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Chapter Three

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“Have you filled one of these out before?” asked Majok, and Cecil nodded his head, marking out the sections on the mood survey before passing it back across the table. “He came. You can relax.”

Cecil let out a low chuckle, leaning back in the seat, and he exhaled, sipping from the tea Majok had made for him. He really had almost convinced himself that despite giving his word he would, Valorous would drop out and wouldn’t actually show up – he’d been relieved when he’d gotten his text, and even more relieved than Valorous had actually walked through the door, even if he had been a rude little bitch with the doc.

“I do feel the need to ask,” said Majok, leaning back in his seat and resting his hands over his belly, settled in his lap, “if you’ll be able to concentrate on your own sessions, or if you’ll be distracted by the thought of Sir Valorous in the next room.”

“Nah,” said Cecil. “I guess I’m setting an example for him – that doesn’t just mean, uh, showing up. It means doing the work, too.”

Majok’s lips shifted into a slight smile, and he gave a slow, approving nod. “What would you like to get out of this, then? Sir Valorous is attended to: for yourself, purely for yourself, what do you think I can help you with?”

Cecil looked down at the tea in his cup, swilling it slightly and examining its colour. His stomach felt slightly unsettled, and he tried to push that anxiety, that uncertainty, aside.

He probably would have ended up doing this, at some point, even without Valorous as a motivator. He knew he needed it – he’d needed it for a long time.

“I’ve been messy,” said Cecil lowly. “I used to be pretty regimented, had a firm routine – I’ve had periods of depression before, where I’ve fallen by the wayside a bit, but never so extreme as the past few years. I’ve got more hours in the day than I’ve ever had before, but my house has been dirty, the garden not taken care of, all that. Since the lad’s insinuated himself, everything’s cleaned up, and he’s pretty obsessive about cleaning and organising, so it’s easier with him here, but I never used to need someone else.”

“Did you have a routine when you were in prison?” asked Majok. “As regimented as you were when you were still teaching?”

“Yeah, I think,” said Cecil, thinking about it, his brow furrowing. “You had to be, to fill the day – I exercised a lot, I went to groups, I read a lot of books. I was part of a tutoring programme for prisoners with low literacy, and I volunteered as a coach as well, set up some gym routines. I tried to stay busy as much as possible. At the school, there was always something – there’d be the actual PE classes, the sports practices and extra drills, all the paperwork, budgeting, planning for school trips. I’d normally be looking after dogs, then, I’d cruise a bit, I read a lot then, too.”

“And after you left prison, before Valorous?”

“I took a while to get work,” said Cecil. “I was on the dole, I couldn’t get in anywhere. Applied all over, ended up working one or two shifts here and there but then I’d get dropped once they realised who I was. I took up drinking a lot more.”

“Do you drink every night?”

“I did then,” said Cecil. “I’d start early on in the day, because if I was drinking I could zone out and watch TV, or just… Something. Spirits in the evening. I wouldn’t drink when I was fucking lads, and then the past few months, I did drink a lot less. I drink even less now, ‘cause between the dog and Valorous, I don’t need to feel numb as much. I probably still drink more than I should – I need it to sleep some nights, at this point.”

“Would you also say you’re reliant on exercise?”

“Oh, fuck yeah,” said Cecil. “I realised it especially once I had work in the gym, how little I’d been exercising except for sex and now I’m back to doing more. And— Again, between the dog and Valorous, I’m getting a lot more again.”

“What about people?”

“People?”

“Well, you were in a school before, which is an environment where you’re continuously around hundreds of people, and you just that when you were in prison, not only were you around people at all times, you put yourself in positions of authority, responsibility, as a teacher, as a support for other prisoners. You can’t tell me that didn’t lead to people coming to you for advice or further guidance, or just to talk.”

“I never cared for it,” muttered Cecil.

“But you don’t have it anymore,” said Majok. “You’re no longer seen as an authority figure, nor a support post for others. Has it been a relief, having Valorous insinuate himself as someone in need of that care from you?”

