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Let Me Occupy Your Mind (As You Do Mine)

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It’s not the kind of building that has a bouncer. There isn’t a line out the front, there isn’t music pounding out into the street. There are just blacked out windows and the word Kattegat in silver block letters on the side of the building, and a short man with dark hair and a suspicious squint standing at the door checking the ID of anyone who enters. It could just be a business building, in the wrong district of the city. It could be, but it isn’t.

Athelstan stands down the street from it for a while, pacing towards it and away from it again, a business card with a few scrawled words on the back burning a hole in his pocket as the hour gets later, from ten to eleven, and his hands get chilled from the night air. The collection of people going into the building are an odd assortment: some are as casually dressed as he is, in jeans and a nice shirt, but there’s a woman in a trenchcoat whose leather boots come above her knees but still leave a sliver of skin showing before the coat covers her, and a man whose jacket doesn’t disguise that his chest is bare underneath, and another man wearing a leather choker, a woman leading him along by a sure grip on his arm. All of them are smiling, or at least look comfortable.

The only reason Athelstan doesn’t turn around and leave … well, there are more reasons than one, really. He refuses to be a coward, for one thing, even if he’s the only one who would ever know it. For another, he’s curious. And for a third, he thinks he knows something about himself, but he wants to know it for sure, and for that, he has to go inside.

It’s the last reason that finally makes him cross the street and walk up to the man at the door, who gives him an unpleasant smirk. “ID?”

Athelstan fumbles the business card out of his pocket: the front just says Kattegat in the same font as the side of the building with an address below it, and the back has a message: referral from Siggy (s). That makes the doorkeeper raise his eyebrows. “She said that would count as an ID,” Athelstan says.

In answer, the doorkeeper stamps his hand. The mark is a squiggle that takes a moment to resolve itself into the letter s, and Athelstan can’t say he’s surprised. “First time is free with a referral, after that you pay membership fees. Go in.”

He wants to say that he doesn’t intend there to be a second time, no matter what he finds out tonight, but he doubts that will interest him, and it shouldn’t matter to anyone but Athelstan, not really. He’s just one in a crowd, forgettable, and he’s not here for pleasure, not precisely. He does say “Thank you,” because it’s best to be polite, but then he goes inside, the card handed back to him, and walks across the seemingly endless lobby, carpeted in soft red, tasteful paintings hung on the walls.

The size of the room only serves to make him more nervous, and make every step feel like an achievement. He can hear the music, from here, the low throb of bass that he remembers from the few parties he was dragged to in college. When he makes it to the double doors at the end of the room, though, it’s much louder, and he pushes them open to find a reception desk and several doors branching off from it. He can hear some of the music over the bass, in here, but mostly he’s frozen by the sight of Siggy sitting at the reception desk, looking businesslike but wearing eyeliner and more leather than he would have expected. And also less leather than he would have expected. He keeps his eyes firmly on her face and lets her laugh at his blush. “Athelstan,” she greets him, just as friendly as she is when she comes to the library when he’s working. “I didn’t know if you would show up so soon.”

“I thought it would be impolite to leave it too long.” That’s a lie, and they both know it. He finally drops his gaze down to the floor, because it’s hard not to look at Siggy and remember the look on her face in the library three days ago, the glee and teasing when she caught him reading something unexpected under the desk, and then the thoughtfulness when she grabbed his hair with a calculating expression and tipped his head back until he let out a high, humiliating noise. She’d apologized, and then given him a business card and a reading list, and now here he is, and they both know why. He’s never going to be able to recommend her a book again. “What do you need me to do?”

“Read over the rules and sign a few things,” she says. It’s reassuringly businesslike, as though this is something entirely normal and not what it is.

“Of course.” She gives him a stack of paper and gestures him over to a table and chair in a corner, comfortable and out of the way. Athelstan reads through the rules with intent concentration, even though he’s spent the last three days (and more time than he cares to admit before that, looking on the internet and obsessively clearing his browsing history) reading up on etiquette. He initials his understanding, signs a few privacy agreements and a statement that he’s clean of any diseases. He fills out a little card detailing his safewords and hard limits in case of disputes or disaster—he’s tempted to put down nothing for limits, because vetoing one thing will make it too tempting to veto everything, but Siggy knows he’s new, and he knows that that’s the kind of thing that will get him marched out, so he chooses the few things that make him most anxious when he thinks about them and hopes it’s enough.

When he finishes, he brings the whole mess of it over to Siggy, and she smiles at him, reading it all over and filing it as she goes. “Thank you, that’s all in order. It will be kept in a temporary file unless and until you decide to apply for membership. All temporary files are shredded at the end of the month.” He nods, a little mechanically, and she sits back, a little more personal than she was before. It makes him uncomfortable. “This is your first time scening?”

“Yes.” It’s painfully obvious, but Athelstan appreciates that she asks as though it isn’t.

“Don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t say yes just because you think you should. If anyone ignores the word no, or a safeword once you’ve started scening, report it to security immediately. That person will have their membership revoked unless they take one of our training courses.” She smiles, a little dangerously. “On their own dime.”

“I’ve read that,” he says.

“Reading isn’t the same as believing,” she counters, and pulls a small key out of a drawer next to her, attached to a number. “This goes to a locker in the subs’ changing room. There’s also first aid supplies in there, if you need them, though there are kits all over the club, including in all the private rooms, and a bathroom. You can leave whatever clothes and personal belongings you want to in the locker, anything from naked to fully dressed is acceptable on the club floor. There’s also a door in there to the main room of the club, where there are public scenes, social interaction, places to mingle and meet, and a dancefloor. You get to private rooms from there, and if you find a dom you want to scene with, they’ll usually pick up the keys for one. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Siggy frowns, leaning forward. “Look, everyone’s here to have fun. It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t beat yourself up.” She smiles a little dangerously. “That’s someone else’s job.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The words fall out automatically, but they make her smile get wider and his cheeks get redder.

“You are pretty enough to eat right up,” she says with some glee. “Someone is going to be very pleased with you. Too bad I’m exclusive.”

Athelstan finally takes the key from her when she holds it out, just as the doors open and someone else comes in—two someones, in fact, a blond couple, obviously affectionate but neither of them heading for the subs’ changing room when Siggy lets them by. The man, with long braided hair and tattoos showing under his sleeve, winks at Athelstan, and that’s enough to make him give Siggy one last awkward smile and go into the changing room.

There’s a woman lounging in a couch when he gets in, wearing nothing but a collar and her tattoos, talking with a large blond man who’s pointing towards the door to the club. Both of them look up at him with friendly smiles at his entrance, and he does his best to smile back before going to find his locker, which is towards one corner of the room—probably Siggy is being kind. He locks up his wallet, jacket, shoes and socks, and feels faintly ridiculous but unwilling to take off any more of his clothes.

The woman is on her own when he comes back out, relaxing, and opens her eyes to give him a sharp look. “You new?”

“I suppose that’s obvious.”

“Like the nose on your face.” She makes a clucking noise. “They are going to eat you alive in there, baby. Come over here and sit with me, relax for a minute.”

Athelstan wants to say that relaxing isn’t the point of tonight. The point of tonight is seeing if he does want to submit, and what that means. However, she is trying to be kind, and he isn’t going to turn that away, so he goes over to them. There isn’t space on the couch with her stretched out, so he sits on the floor next to her, and within a second her hand is in his hair, stroking like he’s a kitten. “Siggy gave you the welcome speech?” she asks. “Better her than Floki, Floki always scares the new ones.” She sounds fond more than disapproving. “As long as you aren’t some Fifty Shades of Gray convert, though, Siggy is usually pretty reassuring.”

“She was fine. And I’m not.” He’s read them, because he’s a librarian and he needs to keep up with what his patrons are reading, but they weren’t what started him thinking about this, or what tipped the balance.

She hums thoughtfully and doesn’t stop stroking his hair. “Take a few deep breaths. Nobody is going to do anything you don’t want.” Athelstan breathes, and decides not to explain that that’s not what he’s worried about. When he’s following her instructions, she goes back to talking quietly, either thinking out loud or trying to reassure him. “I’m Helga, I’m a regular here—do some of the public scenes, including tonight, actually.” She makes a disapproving noise. “Rollo was going to have his knives out, but he had some sort of snit at Haraldson—that’s the owner—about the available subs, so he called Floki and me up, and we’re doing some wax.” She’s excited about it, baring herself in public and letting someone hurt her, control her.

