[NSFW] Flogmentation / The Dominatrix

NSFW/Content Warning: The following story is entirely erotica! 

If you’re not 18 and/or you don’t wanna read smut, this entry is not for you!  Click away now.

Specific notes: entry contains elements of BDSM (mostly impact play; light humiliation; femdom), oral sex, swearing.

Recap: I recently introduced Yellow Rose Industries (part 1), a cyberpunk-style human augmentation and prostheses company run by young genius Aciano Mercier and his assistant, Krishna Bhola (part 2).  While simultaneously plotting Aciano’s ascent to mayordom, Krishna also hired him a dominatrix (part 3).

Today’s entry contains the blog’s first erotica as well as some subject matter that’s near and dear to my heart, so comments/feedback is greatly appreciated!


?:  What are you wearing?

The text arrived on Friday afternoon, after his last meeting but before leaving the office.  Aciano paused in the fourth floor hallway, swiped a quick reply.

Sorry, think you have the wrong number.

He tapped at the elevator, and received another message just as he stepped inside.

?:  I doubt that, Mr Mercier.

The door closed and Aciano tapped distractedly at the panel, never lifting his eyes from his phone.  Another message arrived.

?:  Go home.  Eat.  Shower.  Dress comfortably.  Go now.

The lift doors opened and Aciano made for his office – but slowed to a stop only halfway there.  Fucking fuck – the dominatrix he realised with a jolt of terror, and rounded the corner to find that Krishna had – of course – conveniently abandoned her post.  He looked around, but who was he expecting help from?

He strode to his office and shut the door, half expecting to find some leatherclad, crop-wielding femme fatale hiding in the evening shadows – but he was alone.  He took to his phone again and jabbed Krishna’s contact.

You could have at least warned me!!! :'( :'( wtf wtffff

He waited, sweating, but there was no reply.  Instead, another text came from the unknown number.

?:  Calm down. Have a drink, but just one. Nothing else.

Running a hand through his hair, Aciano put his phone down on his desk, paced his office.  Finally picked up the phone again, and texted back.

Okay. ETA?

He waited – briefly – but when nothing came back, he left, locked his office and made for the elevator.  Five minutes?  Five hours?  If he rushed, he’d be waiting in a panic forever; if he delayed, she’d arrive before he was ready.  Ready.  Was it even possible to be ready when one had no idea what to prepare for?

On the top floor, he kicked off his shoes and crossed the penthouse vestibule in a haze.  Eat something.  Food.  He opened the fridge.  Disparate ingredients.  Fuck.  Thinking was hard. He settled on an apple, a handful of almonds and a beer, the last of which he took to the shower with him.

The beer helped – a bit – and he was able to at least formulate a (desperate) plan.  He brushed his teeth, dressed, and settled into a series of Super Thrash Bros matches online.  He was far from professional, but the point wasn’t to win – the point was to kill time – and the game achieved that very effectively, forcing his upcoming visit to the back of his mind.  In fact, it took him a moment to notice when the apartment door opened.

“Hello,” said a woman from the doorway, and Aciano sat bolt upright on the couch, heart hammering.  Krishna must have given her a key.  He pawed at his phone until the television turned off, and stared at his guest.

She was tall and athletic – half Korean? – with wavy, chin-length black hair and nude makeup. She looked almost like she was on her way to the gym, wearing dark pants and a loose grey hoodie, carrying a large duffel bag.  She set that on the floor, crossed to the back of the couch and held out her hand.  “Nice to meet you.  Nice hair.”

Aciano shook her hand and touched his hair, which had dried in exactly the shape the couch had given it.  He frowned.

“Nice to meet you,” he said, not entirely sure it was true.  She was certainly beautiful, but so were vipers.  “…Sun-Ah..?”

She smirked.

“My friends call me Sun-Ah,” she said, but she didn’t clarify whether or not they were friends, nor what he should call her otherwise.  Instead, she walked around and sat in the armchair facing him, long nails clicking against her phone.  “Stand up, let me look at you.”

He frowned, but he did it, feeling suddenly very self-conscious in his own t-shirt and jeans.

