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Twisted Wonderland

Chapter Text

I looked out from the door of the carriage one last time at the palace. The air was crisp and clear and light snow dotted the ground. A few of the nobles were waving goodbye towards us, but none with any vigor. They weren't fond of me and I knew that. I didn't care, it was worth it to me. Having a little fun in the palace with practical jokes is more important than getting along with the snobby rich nobles. They were probably only there because of their heritage.

That's what they loved reminding me of, anyways.

"Are you even listening to me, boy?" I scowled at that old uncle of mine with his sky-blue hair, grey at the roots with age.

"Sorry, do I look like I was listening?" His expression had me suppressing a laugh. Being a noble high up in the ranks of her Majesty the Duchess kept him from hitting me, but he could still react in such an amusing way. I liked how red his face got, like a tomato. Slightly purple, with a vein popping out.

But instead of yelling, he just repeated what he said. Blah blah blah, something about going to the palace, blah blah blah, something about diplomacy and relations. I didn't care, I already knew I was just there for appearances. My uncle was still the Right Hand of the Duchess- a prestigious job with all of the merits and privileges you would think it would entail- so I didn't really care what job he had or what he was trying to pass on. All the same to me, really. I had years before I’d ever have to think about applying my schooling to his work once he retired.

"Okay, okay I get it!" I waved a hand at him and his eyes narrowed. He turned abruptly to the window, and I snickered. I'm sure he heard it. I wasn't trying to hide it.
I looked out the window of the carriage on my side, opposite to his, and watched the cold rocky terrain slide by like endless waves. There was an ocean at the Capital, a big port with loads of fisheries and markets. I wondered what it would be like to go there. I hadn't had fish in ages, the only thing that grew in the Duchess’s realm were stupid shiny rocks. The imports of salted meats and wines were nice enough, but they got so boring after a while.

The hillside started to lose its cold desolate look after hours of travel, and we were into the grassland. The long fronds of wild grass were as high as my chest, but the road that had been heavily used cut through the giant fields like a knife. We were heading straight for the forest. That was the exciting part for me. For all the grasses that hid who knew what in their endless fields, the forest was what intrigued me. It was the least boring part of the whole kingdom, with animals scarcely talked about and even more scarcely seen. Legends said of the Jabberwocky inside that roamed the deep lime green ruffage and the black dead undergrowth, but that was little more than a myth. Less so were the Jubjub birds, or the elusive Bandersnatch. Even stranger things, magical things. Magic was never talked about much in Wonderland, but the forest was always an exception, and that's why I was so curious. I could feel the coiled nervous excitement within me about to snap, but when I looked to my uncle to find someone to share it with, I could only see a fat pig sleeping like a rock instead.

I sighed and growled as I leaned back against the cushioned seat. So much for that.

"Out with your hands up!" The carriage stopped suddenly and I gripped the sides of my seat. My uncle woke up and sputtered as he called out to the driver.

"What's going on, what's all this! Why have we stopped!"

The door banged open, and a man with a pointed grin popped his head inside, rugged leaf green hair frayed for bangs.

"This is your stop old man. Both of ya. Out, now."

"How dare you!" my uncle cried out in indignation, but a slice to his throat with a sword had him quiet in an instant. I gulped and went pale as the blood sprayed from the wound. He was choking. The red was pooling everywhere and staining the blue and silver silk of the carriage.

I looked from my uncle to the man. His clothes looked like a slaver's, loose and rugged. "The... The... The pact..." I wanted to tell him how he wasn't allowed to target nobility. That he was violating the royal treaty. That those with colored hair weren’t to be touched. That we were visiting officials.

But he merely grinned at me impishly as he climbed inside. I barely reacted as he pulled me up by the arm and grabbed my chin. "Well, well..." He whistled. "I think you're going straight to the block. Some girl's gonna love you." He called out to the rest of the noise outside with a laugh in his voice. "Oi, looks like we got ourselves a mint over here! No bruising, I want him show ready for tomorrow." The laughter made me sick to my stomach.

I was guided out of the carriage and for a moment I saw sky. But then a burlap sack was thrown onto my head, and I saw no more. All I heard were horses and brash laughter. I gritted my teeth against the fear. Green hair meant the King's kind. They'd hear about this. A bounty would be placed on their heads. No one was to ever disrespect the Duchess’s court, and especially not the Right Hand, nor its successor.

........

Getting my footing was hard on the cobblestone path we traveled down, but the stairs later were worse. I could feel the sharp incline when I stubbed my toe against the wood, but I dared not say anything to my captives. I shivered slightly as a hand pushed me onto what felt like a stage. The sack was over my face again. Probably for some kind of dramatic affect from the audience.

I was not where I was supposed to be. This was all wrong. I was supposed to be at the Queen's palace by now eating tarts and laughing at dumb nobility. Meeting with new associates and relatives and new royalty and actually enjoying myself and the culture. Summer wine and cold food on a hot summer day, instead of the hot wintery food I’d grown up with. That's what I was supposed to have, what my right to have was. But instead I was brought in front of a faceless crowd I could only hear with shouting and hollers that made my blood run cold.

I didn't know what angle they were going to sell me as, I wasn't that strong and slaves weren't sold for their smarts. But I knew that if I could just talk to one of them, they could have me sold back to the Duchess for a higher price than what they paid for me. I could be free, and maybe even back home by sundown. And they'd treat me like the royalty I deserved if they knew. And give me back my clothes, this stupid tattered cotton garb they'd forced me to change into was just insulting.

Nagging at the back of my mind was the thought that if they didn't notice the curled bright blue hair colour by now, they were either stupid or didn't care that I was a noble...
I tensed up at the sudden booming familiar voice of the one that had captured me in the first place. My teeth clenched in anger. "Next one up, a real beaute this one! Just take a look at this Adonis!" He took off my hood somewhat forcefully, and I was faced with a group of hardy looking slavers and other, somewhat higher standing men. I gulped slightly, but bit my tongue. The feeling of the lashes against my back from speaking out before reminded me that now was not the time to plead my case. Apparently avoiding bruising only worked for the parts that showed. "He's got great curls, alright!" The man continued, but I only watched in fear at the rowdy crowd of people. Eyes staring at me making my skin crawl. It was a sea of green and yellow, dotted with red. The King, Lord and even the Queen's kingdom were here. There had to be hundreds all congregated in this sale. But all I could see around for miles that were a few ramshackle huts and this makeshift stage... Where was I? Was I just being resold?

"This one's a young 'un still, and he ain't built for muscle, but I know more than a few girls'll love this piece and maybe do something in return for the gifter! Purebred nobility estranged from the Duchess trying to hide, but we got the bugger before he could get away, ain't that right?" He guffawed as he slapped my back and I winced in pain. The stinging from the whipping was still fresh. I could feel myself shaking as his laughter echoed in others of the audience. They were... Laughing at my... Pain... How could people be this despicable? "Nice features are all well and good, friends, but his best feature's got to be his mouth~" I let out a whimper when he grabbed me by my hair and took my jaw in his hands, opening it firmly and holding it, forcing me to reveal the clenched teeth that chattered in terror. "Ain’t he got a lovely pair of pearly whites? And his lips, I know a few who'd pay a pretty penny for those~ Let's see if you can beat them folks! Start the bidding at two hundred!"

I thought for a second that perhaps the price was two high, as no one immediately bid on me, but after a second the hands began flying up, and the salesman began flitting from left to right. A few who weren't participating still took this time to ogle every one of my features, and the chains were beginning to not be the only thing making me uncomfortable. This as starting to feel less and less like a reselling, or shopping for a gift.

I stayed in place as my eyes watered and cruel laughter and calls filled up the world around me. People were already feasting and throwing around wineskins, and more than a few seemed drunk. I was never supposed to see this kind of world, I never cared where our slaves came from and this only made me wish I never knew even more. I closed my eyes and waited for it to be over.

One large bid brought the end to it all.

"Two thousand!" The voice rang out clearly, and a few even turned their heads to see a man not much older then myself raise his hand. His eyes were a shimmering yellow, and his hair was a scarlet that stood out from the sea of yellows and greens. His top hat marked him the most though. The famed mad hatter, Asentual, one of the most famous slavers in all the kingdoms, especially for one so young. Only a few years older than me. Famous for his capturing and abuse of women. Famous for using a cat-o-nine-tails with considerable accuracy. And… Right Hand to the Queen. And he had just bought me out for a fortune. Why... I could only hope that the Duchess would be willing to pay him back his money and then some.

Before I could see him, or anyone for that matter, my hood was shoved back on my head and I was guided blindly yet again to an undisclosed location. I shook slightly but kept my head down, saying absolutely nothing as my feet dragged over the rocky road. I listened to whatever I could with my stomach aching for the chance to get some kind of clue. But there was nothing I could get from my captors, only that they were excited for such a sum for me. It was everything they could have wished for and more. It made me want to gag.
We continued further and further away from the ruckus until I was apparently in some kind of tent. The basic conversation seemed to hint that they were waiting for the hatter to pay his money then collect me. Waiting in that darkness was terrifying, I had no idea how much longer I was even going to be alive, or what they would do to me. Perhaps I'd end up no better than a sex slave girl, a nothing that only lived to be used. The thought made me green. Perhaps the hatter wasn't some kind of deviant. It was a possibility, right? I almost laughed. It came out as a nervous cough. I was probably just going to be given to the Queen, or some other girl in the castle. He was being trained as a right hand as well, after all. Or maybe he was here to take me home! I was supposed to meet all the officials at the palace, and he was an official, he must have gotten the message! I was safe, I was-

"I want to assess him first."

"Right, right, we get it. I ain't gonna judge I know how that stuff works in the capital."

My worst fears were nearly confirmed already.

I could hear voices now, a few of them my familiar captors, and one that I knew as the hatter.

"Where's our money then? You said two thousand. And I mean two thousand big ones, not two thousand quarters or halves. Two grand. Pounds, mate."

"Just take your damn money and stop flitting about me. I'd like alone time with my purchase."

"Right... All there, thank ya. Have a good day, Asentual. It was a hona' meeting ya."

"Sure, I'll sign autographs later. Now go and shine your teeth somewhere else." There was a soft chuckle at the scuffle of feet struggling to move away from him without getting underfoot. His reputation preceded him and that had me woozy with fright.

"So this is what I've bought..." His breath was at my left ear, and then I could hear him pacing around me. I didn’t move a muscle. Every part of me was tense as I felt his eyes on me. Mine were tightly shut under the burlap sack.

The sunlight from the open door of the tent was blinding when he tore off my hood, even through my closed eyelids. I struggled to open them and came face to face with the one that had “bought” me. His eyes were intense, a blinding yellow like starlight that couldn’t have been normal. “Arms out.” He said as he threw the sack to the ground. I did as he asked and tried to keep a straight face. I felt ridiculous, but I bit my tongue to keep from any sharp comments. He was probably worse than the others, I’d bet. Now was not the time to tell him who I was.

He walked around me once again, then stopped at my front. I watched him in confusion as he gently moved my head from side to side, and opened my mouth. "Tongue out." He said absently. I blinked in confusion, wondering what he meant, and he confirmed it with a growl. "Tongue out, now." He said more forcefully. I did as he asked. I realized he was shorter than me by almost half a foot, but right now I felt tiny. His voice was extremely commanding.

He stared at me for a moment as I watched him, getting more and more uncomfortable. His bored expression broke into a mischievous grin as he let his stare go abruptly and turned to sit comfortably on a rug laid out near the back. He watched me with an annoyed air of arrogance at my frozen state, then beckoned me to come over to him.

“Come on, I won’t bite. Sit down.” I numbly followed his orders and sat down beside him without much grace. I grew too much too fast over the past few years, and nothing I ever told my body to do seemed right. His scrutinizing look wasn’t helping much either. I was just waiting for whatever screwed up idea he had. I didn’t meet his gaze when he continued with that creepy stare.

I winced when he put his hand under my chin and moved it up to meet his expression. He raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Oh come on, I said I wouldn’t bite. Come on, talk, I don’t even know what you sound like.”

“… I don’t belong here.” I bit my lip and tried not to jerk away from him. He was terrifying.

“Well no, no one ever says they belong here. But I think you mean more than that.” He tugged a curl of my hair lightly and I felt another twinge from my quickly beating heart. I could just make out the end of a whip handle in his belt. Looked like a cat-o-nine-tails to me. But he was willing to let me talk, that was good. Now was the time to barter for my life back.

“Yes you’re right, I do, I don’t belong here, I am a noble of the Duchess, she’s expecting me-“ The dark chuckle had me shutting up quickly. He grinned and flashed a white predatory smirk.

“Yeah nice spiel mate, I know what the auctioneer said. You’re an exile, no one’ll care about you. But that makes you more… Exotic.” He licked his lips. I backed up as I slapped his hand away from me. Anger was mounting in my throat and I forgot not to talk out of line.

“How dare you! I’m no exile! I was heading to the Queen’s palace and you’re nothing but some deviant pervert and I’ll have nothing to do with you. I swear you’re not fit to be the Right Hand, to the Queen, you’re nothing but a stupid… stupid… Damnit I’m the Right Han-“ The air was knocked out of me as I fell back against the rug and I was face to face with Asentual far closer than I wanted to be.

“You talk an awful lot. I think I know a way to fix that.” He pinned my arms on either side of me as he tilted his head to the side, licking his lips once more.

“I’m not gay!”

“Neither am I.” He smirked.

“Then why the hell-“

“Talk too muuuuch~” Then he kissed me and I started to struggle. It was useless, I was nothing but skin and bones and this was his world. But it didn’t stop me from trying.

I wiggled until I had enough room to move my leg, then I abruptly kneed his crotch, expecting a scream or at least a pause to get away. Nothing. He just scowled at me and bit my lip.

“Not nice.” He grinned. “Maybe you’d want to be punished. Do you want to be punished, dog?” He pulled my arm with the other together into the grip of one hand above my hand, pinning them as he stroked down my jaw. I flinched away, but the trail continued, reaching down to the edge of the itchy garb. I glared at him and tried to ignore my breathing getting harder.

“You’re blushing.” He grinned at me. I snarled.

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“Am not!”

“Are tooo~”

“Screw you.”

“Are we thinking the same thing? Good.” He brushed his lips along my neck before I could turn back to face him and I gasped as I tried to struggle again. I felt him grind himself against me and bit my lip as sparks of something strange started to make my mind ebb and the room go fuzzy. The sick pervert only seemed more turned on by my struggling, but I refused to lie there and take it.

He used his other hand to trail down my side as he continued sucking along the bone of my neck, nipping hard enough to make me jump. I could feel his wandering touch get a little too far down for my liking, and this time I bucked hard as I tried to head-butt him. He growled as he took the hit and pulled me up in a whirlwind, until I ended up at his lap with my arms still well held by his firm grip.

I grit my teeth as the fibers of the rope he tied my arms with pinched into my skin, but said nothing as he firmly tied it behind me until I could barely move them shoulder down. I looked at him with hot tears and felt a biting remark at the edge of my lips. All sense of fear was gone now.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Say something.” He smirked. “Say something so I can stop you again. This time it isn’t going to be a kiss.” I felt my bile rise and my cheeks heat at the same time. He couldn’t mean what he said, right?

“I-“ I stopped when he started to untie his pants and went red as I looked away in shock. “WHAT THE FUCK!”

“I already told you what I said, and I’m a man of my world. Don’t worry, I’ll help you through it.”

“Fuck off you pervert-“ He grabbed my head with his other hand and forced me to look him up in the eyes. They were glowing again, and that unnerved me, if nothing else.
“You’re mine now. I want to make this enjoyable for both of us, so if you’d stop your nagging just for once, I’ll be good to you too.”

“I don’t want-“

“You don’t know what you want.”

“And you do?”

“I know more than you do.” He pulled me closer towards his lap and I only resisted half-heartedly this time. “Suck, dog.”

I did as he asked and felt the heat from him in my mouth. I wanted to bite, or choke, or something, anything to stop him. But I didn’t. I hardened my eyes and tried to do whatever would make this go faster.

He only chuckled when I started to move. “I guess you’re not that experienced, are you?” I growled in response, but stopped when he shivered. He watched me and that same cold chuckle came again. “Oh don’t stop, I liked that.” I stayed quiet this time and continued moving my head. His hand stroked over the curls of my hair and tugged them lightly, bringing me closer to his abdomen. Every time he touched me, it was gentle. That only made me all the more uncomfortable. Having to do this for him was changing something in me. I could feel arousal mounting that I tried to ignore, but sadly a part of me couldn’t just pretend to not be. For once, I was thankful for the ratty baggy garb hiding it.
I licked over his length lightly and felt my mind fleeting as I got into the rhythm, sucking the tip and feeling every little tremor that affected him. It almost made me smug, making him react like that, but even then he didn’t make a sound. And when I looked up to meet his eyes, they were clear and calculated. But he was grinning again, with a kind of smirk that never seemed to leave his face.

“I quite like this view.” I growled again and ignored his reaction. Moving my head quicker, I got more of the heat inside and moved closer into his lap. He sat back with a lazy grin yawned like he was relaxing on a hot day. I couldn’t believe him! I knew I couldn’t have been perfect or even that good, but he was acting as if this were nothing.
It wasn’t until I started to lose myself completely with hooded eyes that he began to lose his attitude. Murmuring under his breath, he stroked over my shoulder like I was some kind of pet as I started to enjoy what felt like something I probably shouldn’t. My ears burned under his quiet compliments that I tried to ignore, but it was impossible. It was either listen to the fantasies of things he wanted to do to me, or listen to the sound of my sucking, and the latter was starting to make me queasy. I could feel myself ebbing away as I started to realize how much I enjoyed this, and he took notice. The blush was unmistakable on my face and I was starting not to care. It didn’t take anything for me to pick up the pace, or move with greater intensity.

He gripped my shoulder a little tighter near the end, and for a moment I thought he would lose control. But when he finally came into my mouth, it was silent, with only the hint of a huff at the end, like he was sighing after a cup of tea. I choked against the taste but he held me there until I’d swallowed. I glared up at him with his member still in my mouth afterwards, and he held me there a moment longer than he should have until letting me go.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“You’re disgusting.” I tried to wipe the drool from my mouth, then remembered I was still tied up. I sighed in resignation.

He loomed over me like some kind of predator as I started to notice what I had done. It hadn’t taken much coercing to do what he asked. And this drool wasn’t just from the act. I’d been drooling for him, because of him. Oh god… Did I want him? I couldn’t have.

I was surprised to see him take notice of it in a different way, wiping off the stain of the drool, but my heart beat faster again when he paused to take my jaw into his hands and look at me with that distinct glint in his eye, as if appraising me. And maybe he was. I hadn’t done this to please him, but it could easily have been in his eyes. And maybe I’d done well, according to him.

“You seem a little tied up there. Looks like a problem.” The drawl was lazy as he broke the silence, and moved me back until I was sitting in front of him, his breath on my nape. “I can see what’s hiding.”

“Shut up…” I bit my lip as his hand on my shoulder trailed down to my hip and then my thigh. He pulled up the garb to reveal what I didn’t want him to see. I turned away in shame.

“I didn’t know you liked it so much~” He trailed off as he began to move his finger along the edge of a vein. I could feel a whine rising in my throat as I lifted my head up. He kissed my neck gently as he stopped teasing and began to stroke gently and slowly with ease, nibbling over the base of my neck until I couldn’t think anymore. All I could see were blurry outlines and stars popping in my head. All I could feel was this, right now. And he knew that. He knew everything about it. He knew what to do and I hated him for it, but I would be damned if I wanted him to stop.

“Asentual…” I murmured under my breath as I let out a soft moan. A soft laugh bubbled up from his mouth as he moved to my ear and worked his hand faster.

“Yes?”

I couldn’t believe I was saying this.

“More… Please…” This time he was quiet as he complied. He moved with more vigor as he started to suck on my ear, and I moaned in response as I arched back. Panting, I could feel myself starting to drool even more but at this point I didn’t care. All that mattered was this pleasure, the feeling of something bubbling closer to the surface until I cried out and felt something wet as I fell against him.

“You’ve made my hands all sticky.” The joking jab was lost on me at the moment. I barely noticed when he brought his hand to my face and made me lick it clean. At this point I didn’t care. I was sated.

I felt arms around me as I dozed, but strangely enough, no purring. Trademark of a Wonderlander to purr when contented, the hatter gave off no such thing. There was something about the history of our genealogy. I, however, was barely noticing the fact that I had turned into a thundercloud of purring, curled back against him like a pillow. He was quite comfortable, and he didn’t appear to be moving any time soon.

After an hour, or maybe it was less, I didn’t know, I felt him move behind me and the sound of clothes ruffling. He tied his pants back up and let out a long sigh.

“Well that was fun, wasn’t it.” I whispered a confirmation through half lidded eyes. The sun was peaking through the tent still and it was hurting to look after so long of having the bag on my head. “You were a virgin, weren’t you?”

I blushed.

“No…” It was a very flimsy lie that he saw right through.

“So your first time was with me? Don’t you have girls where you’re from?”

“My uncle always discouraged that… I was…” I yawned. “I was planning on exploring the capital without him glaring down at me all the time… I told you, I’m the Right Hand…”

“More like left nut. I did hear about the Duchess being stricter with slavery than any other kingdom- especially sex slaves. Sounds boring, really. Poor thing, nothing to stick your dick into. Enjoy your first gallivanting?”

“Yeah…” I grumbled. “I suppose. You know you can go back to the Duchess and she’ll pay you handsomely for bringing me back.”

“Doubt it, you’re an exile. More likely I’d be disgracing my court by bringing you through those doors~”

“You’re being ridiculous!” I hissed. “I’m the Righ-“

“Benjamin, Right Hand successor to the court of the diamonds and absolutely not disgraced noble of the Duchess.” He grinned at me. I stared at him blankly.

“What… You…”

“I knew. The whole time. It’s pretty easy to tell. You have self absorbed and egotistical radiating off of you like a neon sign.”

“Then… THEN WHAT WAS THAT!” He covered my mouth before I could scream any more.

“That was me enjoying my purchase. And I hope you did too. It certainly looked like it, that orgasm practically put you to sleep.” The heat rose in my cheeks as well as my anger as I tried to yell around his hand, but it came out muffled. His grin went wider. “Oh come off it, you were calling my name in the end. And I could very well have let you be sold to someone else, you, that money came out of my own pocket.” I glared at him. “Yes, I heard your spiel already, I’m not looking for money.” My eyes narrowed, but I couldn’t speak with his hand in the way. I was about to bite into his palm, then thought better of it. Instead, I licked it, making him laugh and pull away.

“Why, then? What do you want from me?”

“I don’t know, fun, I guess. Wasn’t what just happened fun?”

“You took advantage of me!” I bristled.

“Of course. The look on your face was priceless. Especially when you lost all inhibitions.” His leering grin was getting to me.

“Alright, then what’s your plan after this? What kind of fun?”

“I’m glad you asked.” He twirled me back around to untie my arms, then stood up easily, stretching like a cat. “I’d say we’re going to travel the country, you and I. Screw relations with the Queen, you’ve already gotten intimate enough with me that I doubt a visit would matter.” He held up his right hand. The one that had done unspeakable things. “And I am the Right Hand, after all.”

I glared at him.

“Whatever. I’ll get my horse and we’ll be off. You’ll need better clothes of course. Although…. I kinda like this idea~ Maybe save the slave’s garb for later. I like the easy access.” I scoffed and moved away from him.

“You’re sick.”

“And you’re hot as hell. It’s a shame they kept you locked up in your palace. That King descendant wasn’t lying about your looks.” His eyes were glinting again and making me more uncomfortable, if that were possible. He waited for me to get up, then started walking. I jogged slightly to catch up, and tried to ignore the party outside the tent. The other slaves apparently had… less than private accommodations. I didn’t want to be a part of any of what was going on, but Asentual breezed by it like it was nothing to him. He walked straight through it towards the horses like an orgy was a daily monotony. For him, it probably was.

“This is mine.” He walked over to a speckled grey mare with a dark mane and stroked her snout. She responded sweetly and nudged back. It was surprising, especially from someone like him, with his reputation.

“I didn’t know you liked horses so much.”

“Just this one. Come on, then, up.” I froze for a moment.

“I… I don’t…” The deadpan look he gave me made me want to turn away at first, but I stood my ground. “I don’t know how to ride a horse, okay! There was never a need!”

“You’re going to be learning how to ride quite a few things, then.” I did look away this time and tried to hide my reddening face.

He hoisted me up in the front, then got on after me, guiding us along the road away from the makeshift market that seemed endless. I was already starting to feel annoyed and uncomfortable with the galloping and close quarters, but when I listened closely I could hear the damned hatter humming as if out on a stroll.

“You’re bloody awful, you know that?” He laughed as he pressed his face against my neck. I shivered and bit my tongue. Damn him. I still couldn't think properly, and he was only making it worse.

"Yeah, this'll be fun."

Chapter Text

“Much better.”

“I prefer what you wore before.’ I stood in front of a mirror with a tailored suit fit for travel. Blue, of course. Exactly what I wanted. Hatter watched in boredom as I examined myself, and the tailor flitted back and forth between us. He seemed awestruck at Asentual’s presence, but I didn’t really pay attention to whatever they were saying. This was far more important. No more of that terrible cotton fabric that looked like a homeless woman’s dress. No more scratching my skin. I looked closer into the mirror and noticed a tan starting on my fair skin. Looked nice with the hair, but I wouldn’t want it to get too noticeable. I wondered how Hatter stayed as pale as he did...

“Are you done, peacock?”

“No.” He rolled his eyes at my cordial response.

“Whatever.” The tailor took the opportunity to pipe up.

“The coat’s made with corduroy and the doublet is silk. I thought you would appreciate more refined fabrics.” He glanced over to Asentual like a dog waiting for a compliment, but he waved him off.

“Oi, whatever, just find the price out for me to pay it already,” he mussed. I raised an eyebrow as the annoying salesman scuttled off to the backroom for his calculations.

“I’m paying for it.” I glared at him when he snorted.

“With what, your body? Hey that’s not a bad idea…” I ignored the blush as I barked back in outrage.

“How dare you, I meant with funds from the palace. Surely they could compensate. After all, I did have a run in with slavers and the King should pay for it anyways. It was from his kingdom. Green hair.”

“And the Jabberwocky’s handing out compensation to the families of it’s victims. Hair doesn’t mean anything outside of the court.” I sniffed.

“At the very least I have a treasury I can pull from.”

“Where, your palace? That’s a week’s travel by horse.” The mirror was more interesting than this conversation.

“I’ll ask him to put it on my tab.” My teeth clenched at his guffawing laugh, my knuckles going white as they clenched around the buckles of my jacket.

“Listen, dog, there isn’t a place for mile around here that would even dream of doing tabs, least of all for someone like you. Save that for bars.”

“Fine. Whatever. I’ll still reimburse you. I feel like I’m being paid for… Whatever this is. I have pride, you know.” I was too busy focusing on my tie that I didn’t notice Asentual had moved. In a blink of an eye he was behind me, holding my side a little too tightly for my liking.

“I guess we’ll have to work on that. I still need to break you in.” I stared at my blushing cheeks in the mirror and gulped as his hands moved toward my front. My heart was already starting to beat quicker and I was facing flashbacks of our first meeting. He hadn’t done anything since, and I wasn’t sure if I had liked that or not. But now was not the time.

“Don’t-“

“You don’t get to decide that. I’m bringing you home, after all~ Or would you like another carriage ride into the middle of the forest.” Blood. Blood splatter. So much. The knife split the skin so easily. Dredging up from between the folds of flesh like a fountain. Red and metal and boiling. Eyes that held life seconds ago. Uncle. I wanted to pull away. How could I… How could I forget? “Hey, you alright?” I blinked slightly and noticed the hatter had stepped away. How had I ended up near tears? The look in the mirror was so strange. It didn’t feel like me….

“I’m alright.” I said quietly. I didn’t even sound the same.

“What happened to you?” I wasn’t looking him in the eyes. My shoes were new as well, freshly shined and a dark velvet blue. Dark enough that a little dirt wouldn’t be much noticed.

“Nothing.” A hand grabbed my chin and pulled up my face to lock eyes with that yellow gleam that made me squirm. His gaze was unwavering and terrifying, and at the same time I remember how it looked before, in an entirely different circumstance. One I remembered enjoying.

“Speak.” I whimpered.

“They killed my uncle.” His gaze hardened, and my memories of sexual pleasure were gone.

“Right, see, that’s a different story entirely. That, we do take to the King. We’ll be visiting the Queen first to let her know, and then we’ll be off. Understood?”

I nodded. “Yes sir.” The words spilled out of my mouth unintentionally, but he grinned anyways at my slipup.

“I kind of like that.” I growled. Of course he did, the lunatic.

“It was a slip of the tongue.”

“I’ll give you a slip of the tongue.”

“Not everything I say has to be sexualized, damnit!”

“I can’t help it, you make it too easy. Look at you.” He pulled me back again before I could protest and kissed my neck, then sucked on it firmly to leave a small red mark. I sighed softly and gave him a light shove, but he held onto me firmly. “It’s fun to make you lose control. Fun to play with you, too.” His hand was sliding down again. I resisted the urge to move closer. I was still trying to come to terms with him lying to me before, the last thing I wanted was another incident of him using me for whatever he wanted.

“Stop already, the tailor will be back in a moment.” I hissed through my teeth. He paid no mind to my warning and instead he started to unbuckle my newly acquired belt. “Are you serious?!” There was a desperate tone to my voice now. I tried moving away from the mirror and from his grasp, but he was, as per usual, stronger than me. He continued talking softly as he started to tug out my growing erection from my trousers and I tensed when I half-closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see myself like this.

“You’re far too rigid, loosen up a little.” He grinned at the image of me in the mirror as he began to stroke gently. I bit my lip to suppress a whimper and tried to turn it into a snarl, but I could tell it was obvious. I instead leaned back and let him continue, trying to ignore the way I looked. “That’s better…” Kissing over the spot he’d left, he moved up my nape to my ear and nibbled softly. I could feel his hot breath against me. This time, I didn’t bother to hide my whine.

“Just… Hurry…” He smirked and shrugged.

“Why would I do that? I don’t think the tailor would mind.” I jumped and tried to pull away in another futile try.

“N-no!”

“Calm down, Benji. This isn’t the pristine palace, no one cares. This world is built on sex and indulgence; can’t you see?” I screwed one eye shut as he picked up his pace and the other dared to look at my reflection. I could see how it looked. I was practically draped on him while he moved his hand at a rapidly increasing pace and heat from my abdomen rose. I could feel my breath coming in huffs as I tried not to give in but it was just… too… good…

“I… I… Ha…” I panted and stopped struggling as I moved with him, feeling comforted against the crook of his neck that he had me against. I moaned out again as I he went faster and faster until I couldn’t stand it any longer and finally relaxed against his arms after a final cry with a sharp orgasm rippling through me. He chuckled softly and this time he cleaned off his hand himself. I watched his reflection, transfixed.

“Eh hem. Um, sirs…” I froze completely. The tailor stood somewhat awkwardly behind us with a piece of paper in his hand a pencil behind his ear. He looked away respectfully, but that didn’t do much for my embarrassment. Shoving Hatter away- thankfully he didn’t care much now for whether I wanted to go or not- I quickly fixed my pants and returned my gaze once again to the floor with blazing cheeks. I could just feel those yellow eyes twinkling in amusement and that stupid godawful smirk that made my head swim. This was all his fault.

“Thank you for waiting. Sorry, I was just a little impatient~ You know how it is,” Hatter practically purred.

“Right… Well I have everything ready if you’d like to pay.” I left the shop before I could catch anymore of the conversation and let myself fall against the brick and mortar building as I hid my face against the collar of the jacket. In front of me was the strange sight of the craftsman district of the Capital. We’d taken several hours to get here riding mostly in silence, but once we had made it into the boarders of the biggest city in Wonderland, I could no longer keep up the solemn exterior. This place was amazing, busy, and full of life I had never seen before in my Duchess’s palace. Everywhere, you’d see something head scratching or mesmerizing. Not to mention the sheer amount of slaves. I’d probably seen only a dozen in my life, but here there were hundreds. It truly was what I expected out of the Queen’s domain.

When Asentual walked out of the shop, there was a spring in his step. He noticed my expression, but he barely seemed fazed. He grabbed me lightly by the shoulders instead, and kissed me gently. I could still taste the aftermath of our escapade. Maybe that’s what he wanted.

“It wasn’t that bad,” He murmured softly. “You did well, you know.” I knelt my head against his shoulder and mumbled against his neck.

“You’re strange and I’m not sure I like this whole idea. If nothing else all of this is really tiring.” He pressed his nose against my chest.

“We’ll just have to build up your stamina then. I know you might not like this all the time, but I promise you this can be an enjoyable experience.” I closed my eyes.

“I don’t know what your plans are, Asentual, but I’m not another one of your slaves. I’m not a dog, or a thing, or anything like that. I’m not sure I can get into this sort of thing. I’m kind of forgetting who I am.”

“You were a little shit beforehand, if I can remember correctly. The slavers told me a little about you and before I could read it on your face too.” A guttural chuckle erupted from his throat and I punched his shoulder without moving my head. It barely connected without any force.
He pulled me closer and breathed against my shoulder. “I bought you, Benji, but you’re no slave to me. I’d prefer to call you a companion of sorts.”

“A lover, maybe?”

He snorted.

“Sounds like romance. Not my thing.” I pursed my lips.

“Fine. I didn’t want to be anyways. I’m not even interested in men. You pushed me into this.”

“Well at the very least you find me attractive.”

“No I don’t!”

“You kept watching me in the mirror and you looked pretty invested~ Come on, we have royalty to visit. And try to hide that boner in your pants.” I grumbled as he let go of me and started walking down the busy street of the capital city. Sounds and smells I’d never experienced before surrounded us without break and left me completely overwhelmed, but oddly enough the annoying black hat of the mad hatter bobbing in front of me kept me grounded enough to stay close.

“Why do you call me that anyway,” I said. “Dog.”

“Because that’s what I think when I see you.” He gestured with his hand as he spoke absentmindedly. “You’re like a loyal pet that needs to be trained a little first. But soon enough you’ll love fetching after the bone.” He smirked at the last part, and I tried to ignore the stupid pun.

“What makes you think I’m loyal.”

“That’s the training part. I know it’s in you though. I picture you, asleep at my feet, or maybe my side, curled up in an adorable ball. I wonder if you’d fancy a collar-“

“No way.”

