Chapter 31: Shahin
Before I put another notch in my lipstick case
You better make sure you put me in my place

It took every iota of self-control Shahin had to keep her expression calm and her spine straight as she walked into the Dining Hall at Emrys’ side Sunday morning. The collar he’d bought for her was heavy around her neck, although she knew that, in reality, it was no heavier than the one she’d been wearing when she met him; it made her feel naked and exposed, despite being fully dressed in, thank whatever mercy he had, her own clothes.

He sat at an empty table, in the middle, directing her to his left with a wave of his hand. This was his usual table, she thought, but they’d left his room early this morning - after getting up very early. She almost blushed, remembering what he'd done to her in those early hours. As early as they were, his friends hadn't yet arrived, and neither had hers.

She straightened her skirt, smoothed her sleeves over her mitts, taking the moment it gave her to compose herself. She hadn’t yet figured out how she was going to explain this to Yngvi and Aelgifu. She wasn’t yet sure how he would be, in public. How much damage her persona was going to take, and how much work she’d need to do, later, to repair it.

Truth be told, if only here in the privacy of her own head, she hadn’t given thought to any of that until they were nearly at the Dining Hall. There hadn’t been much space for thinking on anything but him since he’d buckled the collar around her neck.

She glanced over at him, now, finding that, even with a little space to breathe, mentally, he was still foremost in her thoughts. Of course, she’d just bound herself to him in a way she was just beginning to understand.

He smiled faintly, noting her glance out of the corner of his eye, and spoke quietly without turning to face her. “You will not speak, except to me, unless spoken to.”

She nodded, making the gesture almost a bow with a small flourish of her left hand. “As you wish.”

“And you may have breakfast,” he said, in a tone that implied this magnanimous gesture should not be taken for granted.

“Thank you,” she replied, neither an ounce of irony in her voice, nor the equal parts of amusement and terror she was still feeling. She knew, from experience, that she could withstand quite a bit of rough handling, social and otherwise. This, while not nearly as much as she could take, had no easy escape from, much like this school.

“Sheen?” She turned, almost startled into a squeak, as Ayla came up behind her, followed close behind by a glowering Yngvi. “You weren’t in your room this morning, and we were worried.” Her glance slid over Shahin’s neck, but, even as dog-collar-like as it was, it wasn’t all that different from some of the stuff Shahin had bought for herself, and she made no comment. Shahin wondered if Ioanna had told her about Belonging.

Emrys turned slowly to face them, a sly smile on his lips. “She stayed with me, where she belongs,” he replied for her.

She wasn’t going to slap that look off his face. Not yet. Unless he made Ayla cry.

But it wasn’t Ayla who responded; it was Yngvi, sounding as if he was ready to storm the battlements and destroy the invading army with the sheer strength of his indignation. “I beg your pardon? Who are you to say where she belongs? Shahin, come on. Don’t be foolish.”

If she weren’t so worried that Emrys was going to do something to upset her friends, Shahin might have been offended at Vi’s tone. As it was, she was scrambling for an answer that would explain enough to get Vi to drop it without irritating Emrys or upsetting Ayla.

She caught Ayla’s eye, and slowly and deliberately hooked one finger in the front of the collar. “Round two,” she told her, with her best approximation of a gleeful leer.

Ayla shook her head, seeming somewhere between amused and a little hurt. “Even at breakfast?”

“Do you think I shouldn’t have brought her to breakfast, then?” Emrys asked with a delicately raised brow.

“I’m sure she’s still more than capable of bringing herself to breakfast,” Yngvi replied, icily enough to lower the temperature of the room a couple degrees, “and enjoying it with her friends.”

“I think she’ll be enjoying it with my friends, for awhile. Or not, if you really want to make a point of it.” The smile he offered the younger boy was somehow both cheerful and vicious; Shahin suppressed a flinch but allowed a slight frown to crease her forehead and twist her lips.

Ygnvi’s smile was just as vicious and twice as smooth. “You wouldn’t be threatening my friend now, would you?” he asked casually, “The girl you’ve been trying so hard to impress?”

He furrowed his brow, adopting a confused look as his tone dripped sweetness. “Oh, do you mean my property? No, dear boy, I was threatening you.”

Property. Shahin could see the word hit Ayla; she could see the pain in her friend’s eyes. “Shahin?” she asked softly, cutting off however Yngvi had been about to make things worse. “Property?”

