a bright flash of light sent the constellations into Connor’s vision and he tried to reach up to rub his eyes, but found himself held in place by the shackles around his wrists, holding him more immobile than the old handcuffs from vintage police shows could have dreamed. These went from his wrist to his elbow and kept his arms perfectly still with a gentle hum and a yellow glow. “Face front again.” Connor turned back to face the officer and the bright light rotated around his head, creating a 3D replica of even the most inconspicuous of features on his face. He looked at the replica. He blinked and the digital face blinked with him. The bright light finally shut off and left a now-unblinking holographic head that slowly rotated on the screen and displayed his name, age, sex, and offense.”Connor Holwood, 21 years old, male, accused of assault with a deadly weapon.” The officer came into view, a trim young woman with a shaved head, her black uniform like a glove on her body, a silver belt containing her weapons standing out in bright contrast. “You’re awfully cute for a troublemaker,” she said in a patronizing voice, “what did you do? What got into your head?”Connor stayed completely silent and just stared straight ahead. The officer approached him and stood right in his face to make sure he made eye contact.”You stabbed that boy twelve times. It’s a miracle he made it through, but his parents took him to Pash Ahash so he’ll be just fine. Unfortunately for you, that still constitutes a crime. You could be facing a life sentence in here, k**.””You could send me to Pash Ahash, too. Seems that’s where all of life’s problems get carried away.””Okay, wise guy, let’s go.” She gave him a nudge and pushed him towards the white doors that parted automatically without a sound to let them through. They walked together along the brightly lit corridor, faces looking out at them from behind the impenetrable glass. Some of them simply looked away, but Connor noticed that a few of them seemed to be studying him rather seriously. He turned away and hurried up his steps to catch up to the officer, who hadn’t broke strides to look at the inmates in their cages.”Here you are, troublemaker.” The glass before one of the cells vanished and Connor stepped inside his new cell. In the corner, a bed was pushed up against the wall and in the other corner was a toilet and what looked like a black dinner plate laying on the floor. “Electro shower,” explained the woman behind him. “All you do is step on the circle and the computer does the rest. When you’re in there the glass will opaque so passerbys can’t see you, but the guards will so don’t do anything stupid or they’ll have you sedated.””What’s your name?” Connor realized it was a trivial detail, but he also knew that he needed to make it known that some parts of his body still had their humanity. He knew what he had done was wrong, that he could have painted an entire canvas with the blood he’d drawn and still have some leftover for an autograph, but he also knew he had no desire to waste away in these cells and spend his life, and youth, wondering what could have been if life had been fairer to him. He turned to see that his police escort was giving him a calculated, yet quizzical, look. It was as though she was deciding whether to answer or to give him a good hit. Fortunately for him, she chose the former.”You can call me Officer Tris.” She gave him a smirk and shook her head.” Lot’s of luck, troublemaker. You’ll be here until you’re called to trial.”When Connor woke up he could swear that the rotating bright light had come back to find him, and he’d discover that he had never left the prison. He shielded his eyes from the light and squinted, looking around. The bright whites of the room were reflecting the sunlight as it streamed through the all-glass exterior walls. He looked around and couldn’t find any curtains or blinds, anything to help with the enormous glare.”Too bright, too fucking bright.” Connor grumbled and pulled the covers over his face. He could hear a quiet whirring and could almost feel the light decreasing so he tentatively pulled the covers away from his face. The previously transparent glass had turned a soft grey, adding a tint to the room and turning the offensive shine into a pleasant natural light. Connor nodded to himself in silent appreciation and stretched his neck and shoulders, looking around the room with fresh eyes. The white flowers had been replaced with a set of bright blue flowers, which caught his eye immediately. Their petals rustled silently in the currents from the silent air conditioning unit, which Connor had traced up to the glass of the ceiling.It was a long few minutes before he sat up, fully expecting to be sore and tired, but he was surprised by how energized he felt, his body free from the usual aches and pains. He swung his legs out of bed and sprung to his feet, stretching his arms over his head and feeling the satisfying tension in his back melt away. He walked over to the tinted panes of glass and looked down at the sweeping grounds below. In stark contrast to the hyper modern look, the grounds below were an expanse of lush green grass and elaborate gardens, flowers of many colors in beautiful arrangements all around. Connor turned to make his way around and slipped slightly on a sheer fabric he wasn’t previously aware of. He realized he was wearing a sheer red robe and matching pants of the same fabric, elaborate embroidery decorating the trim and edges and falling down to the ground and a little beyond to form a tiny train.”Do you like it?” A simple question came from the doorway and Connor lurched forward in surprise.”You scared me,” he said unnecessarily. Rider was wearing a purple suit that day with a feather behind his ear, the same black hairstyle looking like a wig, and a smile.”Not my intention, I assure you. I did take the liberty of changing your clothing. I hope it’s to your liking.””It’s weird,” said Connor honestly, “like wearing something and nothing at the same time.” He turned in place, trying to get a glimpse of the back of his clothing while Rider laughed.”That is the point, for you to look pretty. You’re feeling much better today, it seems, so I’ll give you a tour of the house and explain your rules.” When Connor gave him an angry look, Rider continued to look unapologetic. “Connor, little dear, we can be friends and I hope that we will be. These are just the rules of your life now. I didn’t draft you here, you ended up in this place of your own design. You can either make life hard or you can enjoy it. Life can be lucrative and comfortable for you, or you can be cold and bitter and miserable. It’s your choice.””Just show me the house,” said Connor dully, folding his arms tightly across his chest. “Anything to eat here?” He’d suddenly realized exactly how hungry he was, and wasn’t about to spend the rest of the day feeling a crippling hunger pain with his mouth watering and his throat dry in a house that he knew was more than capable of providing.”Of course, you must be hungry. This way,” Rider gestured towards the door he’d come through, an open space in a vast expanse of glass.”Any chance of some more clothes?””Your master’s specifically chosen that for you.” Rider disappeared down the hall and Connor made the split decision that being fed was much more important than preserving any false modesty and he ran a few steps to chase after Rider.The house was just as interesting outside of his room as it was inside. The glass walls seemed to be capable of turning essentially invisible and then becoming an opaque black. Rider lead him into an enormous kitchen, every part of which was shining black, including the cushions on the chairs and the surface of the table itself.”Sit, little Connor, and I’ll bring you something to eat.” Automatically, Connor sat in one of the empty seats at the table and propped his elbows on the surface to watch Rider, fully expecting him to do something besides stand there, but he didn’t. Before he could ask a single question, a pretty girl in a black catsuit rushed in and began to prepare breakfast. Connor stared at her and she busied around while Rider took a seat besides Connor. “That’s Linny, our chef. Anytime you wish for something in the kitchen that needs to be prepared, you’ll ask Linny to help you. If it’s something you can just grab from the pantries or the fridge, take it. Touch the cabinets or the refrigerator to see an inventory so you can pick what you would like.””Are all the rooms like this? Glassy and screen-y and technological?””Of course,” said Rider nonchalantly. “Every room is designed to optimize the comfort of the resident.””Great.” Connor folded his arms over his chest and turned his attention back to Linny, who was fastidiously continuing with her cooking and not sparing another glance for Rider and Connor.”Your master has a present for you.” Rider set a plush red box on the table before Connor who frowned.”What is it?” He took the box and opened it, drawing out a black chain with what looked like a square black pendant dangling on it.”That will enable you to get around the house. It also serves as your identification and will allow you to go into town and shop at the stores you are able to.””This is a tracking bracelet,” said Connor in an accusatory tone, dangling the necklace off of his finger and giving Rider a dark look.”You’ll need it if you want to go anywhere or do anything, so I suggest you put it on.” Connor wanted to protest, but instead he gritted his teeth and put the necklace on, being sure to stare Rider directly in the eyes as he did so.No sooner had the clasp fastened and the pendant settled against his neck, Connor felt a sharp pain in the front and back of his neck. He snapped his head down just in time to see his skin turning red as the pendant he thought to have been harmless pierced his skin around the perimeter, securing itself not just against his skin, but sinking inside of the first layer of skin to lay completely flush with his flesh.”What the fuck is that?!” Connor yelled in a panic, trying both to sit up and run backwards at the same time, tripping over the chair and falling over the frame, wincing in combined pain from the fall and the new addition to his skin.”As I said, that is your identification. And it cannot be removed by anybody but Lord Sensir.”There was an angry silence at the breakfast table that day. Rider calmly ate the dish that Linny had placed before him, reading the daily news on the surface of the glass table. Connor, on the other hand, was angrily stabbing portions of his food while glaring at Rider with as much hatred and anger has he could muster up into his gaze.”Don’t look at me like that, little Connor,” said Rider without turning his head, “this is a situation entirely of your own design. If you were considered more trustworthy as to not remove a form of identification then you might have been permitted to go without the implant.””Don’t even talk to me right now.” Connor spat out his words and clenched his fork tightly in his hand. The lack of a reaction from Rider made him angrier than he had been and he shot to his feet, sending the chair flying backwards and clattering to the ground. Rider sighed and stood himself, the heel of his boots allowing him to stand taller than Connor did in his bare feet.”Don’t make an embarrassment of yourself.” Rider righted the chair and picked up a napkin, wiping Connor’s face clean and then staring him directly in the eyes. “This is your life now. As I said before, I can make it comfortable or miserable for you. Now I suggest that you pull yourself together and act in a more dignified fashion before I have to inflict punishment on you.””You should just be grateful I don’t strangle you with this bathrobe.””I’ll keep that in mind,” Rider smiled placidly at Connor then clapped his hands together. “Let’s get you dressed. This is your first day awake with your new owner, you should look good and proper.” He took Connor’s hand in his own to lead him along and Connor yanked his hand free and slapped Rider across the face with an indignant look.Before he could even think of being apologetic, Rider had shoved him to the ground, jamming his knee into Connor’s throat, hand grabbing at his hair. Struggling to breathe, the pain in his chest from the implant flaring up, Connor tried to wriggle free but Rider held him fast and he could feel a coolness creeping through his veins, holding him still and docile, despite his attempts to fight back. He swore to himself as he realized the sensation was coming from the implanted device.”Connor, you should never test me. I’ll treat you with the level of trust and respect I think you deserve.” With that he gave Connor another hard jab in the throat before standing up and releasing his prey. As soon as he was free, Connor rolled over coughing and gasping for breath, slowly pushing himself back onto his feet as the cold crept away. This time when Rider put his arm around his shoulders he only offered a slight jerk of resistance before allowing himself to be lead back to the room he was going to become intimately familiar with, doing everything he could to keep the burning rage in his stomach from boiling over again. He was outmatched and he knew that, and his own acknowledgement made him angrier than anything else.”While you’re still new here you’ll be wearing a uniform. Once we can trust you to behave without supervision then you’ll be given regular clothing.” Rider was lining up sets of identical black clothing on the bed, a pair of black pants, black boots, and several black tank tops with an accompanying jacket. All of which were made out of a material that Connor would have thought to be leather, but when he went and picked up one of the shirts he figured out it was something much more expensive and luxurious than standard leather. The fabric was malleable and soft, yet had a toughness he couldn’t explain.”That is pure latoric cloth. It adjusts to the temperature as well, so be careful with it.” Rider set a few pairs of socks on the bed as well and then went over to the large wall of glass that was the windows, tapping a control panel to allow in more light. Without another word Rider turned and left, closing the door to leave Connor alone with his thoughts.Connor sat down on the bed in his flimsy, almost pointless red clothes and surveyed the room around him. Anyone else in another situation would be happy to be in a house that was clearly the labor of generations of wealth, handed clothing made out of the most exclusive of fabrics, and allowed free reign of the staff of the home as well, but all Connor wanted to do was rip off what he was wearing and run himself back to the prison and turn himself back in, apologize that it was all a mistake and he should never have signed on for this deranged program, but instead he found himself slowly dressing in the all-black clothing that had been set out on the bed for him. Every single article fit him perfectly, of course, but he couldn’t enjoy the comfort.”I’m trapped,” he said aloud to nobody. He stood in the impersonal white room, made the physical manifestation of the black hopelessness that was starting to settle around him. He sat on the bed with the intention of tying his shoes, but as soon as he’d sat he found himself collapsed on his side, knees to his chest, sobbing uncontrollably at what his life had become, and what he had done to himself. He gripped his hair and dug his nails into his skin, feeling the hot tears rushing down his face and he hoped beyond all hope that nobody was watching.It was pitch black by the time Connor opened his eyes again, feeling sore and sick. He sat up slowly and blinked several times to get his head to stop spinning.”Light,” he croaked through a dry throat, and a dim glow illuminated the room. Across the room he caught sight of his reflection and had to admit that he looked horrid. His skin was pale, his eyes were red, and his hair looked like it had been through a hurricane. He coughed a bit to try and clear his throat and stretched his arms to energize himself, but all he really felt like doing was going back to sleep and falling further into the bottomless pit of emptiness that he’d climbed into that morning, but Rider interrupted the fall by bustling into the room with what looked like a bowl of noodles and a glass of water.”You’re awake, which is good. I thought I’d have to wake you before Lord Sensir returned home.” He put the bowl in Connor’s lap and pressed the glass into his hand before assessing his charge. “You’re a mess, Connor, and there’s not much time. Eat quickly, drink, and brush your hair at least and give your face a splash and then come downstairs.” Rider gave Connor’s hair a few unsatisfying brushes with his fingers before shaking his head and leaving.The bowl of noodles promptly went on a side table, as Connor wasn’t in much of a mood to eat. He poured some of the water in his hands and roughly washed his face with his fingers, combed his hair with his still-damp hands, and then went downstairs without giving his reflection another glance.Rider was standing at the ready with his portable screen and two maids stood at the door, prepared to spring at any time. Rider gestured for him to come join, so Connor went to stand besides him.”What are we waiting for?””Lord Sensir is a very busy man,” Rider explained while he flipped rapidly through screens on his tablet, “it’s our job to help him any way that we can so we’re ready to greet him when the driver tells us he’s entered the neighborhood.” Connor snuck a glance at Rider’s work and saw lists of everything from appointments to contacts to people working in the house. He even thought he saw his own name, but it was gone in a second.The quiet yet pleasant hum of an expensive craft approached the door and the two maids instantly stood taller. The sharply-dressed butler opened the door smoothly and bowed.”Welcome home, Lord Sensir.”At first glance, Connor didn’t find this man who was to be his master to be anything to be afraid of, or impressed by. He wore gloves of a deep plum color that matched the cloak he was wearing over the black suit that was revealed when the maid approached and whisked the cloak away. He took off his gloves and handed them to the second maid before wordlessly removing his shoes and stepping inside, causing Connor to u*********sly