“I’m just spit balling ideas. I should save that one for later. But I think rope is good for now. It doesn’t chafe on you, does it? Everyone always complains.”
He glanced to me and I paused. “I… Didn’t really notice. I was preoccupied.” He gave an ear-splitting grin that sent a shiver up my spine.

“Brilliant.”

“Just because I didn’t feel it then doesn’t mean I won’t later.” I tried to add, but he was already focused on walking. We continued our trip as the road went uphill and the shops became geared towards the more upstanding of nobility. The slaves around here were dressed less in rags and more like toy pets, with colorful clothes free of dirt and grime. But you could tell by the hair color. Boring colors, blacks and browns and dark blondes, they were the sign of common folk. The other side of Wonderland, the humans. Considerably weaker than Wonderlanders, the free ones lived their lives in the fields and forests in Wonderland out of sight of us. They were unheard of living free in cities. Anyone was allowed to take them, as long as they hadn’t already been bought. Stealing was frowned upon, but no laws were necessarily enforced from what I had heard.
Hatter noticed me watching a few of them in curiosity and gave his input. “Yeah, the slaves around here are dressed pretty stupidly, right? People would think they were clowns. They aren’t, and I wouldn’t call them toys, either. I don’t like breaking them.”

“They’re all unguarded, even undefended, why are they just following their owners around?”

“Well, they’re afraid of running away. What if they get caught?”

I gave him a look. “What happens if they get caught?”

“Let’s just say that nobility doesn’t mind sharing their slaves. Fun to watch.” I went quiet and we walked in silence for a time.

“I thought you said you didn’t like breaking them.” I finally murmured.

“Does the idea of seeing them played with scare you, dog?”

“N-no.” I stuttered. “You just seem to be contradicting yourself.”

“Well, I enjoy watching – to an extant. But torture isn’t something I’d fawn over. Participating, well… My idea of teaching slaves a lesson isn’t the same as a lot of the sadists in town.” I didn’t know what else to ask, there was so much he said I didn’t quite understand. Sadists? I supposed he didn’t like seeing them in pain then. But from what I’d seen and… Experienced, he certainly enjoyed embarrassment.

He walked ahead of me, and I took the opportunity to truly look him over. I hadn’t much in the few days we’d been travelling together.

He had almost feminine face that he could make predatory in a strange way, with a long-ish nose and golden eyes set between it. They shone without much of a pupil, completely entrancing and alien compared to the blue eyes I was so used to in my court. His clothes were a dark grey sleeveless suit with a collar, buttoned down to his waist. Almost like a waist coat, if he had bothered to wear anything under it. He had blooming light grey pants that gave him plenty of room to walk, tied with a cord barely poking out from the shirt. I barely looked over the whip and rope lodged to the cord before averting my eyes, wishing and hoping that the memories would pass and my head would stop venturing into territory I didn’t want to go through again. Instead I looked at his black shoes, then up again to his head.

He glanced back to see me ogling me and grinned. “Having fun there?” I stared at him blankly.

“Your hair is in absolute shambles.” He just grinned wider. It was, like some kind of bird’s nest of twigs going every which way. Jagged at random angles and completely scarlet. Brighter in hue even more than the red ribbon across his hat. He almost seemed proud of it. “Yeah, I don’t really bother with it. I like it this way. It suits me.”
In a way, he was right. I couldn’t imagine him without it and it did seem to complete the eccentric look. “I suppose it works,” I ventured as I shrugged. “It’s still strange.”

“Look who’s talking? I rarely see descendants of the Duchess anymore but fucking hell, your hair’s the bluest I’ve ever seen. It’s like you’ve dipped it in paint.”

“At least I didn’t become a giant walking strawberry.” I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out at him. Maybe I’d prank him and escape with his horse. That would be hilarious. But without him I didn’t know how to ride it… Damnit…

“You’re such a child.” He rolled his eyes and started up a flight up steps leading to an ominous building of enormous size. Giant red and gold flags hung from the ramparts and as I looked at the pinnacle of the keep, I could see stained glass windows of the Queen’s blinding reds shining down onto the courtyard like beams of heaven. The stone was a soft brown and the gates in front were an onyx black that stood out as ominous fangs to keep out others from the belly of the beast, guarded by two royal guards in matching uniforms depicting the hearts that were the Queen’s symbol. They held spears at their sides with blank looks. It was ridiculously built, stupidly over-dramatic. But it reminded me of home in a way. I ignored the pit in my throat and continued after him.

The throne room was impossibly extravagant and rich with huge arches looming over a dark blood red carpet. It and its gold tasseled edges led up to the large intricately crafted throne with a back that rose up several feet off the ground and was inlaid with golden roses. Sitting on it was an ageless beautiful woman with snowy skin and bright green eyes. Her hair was a bright gleaming red, with the slightest curl as it fell over her chest and back. Asentual’s hair looked washed out in comparison to the richness of her hue. She was the one that started all of this after all. There was an alien presence hidden beneath her that I couldn’t make out. But her eagle look as she gazed over us only made me all the more terrified.

Beside her, stood a hooded girl with dark green umber eyes. She watched us carefully with her hands behind her back, as still as a statue. The hair that spilled out from her hood was a red similar to dried blood, streaks of black matching the cloak around her. A skirt and shirt emblazoned with hearts showed her allegiance to the queen. I didn’t know her name, but if she stood there, it meant most likely that she was the Left Hand. Master of trade and economics, as expected to be taken care of by the Left Hand, a woman. The men were the Right Hand, the masters of diplomatic missions, and, if it called for it, strategists in war.

“Your majesty.” The hatter walked up until he was several feet from the steps to the throne, and bowed down low on one knee. I followed suit with some trepidation. “I have come to report news.”

“What news is this? Why do you bother me, hatter?’ Her voice was sharp and clipped, and every word was pronounced like only royalty could, perfectly.

“I’m afraid it’s terrible news, my Queen. A slaver under the King’s control has slain nobility. The previous Right Hand of the Duchess.” The gasp from the Queen was petite and quick.

“How dare they! Murder…” The word rolled off her tongue. “In my Wonderland! Take this to the King at once. Send a message for the Duchess to appoint a new Hand and be off.”

“She already has a new hand, my Queen.” He gestured to me and I fumbled for a second as I stood up. Hatter watched me in amusement as he did the same, crossing his arms.

“I-I I am Benjamin of the Duchess of Diamonds, your grace. It is an honor to meet you. I-I was to be the Hand’s successor, and it appears I have filled the spot…”
“Right…” Her eyes narrowed. “You don’t seem like much. More like a Lord than a Duchess breed.”

“I-I assure you I was handp-picked by the Duchess herself, I-I swear. I was there when my u-unc- I mean the Right Hand, was killed. I swear on it, your majesty.” I looked to Asentual for confirmation. His callous smirk wasn’t helpful.

She thought for a moment and gave the silence time to permeate my soul. Her gaze made me want to sink into the floor boards and waiting for a response to that stuttering nightmare was killing me. When she finally spoke, I breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Very well. Send word that the Duchess’s new Hand has gotten here safely. You were here for the meeting, correct? Nothing we can’t just send in a letter.” She chortled and I held my tongue. “You weren’t really needed after all. Hatter, go to the King and get his information on the slaver’s name, then make sure they have the papers for the execution on this scoundrel scheduled for the capital and not the King’s private palace. I’m sick of dealing with this nonsense work. I want to see some heads roll.” She grinned with pointed teeth, and I could see the telltale enlarged canines perking out from the original royalty. Maybe we really did have cat in our blood…. It was a well-known rumor that the royals had something catlike in their blood, which would explain a Wonderlander’s ability to purr. But nothing had ever been proven, and the royals never commented on it.

“Right away, my Queen. If it pleases you, may I bring Benjamin along for diplomatic reasons?”

“Sure, whatever, get out of my sight.” And both of us did, quickly, as we bowed ourselves out then walked off with as much grace as we could. I was starting to become keenly away of my height and the clumsiness it brought with it.

“Well that was a blast, wasn’t it?” I turned to look at the bright Cheshire grin of Asentual once more and shook my head.

“That was terrifying. She was…”

“Otherwordly?”

“Yes! At least the Duchess is more approachable. She even hosts tea parties…”

“The Queen isn’t the same. She prefers to be revered and feared, rather than loved. It’s worked for her so far though, I mean, haven’t you seen the capital?”

“Well yes, but her kingdom is in an eternal state of summer and in the center of Wonderland, this whole place is just begging to be populated as a trade city. Plus, all the stories say this is where Alice started.”

“Old wife’s tale. But I suppose it is freezing where you are.” He chuckled. “How do you even live in a state of eternal winter? You’re a skinny as a twig.”

“I live just fine thank you very much. Our halls are gilded with blue banners and sapphires along the walls. We have gemstones to spare with the mines that we can use to trade for warm clothes.”

“So I’ve heard. And seen. I’ve been there before, but I don’t think you ever saw me. It was only a few times, mind you, and just on business.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You sold slaves to the Duchess?” He gave a roll of his shoulders.

“All workers for the mines, nothing big. Just business, you know? I didn’t even use the main doors.” I bit my lip as we continued past the black gates and down the hill.

“Why is it you do that anyways?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Do what?”

“Slaving. As a profession. You’re a Right Hand, you don’t ever need to worry for anything at all. You’d get everything handed to you that you wanted. All these resources and you’re paying for suits out of your own pocket, and slaves too!”

“I don’t want to bother with the Queen.” He mussed. That stopped me short, and I almost tripped before trying to catch up with him.

“What do you mean by that!” I exclaimed.

“I mean, I don’t want to bother with the Queen. I’d rather be renowned for being the mad hatter, Asentual, the playboy that could have anyone he wanted, regardless of if they wanted him. The one that makes slave girls and noble girls alike drool when he enters the room. The one,” He continued as he began to grin again, “that makes people question their own sexuality~ I care little for the title of Right Hand. Haven’t you noticed? I’m never there. Most of the work is given to Sigil anyways.”

“Sigil? You mean the hooded girl – the Left Hand?”

“Yes, her. Not only is she the Left Hand, but she handles most of my official business too. Rumor has it she’s also got a group of mercenary assassins working for her as well, loyal to the Queen and Queen alone, but hire-able, for a price with the Queen’s veto power.”

I felt my blood run cold as I made a face. “But that’s murder!” Such a thing was one of the worst crimes you could commit in Wonderland.

“I’m aware. Which is why she denies all responsibility towards it. But everyone who’s got a lick of sense in the court - and that narrows it down considerably, mind you - they can put two and two together. You know, I think the Queen prefers me this way, out of the eye of the public. I have fun, play around with the other kingdoms, and gather intel to spice up her life just a bit. I think she likes me for it.”

“The Queen likes you?”

“I’m her favorite~”

“It didn’t look like it,” I snorted. He waved a hand again.

“You just don’t know,” He went on in a dramatic tone. “She has deep affection for me, you know. She found me in an old shed when she still traveled around and brought me back here when I was nought but a child. And now I’ve moved up in the world. I can go anywhere, do anything I want, with the Queen’s blessing. Except killing of course, nasty habit, that. But otherwise I take what I want.”

I bit my lip. That blush was creeping up again, I could feel it. I murmured softly. “I know that…” We both continued without him acknowledging it. I could see he was out of sorts, but I wasn’t about to bother with him. I didn’t want to keep thinking about the things he made me feel, or the trails of thought he sent my brain down whenever he did what he liked… He was practically a stranger to me, and he’d forced me into this. He was still forcing me with the threat of having to go back through the forest just to get home. As much as I hated to admit it, he was the key to me getting back safely. I didn’t have any money with me, and there was no way anyone in the capital would take a IOU as money for a hired bodyguard. Even if I went to the Queen again, she’d probably leave me with him…

I growled softly to myself and my eyes narrowed as I watched him lead the way. I was getting sick of being pushed around. I was the Right Hand, damnit, and this bastard was ruining my image and my sensibilities. I just wanted to have innocent fun in the capital and see the sights, spend a little money and catch up with cousins. But he, this monster… My blood was starting to boil. This monster had set me down on this path. He even let me believe that he wanted to just… Use me… He never even asked for consent.

“Asentual!” I snarled out to him. He turned his head back without pause.

“Yeah?”

“Why the fuck have you been playing with me like this and why should I trust you?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Where is this coming from?” He stopped and led us into a quieter part of the street between two brick and mortar buildings. I grabbed his shirt and spouted out what I wanted to say. I took notice of my height again. This time I really did feel tall. And it felt good.

“I barely know you and you’ve been known to lie, and now you except me to just go gallivanting off like some loyal pet in whichever direction you point?” My teeth gritted and

I shoved him against the wall. There was no resistance from him. “How do you expect me to trust you? You bought me at an auction and played me like a fool just you could… could… rape me!”

“Are you done.” His eyes were like stars as they narrowed. I released my grip like I was throwing away garbage and turned from him.

“Yes. I’m done.” Every word was digging myself a deeper and deeper hole. “I’ll ask for the Queen to give me a bodyguard, or something. Someone other than you. To give me safe passage back to the Duchess’s kingdom. I don’t want to deal with your madness. This is going far too fast.” I started walking, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back. I bristled as he brought me closer, but he didn’t appear to be doing anything out of line. Just… Holding me there.

“Yes, things are moving fast. That’s how I play these games.”

“This isn’t some game-“

“Let me finish. I knew who you were the moment I saw you, or, at the very least, I knew the basics. You didn’t belong there. I also knew I wanted to try something out.” He pulled me closer to him and watched me intensely. “I’ve never been with a man before. I wanted to try it, with you. I wanted to see what it was like.” I felt my eyes starting to water and I spat at him.

“So I’m a bloody experiment. Thanks for that!”

“No, you idiot-“ He pulled me closer and kissed me, grabbing my head and holding me against it. Pulling away was no longer an option, so I stood there, kissing back after a moment of shock and anger. He pulled away and glared at me. “You’re mine. You’re not a passing fancy. You’re mine.” Somehow that seemed more sexual than romantic. I sighed with little other reaction in my deck of cards.

“Why?”

“Because I love to drive you up the bleedin’ wall,” He said with a grin. He held my chin as I flushed again, and kissed my jaw. “It’s fun to watch you sputter as some arrogant prick and bend to my will. They say that hard tasks build character.” He started walking again and I chased after him with a scowl.

“I don’t think they meant things like this.”

“Well, you know, I don’t think that anything is ever set in stone. Where did you think you would end up, dog, in the arms of some slave woman? Or maybe a Lord noble? Nah, mate, you’re mine now.”

“How come you can have all the girls you want and I get none!” He chuckled.

“Have you seen me with a girl since I’ve had you?”

“The night is young,” I grumbled to myself.

“Let’s wait and see.” He moved faster and I struggled to keep up. “Misty’s waiting for me and the road to the King’s palace is a long one. Rife with terrors. And adventures.”

“Oh god…”

“Relax, it can’t be that bad. I’ve traveled there before. A few times.”

Chapter Text

“We’re lost.”

“We’re not lost.”

“Yes, we are.” I turned back to look at his smug face and my eyes narrowed. “You can barely see the road and we’re skirting the forest and damnit I can only ride a bloody horse so long!”

He pouted. “Her name is Misty and she takes that as an offense.”

“The horse doesn’t talk, you dolt.” He growled as I turned back around, then I felt hands snake around my front and move closer down my abdomen. I froze as they moved to the outline of my cock in the corduroy trousers, then batted them out of the way as I tried to get a grip on myself.

“Hey I was just thinking I could make it hurt a little less~”

“You’d do that on your own horse?” I scoffed.

“Misty’s seen everything, I’m not about to censor myself for my loyal steed.” He glared at the back of my head when I rolled my eyes. He must have known.

“She’s just a horse- you have an obsession.”

“Obsession- I beg your pardon!” He gripped my thighs tighter and I suppressed a shiver down my spine as he began to pull me closer only to look up from where he was moving his annoying appendages to the road without thinking. My eyes widened.

“Wait, there’s a house over there.” He paused.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean there’s a building, a house or something. Look- and STOP.” I pushed his hands off me and pointed to a large low roofed building with smoke coming out of the lopsided thatch that covered it. It was remarkably large considering the tiny hovels we had been going by, and had a considerable number of horses tied up outside.

“Looks like a tavern.”, Hatter mused. “I suppose we could stay there for a rest. Getting dark anyways.” I went quiet for a moment and expected him to follow it up with something like a joke or a jab, but he said nothing.

I walked inside the building and noted that it was indeed a tavern with a second floor dedicated exclusively to rooms, which I noted when I checked from the bottom of the stairs. The bartender was a highly attractive brunette slave girl in her late teens who could barely hold off the grabbing and fondling of several rough looking patrons as she quickly attended to each glass of wine or mug of ale. Most of them had darker muddled hair and laughed crudely when they caught an armful of ass of few strands of hair. It was so obvious that they were barely nobility, if not for the hair then their temperament certainly left much to be desired. It was all the same outside of the courts now that I’d caught a glimpse of the outside world. The more vibrant your hair, the more manners you appeared to have. Now, I wasn’t even sure if some of these were Wonderlander. It’d be so easy for a human to color their hair with enough glamour to get by, if they had the money for the rare magic. Or dye, though that was easily washed out.

One grabbed the girl as she was pouring a glass of wine and brought her down in a full on kiss that she struggled to get out of. She couldn’t smack the patrons, that’d send her into a flurry of torture. But she certainly still had a fire left in her. When she looked over at me leaning against the wall and waiting for her to be finished with the majority of her customers, she seemed surprised. I could guess why; the people here were like hounds, and I was a purebred. Even my clothes just screamed class, never mind the bright blue curls of hair on my head. But I watched her with a hardened expression. I wanted to at least act cool. Perhaps she’d not ask questions. Maybe the mysterious approach could work. I could woo her, maybe. She was attractive, I supposed she could be my type. I didn’t exactly feel a stirring in my pants, but her face was certainly pretty. Perhaps-

“Hey, dog, come on. Let’s get us a room.” Hatter smacked the back of my head and I was knocked out of my daydream. I grit my teeth with an insult on my mouth ready to fire, but he was already walking up to the girl with his signature smirk. My gaze of anger smouldered as he continued, starting up a conversation as if it were nothing. I walked over to him in a storm.

“Hey there.” His voice was like honey when he addressed her and I could see her have to pause as she registered it. She placed the pitcher of beer in her hand on the counter and turned to him. No one said a word about needing a refill, I supposed she was happy about that. “I need a room for the night, love. Got anything for me?” She stared at him for a moment as her cheeks began to heat up. I could see him slowly beginning to lean closer and she didn’t even seem to notice, she just subconsciously leaned back as he gained the upper hand.

“I suppose…? I-I don’t think we’re fully booked just yet. There should be a room left. It’s a quarter per night.”

“Quarter per night? Steep price, miss.” He wrapped a hand around her waist as he pulled her closer. Her brown hair hung down thinly from stress and overwork, but when he brushed a strand away from her face, he treated it like spun gold. Another grin from him, very slight and almost unnoticeable with those glowing yellow eyes hogging the spotlight had her tripping over herself and falling if not for his firm grip on her.

“I-I suppose we could make i-it less- I d-don’t think my m-master would like th-that but I-I think he could m-m-make an exception…” He chuckled to himself, a deep low sound, then moved his face an inch away from hers. His voice was like a cat’s purr.

“How about two pounds for the night? One from both of us. Don’t let your manager know, love. Keep a little for yourself.” Her eyes widened as she realized what he was suggesting. Slaves never got to keep money like that for themselves.

“Are you s-sure?” He laughed as he pulled away again, letting go of her and her ensnarement of his viperous ways.

“Of course.” He through the coins on the table for her for the standard price, then placed the extra into her hand with finesse. Carefully kissing the back of her hand, he turned abruptly and headed up the stairs.

I turned to see the entire downstairs silent as they stared at the scenario.

“Uhhhhh…” I turned from the girl, to the stairs Asentual had disappeared up to, then back to the crowd. Then ran after Asentual.

He was still snickering when I reached him at the top of the stairs, looking for the last room left open.

“What the hell was that?”, I snarled. “Do you want to be the target of literally everyone in this place?”

“What do you mean target? I was just enjoying myself.”

“They all saw you give away money to a slave like it was nothing, plus that attitude of yours isn’t helping!”

“Oh calm down, dog, stop barking~ We’ll be fine.” I grumbled as I glared at him, but it was useless. He didn’t seem to understand how he’d upset the rest of the patrons, but I had. With their glares as I made my retreat eyeing me up as both a morsel and pest, I was glad to be out of there.

I pulled my gaze from him and looked around the room. It was basic, a wardrobe enough for maybe a change of clothes if one had more than just a shirt and pants like me, a nightstand with a candle, and a bed. One bed.

“… I’m sleeping on the floor.” He just shrugged.

“Sure, whatever. I’ll take the bed.” My eyes were daggers in his back as he walked over to the bed and lay down, throwing his hat off and trying to run a hand through his crazed hair. He didn’t get halfway.

“Real gentleman, you are.”

“I am to the ladies, didn’t you see~ I did my good deed for the day, get off my back. Besides, dogs sleep on the floor.”

“FUCK OFF WITH THAT,” I snarled.

“I already did. With you.” My eyes narrowed, but he simply grinned.

“Just hand me a damn blanket so I can go to sleep.” He threw one off the bed and curled up on the mattress. I looked at the thin sheets, then sighed softly as I prepared a makeshift bedroll to sleep on. The wooden floor was hard and uneven, but the cold didn’t affect me as much as it might for someone else. At least the Duchess’s domain has prepared me for that.

We’d had food not long before, but I was already starting to feel hungry again. I ignored it; I wasn’t about to take that problem to that annoying hatter again. Not after the kind of shit he kept trying to pull. He’d been nothing but a hindrance to me, and now he’d roped me into some kind of stupid adventure. I didn’t know what I’d been thinking before all this. Stupid, stupid, stupid, annoying, disrespecting, annoying, stupid, flirtatious hatter. I closed my eyes and felt myself start to float away into sleep. But I stayed in a half away haze, and as the minutes turned to hours and ticked by agonizingly slow, I realized no matter how long I kept my eyes closed, I couldn’t fall asleep.
I turned and stared up at the ceiling.

Was I jealous?

I was jealous.

Damn.

I turned back to Asentual’s side of the room and saw him sleeping quietly with his arms and legs splayed out on the bed, lopsided just like his hat. He lay slightly to the side with his head pressed up against the headboard and one foot still managing to hang off the side. Strangely enough, he looked… Goofy. Which was surprising. I would had thought he’d have some semblance of gracefulness. This was Asentual we were talking about though, I’d learned nothing was as it seemed.

He was very quiet, for someone so deeply asleep. I could barely make him out in the haze of the darkness. Moving to sit up, I inched closer to the side of the bed and made out the bright red hair in the dark. Definitely asleep.

His face was blank as he breathed through his nose. I moved closer.

So this was the stupid guy that had gotten me into this mess. Or out of this mess. I suppose he’d done both. And touched me like that, that was another thing.
He’d not taken my virginity yet, but, I was starting to wonder what the might have felt like... As at the same time I wasn’t sure why I was even entertaining the idea. He made all these thoughts swim in my head- I’d never even entertained it before!

I quietly stood up and moved closer. Every step I took as I went onto the bed felt like a miniature earth quake; I was hyper-aware of the squeaking of the mattress that I doubted he’d really wake up to in the back of my mind. Then, I finally sat with my legs on either side of him. I stared down at his face and wondered what the hell I was doing as second guessing took up the entirety of my mind. Not to mention this position was starting to make me feel… things… I thought only when he was actively trying to molest me did I ever feel that way but now… I took a closer look at him, and felt my face heat. Maybe he’d started this with less than stellar conditions. But there was something about him I couldn’t put my finger on that I found alluring.

“Well hello to you too.” I froze and stared at the open eyes of the mad hatter as he watched me in amusement with my heart in my throat. The sudden noise had shocked me into looking at him dumbly for a second, but then I caught myself and returned to the glare.

“Can’t you just be quiet for once?”

“I told you, I like antagonizing you.” My glare hardened.

“Just this one time, be quiet. Okay?” He raised an eyebrow as he watched me, but he didn’t speak. He just looked at me as if to ask, ‘now what?’. I’m not sure I knew either. What was I trying to do? I hadn’t been paying attention to my own body when it moved.

I just did what felt right in the end, turning my brain off as much as I could. I pressed closer to him and felt a surge of electric arousal that this time was my own doing when I ground into his lap. His hands went straight to my hips as he watched me intently. I tried to ignore that stare but his eyes were the only source of light in the room, dim enough to just barely make out the rest of his face. His mouth was half open as I continued to grind my hips against his, shivering every time I did. I could feel myself tense up when his grip tightened, but I didn’t stop.

I shivered as I pressed closer and moved my hands to his chest, not really thinking but just doing. I started to unbutton his shirt, but he stopped me with one hand. I paused.

“Undress, Benji,” He murmured, and I flushed to the roots of my hair. His voice was quiet and dominant, different than the jokes he always gave and it made my heart beat faster. I did as he said, moving to unbutton my pants. He helped me, guiding my slightly shaking hands and moving me to his side to get my underwear off along with them. I blushed slightly as I stared at him for a moment, both of us side by side. He didn’t smirk this time, he just moved his head over against my shoulder and softly kissed along my neck as his hands moved to my back.

“What are you doing.” I whispered as I felt his hands move lower. I froze up against him. His finger trailed between me and towards my entrance, and the unfamiliar feeling was uncomfortable and strange. He watched me for a moment with a pause.

“Prepping,” he murmured.

“What the hell does that mean?” I hissed.

“Just untie my pants and let me do it. I’m trying to help you.” I grit my teeth and bit back an angry remark. I’d forgotten why I was even doing this. He made me feel strange and I wasn’t sure if I even liked it. But I did as I was told anyways, and began to untie the rope that held his pants together. I glanced up to see him licking his fingers and my jaw went slack for a moment. He looked to me from what he was doing, then grinned very slightly as his eyes glittered. I flushed and went back to tugging down his pants, and at the same time shivered against his straying hands that moved still lower, until I jerked as a finger pressed against me my entrance whereas before he’d merely been teasing.

“Asentual-“ He chuckled softly and stopped.

“Calm down. And call me Sensi. Or sir. Either one works. My full name is for strangers.”

“What the hell- I don’t know what you’re doing but this is not-“ I winced very slightly as he started to continue moving his finger and shuddered in a strange way as I arched against him. He moved himself very slowly and I almost hated him for it. At least if it were more painful I’d have a way to have a clear head. But in this way, only seeing him, all I could feel now was a dull ache and a desire to keep going…

Hatter smirked slightly as he pushed with another finger, and I was brought back to the present. I shivered and let out an unwanted moan as I continued bracing myself against him, but he used his other hand to grip my chin and force me to look at him.

“Calm down. Relax. This won’t work if you keep tensing up. It’ll just hurt.” I growled quietly.

“I’m not even sure why you think I want this.” Maybe I did, but he did this without me even explaining it.

“It doesn’t matter anymore. Just relax...” He slowly moved his fingers and pushed closer until his lips were on mine and carefully moving me along in a kiss that was meant to make my mind numb. I tried to relax, but it brought on all these feelings and heated reactions that I didn’t quite understand but made me desperately want to sink in onto his hand. But I bit the bullet, and sank into the kiss, moaning quietly into his mouth while he moved slowly at a pace suited for me. I pressed back against him and tried to ignore the smirk when we pulled apart for air. I didn’t want to focus on that. I just wanted more. More of him.

When he finally added a third finger, it didn’t hurt. He moved it just like the others, then stopped and removed them all too quickly. Instead, he reached down to stroke my length as he moved himself closer, until I could feel something larger than three fingers pressing against me.

“I-I’m not sure about this.”

“Remember what I said about being calm and relaxed? Applies to this to.” He pulled me closer against him until I lay on him not unlike before. I could feel his heartbeat against my hands. It was fast, but probably not as fast as mine. I couldn’t think straight and part of me wanted to run, but the feeling of his hand moving slowly around my member had me seeing white again. So I pressed my head against his chest and moaned softly as he began to stroke faster, and tried to relax, as he had said.

There was no pause in rhythm as I felt him enter me with far less pain then I expected. It was slow, and he stopped periodically, kissing along my neck as he did. It was strange to see this side of him. He was acting like more of a lover than the antagonist or rapist I was so used to dealing with, and it was confusing me.

I panted against his stroking as he started to move more intently and moaned again into his mouth. I was almost getting used to the strange intrusive feeling when he started to move again, slowly at first, but even then it was so foreign that I tensed up and felt an sharp pain. He stopped again and sighed, focusing more on getting me off than himself. I felt almost upset with myself that I couldn’t handle it, but couldn’t fathom why. I finally stopped his hand and growled quietly.

“Just let me do it.” He blinked at me in surprise, but I didn’t have the time to look his way and lose the small amount of bravado I’d gained for the moment. I moved myself slowly against him at my own pace, lying against him at first as I tried to get myself more used to the feeling. It didn’t feel particularly good, at least not as good as when he’d used his hand, but it wasn’t hurting anymore either. I leaned back against him and sat up against his lap as I sank slowly further down and bit my lip. There was pain there that time, but at least this position was easier to move it.

Asentual shivered ever so slightly when I moved, and his hands gripped my waist for support with a tinge of arousal as he watched me. I tried to ignore that intensive look and began to move myself at a slow pace, shaking softly as a strange feeling began to overtake me. The grip on my hips tightened as I began to go faster, and when one hand trailed to my member again, I outright moaned as I moved more roughly to also grind myself against his hand instead of him simply touching me. It was strange, feeling this way, different than what he had done to me before, but it was good. Different. Hot. He certainly looked like he felt the same way.

I opened one eye to watch him with a blush and even with his signature lack of reaction to most of what I did, he still seemed to feel some. Enough to let me know that he wasn’t going to last long. I rocked back move slowly in a change of pace and he countered with stroking me all the more insistently, and grinned when I reached down to pull him into a more extensive kiss. His tongue met with mine and I moaned into his mouth as bucked against him. At that, he gripped my hip with his other hand a bit sharply and groaned very softly.

“Fucking hell, dog…” I growled at the nickname and moved faster. No pain now, just pleasure. I had to resist a whine as he sat up with me in his lap but continued let me move at whatever pace I set. The new position had him even deeper inside and I could barely stand it. I panted harder as I gripped his shoulders and chose to go faster instead of teasing him. He merely smirked and stroked me faster in time with the thrusts as I continued getting myself off. I wasn’t focusing on him anymore, but I don’t think he cared.

I shuddered as I felt myself getting closer quickly, and moaned sharply as a wave of pleasure erupted in me from his thrusts. I let my hips fall faster in time with him and completely ignored how loud I was becoming. I didn’t care that I was moaning like some whore. I didn’t care that I was bouncing back against him while he just watched and gave the occasional thrust. I just didn’t care anymore. When Asentual moved to push his tongue into my mouth and mingle it with mine, I moved to meet him with nothing in my head but the need to feel as much of him as I could. Gripping his shoulder for support, something building up inside of me finally snapped when he squeezed me just a little as I came.

My head was swimming as he got himself off after a few minutes of moving. I felt numb then, it didn’t really matter to me.

When he finished, I tried to resist the blush I felt heat my cheeks at the invasive feeling of something inside me and buried my head against his chest. He was breathing evenly as he held me against him, slowly moving himself out of me and replacing the area with a tissue. The embarrassment left me hiding my face further against his calm breathing as he cleaned up, not only his own, but the mess I’d made on his stomach.

“This is degrading…” I spoke into his shirt. He chuckled softly when he had finished.

“But it was hot. You have to admit that.” I went quiet and lay down against him, moving to his side with a sigh. He almost looked surprised, pulling me closer against him as I purred quietly without meaning to. I caught myself, but let it go after a moment of thought.

“I guess…” I whispered. He watched me curiously.

“What brought that on?”

“I don’t know.” He chuckled, and I felt the vibrations up against me. It was almost a purr and it made me want to move closer.

“So you just wanted to randomly accost me late at night?”

“Sure.” He watched me more closely and I felt myself flinch away under his starlit look.

“Truth.”

“I might have jealous.”, I growled softly. His throat bubbled up in another chuckle as pulled me closer up against him and pressed a kiss to my neck. I blushed softly and tentatively pressed my face against the crook of his shoulder.

“I should do that more often then, if this is what it leads to… Are you in any pain?”

“A bit,” I admitted. The dull throb was slowly but steadily growing, but it wasn’t something I couldn’t deal with. “but not anything bad. It’s just a dull ache. You were… a lot gentler than I thought you would be.”

“It was your first time; I wasn’t going to hurt you. You’d never come back for more,” He grinned. I turned away from his smirking face.

“Well… Thanks, for that.”

“Of course~ I’d never want to hurt my companion.” I raised an eyebrow.

“Not that I want to be labelled as it, but aren’t I technically a lover? Or a boyfriend? A paramour? Something like that?” He tensed.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Why would you want to be placed in the same boat as the women I’ve slept with? That’s what they all like to be known as. Lovers, whatever you said. You’re not them.” I grimaced.

“Aren’t I, though?,” I said dryly. “I mean, you’ve obtained me through the same means as you would have any of the girls you’ve slept with.”

“You’re not the same.” He stared at me with such intensity in those yellow eyes that I had to flinch away. He looked like he was about to say something else, but before he could he stopped himself and sat up.

“Do you hear that?” I shook my head.

“No.”

“Exactly. Far too quiet. Something’s happening. I don’t think any of those men downstairs were planning on a good night’s sleep with the amount of swill they were drinking, so why are they as silent as the grave?”

“You might have it wrong-“

Glass shattered from the window as the figure burst into the room. A noble of the king grinned at us with gleaming black eyes as he stood up from the wreckage, holding a rudimentary short sword. My eyes went wide as I grappled for my clothes and tugged on my pants as quickly as possible in the split second I had to react, but Asentual didn’t even seem bothered.

“Right, I guess as much would happen.” Grabbing the whip from his belt, he held it in a graceful stand despite the lack of pants. “You’re not getting anything, just so you know.” He smirked at the muscled man arrogantly as he cracked the whip, but the man just smirked back.