He is too, but less excited than he is anxious. “And you aren’t nervous?”

“I’ve done it before, and besides, that’s why I’m in here. I always try to be centered before I scene, no matter how much I trust Floki.” Helga scratches Athelstan’s scalp a little more firmly, and he leans into it on instinct. “You are definitely ready to be taken in hand.” She sounds amused, and he tries not to blush. The door to the changing room opens again, bringing in a small wave of people, including a blond man Athelstan would have expected to go over to the doms’ side, and her hand falls away as she waves to greet him.

“I should go inside,” he says, a little reluctant. “I’ll leave you to talk to your friend.”

“You ‘should’ nothing.” She tips his head back like Siggy did in the library, but much more gently, until he meets her eyes. “Stay here as long as you want, make sure you’re centered and ready. It’s early in the night still, for here, and Arne and I can talk any time. You don’t have to get up in the morning?” He shakes his head. “Then stay a while.”

Athelstan settles back again, and she goes back to petting his hair. He closes his eyes and thinks of his occasional yoga classes. Strange as it feels in the context, the breathing patterns help center him, and some time later, he opens his eyes again to find the room even more full than it was before of chattering people, some of whom breeze through and some of whom stop to talk to their friends. Helga and her friend are talking quietly, her feet drawn up so he can sit next to her, but she interrupts herself when she sees his eyes are open.

“Back with us? I was thinking about going out there, seeing what’s going on before they need me on stage. Are you ready to go with me? I don’t have any responsibilities, Floki and I are old hands at this and don’t need to negotiate too much beforehand, so I can keep an eye on you and let you know if any assholes try to proposition you.”

“If you don’t mind.” He straightens up, and her hand falls from his hair. When he stands, a few people give him nods and smiles, but no one else tries to talk to him.

“Oh, baby.” She stands up with him and fusses with his hair for a second, and then unbuttons the top three buttons of his shirt. “That’s a little more like it. You still look like hopeless fresh meat, but maybe a little less like a virginal schoolboy looking for a spanking. Unless that’s your kink.” He has no idea how to respond to that, but she just laughs and looks over her shoulder. “I’ll catch you later, okay, Arne?”

They get waved off wordlessly, and Athelstan follows Helga through the door to the main part of the club.

It’s loud, although he should have expected that. The speakers are playing something with a throbbing beat and a woman singing low, something that was meant as the soundtrack for sex. It’s a large, open room, with a bar to the side and a stage in one corner, tables and chairs and couches to most of the sides and a dance floor in the middle that’s not too crowded yet. Half the crowd on the sidelines and on the floor seem to be couples, some just watching what’s going on, others kissing—and others, in darker corners, doing other things. He catches sight of a man sprawled over his dom’s lap while she spanks him before Helga draws his attention again to a collection of couches and cushions along one wall. “That’s where the unclaimed subs tend to hang out, unless they want to show off on the dance floor, but I’m betting that’s not you.”

“Not really.” He manages a smile that even feels real, despite the fact that the sight of the club proper half makes him want to run back home and forget Siggy ever gave him that business card. “I can waltz, but this isn’t exactly my specialty.”

“You are a treat,” she informs him, and takes his hand to drag him over to the cushions, where there are a few other subs in various states of dress and undress, most of whom seem to know her. “Fresh meat,” she tells all of them, much to his embarrassment. “Keep an eye on him, make sure nobody tries to take advantage.”

Athelstan picks a cushion and kneels on it, since that seems like the appropriate thing to do, and she sits on one next to him, legs crossed neatly in front of her. Some of what he’s read says he should keep his eyes down and wait for someone to come to him, but he’s too curious to do it, so he keeps his head up and watches the club fill around them. He went to a few clubs in college, mostly dragged by friends, but this is every bit as different as he could expect it to be. There are couples starting scenes in the darkest corners, and more just kissing or watching the others. There are subs sitting in their doms’ laps, kneeling at their feet, keeping a pace behind them or crawling at their sides. They all look happy, and concentrated, and controlled, and Athelstan shifts uncomfortably, cock filling at the thought of it. Half of him wonders if that isn’t confirmation enough, and if he should leave, but Helga reaches out and fastens her hand around his wrist like she’s feeling for his pulse, and he relaxes at the contact.

Doms stop by their corner as subs drift in and out of it, men and women both. A few give Athelstan a second look, and one lingers, hand a few inches from touching Athelstan’s face, before Helga sends him off with a few choice words. “Why not him?” he asks, mostly out of nervousness.

“He plays too hard for your first time. He likes blood. Which is fine when whoever he’s with is just playacting the whole innocence thing, but you aren’t.”

“Thank you.” He wants to be hurt, wants to see just how far this goes, how long he’ll enjoy it, why he enjoys it, but he doesn’t want that, he doesn’t think. He isn’t sure what he does want, but he’s glad to have a few minutes longer before he has to figure that out.

It’s almost half an hour before two doms come by, hand in hand, and stop in front of Athelstan. He looks up at them when they don’t move or speak, and there’s the blond couple who came in while he was in the reception room. They changed before they came out onto the club floor: she’s in lace and leather, corseted, in tall boots without the heels that most of the female doms seem to favor, her hair braided back, and he hasn’t bothered with a shirt at all, nor shoes, just a pair of leather trousers. They’re both wearing intricately braided leather bracelets—as well as, to his surprise, wedding rings. “Hello,” says the woman when he finally manages to meet their eyes, in the tone of someone expecting a response.

“Pleased to meet you,” he gets out, the same sort of inane thing he greets customers with every day.

Something about it makes the man crouch down to meet Athelstan’s eyes on his own level. His eyes are very blue, and he’s smiling about something, and Athelstan’s breath catches in his throat. “Are you new?” There’s the edge of an accent in his words. Athelstan nods. “To the club, or the scene?”

“Both.” He looks to his side and finds that Helga has moved to the side, watching with her head tilted and a smile on her face. These two aren’t bad news, then, even if having two doms sizing him up is nerve-wracking to say the least.

The man puts two fingers under Athelstan’s chin and turns his head back to meet his eyes. “What are you looking for, then?”

“Don’t scare him, Ragnar,” the woman snaps, and Athelstan looks up at her again. There’s a little smile on her face, and now that she’s said a few words he can catch the accent in her voice as well. “We’d like to talk to you, if you’re willing. Would you like some juice? Fruit? Anything else?”

Athelstan looks between them again, and starts to look to his side again before the fingers under his chin move to hold him in place again. “We won’t do anything you don’t want,” says the man—Ragnar. “Just means two of us to take care of you.”

“I’ll—I’d like some juice, I think. Please.”

The woman nods sharply. “Good. Take some time to think it over, talk to Helga about it. She knows us, she’ll tell you what you need to know. Ragnar and I will be back in a few minutes, and we’ll talk. Ragnar?” He stands up, a sinuous movement that has Athelstan staring, his mouth jarred open, and they walk away hand in hand.

“Ragnar and Lagertha are good people, regulars, Floki and I are friends with them both in and out of the scene,” says Helga before he can ask her anything about them. “They’re happily married, have their own ways of figuring out how to navigate both of them wanting to be in control. Mostly they watch when they come here, but every once in a while they decide to blow some sub’s mind.” She grins. “People will be jealous.”

He keeps watching them walk away in perfect sync, towards the bar. Lagertha looks over her shoulder and grins when she catches him looking. “There are two of them, though. It won’t be … too much?”

“You’re the only judge of that.” She nudges him and he startles a little, looking over at her. “But considering you can’t take your eyes off them, I’d say you’re probably okay. They listen to limits and safewords, they take courses and workshops voluntarily, nobody’s gossiped and said they got freaked out by them or anything, and like I said, on a personal level I trust them. For a first-timer, you can’t do much better.”

A sub’s job is to obey his dom, to please them. It will be harder with two, but he doesn’t mind when things are hard. “What do I do, then?”

“You say yes, and they’ll find a corner to negotiate in, and you’ll tell them your limits and your safeword, and some things you like, if you have ideas about that, and then if it all works out you go to a private room and they’ll be telling you what to do from there.” She squeezes his shoulder. “Do you want me to come along for the negotiation? It’s not unheard of.”

Athelstan shakes his head. “You’ve been very kind, but you have a show to prepare for.”