Cecil looked down at his hands, which he’d settled on his knees. “Yeah,” he said. “Same as the dog, it’s… He relies on me, interrupts me when I’m stuck in my head. It does help.”

“How long have you known him?”

“Since he was a kid. He started at Idloes when he was nine or ten, after his dad was murdered. He’d been up at Sons of Cumhaill, which is a fucking… Scottish magical military school. The sort of place where you pick up an axe at age five, you know? When he came down south, he had his own weapons, a short sword, a long sword, and a hand axe, all made for his size, so he stood out in PE classes. This tiny kid, but he was muscular even then, and all the lads in the lower years underestimated him, didn’t realise how dangerous he was, how much he’d been trained.”

“You don’t sound like you approve,” said Majok. “You don’t think he should have been sent to Idloes?”

“We were a downgrade, to say the least,” said Cecil. “Sons of Cumhaill is a pretty strict boarding school, constant supervision, constant discipline. When he came to Idloes, he had no idea what the fuck to do with himself. A lot of his classes were at several levels behind what he’d already done, and there was more free time in the day than he knew what to do with – and he’d never been taught to play like other kids did, didn’t know the meaning of the word. He used to run into his PE classes, and I’d always set him extra stuff, or put him in teams with non-humans. I mean— No offence.”

“None taken.”

“The fae kids, the vampires. The ones who, you know, biologically, they were denser, heavier, stronger, more developed, than the human kids the same age. You could tell that PE was his favourite, and even before Myrddin took him on as a protégé, he competed in bouts and did some sports.”

“When did your relationship change?”

“It didn’t,” said Cecil stoutly. “Not at school. Myrddin took Valorous on when he was thirteen or fourteen, something like that, and he started spending weeks at a time in Camelot or abroad with the regent’s party, doing more competitions. Within a year he’d decided that he wanted me to fuck him, and started mounting a campaign about it.”

“A campaign?” repeated Majok.

“I know how it sounds,” said Cecil. “Sounds like a paedo’s dream, right, some fifteen-year-old throwing himself at you? But this wasn’t him fluttering his eyelashes at me and asking for extra credit, or sending me a card at Valentine’s. It wasn’t…” He exhaled, rubbing the side of his nose. “I’d had that before, ‘course I had. Teenagers experimenting, having a crush on me, it’s natural. It’s part of teaching – they’re all cooped up in a big building together, and it’s inevitable that if you’re halfway decent-looking, one of the little fucks will find something worth lusting over. You just set your boundaries, you say no, you make sure you don’t let flirting go far when they test you. Most of the time it’s virgins who’re hot for teacher – they’re easy to shut down – or they’ve been touched up before, and it’s all they know. The latter, I’d refer to the counsellor, or drop a report about their safety at home, once or twice I’d have a frank conversation with boys about it, just one-on-one, like, especially back in the 90s.”

Majok was listening very carefully, giving him his full attention, and Cecil was insanely grateful that he wasn’t taking notes. Something about the idea just made him want to fidget, Majok writing down whatever he was saying – even though he was already fucked out of his teaching career, knew he couldn’t ever go back, a part of him couldn’t believe he was saying this out loud and talking about it so frankly, talking like someone who knew something about it, which he could never really do before.

“He’d strip himself naked in the changing rooms, with the other boys,” said Cecil. “I tried to stay out of the changing rooms as much as possible anyway, but if I dipped my head in to tell them to hurry it up, he’d always be naked. That’s not that unusual, with the background he had, but he’d try to make sure I saw him – he’d bend over, or come up to me with his towel in his hand, that sort of thing. This was when he was fifteen, right? So I ignored it. And he’d dip his head into my office, sometimes, ask if I needed extra help, or if I could give him attention, private help – not subtle, but subtle enough, deniable, like. I’d always tell him to fuck off. Once he was legal, once he was sixteen, he’d be more blunt about it – tell me he was good at sucking cock, that he was horny, that he’d not tell anyone. Then, when that didn’t work, he started upping the ante.

