Three hours until Teddy and D planned to drop off Hope. Five hours until his parents were set to arrive. Rory stood in the pantry and tried very hard not to hyperventilate.

“Honey? I was wondering where the—” Geo broke off.

“I’m fine.” Okay, technically my voice is shaking and I’m staring at a bag of brown rice like it’s telling my fortune, but I’m fine, really.


He closed his eyes, sensing Geo in the air behind him.

“On your knees,” Geo said, very quietly.

“We’re in the pantry. And there’s so much to do. I still haven’t finished dinner, and the table cloth needs to be ironed, and—”


He turned toward Geo, prepared to argue, to delay, to postpone this until a better time, a more appropriate place.

“On your knees.” Geo didn’t touch him, didn’t even move.

Rory dropped his eyes and breathed. Then he knelt, right there, at Geo’s feet.

It was better when Geo spoke. Geo talking was a good sign, a sign that all was well, even when the words he said made Rory want to curl up, or scream out, or beg. Geo not-speaking was a different thing entirely.

His eyes were trained on the wood floor between the heels of Geo’s good black shoes. He’d shined them to a brilliant polish less than twelve hours ago, and they were already showing little scuffs—he’d have to do it again, with a rag just the right amount of used, and this time—

Geo moved, reached into his pocket, pulled something out, far above Rory’s line of sight. Then he leaned down, over him, and Rory closed his eyes again as Geo tied his hands back.

But there’s so much to do and so little time! We can’t do this right now!

When Geo straightened, he tilted Rory’s chin up, and this was new, this was a re-mapped silent order, not a hold-over from before.

Geo had been very clear, in the days after they’d decided to get married, in the early days of their new relationship. “When I pull your face up, you look me in the eye. That’s non-negotiable.” Non-negotiable was mostly off-limits as a concept, so that’s how he knew Geo was serious, just in case he couldn’t read it in every line of his face, the timbre of his voice.

It was still hard sometimes. Like now. Now, when he had so fucking much to do and Geo was forcing this stupid scene, this unnecessary scene, when Rory was fine.

Still, it was an order, and he obeyed. He looked his master in the eye and felt himself surrender, which was a paradox entirely, because a good slave would never look his master in the eye.

Geo reached back into his pocket, but didn’t let go of Rory’s chin, so Rory didn’t look away.

No. No, no, no, not now. No. The ball gag was one of his least favorite things. What the hell was Geo doing, walking around with a ball gag in his pocket, when he knew how much Rory hated it?

“Open your mouth.” Fingers digging in just a little deeper to his jaw.


Geo slipped the gag in and fastened it without even changing expression, his hands firm and steady, even as Rory shook his head.

The strangest part about their new life was how much harder it was. In Rory’s old slave-life, he wouldn’t have dreamed of disagreeing with Geo. He wouldn’t have resisted this, would have already gone under, just feeling Geo’s body in the room. The only times he ever resisted, he did so because Geo enjoyed it when he begged to be released to check the oven, or begged to be allowed to leave the entryway, because someone might see him there.

No safewords. Submission had been his everything, and he’d believed it.

But now. Now, with one snap of his bound fingers, he could end this thing, and that was so much worse.

Also, he was drooling around the stupid gag.

Geo pulled sharply on his hair, turning his face up again, and put his other hand at Rory’s throat, just looking at him, staring down into his eyes and demanded with every cell that he permit it, that he open himself up, let Geo in.

He wished Geo would speak, would do anything at all to break the moment, would let go of his jaw and wipe the drool, at the very least. There was nothing at all dignified about drool, nothing at all dignified about the damn ball gag. But Geo just stared at him, and he could do nothing but stare back, as required, even though it hurt his chest to be seen like this when he wasn’t ready to be seen at all. He’d been hiding, a little. Not from Geo—he had never hidden from Geo, and never would—but from everything.

He’d knelt like this so much in the old days that his body knew the position like it knew breathing. It had been months since he’d been on his knees this long, and he felt it in his back, in his neck.

Geo’s back must be killing him, bending over to look down, to hold Rory’s hair, to force his obedience.

It was a cycle, and intellectually, he knew that. He’d talked about it with Geo. He’d talked about it in therapy. He’d talked about it with Geo, in therapy. He resisted, he justified his resistance, he hated himself for it, he felt ashamed.

And still, when the shame hit, after however many minutes of this silent staring, it took his breath away.

This was the reason for the gag. Because he wanted to apologize, to beg forgiveness, and Geo wouldn’t allow it.

He knew his eyes were full of tears and he wished he could just close them, give in, but that wasn’t allowed, either. One very memorable morning during their honeymoon had been spent on his knees with Geo’s penis in his mouth, unmoving, while Geo read a book. He’d cried then, too, though he hadn’t understood why, exactly. Not shame, certainly not sadness. Tears dripped down his cheeks and he still hadn’t moved until Geo coaxed him gently to open his mouth, then slid to his own knees to enfold Rory in his arms.

He wanted that right now, even though he didn’t feel like he’d earned it.

“Keep your head just like this and close your eyes.”

Rory sent his body a universal hold signal and obeyed.

Rustling. A zipper. More rustling. Something dropping to the floor.

And ohgod, that was Geo’s balls, Geo’s cock, rubbing on his cheeks, his chin, his nose. Geo’s balls held against his nose until they were the only scent in his world, until nothing existed except the smell of Geo.

Rory’s mouth watered behind the gag and he groaned, desperate to taste, desperate to consume.

“Be still.”

Surely he was being still? Had he moved? Well, it was possible. He wanted, he desired, he damn well needed Geo’s cock in his mouth, needed to be taken from within as well as without.