“Cute.  You’re clean, right?  Just a drink?”

“Yeah.”

“Good.  Turn around.”

He spun until he was facing her again.  Sun-Ah smirked.

“Now howl like a wolf,” she said, and Aciano frowned again.

“Why?”

“Just to see if you’d do it,” she said.  “Funny where you draw the line, isn’t it?  Here, have a look at this.”

She handed him her phone, where he found a long, multi-level checklist with headings like SEX, PAIN, BONDAGE, and HUMILIATION, and specific items ranging from varieties of oral sex to whipping to tickling.

“…what’s this for, exactly?” Aciano said.  He voice sounded far away.

“Sit down, go through the list, and mark everything with either Yes, No, or Maybe.  If you mark Yes, we’ll do it – time and tools permitting.  If you mark No, we won’t try or even work towards it.  If you mark Maybe, we’ll work slowly; I’ll either ask, or I’ll give you time to say no.  Your personal assistant left suggestions; you should of course review those.”

“Oh,” Aciano said, feeling suddenly very hot; his hands were sweating around the phone.  He sat.  Sun-Ah got up and walked back to her bag.  Slut-shaming. Multiple penetration. Clamps. Masturbation.  His face burned just reading the list.  He changed a number of Krishna’s Y‘s and M‘s to N‘s, but had to pause.  “Um… …I don’t even know what half of this means.  …what’s bastinado?”

“Foot-caning.”

“Huh…”

“Keep in mind that you may, of course, change your answers – during the session or next time.”

“Next time…” Aciano repeated skeptically.  He completed the form just as Sun-Ah returned; her sleek black pants were the same, but her hoodie had vanished, and only a black lace bodysuit remained.  She’d added black heels and what could have passed for kinky Batman’s utility belt, slung low around her hips and carrying scissors, small rope, unnameable other devices and even what looked like a knife.

“Oh,” Aciano said, and Sun-Ah took the phone from his senseless hand.  She sorted the list, and talked while she looked it over.

“Whatever we do tonight, I want to remind you that you’re in control.  We can stop, take a break or move on at any time,” she said.  “Although… we probably won’t get to everything you’ve marked ‘Maybe’…  …you’re surprisingly adventurous, Mister Mercier…”

“It’s very possible I’ll hate everything.”

“Mmm.  I doubt that,” Sun-Ah said.  She looked him up and down, and her gaze was like a bolt going through him.  “Many people like you – people in positions of power – need the release that comes with being dominated.  If you don’t want to think, tonight, you don’t have to.  You don’t have to make decisions.  You just do as I say.  It’s very easy.”

Aciano shifted.

“Are you here to hit me or psychoanalyse me?”

“You’re paying my domination rate, and I’m going to hit everything from your feet to your face.  But if you need conventional therapy, we can meet next Tuesday in my office,” Sun-Ah said, then narrowed her eyes.  “Is it uncomfortable to have me in your head, Aciano?”

He looked up when she said his name, but the bodysuit was distracting.  Rather, the body in it.  Aciano wasn’t sure how to answer.  Sun-Ah crouched in front of him, drew something from her belt and placed it in his hand.  It was a short, hinged cylinder, like a retro joystick, with a spring trigger but without the base.  Sun-Ah strapped it in place around his hand, so he couldn’t drop it.

“This is a deadman switch.  When it’s armed, it makes noise, unless you’re squeezing it.  You’re to let it go if you want me to stop.  I don’t intend for you to have a bad time, and I want to know if that’s the case.  Understood?”

“Yes.  I know what a deadman switch is,” Aciano said, and managed a hopeful smile, “But I hope in this case it’s a misnomer..?”

“Correct.  I’m not going to kill you… and I’m not sure I’d call you a man…” she said.  She sat back in her chair, motioned at him.  “Stand up.  Strip for me.”

“What?” Aciano said in alarm, but Sun-Ah didn’t repeat herself.  He hesitated, but she just kept watching him with this annoyingly sexy look of expectation.  He stood.  Stalled.  “Um.  Like.  Sexy stripping?”

She grinned and lifted her eyebrows, amused.