She shrugs. “I’ll probably just find Floki, get us both warmed up, but if you want to do it on your own, that’s more than fine. Just let one of them know to come get me if you want some help.”

Ragnar and Lagertha are coming back in his direction, a tray of glasses in Lagertha’s hands, and he watches them come, a little embarrassed to note that their eyes are fixed on him as well. “Are we going to talk?” Lagertha asks, and he can’t read her face or her tone at all.

Athelstan nods. “Yes. Should I—” He breaks off, embarrassed. “Should I crawl?”

Their eyebrows raise at the same time, but Ragnar is the one who speaks. “Not yet, though it’s a very tempting offer. On your feet, if you would.” Athelstan obeys immediately, after one last smile and encouraging squeeze of the hand from his companion. “What’s your name?”

“Athelstan.” He could give a fake name, sometimes people do that at this sort of club, or he thinks they do, but he doesn’t see much use in it. “Sir,” he tries, testing the word out on his tongue.

“You are eager.” Ragnar rests his hand between Athelstan’s shoulder blades and starts steering him towards a table halfway down the wall, in a little nook where they shouldn’t be overheard. There are only two chairs, but when they get there and Lagertha puts the drinks down, they seat him in one of them and Lagertha perches on Ragnar’s lap in the other. They watch him as he fidgets for a few seconds before Ragnar nods at the table. “We don’t know what kind of juice you want, so we got a few choices. Drink up, it’s good for your blood sugar.”

Athelstan takes a cautious sip of the glass nearest him and is relieved to find that it’s grapefruit, one of his favorites. “This is fine.” The other two reach for the remaining glasses, Lagertha swatting Ragnar’s hand away from what looks like apple juice so she can take it herself. “I don’t know how to do this,” he admits after a few sips of his drink, because it’s best to be candid.

“It’s a good thing that we do, then,” says Lagertha. “We start with your limits. What can’t we do to you?”

You can do anything to me, he doesn’t say, much as the urge is there. “Nothing that will leave a permanent mark. Nothing in public, at least not tonight. Nothing—” Athelstan knows the moment his face goes brilliant red, but neither of them moves to mock him or save him from saying anything. They just watch, curious and impassive. “Not watersports, or … similar things,” he manages after struggling with himself for a moment. “And before you ask, I’m using the stoplight system for my safeword.”

Lagertha’s eyebrows go up. “That’s it? No marks, no piss, no public scenes, we can do anything else to you?”

He shrugs, helpless and already feeling as though he’s displeased her. “I don’t know what I like, I told you.”

“We’ll put forth some suggestions then,” says Ragnar, and there’s seriousness behind his smile. “How do you feel about blindfolds? Or being tied up? Fucked? Whipped?” Athelstan doesn’t know what his expression looks like, but that last makes Ragnar shake his head a little. “Not that, I don’t think, or not yet. What do you think, Lagertha?”

She’s still watching Athelstan, like she can see through his forehead to what he’s thinking and like she’s waiting for just the right thought to cross his mind. “What do you think of most often, Athelstan? What gets you off, when you’re alone in bed?”

“Just … obeying.” Belonging to someone, but that’s hard to say, and feels wrong, like something he shouldn’t be thinking. He’s read enough to know he shouldn’t be hating himself for anything like this, but he can’t help that sometimes his own thoughts make him ashamed. “Being on my knees, being told what to do.”

Ragnar chuckles. “There will be plenty of that, I promise you. What else, then? Pleasure or pain, once you’re down on your knees?”

“Either. Both.” What they do is immaterial. All that matters is the control, and giving it over to them.

Lagertha nods like she’s reading his mind again and then sits back, trading glasses with Ragnar without asking. “I should have asked this first, I suppose: is there one of us you would rather not have sexual contact with? We come as a package deal, we won’t scene apart, but if you’re exclusively heterosexual, or exclusively homosexual, we can work with that.”

“I’m—no, I would have said no, if it were one or the other. I’m fine with both.”

Ragnar’s smile is wide enough to be a little unnerving. “Good.” Lagertha pinches his arm, but he doesn’t even flinch. “Anything else we should know? Special kinks, requests? Are you a virgin?”

Athelstan chokes on a sip of his juice. Lagertha doesn’t pinch Ragnar again, though, so it must be a serious question. “Not entirely. I’ve been with a woman, and I’ve done a little with men. I’ve never been …” He clears his throat and looks down at the table. “I’ve never been fucked.”

“Would you like to be?” That’s Lagertha, asking with almost clinical detachment.

His “yes” slips out a little faster than he means it to, but neither of them laughs, though Ragnar looks entertained—though that might just be his habitual expression. To cover it up, he blurts out the next thing that comes to mind. “Do you have any rules for me?”

It’s a good question, judging by Lagertha’s sudden smile and sharp nod. “Good boy, thinking to ask. Once we start the scene, you call us ma’am and sir. We can negotiate other titles later, but that’s what we start with.” Ragnar smiles and kisses her shoulder. “Since you’re new to this, we’re going to ask you to greenlight things as we go along. We will take ‘I don’t know’ as a ‘no.’ We won’t gag you for your first scene. You can speak and make noise, unless we decide otherwise in the heat of the moment, and if you refuse that order there will be no repercussions, this time. You don’t come unless we tell you that you may, and if you think that’s going to be a problem, ask for a cockring. We don’t drink while we scene, and we expect the same of our subs. Is that enough to go on with?”

Athelstan thinks it through, because he doesn’t think Lagertha will accept anything less. “What if I do something wrong?” he asks finally.

“Then we’ll let you apologize,” Ragnar says. “I think you’ll apologize very prettily.”

Lagertha smiles. “We’re just getting to know each other. We won’t make it very hard for you to obey us, and we won’t punish you or push your limits. Do you still want to do this?” He nods instantly, and she stands up. “In that case, I’m going to get some supplies from the changing room and a key to one of the private rooms. Ragnar will keep you occupied while you wait.”

“I’m very entertaining,” Ragnar agrees, and kisses her hand before she walks away. Athelstan watches her go, all purpose, not looking back once, and swallows. When Ragnar speaks again, it surprises him. “Drink your juice. She’ll probably get a few more bottles in case you need refreshments.”

Athelstan obeys, turning back to him, and waits for Ragnar to say something more—to tease him, give him a laundry list of kinks to see how he’ll react, to give him another order. Any of them seem like something he might do, with his constant smiles, the way he seems to like to tease. Instead, Ragnar just watches him, leaving Athelstan to grasp for words again. “It’s very kind of you both, to take care of me like this.”

“Anybody who gives you less isn’t worth your time. Tell me, what made you come here?”

“Siggy gave me a referral. She caught me reading something.”

“You never tried anything with a girlfriend, or boyfriend? Never got tied to the bedstead, or bossed around?”

Athelstan stares at the table and takes another determined gulp of his juice. “No. I … had some idea that I might like it, but I never asked.”

“Why are you asking now, then?”

“I want to see what it’s like, if it’s really what I want, and Siggy gave me the opportunity.” Ragnar doesn’t speak, and Athelstan knows it’s a tactic, knows he wants to wring everything out of Athelstan that he can, but if he’s going to scene with them they deserve his honesty. “If I hadn’t done it once I had the opportunity, I never would have done it. I would have convinced myself it was wrong.”

“Athelstan.” He forces himself to look up and set the glass, mostly empty now, down on the table, because Ragnar sounds serious. He looks serious too, leaning forward and lacing his fingers together. “This is hard, and hard for people to understand, but it isn’t wrong. And neither are you, for wanting it. Do you understand me?”

“I can understand that and still have trouble believing it,” Athelstan snaps, and then drops his gaze again. “Sorry.”

“I don’t want you to cringe. Neither does Lagertha. Just be yourself, and give yourself to us, and let us have the chance to convince you there’s nothing wrong with wanting to submit. That’s all we’re asking you.”

He picks his glass up again and drains it, mostly to stall for time. “It’s a lot to ask.”

“We’ll help you all we can.” Ragnar looks out across the room. “Good, she’s coming back. On your feet, Athelstan, we’ll go meet her.” He steers him with a hand on his back again, warm and large and steady, until they meet Lagertha.

She’s carrying a black leather satchel in one hand and a key on a chain in the other. “Are the two of you ready, then? I have some things you might like, Athelstan, and some more of that juice in a few bottles.”