Neither of the boys said anything; indeed, both of them were looking at her, waiting for her response. She had never felt so on display. She nodded. “Property,” she repeated, trying to make it sound light-hearted, flippant, despite the leaden way it tasted in her mouth, “for the time being. It’s all right, Ayla,” she continued quickly, giving her friend a brief, tight hug. “Just… ask Ioanna to explain, okay?”

Emrys delivered a superior smirk to Yngvi as he draped his arm casually over Shahin's shoulders. She leaned closer to him, not entirely consciously, and tried to convey by body language alone that this was all right, please don’t poke at it too hard, please don’t be angry.

Vi was determined to be angry, it seemed. “Shahin?” he asked her, his voice tight.

It was a risk, but she hoped he’d remember their earlier fight on the subject. It sounds sketchy. “‘I like sketching,’ remember?” she asked him lightly. Emrys’ arm on her shoulder felt both comforting and constraining, but she was certain nothing but her casual cheer showed on her face. “Bear with me for a while?”

His expression softened just a touch. “I can tolerate my friends being fools for a short while,” he conceded. “I’ll see you in class.” He took Ayla’s arm, gently, and turned her towards their accustomed table; with a worried look back, Ayla followed him.

Emrys turned to face Shahin, wearing a faint smile. “Protective, isn't he? If I didn’t know better, I’d think he wanted you for himself.”

“I don't think I’m his type,” she said blandly. She wasn’t really sure what his type was.

“I think you’re more the other one’s type,” he noted sharply. “But she’s not going to say anything.”

“Ayla trusts me to make my own decisions,” she answered mildly.

“And Yngvi doesn’t. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that right now.”

“Of course not.” She snuggled a little more into the comforting tightness of his arm. “You’re responsible for all my worries now.” She smiled up at him through her eyelashes, sweet, innocent, and demure.

He chuckled softly, nodding. “Yes... so we’ll be keeping them to a minimum.” He leaned down to kiss her, but his lips had just brushed hers with the lightest hint of fire when they were interrupted again.

“Well, this is interesting.” The dulcet tones of Shirley Temple in her early movies cut across their kiss; Shahin looked up to see Agatha, looking no less doll-like in her everyday clothes than she had at the dance, pouting adorably in their general direction.

“It followed me home, can I keep it?” Emrys grinned at Agatha as he looked up, his fingers straying to the collar at Shahin’s throat.

“Well, of course, dear,” she smiled back up at him, “I would never deny you your toys. But you’ve wreaked havoc with our seating arrangement.”

Shahin didn’t move. She didn’t really dare; if she moved, she would react to the way she was being spoken of. But she did note that, while Agatha was so cheerfully complaining, the boy following her around, a curly-haired blonde boy wearing a narrow purple collar, had appropriated another chair so that Agatha could, it appeared, sit at the head of the table.

“Ah, you see, your own toy has already settled the issue. You do train them well.”

Agatha glanced back, and, outmaneuvered, shrugged with bad grace. “That he has. I suppose the matter is solved then.” Her eyes raked over Shahin critically. “You do have such interesting tastes, dear.”

She stood before the scrutiny as if it meant nothing, confident in her facade if in nothing else, pitifully grateful for the warmth of Emrys’ arm on her shoulders.

“Well, she may not be to your taste, but she’s luscious, I assure you.” Emrys grinned, letting his hand trail down Shahin's body in a rather personal and possessive way.

Luscious. Well, it was very nearly a compliment. She smiled at him, just a little, enjoying his touch at the same time that it felt like he was stripping her naked.

“Hrmph. Well, to each their own, I suppose.” While she was aiming her darts, the rest of her crew came up behind her – Dysmas, as pallid as ever, with a slender girl on his arm, her chestnut-brown skin seeming a little ashen but her expression, although a tad dazed, cheerful, and Anatoliy, who eyed Shahin with a much sadder, more sympathetic look than Agatha was giving her.

“Shahin, you’ve met Agatha, Dysmas, and Anatoliy?” He indicated each in turn with a brief gesture of his right hand, his left remaining draped across her.

His gear-shift threw her for a loop; she nodded politely to cover her expression. “We’ve met,” she answered pleasantly.