“First, it’d be him with other students – other lads normally a bit older than he was, and definitely bigger than he was. Make sure they’d kiss out the back of the equipment sheds, or in the locker nook next to my office, or in the changing rooms – anywhere I’d be liable to walk in on them. Kiss them, frot with them, suck their cocks. And then when that didn’t work, he started sucking off adults.”

Majok was frowning, leaning forward slightly in his seat. “Adults? Teachers, you mean?”

“One of the groundskeepers, first, made sure I caught him blowing him in the shed when I was making sure he’d be repainting the lines for cricket. I was fucking livid, grabbed this fucking prick around his throat while he was in the middle of stuffing his cock back into his trousers, and then I hauled the lad out of there by the scruff of his neck, reported the fella, Alan. Found one of the nurses doing an impromptu prostate exam in the changing rooms – nearly broke his nose, reported him. A coach for one of the fae schools’ archery teams – nothing came of reporting that, ‘cause the fae don’t have legislation around that the way we do. The head of geography fucked his arse cheeks on a school trip, of course, in the van so I’d come back for my fags and see.

“When he was seventeen, I came into my office to find the inspector for education standards sat back on my desk, the lad between his legs. He’d copied my key at some point so he could go through my things, and I’d confiscated it, but he’d obviously made more than one. Had told him that the teacher the office it belonged to was off on paternity ‘til the end of the year – gave him a Hell of a surprise when I walked in and blew a fucking gasket at him. He resigned right after that, begged me not to report him, but I did anyway.

“And the last one, that was another nurse. I don’t know if that one was even for my benefit, because I got an emergency text to my phone from a number I didn’t recognise asking me to come to the nurse’s office right away, and the cunt had shoved a—” Cecil grit his teeth, remembering, his hands clenching into fists. “He was bleeding, anyway. Every time I’d catch him with someone, he’d say that it was my fault he touched any of them, that if I just fucked him myself, there’d be no problem, that I was basically the one hurting him, when he got hurt, by virtue of not taking care of him myself. He was obsessed with me, and I mean obsessed – one of those episodes would happen every two or three months, but in between, he’d constantly be breaking into my office, into the box on my bike, into my emails. I’d sit down at my desk sometimes and find him between my knees, or come into the shower about to strip my kecks off and see him waiting for me under the spray. He’d sneak naked pictures of himself into my desk, send me texts, would always get my new number even if I changed my phone.”

“And you didn’t report this to anybody?” asked Majok.

“At first, I tried,” said Cecil. “Reporting the different men he’d be in flagrante in, that was one thing, but I tried mentioning it, that he’d been breaking into my office, but no one really saw the big deal about it when he didn’t break nothing and didn’t even graffiti anything. I mean, it’s not as if I was one of the pretty twenty-year-old English teachers, was it, wasn’t as if I had tits the size of melons. I looked pretty much the same as I do now, and while I’ve got an appeal to a certain kind of lad, none of the other teachers could understand that, could comprehend what might make me attractive. And once he escalated it to full on seduction attempts, naked pictures and that, there was no way I could report it without being at risk of being outed as being into younger lads – because they’d ask, you see. I never fucked a boy under the age of eighteen in Lashton, not while I was teaching, but I’d shagged students at other schools, and I liked young lads. Eighteen, nineteen, twenty.”

Majok nodded his head seriously, but before he could open his mouth to respond, Cecil blurted out, “And I didn’t want him sent off to the Castle. He was— He’d said, that he was terrified of being shipped off, sent abroad. To another school. I know it would’ve been for his own good, probably, but he didn’t want it. He’d said to me, before, that he was scared it’d happen, that he’d be shipped off to another boarding school in a different country, and I didn’t want to be responsible for that, if I reported him for the stalking.”

They sat in the silence of that for a second or two, Cecil staring down at his knees, at the hair on his knuckles, at his own scrubbed-raw, clean fingernails.