“If you like…” she said.  He was an idiot.  Aciano flushed, pulled off his shirt and dropped it on the couch.  He reached for his pants… and dropped both those and his briefs together.  He pushed them aside with his foot, looking anywhere but at Sun-Ah.  She stood up, and he tensed.  She stalked around him, inspecting him, and the confidence in her posture was something Aciano couldn’t even imagine.  “Good.  Now go to the bedroom.”

He turned, but she stopped him.

“The master bedroom.”

Of course – she’d been to the apartment already.  Aciano hesitated, but decided not to argue, and merely turned down the hall to his parents’ room.  Sun-Ah followed with her mysterious bag, and they were greeted by an expansive bed in a quiet room, untouched for weeks since his parents’ vacation.  The lights were off and the curtains drawn, and the only real problem was the collection of childhood portraits covering the walls – which Aciano merely chose to avoid looking at.  Sun-Ah didn’t, and dropped her bag to take a brief tour of the photos.  The duffel was open – perhaps on purpose.  There were bundles of pale rope inside – pink and blue like cotton candy – black bars with metal fittings, thick strips of leather on–

“I’m going to tie you up,” Sun-Ah interrupted his visual inventory.  Aciano’s stomach fluttered in terror.

“Already?”

“Did you want me to ask about your trip to Disneyland?” she said, and Aciano flushed.  Sun-Ah pulled a rope bundle from the bag and approached.  She freed a loop of rope, let the rest of the bundle drop heavily to the floor, then wrapped the loop around his shoulders.  She reached around his body like a tailor – a half-naked tailor working ropes instead of measuring tape – and built a tight harness around his chest.  The knots bit into him and the rope scratched, and Sun-Ah’s hands were bliss in comparison.  She gripped the harness, pulled, and Aciano staggered sideways.  She was surprisingly strong.  “You can breathe?  It’s not too tight?”

“I’m okay.”

It only felt restrictive after he said it, but he wasn’t about to change his answer.  Sun-Ah grabbed his hands, and it was only then that he realised that they were shaking.  She looked him in the eyes.

“Aciano, I promise you have nothing to worry about,” she said, and he nodded.

“I’m okay,” he repeated, more to himself than to her.  Sun-Ah picked up another bundle of rope and tied his wrists together behind his back, each hand to the opposite elbow, forcing him to arch his back.  Aciano pulled, but she held him firm – and so did her ropes.

“Tell me if your hands tingle or go numb,” she said, then twisted at the deadman switch, closed his fingers around the trigger.  “This is armed.  Try it out?  Good.  That beep is my signal to stop what we’re doing, alright?  You can let go at any time.”

Aciano nodded, and a dark bag came down over his head.  It wasn’t so thick that he couldn’t breathe, but he couldn’t see anything, either.  Sun-Ah secured it around his neck, and he felt a thrill of excitement despite himself.  He tried to take a deep breath, but the harness and the bag made it difficult.  Sun-Ah held his shoulders, pressed her thumbs into his neck, and massaged down his arms.  She pressed hard; she was strong, and her nails scraped at him, but the bag was surprisingly freeing and safe – like hiding in a blanket.  He was already starting to feel light-headed.

“Relax.  I’m going to hurt you, but your body knows what to do, and will react as it must to protect you.  Just let it, and enjoy the ride.  If you wish to fight me, or fight yourself – your instincts to moan or cry or more – that’s up to you.  Some people like to fight.  But I can assure you that you won’t win.”

She circled round to his front, and when Aciano tried to back up, she seized the harness and dragged him closer, until they were almost touching.  He felt her breathy laugh on his chest.

“Aha, yes, I think we’re going to get along just fine…” she said.  She stepped aside, wrapped both hands into the ropes across his back, and bent him double.  Aciano automatically tried to twist away, but Sun-Ah forced him forward, until he was kneeling on the leather bench at the end of the bed, his face and chest on the duvet.  She put a hand between his shoulder blades and held him down.  “Stay.”

She let him go.  Aciano stayed down, even when she dragged her nails across his back, over his ass and down his thighs. She drew one finger down the arch of his foot, and Aciano jerked away with a gasp.