“We’re ready,” says Athelstan. “And thank you, ma’am.”

Lagertha smiles and walks on towards a door on the opposite wall from the entrance, and Athelstan lets Ragnar keep steering him, hovering right at his back, close enough that he can whisper in Athelstan’s ear and still be heard over the music. “The private rooms are back this way. There’ll be a bed, and a few standard supplies—don’t worry, they’re always thoroughly cleaned in the morning—and Lagertha and I will provide the rest.”

The door leads to a stairwell, carpeted in the same red as the entry hall, and Lagertha leads them up the stairs to a second floor, and then down a corridor that looks strangely like a hotel corridor. “The bathroom’s here,” says Lagertha, pointing at the first door on the left. “I went downstairs. Do you want to use it?” Athelstan nods. “Ragnar?”

“Athelstan can go first.” Athelstan does, ducking in and locking the door behind him. He’s as quick as he can, and splashes water on his face at the end, mostly for a second more of breathing space. He thinks about undoing another button on his shirt, but it will come off anyway, and Ragnar is waiting, so he opens the door.

Ragnar brushes by him, clasping a hand on his elbow for a second before he goes, and then shuts the door behind himself, leaving Lagertha and Athelstan in the hallway. She doesn’t speak, so he keeps silent as well, and it’s an anxious minute before Ragnar is coming out, walking down the hall and to the fourth room, which Lagertha unlocks and steps into. Athelstan wants to pause at the door, but he lets Ragnar push him in a few steps instead before he starts looking around.

There’s a window, but not much of a view, and Lagertha is already pulling the curtains anyway. It’s just one room, but there is a sink and a medicine cabinet. There’s a four-posted bed big enough for all three of them, and a nightstand on each side of it, sturdy and well-stocked. The floor is carpeted again, soft under his feet, and he stands on it and waits for one of them to tell him what to do.

Lagertha is the one who says something, which doesn’t surprise him. “Ragnar and I are going to talk about what we want to do to you, Athelstan, to make sure we’re on the same page. While we do it, I want you to kneel next to the bed, hands behind your back, eyes closed. We will whisper. Try not to eavesdrop. Color?”

“Green,” he says immediately. That much is easy. That much, he’s done on his own, feeling foolish with the doors to both his flat and his bedroom locked, half-waiting for and order even though he knew he was alone.

“Do it, then,” says Ragnar, and Athelstan doesn’t waste any time obeying.

They go to the opposite side of the room, and one of them turns on the sink to muffle some of the sounds of their whispers. Athelstan concentrates on his breathing instead of the sound of their voices, and then on working his way through all the poetry he’s ever memorized when that stops being enough. He’s absorbed enough that he jumps when someone’s fingers—Lagertha’s, he thinks—land on his collarbone, perhaps five minutes later. “What are you thinking about so hard, sweetheart?” she asks.

“Poetry. I was trying not to listen.”

“Poetry? What kind?” Her fingers leave his skin, and she’s moving around again. He doesn’t know what Ragnar is doing.

“Just anything I’d memorized, so I wouldn’t overhear you by accident. Ma’am.”

“Very good.” That’s Ragnar, from some distance. “What one were you thinking of, out of curiosity?”

“My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun,” he says.

“Coral is far more red than her lips’ red,” quotes Ragnar in return. He’s still standing farther away than Lagertha, by the sound of it, but he’s taken a step closer.

Lagertha brings his attention back before Athelstan can get too curious about what Ragnar is doing, what they have planned for him. She threads her fingers through his hair, not tugging, just a presence. “I would like to blindfold you. You can ask for it to come off, but I would like you blindfolded to begin with. What’s your color?”

“Green.”

Almost before he’s finished the word, Lagertha is sliding a length of soft cloth around his face, folding it and settling it over his eyes and then smoothing all the twists out to the back where she fastens it snugly, but not too tight. “Good?” He nods. “Open your eyes, tell me if you see anything.”

He gives it a moment, moving his eyes around before he gives her an answer. “I could probably see movement, maybe big shapes, but nothing more defined.”

“Good boy.” She steps back. “Stand up. You can move your hands.” He’d almost forgotten they were clasped behind his back, but he moves them, stretching his arms out, and pushes himself to a standing position. “Now strip.”

“Ma’am?”

“Take your clothes off, Athelstan. No need to be fancy or give us a striptease. Or was that a red?”

“Still green.” Even if it makes his heart speed up from the calm he’d managed while waiting for them to be ready for him. He can’t see them, now, but he knows they’re watching, and he fumbles the top button of his shirt three times before it comes unfastened. The rest of his shirt goes quickly from there, and he drops it on the floor behind him before unbuttoning his fly and stepping out of his jeans. Neither of them speaks, or makes any sort of noise aside from even breathing.

He stumbles stepping out of his briefs, and there are suddenly hands on his arm, holding him up—Ragnar’s. He didn’t even hear him come closer. Ragnar holds onto him, stroking his arm, until Athelstan finally kicks away the last of his clothing, leaving him in nothing but a blindfold and his skin. “Very good.” Ragnar’s voice has gone low and dangerous, and Athelstan shivers. “You’re very beautiful, Athelstan. I think we’ll mark you up all over, see how lovely you look when you’re all wrecked.”

“Get on the bed.” Lagertha’s voice is sharp, and she is still close enough to touch if Athelstan were to reach out. He keeps his hands to himself, though, because he hasn’t been told to touch, and he’d rather err on the side of caution. “On your back, hands above your head. Wrap them around the bedstead if that will anchor you.”

Ragnar steers him to the bed without waiting for Athelstan to make a fool of himself, but steps back when they get to it so Athelstan crawls in, feeling ahead of him for where the pillows are and where he’s meant to be. “Should I turn the covers down?” he asks, and wants to kick himself for the inanity.

“Good thinking,” Lagertha says instead of scolding him, and then the duvet is moving under him, slipping and almost sending him sprawling on his stomach before he recovers himself. He finds the pillows easily from there, and moves to his back in the middle of the bed, reaching out until he finds a bar of smooth wood to fasten his hands around and leaving him exposed to whatever they want to do to him.

There’s a long, long moment of silence and stillness. Athelstan wants to ask what he should do, if they’ll touch him, if something is wrong, but he has to trust that they have a plan, and that they’ll tell him what to do when they’re ready. Everything seems louder when he can’t see, but it’s mostly his own heartbeat and the sound of the sheets against his skin when he shifts. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it without moving, or moving slowly enough that he can’t catch their movements.

They must be moving, though, because after some time—seconds or minutes, Athelstan is already having trouble grasping at time during the pauses—a hand lands on him, traces a finger across the surgical scar on his stomach. He isn’t sure who it is, but he thinks it’s Lagertha, and neither of them makes it easier to tell by speaking. After a little while, he thinks it’s about a minute, the hand moves, trailing down his hip and his leg and back up again, and then on his other side Ragnar (he knows it’s Ragnar, recognizes the size and shape of his hand from being steered around by it) puts a hand on his shoulder and trails it up his arm to his wrist and then back, and Athelstan shudders, ticklish. The next touch is a little firmer.

It’s an exploration, barely even a tease. All Ragnar and Lagertha seem to want to do is to look at him, and touch him everywhere but where he’s starting to want it most, and they do it slowly, without speaking. He’s half holding his breath with anticipation by the time they stop, drawing their hands away in unison.

“What should we do to him next?” Lagertha asks, as casually as if she’s asking about ordering something in a restaurant, or whether to turn on the television or not. “So much to do, and so little time.”

“I may have an idea or two.” Ragnar still sounds like he’s smiling, and both of them sound so calm, so sure, and Athelstan anchors himself to that, makes sure to keep himself still. “But first, perhaps we should ask another question.” His voice sharpens a little. “Athelstan, do you think you need a cockring? Remember, you don’t come without one of us telling you to.”

“I would like to try without. I—I want to be good.” He knows he’s blushing again, but there isn’t much he can do about that.

That gets him a hand in his hair again, and when Lagertha speaks, she sounds gentler than he’s heard her yet, something almost close to a croon as she moves around, the mattress shifting as she comes to rest next to him, her voice right in his ear. “You’re good as long as you try for us, and there’s no shame in asking for a little help. Do you still want to try without?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The bed shifts again, and then both of them have their hands in his hair. “You want so very badly to be good for us, don’t you?” says Ragnar. His voice is far enough away still that he must have just sat on the bed instead of laying down next to Athelstan. Athelstan nods. “You will be, we promise. You’re already so good, you’re going to be ours, aren’t you? You won’t be able to move without remembering us for days.”