“Do you regret that?” asked Majok quietly.

“Eh?”

“Do you regret not reporting his behaviour? Do you regret not intervening – do you think it would have been more beneficial for him, had you done so? Had your actions caused him to be sent to the Castle?”

Cecil swallowed. “They’d not necessarily have sent him there, I know that,” he said lowly. “And even if they had, it’d not necessarily have made a difference.”

“But you wish you had?”

“Sometimes.”

“And now?”

“He came back to Lashton. Once I was out of the nick, he came back – while I was still inside, actually. He sent me letters saying he’d be around, once I was out, included some pictures that I never got, ‘cause they don’t let people send pornography in. He’s a cop now, so when I got out, he had my address, my phone number again, ‘cause I had to register it. Always knew where I’d been interviewing, offered to write me a letter of recommendation, give me an endorsement. Anyone’d hire me, he’d say, if he said so.”

“You said no?”

“’Course I said no,” muttered Cecil. “The lad’s fucking mental. He’d show up at my house – whenever I had lads throwing eggs or blood or whatever, whenever someone had filed a false report about me, or been harassing me, he’d make sure to be the officer following up on it, or he’d check in. He’d follow me to work, show up in the gym while I was working, phone me in the middle of the night so I couldn’t sleep.”

“For how long?”

“Months.”

“What made you accept his attention?”

“He drugged me,” said Cecil. “He was going to… He’d drugged me, knocked me out, and broke into my house. Cooked up this nice dinner, had laced it with some aphrodisiac, so I’d lose my mind and fuck him even though I kept telling him I wouldn’t. He changed his mind once he was inside.”

Majok tilted his head.

“It was a pigsty,” said Cecil. “Bottles and cans everywhere, packets, tins, hadn’t done any of my dishes, all my clothes were filthy, the whole place was… It was a turn-off, he said. So instead of waking me up like he planned, he left me unconscious for hours, and cleaned everything up. Picked up all the rubbish, did my dishes, a lot of my laundry. Hoovered. Put fucking air freshener around the place. Left me to eat what he’d cooked, this whole roast dinner, without lacing it with anything. He came into the gym a week later, and we sparred, and he followed me home, and I just… let him. He told me what his plan had been, that he’d…

“It sounds crazy, I know that,” said Cecil, “but when he drugged me just to clean my house, I was fucking terrified. When he said to me then that the cleaning thing wasn’t what he’d meant to do, that his original plan was just to drug me into sex, I was relieved.”

“Why relieved?” asked Majok.

“Because if he’d planned to do that cleaning thing, that would have been… crazed. Just. Just really, really weird. It would have been abstract, a really strange manipulation. It would be the sort of thing Myrddin Wyllt’d do.” He didn’t realise it until after the words tumbled out of his mouth, and he felt sick, rubbing his hand over his face, wrinkling his nose. “But it wasn’t on purpose, wasn’t calculated. He came into my house and lost his mind because it was dirty, and for a second, he wasn’t obsessed with me – he was obsessed with that. It meant he was… that he wasn’t in control. That he was vulnerable, that he wasn’t as put-together as it seemed. So I gave him what he wanted.”

“And what you wanted,” said Majok immediately, and Cecil didn’t back down from the challenge, knew it was fair.

“Yeah,” he said. “Of course I wanted to fuck him – I’d wanted to since he first started throwing himself at me.”

“What changed?”

“Back then, I could lose my job, be arrested. And I’d be raping a fifteen-year-old. Sixteen-year-old, seventeen-year-old – even when he was eighteen, he was my student. It would still have been under duress. Still would’ve been abusive. And then, when he was stalking me, it was… Until that moment, when he got distracted, he…” Cecil shook his head. “What he wanted when he was a kid was to be taken care of. That hadn’t changed. I didn’t know until that moment that he was the same.”

“That he needed to be taken care of?”

Cecil nodded.

“But if that was what he needed then, why not give it to him?”

