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Edgeworth stands in his study and stubbornly resists the urge to stare at the clock.

What's about to happen is not the kind of thing to be held to the strictures of a timepiece. He's still a little surprised that it's happening at all. It most definitely wouldn't be happening without the persuasive powers of one Athena Cykes, but she has the kind of bubbly personality and self-assurance that allows one to decide a thing is a done deal and then make it so.

Certainly, she had already made up her mind when she approached Edgeworth. "It's just that he thinks he owes you for saving his life," she told him.

"He can think that if he likes, but it's clear to everyone else that it was a team effort," he said. "Why me and not Wright? Or yourself?"

"Wright beat him in court, so he thinks they're square," she said. "And I get what I want out of him all the time."

"And this is to be my turn?" he said, crossing his arms.

"Everybody gets a ride," she said with a grin, and he scoffed, but he didn't say no. Then Athena didn't say no when he told her what he really wanted, and here they are.

Or rather, here Edgeworth is, with a clock that refuses to move any faster.

"Knock knock," a voice says, and Edgeworth turns to see the door half-open, with Athena's head poking through the opening. "Are you ready?"

"I merely await your word," he says, and she disappears from view again, though she doesn't shut the door. He hears a few hurried whispers, but they're too soft to make out any words.

A few seconds later, she leads Blackquill in; he's wearing a collar and a pair of black trousers, nothing else. His eyes appear to be downcast, but with his bangs, it's impossible to really tell. Attached to the collar is a leash, which extends down to Athena's fist. There's slack in it, like he's being guided but not coming unwillingly. Edgeworth is reminded of an illustration he saw once, a girl and her pet monster, dangerous yet tamed, but only for her.

She brings Blackquill into the center of the room and puts a hand on his shoulder, pulling down. Blackquill lets her force him to his knees, but he's still on the balls of his feet, in a pose that Edgeworth feels like he recognizes from what little he knows about martial arts.

"Seiza," Athena says. Blackquill looks discomfited, but he settles fully. She bends down, speaking into his ear. Edgeworth can't hear what she's saying, but Blackquill seems to relax just the slightest bit. She runs a hand over his hair, looking for all the world like she's gentling a horse, but finally she straightens.

"Are you ready?" Edgeworth asks.

Athena unclips the leash, winding it around her hand. "He's all yours," she says. "You'll be giving him back in one piece."

She doesn't just mean physically, but her posture says that her response will be physical if he dares to damage her property. "I won't cause any harm," Edgeworth says. "Of that, you can be sure."

"Maravilloso," Athena says, with a bright smile. She runs her hand over Blackquill's hair one more time, then she takes her leave, her hips swaying as she walks away.

Blackquill is watching her go, and Edgeworth sees him take a breath, centering himself before he turns back to Edgeworth. "What would you have of me?" he asks.

"Give me a moment to deliberate," Edgeworth says. Blackquill clearly doesn't like that answer, but he doesn't respond; instead he clutches the fabric of his pants, clenching his hand into a fist like he's using it to focus his rage. "She does have you trained, doesn't she."

"I do as my mistress commands," he says, and it sounds rote, an article of faith repeated so many times that it's been worn slick.

"Did your mistress command you to come to me?" Edgeworth asks. Blackquill hesitates, and he seizes upon it. "Or did you beg your mistress to let you come?"

"You'll find that I don't beg," Blackquill says snidely.

"I really don't believe that," Edgeworth says. "I'm merely trying to gauge your willingness to be here."

Blackquill's head snaps up. "She would never force me to do something like this against my will."

"Then I have my answer," Edgeworth says. Blackquill frowns, seemingly realizing he's been outfoxed, but if Edgeworth can't outfox his subordinates, he doesn't deserve his position. "Do you have some idea that I'll turn you away or leave you unfulfilled just because you wanted to come? I'm just attempting to get the lay of the land."

"I'm here to pay a debt," Blackquill says.

"Now we're getting somewhere," Edgeworth says. He walks around Blackquill, letting his finger trail across his broad shoulders. "And no amount of me telling you that you owe me nothing will have any effect at all."

"I do owe you," Blackquill says.

"Then let's take that as read, shall we?" Edgeworth says. "The question is, if you're here to offer me recompense, what are you willing to do to pay down your debt?"

"Everything you want," Blackquill says, with an unshakeable certainty.

"That's a dangerous thing to be offering," Edgeworth says.

Blackquill looks up at him; Edgeworth can just see his eyes beneath his bangs, and there is a look of fire in them that almost takes him aback. Blackquill is an interesting one, to be sure, but he seems completely serious about his commitment in this.

"And I'm offering it," Blackquill says.

"I want it stated now, for the record, that you are offering me this of your free volition," Edgeworth says. "I did not coerce you or drive you to this, even if you have some idea that you have an obligation."