“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of i’, if I ‘ad come ‘lone.” The door burst open with at least five more men of different nobility, most of them carrying miscellaneous weapons that were better for slave punishment than killing. At least they weren’t the sort of criminals to engage in murder, but even so I refused to let my guard down. Hatter wasn’t trying to stall for time but he was doing a good job of it. I was already halfway dressed trying to ignore the ever growing pain in my backside with his clothes and everything else in my hands by the time he made a move. I felt like an idiot, getting dressed in the middle of a standoff.

He seemed uncaring about the people he faced as he cracked the whip again and lashed them on their cheeks even as they advanced. A short chuckle followed as he watched their stunned faces.

“What’s wrong, blokes, never had a half naked man beat you into the ground before? You need to get out more~”

“Oh that does it ya worm-“ The man with the sword lashed out at him and I cried out as he just barely danced around the thrust, twisting the whip around his arm as he used his momentum to throw him against the wall.

“Oh calm down, dog, I’m not allowed to let something as stupid as him lay a finger on me.”

“Really?! You’re going to call me THAT at a time like THIS? Let’s just go already, I got everything!”

“Just a moment, Benji, you’re really far too impatient.” He slammed his foot down against the swordsman’s head as he took a face-plant into the wooden floor, then jumped back before he could grab his ankle. Turning about face, he whipped one of the others again to lash out at their shoulder as they went to strike him with a knife and missed the attack when Hatter’s whiplash landed. Crying out in pain, the rough noble dropped the weapon as he held the spot. The soft flesh of nobility made it easy to leave a mark. But these were ruffians, they’d recover a lot quicker than palace nobles.

“Come on, Asentual!” He turned again to me carrying his pants and other supplies, then grinned as he ran over and threw me over his shoulder, turning tail and jumping out the window.

I nearly screamed as he fell a story, but he landed with the grace of a cat. That didn’t stop me from screaming as he did so, of course, but he ignored me and kept running barefoot and half naked across the grass of the front lawn, dodging between the line of trees by the stables until he reached his horse. I had finally shoved him enough at this point to get his attention.

“Can you let me DOWN now, please!?”

“Fine.” He dropped me suddenly as he went to untie the horse, and I held his pants a little closer as I looked back fearfully. There was already yelling from the building and they sounded like they were getting closer.

“Asentual…”

“Come on-“ I felt an arm grab me roughly and I was half helped and half hoisted onto the grey speckled mare gracelessly. He was quick to jump up after me even as Misty reared from the suddenness of the move and grabbed the reigns to calm her with moments to spare. We were galloping off down the road before any of them even caught our eye, with him behind me holding the rope tightly in his grasp and breathing silently down my neck as he led his horse off into the dark night.
“I told you that was a terrible mistake,” I muttered under my breath, but he didn’t say a word.

 

....

 

We stopped an hour later by the side of the dirt path and the hatter quickly dropped down from his horse. As he stretched with a wince from riding without any cushioning, he turned and held out an awaiting hand. “Clothes.”

“What- oh.” I handed him his pants along with the items from his pockets while retaining the pack of supplies, and he quickly slipped everything on. I sighed and leaned forward against Misty’s neck as he finished up. “That was a rude wake-up call,” I mussed.

“My fault, I know. I knew that would happen if I flashed money around like that.”

“You know what would happen and you still did it?”

“So sue me, I make mistakes.” I snorted.

“I guess it’s karma.” He turned and raised an eyebrow as he tied his belt together.

“Karma? Are you saying that because I gave the girl money, we’re being faced with almost getting mugged?”

“Forget I said anything.” I growled and got off the horse, turning away from him, but I could hear footsteps towards me the moment I turned away. He wrapped his arms around me as his teeth closed tenderly around my ear, and I resisted pushing him away.

“You bark too much, dog. You don’t sleep enough either. We’ll rest here for the night.” I glanced back in surprise.

“Here? By the forest with no house to hide in? I’d rather not, thanks.”

He scoffed. “You have nothing to worry about. Nothing’s going to hurt us, and besides, it’s safe enough. We’ve only got a day or less left to the king’s palace. And then we’ll be dandy.” My eyes narrowed at his upbeat attitude, but I said nothing. Breaking off from him, I walked a few feet until I could find the softest patch of grass amidst rocky soil. I shrugged off my jacket for a pillow, and lay down with exhausted already beaten into my head as the adrenaline wore off. As I lay back, I craned my head to see what the hatter was up to. He was calming the horse, shushing her as he stroked her mane, and I could even see his eyes glowing in the midst of the dark if I squinted. He was there for another minute or so, carefully tending to his steed, then broke off as he looked towards the forest with his expression more grim than I’d seen before. He held her reigns a little too tightly in his hands as he tied her to the nearest tree standing alone by the path. He knew that there were things that lurked inside the deadened poisonous forest, just like everyone else did... A world of rotting and sickeningly bright colours, it was a place teeming with… Who knew what. The Jabberwocky was the most famous, but there were always other things that snuck up on you. It wasn’t safe, and even those with the knowledge to survive in there were pushing their death sentence closer and closer every time they ventured in.

I noticed as my eyes half closed, that Asentual moved between me and the edge of the forest to sit down on a fallen log. He stared at the outcropping behind me with his animal eyes and I realized he wasn’t going to sleep tonight.

As much as I hated to admit it, he wasn’t completely bad. There was something about him that seemed off ever since I met him, like these rumors about him even he seemed to propagate, weren’t exactly true. Wasn’t he supposed to be a terrifying slaver? So then why did he bother to help that girl with money? It wasn’t like she could spend it on much out here in the middle of nowhere. But he still did it, even though it brought us into danger. Not to mention, I’d been expecting him to be rough with me. But then he’d been as gentle as he could, and left me… Satisfied. The feeling of exhaustion was setting in, and I couldn’t reach a conclusion. Not tonight, anyways. It ebbed away, along with the sounds and smells around me of the moist, dark wood.

Chapter Text

The next day we rode in silence. The dark circles under Asentual’s eyes were enough of a message to leave him alone. He worked like an automaton, but none of his movements were sluggish. He always kept any part of himself that was a hindrance hidden; it had been that way with everything I’d seen so far anyway.

So, I didn’t say anything. Instead, I held onto Misty as we continued down the dirt path along the forest. Every time I glanced in the direction of the wood outline, with it’s dead undergrowth and bright colored leaves, I felt a tingle of something up my spine, as if we were being watched. Maybe we were.

I turned away.

“Benji, look.” His voice against my ear shocked me into complying. I turned to look in front of us and gazed up a beautiful silvery castle with a large field in the front, leading right up to the castle walls. Only a flimsy gate stood in between the road and the great doors themselves, a curious idea, since the King’s kind were known to be so militant.

The lack of defenses were confusing to me.

But as we drew closer, I could see why they didn’t need them. The number of soldiers either milling about or standing to attention was astonishing. Nothing I had ever seen of the kingdoms even came close to this. The cards were one thing, they were just a small elite group for the immediate royalty, but this, this was an actual army. I didn’t believe it was all of it either. This was only the group guarding the front, I could only guess how many were in the palace and behind it in the grounds.

“Why are there so many…” I murmured softly. I glanced back to the hatter and saw the end of a grimace.

“The King likes his soldiers. He doesn’t think walls are courageous enough.”

“That’s stupid.” He let out a low chuckle.

“Don’t tell him that.”

We neared the small gate that led to the grey castle doors and Asentual stopped Misty quickly. Ahead of us, I took in the sight of the massive fortress. It wasn’t built for decoration, it was built for structure. Above along the top of the simple stone work with a club emblazoned here or there, I could see the heads of archers looking down at the front below. The hatter was right, the King was an obsessive when it came to armies and defenses.

Asentual walked with a suave pace towards the guards. They immediately brandished large bardiches with the symbol of green clubs etched into a piece of fabric that fluttered from the base of the metal tip, but the redheaded idiot didn’t flinch. “Hello there, gents, right hand of the Queen and right hand of the Duchess to see the King today.”

One of the guards raised an eyebrow, and his hand holding the large axe twitched down away from the man. “What is the purpose of this visit?”

“Message from the Queen, and general diplomacy. The usual. You’ve naught to worry about, mate. We’re only two people. You can defend against whoever else tries to come in after us, I won’t mind.” The guard’s eyes narrowed, and as he huffed a tuft of faded green hair was blown out of his face.

“There’s no mistaking the kind of asshole speech you give. You may enter.” Asentual gave his trademark widened grin as he bowed, then walked back to Misty and I with the same, slightly off walk as he led her inside. It was the first time for me sitting on the horse without him to hold onto or being held by him, and I wobbled as I grabbed the reigns with wider eyes. The ground seemed to look just a little too far away…

“Right, dog, you can get off now.” He glanced up to me as the stable hands started walking towards us. One of them helped me down while another spoke with Asentual. The conversation soon led into a heated argument while I waited impatiently beside them and tapped my foot against the bright green grass.

“Doesn’t matter,” Asentual growled. “She gets the utmost care regardless of whatever warhorse you have in there. Best food. Cleanest water.”

“Mate, she ain’t getting no better than the others if we got warhorses to look after-“

“Oi, you know who I am?”

“Some red noble who’s got a screw loose?”

“Right Hand of the Queen, mate. And if you think for one second I’m not gonna tell her the kind of treatment her diplomat’s getting for a simple request to take care of his horse…”

“Are you threatening me?”

“It’s not a threat you fuckin’ dolt, it’s a right promise.”

“Alright, alright, I get it. Misty, was it?” The young stable hand turned to the grey horse and reached out with an awkward tenderness, and she flared up and turned her nose away. The young man sighed. “Great… Just like the damned owner.” He took the reigns and with his comrade, they left towards the stable built into the side of the castle.

“Trainees… They don’t even know who I am.”

“To be fair, you’ve only made a name for yourself in the last few years.” I shrugged at him, but he simply glared. “I’m just saying, you can’t expect everyone to know of the things you’ve done, heartless slaver and such.” Asentual shook his head and starting walking towards the doors of the palace, and after another glance in the direction of the stables, I followed suit.

“Hey,” he finally piped up. “You didn’t call me Sensi before.”

“I’m not calling you that.” I rolled my eyes. “It sounds stupid.”

“Fine. Then I’ll call you dog from now on~”

“Don’t you dare,” I growled. “How childish can you get?!”

“Very,” he laughed as we neared the large double doors, then had them opened for us by two highly decorated guards. Dressed gaudily in green with the symbol of clubs spliced with black accents was almost as bad as the red we’d seen in the Queen’s palace. At least the blue of the Duchess was nicer… Simpler…

Hatter walked in alongside me as we both made our down the large, green and black decorum of the hall. There was a parse population of meandering nobility, mostly female with a few men here or there, with the throne at the center, risen above the rest of the floor. A set of stairs led up to it to allow the King to look down upon his subjects when he spoke, a way to show the literal meaning behind the power he held in his court. The rugs and tapestries we passed weren’t as luxurious as the Queen’s, but they had a rugged, strong appeal to them through the craftsmanship. They were built to survive after a fire, a flood, anything that could hit the King’s palace.

As I turned my attention up to the throne itself, I was faced with a man. He sat there sat upon the stone seat with cushions for comfort, eyes as black as obsidian, hair and beard a vibrant forest green, with chiseled features and youth that seemed to transcend time and make his age impossible to describe. He gazed at us with a cold expression and narrowed eyes. Even in the Queen’s presence, I hadn’t felt this level of terror. His was the face of a general that had seen and quelled many battles. Some said he fought against the last of the dragons and even managed to kill the Jabberwocky. Seeing him now, I could almost believe it. Muscled rippled under his satin clothes, and he didn’t seem that comfortable in the kind of nobility wear he had. He seemed to belong in the armor that decorated the end of the hall now as little more than the tapestries.

Beside him, were the two hands of the King. To his right, stood a boy of about fifteen, with hair a bright shamrock. His eyes almost appeared green themselves, but on closer inspection appeared to be a trick of the light. They were actually black, but the amount of sheen his green hair had seemed to blend in with the rest of him. He watched the two of us with an arrogant smirk as we walked up to face the King at the bottom of the steps. He seemed to be playing off of the intimidation the King had, but I could only feel the air of a haughty, stupid, spoiled brat.

‘Like me,’ I could hear a little voice inside my head say. I didn’t appreciate the remark but… It wasn’t wrong. I could remember my behavior the first day I’d been captured. I hadn’t been particularly well behaved.

Before I could get a closer look on the elderly woman half cowering behind the throne on his left, the hatter spoke up and knelt before the King. I followed suit and was thankful to avert my eyes from the terrifying glare of the Royal himself.

“My King, ruler over the kingdom of Clubs, we have come sent by the Queen herself.”

“Why do you come, Hand? What is this Duchess noble doing here with you?” I froze at the deep and entrancing voice and felt my heartbeat skip, listening for Asentual to speak. He didn’t. I cursed silently to myself for him refusing to help, then spoke with as clear a voice as I could manage. He wasn’t going to speak for me; I’d have to deal with the Royal myself.

“I am Benjamin of the court of Diamonds, my King. I have been appointed the new Right Hand of the Duchess… After the old Hand’s murder.”

The quiet hall went silent at my words, with clothing no longer moving as everyone seemed still in time. The King’s eyes narrowed further as he regarded me. I felt very small, but I gulped and held my own. Rising from the ground, I stood up straight to meet his eye. Hatter stood up as well, close to me, but not close enough. “I wasn’t done,” I continued. The false bravado was getting to me but I couldn’t stop myself. “It was done by a noble of the King. One of those under your jurisdiction.”

“Careful how you phrase your words, pup.” I felt a trickle of something down my spine as he barked his sentence out. “You are claiming me responsible for murder, and one of the highest of calibers. To kill a Hand is to commit treason.”

“I know what I am saying. I was witness to it. Your noble mugged our carriage when we were in the middle of Wonderland forest. He killed him, then took me prisoner. I was sold under the guise of being an exile, to Asentual. He…. Rescued me.” That didn’t feel true, but that was the closest I could say.

“Harsh accusations.” The King tilted his head up, then regarded Asentual.

“And you, hatter, what do you make of this situation?”

“Everything that Benji has said is true, my King. I brought him to the Queen immediately after hearing this information, and she is currently discussing it with her advisory. She ordered me to come to you and get the name of the slaver. We will gather enough information on him to get the papers for the execution, which will be held in the capital under direct instructions from the Queen herself.”

“Why wasn’t this sent in a letter?”

“We are faster than a letter, my King. And she sent us in good faith. We are here to show trust and no ill will between the royal kingdoms regardless of the problem that someone under your jurisdiction caused.” I stared at the King looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded his head just once. I could barely tell he had done it at all, if it weren’t for me constantly looking at his face, making sure I didn’t miss anything that could get me killed.

“Alright. I will get my advisors to look through the slaving records and find the information you require. As a gesture of good faith from us to your kingdoms, you may stay here as long as you need to. You both seem tired from your journey. I will have Salem lead you to your rooms personally, on the second floor.” The arrogant boy’s face tilted from a smirk to a frown, but he said nothing in response that could have been taken out of line. It was surprising for him to be so quiet. If he had that kind of confidence around the king, I would have thought he’d have it in him to mouth off to the King.

“Yes, my King.” His voice was high pitched and careful, and he plucked his words carefully. As he walked with grace down the steps of the throne pedestal, he glanced to the hatter and I. His stormy expression beckoned us towards him, and we followed him down the corridor to the left. We were brought up beautiful black wood flight of stairs that led to a series of rooms along a corridor, further decorated with soft green tapestries that mingled with black designs. The castle felt too dark for my taste. Even with the wall sconces lighting everything up, the dark grey colored walls made me feel like they were closing in on me. But Asentual was there beside me, and that drew my mind away from the feeling after a time.

“These will be your rooms.” He gestured to the two doors he stood in front of, then opened them for us. They were identical, with a regular twin bed, wardrobe, and bathroom adjacent to the right. Windowless, but with several candles burning brightly on a brass plate. Hatter’s were unlit.

“If you ever are to require assistance, you’ve only to call on the King and I.” He bowed his head, then walked off briskly down the stairs. I opened my mouth to say something, but I couldn’t find the words.

Asentual supplied them.

“Well he’s got one large stick up his arse, doesn’t he?” He grinned over at me as he leaned against the doorway to his room.

“Definitely.” I sighed in relief at not having to pretend to act like some stupid mindless submissive noble. “I hate those kinds of people… If it weren’t for me having to act polite around here, he’d end up with his pants around his ankles out of nowhere in the middle of the dining hall during a toast.” I grinned to myself. “Love to see him trip over himself while everyone laughed.” The hatter uttered a chuckle.

“And you call me a child? Come on.” He tugged me into the room and I pulled against him.

“Why?”

“So I can have my prize for getting you here safely. And then have a good long sleep before the inevitable dinner party tonight.”

“What do you mean, prize? I’m not something to be won!”

“No. But I want you.” He pulled me closer, then wrapped his arms around me and held onto me until we ended up in the center of his room. He stared at me with eyes brighter than before, seeming to revel in my shock and speechlessness. A smirk slowly appeared on his face as he tugged a curl of my hair away from my face.

“You’re always trying to force me to do these things.” I murmured through my frozen expression, but he took notice all the same. Tilting my chin up, he stared into my eyes. I looked back, and only saw a blindingly bright yellow that left me breathless. It was almost impossible to form words. He was… Alien. “I… What if I didn’t want this? You made me… Put you… I-in my mouth before. And now you seem to expect me to d-do more. Th-this isn’t a relationship.”

“What do you want. Flowers? Treats and kind words? You know I don’t do that. If you want me to stop, I’ll leave you alone.” He let me go in an instant and took a step back. “No strings attached.”

I couldn’t look away. “What? Just like that?”

“If you don’t want this, then I won’t bother.” He turned away and went to sit on the bed. The sudden change in demeanour was shocking to me.

“I…” I didn’t know what to say. It was like the rug had been pulled out from under me and I could barely make sense of it. On one hand I was getting exactly what I wanted with him not forcing anything onto me, but on the other… It felt like I was being cheated out of something that now that I didn’t have, I almost wanted. Harkening back to the tavern, I was starting to wonder if that was more than a lapse of judgment and exhaustion.

But I realized he wasn’t going to continue the conversation. His head was turned away, and I supposed he must have been tired. So I turned and left the room in a wake of frustration.

“Damnit…” I bit my lip and refused to listen to the screaming in my head and muscles to turn around. At the same time, thoughts raced through my mind at the consequences of leaving, at the implications it would have to just take a horse and travel the entire way back to the Queen’s palace alone, then get a bodyguard and try the trek back to the Duchess’s palace. It would be rough by myself, probably impossible, but right now all I was thinking of was the impossible. What was wrong with me… What had even happened to me…

How long ago was it that I was playing jokes on the other nobility of my court, laughing and getting into high-jinx? How much time could have passed since I'd snuck around the girls of the court and peered in on their rooms, replacing a makeup box with quill ink or something like that? What was I becoming? Why had I… Why had I been jealous of some guy that had lied to me in order to get what he wanted? Why had I liked it? I wasn’t homosexual. I couldn’t be. I liked girls… If I didn’t, then… What was Sadie to me?

I almost didn’t see the man I side swiped as I walked with my head down, heading down the stairs and into the main hallway. I glanced up, and wished I hadn’t. I saw the face of a terrifying creature. He was a young man in his twenties with the coldest expression I had ever seen. Mint green hair, chiseled face and a girth that could have pinned me to the ground in a second. His beady black eyes glared at me like it was completely my fault that I had stopped his path, and I felt like wilting under that look. Did most king nobles look like they wanted to kill you?

His noble clothes were a sharp contrast to the rugged looks of a slaver or bandit he sported and that made it all the odder. Why let something like him inside the castle? I didn’t know what to say, but he just pushed past me when he saw that I was too busy staring at him to move. I didn’t care. I was tired of trying to act like some stupid noble who were always the targets of my own joking schemes before. I was not going to become some grouch like my uncle. Look where that frothy coldness had got him…

“Humph.” I ignored the rudeness of the man that had walked past me and continued down the hallway, noticing another flight of stairs leading down that didn’t see nearly as much traffic as the rest of the castle. My kind of path to take.

I grinned to myself. Asentual didn’t matter, this whole idea of relationships wasn’t something I was about to get caught up in. I was tired of maturity. Now was the time to explore.

I trekked down the stairs carefully; the stone was slippery from the first step onwards, and the caged braziers were few and far between. The dark grey stone seemed to go with the theme of the castle, a subtle green shade to them that made me want to roll my eyes. Going so far as to quarry limestone for a theme just sounded so stupid to me… Though there was the whole blue theme with the Duchess. But that was different. It had to be. It wasn’t taken to such extremes as the King’s palace. We just liked blue. Blue was a nice color. It was a natural color, the color of water. These bright greens were unnatural, wrong, and made me uncomfortable.

I jumped at the sound of a scattering stone that I scuffed with my foot before continuing to walk down the stairs. The side of the wall was rough on the soft pads of my hands. Crumbling, left alone, untouched and forced to hold up the castle as forgotten foundations. Pity, really. The room I was nearing after delving down was huge, it would have been beautiful if only it were better lit. What kind of room was this anyways? I could barely see. As I carefully pressed forwards, feeling each individual step, I finally landed on what I felt was the bottom. I looked up and turned away at the positioned bright blindingly strong brazier in front of me. Flames licked towards me and I stumbled back, swearing under my breath as I looked around wildly with the imprint of flames still spots on my vision. My eyes widened as I backed up further until my foot scuffed against the bottom of the stone step.

Cells. Dozens of cells. Stone, with metal mesh for doors. And a small torch burning vividly to mark each of the green rooms tinged with the glowing red of the fire. I could hear dripping in the distance, a quiet, sad sound that I hoped was just water. What was I thinking? Of course it was just water. What else could it be? And it wasn’t as though this place was used; it was ancient.

I scoffed. I bet that they just used this place in the old days with the civil wars of the Wonderlanders against the wilds and dragons. Now this entire place was useless, no better than a history museum. I ignored the question buried in the back of my mind as to why the flames here were still tended to. That didn’t matter. Perhaps someone just liked this kind of place, maybe came here to meditate. It couldn’t be any other reason. My smirk returned as I started walking along the cells confidently with a slight skip in my walk, head lolling to the side as I glanced at each flame with an ironic humor. This place wasn’t so scary. Just boring. Old. Smelly.

It did smell. Like… Mold. And Mildew. And blood.

Blood?

Fresh?

I gulped. I couldn’t ignore that.

“Uh… Hello?” I looked from cell to cell, half afraid to look inside the empty ones in case something inhuman looked back. I could just imagine something ready to grab me and try to pull me in there with them. But I saw nothing.

But then, in the stillness I could hear something. The beginnings of soft whimpers. Almost impossible to hear above the dripping if not for my careful ear.

I moved quickly towards the back of the cells and ended up outside one that looked just like any other if not for the fact that there was lighting within, illuminating a smaller figure chained to a chair, their hair and body limp with their face hidden from view. Their hands were chained just as their legs were, and their entire body seemed to be wilted against the wooden chair that the locks met at. I stared in disbelief. They were malnourished for certain, with ripped clothes and some newer cuts along their arms and shoulders. The clothes themselves must have been rags to start with, black and meant for peasantry. Their pale skin glowed red in the light of the torch, rippled with sweat and flaking dried blood that was impossible to clean with the way they were forced to sit. I couldn’t tell the gender, but they were young. Fourteen, maybe fifteen at the most.
I looked the cell door and tried to open it, but it was, as I expected, locked.

“Hey. Hey.” I knocked on the bars of the door with my knuckles and winced in slight pain at the hardness. “You alive?” The head shifted towards the noise, but there was no sound. There didn’t even appear to be a recognition of what I had said, like a dog perking up at noise. No, not dog. I don’t want to think about that stupid hatter right now.
“Ah…” I breathed. I had their attention, now what? “Do you know where the keys are?” Was this really a good idea, letting out a prisoner? Maybe not letting them out, but opening the door? They could be a killer… No, they couldn’t be. They couldn’t be older than me. Younger, definitely. Just a kid. They couldn’t have done anything wrong. Besides, I wasn’t going to let them out per say, I just wanted a look inside to see what they were like. Maybe clean them up a bit, but no more.

The face raised an inch, but the lanky black hair was still too long to see any features. I could, however, see their motioning to the side of the door of the cell. I glanced to see the stupid keys right there to open the cell, only one for all of the rooms. I was so stupid; I hadn’t even noticed them beside the door. Well, to be fair, it was dark in here…
I grabbed it quickly and opened the door without a second thought, going over to the person curling in upon themselves in the center of the room. I watched them curiously for a moment, then gently brushed back their hair. My eyes widened.

He was boy with a face untouched from what the rest of his body had suffered, slightly gaunt from lack of food but altogether… Strangely gorgeous. I was taken aback staring at him, then immediately crushed the thought in the back of my mind. ‘Stop it Benji, you’re not gay, damnit. He just looks like a girl, that’s all. You couldn’t even tell before, and his hair’s too long anyways. And he’s slender… And… DAMNIT. You already backed out of Asentual’s life.’

‘Did I?’ I wasn’t sure anymore…

“Uh, hi…” He looked up at me, and I saw something strange and sobering in those eyes. They were dull, pained and full of hopelessness. He leaned back to get a closer look at me, and I watched him tentatively longer. “I’m… Benji…” What was I supposed to say in this kind of situation? I certainly wasn’t supposed to have opened the door in the first place.

“Hi…” he said softly. His voice was a whisper, almost too quiet to hear. But he still spoke, and I could barely hear his light reply. “I’m Wyvern.”

“Okay…” I awkwardly stood beside him, not sure what to do with myself. After a moment of meandering, I decided to sit down in front of him. Opening the door only to do nothing made me feel guilty, but I couldn’t just let a prisoner out. No matter how beautiful they were - appeared to be - not that I was calling him beautiful. I was a guest here and he had to know that.

“You have that look.” I jumped and blinked at him.

“What look?” He watched me thoughtlessly, face still slack.

“Like you belong to someone. A slave.” I froze, then turned away quickly.

“You’re off… Well…” I couldn’t help but start to play with my fingers. “It’s not exactly like that. But I guess, in a way, you could say that… Maybe… But I’m still a noble. My full title is Benjamin, Right Hand of the Duchess of Diamonds.” He huffed, and I could have sworn it was a laugh. It turned into a light cough, his body shaking ever so slightly.

“Mine is Wyvern, son of general Dread and second in line to be Right Hand of the King of Clubs.” I almost jumped up as I looked at him closer.

“What? Seriously? I thought you were a regular slave. You have black hair, though, and your eyes are just a regular black, and your… Your skin is quite tanned now that I’m in a better light, you don’t look like a noble.” I trailed a hand along his arm and felt him twitch. A subtle whimper escaped his lips, and I drew my hand away.

“My mother wasn’t…”

“I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you to be a noble. But then that raises the question, why are you here? Down in this dingy place? There doesn’t appear to be anyone else here. Why were you left alone?”

“I… My mother and father broke the law. Now we’re all paying for it. We fell from grace. And I’m not alone, not for long periods of time. There’s… there’s…” He trailed off and hung his head again. “Why are you here?”

“Exploring.” I tilted his head up worriedly and saw how distant he was. “I wish I could help you. But if I let you out, I’d be disgracing myself and would probably end up here, or someplace like here anyways. But why are you being punished for something your parents did?” For the first time, I could see emotion. Tears welled up in his eyes as I made him look me in the face, and he let them fall. I let him go again. I didn’t like the feelings that face created. This entire place felt wrong.

Chapter Text

“The King wanted us all to suffer for it. My mother helped a group of slaves escape, relatives I think. She convinced my father to help, and they were both caught. The price of the crime was worse than it should have been. He wanted to set an example. To show what happens when treachery strikes. And… My… M-my sister…” He cried softly with his head bowed and I moved up closer.

“What about your sister?” I caressed his hair gently and found it surprisingly soft for how ratty and greasy it looked.

“Dogs.. They… She was only eight… Set… Dogs… Blood… So much blood… I was… Had to watch. He made me.” I bit my lip to keep from gasping. I could put enough together from his sobs. My stomach churned as I continued to stroke his hair in as soothing a way as I could manage.

“Wyvern… I’m sorry I’m asking you these things. But I… I can tell you that I can go to the Queen, or the Duchess, and I can try to get you out of here. I can try to help you. I just want you to tell me everything. As much as you can. This could lead to your release if the other royals say so. I know I’m stretching here but… I’m sorry. I don’t want to leave you here to rot. I want to help. But you need to calm down a little for me, okay? Enough to speak.” He sobbed against his chest for another moment, but it grew quieter after I spoke. He shook softly, and in his small voice, continued.

“Her name was Violet. My father is Dread, the old crown general of the King’s army. And my mother was Aldrea.” He gulped. “Aldrea was executed immediately following her being caught, but the rest of us were taken to the dungeons. Violet and I, we were both in here before. But… A few months ago, maybe a year, I don’t know… The… He… Took her out of her cell, and brought me out of mine. And he made me watch as he set dogs on her. Hungry dogs. Animals… They didn’t just kill her. And she… She was so scared…”

“Wyvern, who is ‘he?’”

“Cleave.” I sighed, and moved until I sat down right beside him. His legs were covered in old and new blood that had dripped from his arms, but the majority of his chest was left alone. Odd. But I needed to focus on what he was giving me. Cleave wasn’t enough information if I wanted to help him.

“Who’s Cleave?”

“He’s the torturer. He’s… Tall. Big. Quiet. And… He…” This time, it was his turn to look away. He took a soft breath before he continued, and this time he sounded more methodical. As though it wasn’t him.

“He’s done things to me before. He likes me, but I don’t think that’s all true. It’s all Salem’s fault. I’ve heard them talk before. Salem wants me in pain and he suggests all the bad things. But Cleave is older. He knows what he can really do. He takes it a step further. He never hurts my head. He doesn’t want it damaged. He wants to see it when he, when I… when we -“

“Okay I think that’s enough.” I stared at the ground and heard him shuffle back into silence.

“… If you can’t get me out, it’s okay.”

“What?” I perked up and watched him more closely.

“Having someone else down here was enough. At least I know the world isn’t just this place. You’re not a bad person.”

“I still want to help you. Wait… I have an idea.” I stood up quickly. Asentual would know what to do. Yes, I’d walked out on him like a child, but this was more important than my feelings. Maybe he could buy him out, or find a way to get around this. He would know what to do, I knew he had to. “I’ll be right back, I promise. I’m going to bring someone with me, and they’ll be able to help you.”

“But-“

“I promise.” I grabbed his hand. “I’ll get you out.” I wasn’t sure why I felt so protective of him. But I felt like he needed it, he needed someone that could help him. My behaviour was shocking, even to me. But at least I could do one thing right.

I ran back up the stairs by the faint light of the wall sconces and ended up outside the door to the hatter’s guest room in five minutes and out of breath. I burst into the room, only to find Asentual in bed, fast asleep, hat lopsided and half off his head. I didn’t have time for this.

“Asentual!”

“What?” I was taken aback as he simply sat up in bed and put his hat on properly, not bothering with the horrific bed head that only added the bird’s nest of hair. He raised an eyebrow in amusement as I continued to huff from the sprint. “Where you that afraid of never seeing me again? I was tired before. I’m not exactly going to leave y-“

“Asentual, now’s not the time for that there’s a boy in the basement that’s been tortured and I think raped and he’s innocent and I want to free him.”

“…. I don’t think I’ve ever done this kind of roleplay before but I’d be willing to try it.”

“… Sensi. I’m not kidding.” He tilted his head to the side.

“If you’re not, that’s a really weird way to introduce it into the conversation.” He yawned and stretched as he stumbled out of bed, then walked past me out the door and tugged me by the collar of my shirt to follow him. “Come on, dog, let’s go find him.” I went slightly pink and started leading him to the dungeon, speeding by door after door as if everything else meant nothing to me. “You’re being surprisingly selfless, you know.” Asentual finally added after a minute.

“It’s your fault.” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could catch them.

He chuckled. “I guess it is. I did say I wanted to train you to behave~ But I think being in a similar position helps. How much further?”

“Just down this set of stairs. The ones with the torches.”

“Odd lighting. I can barely see myself, fuckin’ hell…”

“I know. We’re almost there. Wyvern? Hello?” I ran to the cell from before to see the door still open and him still there, securely imprisoned in the chair. He smiled at me ever so slightly to see my return, but it disappeared and was replaced with a frightened expression when he saw a glimpse of Asentual.

“Who is he?” Asentual poked his head inside to see him, and his face immediately brightened.

“You didn’t tell me how adorable he was, dog.” Sauntering over to the boy, he sat down and gently pat his hair, then sighed as he took in the rest of his form. “Someone’s been treating you badly, I see.” Wyvern seemed uncomfortable at first to be touched so suddenly, but after a moment he moved into Asentual’s hand, his eyes closing. The redhead gave him a once over, stroking up his arm to his cheek, then gave him a quick peck on the lips.

“Poor guy… Yeah, I’d buy him. We could talk to the King about it. If he’s languishing away down here, I’d be more than happy to take him. I don’t think anyone would even notice his absence. Besides, he has this strange attraction to him.” He grinned and turned to me. “Now I know why you were so adamant on getting him. He looks almost as pretty as you~”

“Shut up, that isn’t the point of this.”

“Tut tut tut.” He walked up to me and backed me against the wall before I could move out of the way. A subtle grin on his lips, he put a finger to my mouth. “Shush with that language. Not in front of the children.”

“He’s what, fifteen? Sixteen? Not a child.” The hatter simply smirked and pulled me closer until our noses were touching and his face was out of view from Wyvern. His eyes narrowed and his mouth drew into a determined hard-set line.

“If I do this, it could cause serious problems. Even if he’s innocent. We only know what he’s said.”

“But-“

“I don’t think he’s a liar either. But we’ll have to get a second opinion anyways. I’m not going to leave something as cute as that alone here either, it’d be a shame to leave him here. But we can’t do it right now.”

“… Fine.”

“Good.” He kissed me gently and was back to smirking in an instant as he backed away and went to what I guessed was his new ‘prize.’ “So, he says you’re innocent. Is that true?” His hand caressed his cheek, and Wyvern’s eyes went half closed at the gentleness of the touch.

“Yes. It was my mother and father. But we’re a family. I got brought into it.”

“You don’t hate them for it, do you, lovely?” Kneeling down, Asentual brought his other hand to his cheek and made Wyvern look him in the face.

“No. They… They were just trying to help. They shouldn’t have been punished for that.”

“Trying to help what?”

