Pairing: Liam Neeson/Orlando Bloom [Primary], Mark Vincent (Vin Diesel)/Paul Walker/Orlando, implied Liam Neeson/Natasha Richardson, Mark/Paul and Natasha/Chad Michael Murray
Summary: Master Liam gets married. Mistress Natasha isn't bad on her own, but she dotes on her "sweet Chaddie," who's a spoiled, manipulative little prick. Troubles ensue.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone you recognize. I know nothing about their social lives or sexual activities, more's the pity. This is fiction, period. It is done as a labor of love and I make no money from it.
Notes: 1) This fits between Chapter Eight and Chapter Nine of "A Lost Boy."
2) Set in poisontaster's Kept Boy universe. The first few stories are linked here; the rest (we're hoping) are getting linked in whatwekeep. This is an AU universe where slavery is common and is in fact legally required among the wealthy as a way of doing their part to "support" the poor. See the original story, "A Kept Boy," linked above, and the FAQ.
3) Everyone is American unless specified otherwise.
Continued from: here.
The Master and Mistress's shouted argument had been heard by everyone on the first floor, and by a couple of house slaves who'd been up at the top of the stairs when it'd begun. Angry yelling among the owners was always enough to have slaves scurrying and ducking. Angry yelling about selling slaves was enough to inspire any slave nearby to invisibility, and the huge house felt weirdly empty for the next few days as all the slaves stayed out of sight as much as they could while doing their work as perfectly as they could manage.
Orlando was miserable. His master hadn't looked directly at him since the fight and he was sure he was going to be sold. He knew his master didn't want to sell him; he'd always known that. It'd been the rock of security on which his life, as happy as anyone's, had been built. Even when he'd been younger and getting into scrapes, with the occasional terrified flash of, "Oh my god, he's going to sell me!" running through his mind, he'd never really believed it, any more than a free boy would believe his father was actually going to "kill" him.
So he snuck around like everyone else, doing his work and otherwise ducking away from his master. He watched for when the Master and Mistress were gone before slipping in to clean up the bedroom and change the bed and take care of his master's clothes. Chad should've been sharing the clean-up chores, since the mistress was sharing the room, but he'd stuck to her dressing room, taking care of her wardrobe and nothing else, and Orlando didn't mind.
The last thing he wanted to do was actually share chores with Chad two or three times a day.
The only good thing to come out of the whole mess was that Chad was playing invisible just like everyone else. He didn't seem to care anymore. Orlando didn't know where he went or what he did when he wasn't working, but he never saw him around except for staff meals, and didn't hear anyone complaining about him.
His mama tried to talk to him, and made completely worthless promises about how the Master would never, ever sell him. Orlando knew better, so he just nodded and escaped as soon as he could.
Four days later, Orlando got another shock.
"--I can manage for myself for the flight over, and Johnny can look after me while we're there," his master said, not looking directly at him while tapping away at the computer. "The Turks aren't as fussy about having an obvious body-slave with one all the time, so you don't need to come with me. Just pack for me, and you can have a vacation while I'm gone."
Orlando barely managed to stammer out a, "Yes, Master," and bow before Master Liam waved him out of the office. And then the next day Javier drove him to the airport and Orlando was really alone.
Mr. Irons routed him out of the kitchen the next day and ordered him down to the stable. "You can make yourself useful," he said in his low, rough voice. "Slaves who just slouch around the place with nothing to do get into trouble." He put Orlando to work with the two stable slaves, Polly and Jack, grooming and exercising and mucking out.
The three of them knew one another and got along perfectly well. The other two were happy to have full-time help, even if only temporarily, and Orlando was happy to have work to do to keep his mind off of the approaching end of his life and everything he knew.
Another distraction arrived six days later, when Mr. Vincent and Paul drove up to the house. Orlando had been expecting them, and he dashed up from the stable, racing their car to the head of the drive. He went to his knees just as the car doors opened, smiling for the first time in over a week.
"Hey, kid!" Mr. Vincent called. He reached down and yanked Orlando to his feet, gave him a rough hug, then pushed him at Paul, who gave him a hug and a kiss. "What're you doing here? Where's your master? Did Turkey fall through?"
Orlando hugged Paul back, then turned and bowed to Mr. Vincent, trying to keep his expression neutral. "No, sir. My master didn't need me for this trip."
"The fuck?" Mr. Vincent stared at Orlando like he'd just grown a third arm. "What, you got a pod in your basement or something? What happened?"
"I couldn't say, sir. I'm sorry."
"Orlando, introduce our guest." The Mistress came down the front steps, cool and pleasant as she looked over her houseguest. Mr. Vincent had been in Miami on business for the wedding and hadn't met her yet.