Without warning, Lagertha sets her teeth to his neck, bites and then sucks, making him gasp and arch instead of answering. It’s a bright bloom of pain that she soothes with her tongue, and then she does it again a little farther down, and again, a line of little marks leading down to his collarbone, positioned just so the uppermost one will peek out of the collar of his work shirts. Athelstan closes his eyes even though he can’t see them anyway and flexes his hands around the bedstead so he doesn’t do anything else. “I think maybe I’ll leave a little trail,” she says thoughtfully when she pulls away, brushing her hand in a meandering path down his chest and stomach, stopping just short of what he thinks must be her end goal. “A map, maybe. So you remember just what I did.”

“I already will,” he says without thinking.

She moves to kiss him on the mouth, and he’s dimly surprised to realize it’s the first kiss he’s had from either of them. It’s slow, and strangely sweet if he discounts the hand she rests on his throat throughout, which comes with just enough pressure to make him pay attention to his breathing. “You are a treasure,” she tells him when she pulls away. “Still comfortable?”

“Yes.”

“Yes what?” That’s Ragnar, with just an edge of sharpness, or maybe just expectation, in his tone.

“Yes, ma’am. Or … sir.” He bites his lip, because that sounded stupid out loud, but Lagertha kisses him again, deeper and harder than before, so he supposes it’s okay.

While Lagertha kisses him, Ragnar moves again, until he’s mirroring her on Athelstan’s other side, pushing them all a little so they all settle comfortably with nobody in danger of falling off the bed. He bites down on Athelstan’s other side, making something close to a copy of the series of marks Lagertha left. He’s messy where Lagertha was precise, leaving Athelstan’s neck damp and a little sore behind him, but he gasps into Lagertha’s mouth anyway.

Ragnar keeps going where Lagertha stopped, past the skin of Athelstan’s collarbone down to his chest, following some of the paths his hands went down earlier. When he fastens his teeth over Athelstan’s nipple and bites, Athelstan yelps into Lagertha’s mouth, and she finally pulls away from him. “You got ahead of me,” she says, a little disapprovingly, but it’s obviously directed at Ragnar so Athelstan doesn’t let himself tense up any more than he already is with Ragnar still lavishing attention on his nipple and his lips tingling from Lagertha’s kiss. “I suppose I’ll have to catch up.”

From there, it’s a confusing blur of warm lips on him and the dig of teeth into his skin, Lagertha working her way down on a much more direct path than Ragnar so she can join him in teasing at his other nipple until he’s oversensitive and gasping and so hard that he’s desperate for friction. He can’t come, though, that’s burned into his mind, and he bites his lip so hard it draws blood to keep his attention away from it.

It takes a while for either of them to move on, both of them apparently enjoying themselves, but Lagertha starts moving down again eventually, and Ragnar pulls away, leaving Athelstan to hiss in a breath at the sudden cold air where there was wet heat before. “You bruise like a peach, sweetheart,” says Ragnar, sounding delighted. Lagertha bites down on the scar she touched earlier, and he gasps and arches up into it. “I wonder what it would look like if we spanked you—or more, maybe. I should take my belt to you, you’d look so pretty with the bruises on you, all the welts.”

“Oh, please,” he manages, already imagining it.

Lagertha’s mouth lifts from where it’s trailing down to his hip. “You’re getting ahead of yourself. Ragnar, are you ready?”

“Always.”

“Ready for what?” Athelstan asks, even as Ragnar moves to put his strong hands just below his navel, just resting, not pushing.

In answer, Lagertha’s mouth comes down over his cock, and with what seems like no fuss at all, she takes him all the way down to the root. Athelstan lets out a noise that he thinks would embarrass him any other time and is suddenly glad that Ragnar’s hands are on him, because when his stomach tenses and all he wants to do is buck up into her mouth, Ragnar holds him back, the pressure getting a little less gentle. “Ready for that,” Ragnar says, unnecessarily, and then Athelstan can’t concentrate on anything except Lagertha’s mouth, and the way she moves expertly, flicking her tongue, taking him in deep.

He can’t come. He can’t, he promised, he said he didn’t need help, so he bites his lip and lets Ragnar hold him down and clenches his hands so tightly around the bedstead that he’s half worried he’ll bruise his palms, if that’s even possible. Ragnar makes a few soothing noises and then covers Athelstan’s mouth with his, and that’s good, it’s grounding, it’s something to concentrate on beyond the other points of contact. Still, he’s only human, and eventually he wrenches himself away to say “Please, please, I’m close, I can’t come, please, something” and then Lagertha’s off him, all at once and leaving him feeling bereft.

“I wasn’t done,” she says, sounding a little disappointed, and then she’s next to him again, her hand on his chest, right over the trail of marks she left, and there’s the wet sound of a slow, thorough kiss, the two of them kissing across his body. “Your turn,” adds when they finish, and Athelstan isn’t fool enough to ask what she means by that.

Sure enough, only a few seconds later there’s a different mouth on him, too soon for his arousal to have abated at all, and Lagertha kisses him as Ragnar explores his cock with his mouth. Where Lagertha was unhesitating, taking him deep and keeping him there, Ragnar explores him like he’s a treat he wants to savor. He licks, and sucks, and bobs his head, and never does one thing long enough for Athelstan to get used to it.

Athelstan doesn’t even realize he’s babbling out half-sentences between kisses until Lagertha puts a hand on the side of his face and stills him. “You should what?”

It takes him a moment to pluck the thought out, and Ragnar pauses while they wait, everything still and both of them waiting for him, to see if he’s objecting. “I should be the one pleasing you,” he manages, inadequate as the words are. “Serving you.”

“Oh, treasure.” She kisses him again, quickly. “You are pleasing us to no end, believe me. You are being so good, and doing just what we ask you to. Believe me, if we want you to do anything, we will tell you. Okay?”

“Yes, ma’am.” It’s a little uncomfortable, having their focus so entirely on him, but it feels so good that it’s hard to mind at all, even if he feels like he should be doing more than just holding on to the bed and letting them take him apart. But then again, he wouldn’t think it was odd if they were causing him pain instead, so he quiets his worries, and almost as though Ragnar can read his mind, he puts his lips around the head of Athelstan’s cock again, sucking lightly.

This time, it’s only a few minutes before Athelstan has to pull away from Lagertha and warn Ragnar that he’s getting too close. Seamlessly, Lagertha takes over for Ragnar, and Ragnar’s beside him again, the bristle of his beard rubbing on Athelstan’s face, his hand on his stomach.

They switch twice more, barely giving him time to breathe in between, and it’s only when Lagertha brushes her hand across his face and then puts her fingers to his lips, making him taste salt, that he realizes he’s crying, that his gasps are more like sobs and his breath is catching in his throat. “Sorry, I’m sorry,” he gasps.

“Shh, sweetheart, it’s fine.” Like an affirmation, Ragnar does something wicked with his tongue, and Athelstan sobs again, so close to coming he can almost taste it. “Close to coming?”

“Yes, ma’am, I’m so close, I’m sorry.”

“You’re a good boy, it’s all right. Ragnar wants to keep going, though, and I do hate to deny him. I want to hurt you a little, to keep you distracted so you won’t come. What’s your color?”

“Green, green green, please,” he gasps, and then she slaps him across the face, sharp and shocking. He whimpers, and she does it again, partially muffled on the cloth of the blindfold.

It’s enough, just enough to take him off the agonizing edge, but within another minute he’s sobbing again, hardly breathing, and then Ragnar’s mouth leaves him finally, and there’s a disoriented second before someone pinches his nipple sharply and he comes back to himself enough to pay attention. “Let go of the headboard,” says Ragnar, and Athelstan obeys instantly, only to find himself manhandled and maneuvered over until his head is on Ragnar’s lap and Lagertha’s hand is on the small of his back. Ragnar is still wearing his trousers, but Athelstan can feel the press of his cock through the leather and can’t help twisting until he can put his mouth on it, give a little kiss there that makes Ragnar breathe in sharply. All Athelstan wants is more of that, so he dredges up the right words. “Please, sir, may I?”