I chimed in quickly. “His parents were freeing slaves, mostly his mother, and they got caught.”

“Ah. Nasty business…” He traced a finger down Wyvern’s chin and I was surprised to see how soft Hatter’s expression was. Wyvern, on the other hand, was entranced as he tried to move his face closer. He stared at Hatter’s eyes like a snake would hypnotize a mouse. I knew the feeling, but seeing it like this was very different. Alienating, almost. “I’m a slaver, you know. If we were to save you, I’d have to buy you. Well, not have to, exactly. I would have to have my arm twisted to take someone like you. But you’d have to know that under the official law, you’d be seen as a slave. Certainly look one. Would you be alright with that? Benji knows first hand I treat mine well… As long as they don’t fight me.”

“I couldn’t care less. I’d be a slave in theory if it meant being free in practice…”

Before he could say another word, all three of us froze at the sound of footsteps slowly making their way down the damp and dark staircase. A large shadow loomed closer, illuminated by the torches as the figure passed, nearing closer and closer to us with every step. I gulped as the shadow was stretched and wavered until it tapered off, the size of a large man, just outside the cell and hidden by the door just ajar enough to draw attention.

I moved silently back to the back of the cell, a cold sweat already starting on my face, but the hatter looked even less perturbed than before. He stood up straight and away from the prisoner, and smirked to himself as he addressed the hulking figure.

“There’s no need to hide, good sir. We’re not here to cause an issue.”

“You’re not supposed to be here.” The large man slowly sauntered into the room and I recognized him immediately. It was the monster with mint hair I’d bumped into before. He watched us with a cruel stare that was accentuated from the glow of the torch, half of his face in shadow as his beady black eyes stared at us like a wolf might at a rabbit.
“We were exploring and just happened to come upon this prisoner here. I was thinking about buying him, actually. He’s of no use to the King down here, and he’s certainly a looker. He’d fetch a fine price elsewhere.” He flashed a white smile at the man, but he was utterly unaffected.

“He’s not for sale.”

“Oh I know that he’s not the usual type to be put on sale, being a prisoner and all. But I’d set a good price to buy him here that I’m sure the King would approve of. And a sign of good faith from the Queen as well. A memento of my travels. A deal like that would certainly go down the grapevine and I’d be sure to pass along your name as the one who agree-“

“He’s not for sale, and you talk to much. He’s mine.” Asentual raised an eyebrow and I hid further into the corner of the cell. I glanced to Wyvern to see his eyes wide and fearful, unable to take his eyes away from the man. It had to be Cleave. This cruel creature had to be him.

“And look at the state he’s in; you don’t take very good care of your toys, do you?” It was more of a statement than a question, but Cleave didn’t change his look for a second. He just stood there in silence, taking in both of us as he seemed to internally assess the situation. I could see the reason for Wyvern’s fear clear as could be now. I was already wishing I could phase right through the wall and flee as far away as I could.

“He’s a prisoner meant to be made an example of, and it’s not my decision. I am doing my duty. You are usurping the King’s own orders.”

“Surely the King isn’t so stupid that he’d-“

“You’re out of line, trickster fox.” A bare smirk etched itself on the hatter’s lips.

“I’m a fox now, am I? And what kind of terrible monster does that make you?”

“Are you not a slaver? Do you not rape and pillage as you please? At least mine deserved it more than the innocents you steal from families.”

“Don’t you think for a second that you are above me,” Asentual growled, and it was Cleave’s turn to smirk. It was then I realized just how noticeable the shaking of my arms were, and tried to contain myself. That face on Cleave was not meant to be on that body. Everything about him was off.

“You’re a slaver,” Cleave growled. “You have a slave with you, right there, hiding in the corner like a fearful animal. I doubt you acted any different with him.” His tone went darker. “This one just takes a little bit more convincing. I don’t want to hurt him. The only time I ever do is when I’m ordered to.”

“By who?,” Asentual crooked his head.

“My brother. The Right Hand of the King. He gets his orders directly from the Royal himself. I would not tread these waters if I were you. You yourself know the consequences of going against a Royal, and yours is far laxer. You know how this will end.” There was further silence as he stared at the bulk of the man until once again, the creature broke it. “You can’t get what you want this time,” He added.

“ … I suppose not.” He turned to Wyvern and tilted his head up to meet him. Giving him a gentle kiss, he patted his head then turned and breezed out the door, lithely managing to walk by Cleave despite him taking up the doorway. “Come on, Benji.”

“What?” I stared at his retreating form, then back to Wyvern and my eyes bulged as I felt anger rising inside me. “We’re just going to leave him here? He’s being tortured! This is unfair!” Hatter rounded about and stormed back in, grabbing me by the collar of my shirt with eyes that shone in the dim light of the dungeon.

“Life isn’t fair. We need to go. Now.”

I left with him, feet dragging along the stone floor as I forced myself to make each painful step. I felt hollow since we left. The only thing grounding me was the hatter’s tight grip on my arm as he pulled me far, far away from the entrance to that dungeon. We ended up in an empty hallway by the time we stopped.

“I’m sorry.” His voice was quiet when he turned to me, with an solemn look. I shook my head and turned away to face the floor.

“We should go back to our room.”

“No, you’re not in a well state. I can’t leave you like this.” He guided me against the wall and I felt a hand move slowly through my curls. It reminded me of my mother. I pushed him away with a surge of anger and uncertainty.

“Stop it.”

“Benji, I know it’s hard to understand-“

“He was one of us!” I glared at him. He blinked in surprise at the outburst. “He’s a Wonderlander, one of us! He’s not a simple-minded human. He’s not an animal. He’s a noble, and he was…”

“I understand you have an issue with it. But life is more complicated than who is allowed to be free and who isn’t. You yourself were captured by a King noble. This place is full of confusion and apprehension. I daresay it’s almost as dangerous as the forests. We should be getting back soon, as soon as the King gives us what we want. I don’t like him being down there any more than you do. But the King ordered it, and we have to listen. That’s the way the world works, Benji.”

“… You keep calling me Benji.” I tilted my head to the side and felt the anger melt away as I realized.

“Well, that’s your name, isn’t it?”

“You’re not calling me… dog. Anymore.” His mouth tightened.

“I thought you didn’t want to be around me anymore. So I was trying to be more professional.”

“I… I don’t really know anymore. I’m confused. I thought you were someone else but you keep changing. You’re not like Cleave and-“

“I did buy you, lie to you, and use you against your will.” I ignored the blush I could feel starting already.

“But you’re stopping now. You made the choice.”

“Right, but I don’t think a normal person would have done it in the first place. “

“Would you have changed it, if you could have? Been different?” He chuckled softly and pushed me more roughly against the wall, hands tightening on my shoulders as his eyes glinted like a snake.

“I would have been much, much worse, if I knew I wouldn’t be able to have you again.” I tensed as I stared at him.

“What if… if… that wasn’t necessarily true? If… you could… if we didn’t end this?”

“Why are you trying to play with me?” He hissed through his teeth.

“I’m not. You haven’t made this easy for me, you know, but… I think that you’re… safe and-“

“You like the sex?”

“WHAT?!”

“Well that’s a yes.” He grinned and I was already starting to feel more at ease than before.

“No, I don’t… Well I… I don’t mind it but that isn’t the point. I’m talking about this. Being out in the world. Adventuring with you- hell, when we were attacked before coming here I might have been terrified but I felt alive! And I hate admitting things like this to you but… I’m afraid if I don’t tell you then this will end because I was being stubborn.”

“Well, you are stubborn.” He nipped my nose with a grin. “But that’s one of the things I like about you. The chase. Fine, we’ll go back. But no more melt downs again, okay?”

“It wasn’t a melt down!” I hissed.

“Might as well have been. Don’t think about you-know-who anymore, because there’s nothing either of us can do about it. And if you truly don’t want me anymore then next time, you better be sure. I don’t like playing back and forth.”

“… Fine.” I sighed, but before I could look down again, Asentual was holding my chin up with a soft devilish smile and kissing me almost sweetly. “You shouldn’t have to be sad all the time. It’s a waste of that pretty face of yours.”

“Alright, alright, stop flirting.” I tried to turn away with my blush slowly growing, but he grabbed the back of my neck instead and pulled me round into a rougher and closer kiss as he pressed against me. I let out a muffled gasp of surprise and tried to return it, fumbling for where my arms should go as he had one behind my head and another firmly gripped on the edge of my hip, thumb rubbing along the v of my waist. The buzzing in my brain was starting to take over again, and I found myself forgetting anything other than the feeling of his hands. I pressed up against him as I finally found purchase around his shoulders, giving a breathy moan as his fingers caressed further below my waist.

“Can we move this to our room?” I managed to make out just before he went in for another kiss.

“Why bother?”

I hissed. “What do you mean why bother? This is an occupied castle, not some scummy trade city-“ I gasped as his hand gripped lower and I dug my nails into his shoulder.
“The Queen’s city isn’t that scummy. And besides, this place is almost empty. No one’s going to care.” I shook my head but his attention seemed directed elsewhere as he began to stroke slowly through my pants, ignoring the whimpers as I held on all the more tightly.

Tugging at the buckles of my suspenders and belt, he finally got my half-conscious attention as I helped him undo them, then turned to glance at his half-lidded eyes as he grinned slowly upward.

“So cautious, dog~.” Placing kisses along my neck, he dug through my trousers until the cold of the outside air hit, stroking languidly as I tried to remember how to breathe for a moment. I held onto his neck and pressed my mouth against the underside of his chin as he murmured softly in my ear.

“What do you want this time?”

“I… I don’t know. I want to… Not do this here. Not this time. Please.” I whimpered against his ear and let out a breathy moan as he tugged teasingly with a light hand, touching enough for my head to swim, but not enough to truly get me anywhere.

“I’ll lead then… We’ll go to our room.” He planted a kiss on my jaw, then fixed my clothes before I could do it myself. Smirking, he took my hand instead of my arm this time and carefully led me through the halls until we found ourselves back in the guest room, but when he pulled me towards the bed I felt my legs refuse to move. I just couldn’t stop forgetting Wyvern. It’s not like I could compartmentalize the whole thing. I was about to have sex with some bloke while a poor kid was getting raped and tortured in the basement of the castle. It was… It was…

“I…. have to go.” I ran into the bathroom and threw up into the sink before I knew what I was doing. My mind and stomach were both stormy waters that refused to quiet and I couldn’t take it. My fingers tightened against the white ceramic of the basin and I could barely hear a wandering thought of how white my hands still looked in comparison while I continued to push up anything I had left.

“I guess it was too much.” I heard a sigh but I didn’t even look in it’s direction. I knew it was him and I didn’t care about his banter. I just cared about getting that picture of Wyvern out of my head. What he’s been through, what he’s still going through now.

“We’re… We’re… We’re useless!” I managed to choke out. “We can’t do anything! We’re Right Hands, we’re nobles, we’re-“

I felt a hand gently graze the back of my neck as Asentual pulled back my hair and I dry heaved against the sink’s rim.

“We’re not Royals. We’ll never be. We simply carry out their orders, and that’s the way it has to be.” He sighed as he gently caressed the side of my neck just under a pale ear. “I’ve had more than enough time to adjust to the harsh reality of this bloody world. You’ve been in a glass house your entire life, and now you’ve seen what happens when you throw stones. You can’t save everyone. Really, you can’t save anyone.”

“H-how do you live like this…” I gritted my teeth and tried to force the bile back down.

“I live like every other Wonderlander. Turning the other cheek to the Royal’s official decrees. Having what fun I can. Saving those I can that need saving…” He planted his lips against the exposed neck that my curls left behind and I felt a shiver. I wasn’t sure if it was revulsion or something else, but I didn’t respond to his attempts to get me back in the mood. I felt thoroughly broken and I wasn’t sure what to feel or think. Sex would only complicate things further.

“We’ll leave in a few days.” He finally added as he moved away from my neck, still holding onto my hair. “Three at the most. If he can’t find the culprit by then, at least you’ll be able to give an accurate description. That will be enough. I won’t let anyone interact with you if you would prefer it that way.”

“Y-yes, thank you.” I gulped and reached for the sink’s tap with a shaking hand but his slender fingers found purchase there first and turned on the cool spurting water that it all away. Then, like a pianist, he tugged a face cloth with a careful touch and wiped my face gently. I gave a deep sigh and simply let him, letting him guide me to the bed I could only stare at with a blank look.

Chapter Text

I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. All I could think about was the way this had to be. That I couldn’t do anything, not for Wyvern, not for anyone else that could be unfairly treated. Any noble that hadn’t done anything wrong shouldn’t be treated in such a way. It was utterly barbaric. We were different than the regular humans in this world. Stronger, faster, descended from royalty. Only the worst of the human wretches should be subjected to that kind of treatment. Otherwise, if we were no better… No, I shouldn’t think about them. This is nobility being affected. This is a boy being used and abused and I couldn’t change it.

“Benji.” I jumped as I heard the purr against my ear. The voice shattered the constant spiral of my mind into chaos as I turned in bed to see an intensive stare with his bright eyes on mine. His face was still and stony, merely watching as I broke apart.

“I can’t get over it.” I whispered as I stared back at him. “I can’t get over what we have to do to survive in this world.”

“You wanted to travel with me before, you said.” He watched me carefully. “You wanted to stick around. Right?”

“I’m not sure what I want anymore.”

“Don’t say that. You’re letting this cloud your mind and bring everything down. What I’m trying to say is, we could do some good if you wanted. While we travel. I know the life of a slaver is glamourous to some, but I’d doubt it would be to you. But if you came with me, perhaps you could solve issues I wouldn’t see.”

“And stay around to watch you fuck girls until they’re nice and ready for the slave barracks?” I scoffed and turned away from him, but his hand grazed over my back even as I looked away from him. I could feel it move up towards the nape of my neck, and then trace circles just under where my curls fell on my head.

“Of course I’d need to do that for my work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t a part of it. I’m the only experience you’ve really -“

“You don’t know what you’re talking about-“ It was his turn to laugh.

“You were wary just to take off your clothes. It was cute.” His hand had moved again, this time to the buttons of my shirt. I didn’t stop him slowly unbuckling as he continued talking, but I didn’t help him either. I stayed still, staring at the wall ahead of me and refusing to acknowledge his endeavours.

“I’m glad, though.” He continued. “That I was your first, it gives me a lot of opportunities to corrupt for you, and teach how half the world works, the half you’ve never really seen before.”

“What are you saying? Is Wonderland just sex-land to you?”

“A bit, yeah. The slavers are on the front lines of it all. It’s all we see from day to day. The royals like to pretend their land is beautiful and strong and full of official conduct, but in truth, it isn’t even close to that. It’s full of debauchery, misconduct, incest and bestiality, sex in the streets, looking for pleasure whenever one can get it, wherever one can find it at any cost and with zero conscience behind it. Have you not noticed the entertainment girls you get supplied with in your castle? They don’t last too long, do they.”

“Stop that.”

“It’s the truth. They’re used up until they’re gone, and once that’s over, they’re gotten rid of. Either they’re moved into the cook’s quarters, servant’s quarters, or the trash heap-“

“I said stop it.” I closed my eyes tightly as he removed my shirt slowly, and his hands moved down to my stomach as he stroked gently, almost soothingly. “How do you live like that? How do you live in a world that’s so disgusting?”

“Well I don’t do it like you and ignore the world around me, then yell when I open my eyes this one time and complain that the world isn’t fair.” This time it was his teeth I felt, gently biting my shoulder with care as he moved down my back with his mouth. His lips brushed the small of my back and I felt a shudder ring through me. “What I do, my dear dog, is accept that the world is mad. And I become mad myself.” His lips brushed my hip as his hands unwound my belt from my pants. I remained there in the same spot, unmoving but not stopping his advances. I wasn’t even sure how to react, how to act in response to what he was doing. Was this turning him on? Talk like this of corruption and disgrace?

“Mad?”

“Insanity. I’d like to think it’s what keeps me going. You know the saying from those old historical tests. We’re all mad here, or some jargon. It’s always been the case in Wonderland. But lately for the past few generations, it’s been a different kind of mad. A kind that forces you to either go crazy trying to help everyone and knowing that you never can, that keeps you spiraling and spiraling until you’re crying with laughter in the streets while everyone’s all around you still fucking the shit out of each other. Or, my kind.”

“The accepting kind…”

“The kind that lets you continue moving. The kind that lives in the filth, enjoys it. And still makes time for a heart, though I try to pretend it doesn’t exist.”

This time I glanced below and behind me to see his lips at my hip. Shivering, shaking with a tear threatening in the corner of my eye, I watched him curiously all the same.

“Heart?”

“I’m not as rough with the girls I get as some I know.” He murmured as he began his way up to my face in front of me. “I teach them what to expect, how to survive it. How to enjoy it. My brand of insanity. And it keeps them going on far longer than others. That’s one of the reasons I have such a good reputation. I have good quality girls. I pick them out carefully, and I make sure they can survive it. I make sure they don’t ever end up in the trash heap. Kitchens, usually. Not like that ogre, Jeck. His reputation is far less… Savory.” His forehead was pressed against mine now. I was completely nude, but here he was, still dressed in all his glory. That hat that kept his hair just manageable enough to not need to brush it. That strange sleeveless tux, and the track pants he kept tied with rope. And here I was, completely defenseless.

“What now.” I whispered. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him. I didn’t think he was a good person, but he was certainly an awing one.

“How do you want it?” He smirked at me with a slight curl of his lips. Just enough to get my heart beating.

“I don’t want to think about this anymore.”

“Fucking your brains out. Got it.” He grinned wider as he moved over-top of me with his eyes hidden behind bangs just long enough to cover them. His lips mashed against mine before I could say anything, but it was the quick and rough pushing of a finger against me that had me gasping more than that. My eyes were wide as I suppressed a moan at both the pain and pleasure of being stretched by him far quicker than he had been with me before. I couldn’t catch my breath with him kissing me, but at the same time I couldn’t think of anything else. And that was the way I wanted it. I pressed closer against his hand that punctured into me with two fingers, and pawed at his pants until I had untugged them enough that his own length fell from within his pants. Bigger than I remembered, but it had been considerably darker lit last time. That had fit inside… Impossible.

I’m sure he could feel me tightening against him nervously, but he didn’t stop. In fact, he went considerably faster as he scissored the insides of me and I could only press closer to him in response at the rough movements. Awkwardly, I went for his own to give him something, but he brushed me away with a chuckle as he removed his lips from me. His grin widened toothily. “No touching.”

“I want you to feel good too.” He raised an eyebrow as he moved his hand suddenly and harshly against me, and I winced as I let out a soft moan. My eyes burned from the pain, but it kept my mind clear. And I welcomed it.

“This feels good to you? It’s supposed to hurt.”

“I don’t kn-know…” I whimpered. “It hurts, but I… I don’t mind it.”

“Good to know that you can take a lot more than I gave you credit for.” That tear finally rolled down my cheek for a different reason, and he licked it up without a second thought. Even at the kinder gesture, he refused to cease his hand, forcing me to take what he was giving me. “I’m glad you’re able to take this. It would have made me so sad to think that my plaything can barely manage more than conventional sex.”

“Shut u-up…” Abruptly, he gripped my hair and pulled my head back until my chin pointed to the ceiling. I winced again as he pulled it taught and gutturally growled against my neck as he bit down gently before releasing his mouth with a string of saliva the only thing connecting the two.

“Why don’t you beg instead of bark, dog,” He muttered against my ear. There wasn’t anymore pain inside me anymore. It was just pleasure, and the quick beating in my chest that wouldn’t subside. “Beg for me inside you.”

“Please… Put your member inside me.”

“What, what do you call it?” He almost paused. His voice completely changed from that dark emotion to plain confusion.

“Well… Member, penis… Something like that… I’m trying to sound seductive here.” I blinked at him as his expressed faltered further into trying to hold into a laugh. He kissed my cheek as he moved particularly roughly, enough to make me yelp.

“Jesus, you sound like a girl. Call it a dick or cock like everyone else.” He removed his fingers as he moved up closer to my face and planted a gentler kiss on my lips as I continued to stare at him in disbelief. When he moved his… Cock, from near my stomach to my… entrance, he entered more roughly than anticipated. I jerked against him as he moved, and at the same time he gripped my arms over my head with his own hands. Pinned against him with the feeling of pained warmth inside, staring into those damned eyes and the overwhelming smell of sex in the air had my head blank. I was too brain dead to respond in any other way but accept the in-depth kiss he pushed onto me, and I found my hips moving against his own as he moved rough from the very beginning. His breath and tongue were a constant that I kept egging on and on and he obliged.

I’m not sure he understood why I seemed so enthused as I pushed rougher back into him with every thrust he gave. He knew I didn’t want to think, and I wasn’t thinking. But I was feeling, so, so much. I couldn’t stop panting against his mouth even as he released me from the kiss and moved down to my neck with a soft groan as I tightened against him with every brush of his teeth on my neck.

“Well, well, dog, seems like you’re enjoying yourself.” His voice wasn’t even breathless. Here I was, shaking and unable to control my own mewling moans as he tore me to pieces, and he was barely registering anything. He refused to lose control. It was absolutely infuriating.

“You’re not…” I moaned out as I struggled to get close enough to bite down on his shoulder, and he batted me away with a chuckle. I couldn’t find it within me to glare at him as another wave of pleasure hit me. He’d pushed me onto my back before I knew what was going on and his grip on my arms had changed to both being pinned by one hand. It gave him the opportunity to reach behind me and tug at my own dick in his hand. Arching back against him, I moaned out sharply as he rammed more deeply inside.

“I’m not what?” He growled against my ear. “Enjoying myself? You think this isn’t amazing for me?” I nodded as I closed my eyes with gritted teeth. He paused his touches on me below the waist and instead moved up to roughly tug at my hair until my head lolled back against his shoulder, allowing him the perfect opportunity to attack the front of my neck. “You’d be wrong. It affects me as much as you. And my god, dog, your so fucking tight it feels like I’m losing circulation in my cock. It’s exhilarating.” With a quiet moan against my ear, he bit down on the lobe as he moved even deeper and pushed my head down into the pillow. I bit into it with a fevered whine as I let him go harder, rougher, more, anything to satisfy this need. It was barely there in my head that he wasn’t reacting now. All I wanted was him to come, and me with him. I wanted to feel him finish. I wanted it so desperately. And he knew it.

He gripped my cock harder as his thrusts increased in speed and matched the rhythm he had in his hand. Saliva stained the pillow as I finally felt a release sweeping through me that let go of the burning desire. I collapsed with only a few more thrusts from Asentual before I felt him pause and the trickling sensation inside me. My eyes were half closed as he lay on top of me for a few more moments with his grip slacked on my arms, the purring deep in my throat after he had finished inside me. I glanced up to see the red marks already forming on my wrists. They’d be bruises soon enough. Reminders. I… Liked it.

“Not a word from you.” The hatter murmured after a few minutes as he moved to my side with him still firmly inside me. He didn’t seem to plan to remove himself any time soon. It wasn’t uncomfortable yet, but it soon would be. For now, I didn’t mind. “It’s a nice change.” He added with a slight grin in my direction. “Along with that freshly fucked look you’re sporting.” My hair was plastered to my face. I must have had sweat and saliva all over me, and my own semen had gotten on me as well as the blankets. I could feel my face reddening as he paused to look a little longer.

“Stop that…” I turned away from him and moved so he was no longer inside me, before quickly disappearing into the bathroom before he could say another word. Splashing water on my face and cleaning myself up, flashes of what had just happened playing over and over in my head. And the mess below my waist certainly needed it. By the time I was out of the bathroom and beside him, he’d already fixed the sheets with a fresh set by the wardrobe. It was fast, but I supposed he was used to this sort of thing. Perhaps he was also used to the cuddle afterwards; it took him no time to have me in his arms with his head pressed against my shoulder and listen the small purr from me starting up again. He let out a small quiet breath as he stroked my side before pulling me closer.

“… Why don’t you react?” I ventured. It had been eating away at me for some time in the bathroom. He just barely responded to anything I did. Like I wasn’t good enough, or nothing affected him.

“Training.” He mumbled. He sounded tired, and satisfied. That was good at least.

“Training for what?”

“When you’re a slaver breaking in a girl you don’t have time to get caught up in it and let your guard down. Or let your guard down with anything for that matter. Not at brothels or clubs or at any event you might go to. I’ve learned that from the beginning, you can’t get too into the sex or you’ll end up with your wallet stolen, or perhaps something infinitely worse. It’s how I was raised for many years, both by myself and with mentors showing me the ropes.” I felt him shrug behind me as he yawned. “It’s something I can’t turn off now, and I’m not sure I want to. I feel it all, dog, but it’s not something I express as well as others.”

“But…” I paused as I tried to formulate my next words. “I don’t know how to compete with you. I don’t know what pleases you.”

He laughed to himself. “It’s the little things you do that get me off, you know. I get hot and bothered when you argue, when your mind can’t compute what I’m doing to you, and when you played with my tongue like that, that was a bloody fun time let me tell you.”

“Tongue?”

“Among other things. Most people have the same erogenous zones with some variants of course. It’s not that difficult.” He must have known I was going back into deep thought again as he snapped his fingers against my ear. I winced and he sighed.

“Just go to sleep, peacock, and stop your constant analytics over the kind of sex I like. I promise that was exactly what I wanted out of you. You preformed excellently.” I snorted to myself.

“I don’t analyze… everything…”

“You’d analyze the kind of yeast I’d use with the bread I’d throw in front of you. Don’t be daft. Honestly, is every Duchess noble like this? Because this has been all of my experiences with them so far.”

“You fuck other Duchess nobles?”

“Not the men, no, you know that. I always thought they were stuck up to be honest. I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to tear that down and leave them begging for more cock in their mouths~” I blushed as I buried my face against the pillow.

“You’re terrible.”

“And you, dear pup, are going to have a very sore ass tomorrow.”

“I’ll just stay in bed then.”

“And you think I’d leave you to stew about everything for twenty-four hours? Not bloody likely.”

“What then?” I reasoned. “Shall I follow you around all day while sore?”

“Sounds like a brilliant idea, Benji. I’m glad you thought of it. Goodnight!” I was about to respond, but his fake snoring was frustrating enough to pull the pillow over my head and try to get some sleep.

……

“Dog. Get up. Up and at ‘em.” The hand on my shoulder roughly shook me, and I batted it away, curling up tighter against the blankets. It was a lovely dream I was having, living lavishly in the Queen’s kingdom, going to every brothel on the block with my uncle far off and away. He was busy stuck in the middle of a diplomatic meeting and here I was with my own entourage from the carriage drinking myself into a stupor and getting lap dances from the most beautiful entertainment girls imaginable. It was coming back to me now, that dream. I could see them with beautiful bouncing breasts pushing against my chest, hips that moved like a snake and those eyes, a beautiful glowing yellow that wouldn’t stop staring into me like they wanted to probe my very soul. The heady scent was all around me. I allowed her to do whatever she wanted to me, she was trained in this after all. I watched as she moved lower and lower until her fingers were roping around my belt and slipping off my pants without a second thought. Her mouth enclosed around my member with that beautiful tongue of hers and began sucking like her life depended on it. It was almost elegant, the way she did it, and my hands going through her hair only made her look more amazing. This nameless girl was only what I wanted right now, and I wanted her badly.

I moaned out sharply as she took me all the way inside her mouth for an instant. The cock pushed against the back of her throat, but she wouldn’t swallow me whole, not yet. She was a teaser, and I enjoyed that. She did everything I wanted and it was absolutely magical. Rolling her tongue over the head before closing her mouth around me again without a thought and moving back down onto me until I could feel her nose brushing against the hair at my abdomen. She only paused when I was at my limit, moving back up to press her lips against the head in a soft kiss, glancing at me with a smirk.

“Do you think you deserve that, dog?”

The voice out of her mouth was Asentual’s.

I jumped when I felt my head come back to me and felt something tugging at my cock in the safety of my bed. I threw the covers off to the side to see the dreaded hatter sucking feverishly at me, taking the place of the woman from my dreams. It had been him all along, and it didn’t look like he had any intention of stopping despite my outburst. I stared at him in shock as he watched me with those eyes as he pushed the cock deeper into his own mouth with a purr. I was already close to coming. It was impossible to keep the moans from my mouth as I went back to gripping his hair in my hands as I let him do what he pleased. I was simply along for the ride, and it was a ride I had to admit was very pleasing.

I felt a shudder as he planted another kiss on the very tip of me length as he staved off yet another attempt for me to come in his mouth.

“Please… Please let me come…” I whimpered between heaving breaths as I gripped his hair tighter and tried to pull him back onto me.

“Only if you come with me to the meeting today.” He grinned as he stroked me absently with my hand and awaited my answer. I nodded quickly as I whined again and twitched with every movement.

“I will… Just please…. Please…”

“Fine.” He stopped his touches and brought his mouth fully down on me and I felt the warmth of his mouth once more, the teeth just out of the way as I claimed him. My hands found themselves gripping and tugging at his hair even though he’d already swallowed me up, I didn’t know what else to do with them, how else to express just how amazing this felt. He completely wrapped his mouth around me with a suction that left the hair on my neck standing up and gasping for air. Humming with the slightest purr- NOW he was purring?- the vibrations sent me over the edge too quickly. I was already coming in his mouth before I could give him a warning. I had no stamina for it, and I turned away in embarrassment as I uttered a small apology. The aftershocks of the orgasm were lengthened by his swallowing of my semen and cleaning of my softening erection. To feel that tongue on me was strange and amazing at the same time, too overwhelming to be there for long. I was breathlessly trying to push him away from me in the end, but he didn’t let up until he’d cleaned me and left me completely overstimulated, breathing sharply and gripping his shoulders, shivering and shaking as I watched him slowly let go of me and lock eyes with my half fearful ones.

“You didn’t have to do that.” I breathed.

“And leave my loyal dog with just an orgasm? I’d rather give him all I can offer.” He moved up against me now, placing a kiss at the corner of my mouth, then stroked my hair with surprisingly gentle hands. “Besides,” he continued. “It barely took anything for you, I didn’t want it to be too anti-climactic today.”

“Oh…” I murmured. I was still half asleep, and I yawned as he stroked over my chin and parted my lips to take a look at my teeth. I watched him curiously with a slight blush.

“You’re strange.” I pulled away from him

“You have a cute mouth, I can’t help it.” My felt my cheeks reddened and dropped that conversation quickly.

“… What meeting?” I finally said.

“Ah, the King wanted us to come down for a proper diplomatic meeting and an update on his kingdom to bring back to the Queen, eventually. Now that we’re here, we might as well, right?”

“Don’t we reserve those for when all of the right hands are here? And wasn’t this supposed to be held at the Queen’s court- I mean, that’s what we were supposed to do before all this…”

“Yeah, but the Lord’s whole kingdom just rots away in the south and barely interacts with anyone else. The ones that do are the black sheep, and they either end up slavers, or, well…” He traced a hand down my chest and I suppressed another shiver. “I’ve been told they’re great bottoms, and oh so familiar with each other.”

“Incest?” I blinked.

“So I’ve been told. But that’s a rumor. Along with any other… I’ve also heard some interesting stories of a newly appointed hand of the Duchess having relations with his sister-“

“W-what?!” I stared at him incredulously as my heart beat a little faster. How had he known about Sadie? How well known was it? And we’d… We’d barely…

“Your face says it all, you know.” He raised an eyebrow with a subtle smirk. “I didn’t think you’d gotten very far with your lack of experience. And a crippled girl isn’t much of a fight, is it?”

“Shut up.” I snarled at him. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. And why do you know these things about me, rumor or not-” I was about to leave the bed when he gripped my arm a little too tightly for my liking, and dragged me back into his arms. I was tense, but it didn’t seem like he cared.

“Benji, I’m not about to judge you on whatever it is you like.” His lips brushed over my neck and I craned it away from him.

“You’re poking your nose where it doesn’t belong.”

“Where, into your life? I thought you wanted me there? I suppose, if you’d prefer me to leave you to your own path without ours crossing, I can leave you alone.”

“No! No… I…” I bit my lip. I couldn’t find the words. “I don’t… Want to lose you.” His eyes were soft but that grin wouldn’t disappear.

“Good. Then tell me the differences of the truth and the lie, so I won’t have to assume you’re banging your sister.”

“I’m not banging my sister!” He rolled his eyes.

“Didn’t think so. Did you kiss her?”

“Ahh-“

“Make out with her?”

“Um-“

“Touch her?”

“Stop it!” He smirked and tilted his head to the side. His hair fell over his eyes and that bedhead of his looked… Weirdly attractive.

“Come on, Benji. Why won’t you say anything to me? I haven’t really had an opportunity like that in my life, I’m only curious to know more.” A half growl, half sigh emanated through my teeth.

“You just want to know because you’re… Curious?”

“Promise. Cross my heart.” I rolled my eyes when he did the motions for good measure.

“I… Fine…” I sat up beside him, and he followed suit.

“Sadie is first and foremost, my sister. And I do everything I can for her. She’s everything to me. I’m supposed to take care of her.”

I thought back to her. My sister, a girl that had barely crossed my mind for a while. I didn’t even consider her in the same vein as some girl to fuck, or to do anything romantic with. Whenever I’d see her face, pale even in comparison to me, with cloudy blue hair to match dull icy eyes, and the same dreamy smile all the time, it made me feel like I needed to protect her. In the beginning, we’d been so close, only a few years apart with me as the elder. We’d play pranks together, laugh together, and get into trouble together, though she’d always find some way to feign innocence. But then as we got older, and I got stronger, she got weaker.

She was born with something wrong in her spine, no one knew what, and her mind was addled from the beginning with strange hallucinations that she saw and no one else did. It wasn’t hard for me to deal with, that was just who my sister was, but for everyone else, they saw her as strange, as wrong. And even my parents took the first opportunity they had to lock her away in one of the wings of the castle. To keep her out of sight. That was when her back got much, much worse, to the point that she couldn’t walk properly, or sit up like she should. Bumps littered her spine, and we thought she’d be gone so soon. But she held on. And I would never leave her alone for more than a few days, I’d always visit, faithfully. Which is why calling it romance wouldn’t make sense to me. It was never like that.

“She’s kissed me before.” I murmured. She had, it was really sweet, when she hadn’t seen me for a while and I had finally made it back. It went deeper sometimes. She felt so alone, and I… I supposed I had taken advantage of her giving nature, because there weren’t any others to get it from. “Sometimes it would be passionate. Sometimes, not much. But it’s not like what you think. I just want to make her happy.”