"Yes, Mistress. This is Mr. Mark Vincent. Mr. Vincent, my mistress, Ms. Natasha Richardson."
"How do you do, Mr. Vincent?" The Mistress held out a hand and Mr. Vincent took it in a careful squeeze.
"Just fine, ma'am. Thanks for letting us stay while the old man's gone."
Mistress Natasha grinned up at him. "The 'old man' assured me you won't make off with the silver nor molest any of the mares, and that this makes you a favored guest."
Mr. Vincent gave a loud bark of laughter, then said, "Damn! I guess that means we gotta behave. Fine, I'll try to pretend to be civilized, for a few days anyway."
"Good enough," said the Mistress, still smiling. "I'll let Liam pay for any damages and take it up with you himself when he gets back."
He went inside with the Mistress, still chatting. Orlando went around to the trunk and helped Paul with their suitcases.
"So what the fuck?" Paul murmured. "Why are you here when your master's on the other side of the world?"
"I couldn't say," Orlando whispered, turning away while wrestling with the bigger suitcase.
"Don't gimme that shit, it's just us," Paul whispered back. Then in a normal voice he said, "So where're we going? Same as last time?"
Orlando nodded. "Right across from my room."
Paul frowned, then thought about it and shrugged. "Okay, so your master got married and the bed could get crowded with the four of you. She's got a body-slave too, right?"
Orlando nodded again.
They hauled the bags upstairs to the room that'd been prepped for Mr. Vincent, but when Orlando went to open one of the suitcases and start unpacking, Paul grabbed him around the waist from behind and hauled him onto the bed. He wrestled Orlando down, wrapped his arms and legs around him and forcibly cuddled him, ignoring his squirming and protests.
"There. Now, what the fuck's up? And don't give me that 'I couldn't say' shit. You and your master've been joined at the hip for as long as I've known you. He gets this ridiculously soppy expression on his face when he looks at you--"
"He does not!"
"Does too. It's subtle and he tries to hide it, but if you're looking it's obvious. He's not all lovey-gooey or anything, but for the Great Stone Face, just a quirk or a twitch is as good as a drunken serenade from someone like Master Mark.
"So what happened?"
Orlando burrowed his face into the crook of Paul's neck and gave a tiny headshake. "I can't. Really, I can't. It's private and I can't talk about it and I can't do anything, it's just... it just is."
Paul huffed in frustration, but let off his nagging. He just held Orlando and rocked back and forth with him, rubbing his back slowly.
Orlando completely lost track of time, so when the door opened and a heavy tread entered the bedroom, he tried to scramble up off the bed but Paul hung on and wouldn't let him move an inch.
The door closed again and Mr. Vincent said, "So, what'd he tell you?"
"Not a thing, Master. I was about to try spanking it out of him, but he'd probably like it."
Mr. Vincent snorted agreement, then came over and sat on the side of the bed. "He's a good boy. You should take notes."
Paul made a rude noise. Orlando heard a smack, then Paul yelped.
"Hey, kid?" Orlando felt Mr. Vincent's hand rubbing his hip and he turned over to look at him.
"Yes, sir?" He bowed his head, the closest he could get to a real bow while tangled up in Paul.
"I called your boss and asked him what the fuck, 'cause this is seriously weird and he should've let me know there was something going on instead of letting me walk in blind and maybe put my foot in my mouth or something. So we had a talk and he said you were free to play with us, both of us, while we're here."
Mr. Vincent was watching Orlando while he spoke, taking in every reaction. Orlando froze and did his best not to move a single cell in his body that wasn't absolutely necessary to saying, "Yes, sir," and nodding again.
It wasn't as though he could say anything else. He'd been put at Mr. Vincent's service and he'd do whatever was wanted. And it wasn't like he'd never played with them before, except before his master had been playing too, or at least watching, and he'd never ever played with anyone without his master at least watching except for Johnny, and of course Mr. Travers but he didn't count because that was just lessons, and his master had always wanted him within eyeshot and preferably within arm's reach whenever he was playing with someone else and if he was willing to just say, "Sure, whatever" to someone else when he wasn't even in the country then did that mean he didn't care anymore, that he really was getting ready to sell him--?
"Hey, Orlando!" Mr. Vincent tapped him on the forehead and brought him back to the there-and-then. "Come on, I can hear your brain buzzing all the way out here. Quit it -- you'll burn something out." He grinned and stood up and stretched.
"Paul and I've been travelling since way too early this morning. We're gonna get a shower. You start unpacking and when we're fit to be touched you can help us both relax."
