aldersprig: (Theocracy)
[personal profile] aldersprig
After Catboys in Cages, to [personal profile] rix_scaedu and [personal profile] thnidu's commissioned continuation.

Content warning: Slavery, bondage, ownership. Also catboy.

Negotiating was not on Carlie’s list of favorite things. Negotiating for a human - well, sentient - life was definitely not on her list of favorites. She sang songs to herself in her mind and pretending she was negotiating for flour that might have weevils.

When she finally took her new catboy out of the cell, the slave-monger barking a grumpy “You Belong to her now” in the guy’s general direction, Carlie thought for a moment her new possession was going to kill her. He jumped at her; she snapped “Down!” like she was dealing with an overgrown housecat, and he landed in an unhappy kneeling position, growling at her.

“None of that. Come on.” She put her hand on the back of his neck, glad for once that she was short, and led him out of the slave market. “Keep moving,” she murmured. “We’ll take care of the rest once we’re out of here, just keep moving.”

He twisted his head to look up at her, working his jaw like he was thinking about saying something. The order kept his hands and legs moving. She felt a small surge of guilt; she hadn’t meant to have him crawling, but at least the dust that served as a path was smooth and he wouldn’t be hurting his hands.

They kept moving. She kept her hand on him and kept walking, ignoring the twitch at the back of her neck that said we are being followed. We are in danger. There was no point in panicking until there was something visible to panic about, as her old Mentor would say.

They got to where she’d tethered Ashawind. “Stand up,” she told him. “When we get out of here, I’ll take care of the collar and the rest. You can - can you talk?”

He had already gotten to his feet. “I can talk,” he agreed. “I can-” he lashed out at her with open claws.

“Stop that.” She caught his hand. “If you don’t behave yourself, I’m going to have you tossed over the back of the horse instead of riding pillion properly.” She released his hand and hopped up onto Ashawind. “Mount up here behind me. Now, the trick is, we’ve got to get away from here because we’ve got to get away from somewhere else, and because someone might have noticed the part where the Belonging held and started to wonder if I’m fae, too. How did they catch you in a Belonging?”

His hands snugged around her waist, but this time he didn’t attack or even prick her with his claws. “They didn’t. My - well, someone else tricked me, and then he sold me, and then she sold me, and here I am. With you. Until you sell me.”

“You think I’m going to? You don’t even know me.” She urged her horse into a walk and then, when she was sure her passenger wouldn’t fall off, into a canter.

“I know me.” He clung to her tightly, face against her back. She wondered if he really knew how to ride. Then again, he’d gotten up onto Ashawind’s back all right. “I know what people are like with me.”

“That’s very…” She concentrated on a tricky bit of riding for a minute. Ashawind could run faster than just about any other horse on the planet, but she had some interesting ideas about appropriate routes, including being fine with a lot of – “Jump! Hold on” - obstructions, in this case a fence.

“Do you know where you’re going? Does your horse know where we’re going?”

She smiled to herself, glad he couldn’t see her expression. “I am going Away. Away from my previous locale and away from your previous locale. After that, perhaps, we will go To. But I’m still a little up in the air about that. So, hello. My name is Carlie.”

“I’d shake your hand but I’m holding on for dear life.”

“Pleased to meet you, more or less, all the same. And your name…”

He grumbled for a minute. “Why don’t you just give me one? I mean, you Own me.”

“I do own you. But I hardly know you well enough to give you a name. Are you content being Boy or Cat-boy until I come up with a name for you?”

“Tomcat,” he muttered into her back. “You can call me Tomcat. I mean, until you come up with something better.”

There was a story behind his name, she was sure of it. For the moment, she’d take what she’d been given. “All right, Tomcat it is. Tell me if you see anything that looks like a good place to stop for the night, Tomcat.”

“Yes, Mistress.” There was something new in his voice. She couldn’t be sure, not with no body language to go with except the press of his cheek to her back, but Carlie thought it was pleasure.

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