“Right. I did hear about her being poorly. I suppose that’s what’s got you so caring about her.”

“Which is why you saying it so flippantly… Like she’s… a toy, or something. It’s not true. She’s my sister. I would lie in bed with her sometimes and hold her until the pain went away again for a while longer.” I closed my eyes. Thinking back to it, it was comfort more than anything.

“Well, thanks for telling me anyways.” I blinked just as he nipped the tip of my nose, then hopped off the bed to get dressed himself. “Come on, it’s starting soon and there’ll be tea, I've heard."

Chapter Text

"What- now?” He was already halfway out the door by the time I’d caught up with barely brushed hair and crooked clothes. He didn’t seem to mind, running a hand through my hair to make it even worse in my eyes.

“So who else is going to be there?” I asked, working to fix my hair as we walked down the hall. The curls made it easier to hide how bad it was, but it was going to be a bit before it wasn’t as noticeable.

“The King’s right hand, and a few of his other high ranking officials. I think there’ll be some kind of scribe to give us an update on who it was that kidnapped you and killed your… Ah, uncle.”

“Alright...” That annoying looking boy we first saw by the king? I wondered who else there might be.

We arrived outside a set of heavy doors past the throne room and into a different wing of the palace. The dark brown wood still had tinges of green, less from paint and possibly from the shade of the trees themselves, before they’d been cut. To go along with the green theme of everything else here, I supposed. I was getting sick of the bright green tapestries lining the walls, unnaturally vibrant and yet at the same time dark, with only black to shake up the prominent color. Though I supposed the color that made my eyes bleed may have been there in part due to the dull grey of the stones that made this place underneath, lighter than the near black of the Queen’s castle but still not as cheery as my own home.

“Are you ready?” He questioned. He put a hand on my shoulder, and it seemed oddly cold for us being so intimately involved. When I turned to him, he seemed like a different person.

“I suppose so. I have been trained for this sort of thing, you know.”

“It’s never like what you think it is.” He inclined his head, then went to open the door himself. In it was revealed a few men already at the table. I recognized Salem immediately with that awfully bright green hair and that wide smirk of a petulant child that shouldn’t belong on a teenager of that rank.

It was him. He was the one that had ordered what had happened to that boy in the basement, allowed this all to happen. King’s orders my arse, I could imagine that power going to his head so easily. And if it had, and that man was completely loyal and obedient to what he asked then… I turned, and my blood ran cold. There beside him was the man in question. Dark eyes with mint green hair, and that same stony face I was almost grateful for so I didn’t have to see him smirk, because that horror was too much.
Cleave barely seemed to acknowledge that we’d entered the room. Instead, he simply looked bored, as bored as one could be with the face of a creature that didn’t seem fully human. Perhaps if he wasn’t so overly imposing, he once could have been handsome. But it had changed to whatever it was now.

I kept having to remind myself that it wasn’t just him, that it was Salem too. It had been Salem’s fault, if Cleave’s words rang true. But I couldn’t help but place the blame on him. Compared to what looked like a spoiled brat, he looked like the real evil in the room.

I was stiff as I sat down at the other end of the table next to a scribe who had already been writing out the beginning of the transcript for the meeting. And beside him, another noble had in front of him around the round table a set of books, one specifically opened to a page he was reading intently. His hair was dark, and probably just a minor noble.

The room itself was cheerily lit around us in a square room, a place usually reserved for war room talks that most likely hadn’t been used for that in many, many years. Instead it was now for small diplomatic talks with its strong and thick walls used for privacy, and to allow anyone to become over-exuberant without fear of someone hearing from the other side. Where there would be a strategic map of the King’s lands, instead had a selection of cakes for a morning tea. Salem and a few other nobles had helped themselves, But Cleave looked as though he hadn’t indulged. Didn’t want to ruin his monstrous persona by eating pastries? Perhaps. I wondered what kind of position he had that allowed him such a position at the table.

“Righ’,” Asentual finally spoke up after another few moments of silence. He spoke around a cake half stuffed in his mouth, looking bored as he stretched out with the chair pushed onto two legs as his own legs crossed up on the table. “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?”

“Impeccable manners.” Salem snickered to himself, and the hatter just laughed as well. Somehow he’d managed to turn it back around, and Salem’s smile disappeared as the mood changed to a subtle jab at him just with a simple chuckle from the confident redhead. But Cleave had only to move closer to the table for Asentual to then shrug, swallow the massive bite, and drop from his position to sit properly.

Was this the kind of thing I should grow to expect? Jabs without words? The mood changing so quickly?

I couldn’t find myself appreciating it as much as I thought I would. I was already radiating anger having to respect this stupid green haired boy and his dolt of a bodyguard. I wanted them to pay, but here I was watching them lead the entire meeting without having to say a word. It was overly infuriating, but I bit my tongue. I couldn’t ruin things for the Duchess. I represented her, and I had to show how respectable our kingdom was. I had to behave, I couldn’t act like the hatter. There was no way I could pull that off.
“The first order of business,” Salem ignored Asentual at this point, and focused instead ahead of him, on the wall. “Is the King’s updates on his kingdom that you can bring back to the Queen. This isn’t an official meeting, but it’s best we give you updates anyways, according to the King’s wishes.”

“Stop marinating and tell us then.” Asentual actually sounded angry. I looked at him in surprise, but his eyes were on Salem only, even if Salem wouldn’t return a look.
“One hundred new soldiers are prepared for fight, taken from the kingdom to serve on the Queen’s, Duchess’s, or Lord’s behalf, the same price still standing.” He seemed to smirk slightly as he said he next part. “As you can plainly see, the last Right Hand, general Dread, has since been removed from the office of Right Hand due to treason, kidnapping of the King’s property, accessory to crime, and negligence of punishment. I have taken his stead as per the King’s orders.”

“Did he? I heard a different story.” My hand holding up my chin, I mumbled through my fingers without expecting much of a reaction. But Salem’s smirk widened as he looked over at me in question.

“Sorry, what was that, you oaf?” My eyebrow twitched, and I drew up as I looked him dead in the eyes.

“Excuse me? What did you call me?”

“Sorry, would you prefer retarded sack of horse shite?” I clenched my teeth.

“Why in the hell do you think you have the right to-“

“My castle, my rules, and I would prefer if you didn’t overstep your boundaries with questioning the King’s own orders. You’ve already done so once before~” I snarled as I stood up from my seat.

“You have no right to tell me what to do, you and I are on the same level of nobility! And the punishments you’ve been dolling out are unlawful, I’ll report it to the Duchess-“ Cleave stood up, towering over even me from the other side of the table.

“Sit down.” I stared him in the eye instead of Salem, and my expression darkened. I stilled the quaking I felt, I bit down on my lip and I kept his look unwaveringly.

“No. I will let the Duchess, and the Queen know about what has happened and there will be justice.”

“Benji.” I was surprised to hear the hatter speak up. He sounded bored, with a faint drawl to his voice as he motioned for me to sit down. “It’s no use bringing this up.”

“Why?” I countered. I sat down, but I kept my look on Cleave until he did the same, then flicked my eyes back to him. “Why should we let them get away with harming innocent people?”

“Funny joke.” Salem laughed. “Talking about innocent people to a slaver who harms them for a living. Doesn’t stop you from enjoying your slaves and everything they do for us and the kingdom.”

“Shut up.” I snarled. “He’s a noble, it’s not the same.”

“Benji.” Asentual said again, more urgently this time. “Stop it. I know how this will end, and they’re right. We can’t do anything. The kingdoms are governed based on their respective Royals, and though the Queen has priority, even she most likely wouldn’t do anything about it. The King has chosen to punish the entire family for a mistake on the mother-“

“A slave herself before, you know,” Salem chimed in. I ignored him, and so did the hatter, but the noble in charge of the transcript wrote furiously.

“Regardless,” the hatter continued. “The punishment has been given, and this is the justice he saw fit to give. We can not question the Royals. God’s sake, all of us around this table know that they’re all nuts, right?” He waved another cake at the rest of us around the table, still chewing on the last of his old one. He pointed at the transcripter who still wrote like his life depended on it, glancing up in shock when he was referred to. “Yeah, you know it. Ever since the ancient times of Alice, we’ve all known this realm’s not right in the head. And our royalty is no different. Hundreds of years on the throne will do that to you. But they still have kept going one of the jewels of the world going, and kept it strong. And if we start to pick apart at every little thing that they do, every mistake and insane deliberation they make, then we’re on a slippery slope towards the end. Now, I don’t want that transcript to show evidence of mutiny and treason, and I’m absolutely certain none of the rest of this table want that either.” He pointed at Cleave. “But one thing I don’t get, is why you’re at this table.” He stared at him as he ate another bite of the cake in his hand, strawberry I thought.

Cleave shrugged with a simple roll of his shoulders. Laying back against the chair, it creaked under his muscled weight. From what I had gathered through a few of my explorations of the palace, all of the King nobility seemed to reach some kind of monstrous final step of puberty in their twenties, going from a gangly teen to a muscled psychopath. But Cleave seemed to be in a class all his own.

“I help Salem with whatever he likes.” He murmured. “My father worked as head of interrogation for the King. And when he died, I took up that mantle.”

“Oh, the son of a torturer.” The hatter snorted, and leaned back again. “Turned into a torturer himself. I suppose it shouldn’t be a wonder that the King has an entire position dedicated to torture-“

“Interrogation.” Salem corrected, but Cleave said nothing. His stare went back to it’s default.

“Whatever.” Asentual mussed. “But I suppose this “interrogation” of yours must be important enough for you to have him sit at the table and listen in on diplomatic affairs.”

“Excuse me, sirs…” The elder noble with the books next to the translator spoke softly, but all of us turned to look at him like he’d just yelled. He seemed stunned at the attention, barely sputtering out what he had wanted to say. “I-I was just going to say, we’re getting further off topic. I don’t believe arguing amongst each other is crucial in a diplomatic meeting. We don’t have the King sitting in today to work as mediator, but I feel like we can work together to mediate ourselves.

“Really, Bundy?” Salem raised an eyebrow. “You’re policing us now?” Bundy winced.

“I apologize for stepping out of line. But there are very urgent matters to address, like that of the murder of the last Right Hand of the Duchess. It is crucial that we get to that point of contention.”

“I suppoooose.” The smaller boy breathed out, and the worried and beady eyes of the middle aged noble went deep into looking over his writing. Salem’s own eyes were closed as though he were asleep, hands behind his head as he let out a sigh of annoyance. “Fine. We’ll keep this short then, and get into the meat of that issue soon enough. Benji, was it?” Salem opened one eye to look at me, and I gripped my fists a little tighter..

“Yes?” I questioned.

“Oh, sorry, should I call you dog instead?” A look of horror crossed my face I stared at him in mortification. My face was bright red as I fought against choking on my own tongue to yell at him.

“ALRIGHT then.” Asentual sighed as he threw a cake at the boy this time, who barely did more than duck to acknowledge it had even happened. “That’s not moving on. I have nothing new to report on the Queen, sales are as good as ever, trade going well with outside kingdoms and city states.”

“What about a report on the growing insipid rebellion?” Salem tilted his head to Hatter. “Heard of anything in that regard?”

“As far as I know, most of it’s already being handled. The Card’s inquisition on the issue has destroyed what little rebellion there could have been. Not even a scuffle in the streets. Everything as it should be.”

“Rebellion?” I blinked.

“Ah,” the hatter sighed. “It’s an issue that’s been happening for a little while. A few black sheep of nobility think themselves champion of the chattel of slaves and runaways. But they haven’t had… Well, any backing, and now they’ve disappeared from our streets thanks to some wonderful work with the Queen’s imperial guards, the Cards.”

“Why didn’t I know about this?”

“Probably because it’s barely an issue.” The hatter shrugged. “We had it covered very quickly, and it only lasted a few days. We’ve dealt with the source, so it’s no longer even on our radar.”

“We knew about it.” Salem interjected. “We did have nobility in the capital at the time, and they said the event was quite… Alarming.”

“I suppose they would.” Hatter murmured with a sly smirk. “Since that’s the only free action they ever see. Because god, this place is so rigid you know? And not in the fun way-“

“Hatter.” Salem growled. “Your… disgusting habits, with Benji, or any other man, are not welcome in this palace or any other part of the King’s kingdom. Homosexuality is not something we take kindly to here, and that IS one of the King’s orders specifically.”

“Really?” Hatter sat forward with a cheshire grin. “What an interesting little tidbit to note. Cleave?~ Why didn’t you tell me this?” He looked over to the mint haired man, who maintained a level look.

“Why are you asking me?” He muttered.

“Why, I didn’t realize how taboo such a thing was, no wonder-“

“Off topic!” Bundy squeaked out once again. “All of you, please, stay to the course.” Hatter just laughed and shook his head.

“Fine.” He said. “Benjamin, regale us with anything going on in your kingdom.”

“What?” I stood shocked as everyone turned to me. “Ah, well…” I thought to myself, trying to remember the recent happenings on our kingdom. I really wish I hadn’t just pranked my tutor the last two weeks before I had gone on this trip… “Well,” I finally continued. “The gemstone mines have once again been fruitful these past few months and we should have another good shipment ready for trade and selling. I… Have been promoted to Right Hand of the Duchess, as you can see, recently. And we are in current need of more supplies of food and drink from the Queen and Lord, and willing to pay the usual price.” I wasn’t sure if that was what was supposed to be said, but they all looked satisfied. Salem had that same look on his face that I wanted to punch off, and Cleave still looked terrifying, but Asentual looked happy. I hadn’t given actual numbers, but I supposed this was enough. And it was the truth. Was this all there was to being the Right Hand?

“Now that everyone’s settled.” Bundy said over the soft hiss from the transcripter, who’d broken his quill. “I do have the name of the murderer of the late Right Hand.”

“Who?” I blinked.

“A man named Morrigan.” He pushed his glasses up as he read from his book. “Surprisingly good parentage, taking up the mantle of slaver in a similar fashion to the Hatter. It’s strange he would resort to something so terrible. But according to your extensive testimony, and where he should be right now, it all works out to him. He’ll have to be caught for execution in the Queen’s capital. I’ll get the paperwork worked out with the Queen so you can bring it back to her majesty, and then there should be a bounty put on his head that will be taken quickly.” I sat in silence as he spoke.

“That’s great news.” The Hatter piped up. “When can we expect this paperwork filled out?”

“Well the King is a busy man, and he has many matters to attend to, and other numerous documents. So I would consider, with this being a dire piece of paperwork and for such an important cause, that it would take another day at most. Then you both can be on your way.” He nodded to himself, as if affirming his surmise, then looked up from his ledger to us again.

“Good.” Salem quipped. “Are we done then?”

“I believe so.” The transcripter finally said as he dotted the last i on his scroll. “All matters taken care of, we may be dismissed. Before I could say another word with anger starting to grip my heart again, that nothing had really been taken care of other than my uncle’s murder, that there was still an appalling lack of justice, Salem and Cleave were both leaving the room without a word. Only a half drunk cup of tea and cake crumbs remaining. I glanced behind Salem’s chair to see a strawberry cake still slowly dripping down to the floor, the icing leaving a mark where it had hit.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” I jumped as the hatter appeared behind me with an arm around my shoulder, then after a moment, shook my head.

“It’s so… Annoying.”

“I realize that. Politics are difficult when we all hate each other. Usually we have some kind of Lord Hand that we can all make fun of together, but without him around, we just have each other to fight with. Honestly, I prefer the Hand before Salem, he was at least a little more… Open minded. Old bloke, and a bit traditional like all of the King’s nobility, but he was a nice guy. Kind to his slave wife.” My eyes grew sadder.

“I didn’t realize he was Wyvern’s father. I should have remembered. And he’s probably suffering just as much as his son.”

“It’s useless to think that.” He sighed and waited for the transcripter and Bundy to leave the room before pulling me closer against his chest. “Remember all I’ve said. This place is nothing but trouble, you shouldn’t let something like that cloud your mindset.”

“I can’t help it.” I cried. “I can’t get it out of my head. Everyone’s acting like I’m some kind of hypocrite, but he’s not the same as a slave. He’s not his mother. He deserves rights, a trial, actual justice. And this, it’s just condemnation. Murder of his younger sister. Death all around the family. Like it’s just meaningless.”

“It’s all meaningless.” The hatter sighed.

“I know….” I closed my eyes as his breath on my neck gave me a small shiver, different from the shaking in the meeting before. It was a welcome change.

He let go of me too soon, starting to walk out of the room. “If you wanted to visit to him.” He mused, looking off to the right as I stared back at him. “I might with you. If we can’t rescue him, we can at least give him company.”

“You’d do that for me?” I brightened as I stood up to follow him.

“For you? Maybe. For me because that boy is frankly adorable? Sure.” I rolled my eyes.

“Is that what you’re actually interested in?”

“Maybe. Did you even see how cute he was?”

“Cuter than me?” He snorted with a laugh.

“Dog, you’re cute, but it’s handsome I like more on you. It’s different with him. Strangely effeminate, soft voice, adorable in general…”

“Well why don’t you just marry him then?” He nudged my shoulder with a grin.

“Jealous, pup? You think you don’t stand a chance against a boy in prison for treason that can’t be bought out no matter what I do?” I rolled my eyes.

“Perhaps, since you keep showering him with compliments.”

“Ah, but it’s you I keep coming back to teasing. He’s simply a passing adorable fad. And you, you’re a more long-lasting treat.” I turned away with pink appearing on my face, but he merely kept his shit-eating grin.

“Well.” I said. “Perhaps we should get some real food, and then bring some down to him.”

“A good plan.” He nodded, and we both walked towards the dining hall and the smell of cooking eggs and onions.

Chapter Text

“Wyvern?” I opened the door to the cell quietly with a plate full of food in my hand. Hatter peeked in from behind with a curious expression, but I barely focused on him.

The black-haired boy perked up at my voice, and a shy smile warmed me up slightly.

“Hello.” He practically whispered. It came rushing back to me. The strange feelings towards him, like I wanted to save him, like I had to if I wanted to keep being me. I couldn’t understand it fully. I wasn’t used to the idea of being the “hero” but every time I saw Wyvern like this is made feel like the role was more and more mine. I didn’t want to look at him and see the state he was in, but at the same time I wanted to focus only on him, keep eyes with him and let him know that I was going to make sure he would be safe. But that, I knew, was a pipe dream.

“We brought food.” I spoke softly as I walked up to the boy and knelt beside him. It wasn’t as though I needed to whisper, but I still felt the need to. Perhaps to keep him from
feeling scared himself.

“Thank you.” He smiled gratefully with dull eyes as I started to feed him. I glanced back at Hatter, but his eyes also seemed far away as he leaned against the wall to the side. Lost in thought, a dangerous sign for him. I ignored it, and fed Wyvern another piece of egg.

“I tried to talk with the Hand.” I murmured.

“Who?”

“Salem. He-“

“Useless.” He sighed and leaned back against the chair. “It’s useless, speaking to him…”

“Why?” I ventured. He didn’t talk for a moment as I fed him a few grapes, then as he swallowed he continued.

“He hates me.” He smiled sadly. “He’s always hated me. Cleave is his only friend. And he does whatever Salem asks. Though…”

“Though what?”

“Salem, he… Well…”

“Cleave’s sexual advances are then completely his own.” The hatter mussed. I looked over to him in surprise. Wyvern chewed on a piece of ham and I spoke up in the silence that followed.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re slow, dog.” Asentual grinned, but it quickly disappeared as he explained. “You heard it at the meeting. If Salem, the guy who turns his nose up at anything between men, is ordering Cleave to harm your precious gem over there, then whatever sexual happens between them is directly going against Salem’s orders, and possibly the King’s.” He walked over to Wyvern as the boy started to shake from the hatter’s blaise attitude, and ran a hand through his hair. “It’s no wonder Cleave wants you so badly. You are such a sweet thing.” Wyvern’s eyes shut tightly.

“Stop it…”

“Sensi.” I pleaded “Don’t. He’s been through enough.”

“You’re so protective of him.” He sighed as he let his hand drop. “Why?”

“I don’t really know.” Wyvern almost whined for more food until I fed him a piece of toast. “Maybe he reminds me of when I was captured? But not even that sounds right.”

“I have the theory that he just seems to attract everyone. You, Cleave, me. He’s such a pretty thing.”

“Not a thing. He’s just like us. He’s a noble. He’s not property. He’s not a slave.”

“Ah, but Benji, you forget. You’re a dog to me.” I felt a hand rolling down from my shoulder to my chest, and I shook it off with a start as I turned to the Cheshire grin of the hatter.

“That’s just a game. It’s not real.”

“It’s all a game, you forget.” He knelt beside me and grabbed another piece of toast himself and put it in his mouth. Smirking, he moved closer to Wyvern’s face until he was just in front of the confused boy that stared at the bread with hungry eyes. How hungry was he? Would he… no, he wouldn’t. Would he?

He would. When Asentual moved closer to Wyvern’s mouth with the bread in his own, the boy just bit down when he could. The hatter when further and further until the bread was gone and he was kissing him more intensely than I would have liked. He cupped his chin as he deepened the kiss further, until a low whine escaped from Wyvern’s mouth as he reluctantly returned the kiss with nothing else left to do. Before it could go any further, Asentual pulled away, expression unreadable as he stepped back.

“Are you alright?” I asked Wyvern. I moved up quickly to him in worry, but he hung his head.

“I’m… I don’t… Know.” I turned on Hatter in a shout.

“Why would you do that to him?”

“He’s already confused.” Asentual sat down where he was, a few feet away from the two of us. “He doesn’t know what he wants. If it weren’t for these chains, he’d want it. Now he can’t make the choice, and what he wants makes him hate himself. Though… If he were chained, would he even care for me…” He retreated back in thought and I growled.

“What are you talking about? You’re rambling nonsense. He’s a prisoner. It’s obvious he doesn’t want this. I’m trying to make this easier for him and you’re just adding onto what Cleave’s done to him.”

“No, I’m not.” The red head’s face lit up as he jumped to his knees. “I’ve figured it out, pup. You like him just as everyone else does, but you’re so stuck up your ass that you’re ignoring it in favor of trying to act better than the rest of us! Perfect sense~”

“Shut up!” I snarled. “That’s not true in the least. I’m the only one that’s been trying to get him out of here.”

“No, you’re the only one making a scene that you know inside won’t lead to anything happening. But you’re in the mean time just teasing him. I saw the way you watched when I kissed him. Jealousy. But not for me, no. You want him too-“

“You’re wrong!”

“Not wrong. You’re not much better than Wyvern. The torture hurts, doesn’t it?” That last part was meant for Wyvern, but he wasn’t about to respond. The hatter didn’t expect him to. “Yes, I thought so. But in a way, it reminds you that Cleave is here. And he represents with his chains and torture something that you don’t want to admit that you like. You can pretend it’s not something you want, that you don’t want Cleave to do those things he wants to do to you, but that tent in your garb doesn’t lie.” Wyvern shuffled, but it wasn’t hard to tell. I still didn’t believe it.

“You’re sick.” I whispered softly to the hatter. I stared at him. He smiled. It made my blood run cold. At that point, he felt almost as bad as Cleave.
“Benji… please, listen to me for once. Just try it. Kiss him.”

“I…” My stomach curled. “I don’t know.” The hatter stood up properly, then moved to me as this time, his hands when through my hair. It was almost comforting. But everything he did felt strange, somewhat wrong. Especially now.

“I promise you, no one is about to judge you. Not even Wyvern.” I bit my lip. I wasn’t in my right mind, and I think Asentual knew that I was no longer thinking properly. Though, I still had my manners.

“Can I kiss you?” I asked Wyvern. He stared at me for a long time, and a hint of recognition hit his eye. For a second, it was like there were two parts of him fighting internally. It wasn’t much different than me, the part that wanted to be the Right Hand, and that part of me I thought I hated, the one that wanted everything Asentual did to me.

“Yes.” I knew which one won inside Wyvern then.

I moved closer, but there wasn’t much space between the two of us for me to close. I placed a hand on his cheek and lifted his face up to meet mine more easily, and saw his face even clearly than before. Pale, with black eyes that reflected any light. Hair that seemed black, but the dusting of it around his eyes was almost, barely, green. And lips that looked so soft, even if they were a bit chapped.

A month ago I would never have thought of kissing someone like this. But that was me a month ago. Asentual had since ruined me.

I pressed my lips to his suddenly enough that he made a small noise, moving back in surprise. But I held his face gently, keeping him still as I kissed him, lightly at first as I relished the feeling of his mouth. I didn’t want to close my eyes, I wanted to keep looking at his face, that confused mixture of wanting more and knowing just as well as I that this was not supposed to happen, but it was getting more difficult with each passing second as I dropped further into the kiss itself. I opened his mouth gently with my tongue and explored it. He squeaked at that, but this time didn’t try to pull away. He let me do what I wanted. I felt like a user, but then he responded, and I knew this couldn’t have been one way. Panting against my mouth, another, different kind of noise from him pushed me onwards. I bit his lip, he nibbled on my tongue, I pushed my tongue in deeper until his teeth clacked against mine, and he moaned into my mouth as he tried to keep his lips attacking mine.

Mutual. I could be mutual. I could enjoy this.

He responded to me. I knew what Asentual felt now, wanting to be in control so badly. Here was I, in control as I kept his mouth on mine, gripping the back of his head now gently as I tugged and pulled gently at his hair. I was the one controlling the situation as I probed his mouth, and he was just around for the joyful ride as he moaned once again against me. I didn’t realize how much time had passed, but when Asentual pulled me back, I was half on top of him.

“Jesus, dog.” I felt light headed when he turned me around and I felt another kiss, this time the hatter’s. It was more chaste than the first one, and I wanted more. I so desperate to kiss him, wanting all of him. But it didn’t feel the same. It wasn’t Wyvern, it was someone who knew how kissing worked, and instead of a passionate exploration, it was a cold and exact exercise of me being put to work, put through my paces as I was supposed to be his. The lesser. That was the difference, Wyvern was lower on the food chain than me, but I was already so close to bottom.

A hand gripped the bulge in my dress pants, and I pulled away as I pressed my face instead against his neck, panting. I was facing the door now, not entirely sure how I got here, but the hatter was facing Wyvern with me in his arms.

“You did wonderfully.” He murmured in my ear as he stroked me through the fabric gently. “That’s the hottest thing I’ve seen in a while. Poor Wyvern…” He chuckled, and I turned around quizzically.

Wyvern was in a state, to be certain. Red in the face, panting and far worse than when the hatter had simply talked to him. He let out a small, low whine at the lack of me, but he didn’t cry out for more. He didn’t dare, he knew only torture and lack. I wanted to give him something good.

“I did that?” I muttered.

“Sure did.” Asentual tilted his head to the side as he smirked at Wyvern. “You alright there?”

“Don’t… Just, more, please. Please.”

“You heard that, Benji.” He ruffled my hair with a laugh. “Why don’t you try your mouth? That should be a treat for him.” I went red at his suggestion.

“I-I-I-I-“

“It’s your job to fix your messes. Here’s a mess. I want to see you resolve it.” I gulped, then yelped when the Hatter pushed me back into the fray. I was up against the chair now, right between his legs but below where he wanted me. He looked down and I up as we caught each other’s eye again. I was up in little time, watching his reactions as I unearthed him. Throbbing and twitching ever so slightly. The rest of him was scarred, burned and crisscrossed with torture, but this only had some marks, very few, very light, and very careful. No knife. Maybe fingernails. I wasn’t even sure blood had ever been drawn. Cleave was still a monster for doing what he did, but he could have done worse with the boy’s cock.

I licked the shaft very lightly, gently even, just for context, how reactive he was. It was extreme. He shook as he curled half in on himself. “Ah-h.”

“What did Cleave do to him?” Hatter watched curiously. I tried to ignore him, focusing on lapping gently up the side, making my way slowly to the head.

I had no idea what I was doing, I barely knew what the hatter wanted half the time, but looking at reactions seemed important, and he was reacting very, very well. “There could be a few things.” He continued, even when Wyvern’s moans were most of what could be heard. Each one, I couldn’t help but like. I barely knew him, but I was obsessed. “I suppose fucking him raw until he got used to being so used that all he’d want is more pleasure. But he’s not mindless enough for it.” His talk was getting to me in a different way and was getting harder to ignore. Lapping at the bottom of the head, I looked up to see Wyvern’s face screwed up tightly as he held his breath for a moment, then let it out in another long whine. “Another option is some kind of training. Anal, perhaps, and never touching his cock.” I sucked down the head slowly, and Wyvern cried out as he tried to move his arms but couldn’t. They were firmly locked in place, perhaps he was trying to move them to push me away, or perhaps trying to pull me closer, but either way he couldn’t speak with whatever he was feeling, let alone voice what he wanted from me. I was left with only doing what appeared to make him respond and twitch the most, slow and deep bobs on his smallish member. It wasn’t hard to get him down my mouth to the very base, it barely touched the back of my throat. He liked it when I did that, made his cock disappear inside me. It was almost satisfying to see his face like that. “Or sounding, perhaps.” I perked up at his last comment in confusion at a word I didn’t know. He was still watching Wyvern. I removed my mouth to speak, pausing just enough to lick the tip of his head.

“What’s that?” I spoke up. I was back to sucking down to his core before he could complain, not that he would.

“Something, like a thin rod, down the hole of your penis.” I nearly choked as I moved away again to gawk at Asentual.

“That’s a thing?”

“Of course. Intensely pleasurable if you’re into it enough. And leaves you incredibly sensitive. What about it, Wyvern? Has Cleave ever done that to you?” Wyvern was inconsolable with the lack of being touched, but when he realized that only talking would bring back what I was doing, he mutely nodded.

“Ah.” Hatter smirked. “He’s more of a torturer than I thought, then. I hope he was being careful with you, then, at least there. Torture and sounding together…” He shuddered. “Now there’s a nasty thought. You look well enough, though.”

“Please.” Wyvern said in a whimper. “Benji. Please.”

I turned back to him with a dark blush, and went back to work. Was that even real? Could that work? It just sounded painful to the extremes. I could even feel myself going soft for a moment as I tried to think of the logistics, all the while sucking on Wyvern feverishly. But my heart was barely in it anymore. I could only feel for him, the poor thing who had that sort of thing done to him. But perhaps I was judging too quickly. He didn’t look like he was in pain currently, he just looked like he was in absolute pleasure, simply from my touches, my mouth. There had to be more to it. My mouth on him was all he cared about. He ached for my tongue to languidly move over his head and for my mouth to leech back down to the base and swallow him up once again with a suction I didn’t know I was capable of. I could feel my own arousal heightening but I gripped it back. I didn’t want to get off to this, I didn’t want to treat him like the kind of sex slave that Cleave had turned him into. He wasn’t supposed to be that, he was a noble and he should have been treated as such.

But why then, was I getting off to the idea of things Cleave had done to him, to the things I was doing right now? There were so many things I wanted to try now that I had the ability to, it was like a creative faucet had been opened that wasn’t there with Asentual. With him, I was being led on a leash, told to act and move a certain way, and only in submissiveness could I try my own things. But with Wyvern… The control was intoxicating. I craved it.

I was about to go deeper again, sucking just at his head before delving deeper, when he cried out and hitched forward with a few panting breathes, arching against my mouth. I was almost confused when I suddenly felt him orgasm in my mouth, and went red as I swallowed out without much thought.

“He’s quick.” Asentual remarked. “Almost faster than you, dog.” I ignored him. I was focused on Wyvern’s face, screwed up in pleasure as he breathed out deeply, shaking as I slowly removed my mouth after cleaning him up.

“Oh, god…” He whimpered. “Thank you.”

“Right...” I didn’t really know what else to say. I covered him up again awkwardly, and stood up. Where could I have gone from this? “I’m sorry.” I had the urge to say it, but I wasn’t sure I meant it completely. I couldn’t look at him, not totally, not even with this need burning inside me would I want to see him in the face, the regret or sadness, the betrayal.

“Benji.” I froze when a hand was placed on my shoulder. Asentual pressed his head against my shoulder, and I felt myself crumple against him with eyes closed.

“I didn’t want to do that.” I whispered. Wyvern could have been watching us, judging us. I didn’t care.

“Yes, you did.” He said softly. His hands tangled in my hair again as he pressed his lips along the back of my neck. “You did, and it’s okay. You were kind. And you were gentle. And he wanted it. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Everything here feels so, so wrong.”

“I know. It’s terrible here. And we can’t do anything to fix it. I’m sorry, but it’s so completely ingrained we’ll never be able to change it.” He turned to the king noble. “You know that, don’t you Wyvern.”

“I don’t know.” He whispered. “I don’t really understand.”

“No, you wouldn’t. Too young, picked apart too soon. Benji, feed Wyvern the rest of your food, and we’ll go. We can’t stay here, Cleave will find us and he’ll start asking questions and being a braggart again, you know that.”

“We keep going around in circles about this.” I fell into him completely now, hugging him tightly with my face hidden against his chest. He stumbled back at it, but didn’t let go. I knew he didn’t like this, I could feel him tense under me. He hated being treated like he could have been a lover to me. He didn’t like the idea that it could be mutual, kind or gentle, not like I was with Wyvern. We were fundamentally different, he just wasn’t built for it. I could live with that. Maybe he could change me, and I him, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to lose that part of me. But it was something I had to get used to for now. I had to realize that if I were to fall for someone like this, making me question everything about myself, then I had to get used to the morally ambiguous nature that went with it. If it meant appeasing prisoners by relieving them, or perhaps having to deal with corruption of people barely more than children… Or the Royals as a whole, then so be it. “We keep walking around in circles.” I repeated. “And I’ve had enough of it. Time after time, I’ve just been dragging you around about it. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

“I’m glad you realize it, dog.” Hatter sighed. “But once again, you’re going to change from this to a bleeding heart in a day. We’ll fight again, I’ll have to teach you once more, and we’ll be back in the same cycle.”

“No more.” I insisted. “I’m not going to do it anymore. I can’t guarantee completely moving with the flow of whatever happens, but I’m not going to fight anymore. Not like this, not when I know for certain it’s pointless. You’re right that there’s a way the world works, and I can’t just do whatever I want. I can’t expect things to work at my beck and call… As much as I want them to.”

“Well, it’s a start, at least.” He chuckled softly, stroking my back as I breathed deeply against his chest. I could smell spice, sex, and strawberry tarts. Sweet on my nostrils, a bit surprising, considering I hadn’t seen him eat any. I didn’t question it, though, as I had stopped doing with most things he seemed to be. Instead, I did as he said, and fed Wyvern once again.