“I had everything to lose for trying,” said Cecil bluntly. “What the fuck do I have to lose now? My job, my reputation? It’s all gone already.”

“And you’re committing to looking after him,” said Majok, nodding his head. “You keep mentioning him in the same breath as your rescue dog. How long have you had her?”

“A few months. Her name’s Ruby. She, uh, she was a guard dog for a few years, basically just tied around a tree in this shitty yard, not even on grass, just on concrete. She’s good. She’s clingy, a little, she’s not used to being inside, doesn’t know how to play, but she’s a good dog. She’s pretty reactive with other dogs, and a lot of stuff scares the shit out of her – cats, the postman, big cars and trucks, bikes, pushchairs, kids, but that’s okay. She’s already doing better now than she was, and I’m exposing her to a lot of stuff.”

“You’ve rehabilitated a lot of dogs?”

Cecil nodded his head. “Been doing it most of my life, so yeah. Not normally puppies, I never like, foster a litter or anything like that, but older dogs, aggressive dogs, dogs that are really reactive. If I make a lot of progress with a younger dog – I don’t expect it with Ruby, she’ll probably be mine ‘til she dies now – but if I work through a lot of issues with a younger dog, I’d normally see about getting them adopted to a family, you know. Someone who couldn’t do the work to help the dog through the hard stuff, but could make a space for them once they weren’t a liability.”

“Why do you do it?”

“’Cause I can. ‘Cause I’m good at it, ‘cause it’s good for the dogs, means the difference between them living a life out in a home, with me or someone else, versus getting taken out back and put down. It’s not like a dog bites or barks or pisses itself out of fucking spite, is it? They don’t know they’re bad. They don’t understand what makes them bad – all they know is that they get kicked and screamed at and they don’t know what to do different.”

Majok was smiling his faint smile, and Cecil nodded grimly.

“Yeah, I know,” he said quietly. “Same reason I became a teacher, I guess.”

“Do you think that’s what Valorous sees in you?” asked Majok. “That you’re caring, that you know how to rehabilitate, that you want to?”

“Sure. I guess. He knows I’ll do it.”

“To keep him, or rehome him?”

Cecil slowly crossed his arms over his chest, settling right back in his chair. “He thinks I’m the best he can do,” he said quietly. “He’ll see that that’s not the case, after a while.”

“Have you been with men like him before?” asked Majok. “Men who want someone to take care of them, who you… rehabilitated?”

“Sure, here and there. Lads who’d been knocked about at home, or couldn’t get work. I’d let them stay with me, get them a job, or just help them study to go to school, you know. Never for long. They’d always be nineteen or so, you know, and want to go elsewhere – I’d be the stopgap.”

“So you’d offer them somewhere to stay in exchange for sex?”

“Nah,” murmured Cecil. “Didn’t even fuck all of them. I’d get them to do dishes or help walk the dog, help with chores at home if they couldn’t pay rent. It makes me feel sick, trying to fuck someone who’s under duress, that don’t really want it, actually want it. Can’t get it up if I try.”

“And none of them ever wanted to stay?”

“Staying was never an option, I always made that clear. That I was a halfway point, a middle measure. Not the destination.”

“Have you made that clear with Sir Valorous?”

“I’ve tried. He’s not exactly receptive.”

“And the stalking?”

“The stalking?”

“I take it that hasn’t stopped, if you were concerned about him spying on your sessions.”

“No. No, he still does it. Goes through my phone, follows me, looks through everything.”

“Have you asked him to stop?”

“I…” Cecil opened his mouth, closed it. “No.”

“Why not? Do you not want him to?”

“I suppose I don’t see the difference in him doing it or not,” said Cecil slowly. “It’s not like it does me any harm – I’d rather he stalk me than someone else.”

“How does it make you feel, knowing he’s observing you, following you?”

“It doesn’t make me feel anything,” said Cecil. “It’s just, you know. A fact of life.”

“It must be flattering, in a way,” said Majok. “Knowing that he finds you exciting enough, attractive enough, to obsess over – but that can be intimidating too, I expect.”