take a step backwards to make room. Sensir had long, flowing black hair and skin that reminded Connor of coffee with cream, but what stood him apart was a pair of alert green eyes that were looking directly at Connor, causing him to feel more self conscious than anything else.”Come with me, Connor.” Sensir walked past the waiting cluster and gestured briefly with his hand that he was to be followed. Rider poked Connor in the back with a surprisingly strong finger and he jumped. Giving Rider an irritated look over his shoulder, he followed Sensir down the hallways and up a set of stairs he hadn’t seen beforehand. When they arrived at the top of the stairs and the lights turned out, he stared around in awe.The room was plush and decadent, filled with priceless art, gorgeous furniture, and an assortment of technological marvels that he’d got a glimpse of downstairs. While he lurked uncomfortably in the doorway, Sensir had made his way to his closet and was undressing without looking back at Connor. Connor immediately turned and headed over to examine a case of intricately made knives.”So, Connor,” said Sensir in a surprisingly soft voice, “how are you?” Connor turned to answer and immediately turned right back when he realized his companion was completely naked, though the artist in him did take note that Sensir had a long, lean body and was not aesthetically displeasing.”I’m fine,” Connor lied, picking up a dagger with a crystal blade and turning it over in his palms.”You’re lying.” The response came immediately and Connor found himself narrowing his eyes.”What, would you want to be in my place?””No,” Sensir pulled on a robe and tied it at the waist before approaching Connor, whose back was still turned. “But you are in this situation. What is it that makes you so unhappy to be here?” Connor felt a warm hand on his shoulder and suddenly the tension seemed to slide away, at least a little. “Come, sit,” Sensir guided him with a gentle command to sit on one of the plush couches, covering his lap with a soft, warm throw and taking a seat besides him. Connor pulled the throw up to his shoulders and shrugged. The more he thought, the less it seemed like his brain was willing to work with him, like his thoughts kept grinding into each other like incompatible gears. He felt himself grinding his teeth in frustration and tugging at the blanket.”Relax, you’re okay here.” Connor felt his grip being loosened from the blanket, and gentle fingers brushing the hair from his face. “Not to worry. All you need to do here is be yourself, Connor, and let me see who you really are.” Connor made a face at that enigmatic statement and looked Sensir directly in the eyes.”Why? What would that do for you?””If I like you then I’ll keep you,” Sensir said simply before gently pulling Connor’s head to rest on his shoulder. “But while you’re here don’t worry about anything. I’ve got it under control.”Connor had a small desire inside him to argue. How could he say it would be okay without really knowing? Why should he trust somebody who spent money to acquire him? But he didn’t have the energy to argue yet. The soothing feeling of his hair being brushed through with Sensir’s fingers was calming to him, and the heat and the comfort was making him tired again from the long, emotionally stressful day.”Don’t worry about a thing,” the whispered words so close to his forehead sent a slight shiver down his spine. Instead of flinching or running away, Connor found himself relaxing more into the arms of the authoritative man who soothed him. And before he knew it himself, he was slipping away into a much calmer, much more peaceful sleep, but not without a parting thought to himself.What’s happening to me?”Connor. Connor, wake up. Connor!” The voice was swimming through a haze and Connor struggled to open his eyes to see Rider’s face coming into focus.”Where am I?” Connor blurted out immediately as he looked around in confusion at the strange new room, taking in the tapestry, art, throw pillows, and various artifacts and antiques before he remembered he was in Sensir’s room, though Sensir was nowhere to be found.”Lord Sensir said to let you sleep, but he left already. But it’s time for you to get up and get moving.””I’m so tired,” Connor sighed as he sat up and rubbed his face.”The d**gs are still working out of your system. You should start feeling sharper and more like yourself soon.” Rider smiled at Connor and took him by the hand, pulling him to his feet. “In the meantime, we’ll do what we can with you. Now, Lord Sensir won’t be back until late tonight,” Rider consulted the slim tablet in his hands, “so you’re free to do as you like. I can send you into town if you want to explode.””Cigarettes.” Connor said bluntly, rubbing his eyes.”I bet your pardon?””Cigarettes!” Connor barked out in irritation, more than likely from the realization that he had been out of them for a very long time.Rider crinkled his nose. “Why would you smoke those terrible things when we have the shisha pipe?” He gestured to a long, slim, shining silver pipe that looked more like a baton or a flute of sorts. “Any flavors or sensations you like are available and it’s much cleaner, much more classic.””I want cigarettes.” Connor spoke with the same stubbornness of a c***d and even folded his arms. Rider noticed his stance and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.”Alright, Connor, if you say so. I’ll send you to Black Alley, that’s a street of shops and businesses that all allow in unaccompanied slaves.””I need money.” Connor ignored the latter atakum escort part of the sentence and nodded his head.”Any business will scan that chip on your chest and we will be billed for your expenses. That being said, be reasonable.””What’s reasonable?” Connor stood and stretched his arms over his head to try and pull away any remaining tension from sleeping in a strange place.”Reasonable is reasonable, Connor,” Rider glanced over, “don’t be excessive.””So this thing,” Connor tapped his nails against his newest body modification, “is basically an ID card and a pay account all in one?””That and more.” Rider gave Connor a smile and then looked down at the slim black screen that Connor was speculating was secretly fused to Rider’s sleeves. “I’ll have to driver come to get you.””I can walk, you know,” Connor said rudely, following Rider down the stairs and adjusting yesterday’s black clothes to look like he hadn’t slept in them.”It’s about 5 miles away, Connor, sweetheart, you will be driven.” Rider turned and smiled at Connor and adjusted his own glasses. “Now go to your room and freshen up. I’ve put a towel for you to wash your face by the sink and purchased you a hairbrush specifically for long hair. Then change into fresh clothes and get your shoes. The driver will meet you outside the front door.””It’s bright outside, though.” Connor made his way into his room and to the adjoining bathroom, which, he noticed for the first time, was also comprised of the same glass that made up the entire house. Except for, he’d noted, Sensir’s room, which seemed to have more traditional walls. “Okay, is there some privacy here?” Before he’d even finished his sentence the bathroom walls had gone opaque and allowed Connor to strip in peace while Rider talked at him through the door, though he wasn’t really paying attention.For the first time since embarking on the strange journey that ended him in Sensir’s home, Connor took a look at himself full in the mirror. The tattoos he’d got during his late teen years were completely gone, as was every scar, pimple, blemish, and mark that he’d accumulated over the years of falling down, crashing a car, and running into doors instead of paying attention. Years of dying his hair brown, black, and everything between had disguised the fact that he was a natural blonde, and the long strands of hair falling down his back were almost a surprise to him. He combed his hair through with his own fingers feeling the healthy, smooth texture instead of the crunch of badly-treated hair. What impressed him the most, though, was the condition his body was in. The bulk of the muscles he’d got during his years of gym regiments was gone and had left behind a lean, toned build beneath the newly treated skin. He studied his reflection like he might study a stranger, awed in the best way how he’d managed to turn out.”Connor, honey, you okay in there?” Rider’s rapping on the door and the voice snapped him back to reality and Connor dressed quickly, roughly brushed out his hair and then emerged. “You were in there an awful long time, everything okay?””Just looking. Hadn’t seen myself since I left prison.” “Ahhhhh,” Rider sighed with a smile, “must be a shock. May I just say that you look beautiful now?””Can we just go?””Well, if that’s your attitude about it, come along.” Rider lead Connor back through the house to the front door, stopping him to put on a pair of what looked like ordinary, but chic, sunglasses on Connor’s face.”Nice. I can dig it.” Connor took the glasses off to see them clearer and gave a nod of approval before putting them back on.”They are also SmartGlas. Touch the sensor on the lefthand stem to activate it. Once the screen is active you can make and take calls, read and compose messages, view maps, and analyze data as well as access the database and internet.””Okay,” Connor nodded seriously and held up his hands to Rider. “But, tell me this, and this is very important.””Yes? Yes, what is it?” Rider stood up taller to look more authoritative.”Will they, “Connor paused, “protect my eyes from the sun?”Rider sighed in agitation and opened the door. “Just go get your nasty smokes. Don’t be gone too late, you should be home and dressed for Lord Sensir when he arrives home. I will contact you when he has left the office. It takes about thirty minutes for him to arrive at the house after that. If you leave when I contact you then you should be here and ready in time.” Outside on the white walking path was the silently hovering craft. “The driver knows where to go. Just tell him you need Black Alley.” With that, Rider pushed Connor out the door and closed it before anything else could be said.Connor approached the craft and looked for a door. He raised his hand to feel for a handle, and a door slid open seamlessly, allowing him to climb straight in.”Umm Black Alley, please.” The door slid shut and a voice called out from the front.”Of course. My name is Edwin. If you need to go anywhere, just come and find me.”Connor nodded his head to acknowledge he had heard what was said, but he was mesmerized by the interior. The whole interior of the craft was red velvet and black leather trim. There was enough room on the ground for him to lie down comfortably and not worry about hitting anything. A screen was ready to play music or movies, whatever the viewer was in the mood for. A shining silver handle prompted Connor to tug on it to reveal wine, liquor, and some light foods. He lay back in the seat further to look out the window and realized that the back of the seat was reclining.”This is nice,” he said aloud.”Isn’t it? A prototype model from the company, if I remember, a gift from the owner to Lord Sensir from the head of the Luxe Travel Company.””How fast does this thing go?” Connor crawled up to the glass that separated him from Edwin to hear better.”Well, we have to follow the city laws here,” Edwin explained with a brief glance backwards, “but if you were to take this outside of the city or the open air tracks, I think we could easily reach speeds of four hundred miles an hour.””Is there ever a real reason to go that fast?””Well, if you’re doing state or country travel privately,” Edwin replied cheerily. “But for now we’re going at about a hundred. That’ll get you right to Black Alley in about ten minutes. Well, from the house, we’re almost there. Have a look outside, take a look at Enodi.”Connor leaned over to look out the window as they entered the city. People were milling about in expensive, elaborate clothes. Shop windows displaying their goods were everywhere, interspersed with cafes, bars, restaurants, and all sorts of service salons. He saw c***dren playing in a toy shop, women getting their hair intricately coiffed, and men talking with the same shisha pipes that Connor had seen in Sensir’s room, though at a much more practical size. He also took notice of people turning to look with interest at the craft as it passed.”This is the leisure district. Shopping, dining, all of that,” Edwin explained and then pointed to the tops of some taller buildings in the background. “That over there is the finance district. Businesses, banks, all sorts of things.””Is that where Sensir works?””Lord Sensir? Yes,” Edwin nodded.”What does he do, exactly?” Connor came back to the privacy barrier.”Lord Sensir is the heir to the Sehla Tea Company. Their corporate offices are in the finance district.” Edwin turned to face Connor fully. “We’re here. Just go into that store there,” he pointed at a convenience store, ” and go out the back door to the Black Alley entrance.” The door that had vanished reappeared again and the noise of the street swept into the craft.”So how do I let you know when I want to leave?””Touch the sensor and tell it to call me and I’ll come get you.” Connor gave Edwin a node and then hopped out of the craft onto the pavement, suddenly aware of the people who were staring at him. He looked around at a few of the people and then did his best to ignore their curiosity as he headed into the convenience store.The blast of cold air was a refreshing change from the heat of the outdoors. The store was small and cramped, but clean and brightly lit. Connor made his way to the counter and looked at the clerk who was towering over him.”What can I do for you? You must be new. I’m Mike.” Red hair, freckles, bulging muscles, and a enormous smile accompanied this man named Mike. Connor shook his hand and then shrugged his shoulders.”I’m Connor, new, and I need smokes. Like yesterday.”Mike laughed heartily and Connor would have sworn that the shelves shook with the force. “Right then, what’s your choice?””Black Ribbons back home, but anything similar’s fine.””Need a light? Something tells me so.” Mike didn’t even wait for a response, he just put the pack and the lighter down on the counter and then touched Connor’s identification plate with his finger which was glowing at the tip. Connor saw that each of Mike’s fingers had the same glow.”Sensors,” Mike explained with a grin. “Lets me scan anyone. Any shop worth shopping at’s got one at the ready. In Black Alley, at least.””What do the rich people use?””They carry their ID chips on them. Not in them or anything like that.” Mike handed Connor his purchase and sat on a small stool that was almost too small for him. “So what else are you looking for here? First time in Black Alley, I bet.””Yeah. A drink would be nice.””There’s a bar right across the street. No smoking inside that one, too many fires, but you can get your fancy there.””Thanks,” Connor’s fingers were itching for the strike of the lighter and the satisfaction of the cigarette. “See you around.””Come again, then!” Connor closed the door on Mike, lit his cigarette, and exhaled in satisfaction as the cheap nicotine hit his veins and the smoke filled his lungs. Pure bliss, for the first time in a long time. While he enjoyed the first cigarette in what felt like an eternity, Connor looked around the alley. He’d been picturing a dark, dingy place with cobblestones for paving, but he was surprised to see a clean strip of shops and businesses and a fair amount of slaves walking around, some in groups. A group of girls sat outside of a cafe drinking some odd colored soda, laughing loudly. Through the window the bar he could see several groups inside talking or watching something on a large screen. Some of them wore street clothes, some wore the same uniform he wore, all of them had their ID chips visible, on lanyards or necklaces, some also had theirs in their skin. A good handful that he saw of the slaves had metallic tattoos on their upper arms and shoulders and Connor made a note to find out about them.”Gimme one of them, would you?” A finger snapped by his shoulder and then poked him. He turned around to snap at whoever had interrupted him and was met by a confident smile and a pair of folded arms boasting shining silver tattoos of intricate designs. The girl before him was wearing a tight black jumpsuit to show off her arms, tattoos, and her chest, her green hair tied back in an impossibly high ponytail and she was, Connor had to admit to himself, extremely attractive. She had green eyes and an aura of mischief to her. “My name’s Sidella, everyone calls me Ella. C’mon, share.””That’s a way of introducing yourself.” Connor said with a sideways glance, though he did fish out a cigarette for Ella and handed it to her, lighting it when she leaned in.”Ah-hah,” she said with a grin, “but you’ll remember it. So what’s your name?””Connor,” he replied, still looking the newcomer up and down. She was shorter than he was, but she was standing with her hand resting on her jutted hip as she smoked. “So, do you normally just go up to strangers and make demands?””No, I normally go up to strangers and just take things.” Connor’s raised eyebrows must have said a lot because she laughed. “I’m k**ding, Connor. I’ve been here a long time and I know just about everyone. I like it when I see new people.””How long you been here? And where d’you live?””President Lochlan and his family own me. Owned me since I was fifteen and I’ve been with them twenty years.”Connor’s eyes widened, “you’re fucking k**ding me. No way you’re in your thirties, you’re a teenager.””Rich people have ways of keeping themselves and their slaves looking young and pretty and healthy, remember that. Don’t take anyone here at face value. Literally.” She snickered a bit at her own joke, which Connor ignored since he hadn’t found it funny in the slightest.”Does everyone keep their slaves long as you?”Ella blew out a steady stream of smoke and shook her head. “That depends. Some families really love their slaves and keep them for years. Others get tired of the ones they have and that’s that.” She sighed and shrugged her shoulders with a faraway look for about a fraction of a second before she turned back to Connor. “Well, thanks for the cigarette. How about a drink? Least I can