When he was done, I held him one last time, placing a quick kiss on his lips before I could get too far into it and give into the nagging erection that refused to go down, and walked with Hatter back up to our quarters in silence.

Chapter Text

“So,” he started when he was back to sitting on the bed. “How did you enjoy that?”

Before he could say another word I was on top of him, my hands against his arms pinning them down with teeth on the edge of his lips, kissing him harshly before he could speak my name. I thought I had the upper hand for just a moment and could relive that feeling with him, being in control just for a moment and be able to hear him whimpering and moaning my name now that my leg was firmly between his legs and grinding into him, but all I heard was a sly chuckle. I looked up to see glowing yellow eyes and a slim long smile.

“What are you doing?” He asked calmly. I growled as I moved to his neck, biting gently and tugging with me teeth down to his chest before glancing up again. Still nothing.

“Trying to make you react.” I grumbled. “Trying to make you feel something. I’ve been- I’ve been-“ He easily tugged out of my grip to reach down and stroke my own undying need.

“I’ve noticed.” He chuckled when I moaned softly against his neck, trying to move away from his touch enough to gather the intelligence to respond.

“No...” I mumbled. “I wanted to be in control. I wanted to be able to show what I could do to you. To fuck you, not the other way around.”

“Well, that’s certainly an ask.” He turned me around until I was the one pinned beneath the grasp, and my whole world seemed to change. Suddenly I was the submissive again, and the time with Wyvern had truly left me. I was at the mercy of the hatter, who seemed intent on making me as embarrassed as possible. “I see that it’s gone to your head, has it? You want to try being a top now, thinking it’ll make me respond more?”

“I want to try, at least.” I bit back another louder moan as he went back to stroking through my pants and tried to kick him away to no avail. “Stop that, it’s cheating…”

“What, helping you out with something you obviously need? I’ve just helping my loyal dog here get his reward for his successful exploration~”

“I mean it, Asentual. Sensi.” I said more urgently. “Please, let me try.” His face dropped when I stared at him, waiting for him to talk, to just say yes, let me try to make him feel just as good as it was for me. But he didn’t.

“I can’t do that.” He started. “I can’t just let myself go. I can’t because if I do, just for one second, then I’ll get broken. I’ll lose. I can’t lose. I don’t want to lose.”

“What do you mean?” I tried to sit up, but the grip on my arms from him had only tightened. “So what, you can’t trust me?”

“I can’t trust anyone.” I pulled away and I could finally sit up to see him properly. He wouldn’t look at me. It was so strange to see him this way. Not vulnerable, he could never be that, but… Different.

“Sensi.” I placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry if I overstepped. I just wanted- well.”

“I know, Benji. It’s not the first time something like this has happened. May not be the last. But it’s certainly one of the strongest. You must know that if I could trust someone, I’d trust you. You’ve not really given me a reason not to.”

“But then why…”

“I told you before. I can’t, it’s like some kind of some block inside me. I can’t let out any feeling of losing control when I get into whatever it is I do.”

“Never? Truly?” I almost couldn’t believe it.

“Really. The first time you went down on me, even then, I had to feel like I was in control.”

“I didn’t even realize, then. I was too busy-“

“Feeling like I was raping you?” He smirked half-heartedly. “Yeah, that was a fun time.” I made a face, but he merely stroked my hair.

“Oh come off it, peacock. We’ve come a long way, you and I. I suppose, perhaps, since you’ve become so pliable, it makes sense that I at least…. Try. Once.” I brightened. Pushing my face against his neck, my arms around him caused that same tensing, but I didn’t mind it.

“I want to try to fix it, to show you that having a reaction doesn’t lead to you breaking.”

“I’m not sure you can, but you can at least try once. So,” He lay back on the bed and left me kneeling in front of him, watching from a lazy perspective with his hat knocked off to one side. “Do me, dog.”

I stared at him, completely dumbfounded and unsure how to approach the situation. He always knew what to do, and I played along, but suddenly my creativity had left me and I had no conscious idea of what I should be even doing to ‘Do’ him. “Um…”

“Come on, where’s that bravado you held? Are you telling me you can’t even figure out how to fuck something? Pretend I’m a pretty girl from your dreams or some such, it can’t be that difficult.” His tone was angering me with each passing word. I was on him again with him once again pinned to the bed, my hands on his as I kissed him silly. I remembered now, he said something about his tongue… I pushed through his lips and experimentally licked over it, waiting for something, any reaction. I got about as much as a small shiver from him. At least it was the beginning of something, but I was still disappointed. I had expected moaning, a noise, to have him melting beneath me, but all I had was Asentual looking at me like I was the snack, and not him. I was still the dog, I realized. He’d just allowed me a little more leash than usual.

More frustrated than ever, I pushed his head more harshly against the pillow by kissing him passionately. My teeth were almost barred as I pressed my lips against his harder and further pushed them apart, tangling his tongue with my own and even nibbling it with my teeth. He let out a soft noise at that, a little more than a sigh, and I probed further, pressing closer against him.

Eventually, he pulled away with a slight pant, pressing his chin against my head as he barely tugged against the restraint.

“You done yet?” He murmured. “Or are you going to keep playing the same trick and hope for a change?”

“Shut up.” I growled, but he merely laughed as he ground up against my crotch and made me moan instead.

“Come on, Benji. Do you want me to lead you through it?” I blushed in embarrassment. It would be an asset, but I didn’t want to ruin my pride. Though, there was a question of what pride I had left. I was in bed with a man who’s just witnessed me sucking off a prisoner. I didn’t have much of anything anymore.

“Fine.” I sighed. Planting a kiss to his neck, I let go of his hands, moving them to holding me up on either side of him. “Help me through it.”

“Of course. First thing you should do is undress, and let me do the same.” It seemed simple enough. It wasn’t long dealing with my buttons until I was nude beside him, him as well. Had I ever seen him naked before? I didn’t think I had, not completely. He was well muscled, but if it weren’t for his job he most likely would have been much thinner. I looked down his chest, down to his stomach, and further along his abdomen. He was well defined, but not chiseled. Certainly in shape, but not overly so. It was the kind of body you’re get through basic work, but not farming or carrying heavy loads. He was still for the moment, I supposed he arrogantly appreciated the look over.

I turned away when the moment felt awkward, and he let out a laugh. “Oh peacock, do you really think now is the time for embarrassment? It’s alright to find me attractive.”

“I don’t.” I growled. It wasn’t the same, was it? I didn’t like him the way I’d like the body of a woman.

“Really?” He watched me for a moment longer, then closed his eyes. “I find you attractive, you know. Gangly, of course, thin, but cute.” I perked up.

“You find me cute?”

“Why else would I be sleeping with you? It’d be useless to sleep with someone so unattractive that you could barely stomach touching them. Better to be with someone you want to just rake your hands all over, discover every part of them that you can, make them moan as you become more obsessed with them. Or, you know, just one and done with it. Either works.” I tried to contain the blush on my face as I moved back onto him. Nude now felt very strange even with him beneath me in the same way. It always felt so vulnerable to be this way with him around, no matter what I did. I was afraid to let go in some ways. No matter how many times I either jumped in, or was pushed by the hatter, it was always frightening. Maybe even less so if I was being pushed, because then my reactions could be pawned off as unwanted. But this time was different.

He opened an eye as I lay over him, then kissed him, bringing my head together against his. We were going through the motions again of brushing his mouth and feeling the insides of him and even though I was growing more stir crazy by the second, he barely reacted more that with the occasional huff of breath. It infuriated me.

Pulling his legs up wasn’t difficult, he didn’t fight it like I did. Prepping him was strange, though, not something I would have expected to work like it did. I started with one finger down to the knuckle, and he bit his lip with the patented smirk he always had at the edge of his lips ready to shine. While I reached down to stroke with my other hand, I added another finger and turned back to his face. Would anything make him moan? Would scissoring affect him? No, it just made him grin, because I was doing what he would have done, and he knew it. He was the only mentor I had, and following in his footsteps only seemed to give him an odd sense of pride, and not arousal. Or maybe it did, I couldn’t bloody tell with him.

Apprehensively adding another finger just made him chuckle. If he was in pain, he didn’t show it. Purple marks showed along his neck from sucking enough to mark him as mine, but they felt like throwing stones into the void. It was only when I removed my fingers, and placed myself at his entrance, that I heard the softest noise, almost like an intake of breath, but it registered as a moan to me.

A small victory, I’m not sure he even heard it himself. But I still grinned as I pulled him up against me, half sitting and half kneeling on the bed as he and I worked together to position him on me. I was completely red, breathing quickly and moaning with every touch of him guiding it inside him. He was breathing easily, biting his lip only to appear wanton to me, to make me even closer to losing myself.

“You feel bigger than I thought you would, dog.” He murmured against my ear. Halfway down and thrusting slowly, I heard another noise in the back of his throat. Strained, but pleasurable. I moaned softly in response as I pressed my mouth onto his neck and bit gently. Slow was the key, I knew that from experience. Slow, careful, until he was truly immersed onto me. Pick up speed after we were both thoroughly invested, that was what he had shown me. And don’t be rough, at least the first time.

Well maybe I wanted to be rough.

Pushing him down onto the bed caused him surprise, which turned into shock when I pushed his arms back against the bed and thrust with new vigor. I felt him around me, tight as all hell and pressing down onto me until I was squeezed into a vice that was almost too tight. But as it was it was just enough, almost perfect. He was barely panting as he watched me pound into him like my life depended on it. It drove me up the wall, and I caught my lips in his to push for him to moan into them.

I rocked deeply and pressed my tongue against his lips. Parting them for me like he was amusedly appeasing me made this worse. I bit down on his tongue gently, and he clenched around me. A reaction of some kind at least. I wanted more, so I drove myself into him and attacked his face with my lips. I wanted to bite and suck on every inch of him, his mouth, his neck, his ears. I just wanted him. I wasn’t thinking anymore, being invested him too much to let anything awkward matter.

The feeling of him clenching on me was ending this time far too quickly. In only a few minutes I was aching to last longer and extend this short scene. Thinking of anything else but what he was doing to me was the only thing that kept me going and even then I couldn’t keep my mind on it. Sex with him always left to a blank mind, and it was something I almost craved as much as the sex itself.

“Dog, you feel close,” He breathed into my ear and I shuddered. I pushed his head back and went back to kissing those lips of his, thin and in a broken line of a parted heady grin. It was everything I wanted, dark and passionate and he was egging me on. He broke the kiss and tugged lightly against the grip I had on his arms, but there was no real struggle. That was enough though, to drive me over the edge.

I bit into his shoulder as I came, and he winced against the pain. It had hurt him, he didn’t like the feeling and I felt like I had failed when I orgasmed inside him.
But in another moment he was kissing me so sweetly that I forgot what I had done. He still hadn’t finished. He was far from it. I had so little stamina that it had only been minutes after I had begun that I was done, but I knew he could go on for hours.

“You did well.” He murmured. I groaned as I moved to his side and curled up against him. I was outside of him in another instant. It felt wrong now to have done what I did, like it went against some kind of natural order. I had gotten my fill of what I wanted, but at what cost? “Did you enjoy it?” He spoke again, and I pressed my head against his shoulder.

“I did. You didn’t come.”

“You can fix that later. For now, I want to know how you felt doing that to me.”

“It was good.” He was acting oddly quiet. Dare I say it, sweet. “Are you trying to teach me?” I scoffed.

“It’s something you’ve never done before, and I wanted to know what you felt about it.”

“Well, you’ve never done it either, how did you feel?” He went silent again, and I had to push myself up and look him in the eyes to get him to talk.

“It was…” He started, then trailed off again. “Interesting.” He finished. “Very strange. It’s not something I’d want to do often. I need control, and the issue is that very much lacking in it.”

“I’m sorry.” I sighed. “I held you down and bit you and I overwhelmed you, I shouldn’t have done that to you.”

“You were enjoying yourself, it’s not like I’ve never done that to you, and you enjoyed it.”

“But you didn’t, from what you’re saying. And I took away that control from you, and it’s not like it’s supposed to be a situation where I get back at you for all the things you’ve done to me.”

“I never said I didn’t like it.” His face was unreadable. “I did.”

“But…”

“I liked it, and that’s the problem. I looked and saw a part of myself I didn’t want to see and want to be a part of. I loved it, Benji, what you did to me, but I don’t want to be that person. I can’t, in this world. I don’t want to lose control, and I was dangerously close.”

“What do you want then? What do you want from me?”

“I want…” He paused, then pulled me closer until he kissed me again. It was almost desperate and that crack in his demeanour was surprising. He looked almost frightened. “I just want to be the way that I am with you.”

“You want to go back to our roles.” I murmured.

“I don’t know. I can’t go back completely, but I want to try. I don’t want to… Be like that. As much as I liked it.”

“You don’t want to be Wyvern. Or me. Weak.”

“Benji.”

“No, I understand. I’m weak.” I smiled half-heartedly. It hurt to admit it, but I wasn’t that strong. I was weak physically, willfully, emotionally. I was. Maybe a month ago I would have thought that was insane to suggest, but today was a different day.

“You weren’t weak when you were fucking me like that.”

I found myself pressed against the bed this time. His eyes were glowing and his face was dark. “I saw myself in you. A better version of myself. And you made me jealous.”

“Jealous…?” I stared. He wasn’t smiling. It felt strange and reminded me of Cleave.

“Yes. And Benji?”

“What?”

“I… I…”

“Sensi?”

“Fuck it.” He bit my neck as he pulled me into his arms and I gripped his chest. “Dog. I find myself enjoying you more than I thought I would.” Was he trying to… No, he couldn’t. He’d never tell me he’d love me, that was silly. He was the hatter, that wasn’t the way it worked. I was a toy for him, and he was some kind of bodyguard to me. That’s all this was, right? He didn’t want to me mine, and I was afraid of ever becoming his.

“I love you.” The words stumbled out of my mouth and I closed my eyes tightly shut against the underside of his chin. I hadn’t thought about it. I hadn’t realized what I had been planning to say and I’d gone out and said it.

“Benji.” He whispered.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

“For once.” He chuckled and I resisted pushing him away.

“I just wanted to say what I thought you were thinking.” I grumbled. “I just… I wasn’t sure what I was feeling.”

“You thought I was trying to say that I loved you, dog?”

“I told you, not thinking.”

“You’ve got initiative at least. I’ll give you that.” He pressed a kiss to my forehead, then sat up and got off the bed as he headed into the bathroom.

“Where are you going?” I blinked.

“To clean up the blood and come.” He chuckled as he fingered the marks on his shoulder. My face paled when I realized I’d drawn blood. “It’s alright, dog, it’s nothing I can’t deal with.” He moved to walk away, then paused outside the door. “Oh, and Benji? I love you.” He closed the door behind me and left me in silence.
Then he opened the door and stuck his tongue out. “And I’m fucking you until you scream when I get back.”

That sounded more like him.

Chapter Text

I wondered if he cared that I pressed my face against the back of his neck with every gallop from the horse. The inertia of Misty moving down the road would periodically push me against him and I knew it made me uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure about him. He seemed focused on the road and the grey mane waving in front of him. Maybe he didn’t care. Maybe he enjoyed it. He’d said he loved me in the last couple days before we left, but he refused to talk further about it after. With every conversation that led towards it he would parry it with a solid evasion to back himself up and I’d end up wondering how we ever got to talking about our favorite foods. It was starting to make me question if he had even said it in the first place.

“So, where are we going next?” I finally broke the long unyielding silence. His horse, Misty went into a slower trot as he uttered a soft command then he glanced back at me with his hate rimmed so it nearly hid his glowing yellow eyes.

“The Queen’s palace first, and then we’re going to hunt down the man that killed your uncle.”

“Wait, really?” I blinked. “Hunt him down, us?”

“Who else were you expecting, some kind of official bounty hunter? What do you think I am?”

“Well…” I ventured. “A slaver, I supposed, just for capturing possible slaves.”

“I’m pretty elastic.” He smirked. “As you’ve realized by now. I can do bounty hunting just as well. They’re not so different, the two of them. As for you coming, well.” he went back to guiding misty over a collection of rocks as we headed into a patch of forest. “You’re welcome to go back to the Duchess if you like. We’ve got the information needed, so you can take a carriage more heavily armored and be back to her in a week or two.” I went quiet and gripped him tighter when Misty nearly tripped while we went over a stream. The burbling rocks glistened with the sun beaming down through the trees to meet the water, and the moss that grew among the stones grew wet from the horse’s hooves splashing up against them.

“Would you want me to tag along? I know we’ve discussed this before, but…”

“Dog, of course I’d like you along. You keep things interesting. Your Duchess will need you eventually with your position but I’m sure she has a Left that can handle things. I know the Queen’s pretty much given all my powers up to her own Left as I usually travel.”

“It would be nice to travel…” I looked thoughtfully through the little wood for any movement as we traveled past the precarious creek and onto a better path.

“The only issue is getting your Royal to agree. But your Duchess is pretty laid back from what I know about her.” I thought back to my Duchess, then shook my head.

“Not laid back per say, more mysterious.”

“Oh? How so? I haven’t interacted with her much.”

“She’s… Strange.” He glanced at me with a curious glint in his eye.

“Strange isn’t much of a descriptor, you know.”

“Well…” I bit my lip. “From what I’ve seen of the other two, she’s kind. Much kinder than the King and the Queen. She holds tea parties from time to time in the throne room and invites all of the closer members of the court. Enjoys her soup a lot,” I chuckled. “Puts a little too much pepper in it from time to time.”

“You sound like you’re quite fond of her.”

“I am,” I blinked. “I am… I suppose, in a way, she led me to having a rather isolated life.” He ducked his head back to the road and laughed.

“I can’t say I disagree, peacock. You were rather a blubbering mess when I first met you. Using her as your trump card constantly to get yourself out of danger. You were under her wing far too long, I’d say.”

“Oh yeah?” I growled. “Well it’s not like you don’t have your Queen on your side. You’ve been the Right Hand for ages, haven’t you? She just gave you the title. How?”

He paused, and we rode in silence for a moment.

“It’s a long story,” he finally said.

“Well we’ve got nothing but time,” I rolled my eyes. “What have we got, a week ‘till the capital? More? You’re a bloody tease telling me you got some story and then you’re not about to say anything –“

“Alright, alright, calm down, stop barking,” he chuckled again. “It’s just quite a tale. I don’t remember much of it in the beginning either. Is there anything you do know already?”

“I know about your slaving skills, and how you’re practically the lap dog of the Queen, but that’s practically all I know. You just appeared one day. Not much information travels out to my court.”

He shrugged. “Well, yours is the furthest away. And hey,” he grinned. “You’re the dog, not me.”

“Just hurry up and tell me, your damn horse is slowly destroying my bollocks.”

“Be kind to Misty, she has to deal with the weight of me and the bag of potatoes behind me. But you’re right about most of those rumors. There was a time when the Queen and I were rather close.” I curiously stared at the back of his head. There was a mystery to the hatter that always seemed to elude most of those that talked of him. People seemed to end the talk at his skill in slaving and capturing, but I wanted to know more. It seemed he already knew enough about me; more than I wanted in fact.

“However,” he continued. “As of late, she’s gotten bored of me. No other way to put it. She likes my stories, the escapades I go on and what I’ve become, but… Let’s face it. The Queen’s attention doesn’t last long. At the very least she thinks of me kindly in the back of her mind.”

“But your history,” I pressed. “What happened to you?” A questioned popped into my head I wasn’t sure how to phrase. It had to do with his eyes.

“What do you mean?” He looked back at me again as his horse continued along the path. It seemed she barely needed a rider to guide her.

“Where did you come from?”

“Well… From what I know, it was the fields to the north of your palace,” He finally breathed. “There was a cottage there once. I started there, until the Queen found me and rescued me.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “What were you doing all the way out there?”

“My family were deserters. That’s about all I know. I don’t even remember what they looked like, to be quite honest.”

“Is that where you got your yellow eyes from?” I interrupted him, and he froze. His eyes slowly turned to lock onto mine, and his expression changed to something unrecognizable. It was a mixture of so many things hidden behind the façade that he was so good at creating.

“Wonderland changes people,” he said softly, and turned back around. He was choosing his words carefully. I could tell.

“That’s a little mysterious, don’t you think?”

“There are things in this world that I’m not entirely sure you’d believe, dog.”

“Believe?” I scoffed. “This is Wonderland. Everything is mad here. Especially leaving the palaces. What do you think I wouldn’t believe?”

“Well,” he paused. “Magic, I suppose.”

“Magic? What, are your eyes magic?” He chuckled again at my look of astonishment.

“Magic? No, not exactly. It’s not as though they’re much like that. They don’t do anything, really.”

“Then how are they magic?”

He took a breath. “You know the genetics of the Queen of Hearts, right?”

“Of course,” I rolled my eyes. “Everyone knows about the green eyes with the red hair.”

“Well, I was a rather ideal specimen when I was younger.”

“Ideal – specimen what- you had green eyes?”

“Bright nice ones too.” I had to stare again, turning as I pushed up to catch a glimpse of them. They were still shining yellow, near pupilless with their glow.

“How can something like that change so drastically?” I murmured half in disbelief. “I can’t imagine you with green eyes at all.”

“Well, it’s a part of a story, and I’m not entirely certain what happened either. But it goes like this.” He took a breath as he collected his thoughts.

“When I was young, and taken under the Queen’s care, she wanted me under the title of Right Hand when the time came that I was old enough to have enough schooling under my belt for the work that came with it. She tried to speed up the process as much as she could, and sent me out many times on field trips into the capital with her Cards as special guard dogs. You know the ones, the men with the numbers on their faces.”

“Right,” I nodded. “Continue.”

“Well, these trips into the capital… You can imagine what it would do to a child. To see the things that I’d seen then,” he shrugged. “It changes a person. But I don’t think ordinarily it would change them as drastically as inventing an entirely new personality, do you?”

“What are you talking about…” I was growing nervous as he continued, and holding him tighter in my arms as the horse moved over a particularly bumpy portion of the road.

“I’m Asentual. But my mother didn’t choose that name. I did.”

“What?”

“Because, a long time ago, my name was something else. My name was Rettah. I was a different person.”

“Sensi, this is starting to sound less and less believable.” There was another long pause from him.

“… Yeah. I guess you’re right. I’ll stop, then. Probably sounding stupid.”

“No, wait!” I gripped him tighter. “I’m sorry, I’ll listen.”

“But it sounds so stupid, saying it out loud,” he sighed. “It sounds like a fairy tale. No one would believe something like this. You’re gullible as all hell and you’re starting to wonder. It’s not normal. It’s magic.”

“Even if it sounds improbable, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! So maybe you were once another person, and when you came into the Capital, maybe everything changed you so drastically that you had to compensate! Maybe that’s it, right? You could have created something out of the madness. I’ve heard of that before, that’s not impossible. And you don’t even need magic to explain it.”

“Then what about my damned eyes, dog? This happened when I’d just entered my teens, I still remember it! I left as usual, and suddenly it seemed like I was awake for the first time in my life. I was me. And I wasn’t who I thought I was anymore. It was sudden, drastic and extraordinary. The court couldn’t explain it, so they covered it up because they were afraid of the ramifications it would have.”

“Wait, ramifications?”

“You know how much the Jabberwocky is feared, and the other creatures of Wonderland,” he grumbled. “People are afraid of the last dredges of magic Wonderland has to offer. They’re not about to accept something like this. Even places that sell magic down in the streets are either liars, or hiding in among criminals on the black market. The only magic that people seem to let pass by are the kind that help and stay in the background, out of sight and out of mind.”

“People can’t be that afraid of magic.”

“Well,” he sighed. His shoulders sagged. “Maybe you’re just that naïve. Living in the Duchess’s palace and all. At least I can say that I’m stable. The only thing magic about me is the eyes. Everything else, is just my personality. I became the hatter; who I was truly meant to be. What I was before… It doesn’t even feel like me.” I didn’t know what to say in response, so I simply held on with my face pressed against his back. The feelings of his muscles tightening and loosening in rhythm with the gallops of the horse were oddly soothing amidst my addled mind. I didn’t know what to think about him. I supposed there was a reason to his mystery after all. He was complicated.

Magic? That never happened. There wasn’t much of anything of it anymore. To one day leave, and return a different person? That didn’t sound normal, certainly. I couldn’t find a logical explanation to explain it away. So maybe he was right. Maybe magic had done this to him.

“Do you recall what exactly changed you? Something that seemed to turn you into something else?” I pondered.

“I remember seeing an entertainment girl being dealt with after misbehaving. I was made to watch by the Cards. Apparently it was quite a show for them. But this was no different from the other things I’d seen. It was just another instance of Wonderland being Wonderland. But there was something that washed over me, I’m not sure how to explain it. It was like a voice, but it was more than that. Something that buzzed inside my head, and made me feel strange, and like nothing I felt belonged with me. And then, I was me, the real me. And instead of looking away, I cheered the men on. It turned out to be a fun night.” He grinned back at me with that classic smirk, and I turned away with a blush.

“So, it definitely sounds like something magic then.”

“How do you define what something magical is, though?” He asked. “That’s the thing. There’s almost nothing about it. I’ve never bothered to ask any scholars about magic, because I like the way that I am. I have no reason to want to change back ever. It’s like asking whether or not you’d want to disappear. So I don’t know what it is as a side effect. And I’m not sure I want to.”

“But that’s like denying yourself knowing about a massive part of your life!”

“Have you met me, dog? I keep my head down, and enjoy life. Because that’s the way you have to live in Wonderland, if you want to have a good time. You can’t go around asking weird questions, because you’re going to get even weirder answers that maybe you don’t like the answers to.”

I sighed, then grunted. “It’s a pretty stupid way to live your life. I don’t like it.”

“It’s kept me alive when dealing with the world around me. If you blend in, and roll with the punches, everyone loves you and you get along swimmingly. Have a drink with a would be enemy and soon enough you’re singing together at the tavern drunk off your knob.”

“I suppose…” I turned my attention to the sun beginning to set. We both let the conversation trail off. Neither of us were about to convince the other. “It looks like we should make camp soon.”

“Right.” He seemed glad for the change of topic. “I’ll find somewhere that seems a little less dangerous than last time.” He looked over the rolling hills around us, fields and fields of short grasses with a strong path that we headed down cutting a line in between the grassland. The horse smashed wild strawberry plants under her feet that had grown over the road leaving a trail of red in her wake. We’d left the forests behind, and that meant that wherever we’d camp, we’d have a good vantage point from all sides. I wouldn’t have to worry about the forest all night.

It didn’t take long until he stopped us with a nod towards a clearing near the road even less covered by grasses; a well known camping spot. I think I could briefly remember passing by it on the way here. He helped me down and we set up camp.

He’d taught me a lot in the time we’d been on the road to and from the King’s court about living on the road. I couldn’t say I took to it as much as he did, but I still learned fast. He had me setting up the campfire this time and for once, I didn’t burn anything down except for the grasses I meant to. While I tended to the flickering flame, I watched him set out the bedrolls and patrol around for any sight of others that might disturb us. I doubted there would be, as we hadn’t seen anyone else on the road returning. Not even a trade caravan. It was strange, but I found myself enjoying the only company I had anyways.

Chapter Text

When he returned from his scouting, he brought with him more of those strawberries and a handful of blueberries we added to out rations. After nothing but cheese, bread and salted meats, it was a delicious change. That was one thing I missed about civilization: the food. Though berries as fresh as these were difficult to find in the city. The sweetness invaded my mouth intermingled from the bitterness of being just a tad unripened. Asentual didn’t seem to mind. In fact, as I watched him beside me, he seemed to be seeking out the ones least ripe in the pile, ignoring those that would have been sweeter. It was amusing to watch him pick through them all, looking for the whiter strawberries and the greener others. He caught me smiling and rolled his eyes.

“I’m not one for having a sweet tooth, dog. So you can enjoy the sickeningly ripe ones if you like.”

“That’s fine with me. You can have your disgusting green blueberries all you like.”

“They’re not disgusting. They have a delicious sourness to them. You just don’t have the pallet to enjoy such a thing.”

“Perhaps not. And I don’t think I’d ever want it.” I smirked, and turned away to enjoy the last of the ripened berries.

We sat in silence for another hour. As the fire died down, I’d through more sticks and grasses on it that would catch quickly with the lack of rainfall these days. The closer we got to the Queen, the less rainfall we’d received. I suppose it was true of the King’s court that it was in a state of eternal spring. It was useless for crops with the flooding they faced due to the rainfall.

“Dog.” I looked up to Asentual as he roused me from my thoughts. He was staring at the fire intently as I was. His eyes seemed to outshine the bright glow of the flames. “Lay your head in my lap.”
Flushing slightly, I looked at him with confusion before doing as he asked. As I lay my head in his lap he placed his hand on my head and began to stroke my hair. I watched the fire beginning to die down again with a soft sigh. His fingers pulled gently at the blue curls on my head and traveled down to the back of my neck. I closed my eyes against the comfort, and the rumbles of a purr started in my throat.

“So sweet,” He murmured. I opened my eyes again and blushed.

“Is this meant to be sexual?” I asked without turning my head.

“No, I just wanted to try this. Remember what I said before, about why I called you a dog?”

“Because I was loyal, and you have weird fantasies about me.”

He chuckled and the noise reverberated through me. “Something like that. I always imagined it like this, having you curled up on me in front of a fire… It’s a nice feeling.”

I bit my lip. “… Do you want to talk about what you said before? At the palace?” His stroking paused.

“With Wyvern?”

“No… What you said to me, before we left.”

“Oh. Not particularly.” He caressed down my head against, gripping my hair a little tighter this time. I sighed and closed my eyes again.

“If you think you made a mistake telling me you loved me, you can just say it, you know. I won’t be mad.”

“Heh…” He gave a soft breathy laugh. “A mistake. I dunno.”

“You can tell me.” I sighed. “No matter how much I learn about you, you always seem far off and away, and all the more mysterious. You keep your cards close to your chest and I’m left feeling confused. I’m not some stranger. I know you.”

“Do you now?” He paused to grab another few sticks and toss them on the fire from where he could reach. The flames flare up again against the dying sun as they caught and mingled with the other burning pieces.

“I’d like to think so.” Pressing my face against the inside of his leg, I purred with a deeper rumble so he could feel it. I didn’t want him to feel like there was tension between us. Even if he didn’t care about me as much as I did about him. I didn’t know what was going on inside his head, but I didn’t want him to feel like mine was racing, even if it was. “You told me about the story behind your eyes and what it could mean. I’m guessing that’s not something you tell everybody. Can’t I be your confidant?”

He gripped my hair gently and tugged it up to meet his face. His eyes were troubled.

“I told you that to make conversation.”

“Come off it, Sensi. I know you wanted me to know more about your life.”

“Well, I snooped around in yours. I found out about your sister. It felt only fair for you to learn more about me.” I flinched, and he let go of me with the expectation that I'd move away. But I didn’t leave him. I stayed in his lap with my head still pressed up against his leg. My heart beat faster, but I calmed myself down as best I could.

“Do you actually love me?” I whispered.

“It’s too soon to tell.”

“Are you capable of love? Is that what you’re struggling with?”

“Maybe. I know I want you badly, dog. I want us to go on our own adventures, enjoying life. Finding the person that killed your uncle and having him face retribution. And then, maybe after, going off and doing as much as we can to enjoy life. I like teaching you things.” I smiled softly.

“That sounds a lot like love, you know.”

“I don’t think that way about it. Maybe it’s more like… a friend.” He patted my head. “A best friend I fuck in the ass occasionally.” I opened my eyes simply to glare at him in jest, my mouth twitching up in amusement.

“Really? Is that what you’ve come to?”

“Well I wouldn’t call you my lover, exactly. You’ve got a little more backbone than that.”

“All this talk of trying to label what we are makes me bored of it all.” I sighed. “It’s annoying.”

“I suppose it does.” He lay back onto the furled up bedroll behind him and tugged up by the collar of my shirt until we were face to face. I looked into those eyes and felt something there that I don’t think I’d ever felt in someone else before. Maybe it was that magic he had talked about, but with the hatter, there was always something strange about him. Otherwordly, confusing. Like a royal, but you didn’t feel like you should look away. It made me want to come closer.

“Benji,” he breathed, and pressed his mouth against mine. I closed my eyes as I melted into the kiss that seemed to last forever. He pulled away too soon. “I don’t know how I feel. But I do want you. Perhaps.”

“Perhaps.” I grinned.

“Don’t make me wipe that smile off your face, dog.” He closed the gap again to kiss me with a renewed need. I nearly squeaked in surprise at the force and fell back as he pushed me to the ground. Gripping my hands in his own, he held me down as pushed apart my lips and our tongues met. I was a little closer to the fire than I wanted to be, but I was a little busy to think about it. He kept held me down and pushed me to kiss him like nothing else until he pressed his leg against my groin and I began to rock against it, shaking in growing arousal. It was painful after the long day of travel, but I wanted it. My mind was growing darker and more blank by the second as he enveloped me. He pulled his mouth away to attack my neck and I uttered a soft whimper as I went to his own. He didn’t bite down too hard, but there would be marks later. I licked over his collarbone and felt a laugh bubbling up from him. It threw me off, and he pulled away to sit over me, straddling my stomach.

“You’re so cute.” He smirked.

“Why are you teasing me like this,” I whined. “I’m already gladly giving you what you wanted.”

“I like it when you push back,” he shrugged and began to finger the loops of rope on his belt. “Do you think we could try something different? I feel like I’d be bored with just fucking you.”

“You mean, tying me up?” I stared at him. “Like before?”

“I wanted to try it around your neck.” His eyes glimmered. “Like a collar.” I choked slightly, quick to crawl out from under him but before I could turn around fully, he had grabbed me by the arms and was on me again, holding me tightly in a grip he seemed used to. I was left with my face half in the dirt, and growing rather annoyed.

“You’re crazy,” I hissed. “This is stupid.”

“No, you’re just being temperamental,” he laughed. “Such a skittish dog.” My anger boiled over when his grip went from both hands on me to only one and I still couldn’t seem to find the strength to get out from under him. I turned around to watch him tug the rope into a loop with a knot, using his teeth and free hand. He caught my eye and grinned with the twined rope still in his mouth. I turned back around quickly and tried not to show the flush in my cheeks.

