This chapter contains material that some may find NSFW
“Thrust out your hips more.”
“Now you’re just making fun of me.”
“No, I’m telling you what to do.” Bicla put her hands on Valran’s hips and pushed them forward. “Like that. Now you look…”
“Like a ten-piece whore on a street corner.”
“No, no, at least a fifty-piece whore, this is serious Fifth Ring stuff. You’re not a seventh-circle whore. At least, not anymore.”
“You’re so nice.” Her hands on his hips were actually a bit distracting. “Bicla…”
“It helps if you’re erect. People like that sort of thing.” Those hands weren’t exactly on his hips anymore. Close, but moving further away as she spoke. “And if you’re already had one orgasm, you get this lovely flush to your cheeks…”
“And this wet spot on these nice pants that were provided for me. That’s not going to look very good.”
“Then you’re going to have to settle for looking like you really, really want someone to satisfy you.” She cupped his balls through the thin fabric of his pants. “I think I can manage that.”
“Bicla…” He had been oiled, brushed, smoothed, made up, and dressed, such as it was – the pants were so thin you could see exactly how little body hair Bicla had left him.
“Valran…” She had to stand on her toes, but it let her breathe into his ear, warm, tickling breath. “Don’t you want me to play with you?”
“Bicla, do you really want to send me out there squirming, twitching, and blushing?”
“Blushing? Mm, is the big bad Servus a virgin?”
“Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?”
“Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound? It’s a little petting. You’ve had my hands all over you already.” She squeezed his balls – lightly – by way of punctuation. “I’ve had my hands all over these already.”
“Unf.” There was very little argument to be had against that, but he tried anyway. “That was different.”
“No. That was preparing you for the sale. This is preparing you for the sale. The only difference is the specific preparation. That was grooming; this is stage dressing.”
“You’re going on stage and I’m dressing you.” She squeezed again. “There, you’re starting to look nice. Oh, very nice.”
He could feel his cheeks heating up. “Bicla…”
“Relax, boy. Someone out there is going to like your purist almost-pre-Flood-human sort of look. It’s rather rugged.”
“I’m wearing lipstick.”
“Lip gloss. You didn’t strike me as a Manly Above All Else sort.”
“I’m not. You’re the one that called me rugged.”
“Mmm.” She pinched his nipple, quick and sudden, and then the other one while he was still drawing breath to complain about the first. “You are, a bit. Your skin is this reasonable brown color, your ears barely have any point to them at all…”
“Your skin is creamy and your hair is blonde.”
“We’re not talking about me.” The playful tone in Bicla’s voice had been replaced, instantly and with no traces left, with a sharp-edged knife of a sound. “We’re talking about your salability.”
“You know, until you started talking about it, I really wasn’t worried. I didn’t think the department would have accepted my application if they didn’t think they could get some money for me. That’s what they do, isn’t it?”
“Never can tell, especially with the outer rings, until they clean you up and put you out there. Some look pretty and can’t talk the game to save their lives. Some can’t bring themselves to really kneel. Some just clean up ugly.” While her voice was still harsh, it no longer had daggers in it aimed at Valran’s throat.
“And me?” Giving her a chance to insult him might calm her down from… whatever had made her angry.
“You clean up pretty nice. You make up nicer. And not everyone who comes here wants a pretty fay-looking boy.” She pinched his nipple again, harder this time, and smiled when he gasped. “So tell me, why did you send in your application to this particular place? Some other people sell for, you know, more manly occupations. Bodyguard. Driver.”
“You’re a driver.”
“We’re still not talking about me.” This time, she smirked at him. “We’re talking about why you chose this particular house to set you on your route skipping the Ladder rungs.”
“You’re talking about it.” He straightened his pants. “I had a lot of reasons.”
“Give me one?” She tugged his pants down a couple inches. “This looks better, anyway.”
“It has a higher success rate. People who kneel here, they come out at the other end skipping more rungs, and happier.”
“Than being a bodyguard?” She stepped up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, letting her hands drop just above his junk.
“Oh, come on, what do you think? It also has a much higher survival rate.”
“You didn’t want to go Gladiator, then?” She stroked him through the thin cloth.
“Not in a million years. Not in a trillion years.”
“You know, if you had a trillion years, being a Gladiator would probably be the least of your worries.”
“Very likely.” He gave up on resisting and leaned into her. “You’re quite good at this.”
“I have practice. But, mmm, you make it rather easy.” She stroked him with feathery, teasing touches, barely brushing and then pulling away.