"I'm offering myself freely," Blackquill says, his fist clenching again.

"Then I find myself wanting to accept," Edgeworth says, and he sees Blackquill relax just the smallest fraction. He walks around Blackquill again, taking him in from all angles. He's lean and well-muscled, but he looks so much smaller without his courtroom attire, his armor. "I've had a talk with your mistress." Blackquill doesn't respond, except to tense again. "She was very particular about her demands concerning your well-being."

Blackquill huffs. "She's overly concerned."

"You'd be surprised at what she'll let me do to you," Edgeworth says. Blackquill's hair, as requested, is in a bun, and Edgeworth grabs it and pulls, fast enough that it clearly surprises him. It leaves Blackquill looking up at him. "I won't let you come to harm. That, I swore." He pulls harder, making Blackquill's back bend uncomfortably. "I can do many things to you that will hurt or scare you without ever causing any real damage."

"I'm ready," Blackquill says.

"You're not," Edgeworth says. "But I regret to inform you that it's not going to stop me."

Blackquill is breathing heavily now, and Edgeworth studies him. He knows Blackquill came here expecting all of this to be sexual; Athena said as much, but she only grinned when Edgeworth was forthright about what he really wanted.

"Do you happen to know why I accepted this arrangement?" Edgeworth says, releasing Blackquill's hair. "I was intrigued by the offer of whatever I wanted, and I sensed a perfect opportunity. My tastes are, you see-" He laughs. "Uncommon? Or perhaps more common than anyone wants to admit, but decidedly taboo." Blackquill is about to say something, but Edgeworth puts a hand on his shoulder, pressing down in warning. "It's been years since I was able to find a convenient recipient."

Edgeworth walks around in front of him. He puts his fingers under Blackquill's chin, tipping it up. "So I will allow you to discharge whatever debt you believe you have to me by taking what I give you until I am satisfied," he says. "I'm not doing this for your benefit. This is my purely selfish desire to exploit an advantageous situation I have found myself in."

Blackquill seems to relax at that, which Edgeworth can't quite parse. "I will do whatever you ask," he says.

"Let's test that, shall we?" Edgeworth says. "Get up."

Blackquill rises to his feet immediately. Edgeworth is not short, but Blackquill outstrips him by several inches, a thing that's obvious now that they're face to face. Blackquill stands proudly, almost like he's challenging Edgeworth, daring him to find fault.

"Against the wall," Edgeworth says, pointing to the empty space on one side of the room. "Brace yourself on your hands, feet shoulder width apart." If Blackquill finds this odd, he doesn't say anything, assuming the position instead. "You are, of course, familiar with red, yellow, and green?"

"Of course," Blackquill says, and Edgeworth can hear how much he wants to roll his eyes.

"Just a precaution," Edgeworth says. He runs his hands up Blackquill's naked back, getting a feel for him. "Miss Cykes and I have already negotiated, and she was quite comprehensive."

"I abide by what she says," Blackquill says, with a certainty clearly born from a mix of hubris and trust.

"Your mistress doesn't like pain, I am informed," Edgeworth says conversationally.

Blackquill laughs. "If you're asking whether she puts me through my paces-"

"Oh, I have no doubt that she does," Edgeworth says. "The comment was not meant as inflammatory, merely an observation."

"She chooses to avail herself of me in other ways," Blackquill says, and he almost sounds like he's bragging.

"I suspect she and I will overlap in places, but not often," Edgeworth says. Blackquill jumps when Edgeworth smacks him; he's expecting neither the blow nor the fact that it comes to his upper back, which is interesting. "I am certain she makes judicious use of psychology in your interactions, whereas my interests are a bit more physical."

"If you'd just hurry up and get to them-" Blackquill says, but he's jerked backwards when Edgeworth grabs his hair again, tugging sharply.

"You'll find that I don't take too kindly to being rushed," Edgeworth says. "Perhaps the only sort of psychology I find particularly useful in this sort of situation is delay tactics. What's the point if I can't make you dangle a bit?"

Blackquill doesn't respond to that, which is probably smart of him. Edgeworth lays his forearm along Blackquill's spine, reacquainting himself with the zones he'll need to hit and avoid. It's coming back to him easily, and he wonders if this will continue, if it will be a thing he can slip on comfortably again. Blackquill doesn't seem to follow what he's doing, but that's fine. Let him stay confused.

Edgeworth steps back, walking to his bag and unzipping it. His floggers, a lovingly curated selection that he has had at least one awkward conversation with airport security about, are waiting for him. He considers his options, then carefully selects a few, laying them out in the correct order for what he wants.

"I'm going to gauge your reactions first," Edgeworth says. He makes a figure-eight motion with the first flogger, admiring how easily it moves, the balance of it perfect. "This is my way of calibration, so I'd suggest that you not take this as some sort of indication of what you're in for. I just want to see what you do before I jump straight to ripping you to shreds."