“Why do you assume I’d like this kind of thing? You don’t even know me that well.”

“I think I know you well enough that you’ll like where I’m going with this.”

“I… You’re wrong. You’re- Stop that!” He gripped me by the hair and pulled the loop over my head, tightening it until I felt fear stirring in my heart that maybe he was going to try to choke me. He stopped before I lost my ability to breath, but it was still tight enough that it felt odd. After, he changed the knot from a slip to something else, and when he tugged it experimentally, the loop didn't shorten. I buried my face in my hands. This was stupid, dumb, and he was getting off on it. And maybe I was too but that wasn’t exactly a good thing.

He moved off of me with the other end of the rope firmly in his hands and tugged it until I finally reacted. “Come on, Benji~” he crooned. I glared at him as I stiffly followed and tried to ignore the shock that went through me at the tone of his voice. It was more arousing than I anticipated.

As I crawled over, he untied his pants and tugged himself out. I faced his throbbing cock for only a moment before I turned away in annoyance.

“Come on, dog.” He tugged the leash again. “Suck me~. You enjoyed it the last time. Don’t deny yourself. And perhaps I’ll return the favor.”

“This is stupid.” I gripped the collar in my hands and he wrenched them away.

“Benji, every time we do something, you end up enjoying it. Don’t act like you did the first time we met. This isn’t that. You trust me, don’t you?”

“I…” I bit my lip and tentatively looked at his face. It was intimidating, but calming at the same time. If it weren’t for the subtle smirk, maybe I wouldn’t have been as annoyed.

“Come.” He commanded, and pulled me by the leash until I was right at his crotch. I gripped his legs, growling slightly as I looked back up at him for a moment then back down to what he was offering me.

I remembered before. This time he wasn’t holding me by the hair, or the shoulder. His grip on the leash was tight and unyielding, and he waited for me. He wanted me to acknowledge that his damned cock was waving about my face waiting for me to take him. I flinched back for a second, then tentatively licked. It was just as it was before in taste, meaning not much.

He sighed as he tugged me ever closer until I was sucking on the head. “Everything you do is so tentative, so thought-out. I love it when you let yourself go.” I flushed slightly and tentatively moved closer. Maybe he was right. I was overthinking everything again. And I did want him. I knew myself enough not to lie any longer on that. I didn’t want to think anymore, for his sake. Even if this felt strange, and uncomfortable, and he was forceful enough to raise my hackles.

“Fine…” I mumbled beside his lap, then suckled more deeply onto his shaft until his head brushed the back of my throat. I uttered a soft moan more for his benefit than mine to great effect; his grip on the rope tightened to pull me closer and he gave a soft noise. I felt a tightness in my throat that most would find unpleasant, painful even. I couldn’t understand it, but it made me shudder.

He gripped me tighter, giving a soft a breathy chuckle as I moved carefully with the space I’d been given. It wasn’t much; he kept wanting me to go further. He let up a little when I squeezed his thigh, and I pulled back to the head to give it special treatment. I licked carefully over the mushroomed tip and along the underside, the ridges of him more familiar. He barely made a noise, though. Not even when I had moved back deeply onto him to test just how far I could take him into my mouth. His cock twitched and wavered as I tried to relax myself and move as down as far as I could to satisfy him. But I found myself choking, and pulled away instinctively only to be tugged back by the tight collar that gripped the skin on my neck like sandpaper.

“So close, dog,” He muttered. “Nearly all the way.” With one hand still on the leash, he stroked my hair while simultaneously pulling me back and forth in the rhythm I had with my bobbing. I looked back at his shining eyes that held an odd kind of pride and licked out with him still deep in my mouth. I tasted something salty. The pre cum dribbling into my mouth that made me twinge as the taste was strange. He still enjoyed this, even if it was fumbling just as it was before. Maybe worse, thanks to how obsessive he seemed to be with that leash.

“Can you take me all the way down?” He questioned me, fully knowing he wouldn’t get a response when my mouth was so busy. I was afraid of the answer anyways. Maybe I could, but that choking wouldn’t subside whenever I felt his tip press against my throat’s entrance. I moved quicker to compensate for the lack, but he seemed less interested with the speed. He still moved with me, tugging and pulling at my hair, my leash, but he still wanted me closer, further. Intimately on him, to have him sheathed all the way inside his mouth.

I let myself loose. I pressed closer on my own volition, turned off my brain, and felt that blush on my face climb as the nature of what I was doing caught on. I felt like he was all around me and I wanted nothing more than him. I pushed closer as he wanted and with that tugging that kept on at my neck, there were tinges of pleasure that echoed from it down to my own cock gripping the inside of my pant leg and undergarments painfully and desperately wanting a release. It wasn’t just him that wanted this. I wanted it, badly.

I reached his abdomen with my nose pressed against the red roots of his hair and the choking subsided, if just for the moment. He held me there for what seemed like forever, staring down at me without words. I closed my eyes and felt strangely comforted beyond the arousal. But then it was gone, and I was choking while gripping the sides of his legs and trying to pull myself off of him. He kept me there a second too long before letting me go, chuckling to himself. There was an awe to his voice though.

“With practice you could do even better. That was lovely, dog. Do you like it when I choke you?” He tugged me up slightly by the collar until our eyes met, and the tight feeling of the rugged rope against my neck was oddly titillating. I nodded with a dull blush without realizing what it meant and he grinned. He let me go again, and I quickly pulled him back into my mouth, moving faster now and trying my hand at pulling him deeper into my mouth until he was completely inside again. Not long enough to choke, but enough that he was gripping my hair and dare I say starting to lose it. Whatever Hatter’s version of losing was, anyways. He was groaning softly under his breath as he moved with me, bucking into my mouth to meet me. Without warning he gripped my hair tightly and tugged me back down my throat, nearly shivering as the sudden invasion of bitter semen erupted down my throat. This time I truly was choking, but again he held me there longer than I would have liked, gripping me close and intimately until he was finished. Then he slowly pulled away, a string of saliva still connecting me to his erection, and I looked up at him again with a darkening flush.

Immediately he brought me up to him again without the collar; he let the leash sink to the ground and gripped by the shoulders as he pulled me into a deep kiss. I felt uncomfortable after just finishing him off, but he didn’t seem to care about whatever taste there might be. He probed my mouth with his tongue even as I tried to catch my breath and when he pulled away I was nearly wheezing for air.

“Good dog. You did amazingly.”

“Doesn’t it… Taste weird to you?” I coughed. He stroked my back and pulled me closer onto him.

“I like it. Don’t you?”

“It’s not entirely unpleasant. Still strange, though.”

“Well, perhaps I can taste you next.” I felt him bite my ear and jumped, still quite tense from what I’d done to him. My own erection still strained and I didn’t want to check if there was a spot in my pants for fear that I already knew the answer.

“Alright…” Pressing my lips to his neck, I allowed him to move me be onto the ground lying out with the fire past my feet. My heart beat in my chest as he carefully unbuckled my pants and drew them down. Turning away when he unearthed, he pulled me by the neck back to look with a smirk, the leash once again in hand.

“Don’t hide away, Benji. I want you to see this.”

“Do you get off on embarrassing me, Asentual?” I growled half-heartedly. It died in my throat when he took my cock into his mouth, moving slowly at first but with careful rhythm and a vacuum that made me moan sharply. I went for his hair with my own hands but he pushed me back to make me lie still before continuing again. I was left with nothing to hold onto and panting at his achingly slow tempo. It was too much too quickly, and I was already starting to lose it. He let go of my arms to carefully squeeze what he didn’t take into his mouth, but I kept my hands where they were. In the moment I was obedient because it felt like it was right. And it made me all the more aroused for it.

He didn’t go all the way down like I did, but he was still careful, thorough and slowly gaining speed. He trailed his tongue down over my shaft and a shudder went through me. I breathed heavily. He purred against me, and I felt like I was nearly there already. I hadn’t realized just how horny sucking him off had made me. I was already on the edge and he was just playing around with the tip of my cock. Alternating squeezing the shaft with sucking heavily on the tip, it seemed like he was almost experimenting with me.

“Hatter, I-I-“ He shushed me, smirking when he pulled away and stroking me furiously with a strange glint in his eye. Moving back to lick only the tip sent me over, and I finished at his mouth, panting with my hands gripping at the dirt and arching my back. I saw spots in my vision for a second and when I got a hold of myself, he was kissing me again. This time he lay by my side with his arms around me, watching me with a slight smirk that never seemed to leave.

“You taste delicious, you know,” he chuckled. “Better than me.”

“What do you mean?” I tried to keep the embarrassment that made my heart flutter down.

“Sweeter, not overly so. I don’t particularly like sweets, but you seem to. I think it makes you taste better.”

“Interesting theory,” I mumbled. I pressed my head against his shoulder and closed my eyes with a purr rumbling in my chest. “Did you purr before to get me off, or because you were happy?”

“Maybe a little of both,” he admitted. “I don’t purr often. When I do, I mean it. Are you going to sleep now?”

“I should. We have a lot more travel in the morning.”

“Ah, yes. Just a little longer, and then we can report back, and after that, more adventure.” I smiled.

“I like that plan, I think.” I scratched at my neck absently, then flushed darkly as I realized the collar was still there. “Can you get rid of this, please?” I tugged on it.

“Oh, right, that.” He grinned. “Sorry about that.” He untied the knot deftly, and furled up the rope. “Well at least you enjoyed it, even though you were so against it before~ We never would have learned how much you enjoy it.”

“You said you liked when I fought you,” I growled. “Perhaps I was just playing the part.”

“No, I was being pushy. But you liked it, and that’s all that matters right now. It’s just how I envisioned it too.”

“You planned that?”

“Of course. And now I’m wondering if you could hide a collar.”

“NO.”

“What? What’s wrong with a collar?”

“I’m – I –“ I sputtered, red faced. “It’s not decent! People would stare- I’m a noble!”

“Yes, but you’re still mine.” He pressed his thumb against my neck by my windpipe, and the strange choking feeling returned. I stared at him with the blush growing darker. “But if you’re truly worried about it, then I’ll drop it, for now. But I do know how to convince you, now don’t I?”

“Stop-“ I whimpered and pulled his thumb away to catch my breath. “Sleep, remember?”

“Right, right…” He sighed. “Fine, get some sleep.” I turned around and closed my eyes. He drew his hands around me and we both slowly drifted off to the sound of the dying fire.

Chapter Text

Asentual brushed through the opening doors of the Queen’s palace in a strut. He faced the strange being sitting on her throne with a haughty air of accomplishment, but his bright grin seemed to please her despite his arrogance. He called me a peacock, yet he acted like one far more often than I did.

“I’ve returned, your majesty.” He stopped several feet from her presence and knelt, and I followed quickly in kind. All the royals other than the Duchess seemed so terrifying to me for some reason. It didn’t matter that this was the second time meeting her. She still seemed uncanny in a way I couldn’t put my finger on.

She slouched to the side with a slight smirk as she watched him, then took a pastry from the tray beside her. It looked like strawberry tarts and cakes with tea to the side. Five or so human servants waited on her to keep her from anything she’d have to reach for, all of them silent while she ate. “So it seems. Did you accomplish your goal?”

“Of course.” He stood, and I moved with him. He held out the parchment in his hand with the name of the killer. With a nod from her, one of the servants quickly captured it and nodded their head quickly before handing it to the Queen. She didn’t bother to look at it, simply placing it amongst the tray of food. “That has the name of the killer, his whereabouts and any defining features that would help us capture him. The King sends his regards to you, and an impromptu diplomatic was held at the King’s palace since the one here had to be cancelled.”

“Lovely. I can always count on you can’t I, my hatter.” She straightened in her seat with a strange smile. “Now the Duchess Right Hand can go back to where he came from, and I can send a team to go find this man so he might face… Bloody retribution.”

I stared at her for a moment as I tried to register what she had just said. Frustration was boiling over inside me.

“Excuse me, your majesty,” I began tentatively. “But we were thinking perhaps we could go find this man ourselves and bring him in-“ She raised her hand and I cut off my words.

“Whatever gallivanting you had planned is not adequate for a team to bring down a criminal. Besides, the Duchess has requested your presence back at the Palace by messenger. She didn’t expect you to be gone this long, and she has need of her Right Hand to preform his duties. So you will return to the Palace, and that will be that.”

“But… Your majesty.” I couldn’t help but continue. “It’s- it’s not fair! Asentual is a Right Hand and he’s a slaver as well, he goes off on missions all the time! And- And it’s only fair that we be the ones to bring him in – he’s already got the credentials of a bounty hunter – and I’m barely suited for the role of the hand anyways, and….” I trailed off at the sight of her face. It was twisted, contorted in an odd smile mixed of fury and sadism. Her eyes were darkening as the sight of dissension in her own throne room, and I shut up quickly.

Hatter didn’t say a word as she raised her hand. The servants scattered to the doorways behind her and out of sight, and her attention was rendered fully on me.

“Do I dare here a Duchess noble speaking out in my court, my home? Do you realize what kind of words you are saying to your ruler?”

“I meant nothing by it.” My speech was clipped. The fear of taking up more than a second longer of her time and the consequences for it weighed on me. “I apologize.”

“You have such insolence that is a trademark of a Duchess noble.” Her eyes narrowed. “Stubbornness, and a feeling of superiority. Of arrogance, that the world owes you something. Let me tell you, Benjamin of the Court of Diamonds. The world owes you nothing but death. And if you continue to question MY ruling, you will find it will give you that death sooner, rather than later.”

I could barely hear her; my heart was beating so loudly in my ears. I couldn’t stop shaking. Like a snake, her stare kept me locked in place and I was unable to react other than dully nod.

“Good.” She sat back in her throne. “Now, as punishment, you will leave tomorrow, without the hatter’s company. You will take some of my guards with you back to your palace, and you will not bother my sight again unless it is for official duties that require it. Now is that understood?”

“Y-yes… Your Majesty…” I muttered. She waved a hand, and I turned stiffly to walk out those large and intimidating doors.

The harsh light of the summer day hit me and blinded me for a moment when I breached the outside. Asentual was quick to follow behind. He was oddly quiet, and I didn’t blame him. What I had done was probably one of the biggest mistakes I could have made.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered with my eyes on the cobbled ground beneath me. He said nothing and we continued in silence. I didn’t know where I was walking, there was no goal to it. I found myself simply walking down the steps of the palace on the hill, down towards the bustling city center, and the hatter made no move to stop me.

“Benji,” he finally spoke when we had reached the bottom. The crowd was loud around us with the bustling day, but I still heard him clearer than any of the others.

“What?” I looked up at him. Tears stung at my eyes. “Would you like to rub it in?”

“No.” He pulled me closer by the buttons of my shirt, until we were enclosed around each other, without any care for the crowds of people. “You don’t need that right now.”

“I’ve messed up so terribly,” I snarled amidst my meltdown. Looking like this in public made my skin crawl but I couldn’t seem to stop it. “I’ve ruined it for the both of us. Who knows when I’ll be able to see you again.”

“Aw, come off it, dog. It won’t be too long before we see each other again. We’re Hands, remember? We still have to meet up at the very least once every few months.” I shook my head.

“We could have had adventures together. That’s what I was looking forward to. To have you and I being able to travel together. You wanted to show me things, and teach me things. I didn’t just want to bring justice to that man – I barely even think of my uncle anymore. I didn’t want this to end… And the only time I’ve had with you now has been drama and arguing. I wasted it all.”

“I liked the drama and arguing. It was fun.” He grinned and I shoved him slightly, but was quick to bring him back against me. I didn’t mean it.

“You ass,” I growled as I wiped my eyes. “You think that was fun? All those things you did to me, you made me this way. And now you’re making me cry of all things now that I have to say goodbye.”

“Say goodbye, what are you saying, dog?” He carefully drew a hand through my blue snarls of hair with a knowing smirk, his eyes twinkling. “We still have the day remaining.”

“Nothing but a day.” I ignored the stares we were getting. It mattered little to me anyways after what we’d done. “Nothing but a day for me to be with you.”

“Sentimental again, are we?” He drew away but grabbed my hand as he went. Pulling me with him, he started walking with purpose and we continued on past the main center and into the streets. Cobbled roads stretched off like rivers and streams with all manner of people going on about their business. It was like we had never left the city before to the King’s palace. Everything was just the same as before.

“Where are we going?” I asked. I gripped his hand tighter when he didn’t respond right away, and he turned about with a grin while continuing to walk backwards.

“Red Light district. If we only have a day left together, then we’ll spend it doing something fun.”

“The Red Light district?” My eyes widened. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”

“Really, a prude like you?” I dropped into glare and he laughed, turning around once more with his hand still firmly holding mine. “Well, I suppose every man always dreams of having hordes of women to service him.”

“Is that what it’s like?” It sounded even better than it had in my dreams, even if Asentual had been infesting them lately. “I wanted to go there ever since I’d heard of the capital. If it was like that….” I smiled slightly. “Women everywhere to service me…”

“Snap out of it dog, or you’ll trip and fall into a puddle. We don’t want you muddied up when we enter, do we?” That small smile grew when I saw him glance back at me. He was just trying to make me feel better, even with his teasing.

I wiped away my tears and caught up beside him, still not bothering to let go of his hand. “I promise it won’t be me who will embarrass us. I can be quite suave when I try.”

“Suave will only get you so far when you come after a minute of stimulation.” He grinned up at my darkening cheeks.

“It’s not like I’m trying to come that easily. I think you’re just far too good at it. You’ve had so much practice – not with men, but with people. And I’ve had little to nothing. The only person I’ve had is you.”

“For only having me, I’d say you’re doing pretty well with learning technique.” He tilted his head to the side in thought. “I wonder which place would suit you best.”

“How many brothels have you been to?” I asked. “Five or so?” That seemed like a lot already to me.

“Oh, nearly all of them.” My jaw dropped.

“How did you manage? How old are you again, you can’t be that much older than me! How do you find the time in your life to devote it all to sex while still doing your duties and being a slaver?”

“Not much older than you dog, I just know how to organize time. There’s events hosted around the capital all the time that I go to for appearances. You know, two birds with one stone. If I make an appearance, it’s automatically a Queen approved party and the place it’s being held at is ever so grateful. So all I have to do is walk around, party hopping at any brothel or ball and perhaps shake a few hands, then enjoy some drinks and surround myself with beautiful people.”

“It sounds like your life is the epitome of luxury,” I sighed wistfully. “Why couldn’t I have been a Queen noble? Then I wouldn’t have to live in the middle of the freezing nowhere, with no one but stingy old Duchess nobles for company. Even the Duchess herself isn’t worth it, no matter how many tea parties she throws.”

“Because then you’d probably end up being my distant cousin. … Though I don’t think I’d care much anyways, even if you were. Perhaps it’d be more fun that way…”

“Asentual!”

“Well, if you had the personality you did now, then I wouldn’t be able to help myself.” He snickered. “You’re just so easy to tease. You’re more colorful than most of the people I have the misfortune of meeting. At least through the teasing, you enjoy what I do, and corrupting you in such a manner is half the fun. The other half is watching your initial reaction. I say anything even slightly perverted and you go pink and look at me like I just propositioned you for sex with an animal.”

“You’re disgusting.” I rolled my eyes, but held his hand tighter none the less. Slightly flushed, I found I couldn’t look him in the eye. “How much further until we get there?”

“This is a big city, Benji, relax. We have all the hours in the day and night before you’re swept back away into the depths of cold hell. So take a look around. This is the capital we’re in. There’s so much to discover.”

“Well, where are we now?”

“The market district, see?” He waved his free hand over to the booths along the side of the road, interspersed with store fronts and shops. “We’re not far off from where I got that suit of yours tailored.”

“Right, that.” I groaned. “I still have to pay you back for that.”

“I’ve already abused you enough that you paid back for it in spades, dog.” His grin widened. “You’re still technically my property, remember? I was buying my property some lovely clothing, that’s all.” I turned away again with reddening cheeks.

“Honestly, I’m not sure why I listen to you anymore, all you say are embarrassing things.”

“Maybe it’s because you like the sound of my voice~”

“Ah, yes. Of course.Tthat’s it."

“Or perhaps you can’t find yourself looking away from me because I’m just that mesmerizing.” He wasn’t far off the mark. But I bit my tongue, and went back to his stride along the walkway, turning my gaze to the colorful stores around me.

There were trinkets of all kinds, metalworking, jewelry, all carefully crafted in differing styles. The area we were in specifically seemed to be tailored to smelting and fire work, but there was the occasional stand of food, of clothing that had the latest trends. And the colors, they were just as vibrant as the various hair around us. Banners gleamed against the afternoon sun, shining silver and purple and gold. Signs painted with care shouted the names of the stores, some in beautiful calligraphy that could be difficult to read, and others more simple and accessible. The talk and chatter was loud and filled with bartering and the clinging of metal against metal as money was exchanged. There was a smell of hookah pipe in the air from a few older fellows enjoying a smoke, and the sweet and acrid smell hung around us as the hatter paused for a moment to look at a set of pocket watches on a table setup.

“Interested in something good sir?” The king noble beamed up at the redhead with his long flowing pale green hair tied behind him in a braid. It faded to white at the ends and his age was evident. Old and experienced in his craft. He sat behind the table with something in his hand. A watch, it seemed, something he appeared to be working on even as he sold his finished products.

“Just browsing.” Asentual ruminated on the watches for a moment, then looked up at the noble. “You made these yourself?”

“Of course. I’ve been making watches for many years. I think last year was the fortieth anniversary of the year I started up this store. Can I interest you in anything here? I think a lovely gold one would suit you. Look here, it has red trim for a Queen noble such as yourself.” He carefully poked out the watch in particular with the screwdriver in his other hand.

“No, I don’t think so.” I was starting to grow puzzled as I watched Asentual look over the watches. Why was he taking so long? He’d never shown interest in these things before.

“Are you secretly a pocket watch fanatic?” I grinned at him with a teasing lilt in my voice, but he shook his head with a more serious expression, his look never differing from staring intently at the watches.

“No, it’s just something about these. I’m not sure. What’s this one like?” he pointed at a particularly ornate one on the table encrusted with frosty sapphires.

“Oh, that one’s not for sale.” The man set down the screwdriver quickly and pulled it away from the rest of the group. “That’s actually one I’ve been restoring for someone. They wanted it polished with a resetting of the gemstones. It’s quite old, a family heirloom I believe. But it still works, believe it or not. The inner workings are strange even to me, so I suppose it’s for the best. I don’t think I’d be able to fix something like that.”

“Why have it out here if you’re not going to sell it?” The redheaded man raised an eyebrow. The elder was sheepish as he pocketed the watch and returned to his work.

“Well, it’s good work and it draws in customers. If they’re interested in something like this, perhaps they’ll settle for something else when I tell them it’s unfortunately not a that can be sold.”

“I suppose...” Without a word goodbye, he turned to continue down the road. I stared at him in confusion as I trotted beside him.

“What was that about?”

“I just wanted to know about watches, Benji. You can stop me whenever you like too, you know. I’m sure you’d be interested in something here. Perhaps a toy to bring back to your lovely sister?”

“Well I… I don’t have any money and I’m not about to ask you to get something for me.” I crossed my arms with a sigh. “That watch thing was still strange. I’m not about to let that go.”

“They’re just watches, Benji.”

“But you barely even carry anything with you that isn’t necessary, no jewelry, you don’t even have a supplies bag with you right now. What use would you have for such a trinket?”

“Can’t I look at interesting things?”

“They were just watches,” I exclaimed. “But you were looking at them like they were some kind of treasure!”

“You’re insane.” He grinned at me but I simply glared at him. He dropped his head and cocked a half smile when I didn’t let up. “I don’t know, there was just something about them that caught my eye. Why are you so upset about this? What’s ruffled your feathers, peacock?”

“I… I don’t know.” I dropped my arms. “It was just strange, the way you were acting, I suppose… Forget it. How far to the Red Light district now?” I tried to change the subject quickly and it appeared he was thankful for it.

“We’re nearly there. Look.” He pointed out a shop in red and yellow with a sign depicting a nude woman, and strange objects in the window.

“What are those. They look a little like… Cocks?” I turned my gaze from the window to Asentual’s eyes boring into my soul in sheer shock.

“They’re dildos, dog.”

“That’s what a dildo looks like?” I blinked. “They’re so colorful. And some of them look so weird, and… hard to understand.”

“You’re… God, you’re so innocent.” He laughed heartily and gripped my shoulder as we continued past the shop and further into stores of similar style. I could hear quite a lot of moaning the further in we delved, and saw a few things I had the decency to turn away from. Without a law against public sex acts, it wasn’t all that uncommon, but it was still uncomfortable. And to walk past a man gripping a woman’s head as she bobbed her head into his lap as he stood strained against one of the brick walls of the buildings was at the very least, strange.

I shuffled past another couple standing half out of the alley, a rope tied around the young man’s arms as the other, older man forced him closer until they were connected more intimately. It was more than enough of an eyeful, and I just kept my head down with a furious blush. Seeing these things so often and close together in comparison to the simple trek through the city that Hatter and I had done before, it was a lot stranger. Oddly… Arousing. I supposed I could understand why they did this. Hatter seemed to like things when they were public, and while I felt uncomfortable every time he tried, there was a strange tingling that came with that thrill.

“I’m not that innocent,” I finally muttered to him with my head still down. I heard him laugh again, that sly chuckle of his, and he patted my back.

“If you don’t recognize a fake cock right away, I’d say you’re still pretty innocent.”

“Just because I didn’t know what they were, doesn’t mean I don’t know what they do.” I knew what a dildo was, he wasn’t going to take that away from me. “I lived far enough away that these things crafted in the capital wasn’t exactly a normal commodity.”

“True enough….” He shrugged. “It makes you sweeter anyways, so many things to exploit. Innocence can be quite a useful tool when it comes to these kinds of things. It gives me an idea.”

“An idea?” I blinked up at him and regretted it immediately when I saw the ample breasts jiggling behind him as a woman was grabbed from behind. Her brunette locks proving her to be a human slave moved with her and her moans were a little too loud for my taste. Not to mention fake.

“I think I’ll make it a surprise. You tend to like surprises.”

“I hate surprises.”

“No, you always love them in the end. Ah, here we are.” He nodded towards a particularly colorful building similar to some kind of carnival, complete with pavilions that at first seemed like they truly were tents but on closer inspection were carefully painted stone tiles. The building rose up higher compared to its neighbors but it was the strange architecture that really made it stand out. I noticed a sign in front, in more of that curly cued writing that made it difficult to read. ‘Felt’s House of Circus’.

“You’ll like this,” the hatter nearly purred as he looked up at the strange building.

“Well... Perhaps I will,” I admitted. It seemed strange, but I didn’t want to ruin the day. “Are the girls here attractive?”

“Oh, absolutely.” He watched me in amusement as he marched up the steps to the large inlaid doors under the sign, then stepped inside.

Briefly, I felt apprehension in my joints. Did I really want to go inside there? He always seemed to have some kind of trick up his sleeve. Maybe this was another one.

Though, maybe he was right. I did like his tricks. Even if he worried me sometimes. I always ended up wanting him more and more in the end. And this was the last day I’d have with him.

I walked inside with a sinking feeling in my chest.

Chapter Text

I stepped inside what could have easily been a horror show. Painted inside as well as out to fit the form of a circus tent, the walls were also lined with various pictures of gymnasts performing shows in very flattering attire, or perhaps none at all. The main entrance led directly into a lounge with a few occupants enjoying themselves already. There was a fellow Duchess noble in the corner lying among a lazy chair engaging with a blonde human in the corner, whispering in her ear and laughing when she shuddered. Her clothes were strange, like some kind of parody of the nobility attire you’d see in the courts. Hers was incredibly revealing, with a skirt so short it might as well have been underwear. Her bosom was tied up together in a corset that threatened to have them pop out at any moment, especially if he kept massaging them as he did.
The furniture here was odd, embroidered carefully and expensive looking despite the other gaudy décor. A mishmash of charm and strange, inane and colorful theatre. I stayed close to Asentual with that sinking feeling that refused to drop away. One could hear moans from all around, whether it came from the lounge or from the doors behind the front desk we approached. The occasional scream made me flinch.

“Isn’t a brothel supposed to showcase what they have to offer?” I murmured. “There’s no one around, just nobles already engaged.”

“This establishment presumes that you already know the lineup of girls available from the various parties they’ve held that you are supposed to have attended.”

“Is it really that exclusive?” I strained to catch a glimpse through the doorways behind the front desk. Each were covered by a sheet matching the colors of the paint around us. I realized the room was circular, just as a tent would have been. Did they really make the architecture to match this style? Who would choose to have a brothel themed after something like this? “This place seems strange, doesn’t it? I’m not sure about this prestige.”

“What were you expecting then?” He chuckled, then paused to ring the bell at the desk. “This place is one of my personal favorites. Not everything has to have the kind of class you’ve grown accustomed to. This place offers a certain kind of class-“

“Class?” I interrupted and gestured around us. “This looks like someone has an unhealthy fascination for the circus! I see little class about this whole thing.”

“Felt runs an establishment that’s all about meeting the needs of whoever enters. I appreciate the thought put into it. And a circus of mismatched people, doesn’t that sound like it would fit?”

“No, it sounds insane.”

“Excuse me sirs?” I jumped at the feminine voice, and turned my attention to the desk to see a stunted brown-haired human looking back us tentatively. She was young, dressed in rudimentary clothing that was surprisingly conservative for an establishment like this, looking rather sheepish as she looked up at us. Not from behind the counter, but to the side.

“Get your master Felt for us, would you?” Hatter drawled, and she flinched back.

“I’m terribly sorry, but the owner doesn’t usually meet with the guests…”

“Tell her Sensi’s here. I’m sure she’ll get the message.”

“She?” I wondered aloud as the child quickly ran off through one of the hallways. Briefly, I caught a glimpse of a wall just as brightly decorated inside.

“She’s an interesting woman.” His eyes sparkled. “I think you’ll like her.” Only a minute or so had passed when the cloth covered doorway shifted yet again to reveal a woman dressed in fine clothing. Her eyes were golden, with mustard yellow hair falling sharply down to her cheeks, nearly spiked and feathery with strange volume. A lord noble. Though the males were rather submissive, the females were known for being more aggressive from what I knew. And her eyes seemed feral as she stalked over to the desk.

“Ah, Felt.” Hatter’s grin widened as he saw her.

“Asentual! Why, I’ve not seen you in ages. How have you been?”

“Well, enjoying my own adventures. And yourself? How are the girls?”

“They’re well.” Her grin matched his as they conversed and I was starting to feel like I was belonging less and less, wanting to sink into the background.

“And who’s this?” She finally turned her head to see me, and I jumped slightly in surprise.

“Ah, this is Benjamin. A companion of mine.”

“A business associate you’re treating then, huh?” He shook his head quickly, and I was surprised when he grabbed my face and pulled it by his with a smirk.

“No, more like a pet. I wanted to treat him to something nice before we parted ways.”

“A pet?” She stared for a moment. The scrutiny was making me flinch. “I didn’t take you for enjoying men as well.”

“I’m trying new things and finding myself enjoying them. But it could just be that Benji’s special to me. And something special to me deserves something special here, wouldn’t you say?”

“Of course.” She shook herself out of her startled look with that returning slightly manic grin, but I still felt rather embarrassed. It was obvious that I wasn’t the norm for her. “What would you like, then?”

“How about the three for him, and I’ll enjoy my own time with a few of your new ones. I’d like to see how they run.”

“Sounds like a plan.” She looked as though she’d planned to say something, but the hatter was faster than her in dumping a pouch of currency on the counter. She didn’t bother to count it out and didn’t seem that startled either. There was trust in her face as she pocketed the money, then beckoned for us to follow her through the coverings of the hallway behind the counter.

Inside were colorful hallways that seemed to twist and turn in stranger and stranger ways. The weird geometry was making my head spin.

“Are you leaving me alone, Sensi?” I asked in worry. He’d let go of my chin, but I still sought for his touch in his hands. He gripped mine and kissed the crook of my neck which calmed me somewhat.

“Nothing to worry about. I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself. And I’ll be there soon enough. I simply wanted to see how Felt’s new girls behaved. If you need me, you only need to call me.”

“But I- I’d like to be there with you,” I murmured into the collar of my shirt with a sigh, and he chuckled.

“I understand. I’ll be there with you soon enough. I don’t want us to spend this entire time apart. But I’d like you to enjoy yourself to. There are many fascinating parts to this place, and interesting people.”

“Your door’s on the left, Sensi,” Felt called out in front of us as she pointed to a bright green door speckled with orange. “Should be two in there for you.”

“Ah, thank you Felt. I’m sure I’ll enjoy myself.” She continued walking as the hatter entered the room, and I looked back one last time with mounting worry as he closed the door behind him before catching up to the woman. For a second I could hear squealing giggles from behind it before we moved on.

“So… Felt…” I began nervously. “You run this place, right?”

“That’s right,” she grinned back at me.

“And…”

“And you want to know how I know Asentual so well?”

“Well, I didn’t mean that exactly…” She turned abruptly on her heels to face me, that manic grin wider on her face.

“He’s a regular here, been coming for a while, and a hard worker. Your room’s right here.” I blinked in surprise as she knocked on the purple and red striped door for good measure.

“Wait, hard worker, what do you mean-“

“Have a wonderful time!” She pushed me through the door that she opened so abruptly and slammed it behind me. I rubbed the small of my back at her forcefulness, then looked up to see the strange room around me.

The coloration was just as strange as the rest of the building, with swirling bright colors and lead towards a massive four poster bed with lace canopy. A wardrobe stood beside it to the left, along with a set of chairs to the right with a coffee table, and a long full-length mirror standing to the side. The room was mellow and lit by warm candles that caused the strange coloration to change and shift with illusory shimmers. There was a window to the right of the bed, but the blinds were tightly shut to keep the candle glow the main illumination. The smell of incense was strong, but I couldn’t place the source. But it seemed that I was alone.

“Hello?” I called out tentatively and stood up straighter. No response. I walked along the wooden floor to the bed, investigating the soft comforters that were oddly plain beside such colorful walls. I turned my attention to the wardrobe and bit my lip.

Opening it wasn’t difficult, the wood was deceptively light. As the doors moved, I blinked in shock at the sheer calibre of various sex toys and equipment inside. Some things I’d recognized through walking in the red-light district, but some were so strange that I’d probably have to ask Asentual how they even worked. Alongside it was rope, which I already understood the sexual implications of, handcuffs, and a few other restricting pieces. Nestled beside that near the bottom were toys I couldn’t believe would fit in a woman. The size made me blanche, and I quickly closed the doors. I didn’t know the plan, but whatever it was, I hope it didn’t include things like that.