And of course, "Yes, sir," was the only possible response to that.
Mistress Natasha seemed to like Mr. Vincent, but she had her own business to tend to and was away from home for at least a few hours most days, and she (and Chad) were gone the entire following weekend. Orlando spent most of his time with Mr. Vincent and Paul, entertaining, serving, and playing tour guide around both the estate and the larger Bay Area, whenever their business left them free.
Even when it didn't, Mr. Vincent usually dragged Orlando along. He took Master Liam's permission to "play" with Orlando whenever he liked as leave to essentially confiscate him for the duration of their visit. The Mistress certainly didn't mind, and Orlando thought she was probably just as happy to get rid of him whenever he was out with the guests.
On Saturday night, Orlando found himself in his leather pants and eye liner, with glitter in his hair and his collar locked around his throat, at a club in downtown San Jose called Chains. Mr. Vincent, with Paul and Orlando, was shown immediately to the owner's table, in a niche to one side which had a view of the bar and dance floor.
"Mark, hey!" The owner, a man just a little older than Orlando, gripped Mr. Vincent's shoulder and gestured him into a seat in the recessed booth. He looked over Paul and then Orlando. "You got two now? Flashy! Nice contrast -- I'll bet they're hot together."
Mr. Vincent grinned. "Definitely. But the dark one's not mine -- I'm watching him for a friend who's travelling."
"Lucky me," Mr. Vincent agreed. "You boys settle down there with Tony's kid, let everyone see you and envy us." He gave them both a grin, then slid into the booth while Paul and Orlando knelt down in front of the table, facing out toward the dance floor -- the owner's body-slave, a pretty Hispanic teenager, then Paul, then Orlando, all in a row.
The two men chatted business for a while, the club owner explaining the changes he'd made and pointing out the surging crowd. It wasn't something Orlando knew much about, nor needed to know, so he tuned them out and just watched the dancing, drinking, flirting and groping going on all around the room.
The main feature seemed to be twenty or so slaves, naked or mostly so except for collars, manacles, and a lot of polished chains. Some slid through the crowd serving drinks, some danced on platforms around the periphery, and some danced down at floor-level. The dancers were all chained to a wall, a pole or a ring in the floor, in addition to the metal they were wearing. All the dancers within reach of the customers were being groped, rubbed on, and otherwise used by the patrons. No one was actually fucking anyone yet, but Orlando had a feeling it was just a matter of time and alcohol flow.
It was tacky and blatant and completely tasteless -- Orlando could imagine Master Liam's lip curling if he saw the place -- but it was obviously popular. He didn't recognize any of the patrons, nor did anyone there except the owner and Mr. Vincent have slaves of their own along.
That was probably the attraction; people who couldn't afford their own body-slaves could come and feel up the goods and maybe pretend for an evening that it was theirs.
Despite the out-of-the-way alcove, the slaves kneeling in front of the table eventually attracted attention. Club-goers came by, laughing and staring and touching all three of them; Orlando felt hands in his hair, fingers across his lips, thighs pressing his chest.
He glanced over his shoulder at Mr. Vincent; Master Liam would never have allowed strangers to touch him like that, but Orlando couldn't think how to mention that without being presumptuous.
Mr. Vincent frowned at a young woman, no more than twenty, who knelt down in front of Paul and kissed him. Her hands slid under his sheer silk shirt, rubbing and pinching. Orlando didn't know whether to lean away from her or to lean closer to Paul in support.
A moment later he heard Mr. Vincent clear his throat. He glared over Orlando's hair at the girl and said, "Sorry. Mine. Scoot." When she'd pouted and flounced off, he said, "Hey, Tony, let's get the boys out of reach. The grabbing's uncool, especially with the loaner kid. His Lordship's not big on sharing unless it's with a close friend, you know?"
"Hey, no prob!" Mr. Tony put up his hands in immediate agreement and looked around. "How about we put your two up on a platform? The customers can look but not touch, and those two are definitely worth looking at."
"Sure, that'd be fine." Mr. Vincent nodded agreement, and Mr. Tony signalled one of the free staff people, a burly man in a leather jacket. "Hey, John, take these two to the center platform. Move Brian down next to the bar."
"Sure, thing. C'mon, guys." The staffer gestured to Paul and Orlando to follow.
Orlando looked up at him, then at Mr. Vincent.
"It's all right, just dance with Paul." Mr. Vincent gave him a grin and shooed him off.
Orlando said, "Yes, sir," and stood. He grabbed Paul's hand and they followed the staff guy through the shifting crowd. He led them up a narrow staircase behind one of the tall platforms and had them stand to one side while he unlocked the manacles the slave already up there had been wearing around his wrists. He pulled Paul over first, locked the steel onto him, then pulled a second set of chains out of a corner and locked them onto Orlando.