do is buy you a drink to welcome you and show my gratitude.””Why are you running?” The rain was still pouring down in great sheets and hitting the ground with alarming crackles of sound that drowned out just about everything else, but Connor heard the words cut through the noise like a knife and spun around, almost tripping over the soaking wet hem of his pants. There was Sensir, alone before him, the fabric of his shirt clinging to the definition of his chest, black hair plastered against his skin. He wore no gloves, no cloak, no shoes, he just stood before Connor with the same calm he brought with him everywhere as though it wasn’t raining at all. “Connor,” he said again, “why are you running?””I got lost,” Connor shouted, pointlessly wiping the rain out of his eyes and shaking his hands. He shivered in the cold and wrapped his arms around himself. “I couldn’t find my way back!” He bent over slightly, trying to capture as much warmth from his body as he could, trying to move but feeling paralyzed instead. “I got lost,” he repeated, almost to himself.Connor felt a hand take one of his own, an arm circling around his back, and then he was pressed against Sensir’s strong body and a sudden wave of warmth washed over him like a spell. He was suddenly aware of the back of his hand as Sensir’s thumb rubbed over the skin there, warming it, and it was like the rain had stopped and it was just the two of them in an infinite space made of black glass. Even when I’m frozen I feel his warmth. He tilted his head back to look up at Sensir for just a moment before pressing closer against him and kissing hard, arching his back to close any gaps between himself and Sensir. He kissed him with an almost desperation, feeling Sensir pulling away all of his control and he just stood, helplessly bound, against his master while the storm crashed around them.”You aren’t a virgin, are you?””Of course not!” Connor snapped, turning to face Sensir as he lounged on the couch, leisurely smoking from the silver hookah pipe. He felt his face flare up red when Sensir merely gave him a placid smile. “I’m not a virgin at all, stop thinking weird shit.””You’re the one acting strange,” Sensir pointed out, breathing out a small cloud of pink smoke. He took off his glasses and set them on a little table along with the tablet he had been using to work and stretched his arms over his head, causing his robe to fall open, which Connor noticed immediately, though he’d tell himself he didn’t see the exposed muscles that moved beneath brown skin like currents in a river. “Come sit with me.” Sensir sat up from where he had been stretched out on the couch to make room for Connor, who did his level best to sit as far away as possible. “Closer, Connor,” came the instruction and he moved to sit besides Sensir, aware that his heart was beating as though he’d been running. He felt the gentle touch of Sensir’s fingers on his cheek as his hair was played with. “Who are you, Connor? And why do you intrigue me so?””I’m me. You read my file, you know who I am,” Connor said dismissively, eyeing the fingers from the corner of his vision. He was so focused on Sensir’s hand that he didn’t notice how close they’d become as Sensir had leaned in close to him. He felt Sensir’s warm breath on his ear and shivered, though it had nothing to do with the cold and he was suddenly feeling very hot.”You interest me, Connor. I’m going to find out why even if you won’t help me.” Connor closed his eyes and shivered again as the soft lips brushed against the sensitive skin of his ear, slowly moving their way down with barely felt kisses along his jaw down to his neck. He sucked in a breath when he felt Sensir pause and immediately let it out in a quiet moan as Sensir began to kiss his neck with slow determination, and Connor let his head fall back to expose his skin further. He’d had a mind to protest, but the kisses and touches were like an addictive drink and he wanted more.”Mmm-I, ah!” Words vanished as Sensir slid his hand under Connor’s shirt and along his chest until they reached the now-firm peak of his nipple, gently stroking the sensitive skin in a circle, pressing his lips harder against Connor’s neck, fingers squeezing his nipple. Connor felt his breath getting heavier, his arousal laboring his breath, his erection pressing against the tightness of his pants. Sensir had never been so forceful or erotic with him before, but it was like his body had been trained in its responses. He felt disappointment when the hand fell away from his chest.”I know you want release,” the words came from Sensir’s lips still pressed against his now tender skin, “but you need to ask for it. I’ve been patient with you by waiting, but now you have to fulfill your end.” Connor clenched his jaw and stared at Sensir in disbelief, breathing heavily through the cloud of his own lust. Before he could forumate a thought in a remotely human language, Sensir let his hand settle on Connor’s loins, giving a light and firm squeeze to the swollen shaft in its cloth prison and Connor groaned, lips parting to suck in more air. “I know you want it. All you have to do is ask.”The banquet hall was full of the traditional chatter and buzz as the hopeful families dined with their eligible sons and daughters at their side, wondering who would ask for whom and when it would happen. It had been several days of balls and parties and socials and yet there had not been a single engagement.From his place at the head table with all of the eligible young bachelors and bachelorettes, Sensir could see the crowd easily. He saw his own parents with their heads bent in to their fellow diners, presumably gossipping about who would be engaged and who wouldn’t, and what prospects they wanted most for him, their son, their one and only son. “Sick, isn’t it?” Laehn spoke up besides him with a grin. Laehn’s hand wandered down and squeezed at Sensir’s knee beneath the elaborate tablecloth and, in such tight quarters, there was no escape. Laehn leaned in close, dramatically, to whisper to Sensir. “Let’s run away, you and I. We could be happy without this.” Sensir said nothing and instead took another bite of his food, even though his appetite had all but abandoned him. He could feel Laehn’s disappointment and was doing his best to ignore it. “We’ll leave this bullshit behind. If you won’t make the move, then I will.””No, don’t-!” Sensir knocked over several plates and a glass trying to grab Laehn, but he wasn’t quick enough. Laehn was already on his feet, tapping his glass with his fork and the entire hall fell silent as the crowd waited with bated breath for the announcement of the first engagement request.”I, Earl Laehn Solverik, would like to make a formal engagement request.” Sensir felt his entire heart sinking and his hands shook where they were clenched tightly in his lap. “I would like to formally request that I be permitted to enter into an engagement with the Lord Sensir.”The entire room fell silent in shock. Silverware was dropped, mouths popped open, and a panicked quiet snaked through the hall. Everybody looked at Laehn and Sensir where they were, Laehn standing confident, Sensir sitting frozen, waiting for a response. Laehn turned and looked at Sensir for an answer and Sensir thought, for sure, that time had stopped.HConnor shrugged his shoulders and nodded, squishing the cigarette underneath his new boots. “Sure,” he said with yet another shrug, “I’m always game for a drink.” He looked over at Ella and followed her swishing green hair as it disappeared through the doors of the bar.The bar was dark inside, as most good bars are, and it took a minute for his eyes to adjust from the bright light outside. Once he did he was pleasantly surprised. There were no surprises, no weird additions, just a traditional bar. A wooden bar and booths at tables, stools at the bar, a few TVs around, and some clusters here and there of people enjoying food, drinks, and whatever happened to be on the TV. It felt, finally, like he had found somewhere where he could be normal. He joined Ella at one of the barstools and surveyed the selection.”Well, whatever you want, but you’re having a Goo shot first.””What in the hell is a Goo shot?” Connor snapped back immediately with a faint look of disgust on his face. “Sounds like some bodily fluid congealed.” “Almost,” laughed the bartender as he came over, extending his hand towards Connor who shook it, noticing that he, too, had the metallic tattoos on his arms, but his were golden. “Aki, nice to meet you…?””Connor.””Connor! A Goo shot is a combination of a jello shot and some other things to make a gloopy alcoholic mess.” Aki laughed and shook his head, “one of the many horrible and awesome creations that have come out of this place.” Aki laughed, Ella joined him, and Connor found himself smiling for the first time in a while.”You do smile!” Ella clapped her hands as Aki got to work. “We’ll have you laughing, soon, good. I thought you were broken at first.””Not broken-“”Just new.” Ella nodded her head knowingly and gave Connor a kind smile. “Everybody’s new here sometime, you’ll get used to it. Just have to stick around long enough to find that rhythm.””Stick around?” Connor took the so-called Goo shot and looked inside the glass to investigate its contents.”Before that, here’s to you!” Aki raised his glass and Ella followed suit so Connor lifted his own and clinked them all together, following the lead of his new companions. Aki and Ella both immediately downed their shots so, without pausing to consider the contents, Connor did the same. The shot tasted like watermelon fresh from the patches, a pretty nice surprise.”So?””Aki, I’ll hand it to you. Looked like snot, but tasted great. Can I get a beer, though? No more surprises for me today.” Aki chuckled and shook his head, though he did bring down a glass and head to the taps. “So, who’s your owner?” Ella asked as Aki set Connor’s beer on the counter, leaning against the bar to listen to the story.”Uhh Sensir, Lord Sensir. Why?” Aki and Ella had taken on twin expressions of surprise at the mention of Sensir’s name. Connor picked up his beer and sipped at it, preparing for his answer.”Sensir tends to go through them,” Aki said, “slaves, I mean. Rumor has it that he gets bored of them. I have no idea what it is, but they just don’t hang his attention. Weird, though, he’s never had a guy for a slave. They’ve all been girls.” Aki gave Connor what was supposed to be a friendly smile, but Connor’s good humor from the moments before was gone.”Never had a guy? That makes sense, I guess most people get different sex people. But what was so boring about these chicks that he just got rid of them? He doesn’t seem like an abandoner.””Connor,” Aki said honestly, leaning forwards to talk more openly, “no matter what, you have to remember that you have to make yourself invaluable to your owner before they’ll go to any lengths to keep you. Take Ella, she’s been with her family twenty years. Me? They pay my bills and keep my shop for me even though I don’t live with my family anymore and I was with them fifty years. But if I were to mess up royally the first few months I had been with them they would’ve just got rid of me.””So you’re saying they made mistakes.””He’s saying, ” interrupted Ella, “that you have to work hard to make your owner realize that they need you around. Otherwise, if you don’t give them a reason you should stay, they won’t keep you.””So, what, you have to just kiss ass all around?””That’s not what we’re saying,” Ella paused to take a drink from Connor’s beer, “what we’re saying is that sometimes slaves think that just being bought is enough. It isn’t. You have to find out why they bought you and make them realize that’s reason enough. You know? Like if you got a toy and the toy broke almost immediately then would you fix it? Or just replace it? If it was your absolute favorite, or had sentimental value, you’d fix it.”Connor didn’t answer immediately. He looked at his beer and tapped his fingers against the surface of the bar, deep in thought. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be let go. He would’ve paid his dues, done his time, and would be able to go back to his old life.What life? he asked himself. He’d been arrested and thrown in jail, his record was marred, his grades were worse, and he hadn’t accomplished anything that would move him up in life. On the other hand, staying would mean forever being under somebody’s thumb, no matter how much the concept of freedom was thrown in his face.”I can’t win,” Connor said aloud, rubbing his face. Without thinking he pulled out a cigarette and lit it, despite having been told there was no smoking allowed in the bar. Surprisingly, Aki didn’t make a move to stop him and neither did Ella.”Just do what you can,” Ella offered helpfully. “Be nice, use your talents, find out why it is he bought you in the first place and use that.” She leaned in close and put her hand on Connor’s arm to make sure she had his attention. “Connor, I’ll be straight, our lives here don’t change that much if you’re here or not. But your life will change, I guarantee it. I like you, I think we can be awesome friends, but you need to be here to do that.”Connor exhaled a small stream of smoke and nodded his heads to acknowledge Ella’s words. It was true, his disappearance wouldn’t make the city stop spinning, but he could end up homeless on the streets or, even worse, dead, or dying of some disease or addiction. He dropped the butt of his cigarette into the remnants of the Goo shot and sighed. “Yeah, I know, you’re right.””We see a lot of people who don’t make it in here,” Aki said, tossing the shot glass into the sink behind him. “We tell every single one that comes in here the same thing, us old-timers, and sometimes they stick and sometimes we never see them again.””What is it you’re good at? Like, what makes you super special, Connor? We’ve all got something.” Ella nodded seriously.Connor looked up and met the gazes of both Ella and Aki. Then, for the first time, a truly genuine smile spread across his lips. “I paint. I draw. I’m an artist.””Then paint your life, Connor,” Aki said, “paint your life the way you want.”The smile Connor had beforehand was now a twisted grimace of frustration and irritation. After their conversation he’d persuaded Aki to go to an art supply store to get him some basics, since unaccompanied slaves weren’t allowed in. The ride home with Edwin he’d been full of grand ideas of what to sketch, what to draw, what to paint, and now he found himself sitting on the couch and tapping his pencil against the sketchbook. He’d managed to draw three butterflies and an extremely fancy version of the word ‘fuck’ and was still at a loss as to what to do further.”This is embarrassing,” he muttered out loud to nobody in particular, rubbing his eyes with his palms. Fresh out of ideas, Connor started to sketch a self-portrait, basing it off of his reflection in the empty panels of black glass on the wall. However, the more he sketched and sketched he realized that the features underneath his pencil weren’t his own. They were too exotic, too different, and not at all like the ones he saw in the mirror every day. He frowned and glanced at the clock, realizing that he’d been drawing for almost an entire hour without realizing it. The sun had started to go down and he began to realize exactly how stiff his limbs were. He stood up and stretched, rising up on the balls of his feet, listening to his various joints crack and pop in protest. He groaned and rubbed the back of his neck to try and relieve the tension that had built up while he was curled up and hunched over his sketchbook.”Rider?” Connor frowned and looked around, suddenly realizing that this was the emptiest he had seen the house. He’d been sitting in one of the sitting rooms on the couch, but assumed the staff was in a busier part of the house getting ready to welcome Sensir home, whenever that would be. Rolling his shoulder back, Connor walked around a bit before tucking the sketchbook under his arm with the sudden idea to take a shower after his jaunt around town.The shower in his room, or cleaning machine as he called it, was fine. Connor just happened to prefer a traditional shower with soap and water as opposed to the cleansing light and laser show of the much more modern cleaning apparatus. He was heading back to his room to clean up when he went by the staircase leading up to Sensir’s quarters. Realizing that he was alone and that nobody was watching him, a streak of curiosity slid into his mind and with a quick glance around he took the stairs two at a time, stepped inside, and carefully closed the door. Once he realized he was in total darkness Connor flapped his hand around on the wall to try a find a light switch before he remembered that the house was probably smarter than he was.”Lights,” he said after a few seconds of scrabbling around. The room illuminated itself immediately and Connor set his sketchbook down on the nearest table he could find and immediately began to look around. The couches and throws and pillows were all in gorgeous colors and lush patterns, the curtains on the windows were long and flowing and Connor noticed the curtains extended up to the center of the room to give the entire space a tent-like appearance. The display of knives in their case shined brightly from the lights and he looked around at the tapestries on the walls and two large paintings that he hadn’t noticed before. Feeling more confident that he wasn’t about to get caught, Connor headed towards the closed door and pushed it open.Connor immediately realized he was in Sensir’s bedroom. The bed itself was a large circle that looked just as inviting as the couches in the room he’d just left. A dresser with a mirror and a closet were immediately visible, but the little details began to come to light. The comforter on the bed was crimson with elaborate threading in gold, the pillows were gently laying against each other. A few vases with scenes of decadent men and women were on their shelves looking delicate. The carpet beneath his feet was soft as Connor made his way around the room, picking up a few little items to look at them as he went by. A crystal pen, a comb carved out of ivory, things of that nature. Connor pulled open the closet door and took in the sumptuous display of clothing that almost spilled out