“Ah, you’re ticklish,” Sun-Ah said with an audible smile.  She seized his feet, pressed her thumbs into the soles.  Aciano moaned.

“Yes.  Muscular augments?” he panted.  Sun-Ah kept massaging.

“Did I tell you to speak?” she said, and Aciano shut up.  She worked his feet, his ankles, his calves… and then she tied his big toes together with narrow rope.  She walked away, and when she returned, it was to press a narrow, wooden switch against the soles of his feet.  “I wouldn’t normally start so literally with your feet… but since you seemed so curious, I don’t want to leave you… dissatisfied.”

She whipped a line across his heels, and Aciano gasped.  He tried to pull his feet away, but she’d tethered his toes to something – the bench?  She whipped again.  Her strikes came harder and harder but never too quickly, until each one burned and took seconds to sear into his flesh, and each made him draw a sharp breath through his teeth. It wasn’t that the pain was unbearable, but that it was just barely so, and endless, and his tethered toes made it inescapable.  Eventually he writhed and rose up, sitting back on his heels to protect them.  Sun-Ah paused, and Aciano’s feet throbbed.  He felt her nails dig into his hips.

“Ready to move on?” she teased, and Aciano nodded.  Anything but more of that.  Sun-Ah raked his ass with her nails and dragged her fingers up his sides.  With one hand on his chest and one on his throat, she pulled him close enough to talk directly into his hearing device.  “Getting quite excited already… are you thinking about what I might do to you?  What I could do to you?”

He tried to pull away and Sun-Ah let him go, then bent him into the bed again.  She untied his toes, and placed something on the bench between his knees.  She reached between them to massage him, and Aciano moaned; she grabbed his ass, and he shut up.

“You look good, Mister Mercier.  Nice skin.  Too bad I need to ruin it,” she said.  She dug her nails into him, massaged him, spanked him, and Aciano bit back his voice.  She scratched and rubbed at his thighs, his ass and lower back; she smacked him harder, slowly ramping up, until each blow sent a wave of sensation through his body – down his legs until his toes curled; into his chest, making it hard to breathe; into his loins, until his cock ached.  He panted, and she massaged his lower back.  She pressed the flat side of a long, wooden paddle against him, and Aciano whimpered.  “Alright..?”

“Yes,” he panted, and Sun-Ah drew the paddle away.  He tensed.  Nothing happened.  She rubbed his lower back.

“Relax,” she said.  “I know it’s difficult.”

Aciano sighed.  Sighed again.  It was impossible to take a full breath.  He let his chest rest on the bed, his knees on the bench, back arched.  Loosened his shoulders.  Relaxed.  Breathed.

SMACK!

“Ah! Ff–” SMACK! “Haa..!”

The paddle hurt more and covered a larger area, and after each strike Sun-Ah held it against him as though to press the pain in.  More than once he tried to squirm away, but she kept one hand on the back of his harness, and held him in place on the bed.  He quickly became short of breath – the bag was stifling – and the paddle was intense, like a crack of lightning through his brain and body each time she hit him.  His legs started to shake; his knees hurt despite the cushioned top of the bench.  Sun-Ah reached between his thighs and dragged her nails gently down the underside of his cock.

“Ready to try something else?” she said, fondling his balls – an intense pleasure given that everything else hurt.

“Yes – yes,” Aciano panted.  His chest ached, and he could hardly breathe.  The ropes bit, and his whole body trembled.  It was astonishing to think that at some point his feet had hurt.

“Do you think you can stand?”

“Yes,” Aciano breathed without actually thinking about it.  Sun-Ah took hold of the harness and helped him – forced him? – to sit back on his heels, then down off the bench.  Once upright and unable to find his bearings visually, he was overcome by dizziness, and wavered.  His legs were weak and his feet tingled with rebirth, like he’d walked across hot coals and emerged safe on the other side.  Like he was standing on menthol.

Sun-Ah held onto him until he was steady, and kept close after that.  She removed the bag from his head, and Aciano suddenly recalled where they were.  He smiled feebly as the cool air of the bedroom found his face.  Sun-Ah disarmed the deadman switch and peeled his palm open.