“Have you ever done it before?” Ragnar asks.

“Once. I wasn’t … it didn’t last very long.”

Lagertha laughs and pets his back. “I’ll help you. Undo his fly first. Use your hands, I don’t think your mouth is up to buttons yet.” He does, flexing his hands as he goes, because they’re sore and tingling from how tight he was holding on, trying not to move, trying not to come. His cock is still an insistent weight, pressing into the bed, but he has other things to concentrate on, so he fumbles Ragnar’s trousers open and pushes the underwear he has on out of the way as well, when neither of them tell him any different. “Now kiss it,” Lagertha prompts.

It tastes like Athelstan remembers, like sweat and heat and a hint of bitterness from pre-come, only better, some taste underneath that could be leather or submission or just Ragnar. “Good boy,” says Ragnar, and his voice is a low rumble. He’s hoarse from sucking Athelstan’s cock, and Athelstan lets out an embarrassing moan as he licks out, trying to find the right angle without being able to see.

Lagertha seems to recognize his predicament, because she’s moving and then she’s putting her hand on the back of his neck and guiding his mouth so he can fit his mouth around the head of Ragnar’s cock. “That’s good, just like that. Go easy, at first, don’t choke. He likes it when you tease, when you draw it out for him. There you go.”

Athelstan goes as slow as he can. If Ragnar enjoys something, he does it again, and a third time, until Lagertha tells him to do something else, all in a quiet, even tone that make him feel all the more desperate. Even though all they’ve been doing is pleasuring him, he’s already sore, from the marks they left on him, in his arms and shoulders, his mouth where they’ve kissed him and he bit into his lip. “Stop thinking, Athelstan,” says Ragnar, more fond than annoyed, and Athelstan does his best, gives himself over to learning every part of this so he can make Ragnar feel even half of what he felt.

“That’s it. Now ease down, slowly—feel the vein, there? It’s always standing out by now. Lick it.” That makes Ragnar let out a pleased noise, and Athelstan moans and sinks a little deeper. “Good boy. You’re going to make him come, you know. Not yet, but he will, just like this, because of you—or maybe I’m being thoughtless.”

He pulls off, a little regretful, but she seems to expect an answer. “Thoughtless, ma’am?”

“Maybe you don’t want him to come in your mouth. Maybe you want to be fucked instead.”

“Do you want us to fuck you, sweetheart?”

“I—” He stops, because he doesn’t know what he wants, and Lagertha said that if he said that, it would be taken as a no, and now it’s all he can think about. He’s never had anyone do that to him, but the thought is an itch down his spine, and brings his thoughts right back to his cock, still hard against his thigh. But—he lowers his head again, kisses the tip of Ragnar’s cock, because he wants that too, doesn’t want to give it up.

“Or maybe you want both?” Lagertha says, slowly and carefully, her hand sliding up and down his back. “You can suck Ragnar’s cock, or if you’re very lucky he might fuck your face, and I’ll open you up, and I’ll fuck you until you can’t even remember your name.” He moans, loud and obscene. “I have a strap-on, I can do it. All you have to say is yes.”

It’s an effort to pull off, but he manages it, because he has to say yes, that was the deal, that if he didn’t say what he liked beforehand he would say during, and oh, he wants this, and he can’t even begin to feel ashamed by it because they want it too, he knows they do. “Yes, green, please fuck me, ma’am.”

Ragnar laughs above him and touches his face. “Such a slut for us, aren’t you? Now come on, we have to move you around, if this is going to work.”

Athelstan lets them move him, because he’s gone too pliant to manage his own limbs, especially when he can’t see them. He ends up on his hands and knees, with Ragnar kneeling up in front of him and plenty of space behind him. “I’m going to get off the bed for a minute, Athelstan,” Lagertha warns him, and he’s grateful for it when she’s suddenly gone, going through the bag that she left next to the bed. “I just need supplies, and to put my cock on.”

“You can keep sucking me, in the meantime. No need to sit idle.” It’s a command more than a suggestion, and Athelstan obeys, getting used to the new angle, the way Ragnar anchors his hands in Athelstan’s hair.

Lagertha isn’t long, and when she comes back and fits her hips against his, he can feel the silicone of the dildo bump up against him. After a second, just as he’s had enough time to register that she’s going to fuck him with that, she pulls back and just rests a hand flat on his ass. He knows the question she’s going to ask before she does. “I want to get you warmed up before I fuck you. Color?”

He pulls off just long enough to gasp “Green” and then she’s drawing back to spank him and he’s nuzzling Ragnar’s hip because he’s half-afraid he’ll bite him by accident while Lagertha’s hitting him. He moves with her first slap and Ragnar’s cock bobs too, leaving a smear of pre-come on his cheek. She does it again, then twice more, hard and fast, leaving him stinging and gasping. Ragnar pets his hair and Lagertha gives him six more strokes until he gives her the reaction she wants, bowing his head and pushing back into her even as he lets out another sob.

“There you are, good boy,” says Ragnar, taking Athelstan’s face in his hands and guiding him back to start sucking his cock again. “You just keep doing that, and she’s going to get you ready.” Sure enough, there’s the sound of a bottle opening, and Athelstan knows that sound from his explorations in his own bed. A second later, there’s a lube-wet finger testing his entrance, and he wills himself to relax and let her in. It doesn’t take much, and then she’s in, the whole finger in one slide that hurts but only makes him move to take Ragnar a little deeper, letting out a noise that’s close to a whine than anything else. She takes it out, pauses for a second, and comes back with more lube, going in more easily this time and searching for his prostate. He jolts when she finds it, choking himself on Ragnar’s cock, and Ragnar chuckles above him. “That’s good, has she found where you need it? Poor thing, all empty and waiting for us. We’ll fill you right up, give you as much as you can handle and more.” Lagertha rubs his prostate without mercy, and Athelstan moans. She’s already moving more easily in him.

She comes back with two fingers a moment later, and more lube. She isn’t stingy with it, but she isn’t sloppy either. He’ll get exactly the preparation he needs and no more, and he’s glad of it. If she teases too much, if the glide against his prostate is too smooth, he’s going to come, and he won’t do that until they tell him to, so he concentrates on giving Ragnar all the pleasure he can and on staying as still as he can for Lagertha.

By the time she adds a third finger, he’s feeling a little wild, not sure whether to move forward or back and barely able to do either. Ragnar is holding him still in front, and Lagertha keeps her free hand clasped on his hip, but he feels as though he should be doing something. Ragnar seems to understand when he lets out a whimper (there’s no other word for it, and if there were room for anything in his mind but pleasure he would be humiliated, only they don’t seem to mind) and pushes Athelstan farther down on his cock until he’s almost chocking, barely able to get air.

“Are you ready?” Lagertha asks, and he tries to nod around Ragnar’s cock because there’s no way he’s moving. She seems to get the idea, though, because she laughs and then her fingers slide out of him, leaving him feeling strange and empty.

She doesn’t leave him for long, though, just long enough to slick her dildo up, and then she’s sliding into him in one long, smooth thrust. He gasps, and Ragnar pulls on his hair to keep him from doing anything bad, and then he’s between them properly, both of them inside him, and Lagertha starts fucking him in deep, steady thrusts. “Look at you,” Ragnar says, like he’s telling a secret. “You’ll take everything we give you, won’t you? You’re a little cockslut, and you’re so good for us. What if we tied you down, hm? Just leashed you to the bed so we could take you at our leisure, trained you up to be everything you could dream of for us, put a collar on that lovely neck of yours.”

Athelstan knows what a collar means, and that it’s far too soon to be even beginning to think of such things, but it doesn’t stop him letting out a long moan and shuddering all over. Lagertha, breathing harshly behind him, laughs again. “You’d be ours, just ours, and we would treat you so well, just like this, always, we’d make you hurt and make you feel so good you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”

It hurts to pull off Ragnar’s cock, he doesn’t want to do it, but he has to speak, has to ask, “Please, can I—I want to see you, please, will you take the blindfold off, I’ll be so good, please just—”

“I did say we would take it off if he asked,” says Lagertha, giving an especially deep thrust. “What do you say, Ragnar?”