at him. Coats, capes, vests, pants, and shirts of gorgeous colors and luxurious fabrics as far as the eye could see, and then some glittering hair ornaments that could make anybody look like an aristocrat. The artist in Connor felt a leap of excitement looking at the colors and fabrics before him. There were silks so soft you could happily sleep on them, velvets so plush they may as well be pillows, and satins that looked like even stains would slide right off. The only time he’d seen Sensir Connor had noticed he was a very elegant dresser, but the clothing confirmed it. Carefully nudging a pair of highly polished knee-high black boots back into place, Connor gently closed the door and heard the soft rustling of the fabric as a rush of air went by.He found himself confronted with a crisp white shirt with white buttons, a plum colored coat that brushed against the back of shining black leather boots, the coat fastened around the white shirt with golden buttons like a waistcoat. It took Connor a moment to realize that the nice outfit he’d almost run into was being worn by Lord Sensir himself who had been standing for who knew how long and watching as Connor went through his personal artifacts.”I, um, just…” Connor trailed off as Sensir walked right past him to the closet he’d just abandoned and leisurely unlaced his boots and set them carefully in place among the other equally expensive looking pairs of shoes. Connor stood completely still and even tried not to breathe too loudly as Sensir took off his coat and hung it on a hanger and then he closed the doors gently.”I’ll go now.””It’s okay,” Sensir said before Connor was quite finished his sentence, “you just wanted to know about me.” Sensir undid the buttons on his shirt with one hand and glanced back briefly at Connor who was still standing in a state of near paralysis, never taking his eyes off of Sensir’s back. The white shirt slid off of Sensir’s dark skin to reveal a firm, trim physique. Connor could see the muscles swimming gracefully beneath the coffee colored skin that covered the thin, trim body. He got an artist’s look before the curtain of black hair fell down over his back in soft waves and obscured Connor’s view.”I’m sorry,” he said automatically, partially for staring and for intruding, “I’ll go now.” Connor turned to leave, but he didn’t even get a single step in before Sensir grabbed his wrist and yanked him back, pulling their bodies flush up against each other with no space between. Connor’s breath caught in his throat and he found himself unable to look Sensir in the eyes.”It’s okay,” he heard the murmured words close to his ear, the breath warm on his cheeks, “I’ll tell you about me. You came looking. The least I can do is show you.” A shiver ran up Connor’s spine as he tried to protest, but no words came out though he felt his mouth moving. His eyes closed as he felt the back of Sensir’s fingers against his cheek and he shivered again. Suddenly, he felt the grip on his wrist tighten and Connor yelped as Sensir threw him on the bed in one deft move. He tried to sit up and get his bearings, but Sensir pushed him back down against the bed and hovered above him, arms on either side of Connor’s body.”What are you doing?” Connor demanded, pushing against Sensir’s chest with shaking fingers and a growl in his voice. “I said I-ahhhh,” his voice trailed off in a moan; Sensir’s breath was hot on his neck after the quick bite and soft kiss to Connor’s exposed skin.”You,” came the quick response from Sensir. Connor’s eyes opened wide and he sat up as much as he could, but Sensir cut off his words by pressing their lips together in a kiss that overwhelmed Connor with a flood of emotions and feelings, not the least of which he felt in his groin, a surprising feeling for him. He felt his lips parting, Sensir’s tongue pressing into his mouth, a heat filling his chest, his growing erection pressing against the constraints of his pants, a hand sliding up his shirt to gently caress his nipples. He twisted and writhed under Sensir, putting up at least a semblance of a fight to try and combat the arousal and the undeniable desire for more. Sensir broke their kiss and Connor groaned as the pressure on his nipples increased, Sensir’s fingers circling the sensitive, peaked skin, massaging the skin between his fingertips. Connor twisted, his back arching up into the caress, clenching his teeth to try and contain his sounds.Fuck! Connor squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the feelings, but his body was betraying him. Cold air hit his skin as his shirt was pushed up higher, exposing his chest. He was yanked upwards by the wrists as Sensir pulled him to a sitting position and whipped the shirt off his head and down his arms with expert dexterity, tossing the black fabric over his shoulder. Connor froze, staring at Sensir, listening to the pound of his heart and his own ragged breathing as they faced each other, half-naked, Connor nervous and Sensir calm as he always was. Once he took a breath, Connor noticed an extremely elaborate design on Sensir’s shoulder and arm and, without thinking, reaching out to touch the ink beneath his skin, feeling the warmth of Sensir’s flesh.”It’s a phoenix bird,” Sensir said quietly, letting Connor explore, “I got it when I was about your age.” Connor brushed Sensir’s hair out of the way and took in the full design, which was beautiful and seemed to unfold detail the more he looked. Connor said nothing, but glanced upwards into Sensir’s eyes to see his older guardian watching him. His fingers paused on the tattoo and as soon as he had Sensir dipped his head down and circled his tongue around one of Connor’s hardened nipples, eliciting a surprise gasp. Connor squeezed Sensir’s shoulders and gritted his teeth, feeling his cock swelling in his pants even more, if it were possible as Sensir’s teeth grazed the sensitive skin, his fingers massaging the nipple he couldn’t touch with his mouth. Connor tilted his head back, breathing harsh through his parted lips, a complete and utter slave to his desire pouring through his veins from Sensir’s touch.Sensir pushed Connor back down on the bed and trailed his tongue down Connor’s chest, biting at the protruding hipbones and causing Connor to writhe at the nips, the skin turning red. He felt the fabric against his legs and his pants slid off, underwear following, and his shaft stood erect and free of its confines. Connor covered his face with his arms, feeling the embarrassment turning his cheeks red, joining the flush of his heartbeat racing.”I didn’t know you were so easy to turn on,” Connor shivered at Sensir’s words as they were spoken against the tender skin of his thighs. “I’ll go easy on you today, but you’re almost too good to not devour whole right here.”Connor turned a deeper read, but cried out before he could think of something to say at the soft brush of lips against his cock, sending a spasm through his entire body at the pleasure, back arching off the bed. Sensir chuckled to himself and licked the head of the quivering member, causing Connor to twist even more, hands abandoning his face to twist in the comforter. Without giving time to pause, Sensir took the entire shaft into his mouth, listening to Connor’s shocked yelp and moan, feeling the shake of his body against the shakes of arousal. Slowly he took the entirety into his mouth, working his tongue gently, and slowly again he lifted his head to release the twitching cock, glistening with saliva and droplets of precum. Connor took in a ragged breath of air, chest heaving.”If I can get this much from just this little…” Sensir trailed off, slipping his hand under Connor’s hips and brushing a fingertip against the untouched bud of his backside. Connor’s eyes flew open and he violently twisted his hips away.”No, stop, not there!” he gasped out his words, trying to sit up. Sensir pinned him back down and held his hips fast.”Don’t move.” Sensir straddled Connor’s thighs and held him firmly in place, reaching into a drawer of a bedside table and bringing out a yellow bottle. He unstopped the bottle with his teeth, free hand stroking Connor’s cock and bringing out more strangled moans and half-hearted attempts to twist away. Connor knew Sensir was ignoring him, dipping two of his fingers into the bottle and bringing them out dripping and shining in oil. Without even meeting his eyes, Sensir moved his hand back down and pushed one of his fingers inside Connor, pushing the digit fully inside as Connor cringed, hips bucking involuntarily. Sensir didn’t relent, he rhythmically pumped his single finger in and out, matching his pace by stroking his exposed cock, drowning any protests in moans.”Sen-a-ah!” The second finger pushed inside without a pause, working him harder, fingers moving quicker inside him, squeezing Connor’s cock tighter as he stroked faster. An orgasm began to build inside him, his back arched higher than before, tears stung the corners of his eyes, his head pressing back as much as possible, but as quickly as it’d started it stopped. He fell back on the bed and stared at Sensir through hooded eyes, panting, questioning. His eyes widened as his master removed the last of his clothes, revealing his naked body, a form to be admired. Connor noticed, without fail, that the erect shaft on his master was a sizable, much more so than the two nimble fingers. Sensir languidly coated himself with the same oil and nudged Connor’s knees apart, pressing the head of his cock against the oil-coated entrance, causing Connor to shiver in the very base of his spine.”Hold on to me,” Sensir said, kissing Connor on the neck, gently nibbling on his skin. Without being told again, Connor circled his arms around Sensir’s back, took a deep escort atakum breath in preparation, and nodded in obedience.Immediately, he let out a gutteral moan, feeling the full breath deep in his throat as Sensir’s cock pushed inside him, filling him up in a way he didn’t know was possible, his hips moving backwards in surprise, but bucking upwards to welcome even more in. The initial pain subsided from the shock and Sensir paused, working on Connor’s neck in the same way to get him accustomed to the feeling. Connor panted, squeezing Sensir tightly.”Relax, you’ll get used to it. Just enjoy it.” Slowly Sensir pulled himself almost all of the way out and then pressed himself back in, feeling Connor relaxing just slightly, fingernails digging into his shoulders. “Relax, Connor.”Connor closed his eyes and groaned through gritted teeth, Sensir’s lips pressing him in a long, hard kiss, the thrusting of the hard cock in his ass becoming harder and faster, little moans of pleasure coming quicker and louder. Connor tilted his head back, gulping in air when he could and crying out with each thrust as he was further and faster penetrated.”Ah! Ahhhh, Sensir, I can-ah!” A loud moan told Sensir that he’d found Connor’s heart of pleasure and he quickened his pace, encouraged by the cries from his new slave who has abandoned all pretense and was squeezing Sensir and crying his name, sweat sliding down his back, hair plastered to his skin.”Cum, Connor, cum for me.” Sensir bit Connor’s bottom lip and felt the breath Connor sucked in. As if by command Connor let out a loud moan that was torn from the very back of his throat and his entire body shuddered and writhed as the orgasm that had been building finally overwhelmed him, cum squirting out from his cock in a final release. Connor gulped in air, shaking and shivering, clutching Sensir tighter than before, feeling his master orgasm with a groan, the strange and pleasurable feeling of hot cum filling him up inside. And when Sensir kissed him as they both rode their climax, hips pressing together, Connor couldn’t help but part his lips to welcome in his master’s tongue and kiss him back, collapsing into the strong, assured arms that held him just as strong now as they had before. He saw dark hair brushing against his face, felt Sensir stroking his hair, and sighed and closed his eyes, resting his cheek on Sensir’s shoulder.”Good boy, Connor.”The fuck is happening to me? Connor saw the world going black, his last thought echoing in a haze of arousal and confusion before getting drowned out by his memories of the moans and pleasure that’d just overwhelmed him before sleep took him.The first thing that Connor felt was confusion as he forced his eyes to open. The second thing he felt was the dull ache in his backside and he groaned as the memories fell out of their post-orgasm haze and settled into his mind’s eye. Ignoring the pain and soreness as best he could, Connor gritted his teeth and pushed himself to a sitting position, squinting to see in the dark. He was still in Sensir’s bedroom, the only light coming from a crack in the door, the cold air on his bare skin causing him to shiver. He grabbed at random at the blankets and coverings, wrapped the first one around his body, and crept to the door to peek through the crack.Sensir himself was sitting on one of the couches with a screen propped in his lap, his hair back in a carelessly done ponytail, and a pair of black-framed glasses on. Working, Connor presumed, until he saw an expensive-looking hookah on the table, the hose of which snaked around to Sensir’s hand. Connor watched as Sensir took a long, leisurely pull from the pipe and slowly exhaled perfect blue smoke rings.”I heard you get up,” Sensir looked over towards the door and nodded, “come join me.” Connor swore to himself and pushed the door open to head over towards the couch, careful to sit on his hips to put as little pressure on his backside as possible. Sensir put his arm around Connor’s shoulders and switched the screen off. “Do you smoke?””Cigarettes,” Connor said with a casual shrug. Sensir offered him the pipe so he took it and drew in a deep breath of a delicious-tasting vapor. He closed his eyes and slowly breathed out the smoke, relishing in the feeling.”My friend, Laleh, makes her own mixes. She sends me enough to smoke out an entire village, but it’s all good.””Don’t you use one of those fancy rich-people electro-pipes or whatever?” Connor was referring to the highly sought-after slim silver pipes that the celebrities favored, which allowed them to draw from some of the old film stars and their glamour.”I prefer the old ways sometimes. Coal and water. I have a water shower in my bathroom and a water sink. Sometimes, the traditional ways are the best.” Sensir took the pipe back and took another drag of blue smoke. “For all the technology and money in the world, the best way to make tea is still with genuine water. The old ways are not always the worst ways.””You sound like my mom,” Connor said, grabbing the pipe back from Sensir without even so much as asking. “Always on about ‘in my day’ and stuff like that.”Sensir chuckled and shook his head, patting Connor on the head and ruffling his hair like one might a puppy. “You’re something else, Connor.””What’s that supposed to mean?”Sensir took the pipe back and tapped the mouthpiece with his fingers. “It means you’re unique, which I like. I told you to be yourself. I like what I see in you so far.””Well, what about you? I don’t know anything about you except your name. That and you do something with tea.””That was an interesting non-sequitor,” Sensir pointed out and Connor frowned and rolled his eyes. “Oh don’t be that way, it’s a perfectly valid thing to ask. What do you want to know about me?””What exactly do you do?” The first question that popped into Connor’s mind.”My family has owned the Sehla Tea Company for generations,” he nodded and handed the pipe back to Connor while he spoke. “We have our own tea farms and are one of the largest producers of tea in the world. I’m the head of the company now so I oversee all aspects of what the company needs and wants. I meet regularly with the various department and district heads, and often I go out to the farms myself to make sure everything is running smoothly.””Where are you from?” Connor turned back to face Sensir, forgetting his bout of agitation in lieu of newfound curiosity.”I was born in the family manor, the Sehla Manor in Rour.””No idea where that is.””A lot of old families, old money, have homes in Rour.”Connor shrugged his shoulders and looked up at the ceiling. “Did you go to school?””Of course. I studied business management, everyone in my family does.””Even your mom?””Well no, she married into the family. She was an actress.””Was she famous?”Sensir laughed and nodded his head. “She was. Her name was Lindy Charmehl.”Connor sat up quickly and immediately regretted it as a flash of pain struck him. “Your mom is Lindy Charmehl? My mom’s a huge fan, she used to make us watch her movies all the damn time.””I’ll have a picture signed for her,” Sensir said, brushing his hair off of his shoulders where it had crept back. “Aren’t you tired, Connor?”Connor yawned. “I wasn’t until you said that, thanks.”Sensir rubbed Connor’s shoulder gently and went back to looking at his screen. “sleep, then. I’ll be right here.”Connor sighed and shook his head slightly. The conversation had ended so abruptly, but there were more questions he had wanted to ask. He still knew almost nothing at all about Sensir, which concerned him more than anything else when he thought about it. The mystery was beginning to gnaw away at him for its uncertainty. And so he drifted off into an uneasy sleep, comforted by the touch to his body, disturbed by the thoughts in his mind.Ella was what people might classify as a 50-50 winner when it came to darts. Sometimes she had luck on her side, other times she lost just as spectacularly as she won. Today, her normal darts crowd would chortle amongst themselves at the spread she was throwing, but this wasn’t a normal game. She’d stopped paying attention to the dartboard as Connor had told them his experience the past couple of nights and was now standing stationary with a dart loosely in her hand. Aki was similarly captivated, having been wiping out the same glass since Connor had started talking. Connor took a breath and, before he could even think about continuing, Ella had interrupted:”So you slept with him?!” The few other patrons in the bar turned to give her mildly irritated looks and she made a face in their direction while Connor gave her a sideways glance of irritation.”In a matter of speaking. More like **** than anything, if