Blackquill takes a breath, and Edgeworth watches as he steels himself. "I'm ready."

Edgeworth moves into position. He prefers a mid-length flogger, good for control and distance, and he sets himself where he'll need to be. Blackquill is taller than him, but it shouldn't be hard to compensate for; that makes him a bigger target, after all.

Blackquill jumps when the falls hit his back, but more from surprise than anything else; Edgeworth is deliberately holding back, starting with a flogger made of soft, thin hide. He suspects that Blackquill will hate it, though it is a very nice toy. It's the sort of thing for a sensual player, someone who likes a slow warmup, and nothing about Blackquill's personality suggests that he would enjoy that. Blackquill doesn't need to know that Edgeworth started with it so that he can get his own bearings; it would be hard to injure him with this one, so it's perfect to dial in with, make sure his aim is still true enough for the heavier fare.

Blackquill is stoic for the moment, receiving the blows without comment, and Edgeworth wonders what he must be thinking. He doesn't know how much of the game Athena gave away, whether Blackquill walked into this completely unprepared, but surprising him with it seems like a thing she'd find delightful.

Edgeworth has barely gotten warmed up when Blackquill starts to squirm. Quite quickly, he grows visibly impatient, and his breathing reminds Edgeworth of the huffing of a bull.

"Your concerns are noted," he says wryly, but he does put down his flogger, reaching for his next selection. This one is a standard cowhide, which is a standard for a reason, even beyond being cheap. He can get considerably rougher with this one, which also means he needs to watch his swings more carefully.

Blackquill is not paying enough attention, possibly still annoyed at him, and he lets out a gasp at the feel of the second flogger slapping against his skin. Edgeworth hits him again and again, and Blackquill groans. His head bows, and for a moment Edgeworth is concerned that he might have hit him in the ear; Blackquill rounds his shoulders, presenting for more, and Edgeworth knows it's so much better, the beginnings of surrender.

Blackquill is not as silent as Edgeworth thought he might be. He doesn't speak, but he's not taking it stoically anymore. He groans when Edgeworth lands a particularly heavy blow, so Edgeworth does it again. This is what he's been missing, the back and forth, the pleasure of getting under someone's skin. It satisfies something deep and dark within him when Blackquill cries out; the rush of it is electric, with a fundamental rightness to it. He deserves to be doing this. It's not so much that he has earned it, rather that it is his by fiat, belonging to him simply through the force of his will.

Blackquill is panting now, and Edgeworth thinks it's time to up the ante. He stops, walking forward; Blackquill hisses when Edgeworth claps him on the back, a thing he did on purpose. "Color."

"Green," Blackquill says, without hesitation.

"Then let's proceed," Edgeworth says.

He moves quickly, wanting Blackquill to have a brief respite but not enough time to regain his proverbial footing. What Edgeworth has for him next is the sort of thing to sort the wheat from the chaff, but he suspects Blackquill can handle it. This may be new for him, but he's taking it beautifully, especially when he probably thought he came here to be used in a completely different way.

Edgeworth picks up the third flogger; it's considerably heavier than the other two, made of a thick moose leather. Based on the way things are going, he thinks he's fine to swing it, but he practices momentarily, getting a feel for the weight of it. He has to put more of his muscle behind it, unable to make it swish through the air with just the strength of his forearm, but it still moves beautifully.

He considers warning Blackquill, because that would be the polite thing to do. He is, however, a sadist, and in the pursuit of that, he often abandons his usual politesse. Blackquill jerks when the flogger comes down on his back, obviously not expecting it, and he makes the most delicious sound, like he's startled and likes it, or maybe startled that he likes it.

"Hold still, or I won't beat you anymore," Edgeworth says.

"Yes, sir," Blackquill gasps, setting his stance again and waiting for more. Edgeworth chooses to reward that, bringing the heavy flogger down on the other side. Blackquill takes it a little better this time, so Edgeworth doesn't stop, getting back into a rhythm. Blackquill is a wonderful canvas, and Edgeworth can already tell that he's going to be doing great works upon him.

It's hard to miss the way Blackquill's hips are working, and Edgeworth interrupts his rhythm long enough for a glance, confirming that Blackquill is visibly hard, his erection straining against the front of the pants that he's still wearing. Edgeworth hits him again while he considers what to do about it. He has no sexual interest in Blackquill, but this presents such an opportunity to crack him open, see what's inside.

Edgeworth grabs him by the hair, pulling him down to speak into his ear. "Rutting against nothing like a dog," Edgeworth says. "Is that all you are, Simon? Nothing but a prized hound?"

"Yes," Blackquill gasps.

He intended the comment as a barb, but he's hit something altogether more interesting. "I see," Edgeworth says. "You do look good at the end of a leash. Perhaps that's where you belong, right where your mistress can show off what a loyal pet you are."