“You can relax,” she said, and started untying his wrists.  The rope scratched when she slid it over his skin, but it was relatively painless.  She tossed the first bundle of rope and massaged his arms from behind.  “Alright?  Still feeling strong?”

“…yeah,” Aciano decided.  Sun-Ah pulled his fingers open again.

“Relax,” she repeated, and Aciano tried to relax as much as possible without falling over.  Once she’d freed him of the harness, it was easier – he could breathe – and he rubbed the red lines across his chest where the ropes had pressed in.  Sun-Ah returned.  “Chin up.”

He lifted his chin, and she neatly fitted him with a hard leather collar with a metal buckle and rings.  He moved to touch it, but Sun-Ah caught his hand.

“Don’t touch,” she said, then gave both wrists the same treatment, buckling him into hard leather cuffs.  They weren’t uncomfortable, but he got the feeling they were about to be.  She circled to his back again, and lifted his right hand to his shoulder. There, she clipped his cuff to a light metal bar, which she then clipped to the back of his collar.  She lifted his other wrist and locked that in place, too, and the bar was like a yoke he couldn’t drop, rendering his arms utterly useless and his body fully exposed.  “How’s that?”

“Fine..?”

“So is it just your feet that are ticklish?” Sun-Ah said, and before Aciano could answer, she crawled her fingers up his sides like spiders.  He let out a pathetic whine and jerked away so violently that he would have fallen had Sun-Ah not caught him.  Once under her power, she steered him towards the bench again.  “Now now… back to your place.”

He knelt on the bench again, and made to bend, but Sun-Ah held the bar and kept him upright.

“As much as I’d love to keep torturing your ass, I have something else in mind,” she said, and armed the deadman switch again.  “You’re to stay upright, if you can.  If you want me to wait, stay down.  If you release the switch, I’ll stop completely.  Understood?”

“Yes,” Aciano said, and no sooner had he exhaled did Sun-Ah strike his back with something new, and he straightened as the leather tails of a flogger fell upon him.  As before, she started gently; the strikes came quicker than the paddle had – every few seconds – but they were entirely bearable.  The leather strips were heavy and they stung, but unlike the paddle, they yielded, and even as the intensity of the blows increased, he found he was able to take them.  In the pause between lashes, he could still feel the glow of pain in his legs and feet.

Then Sun-Ah lashed him hard; Aciano arched his back and then fell forward onto the bed, whining.

“That’s better,” Sun-Ah said.  “Take your time…”

Aciano slowly dragged himself upright again; the yoke felt suddenly heavy, and using his back muscles only drew attention to the burn of Sun-Ah’s latest strike.  She dragged her nails slowly down his back; it felt nice, until she lashed him with the flogger again.

“Ah!”

“Shh…”

When he rose again, she massaged and scratched him before flogging him again, and repeated the same routine each time afterwards.  The massages, scratches and strikes each became more intense, until Aciano’s head filled with fog, his whole body shook and he was fearful to rise again – but he did, trembling.  His whole back burned from tension, and he twitched at phantom pains and half-imagined, half-predicted strikes.  Sun-Ah ran her finger up his spine, and he straightened, whimpering.  She withdrew her hand, but before she could hit him, Aciano bent into the duvet again, gasping tears and trembling.

“Sit up,” Sun-Ah commanded, but Aciano didn’t.  Couldn’t.  He wanted to bawl.

“I — can’t,” he breathed.  Sun-Ah stepped up onto the bed, grabbed the bar between his wrists and dragged him up to the pillows, so he was entirely prone on the bed.  It was slightly more relaxing than kneeling, but the comfort of the duvet only helped to highlight everything that wasn’t comfortable: his arms hurt; his muscles were on fire.  He was sweating.  His mouth was dry.  Sun-Ah seized a handful of his hair.