"There. You two stay close, now -- don't fall off or you'll end up dangling there and looking like idiots. Give it a good show." He gave them a grin and ruffled Orlando's hair, then led the other slave back down the stairs.
Orlando looked down at the cuffs and chains weighing down his wrists, then across at Paul. "Umm...?"
Paul shrugged. "It's a club thing. They all have a gimmick. Come on, dance with me!" He slid his clinking arms around Orlando's waist and pulled him close, grinding their hips together while ducking down for a long kiss.
By the time they came up for air, the crowd below them was hooting and cheering and Paul gave him a grin and a wink. He moved his hands to Orlando's shoulders and started swaying to the music. "Come on, forget them and have fun!"
Orlando grinned back and danced. It was weird, but there weren't any strangers within reach now and he liked dancing with Paul. He also liked flirting with Paul, and the crowd liked to watch him do it. The cheers and applause egged him on, now that he felt safe up above them, and he sank into the beat of the music and the feeling of power he got from being able to play the club-goers like a piano, getting hoots and moans and whistles, whatever he wanted.
A while later, one of the server slaves brought them bottles of water and they took a break. Paul gulped down half his water and poured the rest over his sweaty head and chest. That looked like a good idea, so Orlando did the same.
It was almost midnight and the place was getting louder and more raucus. Orlando was happier than ever to be safe up on their perch. A few times he'd noticed one of the patrons start up the stairs toward them, but one of the staffers, either the guy who'd brought them up or someone else like him, always intercepted them and escorted them down. Or yanked, or carried, depending on how determined and/or drunk the patron was.
The slaves down on the floor weren't quite so lucky, though. Being within reach seemed to mean being available. The slaves chained around the dance floor had been kissed and groped and rubbed on all night. It'd stepped up a notch in the last hour or so, though, and right then, one of the girls chained to a pole had been pushed onto her knees and a patron was rubbing himself off on her, with his cock between her naked breasts. He shot all over her face, then zipped up and danced away.
"Well, I guess technically he didn't fuck her," Paul drawled.
"That's... I mean, they allow that?"
"Sure. That's obviously what the place is for. Not quite a whorehouse but close. Don't ask if it's legal, though; I'd bet none of the slaves here are actually body-slaves except you, me and Mr. Barone's boy."
"Really? How can you tell?"
Paul laughed and pulled Orlando close. They started dancing again, but at least it was a slow dance and they could talk and keep resting for a while. "Look around -- really look at them, and be critical," Paul said. "You're too used to looking at only yourself in the mirror."
Orlando made a face and smacked Paul's ass. Paul retaliated with a tickle, then pinned Orlando's wrists behind him and kept rubbing up against him, vaguely in time to the music.
"Seriously," he went on, "they're not good looking enough. Commerce doesn't train ordinary looking people to be body-slaves. Mr. Barone's just starting up -- that's why we're here, he wants Master Mark to invest in the idea, open another Chains in New York, spread it around the country. But right now there's no way he can afford body-slaves, so he probably took his start-up cash and bought the best looking regular work slaves he could afford. Likely told Commerce he was looking for dancers.
"I just wonder what he's offered them, or promised them, or threatened them with, to keep someone from complaining, 'cause you'd think that out of twenty-some, at least one would object enough to try sneaking a phone call."
"Huh." Orlando looked up at Paul, away from what was going on below them.
"Hey, don't sweat it. Nothing you can do anyway, right?" Paul let go Orlando's wrists and cupped his ass. "Just dance with me."
Paul was right, so Orlando kept his eyes on his partner and danced.
On the way home, much later that night, Paul asked, "What did you think, Master? Are you going to invest?"
Mr. Vincent shook his head. "Nah, I don't think so. It's a good idea, obviously popular and all, but the numbers don't work. Going on the way he is, he's gonna get raided one of these days -- either one of his slaves'll hit their limit or one of the patrons'll drop a dime on 'im."
"Doesn't he want to get body-slaves eventually?"
"Sure, but they're expensive. He knows that, but he hasn't really worked it out. He thinks all he needs is a big investor and everything'll be fine and dandy. You still have to make your investment back, though, and then make your profit on top of that. With twenty body-slaves in the place, or even just eight or ten, if there were some way to separate 'em out and make sure the customers knew which ones were okay to mess with and you had a way to enforce it without harshing the atmosphere whenever someone grabbed the wrong kinda slave -- even if you could make all that work, you'd need to raise the price on pretty much everything to make back the cost of all those body-slaves. The whole point is that his audience is folks who can't afford body-slaves, so he'd be pricing himself out of his target market."