He only nodded in response, glancing at the others as if to ask if they had any further comments to make. The boy and girl trailing behind Agatha and Dysmas seemed beneath his notice.

Agatha seemed content to take her seat, causing the rest of the table to rearrange themselves to suit, rippling out like the train of a dress. Shahin waited patiently for Emrys' cue, while Anatoliy sat down across from her and Dysmas sat across from Emrys and arranged his pet in the chair to his left.

It bothered her, a little, how quickly she fell into thinking of these other people as merely walking dolls; at the same time, she hoped that was all he would expect of her during these meals. She wasn't sure she could hold together if she was expected to make polite conversation with Agatha for a week.

Fortunately, it seemed that there was no such expectation. The other pets - no, the two pets, she couldn’t,wouldn’t think of herself that way - were barely regarded as their keepers made small talk over breakfast. Missing her friends already, Shahin ate her meal in silence, swallowing her food without really tasting it at all.

When breakfast was, mercifully, over, Emrys walked her back to his room. “We have some time to kill.”

Oh, good. Nodding, because she didn’t trust her voice not to betray her, she walked beside him gracefully and proudly. One week. She could handle this for one week.


Chapter 31.5: Shahin
And so you put up your guard, And you try to be hard
But your heart says, 'try again'

She wasn't crying. Nothing he could do to her would make her cry, and, besides, he hadn't been rough with her, just... very thoroughly in control. She'd found herself lost in the scene more than once - call it a scene. That makes it better, right? - enough so that it had felt good, goddamn him, when he had praised her, patting her head. She was not going to turn into a little lapdog for him. And she wasn't crying. Nothing he could do to her would break her.

“I’m hungry again,” he commented, his hand resting on her ass, “but this is fun. Maybe we should just move to the dining hall. Your little friends might be entertained by the show.”

She couldn’t answer. There was nothing she could say that might not encourage him to go through with it. But, damnit, she was not crying. Maybe her eyes were watering a bit, but she couldn't move to wipe them. He paused for a moment, caressing the arched line of her back. “Would you like that?”

“No,” she murmured softly, her voice quiet because it was the only way to keep it level. “I prefer to perform for an audience of one.” At least, when the performance was like this.

“Well, perhaps I’ll grant you that, then.” And then, blessedly, not conversation, just his hands on her hips, pulling and pushing in increasingly faster rhythm, while she tried to lose herself in the pleasure and pain swirling through her.

Afterwards, he grabbed her hair, and brought his cock, still slick, to her face. “Clean me off, and then you can go to the bathroom to take care of yourself.”

She did so, taking her time with it, being so very thorough, making it just another volley in their battle, finding every sensitive nerve and playing with it, until he was pristinely clean, and until she elicited the moan she was looking for, and he pulled back. “I’ll want more of that later. Go clean yourself off.”

While he dressed, she cleaned herself and, as quickly as she could, righted her hair; she exited his bathroom to find him wearing boots and a jacket and stifled yet another surge of panic.

“I’m taking you out, put some clothes on if you want.”

Fighting the panic – she was still wearing her mitts, at least – she picked through the bag of clothes he’d allowed her and, in record speed, created an outfit she found acceptable and dressed herself. She desperately wanted to change her mitts for something more appropriate, but that hadn’t been part of their arrangement, and she didn’t think he’d turn his back if she asked.

“You’ll do,” he nodded, eyeing her critically. Without another word, he opened the door, extending a hand in her direction.

Fighting a sudden urge to break into tears, she set her hand in his, focusing intently on the movement, making it perfect, even as her free hand went, almost unconsciously, to her hair. Did she really look that bad? She was mortified to find that she was biting her lip.

He took her hand firmly, but gently, leading her through the halls with barely a sideways glance. She quickly found herself in unfamiliar territory, but it was hard to concentrate on their route, distracted as she was. If only she had her new lace cuffs with her…

She looked down at the floor, fretting, trying to resist the urge to play with the hem of her skirt.

“Close your eyes.”

What? But her eyes were closed, and she leaned on him, trusting his guidance.

They walked that way an interminable distance. Her eyes closed, she had to rely on Emrys completely for direction. Being entirely in his keeping was comforting, knowing that her only responsibility was to do as he told her to, but the comfort of that was more than a little disturbing. She’d never allowed herself to lean on anyone, not in years.