“Almost done, sweetie,” she said gently.  Then she forced his face into the pillows, and her wooden switch came down on his back.  Aciano yelled and writhed, pulling at the yoke and kicking his legs, both uselessly.  When he found his knees, Sun-Ah whipped his ass and thighs – he lay down on the bed again, whining.  He twisted and wriggled against her grip, but she was vastly stronger, and merely switched him again and again until he stopped squirming – until he was yelling and crying into the pillows, clutching at them with his free hand.  “Shh… just breathe.”

Sun-Ah stopped caning.  She knelt on the bed beside him and massaged his back, and at first it hurt more than it relaxed him.  Aciano tried to pull away, but she held him down, and worked his flesh from neck to heels until his breathing calmed.  Then she rolled him over.

Aciano stared at nothing, his lashes clinging together with tears, only vaguely aware of his own consciousness.  The touch of the duvet stung his back, but it was easier to relax and bear it than to move.  It was like hearing an endless ringing – painful for a while, but eventually it would fade to the background.  Sun-Ah straddled him and scratched lightly at his chest.  He hardly felt it.  He felt high.

“There you go, sweet thing,” Sun-Ah said softly, and she smiled.  She stroked his hair and took hold of his transmitter, laid it aside and so forced him to focus on her lips.  “Let’s hear what you sound like…”

She scratched his scalp, massaged his temples, ears and jaw – it was heaven – then kneaded his shoulders and chest.  She held up her first two fingers in a ‘V’, as though to demonstrate something, then pressed both fingers to his chest, where a pulse of electricity traveled between them through Aciano’s flesh.  He jerked – perhaps involuntarily – and whined; he tried to protect himself, but his arms were still bound to the yoke, and probably useless, besides.  She shocked him again, and his muscles twitched.  Sun-Ah smiled down at him, her eyes crossing his face and body like he was dessert.

“Shame you’re not interested in fucking.  Maybe next time.  You really are a treat,” she said, and he barely caught the whole statement before she shocked him again.  She went to work with both hands, scratching and shocking and kneading his chest in an endless series, pinching his nipples, tickling his sides, never giving him a moment to rest.  His whole body trembled from exertion; his wrists hurt from pulling at the cuffs, and though he tried to lift his legs to fight her, they were weak and useless.  It was sensation overload, and eventually became too much to fight.  Aciano instead gave up, lay limp on the bed and begged her to stop in half-sentences that might not have even been English.

Sun-Ah drew her hands away and Aciano found himself struggling to breathe, crying again.  He kept as quiet as possible, trying to calm down, and looked anywhere but at Sun-Ah.  She grabbed his jaw, forced him to face her.  With her other hand, she reached back to stroke his cock; he twitched, his eyelids fluttered and he moaned again.

“You sound like a pathetic, hungry little animal, whimpering and mewling,” Sun-Ah said with a delighted sneer.  “But it feels good, doesn’t it?  Knowing that you’re my bitch?  Laying yourself out for me?  I bet you’re not even ashamed of yourself.  Filthy.”

She pinched and pulled at his bottom lip, then slapped him, shaking loose a few stuck tears.

“Answer me,” she said, squeezing with her other hand.

“I dunno,” Aciano mouthed, not even sure if any sound came out.  His every nerve felt tight and ready to break.  Even his face hurt.  Sun-Ah raised an eyebrow.

“I thought you were a genius?”

“No…” he breathed.  Sun-Ah smiled, wiped his tears, and gently freed him from the yoke.  Aciano cried in relief.  He offered her the deadman switch, but she laughed.

“Oh no, honey, we’re not quite done yet,” she said.  She stood on the bed with her feet on either side of him, and unzipped her pants – all the way around, so the legs separated completely.  The bottom of her bodysuit snapped opened just as easily.  Aciano didn’t know what noise he made, but Sun-Ah laughed again.  “Not every day you get invited to sit on Aciano Mercier’s face.”

She straddled his chest, pinning his arms with her legs.  She was wet.  Hot.  His cock throbbed.  Aciano flushed and tried to turn away, but Sun-Ah grabbed his face again, massaged his mouth loose.  She checked the deadman switch and held his hand briefly.

“Still okay?” she said.  His eyelids fluttered; lips trembled.  He nodded.  “Good.  I know you’re frightened, so just remember is this: the harder you try to please me, the more you’ll get to breathe.”