"Bigger place, maybe?" Paul suggested. "Make it work on volume?"
Mr. Vincent shrugged. "Maybe. A bigger place has a different atmosphere, though. And you couldn't fill up the extra space with more body-slaves without blowing your budget again, so you'd have that many more patrons fighting for a grab at your too-small pool of available bodies. You're just asking for fights there."
"Sign-ups?" asked Paul. "Or just an extra charge for groping privs?"
"Again, different atmosphere. He's going for a more freeform sort of feel to it, and too much organization'd turn it into something else -- a whorehouse with a bigger dance floor."
"I guess." Paul leaned back in the front passenger seat and Orlando could almost hear him thinking about it, trying to work out the details so everything fit properly.
Alone in the back seat while the other two talked business, he felt separate and cold. The car was cold, especially after the sweaty heat of the club, but he was used to being able to participate in business discussions, when input from a slave was appropriate, and this was a business he didn't know anything about. And he wasn't sure he wanted to, either.
If the slaves at the club weren't body-slaves then they weren't supposed to have to put up with sexual contact, especially not from strangers. Everyone knew owners fucked their regular slaves sometimes and it was just something you dealt with. If it got really bad then the slave could flip a coin and take the chance of filing a complaint with Commerce, which might help or might make things worse, depending.
But the club slaves' whole reason for being there was to be grabbed, rubbed, kissed, jerked off on -- everything but actually getting fucked and Orlando wasn't willing to bet that didn't happen too sometimes. And the dancers were all chained in place and couldn't even try to slip away from the worst of the customers like the servers could. It was horrible, and the fact that neither Mr. Vincent nor Paul -- Paul! -- thought anything of it made Orlando feel really insecure with them for the first time ever.
"Hey, Orlando! You asleep back there?"
Mr. Vincent's raised voice brought Orlando back up with a start. "No, sir. Umm, I'm sorry, maybe a little."
"It's all right, it's been a long day. You're not used to partying till dawn like me and Paul are." Mr. Vincent grinned at him in the rear-view mirror, then said, "So, what do you think of this Chad guy?"
Orlando blinked at the quick change of subject. "Umm, sir?"
"Tasha said she's looking to trade him in and was wondering if I might be interested in swapping for Paul." Mr. Vincent winked at him, but kept a close eye on him at the same time, glancing back and forth between the nearly-empty road outside and Orlando's face in the mirror.
Paul said, "Master!"
Mr. Vincent snickered and poked Paul in the arm. "Nah, I told her I'm not ready to kick you to the curb yet, but she said her Chad would be on the market soon." He looked back into the mirror and added, "She said Orlando might be on the market too, wanted to know whether I'd be interested in a deal on the both of you."
Orlando sat frozen. He honestly had no idea what to say, what to do, what to think. Had Master Liam decided to take the Mistress's compromise and sell both their body-slaves? Or was she just assuming he would? If so, was she right?
"What, she thinks she's going to sell Orlando out from under Lord Neeson? She's crazy!" Paul exclaimed.
Mr. Vincent glared at Paul and smacked a yelp out of him with the back of one hand. "She's a free woman and a lady and you'll be civil or I'll beat your ass when we get back and I promise you won't enjoy it."
"Yes, Master. I apologize, Master." Paul hung his head and went silent.
Mr. Vincent looked up at Orlando in the mirror again and said, "And no, she's a nice lady and wouldn't try to pull one over on Liam like that. She was just asking. And I'm just asking -- what'd you think about that?"
"Umm?" Orlando swallowed and tried to think what to say. "I, umm, I mean, it's not my place to think anything -- to have an opinion about it, sir. If... if I do get, I mean, if you ever own me, I'll... I would do my best to please you." Orlando stammered to a stop and wished one of the windows were open. He'd never been car-sick in his life but he felt like he might right then.
"I know you're not--" Mr. Vincent began, but Orlando cut him off.
"I'm sorry, sir, but could you pull over? Please? Fast! Please!" Orlando scrambled to roll down the window, but the rental car was a two-door and the back windows were small and didn't open. Mr. Vincent yanked the wheel and swerved the car off onto the shoulder of the road, which was luckily pretty dead at nearly dawn.
He barked, "Out!" to Paul, who scrambled out of the way and yanked the seat up. Orlando dove out, fell to his knees in the long grass on the shoulder and threw up.
When he was down to dry heaving a minute later, he heard someone rattling around in the car and muttering about damn rentals. Paul crouched down nearby and tore up handfuls of grass for him.