Soft velvet skin on his stretched lips, on his ears. More shifting, hands pushing him back, and down, and it wasn’t at all comfortable, being pushed back on his bound hands, but he couldn’t stop it, so he tried to relax. Geo settled his balls on Rory’s nose again and rubbed his half-hard cock over Rory’s shut eyes. Stop drooling! But he couldn’t, not smelling Geo like this: the warm, safe scent of his skin and the darker, spicier scent of his ass, close but not close enough.

“You belong to me. You represent me, Roar. And know this: you will represent me with grace and dignity, no matter where we are or who we’re with, as you always have. I have no intention of allowing your fears to overwhelm our lives this week, and we will repeat this ritual as often as it takes.”

Rory swallowed, trying to be cool behind the gag, trying not to react.

“That’s exactly right. I don’t care who’s in our home, or whose home we’re in. If I have to drag you into a bathroom, I will. Remember this, my slave.”

The tears overflowed, and Geo wiped them away.

“I expect you to carry this gag with you from now until Sunday night, Roar. You will be responsible for providing it at my order.”

How Geo managed still to surprise him was a mystery Rory didn’t have time to parse, but knowing the gag would be in his pocket now, vulnerable to accidental discovery, ever-present in his awareness, was a jagged edge in his mind.

Geo moved, disappearing from Rory’s skin, but he didn’t straighten up until he’d heard Geo pull his trousers on agin, until Geo’s hands pulled him carefully back to kneeling. Geo released his hands first, then said, “Open your eyes, honey.”

The endearment was too much. He couldn’t help weeping, even though weeping while ball-gagged was a very bad idea.

“You may remove the gag, clean it, and put it in your pocket.” Geo touched his cheek, though, not quite releasing him from position. “And if you need this, my husband, all you need to do is move it from your pocket to mine, and I will understand. There is no shame in that, my beautiful Roar. The same way you’d ask for a drink of water, you can ask for this. Clear?”

Rory nodded, vision blurred, drool cool on his neck now, stealing toward his collar.

“Good. Now put yourself together and come talk to me about what we need to do. Both of us.” Geo pressed a kiss to his forehead. “I await your orders, Rory.”

Geo turned, left the pantry, and Rory removed the gag, trying not to make himself more of a mess than he already was. He wiped his neck and mouth, stood up, stretched. He could never ask for the ball gag. Never. Though there were a few things he’d sworn he’d never ask for that Geo had eventually persuaded him were worthy of requesting. Or possibly begging for. But that was Geo playing with him, trying to bring him around. Not like this. This was no game.

Two years of marriage, three months of parenthood, almost twelve years of knowing each other.

Rory washed the ball gag quickly and shoved it to the bottom of the pocket that held his phone. If he had to taste it at some point in the next five days, he’d rather it not taste like keys. Also, his fingers would never pull out the gag thinking it was a phone. No potential for tangling or catching on something.

He hated it. He hated that it was in his pocket. He hated that Geo could decide to make him wear it at any time. But when he went into the dining room (which usually served as Geo’s office, but actually looked like a formal dining room at the moment), he went directly to his knees and stayed there, waiting to be acknowledged.

Geo didn’t look over from where he was folding cloth napkins. “Yes or no, Roar?”

Fuck. He wanted to protest, but they’d agreed to this, too. In therapy. With a witness.

“Yes,” he whispered, consenting to all of it.

“And you’re absolutely certain we don’t have time for sex right now? Because I really don’t think we could possibly be quiet enough to have sex while your parents are here.” Geo smirked and looked at him.

It took him a minute to find his voice, but when he finally did, it was solid. “Geo, no.

A shift that might not have been possible even a year ago, going from absolute surrender to no, and smiling, and the kind of eye contact a free man made with his husband, not enforced eye contact a slave made with his master.

Rory stood up, giving himself permission because that was part of Geo’s point, and he wouldn’t do it, if only to be stubborn. “Will you get candles, please? I also need the dishwasher emptied of Hope’s bottle stuff and another load of laundry put through, hopefully before everyone arrives.”

“Got it. Though I know you’re just trying to get me out of here so you can re-fold all the napkins, Rory.”

“There’s a specific—” He gave up. “I know no one will notice but me.”

“It’s fine.” Geo leaned across the table and kissed him, then ran a finger over his lips. “You all right?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Bottle stuff, laundry, and what was the other thing?”

“Candles. Not for primary lighting, but I thought I might have one or two burning just—I’m not sure why.”

“Because it’s what your mom would do, if she was planning a special family dinner,” Geo said, kissing him again. “Candles. Got it. I’ll get my chores done, then come back for more.”

Rory stood in his dining room and looked at the clock. Only a little more than an hour until Teddy and D would drop off Hope, three hours until his parents were set to arrive. He inhaled deeply, seeking the scent of Geo lingering on his skin. An hour was enough time to do most of it, if they were working together. And he could always ask Teddy for help, if necessary.

Another deep breath. Everything was going to be just fine.

The doorbell rang.

“Roar? Is that—” Geo’s face froze as he came into the dining room, bottle pieces in both hands. “Teddy doesn’t use the doorbell.”

“Neither does D.”

The doorbell rang again.

“Maybe it’s one of the neighbors,” Geo said, looking just as stunned as Rory felt. “Do you want to—”

“No way.”

Geo dropped the bottle stuff on the table and took his hand. “It’s one of the neighbors. I’m sure of it.”

But Rory knew, even before they opened the door, that it wasn’t one of the neighbors.

“Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.” He had no idea who was gripping whose hand harder, but it was a close race. And both of them might need splints later. “You remember Geo?”

“Come in. Please come in,” Geo said.

All four of them just stood there for a very long moment. Then Geo and Rory stepped back, and Rory’s parents stepped inside.

And Rory took a very short moment to long for that moment on his knees in the pantry, drool and all.