“You’re not so good at the sweet talking.” Which was more of a relief than it probably should have been. He was not having a romance with Bicla. With any luck, he was about to be sold. Romance with someone else’s Servus was not really on the menu. Things that even hinted at romance shouldn’t be on the menu.
“Ha. I don’t have much practice with that at all.” She kissed the back of his neck, just above the collar. “You smell very nice.”
“I ought to. You doused me in scented stuff.” Valran tried not to sniff himself.
“With any luck, you’ll need to get used to that sort of thing. Lots of people who come here looking for a boy want someone who smells nice and is nice and slippery and ready all the time.”
“Trying not to think about that, thanks.” But now, of course, he was. Nice and slippery and ready…
“And yet you sent your application here.” Bicla raised her eyebrows at him. It was enough to let him pull himself back under control.
“As I said, it has the highest success rate.”
“And you said you had your reasons.” He could feel her teeth, now, against his skin. “You’ll tell me in ten years?”
“You have my word on it. Ten years from now, we can sit over coffee and share war stories.”
“I never promised you mine.” Her stroking grew rough again.
“I know… Unh! But you can’t blame a man for being curious, can you?”
“Not if he keeps his mouth shut. You should learn to be meeker and quieter, Valran Servus.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He tilted his head downward, which, he knew, bared more of his neck to her.
“Bicla, is he ready?” The Deputy Oligarch’s voice was like a splash of cold water.
“I doubt he’ll ever be ready, Boss.” She didn’t jump away from him, but Bicla’s hands dropped away and Valran felt her step backwards from him. “But he’s shiny, he smells nice, and he has a raging boner.”
“You’re so eloquent.”
“You know you like it, Boss.” Bicla shoved Valran forward. “Go get ’em, pretty boy.”
“Thanks so much.” He stumbled, caught himself, and kept walking. Head down. Hands folded behind his back. Steps slow and measured. He had practiced this. “Ix?”
“Keep walking forward. When you see the black x on the floor, stop, and kneel. There, answer what questions are given to you. Keep your head down, keep your answers polite.”
“Yes’ix. Thank you.”
“And keep your mind on whatever’s got you stretching your pants so nicely. It will help quite a bit in your price.”
“Yes’ix.” Commanded to think of Bicla touching him. This could get interesting. He nodded lower, almost a bow, and continued his walk forward.
The doorway felt more ominous than the gates deeper and deeper into the city had. Those were about the whole city; this was about his life. The mark was obvious, the tape a little worn at the edges.
His vision narrowed to that X. He fell to his knees, not even trying to soften the fall. He gripped one wrist with the other, to keep his hands from jerking forward, and stared resolutely at the floor.
“Good people.” The Deputy’s voice was too close to Valran’s ear; he nearly jumped. But the position he had himself in didn’t allow that, so he held his wrist a little tighter and stared at the tile floor. “This is Valran Servus. Will you take him home?”
“Can you serve, Valran Servus?” The alto purr came from his left. He nodded his head.
“Yes’ix, yes.” Of course.
“Can you suck?” That from his right, husky and deep.
Well, that was direct. “Yes, sir.”
“Can you speak in public?” He thought that was the first voice again, but it seemed to have moved a bit.
“I don’t have extensive public speaking training. But I can say ‘yes, ma’am,’ ‘yes, ix,’ and ‘yes, sir’ and generally not sound too stupid.” He hoped.
“Can you drive?”
What sort of question was that? And this one from a smooth neutral voice he hadn’t heard before. “No, Ix.”
“What sexual acts will you cringe at?”
They were back to the deep male voice. Valran allowed himself to look as if he was giving that a moment of consideration, while he thought instead of all the sexual acts that he wouldn’t cringe at, all the lovely things he could imagine doing to Bicla, having Bicla do to him, doing with her.
“I will not cringe at anything my owner asks of me, of course, ix.” His voice was husky; he was picturing Bicla, naked, riding him, her nails digging into his shoulders.
“But there are things you would want to cringe at, aren’t there?”
“If I were a free man and not a Servus, then there are things I wouldn’t do willingly.” He coughed. “Generally anything involving bodily waste.”
“What about sex involving vepó?”
He thought that was the one that had asked if he could drive.
“It is not my favorite thing in the world.”
The questions went on. From the sounds of things, there were at least seven bidders in the room, and they all had far too many questions for Valran. He answered them all. He answered them all honestly, because “detect lies” was far too easy to draw and the last thing anyone wanted was a dishonest Servus. He answered questions until his throat was raw.
And then… “I’ll take him.”
The voice was female. The voice was female, and he had not heard it before. And everyone else in the room fell silent.