"Here," he said gently. "Wipe your mouth."
It was awkward but better than nothing. Orlando tried not to think of birds and dogs and bugs and whatever all else and got his face as clean as he could manage.
When he was finished, they helped him stand up and bundled him into the front seat between them, then just sat there at the side of the road for a while, Paul cuddling Orlando and Mr. Vincent's arms around both of them. And when Orlando cried into the crook of Paul's neck, he told himself it was just the pain of the acid that was still burning his throat and mouth.
A couple of nights later, the three of them somehow all ended up in Orlando's bed. It was just as big as the one in Mr. Vincent's room, so there was no reason why they shouldn't have slept there, except that the next morning, quite a few hours after sunrise, the door opened and a tired, frazzled-looking Master Liam was standing there staring down at the pile of bodies tangled in the sheets.
Orlando blinked up at him, trying to focus through the sleep-grit in his eyes, trying to remember what day it was, and trying to figure out whether or not he was dreaming.
He decided he wasn't when Mr. Vincent rolled over, hauling Orlando with him, then peered up at the doorway and said, "Yo, Liam! You're a day early, cool!"
"Yes, we caught an early flight." Orlando's master looked away and said, "Excuse me, I need a shower. I'll see you later," and left, closing the door quietly behind him.
"Heh. He looks like shit." Mr. Vincent gave Orlando a big, grinning kiss, then poked Paul awake. "C'mon, sunshine, time to get up. Our host is home."
Orlando whispered, "Master!" and scrambled out of bed. He was about to bolt for his master's room when Mr. Vincent's hand closed around his wrist.
"Easy, kid. Let him get his shower. You need one too. You smell like you've been worked over by two horny guys for most of the night, and while that's pretty hot, you might want to clean up since none of that scent is Liam's."
"Umm...." Orlando looked back and forth between Mr. Vincent and the closed door, torn between wanting to go see his master right now and knowing that Mr. Vincent was right and he'd be better off at least washing first.
Mr. Vincent hauled them all out of bed and into the shower together, where, amazingly, they just washed, rinsed and got out.
Damp but dressed, they went down to the dining room where there was a buffet breakfast laid out, and Master Liam was sitting at the table by himself.
Mr. Vincent said, "Paul, get me a plate. Orlando, follow." He sat to the left of Master Liam's place at the head of the table, then pointed to the floor between them, looked at Orlando and said, "Kneel."
Orlando hesitated for just a moment, looking between Mr. Vincent, whom he'd been obeying for the last week, and his own master, who was ignoring him. Since his master didn't countermand, he said, "Yes, sir," and knelt between the two men. (Area rug over hardwood, high quality but not thick, no pad.)
Paul came over with a plate for Mr. Vincent, then knelt to his left. Mr. Vincent said, "So, how was Turkey?" and took a bite of scrambled eggs.
There was a slight pause which Orlando, who was looking down at his knees, interpreted as his master swallowing, then, "Fine. It went well. Johnny did a good job laying foundations."
"He wasn't hungry?" asked Mr. Vincent.
"He was more tired," Master Liam said. "He doesn't sleep well on planes. He probably grabbed a roll or something and then fell into bed."
"Makes sense. Nice of you to let him."
Orlando felt a knuckle brush his cheek and looked up. One of Mr. Vincent's hands was right there; he pressed a grape between Orlando's lips. It was a red grape, firm and sweet.
"He earned it." The Master's voice sounded just a bit tighter than before, but when Orlando dared to look up, his master's attention was on his breakfast and he appeared perfectly relaxed.
"I'm sure he did. That's another sharp guy you've got there." Mr. Vincent nodded, then broke a chunk of buttered toast in half and fed one piece to Paul, then the other to Orlando. "I met the new missus too -- nice lady, good choice. Congratulations and all that."
Orlando wasn't imagining the dry sarcasm that time; Mr. Vincent laughed and said, "Hey, you don't need my approval or anything, but I do approve. Smart woman, on the ball. She was busy and I didn't want to take up too much of her time, but she was good company when she was around, and when she wasn't I had Orlando. The three of us had a great time."
He speared a sausage on his fork and held it down for Paul, who bit off one end. It came down to Orlando next and he got the other end, then Mr. Vincent ate the middle chunk.
It was nothing unusual except that it wasn't his own master feeding him. Orlando was feeling more and more uncomfortable -- off balance, confused, depressed. His master had been gone for two weeks without him, and since he'd come back he hadn't said a word to Orlando, nor even touched him. He couldn't think of the last time he'd been kneeling within reach of his master for this long without getting at least a pet on the cheek or a brush of his master's fingers through his hair.