“He’s not gonna hurt me,” said Cecil.

“How do you know?”

Cecil didn’t say anything, couldn’t think of the words couldn’t even try to give it voice, except for the fact that he was certain Valorous wouldn’t, that he couldn’t. It was a foolish certainty – it was like being certain that a dog wouldn’t bite the hand that fed it, even though a dog could and would if they were prompted to.

It didn’t mean the dog was bad – but not being a bad dog didn’t mean it couldn’t be dangerous.

“I just know,” said Cecil.

Majok smiled thinly at him, and Cecil looked back down at his knees.

* * *

Valorous was sitting on the floor with Ruby on top of him, and the both of them were looking up at Cecil as he ran a comb through his hair, taking out the tangles in it. He always combed it twice a day at least, in the morning and the evening – it was straight, and it wasn’t that thick, but it could still tangle a bit.

Ruby tilted her head, interested, and Valorous scratched his fingers in the heavy ruff of her chest.

“Why’d you wear it so long?”

“I like it like this,” said Cecil. “I like the weight of it, like the feeling of it around my face.”

“Your dad pull your hair?”

“Of course,” said Cecil. “He’d use it to pull be back on his cock, move me round, twist my head to the side, change the angle I was sitting back on him.”

“You do that to me,” said Valorous.

“Yeah,” agreed Cecil. “You don’t like it?”

“I do. What did you call him?”

“When he was fucking me?”

Valorous nodded.

“I didn’t call him anything,” said Cecil. “I never said a word, normally. If I begged him to stop, he’d beat the shit out of me – if I seemed like I was enjoying myself too much, he’d call me a whore, beat me anyway. That what Dot asked you about?”

“Isn’t that confidential?” asked Valorous, making himself smaller in Ruby’s bed, resting his chin on the top of her head and slowly moving his head from side to side, rubbing her with it. She closed her eyes, going limp against his chest and looking blissful as he kept scratching and pulling at her chest ruff.

“You don’t have to tell me,” said Cecil, shrugging.

“What did you and Manny talk about?”

“Manny?”

“His name’s Manute. Dot calls him Manny.”

“Right,” said Cecil. “Well, Doctor Majok and I talked about my routine. Missing being a teacher, prison. Not having enough to fill the—”

“Do you want me to call you Daddy?” Valorous demanded, and Cecil stared at him.

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Didn’t you talk to him about your dad fucking you?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because we didn’t,” said Cecil. “Because we were talking about other shit. Do you want to call me Daddy?”

“Would it get you off if I did?”

“Sure. I like to be called Daddy – I like to be called Sir, Master, Coach, Mr Hobbes. I like being called titles.”

“Which one gets you off the most?”

“Depends on the situation. Sir, probably. Sir or Mr Hobbes.”

“You want to roleplay it?” asked Valorous. “You being my teacher still, me being your student? What it would have been like if you’d fucked me back then, when I was fifteen, if you’d shoved your cock down my throat and used me as a cockwarmer? Kept me like a toy, trained me up so all I knew was your touch, and your cock, and I came as soon as you said the word?”

Cecil narrowed his eyes, trying to figure out where the fuck this was coming from, what Valorous actually wanted – did he actually want this, or was it just that he thought he and Majok had been talking about it?

“We can start come on command training, if you want,” said Cecil slowly, watched the way Valorous’ lips parted, the way his eyes widened slightly. “You can keep fucking other people, but if you want to do that, that means no coming without my say so. Lots of edging, orgasm denial, get you used to the sound of my voice. After  while of conditioning like that, it can be hard to get yourself off without the trigger.”

“I wouldn’t be allowed to come fucking other guys?”

“At first,” said Cecil. “Done right, after a while, you wouldn’t be able to. Depends on the person, but that kind of conditioning can sink in deep.”

He watched Valorous’ tongue flicker out and wet his lower lip, watched him fidget underneath Ruby’s weight.