There’s a moment of silence, and then Ragnar is gripping Athelstan’s chin, forcing his head up. “I need you to close your eyes. It will seem very bright in here, give yourself a moment to adjust.” Athelstan obeys, and even though they couldn’t see to know through the blindfold, a second later the knot at the back of his head is loosening and the blindfold is falling away. He waits a moment, moving with Lagertha’s thrusts, because she doesn’t seem to intend to ever stop, and cautiously opens his eyes. The lights are low in the room, but he still has to squint up at Ragnar, who’s looking down at him with his eyebrows raised. His face is a little red, but he doesn’t look half as wrecked as Athelstan feels. “Satisfied? Care to get back to sucking my cock now?”

He has to clear his throat before he can speak, and his voice is wrecked when he does. “Yes, sir.” He closes his eyes again to take Ragnar’s cock in his mouth, but it’s good knowing that he could open them any time he wanted to see either of them, grounding when he’s starting to wonder if he may fly apart from the force of them.

“I’m going to fuck your mouth, but if that’s going to work, you need to stay very still for us, Athelstan. Can you do that?” He opens his eyes again, looking up to find Ragnar still watching him, or watching him again, and he nods as well as he can, stiffening as well as he can even after a particularly hard thrust from Lagertha rocks him forward. “We may have to hold him, it seems.” He looks up and away, at Lagertha.

A second later, Lagertha is gripping his hips so tight he thinks it may bruise, and Ragnar holds his head still. Athelstan opens his mouth as wide as he can, noting with a little surprise that his jaw is sore (how long has he been doing this?), and Ragnar drives in, exactly in time with Lagertha. For a second, he’s uncoordinated, mouth and body slack, but then he manages to brace himself, more weight on his hands, and start doing more than just letting them fuck him. He moves with Lagertha, letting the momentum of her thrusts, as steady as if there’s a metronome keeping her on track, push him forward so he can take Ragnar just that little bit deeper, until he’s almost choking every time. He sucks whenever Ragnar pulls back for another thrust, and to his surprise and pleasure, it makes Ragnar groan, his fingers tightening on Athelstan’s scalp. “Oh, good boy,” says Lagertha when she hears. “Make him come, would you?”

That, Athelstan can do, is more than willing to do. It’s hard to do anything much, when they’re both holding him in place, but he does what he can, spit-slick and messy and more than a little desperate, and he’s rewarded eventually when Ragnar finally pulls back completely and tilts his face up. Athelstan opens his eyes and waits for Ragnar to speak, because he must have something to say. “I’m going to come on your face. Color?”

“Green.”

Ragnar smiles, with teeth, and takes himself in hand. Athelstan watches, unable to do anything but, and it only takes six quick, firm strokes before Ragnar is coming, painting Athelstan’s face, his jaw and neck. He licks out for what he can reach, tasting it and doing his best to tease. Ragnar never looks away from him, his chest heaving, and Athelstan is so distracted that without anything to brace him he goes down on his elbows on Lagertha’s next hard thrust. A second later, Ragnar is sitting down and petting his hair again, keeping him from scrambling back up onto his hands. He doesn’t have any traction anymore, nothing to concentrate on but Lagertha, and the way she’s moving in him, and the way the new angle makes it so much easier for her to hit his prostate every time, going so deep he feels like he might die.

“That’s it, sweetie,” says Lagertha, and one of her hands moves away from where she’s been gripping him. For a moment, he doesn’t know what she’s doing, if she’s going to spank him again, but then he realizes she must be touching herself, hand down between her legs under the harness for the strap-on. “We’re going to make you come so soon, I can tell you’re so ready for it and you’re being so good, it’ll be soon, we’ve got you.” It’s almost a sing-song, and her voice is a little higher now that she’s getting herself off.

“You don’t get to touch yourself, though,” Ragnar continues, his voice already evening out. “You’re going to come just from her fucking you. She can keep going till you get off. She can go till you get off twice, if she wants. I think I’d like to see that. Would you cry again?”

Athelstan whimpers at the thought, and Lagertha grips his hip a little more firmly. “Don’t worry, I know this is your first time, we won’t do that, tempting as the idea is.” She lets out a pleased, breathless noise, hips snapping a little faster. “Just a little longer. How close are you?”

“Close, so close.” He feels like he’s been hard for so long that he can’t remember anything different, and like he’s been hard enough to come almost since they brought him into the private room. At this point, all he needs is the words.

“I’ll bet you are, sweetie, that’s—oh, that’s good.” She pauses for a moment, halfway in him, letting out a gasp. “I almost wish we’d changed places, I would have loved your mouth, but I suppose it’s nothing that can’t wait.” Her voice rasps on the last few words and her hips jerk in what seems like automatic reaction. She’s made herself come, and when the thrusts start again they’re a little slower, a little more languid. She aims for his prostate every time.

She doesn’t say the words, though, and for a while, he’s beyond anything, just feeling every inch of the dildo drag inside him, feeling Ragnar’s hands gentle in his hair, Lagertha’s on his hips again—one is damp, slick with her on juices, and that makes his breath come a little faster, catching in his throat. He isn’t crying, but he’s desperate, not anything to him but the desire to come, listening for the words, for someone to say them. He thinks he’s talking, when he can manage words, but if he is, they’re not bothering to answer besides holding on a little tighter, and he knows he isn’t saying stop.

Lagertha keeps fucking him just a few strokes after he starts to wonder if he’s going to come from sheer buildup of pressure or black out because he’s trying so hard to obey them. He can’t, he can’t, but he’s stubborn enough not to give in until his body makes him, and just when he’s reached out for one of Ragnar’s hands for something to clutch on to so he doesn’t touch his own cock, to come or to keep from coming, he’s not sure which, Lagertha says “That’s it,” and Ragnar, squeezing his hand a little tighter, says “Come” and Athelstan is gone.

He whites out, or loses time, because when he comes back to himself he’s empty, rolled onto his side with his head in Ragnar’s lap again. The bed feels wet and sticky under him, and it takes a minute before he gets enough control over his limbs to move a hand to Ragnar’s leg and squeeze. He can’t feel Lagertha anywhere, and that’s enough to make him nervous. Before he can lift his head and ask where she is, though, she’s already talking. “I’ll be right there, sweetheart, I’m just taking my harness off and getting more comfortable.”

“You were so good, Athelstan,” says Ragnar, stroking his hair. “You did just what we told you. How do you feel?”

“Good. Sore. A little thirsty.”

“I’ll get you some juice.” Lagertha goes through her bag again and comes back to the bed. Athelstan manages to open his eyes and turn his head enough to look at her. It’s the first time he’s seen her since the blindfold went on, and she smiles at him the second she sees him looking. Sometime—he’s honestly not certain whether it was just now or at some point during the sex—she took off most of her clothes, and now she’s wearing a too-big black t-shirt that must have come out of her bag and a fresh pair of underwear. “Do you think you can hold a bottle?”

“He can barely move,” says Ragnar. “We’ll just have to help him. Here, let’s turn you over.” Athelstan helps as much as he can, but mostly it’s Ragnar’s doing that he ends up in a position where Lagertha can hold a bottle of grapefruit juice to his lips and he can drink it without spilling it all over the bed. It stings on his mouth, but he doesn’t mind. Lagertha strokes his face and watches as he drinks, giving it to him in small sips. “Lagertha, take care of him for a minute? I want to get these pants off, and get a cloth to clean him off with. Athelstan, do you mind if I leave you for a minute? I’ll be right back.”

“If Lagertha stays,” he manages, and it’s only her warm expression that keeps him from embarrassment at that.

“Hush, as if I’d go anywhere.” She eases him off Ragnar’s lap and puts his head on a pillow. “We have the room for the night, and we’re staying right here unless you say you want to go. They’ll clear it out at seven, but that’s hours away yet, so you can get some rest.”

“I want to stay.” The words come a little easier, this time, and she rewards him with a kiss on his forehead.

“We’ll keep you just as long as you let us. You were such a good boy, for your first time. You’re okay? Calm as you can be?” He nods. “Good. You’re a wonderful sub, and I don’t tell that to many. Made for us.” The faucet runs across the room, and Ragnar lets the water run a little while, maybe warming it up. Athelstan keeps his eyes on Lagertha. She rubs a thumb across his cheek and makes a face. “You could hurry with that cloth, Ragnar, the poor thing is filthy.”

“Isn’t he, though?” The water turns off, and a few seconds later Ragnar eases himself into bed again, wearing only a pair of boxers that he undoubtedly had stored in the bag. They’d come prepared, much better than Athelstan anyway. “Here, this might be a little cold, but it will feel good to be clean.”