you ask me.””Can’t be ****.” Ella threw her final dart, actually making it on the dartboard this time. Connor looked like he was about to say something back, but Aki immediately interjected, seeing an argument on the horizon.”Well, the good news is he likes you! That’s good.””Oh definitely,” Ella rejoined them at the bar, now she’d exhausted her darts and made several new dents in Aki’s wall. Connor seemed to have taken Aki’s hint and just opted out of a response altogether by lighting a cigarette and glowering in his personal corner.”Any pain, then?” Aki finally put the well-dried glass down and addressed Connor in a softer tone.Connor shook his head and blew out the smoke through his nose. “Rider gave me a something or other. I’m fine, just kind of out of it.”Aki took away Connor’s half-drunk beer. “Normally when people take painkillers they don’t drink or smoke or go out. They sleep.””I’m not sleeping,” Connor nearly growled. The smoke coming through his teeth did nothing to lessen the look of his ire and Aki just nodded, knowing he’d lost before he’d begun. They sat in silence for a few moments, Aki drying his glasses, Connor smoking his cigarette, and Ella re-braiding her hair into its complicated-looking plait.”Well,” said Ella after the uncomfortable silence didn’t seem any closer to breaking, “I’ll be off, then. Have to get some new clothes before the big benefit this year.” she stood up and waved goodbye to her comrades before heading off, leaving just Aki and Connor at the bar.”What’d she mean back there?” Connor asked. Aki shrugged his shoulders.”Mean about what? Ella says a lot of things.””She said it couldn’t be ****. Why’s that? Pretty much seems like it to me, if it looks and sounds like a duck.” Connor was drumming his fingers on the bar, his agitation returning as he contemplated the question. Aki sighed, put his towel down, and looked around the bar.”Let’s go back to me place and talk, okay?” He took off the apron he was wearing and hung it on a hook, gesturing to someone in the kitchen behind him who came and took his place behind the bar. “Up we go, then.” Aki walked over to a door Connor hadn’t noticed before and touched his finger to a sensor pad. The sound of a lock clicked and the door opened, revealing a set of carpeted stairs leading up to what seemed to be a brightly lit living quarter. “Come on, then,” Aki called after ascending a few steps and noting Connor wasn’t behind him. Connor stood up, rolling his eyes the whole time, but followed Aki into the stairwell, closing the door behind them.”You’re a mystery to me, Connor,” Aki admitted. He’d shown Connor around the place. It was a one-bedroom suite above the bar, nicely decorated and furnished. They were sitting on a very comfortable couch now, a glass of wine in each of their hands, and Aki was the one to break the silence.”How’s that?””You seem like the kind of person who doesn’t take shit,” Aki said plainly. “You seem like, maybe back home at least, you were kind of a tough type, real confident and sure of yourself. You don’t seem like that here, you always look like you’re lost.”Connor frowned and nodded at the same time. “Back home I was.””Had a lot of friends? Popular? Everyone thought you were funny and kind of cool? A rebel type.””I guess,” Connor shrugged. “I mean I had a lot of friends-“”Popular with girls?” Aki’s interruption was the first to make Connor smile, at least a little.”Yeah. I had a lot of girlfriends.” The smile turned to a frown after a few seconds. “Can we get back to my question?””I’m getting to it,” Aki said with a nod. “I’m trying to figure you out, Connor, is all.””Okay,” Connor nodded, “but while you’re thinking about that you can answer my question.”Aki sighed and sat forwards on the couch. “Connor,” he said seriously, which did make Connor pay a little more attention, “when you were told about the program, about having your sentence and record wiped for entry into the program, what’d they tell you?”Connor frowned, answering after a pause, “they told me that if I entered into the program I’d have my sentence and record erased completely as long as I went through training, and sale, and abided by the law while I was a companion. And that they’d be able to monitor me, that’s why they let me go through it. Why?””Did they tell you anything about, I guess, your rights? Or your status?””Not really,” Connor said, “they told me about it, gave me documents to sign-“”Did you read them?”The frown deepened. “I read them, but I’d been up for days and was just tired and full of information so if you want me to quote you-“”No, not quote,” Aki interrupted again, “but you really don’t know. That’s why you look so lost all the time.” Aki sighed and sat back on the couch again, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed.”What are you talking about?” For the first time, a fine tremor of uncertainty was pitched in Connor’s voice, though he tried to act like there wasn’t anything wrong.”I mean, I was raised this way. I knew what my life was going to turn out to be,” Aki said, swirling his finger around in his wine, “we aren’t people, Connor. We’re property. We have some more rights than property, but we’re pets. Basically. Consider the rights that a dog has, and then that’s basically what we have. If our owners tell us not to do something and we do it anyways, they can punish us however they want. We don’t have the rights to vote. We can be detained without any reason so long as somebody can make a case we did something wrong. We’re slaves, sub-person, that’s why it’s not ****. **** is defined as unwanted sexual contact against a person. If you’re not a person, it’s not ****. You’re property, you automatically consent. We can’t own any property unless our owners say we can, we can’t own any items unless we’re told we can, same as anything else. We need permission to do the things we do because we aren’t people anymore. We’re humans, yes, but we aren’t people. You can’t have a driver’s license without permission. That’s why they had you surrender all of your licenses.”Connor stared in silence as the words sunk in. Property. Consent. Owners. Surrender. A headache fell on him and throbbed violently in his temples, like the surrealism of the past weeks had just come into clarity and declared themselves reality. He didn’t realize he’d dropped his glass, that it had broke and splashed wine on Aki’s carpet, or that Aki himself had cleaned it up and returned to his seat.”Connor?” The voice sounded like it was coming from underwater. He felt a hand on his face and started out of his dark reverie to see Aki’s worried face swimming into focus. “Connor, I’m so sorry I had to tell you like that. But,” and he trailed off, shaking his head. “I knew that you didn’t really know. That’s why you were so lost and aimless.”Connor studied Aki’s face to distract himself, breaking down the components like he was going to paint or draw his friend. Eyes like apricots, not almond-shaped because he hated that descriptor, bright brown. High cheekbones, slightly flatter facial bone structure, a pale complexion with olive undertones, dark black hair kept long, nice full lips, currently a very worried expression.”Don’t be sorry,” he said finally, the ringing in his ears decreasing slightly as reality slowly sat on him, crushing him with its presence. “I appreciate that someone finally told me blatantly. Not pussyfooting around, just straight-out said it.” He knew his voice sounded hollow, but knew he couldn’t change that even if he’d wanted to.”It doesn’t mean life has to be bad here,” Aki pointed out, trying to be optimistic. “Are you hungry? I’m going to get something to chew on.” And he bustled off into the kitchen, leaving Connor with his thoughts.Connor didn’t feel particularly like addressing his thoughts so he got up and wandered around the room, looking at the books, pictures, and anything else he could look at. He stopped in front of a picture of Aki and a man with bright blue hair smiling at the camera, standing close with scarves around their necks.”Friend of yours?” Aki had come back in and Connor pointed at the picture. Aki looked up and squinted a bit to see what Connor was pointing at.”Oh.” He came over, took the picture, and tossed it into the nearest trashcan. “My ex-lover. We’re not on good terms anymore.” Aki sat back down and started snacking on the various tidbits he’d brought in.”Ex-lover?” Connor asked curiously and Aki nodded.”We were together a few years after I was released. It didn’t work out.””I didn’t know you were-“”Gay?” Aki showed off his amazing ability to continue interrupting and he nodded. “I am. You must be, too, I mean at least bisexual.””Why do you say that?” Connor lit up another cigarette and, when Aki failed to protest, got more comfortable on the couch to enjoy it.”Well, you were more upset by the fact it was non-consensual with Sensir rather than it was another man.””I hadn’t thought about that,” Connor admitted. The thought hadn’t made him nauseous, so he shrugged. “Maybe you’re right, I don’t really car. What happened with the blue man group man?”Aki laughed a bit and then crinkled his nose at the memories. “He cheated on me. I don’t have a mind for that.””Yeah, no, fuck that.” Connor agreed. “Were you seeing him when you were still a slave?””Nooooooooo,” Aki said quickly, shaking his head, “no, no. That’s a risk I was not about to take, no way, hell no, absolutely not.””Is that wrong?”Aki gave him a wide-eyed look. “Absolutely wrong! Remember, we’re property. Most people do. not. like. to. share.” He emphasized every word to make sure Connor remembered, or was at least listening. “No partners or anything unless they tell you, and they usually only do that for breeding.” Aki nodded at Connor again when he got a shocked and disgusted look. “I said, we’re like dogs. We are. You ever seen a dog hump another dog in a dog park? And the owners all freak out and separate the dogs and then the whole ‘bad dog’ spiel comes out? That’s how it is with us.””But do people do it anyway?””Of course,” said Aki casually, “there’s always people who take the risk, people looking for love, real love, and compassion. But if they get caught it is never, ever a pretty sight.””Did you have a guy owner, then?” Connor asked, stubbing out his cigarette on a coaster Aki pushed towards him.”My owners were a couple, male and female.””So did you, like, sleep with them?””Yes, when they wanted. Probably once a week or something like that, usually together, though, but sometimes individually.””Wasn’t it weird doing it with a girl? I mean, if that’s not your thing.”Aki laughed. “It wasn’t my first choice, but you don’t exactly get a choice. I got lessons from friends on pleasing women, and on how to pretend you’re having a good time, too. It’s part of life, there.””Did she love you?””Oh, no. She and her husband were, well are, very much in love. They just liked having another party involved, or someone around when the other traveled. It happens a lot, that sort of thing. I remember once I went with them to a birthday party for a friend’s son and his present was his own slave. His mom told my owners she wanted her son to have something to practice on, someone she knew was clean, so when it came time for him to get married he wasn’t marred. Or known as loose. But she knew he’d want to have sex.””I’m getting that sex is a big part of being a,” he gritted his teeth and muttered the word, “slave.””For a lot of people. Not everyone, but mostly.””Great,” Connor slumped back on the couch and rubbed his face, letting it all sink in once and for all.”Watch porn.” Connor opened his eyes and stared at Aki, but he got a serious look back. “If sex with men isn’t your forte, watch porn. Get good at it one way or another. Those are skills you’ll need.” Connor didn’t even answer, he just groaned and closed his eyes again while Aki laughed over the sounds of wine splashing into a glass. He could tell it was going to be an interesting evening.After several more hours of blurry conversation and plenty more wine Connor found himself sitting on a bench on the sidewalk watching the rich people bustling by on their ways to fancy dinners, evenings with the k**s, opera performances, or whatever it was that those living lives of leisure did in their time. Connor just sat alone on the slave-friendly bench outside of Black Alley and watched the people, quite tipsy and a little bemused. He and Aki had had an interesting evening discussing politics (probably made-up), the moral dilemma (maybe), current affairs (probably also made up), and their favorite colors. Aki had also recommended him several porns, which wasn’t nearly as awkward as Connor had thought it would be.Eventually, Connor got to his feet and began to trudge along the sidewalk, essentially invisible. People turned to dodge him in the same way that he’d dodge a parking meter or a lamppost: as though it wasn’t of any consequence.I don’t exist. It was true, he was slowly realizing, he wasn’t much of a person here at all. He caught sight of his reflection in a darkened shop window, closed for the night, and took a genuine look at himself for the first time in weeks, possibly for the first time since he had left home years ago.Where there’d once been a tall, foolishly brave teenager was a thin and pale twenty-something. Black spiky hair was replaced by Rapunzel-like blonde hair, individualizing tattoos erased like they’d never been there. He looked meeker, less powerful, less like himself. He touched the skin of his cheek, combed a little bit of his hair with his fingers, feeling like it was on another person instead of on his own bones and his own flesh. Even the clothes he wore spoke of subjugation, a collar-like strap around his neck and tight black material all over, and hopelessness fell over him as black as his clothes and as black as the night around him.Connor sulked for the next few days. The first few days he would get out of bed to see Sensir off to work, or off on a trip, or to welcome him back home with the free members of staff. After the next few days, he stopped leaving his room altogether. The first five days or so Sensir was concerned. He called a doctor to look at Connor, went into his room to talk to him, touched his shoulder and tried to get Connor to engage with him. But after the doctor deemed Connor healthy in body, and Connor never changed his attitude, Sensir stopped visiting as much. After a week, he didn’t come in at all.Rider, however, was another story. He brought Connor meals and drinks, sat on the side of his bed and tried to coax him to come out, sit up, or eat, but nothing worked. As the days went by and Rider could see Sensir’s faith in Connor slipping away, Rider’s own frustrations started to boil up. Connor was sulking and his sulking was sure to get him kicked out, a failure on his part. After a week all Rider wanted to do was yank Connor up by his collar and slap him until he came to his senses. But he never did, instead he took a deep breath on around the tenth day and carried in a glass of water to try and, once again, engage Connor to spring up.The room was dark and was beginning to smell stale. Connor hadn’t been getting up to do anything besides use the bathroom and the windows had stayed closed, the curtains drawn. Connor himself was in the same place under the covers with his blonde hair an amazing tangle of knots from the lack of care.”Come on, sweetheart, time to get up.” Rider sat on the side of the bed and set the glass of water down, rubbing Connor’s back. Connor didn’t move much other than to shift his position. “Connor, what’s wrong? You’ve been cooped up here for days. You’ve lost weight, you won’t eat a thing, you’ve only been drinking sporadically.””Nothing’s wrong,” Connor said flatly, a tone as colorful as his complexion.”I know it’s hard here, but you know you can talk to me ab-“”No,” Connor interrupted harshly, “I can’t. You don’t get it. You don’t get it and you never will.””You don’t know that,” Rider cooed with a shake of his head.”Just leave me alone.””Connor.””Get out!” Connor shouted, his voice cracking through lack of use. Far from having the effect he wanted, it had the opposite effect. Rider stood up and strode over to the control panel, harshly turning the glass from fully tinted to completely transparent, letting in the bright sunlight of the day. Connor yelped and covered his eyes, pulling the covers over his head to try and shut out the sunlight, but Rider was relentless. He came over and ripped off the covers, throwing them aside and leaving Connor exposed. Before he could even move, Connor found Rider pinning him to the bed, a knee in each elbow, sitting on his stomach and glaring down at him.”You’re being an impudent little brat, Connor, and if you keep it up I will whip your ass into shape if it’s the last thing I do!””Get the fuck off me!” Connor kicked his legs up into the air, managing to unseat Rider and knock him to the floor. Connor sat up and jumped out of bed, making for the door, but Rider launched himself forwards and grabbed Connor around the knees, bringing him crashing to the ground.”You’re going to stay here and stop this bullshit behavior!””Don’t you dare tell me what to do!””Shut up and listen!” Rider was practically screaming and the sheer distress seemed to radiate directly out to Connor who was standing near the door, fists balled up, ready for a fight. “Just shut up,” Rider said in a quieter voice, “and pay attention. For five…fucking minutes.” Connor didn’t say anything, nor did he relax his stance, but he jerked his head in a slight nod to allow Rider to continue.”What the fuck?” Instead of talking, Rider undid the buckle of his pants and let them drop to the ground. Connor backed up into the wall and tripped over the stripped-off comforter and landed on his backside, scooting back into the wall again. Rider didn’t miss a beat and undid the buttons of his shirt, tossing it asides. “What the fuck, seriously, what the fuck are you doing?!” Connor was yelling, hardly paying attention to what was going on as the discarded shirt and pants were kicked out of the way and, in a final gesture, Rider tugged the ends of his black bob and dropped it to the ground. Connor had, by this time, turned his head away and was determinedly looking for ways out.”Connor, look at me.””Dude, I don’t know what the fuck you’re up to-” Connor babbled.”Connor.””