Aciano didn’t get the chance to react before she grabbed his hair and shifted her hips forward.  Her cunt was swollen and hot; she tasted like honey butter, sticky and slick at the same time.  Aciano quickly found that he couldn’t breathe – couldn’t turn or lift his head to escape.  He groped and scratched at her, writhed under her, but he was too weak to fight.  He tongued her instead.

It didn’t take long before he felt lightheaded, and he must have been noticeably fainter, for Sun-Ah lifted her hips.  Aciano gasped for air, but was allowed barely a breath before she settled down again, grinding into his face.  She stayed for longer this time – and the next – until finally she lifted her hips and grabbed his hair to get his attention.

“Touch yourself,” she commanded, panting, and she freed one of his hands from under her legs.  He reached down to find his cock sore and hot; it quivered at his touch, already weeping – but focusing on himself and on Sun-Ah was impossible.  She mounted him again, grinding into his tired tongue and jaw.  He stroked himself.  Sun-Ah’s cunt pulsed and tightened, and Aciano couldn’t breathe.  His head felt filled with black champagne and Sun-Ah’s whole body shook; he was trapped between her augmented legs, everything aching.  He let go of reality and felt a surge of hot come across his chest and stomach.  A wave of pleasure rolled through him; he felt at peace; he felt nothing more.


“–ciano?”

His implant stuttered.  It felt like his brain was shorting out.  He gasped back to life, then succumbed to a fit of coughing.  Kneeling on the bed, Sun-Ah helped him roll onto his side, and rubbed his back.

“Take your time,” she said gently, and Aciano swallowed.  He was crying again, he realised, but not as desperately as before, and he was otherwise utterly relaxed – probably because he was too weak to move.  He laid his head on the bed, and Sun-Ah stroked his hair.  “You okay?”

“I’m okay,” he breathed.  His lips tasted like her.  Smelled like her.  He wiped his mouth.  “What’s that noise..?”

Sun-Ah took his other hand – the hand with the deadman switch – and disarmed it.  She took the switch from him and stroked his face.

“Look at me.  You’re a good boy.  You did very well.  Are you cold?” she said.  Aciano blushed and shook his head; Sun-Ah stroked his ear.  “Wait here – I’m coming right back.”

He shut his eyes.  He had never felt so fucking tired in all his life.  The sheets smelled amazing; the bed was a cloud and also his best friend; his head was completely empty, even when he tried to think.  He jerked in surprise when Sun-Ah touched his shoulder.

“Here; drink.”

It was some kind of sports drink – something green.  He didn’t care; he drank it.  Sun-Ah, her pants back in one piece and wearing her hoodie, sat next to him and scritched his hair, like he was some kind of dog.  It felt amazing.

“Can you sit up for me?” she said, and Aciano considered.  He didn’t want to, but he tried.  His arms shook, and Sun-Ah had to help him upright.

“Shit,” he said, and laughed at himself, which made him start crying again.  “Fuck.  Ha…”

“It’s okay to cry, as long as you keep laughing, too,” Sun-Ah said with a smile.  She shifted back on the bed, and after removing his collar and cuffs, took to gently massaging his head, neck and shoulders, always watching him.  Aciano relaxed again, but his eyes were like faucets.  He forced a laugh, cried some more, drank his green water.  “You did very well, Aciano.  I’m impressed.”

“Why the fuck am I crying..?” he said, and laughed, and cried, and even Sun-Ah chuckled.

“I think most CEO brainiacs call that ‘stress’.”

“Ugh,” he said, and wiped his eyes again.  He heaved a sigh.  Sun-Ah slipped off the bed and stood before him.

“You’re probably going to pass out soon, but if you’d like to wash first, I can help you,” she said, offering her hands.  Aciano gave her the bottle instead, and shook his head.