Blackquill is panting heavily, and Edgeworth thinks his millimeters from just rubbing off against the wall, even as uncomfortable and fruitless as that would be. He's found such in interesting button to press, and he's going to see where it takes him.

"Unfasten your trousers and push them down," Edgeworth says. If Blackquill is thrown, he doesn't show it; he complies quickly, letting his pants drop to the floor and kicking them away. He's not wearing anything underneath them, so he stands naked in front of Edgeworth, with nothing but his collar, Athena's mark on him. Edgeworth feels no jealousy, especially when Blackquill is wearing his marks too, in the swaths of reddened skin the flogger leaves behind.

Edgeworth changes his grip, slapping the flogger hard across Blackquill's ass, and he revels in the moan that Blackquill lets out. He knows it's different from a strike to the back; the thud of the flogger landing near very interesting areas provides its own kind of stimulation. He doesn't know if he can make Blackquill come this way, and he doesn't intend to solve that mystery tonight. He just wants to see what Blackquill will do if he's pushed.

His ass marks up beautifully, lines of red across his pale skin, and he's moaning unreservedly now. It's fascinating, watching something like that take him apart so easily. "Put your hand on your cock," Edgeworth says, and Blackquill quickly complies. "If you can come while I beat you, then I'll graciously allow you to."

"Thank you, sir," Blackquill says. He braces himself with his other arm, waiting for the next strike. Edgeworth doesn't leave him hanging for long, landing another blow across his ass, as hard as he feels comfortable doing it. He stops leaving space between his strikes, landing slap after slap across Blackquill's ass, with heavy, rhythmic thuds.

He watches as the muscles in Blackquill's shoulder work, all he can see of how frantically Blackquill is working his cock. He's bracing himself on his forearm now, his forehead pressed against his hand, and Edgeworth knows it's mere seconds before he loses himself.

"Tell your mistress you came just like this," Edgeworth says. "Tell her you were an obedient little pet." Blackquill gasps, and Edgeworth grins. "Won't she be ever so proud?"

Blackquill groans loudly as he comes, making a mess of the wall and himself. It's deeply satisfying on Edgeworth's end, the headrush of knowing he did that, the power he has to make someone this strong fall to pieces. He savors it, even as he stops striking with the flogger, swinging it through the air a few more times before he puts it aside. He puts both his hands on Blackquill's back, grounding him, gentling him.

"Can you walk?" Edgeworth asks, after giving him a bit of time.

"Yes, sir," Blackquill says, sounding fuzzy.

"With me," Edgeworth says, and he moves Blackquill towards the chair in the corner. He's already placed a pillow there, and he guides Blackquill to his knees. He sits down in the chair, and Blackquill rests his head against his knee without prompting.

"You did take that beautifully," Edgeworth tells him, stroking his hair. "Color me impressed."

"Thank you, sir," Blackquill says. He sounds a little bit like he might fall asleep, but he seems to catch himself. "Do you want me to-" he starts, turning to look at Edgeworth fully, but he stops. "You're not hard."

"I'm not," Edgeworth confirms.

Blackquill looks deeply confused. "I'm lost," he says finally.

Edgeworth has been dreading this conversation, even though he already had it with Athena. "The proper term is demisexual," he says. "I can enjoy sex, but only under certain conditions. Play isn't one of them. The rush I get from playing with a willing bottom doesn't sexually arouse me."

"Then why did you let me come?" Blackquill says, looking puzzled.

The corner of Edgeworth's mouth goes up. "Because it did sexually arouse you, and I find it deeply satisfying to push people to their extremes."

"You really are a sadist," Blackquill says, and he sounds impressed.

"Oh, I make no protestations to the contrary," Edgeworth says. "I wouldn't complain just yet, were I you. If you want to see sadism, wait until I don't let you come."

"So this isn't to be the last time?" Blackquill asks.

"No," Edgeworth says. "You're working off a debt. I've been exceedingly kind so far, but now you must make an actual effort. Your mistress agrees."

"I won't fail," Blackquill says, with a note of steely resolve.

"I don't think you will," Edgeworth says. He puts his hand on Blackquill's head, gently guiding him to rest it against Edgeworth's thigh again. "But for now, you should be resting."

"Yes, sir," Blackquill says, shutting his eyes.

Edgeworth has hidden his silenced cell phone in arm's reach, and he holds it so Blackquill won't see, quickly typing a message. Still here?

Yep, Athena says. Patrolling your kitchen. Is S okay?

He'll do just fine, Edgeworth says.

lmk when I can come and get all the details, she says.

In a moment, he says, putting the phone down. He rests his hand on Blackquill's head, enjoying the peaceful stillness. In a few minutes, he'll return what he's borrowed, but it's nice to savor it for now, let this wind down gently, the moment coming softly to an end.

There will be more of them to come, but they've made quite a good start.