-but I will kick your ass if you try to do-“”CONNOR!”The shrillness of the voice caught him off guard and Connor turned around and found himself face to face with something he never thought Rider would be: a woman.The Rider he knew had vanished and standing in front of him was a slender woman with the curve of the waist, the swell of breasts, the gentle roundness of womanly hips. The black bob was gone to reveal a bald head that somehow suited perfectly.”What the fuck,” Connor started again, “is going on here?””You say I don’t get it, but I do.” Rider sat on the end of Connor’s bed and crossed her legs. “Maybe not the same way, but I was a slave, too, once. This pity party you’re having needs to end because you’re not the first and you won’t be the last. I had to do something insane to make you wake up and pay attention because if you don’t stop this sulking you’re going to end up back in prison. Or worse, you’ll be a second-chance slave. And you don’t want that.” She looked at Connor seriously, hoping he was listening to her very sincere words.”You’re a girl?”Rider scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Is that all you got from what I said?””No, I heard you,” Connor said, slowly getting to his feet while eyeing Rider warily. “I’m just really, really shocked right now.” He frowned and looked at Rider directly for the first time, “is your name even Rider?””Well, now it is and that is all that matters.” Rider stretched out her arms and sighed, rubbing her face. “Firstly, you can’t tell anybody about this. And secondly, you need to shape up or Lord Sensir is going to send you packing.””So what,” said Connor in a slightly whiny tone, folding his arms. “All I am is a breathing sex doll for him.””Because, Connor, that is all you’ve proven that you’re good for,” Rider said bluntly, causing an angry expression to flash over Connor’s face. “Seriously. Look at me,” she said, not continuing until Connor had met her gaze. “You don’t make conversation, you don’t entertain, you don’t plan outings, you don’t do anything to make yourself a presence here. Basically, all you’ve shown you’re good for is fucking. It sucks to not be considered a person, but you’re never going to get anyone to see you differently if you don’t act like one. You got all that art stuff and just abandoned it.”Connor shrugged, at a complete loss for words. He was trying not to bristle at the truth of Rider’s words, so he just averted his eyes and looked out the window.”Lord Sensir isn’t a bad man, Connor. But he isn’t going to keep you around if all you do is sulk in the corner all day.””How’d you end up posing as a guy?”Rider narrowed her eyes at the abrupt change of topic, but figured Connor needed processing time. “I used to be a slave for a man who hates Lord Sensir. After he abused me I ran away and came to Lord Sensir and told him I’d serve him if he’d take me in. He couldn’t take me in as a slave so we came up with this ruse. I’ve been here since.””You were a slave?” Connor asked after a pause.Rider nodded her head. “I was. I was born to it, went to an academy and trained, got a ranking, the whole thing. So I get it, Connor, what it’s like to have to literally climb your way up the humanitarian ladder. But it’s possible and the sooner you start that the better your life’s going to be.””Why didn’t you just stay yourself?””Because, technically, he owns me. If he found out where I was he could sue Lord Sensir and he could kill me. These people, Connor, they don’t fight like ghetto gangsters in the streets with sawed-off shotguns or something. This can be a dangerous place if you’re not ready for it. That’s the other reason I’m warning you. You need to shape up because if you keep messing up you could end up in the wrong places with the wrong people.”Connor looked at her and tried to find a hint of joking or exaggeration in her face, but he found nothing but sincerity. “I mean it, Connor,” she said, “you need to get your head in the game before it’s too late.”Connor rested his head against the still-cool glass of the expansive walls, watching a few people in the neighborhood walking around, some k**s playing, a dog running around with what looked like a brother and sister, what Rider had said ringing in his ears like an enormous church bell. Minutes ticked by in the silence as Connor thought and Rider watched. Finally, after a very long pause, Connor sighed and turned to face Rider.”What do I have to do?”It turns out that what Rider had in mind was about ten minutes of pep-talking followed by immediately inviting a few of the maids in to bustle away the bedding and dirty clothes and begin straightening up and cleaning, leaving Connor standing in the middle of the hustle with confusion and a sudden bout of fatigue, having been laying down with minimal movement for days it was tough to even stand.Eventually, Connor made his way down the hall, having been able to dodge a vacuum cleaner and a briskly-shaken sheet, and found himself in the kitchen. He took a bottle of water from the fridge and what looked like half of a dish of pasta and sat at the glass table, munching on the pasta and drinking water completely alone. Not much of an improvement from his previous situation, so he pushed his food away and folded his arms crossly.”All you need to do is to be yourself,” Sensir’s words from their first encounter came back to him and he found himself staring at his own reflection, hardly recognizing himself. Slightly protruding cheekbones, long blonde hair, a scowl that had somehow combined with a pout, and the shining black glass plate in his chest. Suddenly he found himself longing for the cheap clothes, badly dyed black hair, and cheap tattoos he’d had before.”Connor? Oh, there you are,” Rider said as she walked in, heels clicking on the freshly cleaned floor. “If you were hungry I would have had someone come cook for-Connor, what’s the matter?” She noticed Conner staring at the fridge door, unaware he could see his reflection, and frowned. “Something I can get for you?””Scissors,” Connor said simply with a firm nod.”What for?” Rider didn’t wait for a reply and rummaged around in a drawer for a moment before producing a pair of kitchen scissors with blue handles and handed them to Connor. “Is there a tag scratching y-CONNOR! What are you doing?!”Connor had gathered his hair into a ponytail and, without hesitating, had lifted the scissors and cut through the blonde locks with several snaps of the scissors, unevenly cut hair falling onto the floor. He shook his head out, watching several snippits of hair fall in front of his eyes as the littlest bits of hair fell down.”I’m giving myself a haircut.” He handed Rider back the scissors and sat back down on his chair, a little bit of a grin even showing on his face at the expression of anger and irritation that had appeared on Rider’s face. “What? I can’t have haircuts now?” He knew he would pay for the taunting later, but couldn’t help himself from tapping into the well that had watered the old Connor.He had expected more of a reaction, but Rider simply turned on her heel and stomped out. Connor was just about to think he was safe for the minute when a sudden swishing noise and a whack to the head told him otherwise. Rider had left, retrieved a broom, and was now beating him around the head with it.”Dammit, Connor, making a mess on the floor right after I drag your ass out of bed. You’re the most agitating, the most frustrating pet that I’ve ever seen and I have a half a mind to sweep you straight out the door!” Rider was yelling, repeatedly smacking Connor with the broom, on the ground since Connor had fallen out of his chair. Instead of begging for mercy, though, Connor was laughing hysterically, covering his face with his arms as his only beg for protection. “Stop laughing!” Rider was getting more irritated with Connor’s lack of remorse, but the more she hit the more he laughed, and the more he laughed the more she hit. That may have gone on for hours if one of the maids and two of the male staff hadn’t rushed in and seized the broom from her. The men ushered Rider out of the room as she moaned about the cleaning of the now thoroughly s**ttered haircut, while also lamenting that Connor was now completely ‘unfit for viewing’ and would need ‘extensive repair’ before the Lord came home.”Well, Connor, I can fix your hair for you,” said the maid, who had remained behind with him.”Huh? Oh, I guess I can just go get a cut in town.””Oh, not a problem.” She gently pushed him back into the same chair he’d just fallen out of, looking at the butchered haircut he’d given himself. “I have two daughters at home and I cut their hair myself, so this is easy for me.””Thanks, uh, what’s your name?””Claire,” she retrieved the scissors from their resting place and came back to Connor, snipping and repairing Connor’s hair. “I bet I can fix this real quick. There’s enough length left for me to make something nice. Why’d you cut your hair in the kitchen, though?”Connor shrugged. “I don’t feel much like me so I wanted to do something that was kind of like me. And this seemed like a good idea.””Well, maybe next time you can brainstorm outside? Rider’s sweet, but he’s awfully high strung sometimes,” Claire said, stopping to tie her own blonde hair in a ponytail to see.”Tell me about it. You’d think he was a woman.””Sometimes I wonder,” Claire said in seriousness, nodding her head and giving Connor’s reflection in the fridge door a knowing look. He hadn’t realized exactly how big of a secret it was, but if nobody on the staff knew then it must be quite serious, so he swallowed the comment he was about to make about Rider’s genuine identity and gave Claire’s reflection a shrug. “Do you like it here? It seems like you hate it.””I do,” Connor said honestly, “but I have to get used to it. I guess this is life now.””It is. I suppose the nicest way of saying it is that you just have to get used to what it is and make the best of it. Think of it this way,” she said in a cheerier tone, “you’re living in a big, beautiful house with a pool, lots of space, a great view, and you can go shopping anywhere. Your boss, let’s call him a boss, isn’t home a lot so most of the time you don’t even have to work. You can use the indoor gym, paint in your art studio, swim, look at the gardens, or go into town.””Doesn’t sound like a job, sounds like I’m some kind of trophy wife.” Claire laughed at his comment, but even he had to crack a bit of a smile at the visual image of himself drifting on a pool raft in a bright pink swimsuit and an enormous margarita glass. Overly enhanced lips entered into the fantasy for a moment, but Claire jerked him out of it.”All done,” she said, shaking out his hair with her fingers to evict any loose hairs.”That was quick.” He climbed off his stool and went to the bathroom to use a proper mirror. “Nice! I look pretty stylish.””My daughters love that Asian-rocker look with the spiky hair, I’ve seen so many pictures that it was easy to do.” Claire began to sweep up the hair from the floor.”Why don’t you cut your hair like that?” Connor retrieved the dustpan and came to help Claire.”Connor, they want to date those boys, not be them.””Somehow that makes a lot more sense now that you said it aloud. Damn.” He pushed the dustpan around and caught the hairs as Claire swept. “How old are they? Your k**s.””My oldest daughter is fifteen and my younger daughter is twelve.””Have you worked here long?””Hmm I started working here around when my youngest was born, so yes.” She put the broom and dustpan back in the closet that Connor assumed Rider had retrieved the broom from and came back, washing her hands in the sink. “It’s a good job, nothing too glamorous, but it’s steady work and I can provide for my family.””Your husband doesn’t?” He propped his elbows on the counter and rested his chin in his hands.”Oh he does, but we both work.” Claire went to work cleaning the floor more thoroughly, snapping on a pair of rubber gloves.”My parents were like that, both working.””Really? You weren’t born to pets? I mean,” she caught the look on Connor’s face and immediately back tracked, “to parents who came from, uh, serving.””No,” he said indignantly, “I was born to people who live in a normal house and work normal jobs and have normal k**s.”Claire cleared away the remains of the pasta and bottle of water, observing Connor’s irritation and feeling sorry that she’d even breached the issue. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just that I see so few of you that don’t come from purebred bloodlines anymore. It’s almost a good reminder that there are good people that don’t come from the usual sources.””What about you?””Well, I, too, was born to normal parents who live in a normal house and have normal jobs and normal k**s.” She started the dishes on their wash and leaned against the counter to talk during a moment of rest. “My father was a librarian and my mother was an aircraft stewardess.” The look she gave Connor told him she was waiting to hear about his parents.”My mom works for a company that makes clothes. My dad’s a professor at the state school.””Your mom designs clothes?””No, she just works in the corporate office. She does marketing,” Connor said, tapping his nails on the counter. Against his desires, a picture of his family had floated to the top of his mind and refused to go away. He could see his mother’s disappointment and his father’s despair from the last time he had seen them, the day before he had entered the training to become a slave. He’d told them about his decision and their reactions had been less than stellar, though they had understood. It was just then he realized how much he missed his family, how much he must have disappointed, and how ashamed he was to contact them.”You must love your parents very much.” Claire smiled and patted Connor on the shoulder. “I’ve got to get back to work. I hope that you enjoy your haircut.””Thanks, Claire,” he gave her a brief smile and watched atakum escort bayan as she walked away before going back to staring out the nearest window, caught in a reverie about his family life, musing to himself about what life would have been like if he hadn’t been such a damn rebel. Maybe if he’d addressed his anger and his angst earlier this entire situation could have been avoided. He’d be in school, or graduated, on his way to his own normal career instead of sitting in the kitchen of a wealthy stranger, living in constant fear that if he didn’t please the man he barely knew he might end out on the streets with no food, no clothes, and no prospects, forced to return home and plead with his family to take him in despite all of his transgressions.Despite all of his thinking, Connor spent the next few minutes sneezing after he got too clumsy with the trashcan and blew hair clippings right back into his face. Rider spent those same minutes staring out the window sideways and waiting for the fit of undignified air expulsion to stop.”So you made a mess in the kitchen, and then you made the same mess in the kitchen,” she said as Connor cleaned up the clippings. Again.”Shut up.” The clippings went back into the trash and, against his better judgement, he caught his reflection in the fridge door and gave his new, shorter hair a fluff with the back of his hand, ignoring Rider’s satisfied grin. “So, what’s on the agenda for today?””Hmmmmm,” Rider consulted her planner, tapping through the tablet, “well, assuming that there’s no more kitchen cleaning,” she gave him a pointed look, “the serving staff should finish the cleaning quite soon and will start on dinner. Lord Sensir is due back from a two-day trip so they’ll be making something nice. I have to go into town and pick up a few things he asked I get, place some orders for household supplies while I’m at it. Why?””Can I come?””Not if I need to leash you.” Rider gave Connor a warning look and he held up his hands in a sign of peace.”You won’t. I just think it’d be good if I got out of the house. Hey, what’s my allowance, anyway?”Rider gave Connor a raised eyebrow and then shook her head. “Yes, you can come with me. For now it’s $50 a week. Though since you haven’t been spending it, it might have built up a bit. I’ll show you how to check your balance and vitals when we get back.” Rider tapped a few points on her tablet to summon Edwin to the front of the house. “Why?””I’m just curious. Like, what do most people spend their allowance on? Like the previous girls, I mean.””Makeup, snacks, shoes, purses, typical girly stuff.” Rider shrugged her shoulders. “Male slaves that I knew would usually spend it on things like parts for their car, if they had a car, specific clothes, booze, cigarettes, going to the movies when their owners were gone.””Wouldn’t those things be provided?” Connor made his way back to his newly cleaned room to pull on his boots.”Well, some of them.” Rider followed Connor and leaned in the doorway, a thoughtful look on her face. “But sometimes people just like to buy things for themselves.””Well, not really for ourselves-“”Connor, if you get negative with me again I really will leash you. And stake you in the front yard.””Fine,” Connor conceded and then walked past Rider towards the door, already regretting the lack of use of his limbs over the past few days. He was tired already, but didn’t want to say anything. “Is there anything I’m not allowed to have?””Well, if you’re going to get anything unusual then I’d ask beforehand. If you want to drink with those friends of yours or buy art supplies or cigarettes, that’s fine.”Rider reached out and yanked Connor back onto the sidewalk and out of Edwin’s way as he brought over the quiet hovercraft for them to get in. Connor opened the passenger door before Edwin could even get out and gave Rider a deep, exaggerated bow.Rider stepped into the craft and looked back at Connor as he straightened up, a slightly suspicious look on her face. He’d just got out of bed mere hours before and was suddenly full of questions. Before she slid over in the back seat to allow Connor in, she turned to him and asked, “Connor, what are you planning? Because if you’re planning something I need to know right now.”Connor spent the entire ride in the plush hovercraft trying to reassure Rider that he didn’t have anything up his tight black sleeves and that he was, in fact, asking a rhetorical question. Eventually he convinced her that he wasn’t going to steal anything, attack