The quiet of the halls gave way to noises which sounded more like a park – birdsong and a light breeze; somewhere in the distance, children were playing loudly. The warmth of the noon sun burned down on her dark clothing. Shahin squeezed Emry’s hand tightly, alarmed. She wanted to open her eyes, but found that she couldn’t. Where was he taking her, and how was she supposed to know how to act if she couldn’t see the people around her?

“You can open your eyes,” he said finally. When she did so, with great relief, she beheld what looked like Main Street, U.S.A., cheerful brick storefronts with brightly-colored awnings, made all the more surreal – she didn’t remember any stairs, or elevators – by the slim-hipped man sashaying down the sidewalk, his slender, whiplike tail moving with the wiggle of his ass, and the green-haired woman in short denims cut-offs striding past them.

They were standing in front of a café so perfectly “café” in appearance that it might have been cut out of a magazine. Little tables were arranged under the brightly striped awning, and booths lined the walls inside.

A café? She smoothed her hair and clothes again, wondering what he was playing at.

A slender girl with a cute blond bob and wide, wide slanted blue eyes greeted them at the door. “Table for two?” she asked in a brightly perky voice.

“Yeah,” Emrys agreed, “somewhere cozy.” He squeezed Shahin’s hand, and smiled at her, the kind of warm, conspiratorial smile she’d never expected to see on his face, and certainly not now. The hostess showed them to a corner booth, where he sat facing her, picking up the single menu from the side of the table. “What are you in the mood for?”

Your blood. She licked her lips thoughtfully, wondering how far the game went, wondering if he was in any way considering giving her what she wanted. “Something light.”

He nodded, studying the menu for another moment and then setting it aside, out of her easy reach. She folded her hands on the table in front of her, and smiled at him as if they really were on a date.

When the hostess, still smiling with all her very, very sparkly teeth showing, came to take their order, he ordered a cheeseburger for himself and a garden salad for her, with a generous, playful smile, as if to say, see, I can be kind and giving if I want to.

It being much what she would have ordered for herself, she couldn’t find any reason to complain, so she smiled back at him, what a pleasant date we’re on, and murmured “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he nodded, and fell silent again.

She studied his face for a moment. He really was handsome, something she’d not really had the time to contemplate before. Sitting here like this, a table separating them, gave her a moment to catch her breath.

But just a moment, as she remembered where they were, or, rather, that she had not a clue where they were.

“This place,” she asked, with a gesture that took in the whole village, “what is it? Where is it?”

“The Village," he smiled. "You didn't think the school could sustain itself with just the faculty and students, did you?"

“I-” she frowned. “I guess I never really thought about it.”

“The Village is... a support structure, of sorts. Staff, friends, family, alumni. New students can't come here on their own; but I thought it’d be a nice change of pace.”

“Alumni?” She didn’t bother to hide her surprise. “This place has alumni?”

“Well, yeah... did you think you’d be a student your whole life?”

“I guess I never really thought about it,” she frowned, “but I have trouble imagining people graduating from here.” Her frown deepened. “My mother told me this was a one-year program, but you’ve been here, what, a year already? Melchior, too; this is his second time taking Trig. How long do people stay here, anyway?”

“Four years. Just like a school for normal people.”

“Except that there’s nothing normal about us.”

“Nothing?” He smiled across the table at her. “Here we are, a boy and a girl out on a date, just like normal people.”

She considered and threw out three responses before she finally decided to take him at face value. She smiled back at him, trying to match his warmth. “It’s a first for me.”

“Maybe you just didn’t know the right kind of guy before.”

Despite every intention she had of playing it cool, her smile widened. “Perhaps you’re right.”

She recalled that thought nine hours later, as she lay nearly-naked in his bed, pressed up against him. Maybe he was the right kind of guy. If so, what did that say about her, that, after a string of badder and badder boys, that she was finding contentment here, wearing nothing but his collar and her gloves?

He’d spent the day treating her like a possession. He’d done things to her in his bedroom that she’d never let anyone else even suggest doing, and he’d threatened to do things that, had anyone else thought of doing, she would have sworn vile and dark revenge on them. And yet, she felt right and warm in his arms.

When he was being nice, at least. But, she mused, listening to the pounding of his heartbeat, even at his most domineering, he had treated her like a person – albeit a person with no free will. He cared about her, whether he wanted to tell her so or not.


Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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