It'd been one thing to be Mr. Vincent's "loaner boy" while his master was away, but now that he was back, nothing had changed. A stranger watching them would still assume that both slaves belonged to Mr. Vincent.
Was that it, then? Had his master decided to sell him to Mr. Vincent? Maybe being gone for two weeks had shown him that he didn't need Orlando, didn't want him anymore. It'd certainly make the Mistress happy; they could start fresh with two new body-slaves like she wanted, and the household would be peaceful and happy again.
Another chunk of buttered toast appeared in front of his lips and he took it automatically.
The two men chatted on and off while eating, with Mr. Vincent doing most of the talking, and feeding both slaves off his heaped plate. Finally, when they were nearly done, Mr. Vincent said, "Thanks again for letting me have Orlando. He's a great boy -- he and Paul got along real well over the long term. That doesn't always happen, even if the slaves are happy enough to play together for a few hours at a time."
Master Liam said, "I'm glad he pleased you. I expected nothing less."
"No, 'course not," Mr. Vincent agreed easily. "He's a first class kid." He put his silverware down on his plate and held his empty hands out to either side. It was obvious what was wanted and Orlando sucked on his fingers one at a time, cleaning off the grease. He saw Paul out of the corner of his eye doing the same to the other hand, across Mr. Vincent's lap.
"It was kind of unusual, though," Mr. Vincent went on. "Like I said when I called, I was thinking about checking the basement and attic for pods or something, 'cause I'd never have guessed you'd go travelling without Orlando."
Orlando could feel his master tense up, like waves of defensive stiffness coming through the air and brushing his skin. "And as I said before, it was convenient to leave him."
"Right, right. But you know, I was talking with Natasha a couple days later and she said you might be thinking about selling Orlando, so of course I've been wondering whether maybe that's what this's all been about -- giving me a test drive to see if I wanted to make a purchase." He pulled his hands back into his lap and wiped them briefly on his napkin, then settled back into his chair and gave Master Liam a direct look.
Orlando's master sat up straight and glared right back. "She didn't make any offers...?"
"No, of course not! Why does everyone think that?" Mr. Vincent waved away the idea with one hand. "She just mentioned that you've talked about selling both your boys, your Orlando and her Chad, and starting fresh -- new marriage, new household, new body-slaves. She just saw that I like Orlando, he's pleasing and serves me well, no complaints at all, and wondered whether I'd like to have him, if you do decide to sell him. Have him go to someone he knows and likes, rather than to a stranger. Nothing wrong with that, right? Pretty thoughtful of her, actually."
Master Liam grunted and poked at the scraps of his breakfast.
"So, you gonna sell? 'Cause if you are, I'm definitely interested."
Orlando was shrinking into himself, wishing he could just vanish and hide somewhere. If this was going to happen, he didn't want to be around for it. Not at all, but especially not like this, with his master just... suddenly deciding he didn't want him anymore, that he wasn't worth a last fuck even, or a hug or a pet or even a last look.
"We've discussed it," Master Liam said through stiff lips.
Mr. Vincent scowled, then said, "Paul, beat it."
Paul said, "Yes, Master!" and jumped up, then strode out of the room as fast as he could without actually running. Orlando wanted to follow him, but when he shifted his weight to stand, Mr. Vincent put a big hand on his shoulder and held him in place.
Once the three of them were alone, he leaned over Orlando, toward the Master, and said, "Look, I don't know what's going on with you, but you need to wrap it up one way or the other."
"I beg your pardon?"
Orlando shrank down even farther; he'd have ducked down with his forehead against the carpet if Mr. Vincent's hand didn't have such a solid grip on him. His master's voice was pure icy offense, and anyone with a brain would know to back off. Apparently Mr. Vincent had left his brain back in the bedroom that morning.
"Come off it, Liam. You've been 'discussing' it long enough. Have you actually taken a look at Orlando recently? You've been futzing around and the stress of not knowing is killing him. I asked him on Saturday whether he'd mind if I owned him -- me, someone he likes -- and I had to pull the car over 'cause he was vomiting into the weeds ten seconds later, just at the idea."
Shame flooded through Orlando at his master hearing about that. He jerked away from Mr. Vincent's grasp and huddled down in a ball with his face on the carpet. Did Mr. Vincent really think he was helping? He was just getting the Master angry, and showing him how lost and pathetic Orlando'd been lately. He'd meant to be absolutely good once his master came home, to show him that he already had the perfect slave and didn't need anyone else, so that if there was any chance at all of the Mistress giving in, then there'd be a chance for Orlando to stay there with Master Liam. But Mr. Vincent was ruining everything. He was pushing and the Master hated to be pushed. He'd walk away from the whole thing rather than let anyone nag him into doing something.