anyone, or bring home an exotic bird and she let him get out of the craft about a block away from Black Alley, persistently reminding him that she was going to call when she was heading out and he’d have five minutes from the time of calling to get to the meeting point. Almost as soon as his feet hit the pavement Rider slid the door closed and Edwin drove off, leaving Connor blinking dumbly in the bright sunlight.The shoppers already on the sidewalk, a mix of families, couples, and singles making their ways, seemed to automatically move as though they were expecting him to land, but nobody gave him much of acknowledgement, save for a few c***dren who smiled or waved. He got the same regard as a transient might get: little to none. But Connor tried not to let it bother him, chalking it up to another qualification of being a slave, a man’s possession. He didn’t have much time to dwell on it as the narrow alleyway leading to Black Alley seemed to come out of nowhere, and before he knew it he was pushing open the door to Aki’s pub.”Connor!” The bar’s excited namesake abandoned the draft he was pulling and came to the door to give Connor a hug. “I thought we’d lost you already. What happened?””I was kind of under the weather,” Connor lied, giving Aki a hug back and looking around for Ella.”Oh, she’s at some publicity event thing.” Aki had noticed Connor’s wandering gaze over the few other mid-day patrons. “Come sit! We’ll talk.””Good. Because, truth be told, I had some stuff to ask you.””Stuff?” Aki went behind the bar and started to mix up one of his concoctions.”Kind of awkward stuff,” Connor admitted, taking a seat on the furthest barstool. His recent conversation with Rider had brought up a few uncomfortable truths to Connor’s mind that he couldn’t ignore, no matter how hard he tried.”Awkward stuff? I don’t think that you can surprise me.” Aki laughed and shook his head, shaking up the drinks and giving Connor an expectant look.Connor stared right back at Aki. No matter how casually he was trying to talk or act, his heart was beating a thousand miles inside his chest and he half expected his ribs to turn into a xylophone against the pulsing beat. He gave his lips a quick lick and then leaned in a little closer to Aki. “I need your particular brand of assistance.” He expected, for some reason, to have Aki understand exactly what he was saying, but all he got in return was a confused look. Connor sighed and looked at the wood. “Except that once,” he traced his finger along the grain, “I’ve never had sex with a man and now I have to. I need your help.”He’d expected Aki to laugh or giggle, but instead his older friend just nodded wisely. “You need what I needed when I started to have sex with a woman.””And that is?””A particular sort of aphrodisiac; a really concentrated arousal d**g. One of those and you’ll pretty much screw anything that comes your way.””Isn’t it different with a man? The procedures and stuff, I mean.””Lord Sensir will take care of that,” Aki said assuredly. “Since he’s the one topping you, he’ll know what to do to prepare you so you won’t get hurt. See, I had to learn that. I had no idea that you had to sort of loosen up and lubricate the vagina.” Connor gave Aki a strange look and Aki really did laugh that time. “I didn’t know that! I’d never seen one before, except in textbooks, so I kind of assumed they were wet to begin with. Unlike most guys, from what I hear, I knew where the clitoris was before I knew that a vagina got wet when a woman’s aroused.””It all sounds so medicinal coming from you.” Connor sipped at the drink Aki had prepared for him, scrunching his nose at the unexpected bitterness. “So this stuff, is it a pill? Or a powder?””It’s a liquid. Add however many drops to a little water and take it like a shot. It tastes nasty, so have some kind of chaser.””How quick does it work?”Aki leaned against the bar, clicking his tongue in thought. “Not really long. Maybe ten minutes before it really hits? So take it a few minutes before going into his bedroom otherwise you’ll be a total mess before you make it in. Oh, and you have to try it out at least once on your own. Otherwise you might use too much or too little.””On my own?””Yeah,” Aki nodded, “just take it and masturbate. But that way you’ll know how much you need. I’d say start with three drops and go from there. You shouldn’t need more than that. It kind of makes you feel drunk, so don’t take it before you have to go somewhere or do something.””What, I’ll slur my words?” Connor shrugged his shoulders and finished the rest of whatever Aki had prepared for him, resting his cheek against his hand, elbow propped on the wood of the bar.”Well, it affects everyone differently. Maybe it’ll make you sing karaoke.””I hope not, that’d just suck for anyone who could hear me.” Connor tapped his fingernails on the bar for a while. “So, where do I get this magical horny water?”Aki snorted a bit in laughter and then shook his head in amusement. “I think I have some leftover. It never goes bad so it’ll keep forever. Hang out for a sec, I’ll go get it.” He immediately took off towards the stairs to his little condo so Connor took out a cigarette and lit it, willing his heart to stop rattling around like a trapped sparrow. He knew that it might be too late to win everybody over with his art and conversation, so he knew that the safest way, at this point, to ensure that he survived in Sensir’s house was to prove that he was good for at least one thing and to work on rebuilding from there. It meant throwing away everything that he’d told himself he wanted to hold on to since his arrival, but he knew it was about his survival now. He couldn’t go back to prison, to disappoint his parents with another failure. They would never need to know the details of his sordid affairs, especially if they helped him to eventually see them again.”Here we are.” Aki startled him out of his reverie as he came over with what looked like a water bottle filled with an unnaturally orange liquid.”Gross,” said Connor without thinking.”The top,” Aki ignored him, “has a dropper built into it. Like I said, start with three and only go up if you need it. Seriously. Three might just be enough.””Yeah yeah, thanks.” Connor took the bottle and immediately screwed off the top enough to sniff the contents. “Ugh, that’s just nasty. What’s it made out of? Ballsacks and toe cheese?””Maybe, but it works.”Connor swung himself back onto his feet as Rider’s urgent message of her imminent departure reached the handheld device she’d given him that could do just about anything except breathe for him. “I’ll see you later, Aki.””Hey,” Aki waited until Connor turned to face him properly. “Good luck. Really. It’s tough coming from where you’re from, but I hope you can find your own rhythm.”Connor nodded and gave Aki a wave before stepping out and running down the street to make sure that he met Rider on time.Several hours later while Rider was overseeing a thorough cleaning and meal preparations, Connor found himself in his room alone. He sat on the bed, legs crossed, staring at the ominous orange bottle that Aki had given him. As soon as he’d come into the room he’d locked the door, adjusted the sound-proofing on the control panel, and undressed to everything but his underwear, a glass of water at the ready. He’d done everything with such decided precision, but when it came time to preparing the mixture he’d gone cold and sat down, resorting to staring at the bottle.”Fuck,” Connor said aloud, but he forced himself to move, unstopping the bottle and using the long dropper to add precisely three drops to the glass of water, stirring it with his finger as he closed the bottle back up. Then he just looked at it, willing himself to get the hell over it and take the shot. “Fucking do it!” He threw his head back and took the water like a shot of liquor, nearly gagging at the taste, and then scrambled around for the soda he’s brought in and misplaced. Once he found it he took several desperate gulps and then gasped, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.”Now what?” He sat back down on the bed after asking the question aloud and just stared at the clock, watching the minutes tick by without feeling much of anything. He was just about to look at his reflection and remark on how he’d fallen for a prank from Aki when he started to feel a warm, soft, comfortable feeling spreading from his stomach through his whole body. It was a pleasant feeling and he was rather enjoying the feeling as it reached the top of his head and the tips of his toes. As he lay back, a happy smile on his face, he could feel the sensation intensifying, as though he were being lowered into a relaxing bath, and the water warmed and rose.”Mmmmmmm.” He hummed contentedly to himself, languidly running his fingers up and down the skin of his bare chest, relishing in the feel of skin upon skin, ripples of pleasure started to emanate from the points of contact and he found his fingers pressing harder and dragging slower. He closed his eyes, suddenly aware of his breathing deepening, a haze of sexual desire washing over him as his body shivered. His hand slid down to touch himself through the thin fabric of his undergarments, and his entire body shivered more intensely, remembering the last time he had been touched.”Sensir…” the name was a breathy moan on his tongue. He brought his other hand up to gently roll the skin of his nipple between then, stroking the length of his erection through the cloth. He could picture his new master’s hands over his body, the dark skin a contrast to his white skin, the gentle fingers caressing his hard cock and he sucked in a breath at the thought, remembering the feel of Sensir’s lips on his neck, on his own lips, and he found himself moaning aloud, biting his lip, tilting his head back as far as it could go.”Ah-ahhh, Sensir, I want you…ah…” Connor lifted his hips to take off the remaining piece of clothing and throw it aside, wrapping his fingers around his own freed erection and slowly moving his hands from the base to the shaft, moaning aloud, his free hand pulling on the erect skin of his nipples.” Fuck, I wish you were here.” His hips jolted up to meet his hand, his mind replaying Sensir’s muscular body moving over him, remembering the feeling of his fingers inside. Connor’s mind raced with unparalleled desire as the arousal coated him. His fingers slipped with the fluid his arousal had leaked from his cock and he writhed on the bed, desperate for a release, desperate for the release he’d found before with Sensir inside of him.Connor heard his moans growing louder, his hand thrusting in time with his memories of Sensir thrusting inside of him. His breath was heavy on his lips, sweat beading on his brow as his hand worked quickly up and down his shaft. “Ahhhh! Ah, Sensir, please…please cum…let me cum, please, I…a-ahhh…” Connor’s hand shook and his body arched off the bed, head tilting back as a loud, desperate moan tore from his throat and his body shook in orgasm, the waves of pleasure he’d felt before intensifying and wracking his body, toes curling, biting his own fingers to keep from screaming himself hoarse, the image of his master’s orgasm face emblazoned in his mind as cum gathered in his hand. “Sensir,” he murmured once more.It took several minutes for his breathing to return to normal and for his body to stop quaking and he sat up, thoroughly exhausted yet satisfied, but not so much as he’d thought. Slowly his thoughts cleared as he made his way towards the cleansing chambers; the crystals beaming a more thorough cleanse through his hair and skin than any soap and water in the whole world. When he stepped out, feeling clean, but still tired, he looked at the bottle in a whole new light. Sensir was due to come home that day from a business trip and Connor knew he wasn’t yet done with the gross contents for the day.About half an hour before Sensir was due to arrive the house was in a flurry. The finishing touches of cleaning were being applied, dinner plates were being garnished, and Rider seemed to be panicked for absolutely no reason at all. Connor, however, was completely unaware of the fuss outside. He was in his room trying to figure out what to wear. Despite all of his standard lowering, he couldn’t see himself wearing some stupid frilly getup to seduce anybody. Sensir had purchased a man, he reasoned, and he should be presented as such. But that still didn’t leave much room for what to wear when you’re presenting yourself for someone’s sexual use.After agonizing over the decision in a manner that would thrill Rider, Connor decided for what seemed the simplest option. He’d remembered a pair of smooth, silk pajamas, a button-up shirt and matching shorts, in a vivid red that came with a transparent robe of sorts. He donned his “fuck me” clothes and gave his hair a weird brush-over in the mirror, completely unsure as to how these things usually went, and then did his best to sneak out of his own room and up into Sensir’s quarters. Despite the knowledge that the staff knew precisely why he was there, he found it another thing altogether to flaunt it broadly in front of the same people that collected his laundry or prepared breakfast.Once he’d made it up to Sensir’s bedroom, which already had the air control set to his ideal temperature and his favorite hookah pipe all ready, Connor took the small pill bottle out of his pocket that he’d ferreted up there. As he ran past the hall Rider was in he’d overheard her telling the staff that the master of the house was less than ten minutes away. Without stopping to think too much about it, Connor filled the pill bottle the rest of the way up with water to mix in the drops of the aphrodisiac that he’d replaced in the bottom, drinking the whole contents in two gulps. Realizing he’d forgot to bring something up there with him to chase away the disgusting taste, he found himself chewing on one of Sensir’s towels in the bathroom to help, realizing he’d have to explain himself later.Only a few minutes later he felt the tell-tale heat beginning to take over him so he made his way to Sensir’s bed and knelt on the bed, self consciously adjusting his robe to try and make it look simultaneously sexual and accidental and succeeding at neither. Before the full arousal hit him he heard the door open and close and an exhausted sigh. Before Connor could even move or think of something to say Sensir had come into the room, loosening a tie with his free hand and turning on the lights with his other. They met each other’s eyes and Connor couldn’t help but stare.Sensir was more breathtaking than he’d remembered. Tall, muscular, but slender, not even exhaustion could mar the beautiful features of his face, the warm light was setting off his exotically dark skin, rippling down his long hair.”Sensir, I-” Connor made a move to step off the bed and boldly stride towards the man who owned him, but he felt his knees go weak as the serum took over and he stumbled, colliding with Sensir who caught him and held him upright.”Connor?” Sensir was confused, but tipped the younger man’s head upwards to look at his face. “Are you okay?””No,” Connor said thickly, fingers gripping at the expensive fabric of Sensir’s shirt.”What’s the matter?”Connor pressed his cheek against Sensir’s chest, feeling the warmth of his body. “I’m scared.”Sensir frowned in confusion and pet Connor’s hair soothingly. “What’re you afraid of?””This is all new to me. I don’t know how to seduce a man. I don’t know how to be a good slave. I don’t know shit about this world, this town, this house, this place, or even you.” Connor trembled from the fear of his own words and the sudden onset of his arousal. “I don’t know what to do,” it might kill him to admit it, but he felt at least a single tear in his eye that slipped out without his being able to stop it.”What can I do?” Sensir sat down on the bed and brought Connor into his lap to steady his charge. Connor exhaled sharply through his nose and then turned to look Sensir directly in his hazelnut eyes, his eyes sharp and intent with the intensity of his desire.”Right now, you can fuck me. You can throw me on that bed and fuck me until I can’t cum any more, until I can’t move, until my voice is gone. I need you. I need you to fuck me.” He leaned in and kissed Sensir, feeling his entire body blazing with the heat of his need, parting his lips willingly to allow Sensir’s tongue to claim his mouth. Connor closed his eyes and moaned, leaning his body weight completely against Sensir, wrapping his arms around his master’s neck, pressing his body against Sensir’s entirely, trying to close any space that might be left between them.Sensir’s hands reached up to Connor’s shoulders as their kiss intensified, sliding off the flimsy excuse for a robe. He immediately went about undoing the button’s to Connor’s so-called sleepwear, slowly running his hands down Connor’s arms and over his chest as he pushed the fabric aside, hearing Connor moan into his mouth as he did brought on his own arousal more intensely to have Connor so responsive. Sensir gathered Connor in his arms and broke their kiss, laying Connor on his back and then bending down, gently teasing the skin of Connor’s neck with his tongue, biting softly now and again to elicit a groan as Connor’s head rolled back, his eyes closed. Connor’s hand wandered down to the silk of his shorts, rubbing his cock through the fabric. Sensir moved Connor’s hand away, using his own to stroke his already burgeoning erection. Connor cried out, his hands grabbing handfuls of the comforter, his eyes squeezed shut, his chest heaving from the touch alone.”I’m not going to last,” he breathed out. Sensir stopped teasing his neck and kissed him again, harder, his tongue meeting Connor’s. He couldn’t help but groan into their kiss, his own satisfactions coming up.”You’ll last,” he murmured in a low voice, “just trust me. Let yourself go.””I trust you,” Connor gasped, “just fucking make a mess out of me. Take me.” He raked his nails up Sensir’s back as a shiver ran through him. “Hurry.” Connor sat up and undid the buttons of Sensir’s shirt as fast as he could with his eager fingers, finally managing them and then clumsily helping him out of his shirt, eagerly devouring Sensir’s gorgeous chest with his lips and his tongue, letting himself savor the spicy taste of his skin. Sensir’s hand gripped