Lagertha caps the juice bottle, half emptied, and they turn him onto his back and take turns washing him, starting with his face and working down. He looks down when there’s a twinge of pain when they get to his chest and blinks at the sight of his own torso, covered in neat little red and purple marks. They sting a little, but more than that it’s good, to see them there. He’ll have a reminder, and maybe the reminder will be enough to give him the courage to keep exploring this. He thinks he’d like to, now.

Once he’s clean, they keep him settled between them, stroking him as he gets fuzzier, barely awake. He would already have fallen asleep, if they weren’t asking him questions, if they did anything he was unsure of, if there was anything he wanted to try again, do a different way, if they checked in enough. Athelstan tries to keep his answers as serious and as clear as their questions, but he can’t help yawning—even if he hadn’t exhausted himself, it would be late for him. “You’re all right, sweetheart,” says Ragnar after a while. “You just sleep if you want to, we aren’t going anywhere and we’ll talk in the morning, anything else you want to get out.”

It’s permission, and they may not be scening anymore, but that’s important, and it’s only a few more hazy minutes before he drifts off.

Athelstan wakes in the morning to a sharp knock on the door, and he’s so stiff and sore that he doesn’t even have a few seconds of believing he’s home in his own bed before he sees the two people beside him, Ragnar and Lagertha framing him, holding hands across his chest. He’s hard, and Ragnar is too, judging by something digging into his hip, and in daylight, with someone outside the door, it’s easy to panic. “Room clears out in twenty minutes,” a man calls, sounding bored more than anything else.

“Fuck off, Svein,” Lagertha mutters into Athelstan’s shoulder, but she comes awake and smiles blearily at Athelstan, which turns into a frown when she meets his eyes. “Are you okay?”

The knock comes again. “Twenty minutes, or the cleaning crew comes in while you’re still there.”

Lagertha raises her voice. “We hear you, fuck off!” The knock doesn’t come again, so she turns back to Athelstan as Ragnar starts shifting sleepily behind him. “Sorry, he really enjoys kicking us out in the morning. Are you okay?”

“Yes. I should go, though. It’s …” It’s a Sunday, but he doesn’t really feel like going to church, not with their marks on him, not with everything that happened last night. “I should go,” he repeats, since that at least makes sense.

Ragnar kisses his shoulder. “You could, if you like. It’s one of your options.”

Athelstan looks between them. “One of them?”

“There are several.” That’s Lagertha, sitting up and stretching with a groan but keeping her eyes on Athelstan as much as she can. “And we want to stress that it’s all your choice. We aren’t putting any pressure on you either way, no matter what we want, and this isn’t a dom versus sub thing.”

“The first option is that you go home, you do whatever it is that you do on a normal weekend, and make your decisions from there—come back to the club, don’t come back to the club, we’ll say hello if we see you here and invite you to scene again but we won’t assume anything.” Ragnar sits up too, and he must notice how sore Athelstan is, because he offers him a businesslike hand to get him sitting as well.

It’s easier to feel steady when he’s sitting up, especially when they start moving off the bed and he manages to crawl his way off and stand up on his own. It isn’t graceful, but at least he didn’t have to ask them for help. “Or?”

“Or we take out you to breakfast,” says Lagertha. “And we talk about our lives and what we do and what your hobbies are, and we exchange numbers, and we call you tonight because you should know in advance that neither of us is very patient, and we ask you out again. And when you’re ready, we talk about sex again, and maybe we scene here, or maybe we scene at our house.”

Athelstan pulls on his underwear, stalling for time more than anything else. He really should have brought a change of clothes, but he isn’t about to go without, so he does what he can. “Do you offer this choice to all your subs?”

“Just you.” They both have clothes packed in their bag, and they’re a little less intimidating in the daylight, when Ragnar is wearing jeans and a gray t-shirt and Lagertha is standing at the sink in a plain cotton bra and underwear, washing last night’s makeup off her face briskly. “We talked about it a little last night, while we were planning the scene, and then after you fell asleep.”

“I don’t know what the etiquette is here. You know I’ve never done this before.” His trousers feel fine, but his shirt rubs the marks on his chest and he shifts, uncomfortable.

Lagertha turns away from the sink, her face softer without eyeliner and lipstick, and pulls her hair back as she talks. “It works how you want it to work, as simple as that. If you want it to work at all. We like you, Athelstan. We think we could like you a lot more. The question is if you like us too, enough to risk dating two people, enough to trust yourself with us, and we can’t make that decision for you.”

They’re still packing up, but he’s dressed and has nothing else to do, so all he can do is smooth down his shirt while they finish and think. He thinks of Ragnar sitting across the table from him, confident and telling him to drink his juice, telling him that he wasn’t wrong for wanting to be controlled. He thinks of Lagertha’s steady questions, always making sure he was safe and that she was doing something he wanted. He thinks of Siggy smiling at him as she explained what the rules were, and Helga talking fondly about her dom, and all the questions he still has. “What if we went to breakfast and I decided from there?” he says before he can think too hard about it.

Ragnar and Lagertha exchange a quick look before she nods and goes back to their bag for the rest of her clothes, leaving Ragnar to answer. “That sounds acceptable. And it gives us a whole breakfast to try to convince you that giving us your number won’t end in some terrible tragedy.”

“I don’t think it will lead to tragedy.” To never getting free of them, maybe, but he’s less and less sure that he would mind that. Parts of last night are hazy, but he does remember them mentioning a collar, and even if he knows what that means he’s having trouble mustering up an objection. “So, breakfast?”

Ragnar laughs. “I like you,” he says, and he sounds surprised, in an odd way, but also so pleased that Athelstan can’t begin to feel offended. “How about you go down to the locker room, find your shoes and your wallet and whatever else you left, and we’ll meet you in front of the building in about ten minutes. If you aren’t there, we’ll know you aren’t ready, and if you are, then there’s a diner nearby that serves the best pancakes you’ll ever have in your life.”

Athelstan smiles. “I think I’d like that.”

Lagertha straightens up from buttoning her jeans. “Then we’ll see you in a few minutes. Get going, or you’ll be late.”

Athelstan goes, leaving them to talk behind him, and almost runs into the doorman from last night in the hallway, who barely acknowledges him. He’s more careful going downstairs and crossing the club floor, getting nods and smiles from anyone who stayed or kept their scenes going until dawn—there aren’t many, but he certainly isn’t the only one here this morning. Helga, wearing a bathrobe over by the stage, waves and winks, the man she’s with turning around to give him a curious look as well. He waves back and goes to the changing room before they can stop him.

There’s only one man, bleary-eyed and pleased-looking, in the changing room, and he doesn’t seem inclined to be chatty, so Athelstan fishes the locker key out of his pocket and gets everything out, putting on his shoes and jacket and putting his wallet back where it belongs. He thinks about finding something for his sore muscles in one of the first aid kits, but there will be time for a hot bath later, and he doesn’t want to be late.

Siggy, to his surprise, is still in the reception room, or maybe in it again, since she’s wearing a smart business suit instead of leather. It’s more what he’s used to seeing her wear, and it’s a relief, especially when she smiles at him. “Did you have a good night?”

“I did,” he says, pleased it’s the truth. He’d thought he would feel more nervous, more regretful, away from Ragnar and Lagertha, but he’s only looking forward to seeing them again in a few minutes.

“I shouldn’t be shredding your records anytime soon, then?”

There’s sudden laughter from the other changing room, and Athelstan recognizes it. Siggy must also, and more than that she must read the answer from the expression on his face, but she lets him answer anyway. “No, you shouldn’t.”

He thinks about waiting for Ragnar and Lagertha in the reception room, where he’ll have Siggy to chat with as they find their coats and say goodbye to whoever is in there with them, but he wants to get outside, and he’s beginning to be sure that he’s going to come back, anyway. With that in mind, he waves, thanks her for the referral (getting a wink in response), and goes back out across the entry and out the door, where luckily no one is waiting to check IDs. It’s a clear morning, heading towards warm, and it’s still quiet, and he’s waiting to go out to breakfast with a man and woman who are already married to each other after one of the most surreal and amazing nights of his life.

By the time Lagertha and Ragnar come for him, three minutes later, he can’t keep the smile off his face.