"You're over the line, Mark."
"Bullshit. You're not yourself and I wouldn't be a friend if I didn't call you on it. Don't just look at Orlando -- look at yourself some time. You look like shit and it's not just travel fatigue. This is stressing you out too, so why aren't you fixing it?"
Orlando heard his master get up and stride across the room and then back, his steps quick. He felt angry and Orlando got even more tense. Mr. Vincent's hand rubbed slowly up and down his back but it didn't help.
"It's complicated," his master said. "It's just... there's no simple answer." He sounded tense and frustrated and Orlando could picture him rubbing his eyes with one hand.
"Right, I get that it's something big and nasty. But it's your job to fix it anyway -- that's why you're the master. You're a hard man but you're not cruel, and this is cruel to Orlando. Deal with it, right now. If you're going to sell him then sell him to me and I'll take him with me when I leave. If you're not, then decide that and tell him so. But don't leave him hanging."
There was a pause, then, "You'd sell Paul?"
"Fuck no! Who said anything about selling Paul?"
"You'd keep them both?"
"You're damn right I would. Since when have I ever given a flying fuck what people thought of me? Yeah I'd keep 'em both, and anyone who doesn't like it can bite me.
"And I'll tell you something else -- if you send me home without him and I hear you've sold him later to some stranger, or sold him to Commerce so any asshole with a platinum card could buy him, then Lord or no, I'll fly back here and punch your lights out, and that's a promise."
Mr. Vincent gave the nape of Orlando's neck a quick squeeze, then stood up and stalked out.
The dining room was silent for a long, agonizing minute. Then Master Liam said, "Orlando?"
Orlando stayed in his kneeling crouch, but looked up. His master was staring out the window with his back to the room. "Master?"
"Do you want to go with him?"
The world tilted and Orlando's throat closed. He said, "If--" but it came out an ugly croak. He swallowed hard, then tried again. "Only if it please you, Master."
His master turned and looked at him, then walked over and sat back down in his chair. He ran his hand through Orlando's hair, then grabbed on hard. The stinging pain made Orlando gasp, but the mere fact of his master touching him after so long brought a tiny jolt of euphoria that overrode the discomfort.
"No," Master Liam said softly. "I find it doesn't please me at all."
A tug on his hair drew Orlando up onto his knees and pulled him closer. He met his master's still-frowning gaze with a shy, hopeful smile. Master Liam leaned down and looked deep into Orlando's eyes, then growled, "Mine," and kissed him hard.
A month later, Mistress Natasha (and Chad) had moved out, back to her own house in San Francisco. There'd been more harsh discussions, and another yelling fight, which Orlando had heard all the way in his bedroom, even with the door closed. He heard his master say -- well, shout -- that if she planned to live the rest of her life according to what other people thought and what "better society" expected of her, she could do it without him, that he was going to live up to his own expectations of himself, just like he always had, and anyone who didn't like it could bite him.
Orlando'd had to bury his head under a pillow at that. He wondered whether he could get away with telling Paul about that one, next time he saw him, and how bad a spanking he'd get if Paul told Mr. Vincent and Mr. Vincent teased his master.
He got the opportunity the next day, when Master Liam phoned Mr. Vincent and let Orlando talk to Paul, but decided to keep the humor to himself. He did overhear his master tell Mr. Vincent that he didn't want someone who spoiled her slaves as badly as Mistress Natasha had spoiled Chad to be raising his children, though. Orlando thought that was a good reason to break up with a woman, and was kind of happy it hadn't all been about him, even if it'd all sort of stirred up around him.
Less than a week later, though, his master got an e-mail from the Mistress (with proceedings already in motion to make her the ex-Mistress) saying that she was pregnant, and the doctor said it was twins. Since a major reason for their getting married rather than just being lovers had been to have children, since they'd both wanted someone to carry on their name and continue when they were gone, he could have one and she'd take the other, so far as legal custody went.
Orlando thought that sounded pretty damn cold, but then they were both coldly civil to one another. It was over a year before they loosened up and agreed, with some degree of friendliness, that it'd been a bad idea from the start and they'd been better off finding out at once, rather than having it drag on for years and then disrupting the children when they were old enough to be upset by it. It sounded to Orlando like they were both telling each other the stories they needed to get through the divorce and out the other end still speaking for the sake of the babies, Jamie and Paula, but what did he know?
He had his master back, and his place in his master's bed, and that was all he really cared about.
Go on to Chapter Nine of A Lost Boy.