“Ah, this one is much more handsome.” The girl’s voice almost echoed as I turned to face her. Her pale brown eyes narrowed as she watched me with dark brown hair cut sharply at her shoulders. But her conventional prettiness didn’t shock me as much as the tight outfit of leather and lace that ended at the beginning of her thighs. The red-light district had shown me the most revealing parts of a woman I had ever seen. But at least her clothing was somewhat more tasteful.

“Ah, hello? Are you… my… um…”

“Oh, he is? I want to see too…” a mess of black hair poked out her head behind the other girl in the doorway. The dark green eyes watched me with a sleepy smile as she took in my face.

“Oh, a Duchess Noble. So uptight. He looks wound up to the nines.”

“He’s not so uptight if he’s here, now is he?” The girl in leather challenged. She was already walking towards me with purposeful steps and I was starting to feel strongly out of my element. “Come here, cute thing, if you chose us then I know exactly what you’d like.”

“I don’t really know what’s going on-“ I backed up until I realized I’d reached the edge of the bed behind me, but she kept going. “I had this picked out for me and I have no idea what’s going on really, I didn’t even think this would be where I-“ She pushed me down onto the bed and I flinched. The landing was soft, but it was still a surprise. And when she didn’t move off and instead pinned me down over-top, that was even more surprising. I stared at her, and there was a glint of something familiar in that feral look of hers.

“Oh? Someone picked this out for you? Who?”

“I-“

“Are you starting already? Sorry I’m late.” I glanced back at yet another girl entering the room. Her hair was nearly red but still a mahogany hue showing she was human. But it seemed she was accentuating that fact, dressing in the sluttiest version of the Queen noble fashion she could. Red ruffles that covered the small undergarments that little more than straps, leading up to a midriff embroidered with hearts and cut so low you could see the beginnings of her areolas.

“It’s alright,” The girl with long black hair smiled at her. Her outfit seemed to be more of the classic carnival style that the rest of this place had going for it. A gymnast’s uniform cut even thinner and with a few golden inlaid designs to accentuate her curves, along with some translucent silks draping over her. “She’s just playing with him.”

“Just playing?” I scoffed, and tried to squirm away from the girl in leather. It wasn’t difficult to move away. She was only human, after all. But she still ended up on my lap as I sat up in the bed with her eyes gleaming. “She nearly attacked me.”

“Of course,” She smiled. “That’s the kind of thing we do. Play, right?” She trailed a hand down my shirt towards my groin as the other two closed in on us. “We play- oh.” She pulled her hand away from my groin with a curious expression. “He’s not hard yet.”

The pseudo Queen noble blinked. “Not even looking at us?” She sat down lazily beside me and pulled me against her. I could feel her breath on my neck as she began to unbutton my shirt and I tried to ease myself into it without pulling away. It was sudden and I was growing more uncomfortable instead of less like I wanted.

“I’m sorry, I’m just… Not used to women as of late,” I admitted. The slight shiver of the girl in noble attire stroking down my chest did show there was something, at least. “I think it’d be easier if you told me your names, you know.”

“Seraph,” the girl with black hair said wispily. “Not used to women? What are you used to then?”

“I was dragged into some things by someone and things haven’t been the same since.” I looked to the girl feigning a Queen noble, who’d paused in her touch to look at me with her own curiosity. “And your name?”

“Ardent.” She smiled. “So a man, then? You had a man touch you before? What was that like, were you a top, or a bottom?”

“A man?” The girl in leather scoffed as she laid back in the bed. “So then why were we picked if you prefer cock to cunt? Call me Thrall.”

“That’s not- I didn’t pick you, I already said.” I sat up further. “Have you ever heard of Asentual? The hatter, he did this. He led me here saying that I’d enjoy this, but I’m not exactly sure why.”

“… Asentual?” Thrall’s head tilted to the side as she broke out into a starry grin. She grabbed my arm, and then there were two women sandwiching me on either side of the bed. If things hadn’t happened so quickly maybe I would have been more interested. But despite their clothes and demeanour, I just felt confused. “You’re Asentual’s plaything?”

“I wouldn’t call myself a plaything…” I felt vaguely insulted.

Seraph calmly folded herself onto my lap with her luscious hair framing a charming smile. Her long nails glided over my chin as she slowly pushed me back down onto the bed. “If you’re with Asentual, then you’re a plaything just as we all were. And I love you even more.”

“You all were Asentual’s- wait…” She glided her hand down to the nearly unearthed chest that Ardent had been slowly tugging apart and let it continue its trail down to undo the last of the buttons.

“Have you figured it out yet?” Thrall muttered by my ear, then bit it gently. The shock went straight to my cock, slowly beginning to grow now that I was beginning to understand my situation, perhaps. I gripped Seraph’s hips as she moved lower down my body. “Surely you must realize the reason you’re here, right? It’s not just that this place is his favorite for no reason.”

“Asentual supplied us,” Ardent smiled. Her fingers wrapped around the curls of my hair in a kindly way, until she tugged hard enough to make me yelp in pain. “We were taken from our families and given to Felt.”

“I know how slaving supply works,” I grumbled, shivering as Seraph began to unclasp my belt buckle. “Are you expecting sympathy from me?”

“Sympathy?” Thrall grinned. “No.”

“Then what?”

“How much do you know about Asentual, truly?” She questioned as she moved in closer. Her lips nearly touched mine, and I saw her dull human eyes more clearly than ever before.

“I probably know a lot more than you,” I murmured, and she kissed me. Her lips were sweet, and Seraph’s accompanying touch on my groin had me slowly undoing the weeks I’d spent with Hatter. My fantasies were returning and mingling with reality, and this time he wasn’t going to interrupt them.

I yelped when Thrall bit my lip hard enough to draw blood and pulled away. “You don’t seem to know that much about his work, though. If you don’t know about us.”

“About you?” I groaned as Seraph took me into her mouth. My hand found itself gripping some locks of her hair, but she was teasing me. Even as I pulled her closer, she only lapped at the head in between giggles from Ardent watching us. “What do you mean, about you? So, what, he captured you. That’s his job.”

“The hatter isn’t like other slavers,” Thrall moaned by my ear. She bit it as well, harder this time, then moved to lap at the drip of blood on my lip. “He’s careful, and gentle, leading one through things.” I thought back to the way he’d acted before, with the tavern girl. The way he had treated her in an oddly tender way. I thought he was simply showing off, but perhaps there was something behind it. There was an inkling of truth in her voice. “Something about him is different from the others. It’s not that he captures, abuses and sells us off. He trains us for people like you. Did you know, before this, I was a simple farmer’s girl?” Moving off the bed, she continued talking even as her two friends began to pleasure me from either side. I didn’t bother to contain soft groans as Ardent began to lick down my chest, while Seraph finally decided I seemed to deserve having more in her mouth. I barely noticed Thrall moving to the wardrobe as I egged on Seraph with another grunt, whispering her name and pulling her closer.

Ardent watched in amusement as I began to lose myself and moved up to seal our lips together. She tasted sweeter than Thrall, but neither of them seemed to have the same spark as my first did.. Every time Ardent pushed into the kiss and I accepted it, I kept thinking of how Asentual could have been better. How the way he would push his tongue into my mouth was almost as exciting as the sex itself. I wished I could have simply enjoyed myself more, but he had ruined me.

“I didn’t know… Didn’t ask,” I sputtered between deep and sensuous Frenching.

“That’s how most start. Simple lives, away from the insanity that Wonderlanders seem to build up in their lives. In here, you people build walls you don’t even see. And everyone has their own brand of insanity. Even you.” she glanced back at me as she opened the wardrobe. Our eyes briefly met, but then I was caught in a fit of burnt reddish hair again as Ardent pulled me in once more. She seemed determined, but I was losing the exuberance she had. Even Seraph couldn’t seem to get me into it as much as I wanted to be, and she was using her tongue expertly. She even took me completely into her mouth as if it were nothing, watching me with sparkling eyes as she slowly moved back. But I only moaned softly. It wasn’t enough.

“So Asentual saved you from boredom, is that it?” I groaned.

“Asentual kidnapped and raped us,” she corrected in a matter of fact tone. “As does every slaver that does their job.”

“Then why do you people seem to like him?” Seraph moved back on her heels and spoke softly as she wiped her mouth.

“If it weren’t for him, we would be dead by now.”

Even Ardent pulled away and began stroking my hair instead. I didn’t bother to sit up. I knew she’d push me back down if I tried, and I didn’t want to fight with her. She seemed nice enough. “He taught us how to survive with these kinds of positions. The other slavers just break in the girls and send them on their way with no experience and a life expectancy lower than any other slave. No one talks about the ones that get thrown away, but they do. And there’s always a replacement waiting in the wings. It’s why it’s such a booming profession, capturing human women. Convenience and constant refills.” I tried to ignore the growing lump in the pit of my stomach.

“Why are you spoiling the mood with such kind of talk?” I muttered. “We should be enjoying ourselves right now.”

“Well, I tried,” Seraph mused. “But you keep getting soft again. Thrall, what’s taking you long?”

“Just perusing,” the girl in leather called back. I twisted my head around and went pale as I saw what she had in her hands. In one, she held one of the largest of the dildos in there that I had brushed off as novelty, and in the other a set of thick rope.

“I don’t know what you’re intending but if you’d like me to use those on you, I’m not particularly interested…” She waved off my nervousness.

“Asentual picked this particular session for you, so I have a feeling I know what kind of person you are. Your fear masks anticipation. It’s cute, really.” She grinned at me, and I turned away abruptly with a slight flush.

“Oh, he’s hard again!” Seraph twittered as she moved back to me, and I shuddered against the languid licking of her tongue. She closed her mouth around me again, then bobbed deeply until I could feel myself at the edge of her throat and was aching to plunge in deeper. But again, she held back every time my hips tried to buck into her.

“The conclusion of all of this, really,” Thrall finally continued as she walked back towards the bed. The rope was in her hands. “Is that you’re Asentual’s. And while we tend to enjoy pummeling those naïve nobles that request dominance like us, we’d rather be kind to you.”

“Dominance… You’re supposed to be… I’m not-“ I tried to consider my words carefully, “I’m not into this sort of thing…”

“Well, then it’ll be fun for us anyways, won’t it?”

“But I-“

“Ardent, stretch him out on the bed. And make sure he’s fully undressed.”

“Yes, Thrall~” Her voice was light as she pressed close to my side. “I promise we’ll be gentle. You’re easily stronger than us. But we just want to make you feel good, okay?”

“I…” Her voice sounded so convincing, sweet even. She reminded me of someone familiar. My sister had always had a way with words… “Alright… Fine… But bugger me if you’re going to use that giant cock over there, don’t come anywhere near me with that.”

“Oh course,” She smiled again. “We won’t do that. I promise.” Seraph stood up from where she’d been on the floor by the bed, and Ardent moved me properly into the warm and comforting blankets until my head was at the pillow and I was spread eagle and nude. Watching them ogle me was more than a little embarrassing.

“He is quite handsome, you know,” Seraph crooned. “Nice jaw. A little thin, but handsome.”

“Don’t get sidetracked with that.” Thrall drew closer with the rope in hand and a strange gleam in her eyes. Against my better judgement, I remained still.

I lay wild-eyed as she expertly tied me to the bed and around my body. The feelings of the knots against my skin were strange and the tightness was almost uncomfortable. But it was like before, with Asentual, and I didn’t dislike it. There was some kind of arousal that came with it, and I resigned myself to letting her do as she please. My cock was stirring again. It was constantly reacting to them, up and down, sometimes enjoying what they did, and sometimes I felt my mind wandering over and over again. I couldn’t find myself comfortable enough to let go with them. Every time, there would be a reason for me to stop and think back to something else. But the way they looked at me now as Thrall stepped away was titillating in its own way again. I didn’t know how to describe the feeling about the way the three of them watched me, like eagles looking at prey.

“So many things we could do to him,” said Thrall. “So defenseless. Even if he is Asentual’s, his face is just so… You want to see it twisted in pain, you know?” I gulped and that feeling intensified.

“Don’t be like that,” Ardent warned. “I promised we’d be gentle, remember?”

“Yeah, but Asentual practically gave him to us. Who’s to say this isn’t some kind of test to see just how much damage we could do? The knots are nice and tight, he’s not going anywhere.”

“Oh, you’re murderous, Thrall~” Seraph spoke smoothly, and her cool tone gave me a shiver of worry.

“Whatever you do, I know the owner of this establishment,” I warned tentatively. “I-I’m the Right Hand of the Duchess. I could easily get this place shut down, you know, if you tried anything debilitating.”

“Debilitating?” Thrall questioned. “Why, I wouldn’t say talking some cock such as the one I was ogling would be such a thing. Just a little painful, and since when did pain have to be exclusive from pleasure?” A small whimper escaped from my throat at the thought.

“Please. Don’t. That could actually do harm. I told you I wasn’t interested…” The girl in leather drew closer with those eyes mirrored like Asentual’s, if considerably more dull. I closed my eyes tightly and flinched.

She whispered by my ear.

“Your crying makes me want to hurt you even more.”

But as she drew another breath, the door to the room opened swiftly.

“Well, it seems like I’m interrupting something, now aren’t I?” Asentual’s voice was like music in my ears. I struggled to see him, but the rope was tied too tightly and I was trapped only able to crane my neck as far as I could. I caught a glimpse of the red mop of hair and black top hat, but that was all I could.

“Sensi!” The girls all squealed and Thrall left my side in an instant. I winced harder against the ropes until the ones around my neck caused me to choke, and saw all three of them covering the hatter in a massive hug. I lay back with a sigh.

“Your girls are insane, Asentual,” I growled, and heard a laugh from him.

“Oh, they were just enjoying you as much as I do. I’m glad they had you all prepared for me though. What were you planning, you three?” His voice took on a parental scolding tone. “Bondage like this? It’s a little overkill, is it not?”

“Well, I wanted to try some things out on him,” Thrall’s voice was almost childlike now. Incredibly different from the evil drawl it’d had before. “That’s not so bad, is it?”

“As much as I love to watch you experiment, sweetheart, I don’t believe Benji’s ready for quite your level just yet. I’m helping him along the way. Not to mention, this is the last night I have with him, and I’d like him not to be scarred.” She sighed in frustration but sounded resigned.

“Alright. Well, he’s tied up and ready for you. Would you like us here?”

“Please, we’d love to be here with you,” Ardent added.

“But he didn’t seem all that fascinated with us,” chimed in Seraph. “He didn’t enjoy my mouth that much…”

“I think you three have done enough.” I felt myself relax at that. Knowing I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by them was a weight off my shoulders. “You’re dressed him up all ready for me, so I’ll make sure to put in a good word. But you three can have the rest of your shift off. I’d rather have him alone, I think.”

There was a chorus of disagreement, but in the end he had them flocking away out the door and closed it behind him with another chuckle. I heard it click as the lock was put in place, and then we were alone.

Alone with Asentual.

I could feel my heart beat faster.

Chapter Text

“Well Benji, it looks like you’ve got yourself in a bit of a bind,” he laughed as he walked towards me, and I finally saw him in my line of vision. His hair was more distraught than usual, and he took off his hat to lay it to the side of the bed as he sat down to watch me. I flushed darker when his eyes flicked down my body.

“This wasn’t exactly my choice, you know. Those girls are dangerous. But I suppose that’s why you picked them.”

“I thought you would enjoy their personalities,” he said offhandedly as he trailed a finger along the lines of rope down my chest. “And I wanted some time addressing Felt’s newest additions.” I suppressed a shiver at his touch and felt my eyes draw closed. Even the lightest touch had me reacting somehow. I felt vulnerable with the ropes tightly gripping me against the bed and unable to move, and all that was left was Asentual to do what he pleased. I should have been upset, or annoyed as always but… There was something inside me.

A need to obey.

“They said that you were the one to enslave and bring them here. Did you want me to learn that about you? You could have just told me,” I said while trying to focus. His moving to my erection wasn’t helping.

“I suppose I just preferred you hearing it out of someone else’s mouth.” He tilted his head to the side as he sat down beside him. Stroking up my leg slowly built up my anticipation.

“Why, you think I wouldn’t believe you?”

“Well, the kind of things I do, most people think I’d do by force. And in a way, I do. But not to the extent that others might.” He moved up my thigh and ghosted a hand along my shaft, making me shiver and arch towards him. So focused was he on the ropes that had me bound that when he stroked up past to my stomach, he almost forgot to look at me. “Do you understand?”

“You aren’t as intimidating as you make yourself out to be,” I answered tentatively, and he smiled.

“I do my own to keep sane in this world. Reveling in insanity only works for so long before it drags.” I watched him carefully as he moved closer until he was nearly on me and slowly making his way closer with his shimmering yellow eyes.

“You’re saying you’re some kind of saint?” I joked.

“I’m a bad person with the inkling of a conscience. There’s a difference.” He pressed his lips to mine and there was an electricity between us that I knew no woman prostitute could ever copy. Only him, and someone else I refused to think about. I didn’t focus on Wyvern. I focused on the way Asentual pressed himself against me, making me desperately want to pull him closer. I focused on the way his eyes stared into mine hungrily and almost dared me to kiss him harder.

“You were upset with Wyvern-“ He tried to continue, but I stopped him with another kiss, straining up to reach him.

“I’ve put that out of my mind.” He grabbed my hair and pulled me back down to the bed with a smirk.

“I’m saying that I wasn’t exactly being truthful about letting the world be as it is. I do my part to stay sane… Whatever that means. And in the process, I’m given a reliable sum of money every time I bring back an entertainment girl or someone for general labour. I did this to ease your mind.”

My eyes widened as he licked over my neck. “You did this because of him… Not just for us to have a night like this…”

“I wanted you to feel better about things; that not everything lacks in justice. Did it work?” I stared at for a moment, then my eyes softened as I broke out into a shy smile.

“I don’t know. You haven’t fucked me yet, so I don’t know if I’m completely feeling better.”

He was shocked for a moment, but then he grinned from ear to ear as he leaned down again. I could barely breath; he was kissing me so hard without any chance to break apart for air. I pushed back just as hard as he pushed into me. The rough rope was digging into my neck and wrists but I pulled against it anyways. I wanted to touch him, grip him and feel his hair in my hands but the damned restraints were in the way. They bit into me, but he seemed to like them just as much as that girl had. He breathed harder the closer we got, for once nearly lost in things. I thought he might actually moan, but he pulled away too quickly and was back to watching me with an easy smirk to instead look at what he had done to me.

I took the time to catch my breath. There was no point in hiding my erection beaded with pre-cum and aching for attention, or the sweat that beaded down my arms and neck. I could do nothing to attend to myself, and he knew it. He loved it. His eyes were dark and bright at the same time.

“The girls said you couldn’t get hard.”

“Looks like they just weren’t trying hard enough,” I smiled tentatively, but he laughed.

“Looks more like I’ve ruined you, haven’t I dog?” Caressing down my chest and over my abdomen, I arched against his touch. It wasn’t helping my argument, but there was no reason to hide anyway. He seemed to know more about me than I knew of myself. He’d never been quiet about that either.

“It’s not my fault. You’re too persuasive.” He tugged my hair harder and went back to biting up my neck until he reached my ear, whispering against it.

“But you’ve been pliable enough to allow me to do as I wished. As much as you’ve fought against me, in the end you’ve been happy to be a part of our endeavours.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” I reached out to lick at his nape. “All the things you’ve thrown me into, and pushed me into… In the end I’ve… I’ve…”

“Wanted it?”

“Wanted you.” I locked eyes with him. He seemed almost taken aback for a second, then went to the side of the bed and stood up. Worriedly, I began to struggle.

“You can’t expect me not to have feelings for you when you’ve pushed me so far into this.”

“You told me you loved me, dog. I remember.”

“I know but…” I sighed, and lay back as he walked out of sight. “I’m worried that every time I try to tell you that, you push me back away at an arm’s length in your mind.” I flushed slightly when I heard the wardrobe door to the various toys open. A soft humming tune picked up from him as he perused the items.

“Whatever you’re thinking, I’m probably not-“

“After all that talk of liking what we do together even if it takes some convincing? Dog, you better believe I’ll pick something I know you’ll like. As for the loving part, well…” The sound of the wardrobe closing was accompanied with his footsteps returning to the bed. “I can’t say it in as many words, but… Maybe.”

“Maybe? After months of travel with me and all we’ve been through-“

“Don’t push me into it, dog.” His rough grip on my hair turned into a hand at my neck pushing down harshly as he jumped back onto the bed and I winced back. The choking grip sent familiar sparks down my chest and over my abdomen, but there was a fear accompanying it as I stared at him again. Maybe I’d pushed him too far. I shouldn’t have constantly pushed him into saying it. It was just words. He climbed over me and sat by my legs with one hand under my adam’s apple and tightening with each passing moment. But his touches, though they made me nervous, were completely calculated. He didn’t hold me much longer. As he let go and I began to cough, he went back to stroking my hair.

“Ow…” I grumbled.

“You’re harder than ever, peacock. I can feel it against my leg.” He grinned as he cocked his head to the side, and I reddened.

“It’s still a little terrifying to choke your partner, even if they get off on it.”

“It’ll be a little more terrifying when I try this out on you.” He grinned wider as he held up what he’d been holding behind his back. The novelty dildo made me pale.

“You can’t be serious,” I whimpered. “That’s a joke, right? Thrall made the same one.”

“No, not a joke. I think you could manage it. You just need to relax, and I know that you’d be surprised of what you’re capable of.” I began to protest, but he put a hand over my mouth quickly, and picked something else up from behind him to bring back around. A ball gag that he was quick to apply even among my muffled growls of annoyance. I licked at his hand, but he didn’t seem to react at all, and I didn’t particularly want to bite him. In the end I was stuck with that thing in my mouth glaring at him half-heartedly.

There was a pit in my stomach at what he could do to me, but the confidence in his actions reassured me somewhat. To be so sure he wouldn’t hurt me coupled with everything else we’d already done relaxed me somewhat. And when he returned to kissing down my chest and probing my entrance, I was already forgiving him.

He moved slower than usual. In no rush to do what he wanted to me, he took his time with great pleasure as he licked over my chest while his fingers made slow work on stretching me out. He moved from two to three and pulled them apart inside of me as I moaned through the gag. The strange opening feeling made me squirm and simultaneously press back for more. I arched back for him to make him move harder, more, anything to help keep up the pleasure building in my stomach. When he brushed up against my cock, that pushed me further.

I couldn’t say anything with the ball gag, but I was almost thankful for it. If it wasn’t there, I’d probably be begging him for more. How careful and tactful he was with his fingers, touching parts of me that made me feel electric, it was the most amazing feeling. And to top off him pushing in further and further were eyes that never left me. Yellow ones that shook my soul and made me feel truly vulnerable. I wasn’t sure what I saw was love. But passion, absolutely.

I loved it.

I think I at least truly loved him.

“Benji, you’re taking four now,” he whispered by my ear. Somehow, him using my real name made it feel all the more intimate. It barely hurt. He was using something by the side of the bed every time he tried to push more inside. I couldn’t see it, but I guessed it was lubricant. That made me relax more; at least he wasn’t completely insane. “Do you want to try it now? Or maybe my fist…” I reddened considerably and quickly shook my head reflexively. He chuckled to himself.

“Too afraid to do something like that? Well, it is quite the jump. But I think, perhaps, you could manage it.” I shook my head again. I would break.

“Fine, then. Let’s just try me for now. And then maybe you’ll be even more loose.” He removed his fingers, and I flushed darker as he untied his pants. His erection briefly caught on it, but then his pants were off and he was stroking it lightly as he angled it towards me. Again, his eyes weren’t on what he was doing but on me with a small grin as he watched me grow redder and redder the closer he got. He connected with me at the head and the slosh of the lubricant hit my ears and my face reddened further in embarrassment.

He didn’t care. He thrust hard, connecting us quickly with a familiar feeling that I always seemed to want more of as he simultaneously gripped my cock and stroked it at the same pace as his thrusts. Dropping down to tug the skin of my neck with his teeth, he wasted no time in moving, chuckling softly as I groaned by his ear. His canines almost seemed cat like as he grinned and bit by my shoulder with a slight pain that gave me less than a second of clarity before I was back into a haze of pleasure.

He was unstoppable. I had the urge to pull my legs together and connect them behind his back. But I was still stuck like a star splayed out for him while he did what he pleased knowing full well I wanted it just as much. I just wanted it to be more intimate, though I was too preoccupied to say anything.

I tried to rock back against him with as much as the ropes would allow, and he chuckled in amusement. He seemed to find this whole idea amusing. He kept his eyes open as he thrust into my form, watching as I screwed my face up in an orgasm swiftly approaching. “So quickly, dog?” He smirked slyly. I could do little more than whimper at a white-hot pleasure when he moved into a certain position and tilted my head back as I tried to scream through the gag.

“I’m hitting something particularly sensitive, so forgive me if it’s difficult for you to retain your mind. I do love it when you lose yourself.”

He demanded my neck again and I gave it too him, baring it as he lapped over the sweat accumulating and nipping at the tendon of my nape for good measure. He was all the way inside me, I could feel it. Every push into me, we connected completely, and I ached for it every time. The way he split me apart left me breathless. He’d move quickly, then slow enough that I though perhaps I’d get a chance of reprise, but then he’d move back to a speed I couldn’t keep up with and merely be along for the ride. I closed my eyes as another wave hit. I could feel him everywhere on and in me.

“Tighten on me, Benji. I want to feel you come. You’re close, aren’t you.” I was. But in the back of my mind I wished he was losing himself too. Barely out of breath, focused only on me and my own pleasure, this seemed to be the only thing he was interested in. I was willing to give it to him.

I finished on my stomach and in his hand in blinding sharp pleasure. Shaky and unable to feel my feet, he licked at my neck for a moment as he continued his thrusts and built up towards his own release. He was growing close too, but he still had some ways to go. In the mean time he licked down my chest towards the stream of semen I’d made. I watched with a dark flush as he lapped away at it, cleaning me until all that remained was saliva. Then he looked up at me with another deep push inside, and grinned with a breathy chuckle at my expression.

“You taste lovely today, dog.” He was finished a few minutes later in a slight huff, holding himself up as he watched me. My eyes were half closed and my brain and body numb as he pulled out slowly and with it removed the gag on me. “I think I prefer you talking.”

“I don’t know if I can…” I breathed harshly.

“You are now. So what do you think, do you want to try it?”

“Try what?” I blinked at him in a daze.

“The dildo. I want to see if I can really do a number on you~”

“I…” I couldn’t think properly, I felt so numb and pleasantly spent. I nodded without much thought to it and lay back with a dreamy smile. That quickly disappeared when I felt the probing of something being pressed at my entrance. A rather large something that had my eyes flying open quickly and gasping as the hatter returned to my side with a stranger, colder expression as he gently kissed over my chest. The thing was massive in the way it pressed against me. Even with all he had done I could feel myself starting to flinch away in fear as he probed it further. He murmured something soft and sweet by my ear, but I could barely hear it over the roaring of blood.

“Benji, dog, calm down.” He finally got through to me when he bit my ear, and I let out a breath. “I’m right here, and I’m not going to hurt you. I promise you, you’ll enjoy this.”

“I’m sorry…” I heaved softly. “I know I probably will… It’s just… I think about how you showed it off to me and there’s no way something like that would fit.”

“I’ve already got the head in.” He grinned, and I paled. “Didn’t you feel that? How numb are you? Did I fuck you that loose?~”

“Shut up and put the rest inside already.”

“Barking orders at me?” He laughed, and pressed a kiss to my cheek before biting down gently on my ear as he slowly began to push the large insertion closer. I could barely feel it at first, but now it was noticeable. I closed my eyes against the feeling of the stretch that sent strange twinges of pleasure down my spine. He wasn’t wrong about what he’d said, the feeling was almost as good as him. Better, even. He was big enough to be satisfying, but this was an overwhelming girth. I groaned out and he purred against my throat as he kept going, pushing further against my discomfort that was drowned out by pleasure. I didn’t know the exact size, but I remembered what he’d shown me. The fear that had been pooling in my stomach at taking something that big was quickly turning into its own masochistic pleasure as I ground back against it for more. He was more than happy to keep going and even with the pain constantly threatening to make me stop him I was still panting breathlessly calling for more.

In between twinging and flinching and liberal amounts of lubricant, I could hear him by me, offering words of encouragement. “You’re nearly there, you know. You’re doing well.” His eyes lit up at a curious thought. “How does it feel? Tell me.” I breathed out harshly as he pushed it in further and twisted it before pulling it back out and repeating.

“It’s good… I don’t… Don’t know how to explain it…” He twisted it again and I let out a whimper. “Hurts, kind of… But in a good way…”

“I didn’t want it to hurt. Are you sure you’re alright?” He paused, and I nodded quickly as I ground back against it to make up for the lack of movement.

“I’m fine… Please, more…”

“So needy dog, ordering me around just to get your rocks off,” He teased as he thrust it into me again and I arched back against it sharply as I moaned. My toes curled as I tilted my head back and he bit gently over my jaw before laying into another kiss. Gentle above while brutally moving the thing below and I could barely stand it, I was shaking and moaning against his mouth as he tried to kiss me. Our tongues tangled together and I felt an electric shudder from him but he pulled away before I could press the same button twice. He focused only on me, on pounding the thing away at me and on that leaking cock of mine that had grown painfully hard again. My breath hitched when he touched it with his free hand. His grin grew as I let out a louder moan the more he played with it, until he was stroking it just as fast as he was pushing that thing inside me.

I gripped the ropes holding me down on the bed and gritted my teeth when he pushed further but the growing pain tapered off as he stroked me quicker, carefully tugging around the tip. He made me lose my mind completely when he pushed back into a mind-numbing kiss. I tightened around the thing and shuddered in ecstasy as I finally came again with heaving and desperate breaths. I glanced from the wetness dripping from his hands to his face. His eyes were soft as he watched me, sweet even. It startled me to see him in such a way.

“Sensi?” I blinked at him while catching my breath.

“Mhm?” He ducked away to untie my restraints and slowly removed the dildo as carefully as he could, but there was still some unavoidable pain he clearly didn’t enjoy. It was almost funny how much he seemed to want me to only like it, when I had enjoyed the pain almost as much as the arousal. As he freed my arms and legs, I rolled the joints to get feeling back into them. He got the neck last, and rubbed it for me as I coughed from the prolonged strain.

“You just seemed… Nevermind.”

“Right. Are you going to ruminate on that as well, then?” He raised an eyebrow as he watched me but I simply rolled his eyes and lay back on my side away from him.

“Forget it,” I said softly. But he pulled me back into him before I could mope with a slight purr rumbling at the edge of his throat. His warmth against my back took away the stress and I leaned into him with all beginnings of annoyance gone in an instant. “You just looked like you were going to say you loved me for a minute there.”

“Did I?” He murmured against my nape, and I turned to him. He still had his strange shirt on, and I made short work of that before pulling him closer against me. My heartbeat was still slightly fast against his chest and I knew he could feel it. His was quick too, but still steady and rapidly slowing.

“Maybe it was just my imagination,” I sighed.

“I…" He paused for a long, agonizing second. "I Love you, Benji,” he whispered by my ear and I froze against him. “I’m sorry I can be an ass about it. I don’t like thinking that way. My job is fucking people and selling them, and my life is practically orgy after orgy. That’s just the way I’ve learned to live. I don’t want to risk telling you that I love you because I’m… Worried that you’ll want me to become something I’m not. I don't do loving.”

“You keep saying I’m the thick one, but you’re taking the lead, you know.” I smiled slightly and moved closer to gently place a kiss on his jaw. “I know you can’t change for me. I get that. I know you most likely fucked those girls in the next room over while I was busy dealing with those three. It doesn’t bother me. Not to mention, if this isn't loving, then I don't know what is.”

“Are you sure?” He watched me closely. “I don’t want you to feel like you’re being measured up against others. Though I’m almost certain you’d win, by the way.” I flushed slightly and pressed my face by his neck.

“I’m sure. And if we’re going to be separated for months on end, then it doesn’t make sense to keep me shackled to you, now does it?”

“Oh, sweet dog.” He tugged at a lock of my curls. “You’re not a prison to me. You’re fun, and interesting, and more than anything I love to play with you.” I ignored the blush at that last part and clung to him instead with a purr brewing in my throat. I wanted to memorize as much as I could of him. The way he smelled, his chest, his arms. And his eyes. I don’t think I’d ever forget them.

“I don’t want to leave you.” I blinked up at him. “I don’t want to go back to the daily life I had before. I don’t even think it would be possible after all we’ve done.”

“You’ve have to,” he sighed. “I’ll visit as often as I can. And perhaps the Duchess will be lenient with us going on our own adventures under the guise of official business. It’s possible. This isn’t the end.”

“It feels like the end…”

“Benji, there doesn’t have to be an end. I don’t want it to end, do you?” He gently tilted my chin up to his. Though taller, I lay in the bed slightly below him. I wondered if he’d done it purposely to seem taller than me. The thought made me smile.

“I don’t want it to end either.”

“Then it won’t. We still have the rest of the night to do what we want, and we’ll do it however we want.”

“What if I simply want to cuddle with you for the rest of the night?” I questioned. “How would you feel about that?”

“I’d respect your decision for at least the next hour.” He grinned at me teasingly. “And then I’d find a way to change your mind.”

“Torturer,” I chuckled as I kissed him again. “You’re not even going to let me sleep tonight?”

“Perhaps an hour, maybe two. Three if I’m feeling particularly generous.”

“Oh, thank you, master, I am not worthy.” I rolled my eyes, but his eyes gleamed strangely and I suppressed a gulp.

“Master. I like it.”

“Don’t get any ideas.”

“No, no it’s like a step up from sir. You should call me master from now on.”

“Stop!” I groaned. “I barely even call you sir as it is…”

“And that is a neglected problem that needs addressing, obviously.”

“If we’re going to change the things I call you, then we can get rid of you calling me dog, too, right?” He frowned.

“You don’t like dog?” I almost chuckled at the near whimper of a sentence.

“No, it’s fine, I’m sorry. Dog is fine. Loyalty, right?”

“Right.” He was quick to brighten again. “Loyal. And always on his knees.”

“… Never change, hatter.”