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what is all this sweet work worth (if thou kiss not me)

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Credence's involvement here was happenstance at best, but he wasn't about to complain. Not when it was giving him everything he'd hoped for in the darkest moments since meeting Mr. Graves -- the real one this time, not the wicked one that had used and abused his obvious weaknesses. He was grateful for the differences, which were few but critical. Mr. Graves was kind but stern and very orderly, which in retrospect must have been the reason why he had been suggested for this undercover investigation.

As for Credence, well... he'd volunteered to help immediately, not understanding fully at the time what it meant that Graves would be going to a bondage club. But after a moment of awkwardness, Graves had finally nodded once and agreed to let Credence accompany him, citing that having a companion would help solidify his cover.

"Are you sure, Credence?" Tina had asked after the meeting. She was always concerned for him, which was nice. No one had ever been concerned for him before.

"I'll be fine," Credence had told her. "I'll just do everything that he tells me to do. Mr. Graves will keep me safe."

And he was.

Safe as houses.

Credence had never felt more so than he did at Graves' feet, with a large hand settled over the crown of his skull. There were people all around them and Credence was wearing dreadfully little -- barely more than his underwear and a gauzy shawl -- but he felt safe.

"Darling," Graves drawled, tugging a little at Credence's ear. (He could almost fool himself into thinking that Graves was doing it out of fondness.) He was smiling as Credence looked up, eyes half lidded and drowsy with love. "Get me a drink from the bar. If you spill so much as a drop, you'll get a spanking."

"Yes, Master," Credence said, taking care to be as demure as possible.

The man Graves had spent most of the night chatting with -- Mr. Thornton -- was a suspicious sort. He'd been glaring at Credence all night, asking invasive questions about their relationship, and generally sounding disbelieving at any given moment. Mr. Graves didn't seem concerned, so Credence wasn't either. He trotted over to the bar on his toes, bouncing a little because it made the bell dangling from a slender collar around his neck ring bright and happy.

Credence ordered a Highball -- gin and ginger ale, lime twisted along the rim of the glass. It wasn't strong enough to do more than heat Graves' cheeks for a few minutes, but he apparently liked the biting taste. Credence carried it back carefully, and nearly got it elbowed straight out of his hands by Mr. Graves' suspicious conversation partner. Graves made an aborted gesture to help, and in a flashing moment of brilliance, Credence looked Graves straight in the eye as he let the little glass slip from his fingers.

It clattered to the hardwood floor, thunked from rim to end as its contents spilled across the floor, and finally rolled to a stop at the tip of Graves' boot.

"Oh dear," said Mr. Thornton. "Your boy seems to have made a mess. What are you going to do now?"

Mr. Graves' stare narrowed down in Credence's direction. Then, taking a seat, he spread his legs wide and snapped his fingers sharply, gesturing for Credence to take his place. Credence scrambled to lay across Graves' thighs, only to have a hand in his hair bring him up short. Credence didn't even have to pretend to shudder when he felt Graves' lips next to his ear.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"He doesn't believe you," Credence whispered, squirming. "Maybe this will help." Graves held him firm for a moment, hesitating, so Credence forced his hand. "Please, sir," he said at a volume that would allow Mr. Thornton to overhear. "Please, I'm sorry I've been so naughty!"

Graves pushed him the rest of the way down quickly. Credence collapsed across the man's lap with a barely restrained smile. One of Graves' large hand splayed over his ribs, holding him securely, and then -- without so much as a warning caress -- he brought his other hand came down in a sharp smack across Credence's rear.

Credence jolted, a little surprised at the strength behind Graves' strikes, but held onto the chair as the spankings rained down upon him. It was almost familiar, the pain very similar to the punishments Mary Lou would dole out -- yet Credence did not bow beneath this pain as he did hers. Perhaps it was because he'd asked for it or because Mr. Graves had seemed so hesitant to give it, but the pain had him arching instead.

The spanking seemed to go on and on, until Credence's backside was burning and tears were falling from his eyes. He moaned when he was lifted upright and cradled gently against Mr. Graves' chest. His breathing hitched uncertainly. Credence buried his soft cries against the other man's throat, craving an even closer touch when Graves murmured soothingly at him.

"There's a good boy," Graves said. His hand rubbed over Credence's shaking thigh. "You did so well."

"Thank--" Credence's breath caught. "Thank you, sir."

"I think good boys deserve rewards, don't you?" Graves asked.

Credence nodded fervently and then jolted when the hand that had been moving over one of his thighs suddenly dipped between them. Hard knuckles rubbed over the front of his underwear, forcing Credence's breath to desert him in a rush. He hadn't even realized he was hard, but now it was impossible to ignore. He threw his arms around Mr. Graves' neck and prayed that he wouldn't stop touching him.

"Please, sir," he begged.

"You can come if you want to, darling," Graves allowed, cupping his hand over Credence's dick in such a way that it gave him a gentle curve to rut into. "This is a reward, not a test."

With a relieved moan, Credence moved his hips. He didn't hesitate, even when the movement made his backside tingle all over with fresh pain. It felt so good, and Mr. Graves' hand was perfect -- so firm, the pads of his fingers and knuckles providing just enough texture. Credence lifted his head from the hollow of Graves' throat, and looking down at the man's mouth, he licked his own before hovering with his mouth open and panting.

"You want something else, darling?" Graves asked.

"May I kiss you, sir?"

The curious twinkle in Graves' eyes softened into fondness. "Of course," he said, voice a little rough.

It was a little difficult to kiss while still moving his hips, but then Graves curled his fingers into Credence's hair to hold him in place -- allowing enough stillness for them to rub their lips together and lick sweetly into each other's mouths. Graves started to smile as Credence moaned into their kisses, and Credence helplessly did the same, nearly grinning as he rutted his clothed dick with greater desperation.

"I'm close, sir," Credence confessed in a hush.

Graves hummed, eyes lidded as he kissed the corner of Credence's mouth on final time. "Are you?"

"Yes, sir." Credence nuzzled against Graves' cheek. "Please, tell me to come."

Graves sucked in a heady breath. "You need me to tell you?"

It was embarrassing to say so even if it wasn't necessarily true. Credence wanted Graves to order him. He wanted Mr. Thornton, whose gaze was still a palpable thing, to hear Credence's master demand his pleasure as much as he had Credence's pain.

"Then come," Mr. Graves said. His voice was dark liquid against Credence's ear, the rumble of it enough to shiver through Credence's ribs.

Credence did as he was told with a soft cry, mouth going slack and red as he hitched his hips forward once more. He pressed the soaked cloth of his underwear against Graves' palm with the greedy hope of staining the skin with the smell of his spunk. The room started to feel colder as he came down from his high, and he unsteadily slipped from Graves' lap to kneel between his feet on the floor. It was plenty warm here, even if sitting on his heels meant that his backside ached like a bruise, and Credence settled his cheek against Graves' thigh. He felt so blessed in the moment that he barely heard Graves raising his voice to speak to Mr. Thornton.

"If that will be all?"

Thornton shifted, then chuckled. "I suppose it will have to be. Enjoy the rest of your night, Percival."

"Thank you. I will."

Credence smiled when Graves' heavy hand came to rest on the crown of his head.