“I don’t need help,” he said.  He lowered his feet over the edge of the bed and stood up, like a wounded dog, too tired to succeed but too loyal not to try for its master.  His vision immediately blotted and he swayed on his feet.  “Oh…”

Sun-Ah took his arm and helped him to the shower, where he sat on the tiled floor and let the hot water rain on him.  Every drop stung – both relief and reminder – until an overall haze was all he could feel.  His face tingled – his insides tingled – and he still felt high.  He went through the motions of washing more than he actually thought about doing it, and Sun-Ah gave him some privacy, but only briefly.  She returned to help him dry off, and wrapped him in a silken robe he didn’t recognise.

“This is for you,” she said.  At another time, he might have argued, but the silk was soft as fuck, and it wasn’t like he’d won any arguments all night.  Or however long it had been.  Fifteen minutes?  An hour?  …days?  The view from the living room revealed that it was still relatively light out.  Sun-Ah steered him towards his own bedroom, but Aciano slowed, and she noticed immediately.  “Everything okay?”

“Are you going to leave..?” he said, aware of how needy it sounded.  He was too tired to care.  He was needy.  Sun-Ah smiled.

“I’ll stay until you fall asleep, and for a short while after that,” she said.  “I can stay the night if you like, but most people like me gone by morning.  Would you like to stay out here..?”

Any other time, he’d have called her annoyingly perceptive… but at the present moment, it was useful.  He nodded.  She helped him to the couch, and before he could even ask, she found a blanket and wrapped him up.  She sat next to him, laid his head in her lap and stroked his hair.  With her other hand, she keyed her phone.

“Should we watch something?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you like documentaries?” she said, and didn’t need to wait for his response.  The TV lit up, and they watched maybe three minutes of lizards before Aciano fell into a deep and inescapable sleep.


He awoke to silence, his cochlear transmitter on the coffee table.  Next to it, his phone blinked, signalling missed messages.  The apartment was still and dim, save for a light breeze that smelled of the ocean, and the accompanying flicker of sunlight that crept with it past the patio curtains. Sun-Ah was long gone, though she’d left a number of treats for him: dark chocolate, trail mix, an energy bar, bottled water, more sports drinks, two business cards. Aciano reached first for his phone.

44 new messages from K

He groaned, scrolled to the latest messages.

     ...
     k: aciano u ho txt me back
     k: if u dont txt by 1300 im coming over
     k: r u dead?!
     k: omw
     k: u better not be murdered in ur pool

He checked the time.  One-thirty.  One-thirty.  He groaned again, shuffled the blanket off, sat up.  His skin felt raw, and he was still pink in places, but there was nothing lasting.  That said, he was tired; everything felt heavy, and the journey to and from the bathroom might have been to Mount Doom.  He returned to the couch with relief, wrapped himself in the blanket and drank the rest of his green thing, texting with the other hand.

   I'm fine.  Sorry to worry you.
k: 2 bad; already here

He traded his phone for his transmitter and lay down, and it was only a minute later that he heard Krishna open the door.

“A?” she called, and he lifted a hand over the back of the couch.  She came around the end and burst out laughing.  “Omigod, Aciano.”

“Don’t make fun,” he said, and was surprised at how levelly and clearly his voice came out.  Krishna sat next to him on the edge of the couch and leaned over to give him a hug, holding a tall takeout cup in her other hand.  “Ah – Krishna – gentle..?”

She sat up and smoothed his hair – or tried to, anyway.

“I’m glad you’re alright.  You look… spent.  Were you sleeping this whole time, or just ignoring me?  Are you naked under this blanket?”

“Sleeping; I can’t ignore you.  And not all the way naked,” Aciano said.  Krishna offered him the cup and straw.

“Want some of this?  It’s Mango Madness or some crap, but it’s nothing like Fruuzen and I kinda hate it.”

“You could put some maple in it..?”

“I’m not making my own smoothies!!” Krishna insisted.  Rather than risk offending her, Aciano took the smoothie, and Krishna scooped up his chocolate instead.  Despite there being several open chairs, she settled into the couch, donned a slow smirk and looked sideways at him.  “So… how do you feel?”

“…honestly… …so good,” Aciano admitted. He smiled despite himself and had to cover his face. Krishna grinned, got that look she always got when there was gossip afoot.

“Okay, so you can either tell me about your night, or about your meeting with Iliza Monarch.”

“And here I thought the torture was over.”

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