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(Let's Play) Master and Servant

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The secretary places a cup and saucer carefully on the Patrician's desk. There's no rattle of porcelain, no slosh of liquid over the cup's gilded rim. Practice has made him deft, and even, he hopes, graceful.

He's good at making tea. It's a precise business, needing accurate measurement of the water's temperature, the tea leaves' weight, and a steeping time that varies depending on the tea's type and age. Balancing these factors requires some skill, like the puzzle-solving the Patrician enjoys. Perhaps, the secretary thinks, it's even a little bit like ruling the city. Politics in miniature, finite, perfectible, and safe.

"Thank you," says the secretary's master, not looking up from the array of draught letters spread out before him. After another minute of reading, he tastes the tea; he says nothing. This is a kind of reward. It means the secretary has balanced another set of factors properly (the weather, the time, the day's events, his master's mood and the degree of his weariness), and the delicate Agatean green tea he brewed is acceptable. At first, when he hadn't yet learned to interpret properly, he often made as many as six pots of different teas before his master was satisfied.

The man at the desk drinks two cups of tea as he works, making the occasional correction in a handwriting the secretary knows is as regular as letterpress but far more beautiful. At last he looks up, expression shading from abstraction to alertness. His thoughts are here now, focused on the secretary who awaits his instructions. "These need recopying in the morning, then they're ready to go to Genua."

"Yes, sir." After a moment's silence, the secretary asks, "Will there be anything else?"

He dreads a no. No means a failure, some shortcoming unnoticed by himself but obnoxious to his master. A thing he'll worry at when he should be sleeping, until he finds his error and works out how to bring his service a little closer to perfection.

But tonight he'll have no such grief. "Yes," his master says.

With a muffled scrape of wood against carpet, his master shifts the chair sideways. The secretary kneels, eyes lowered, noticing a fluff of dust at the toe of one polished boot. It's hard to stay impeccable in an office the housemaids are seldom let into. He wipes it away with the edge of his own velvet sleeve.

"Go ahead," he's told. A hint of eagerness in the voice makes him smile very privately. He lifts the heavy black robe and reaches under it, sliding his palms up two narrow thighs to find the points of his master's breeches. The knot resists his fingers; it may be a test or a coincidence, but he applies his wits to it, tracing out the shape of a tangle he can't see, seeking the crucial loops and teasing them open. He remembers what the Patrician says: there are knots that can't be cut, because you might need the strings again. Unlike many metaphors, this one's true even when taken literally.

Once the lacing is undone he slides forward, ducking his head under the robe's folds, and fondles his master's soft penis. It stiffens as he rubs, growing taller and hotter, becoming something he can only call (although he hates vulgarity) a prick.

A ragged sigh tells him his master is ready for more. He bends his head and kisses it, this hard unruly thing that's each man's truest, most demanding master. His own prick (the hidden sign of every man's likeness, the truth covered over by clothes and rank) aches for touch. It doesn't matter. His purpose goes beyond the base equality of bodies.

His master's hands tighten on his shoulders as he sucks. Sometimes he has bruises afterwards, as black and deep-impressed as the Patrician's wax seals. The pain of it fires him, and so do the unwilling groans he draws forth from a fastidious and silent man. Of all the secrets he and his master have between them (and what's a secretary but a keeper of secrets?), this is one of the most occult: service is power, inescapably.

Since it's a green tea day, an even-tempered and unworried day, he draws the pleasure out a little with a changing rhythm and a light mouth. His master's body goes gradually rigid, breath collapsing into stutters. All self-control broken, all mastery overmastered, he's helpless, ruled by the merest flick of the tongue.

But not so helpless, either. His fingers curve and dig, his voice grinds out something only possibly a word but unmistakably a command. It's time.

Speed is what's vital now. The secretary grips his master's prick harder, hand at the base and mouth at the tip, and helps him to his climax. A half-stifled cry, a mouthful of semen that the secretary swallows, accepting his master's body into his own. It tastes no different from any man's, but that is not important.

He's done well. The hands on his shoulders relax and gently touch the sore places. He'll look at the fingermarks in the mirror tomorrow morning, when they've bloomed properly, and remember how well he's done. He treasures these victories.

When his master's breathing has slowed almost to normal, he stands. His erection distends the front of his robe. He'll look after himself later, or perhaps - oh yes. He has done well, and his master's not one to let good service go unthanked. Two dextrous hands find him, work him as he clutches the edge of the desk and fights to keep his knees locked. Absolute certainty in the touch. No one has ever known so well how to conquer him. What might it be like to feel his master's mouth on him, his master's bare body against his own? There's nothing he wouldn't do to earn that privilege.

The thought shoves him to the peak and over it. With a whining grunt he knows is undignified, he spills himself into his master's fingers.

"Open your eyes," he's told a little later. "Look at me." His master meets his gaze, eyes as dark and full of possible messages as an inkwell, and lifts a sticky hand to his own mouth. He licks it. Licks up the proof of his servant's devotion, and at the sight the secretary's knees buckle. He's guided with soothing murmurs to lean against his master's legs, and he rests there. His master cups the back of his neck and pets his hair while he slots the fragments of himself back in place.

When he feels solid again, he stands. This time, so does his master. The Patrician's chair is empty. At that moment, standing and looking into each other's faces, they are equals.

Vetinari swallows. The taste of semen lingers at the back of his dry throat, and his mouth remembers the shape of the other man's sex. "Thank you, Rufus."

"It's my pleasure." Drumknott smiles and puts a hand--terribly steady against Vetinari's still-shaky flesh--on his arm. "Havelock."

Vetinari mirrors the gesture, and a little leaning from each brings them into an approximate embrace. This has never happened before. It feels restfully blank, as neutral and undefined as floating, and as such it can't last long. Drumknott is faintly smiling when they let go, and Vetinari lets himself do the same.

He sits in his chair, which is still warm from Drumknott's body, and becomes the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork again. Polis, he thinks. Politician. The city's man, its ruler and its slave. "I should like a pot of tea, please, Drumknott. The aged Jade Dew. And that will be all for tonight."

"Yes, sir." Drumknott glides away in silent perfection to obey him.