Connor’s golden locks, gently guiding his head until Connor worked free, reaching out to undo Sensir’s belt, then the button and zip of his pants. Without waiting, he reached in and pulled out Sensir’s cock, already hard, which made Connor shiver with anticipation. Sensir opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a moan as Connor leaned forwards and took almost Sensir’s whole cock into his mouth, his tongue swirling around the head before taking the whole length into his throat, working with an almost expert touch. Connor closed his eyes and moaned around the length of the stiff erection, reaching down to stroke his own to match his head as he relished the taste of Sensir in his mouth. He let out a faint sound of disappointment when Sensir pulled him away and brought their lips together again.”I need to prepare you.” Connor took Sensir’s hand, separating away two fingers and slipping them in his mouth, sucking and working them with the same vigor he’d used on his cock.”Prepare me,” he looked at Sensir through heavily hooded eyes, “or take me without.”Sensir didn’t answer Connor with words, but locked their lips together in another deep kiss before gently touching Connor’s entrance with his fingers, causing Connor to squirm and shiver, before gently sliding his fingers inside. Connor dug his fingers into Sensir’s shoulders and moaned, arching his back as Sensir began to pump his fingers in and out, coaxing Connor’s body to loosen and open to receive him.”Please, stop torturing me, I n-ahh…I need you,” Connor’s sentence trailed off in a moan, his words had come out in a hurry as he felt he was fit to burst, his heart was throbbing and his chest rose and fell with an intensity he’d never felt.”You think you’re ready?” Sensir pulled his fingers free and looked at Connor in the eyes. Connor turned to kneel, his back facing Sensir, before resting forwards on his elbows. He looked back at Sensir, his ass in the air, and growled out, “fuck me.”Sensir lined up his cock with Connor’s willing entrance, pausing for a breath to listen to Connor’s heavy breathing, before slowly pushing inside his tight entrance. Connor let out a long cry of pleasure, clawing at the now exposed sheets, his back arching as far as it would go.”Connor,””Sensir…ah…a-ah! P-please, take me! Fuck me!”The begging turned into loud moans as Sensir pushed himself fully inside and then began to thrust into Connor, building up a rhythm and then meeting Connor’s request by grabbing his hips and pushing harder inside of him, faster, hearing the pleasurable shouts at each thrust in. Sensir felt his breathing increasing and he knew he was going to cum soon, but he knew Connor was quivering with the sheer desire. Sensir reached his hand around and found Connor’s cock already slippery with the anticipation.”Connor.” He leaned down and gripped Connor’s cock harder, thrusting even further into him than before, whispering in Connor’s ear. “Cum for me.”The words were all Connor needed. He threw his head back and moaned loudly. “Sensir…ah…ah….ahhhhhhh!” His entire body shuddered with the force of his climax as hot cum spilled from his cock onto Sensir’s fingers. He gasped for air, his hips still bucking with Sensir’s thrusts. “Cum insi…inside me, please, Sensir, I need it!”Sensir slid his hand down Connor’s cock to collect the semen that had spilled out, at the same time reaching his own orgasm and filling Connor up with all that he had, gently rocking their bodies to recover as Connor gasped for air and he struggled to regain his own breath. He slid slowly out of Connor as some of the evidence of their lovemaking slipped down Connor’s thighs, but neither of them paid any mind. Sensir lay on the bed and Connor half collapsed atop of him, breathing heavily with his eyes closed, Sensir’s hand languidly combing through Connor’s shorter tresses.Connor didn’t say anything as they lay in silence, feeling completely satisfied and drained at the same time, his entire body exhausted. He had the feeling that he should be guilty or embarrassed, but neither of those feelings came up. Instead, when he had the strength back in his arms, he propped himself up and leaned down to give Sensir a soft kiss that was reciprocated immediately.”Rest, Connor. We’ll clean up later,” Sensir said as Connor settled his head back on Sensir’s chest. As if he’d been waiting for permission Connor closed his eyes; within minutes he was fast asleep.It had been less than an hour that had passed, but when Connor woke from his hurried nap he was sure that hours had washed by and he sat up with a start, looking around and blinking in the darkness of the room. Slowly the shapes of the room began to come into focus, reminding Connor that he was in Sensir’s bedroom. Sensir himself had been dozing off lightly besides him, but the sudden flailing had brought him back to consciousness and he smiled up at Connor, reaching up a hand to move the unruly hair from his slave’s eyes.”Had a bad dream?”Connor rubbed his eyes with his free hand, the other pushing the covers off of his over-heated body. “Forgot where I was for a sec.”Sensir leaned over and switched on a lamp on the nightstand, squinting a little in the sudden brightness while Connor just scrunched up his eyes even more. “Well, now you seem reminded. What’s the sudden change for? I was beginning to think you might be sick in the mind.”Connor shrugged and cracked his neck from side to side. “Just did some thinking and talked to some people. Figured I may as well try and make this all work, I guess.” He instinctively patted his hip looking for his cigarettes and grumbled to himself when all he touched was skin. Sensir chuckled and brought over the slim silver pipe he had smoked the last time Connor was up and offered it up; Connor hesitated for a minute and then began to smoke some heavily fruity concoction.”You are a mystery to me, Connor. You’re as wild as the wind. Wilder, maybe.””Well,” Connor breathed out a thick cloud of smoke, “my mom did compare me to a wild a****l a few times, and they always say that mom’s always right, so I guess there’s truth to that.””Wild and then sweet.” Sensir chuckled and touched Connor’s cheek with the back of his hand before standing and stretching. Despite himself, Connor found himself staring and admiring Sensir’s gorgeous physique, seeing the muscles stretch and move beneath his skin, the phoenix tattoo taking flight momentarily. “Do you think that you could bring the sweet side of you to play next weekend?””What’s next weeken-?” Connor dissolved into coughs, having choked on the smoke while trying to talk.Sensir chuckled and sat back down on the edge of the bed. “My older brother is getting married. I’d worried about bringing you with me, but if you can behave yourself I’ll bring you with me.””I didn’t know you had a brother.””Just one older brother, Amun. He’s marrying his long-time fiancée, her name is Svetlana Kolanski.””Am I supposed to know who that is?”Sensir laughed and shook his head. “Oh no, I just figured to tell you. She comes from an aristocratic family. She and Amun have been engaged for about two years now? Well, maybe a little bit more.””How’d they meet?” Connor handed back the pipe to Sensir, since the rich smoke was making him feel a little bit sick.”I believe they met at a restaurant about six years ago.””That’s a long time,” Connor said. “How old’s your brother?”Sensir frowned a little bit in thought. “Hmmm…if I’m doing my math right, he’d be just about thirty-six.””And how old are you?”Sensir looked Connor right in his eyes. “Well, that’s bold.””You know how old I am,” he said pointedly. Sensir just reached over and ruffled Connor’s hair. “Come on, tell me. Otherwise I’ll look it up on the internet.””I’m thirty-one.””Why so embarrassed about that?””Oh, I’m not embarrassed.” Sensir leaned back on his elbows, stretching out his legs. “I just didn’t think it was any sort of relevant information.” When Connor just shrugged Sensir laughed. “Come now. My previous slaves thought it made me a sophisticated older man.””Well,” Connor said thoughtfully, “you’re definitely older.””Perhaps the wild a****l needs to be tamed.””You said you wanted me to be me. This is me. I’m a sarcastic bastard with bad manners.””Well, don’t let any of those bad habits and bad manners come out to play at the wedding. Or I might drown you in a fountain.”Connor started to laugh, but the expression changed when he saw the raised eyebrow on Sensir’s stoic face. “Wait, are you serious?””Just behave at the wedding.” Sensir beckoned Connor to lean closer and, when he did, gave him a quick, hard kiss on the mouth and then swiftly got up and strode to the bathroom, leaving Connor to deal with his jumbled thoughts, not the least of which was what would happen if he wasn’t the model pet at the upcoming nuptials. And with that he flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.Just shy of a week later found them on a Saturday morning in the back of Edwin’s expertly-driven craft. Sensir was reading the morning news on a crystal tablet and sipping a mimosa from a glass flute, breakfast on the fold-down table before him. Connor was staring out the window as the scenery changed from the tall buildings of the city to the opulent landscapes of the rich and wealthy members of society as the hours flew by. Gorgeous gardens, houses that stood with as much family pride as the members it housed, elaborate mansions and manors that kept Connor’s rapt attention, despite the fact he’d never had much of a taste for architecture, at least for the first few hours.”How much longer?” It sounded like a whine, but Connor had finally gotten bored of watching the scenery. He slumped down in the seats and folded his arms.”From here? About twenty minutes or so. We’re traveling quite fast, you know.””I know, I know,” Connor said dismissively, sighing a little bit.”You are still so young, Connor.” Sensir laughed and put the empty glass down on the table, putting his arm around Connor’s shoulders and pulling him close. “Patience, my pet, patience.””Patience, patience, patience.” Connor mimicked Sensir and then stuck out his tongue and made a slight gagging noise, really only serving to prove Sensir’s point. Sensir chuckled and kissed the top of Connor’s head and then shook his head.”A hard-learned virtue. Though I will say it paid off for me. You’ve become a much better companion.”The past few days had been fun. Sensir had taken Connor into town for a day to spend some time, and twice with the help of Aki’s special serum he and Connor had screwed hard in various rooms of the house, Connor screaming out Sensir’s name each time and collapsing in a pool of his own pleasure after each orgasm. The last time Connor had even cut down on the drops, not wanting to become addicted in case it was addictive, but he had still moaned and shuddered, taking in Sensir’s hardened cock with an almost criminal eagerness. A brief blush floated over Connor’s face, but he shrugged it away and folded his arms over his chest. “Yeah, well,” he said, “wilder than the wind, right?”They rode together in silence, Connor resting against Sensir’s chest and listening to the steady heartbeat. He was just on the cusp of falling into a light slumber when Sensir’s voice brought him back. “Here we are, Connor.””Huh? Oh, damn!” Connor scrambled to the window and his eyes widened. Before him were a set of enormous, gorgeous gates that slid noiselessly apart to let them in, revealing a beautiful, elegant mansion that was buzzing and decorated for a lavish wedding affair. The trees that lined the driveway were full of exotically flowering trees, an intoxicating perfume drifting in even though the windows were closed. The house itself could hardly be compared to a regular house, the sheer grandness of it had left Connor speechless. It was the sort of dwelling of fairytales, and he could see where Sensir’s well-bred airs had come from now he saw where he’d grown up. The gardens were a masterpiece of their own and he could see the top of a flowing white tent from the grounds in the background.”Lord Sensir.” The voice caught Connor off guard. A man dressed pristinely in a suit with white gloves on his hands was holding the door open for Sensir who stepped out.”Come along, Connor.” Connor scrambled out after Sensir, not wanting to be left in the craft. The footman gave Connor a light nod and then closed the door, allowing Edwin to drive away to allow whoever might come through next their chance at the door. Connor stood staring at the fountain while Sensir greeted several of the staff members who had come to see him.”Sensir? Is that you?” Connor turned just in time to see who was obviously Amun at the door, dressed casually in a pair of jeans and an un-tucked button up shirt, though his feet were bare. As dark as Sensir was, Amun was fair in skin, though the olive tones and slight darkness gave him away as a relative. They shared the same high cheekbones, the same smile, the same perfect teeth, and the same height. He ran down the stairs with c***dlike glee and threw his arms around Sensir in a hug, laughing all the way. To Connor’s surprise, Sensir reciprocated and patted his brother on the back, his smile reaching all the way up to his eyes.”Well, if it isn’t the groom! Shouldn’t you be preparing something somewhere?”Amun laughed and shook his head, raising his arms in an exaggerated display of defeat. “I have surrendered all of my preparations to Lana. She never took my opinion seriously, anyways.””Really?””Oh, she’d ask if I preferred black or white. I’d say black, she’d tell the person white, and that was that.”Sensir laughed and clapped his brother on the back. “Women, huh?””Women,” Amun agreed. “Say, when’ll you find one of your own?””Now don’t you start on me again or I’m getting back in the craft and going straight home.””I’m just teasing you. Who’s this you brought with you?”Connor, who had figured he was being ignored and was leaning into the fountain to see if there were fish, stood up quickly and looked back over. He expected Sensir to be mad, but the brothers were just looking at him. Sensir was observing him, Amun looking at him curiously.”This is Connor, my new pet and companion.””Hello, Connor. I’m Amun.” He offered his hand and Connor came over to shake it, noticing the enormous signet ring that Amun was wearing when it brushed against his skin.”Nice to meet you. Oh, congratulations.””Well, thank you. Come on in, we’ll get you both settled. Sensir, everyone’s going to be so happy to see you.” He put his arm around Sensir’s back and lead him towards the house, leaving Connor to tag along behind, eyes darting everywhere to take in as much as he could.The entrance hall was just as much a feast for the eyes as the exterior. Two twin, curved marble staircases stood at each end of the enormous hall, a crystal chandelier that could have crushed Connor’s whole family home beneath it was hung in the center. To his right he could see a flurry of staff setting up what was obviously a very opulent wedding dinner hall setup, and on the left he could see the finishing touches being placed on a gorgeous dance hall for the after-dinner dancing.”Mother and father are overseeing everything outside. Why don’t you two go upstairs and unpack? We’ll see you both in a little while.” Amun waved a hand before jogging over to meet and absolutely gorgeous blonde that Connor would have thought was a supermodel, but context told him was the bride-to-be.”Here,” Sensir took Connor’s arm and guided him towards the left-hand staircase and lead him up, allowing Connor to get a great look at the chandelier and noticing, for the first time, the enormous skylight in the ceiling. He barely saw where they were going as Sensir lead him down the plush hallways, beautiful works of priceless art hanging on the walls.”Here we are.” Sensir opened the door to reveal a light, air suite with a beautiful canopied bed, decorated in all different shades of green and silver. “This is where I grew up.”Connor walked in and took a few steps around, peering into the closets and the bathrooms, seeing the remnants of Sensir’s old clothing hanging on the racks, custom towels hanging in the bathrooms. On the far wall of the bedroom there were a handful of framed candid photographs showing a younger Sensir and a group of what Connor could immediately discern were his friends; a group of five at a festival, having a dinner party, at a formal ball, always with their arms around each other and enormous smiles on their faces.”Do you still talk to them?” Connor gestured to the pictures while Sensir sat on the bed and stretched his arms.”Hm? Here and there, mostly now at formal events. They’ll all be here tonight, actually.””Yeah?””Oh yes. That’s me and then the one with the short hair is Amun. The blonde is my friend, Laehn. The girl with the black hair is our friend, Kitty, and the other girl is Lala. Well, Lala won’t be here tonight, she just had a baby. But Laehn and Kitty will be coming.””Kitty isn’t her real name, is it?””Oh no,” Sensir laughed, “that’s a nickname. Her real name is Victoria Harlowe. She used to be obsessed with cats so I think Laehn was the one that gave her the nickname in the first place.””WOAH!” Connor yelped and jumped back from the door he was standing by, just as badly startling the poor boy who had been tending to Sensir’s unpacking. Sensir laughed and came over.”Sorry, Rico. Connor’s easily startled.” Rico just gave a nervous smile and scurried off and Sensir, still laughing, headed into the enormous walk-in closet to change out of their traveling gear, emerging in a pair of black jeans and a well-fitting t-shirt that could only have cost more than Connor could imagine.”So do I have to wear my uniform?”Sensir looked Connor over and then shook his head. “If you can behave you can wear something else. I had Rider make sure that some non-uniform clothes were packed for you in addition to your formal wear for the wedding tomorrow. Get changed and we can head out to the grounds, then?”A slight feeling of elation came over Connor at the realization that, however small, a gesture of trust was being extended to him. He changed quickly into the first things he saw and rushed to join Sensir, excited to explore this new place and, finally, to see if he could carve out a place for himself where he felt comfortable.

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