“Anyway, if you want to do a student-teacher roleplay, fine,” said Cecil. “I don’t mind.”

“Do you not mind, or would you find it hot?”

“I’d find it hot, but I’m not gonna die without it. Is there something else you want to ask about, lad? Something you’re curious about?”

Valorous leaned back in Ruby’s bed, and Ruby responded by going limp, so that she was all dead weight blanketing him, her heavy head dropping against his chest.

“Do you think about your dad? When you’re fucking me?”

“No.”

“Do you think about Myrddin?”

“No. Do you?”

“Sometimes.”

“You fantasise about him? You want me to do a Welsh accent and talk about botany while I fuck you?”

“I’m just asking,” spat Valorous, so nasty that Ruby flinched, and he immediately made soothing noises, rubbing the back of her neck.

“So am I, lad. You think I’m having a go?”

“She had a basket of pens,” said Valorous. “And most of them didn’t work. And she started going through them, and most of them didn’t work, but she said she never throws them out because her bin’s too far away. So I went through them all, and chucked out the ones that were dead. So she thinks I’m crazy, and I can’t control myself, and that I’m, a freak. And all you did was talk about your scheduling, so he basically thinks you’re normal, and he’s not a telepath, so he can’t even tell you’re not.”

Cecil stared down at Valorous, having no fucking idea how he was supposed to respond to that. Was he meant to comfort him, tell him that no, the therapists that they were both going to see because they were both certifiably mental didn’t think they were crazy? Was he supposed to say that yes, of course they thought that they were both crazy, because that was the point?

Was he meant to actually respond to what Valorous seemed most upset about, which was that his therapist thought Valorous was crazier than Cecil’s therapist thought he was?

“You want me to fuck your throat?” he hazarded.

Valorous solemnly nodded his head.

“Spank you, make you come from that?”

“Yeah. Okay.”

“Okay,” said Cecil, waiting to see if he’d say anything else, but he didn’t, and Cecil went to wash the dishes.

It was forty minutes later that Valorous asked, “You want to do that orgasm training thing?”

“It takes a lot of time and commitment,” said Cecil. “But I’d put in the effort for you.”

“Why wouldn’t you just do it with magic?” asked Valorous. He wasn’t looking at Cecil – he was resolutely concentrated on the dishes as he dried them and set them perfectly into their stacks in Cecil’s cupboards as Cecil diced peppers on the block. “No training necessary. Just, instant.”

“It’s not about instant results,” said Cecil, brushing the peppers into a pan. “The point of psychologically conditioning you is that it’s long-lasting, semi-permanent, that you give up control. It takes a while to undo, after.”

“You’ve done it before?”

“Yep. Not with vocal commands, though – twice I’ve done it before, one trigger was a grip on the back of the neck, and the other was with a clicker.”

“Click— You mean the reward clicker? The thing you use with Ruby to tell her she’s done well?”

“That’s the one.”

Valorous’ cheek came to rest on Cecil’s back, and he leaned into him, wrapping his arms around his waist, gripping him tightly, and he slid his hand under Cecil’s tracksuit bottoms, squeezing his cock.

“Will you fuck me, please, Mr Hobbes?” he asked, grinding his crotch against Cecil’s arse.

“Not right now, I’m cooking dinner.”

Cec.”

“Am I still your teacher if you’re calling me Cec?”

“Will you spank me if I say yes?”

“Nah. I’ll make you climb the rope.”

Cecil!” Valorous whined, childish in a way that was anything but a turn-on, and Cecil laughed, reaching back and tugging on his hair, twisting it and chuckling when he groaned breathlessly.

“Get me the lardons out of the fridge please, slut.”

“Can I be the school slut?”

“You can be whatever you want if you get the minced garlic as well.”

Valorous let out a sustained, vague moan, bratty as you please, but when Cecil turned to glance at him, he saw that Valorous was smiling.

“Good lad,” he said, and watched the way that smile widened fractionally before Valorous put on a scowl and gave him the finger.

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