A/N: Don't even ask me where this came from.
Word count: 14,250 (exactly!)
Pairing: Bechloe with a side of Staubrey
Warnings: BDSM-based content, though not so much in this first chapter. Don't like it, don't read.
She's heading into a bar when she notices it, and at first, she dutifully pays it no mind. The bar – some trashy Irish Pub located in Queens – resides halfway down a side street that's definitely one of the shadier ones in the neighborhood. Her first instinct is to assume that the sound is issuing from a homeless person, a junkie, or a couple that decided it was okay to have sex in plain sight. Not wanting to come into close contact with any of the former, Beca pretends not to notice, and doesn't break her stride as she continues towards the door, tucking her purse firmly between her elbow and her side for extra security.
Then as she's approaching the door somebody opens it to leave, and the dirty florescent light from the pub spills onto the street. It's at that moment that the muffled sound comes again, and Beca glances to right automatically to find the source.
Her heart sinks as she registers what she's looking it.
A woman is huddled on her knees on the concrete, blindfolded and shivering. The way she's bent over shields the front of her body, but Beca can see enough to tell that she's not wearing a stitch of clothing. Her hands are held behind her back, tied with what looks like a piece of fraying rope, and she has a ball gag stuffed in her mouth.
Beca almost wishes that she didn't, but she knows immediately what has happened to this stranger.
Paying no mind to the fact that the jeans she's wearing are expensive, not to mention favorites, she steps away from the pub entrance and kneels on the gritty pavement beside the girl. Carefully, she reaches behind the woman's head and in a swift motion that reveals her expertise, she unties both the blindfold and the gag. Before the girl has even opened her eyes, she removes the ball from her mouth and tosses both over her shoulder in the direction of a nearby dumpster.
Stiff eyelids flutter open, and Beca is staring into wide, shocking blue. She blinks away the funny shiver that goes through her at the contact and speaks. She is surprised to hear that her voice is calm and steady.
"Where are they?" The girl blinks, her electric eyes filled with an emotion somewhere between confusion and uncertainty, and Beca understands. "Tell me where they are, and when they're going to come back and get you." It isn't a request; it's a command, and Beca sees a shiver of relief run through the stranger at the new tone. At the nonverbal confirmation of what she already knew to be true, the urge to act against the situation rises in her, but she pushes it down momentarily in favor of learning the facts. She suspects that the need to take action will present itself to her once she hears the woman's answer, but if it doesn't, she has no right to interfere.
"At a client's, ma'am. He didn't say when he'd be back, but it's usually hours." There it is; further confirmation that prompts Beca to take action. She had purposefully avoided specifying a gender when she asked, and hadn't inquired as to whether this woman's predicament was a regular occurrence, but the response is all she needs to make her decision.
"Turn around; give me your wrists," she orders, and the girl only hesitates briefly before obeying. It's further proof of what Beca has already guessed; if it's so easy for this girl to respond to a stranger, she has nearly every right to do what she's about to do. When she slices through the knot in the rope – nylon, she notes with disgust, and frayed at that – the girl keeps her hands held behind her back only for a moment before bringing them around her body to rub ruefully at her bruised wrists. They've got deep indents in them from where the rope dug in, and judging by the winces that occur as the flesh is rubbed back to life, some circulation was definitely cut off. Beca's throat constricts with anger.
"How long have you been tied like that?" she questions coolly, and the woman keeps her eyes lowered as she answers.
"Since this morning, ma'am."
"When this morning?"
"About ten thirty." Beca bites her tongue to restrain her fury. This is not acceptable.
"Your master didn't notice they were hurting?" she shoots back. A slow shake of the head is the initial response, but then the girl looks up abruptly. Her eyes are wide.
"How – how did you – " Beca cuts her off by holding her hand out, brandishing a ring with a triple ying-yang symbol emblazoned on it in black and white.
"Beca Mitchell. Seven years in the lifestyle," she responds gruffly, and sees the way that the girl's tight shoulders immediately drop a little of their tension. "What is your name, pet?" The woman bites her lip.
"He doesn't allow me to be called by it. He says having an identity counters my subservience," she whispers. Beca's blood boils, and she grips the girl's chin firmly to turn her head back towards her.
"That is not proper handling. An identity is critical to one's ability to bond. I'll ask you again: what is your name?" Cobalt eyes flicker upwards.
"That's not your full name."
"Chloe Roderick Beale."
"Thank you. Now, I have one more question to ask you, and I need you to answer truthfully, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. Do you understand?" Chloe Beale nods, and though her blue eyes glint with anxiety, the movement is firm. "I need you to say it, Chloe."
"Yes ma'am, I understand," Chloe whispers. Beca meaningfully holds her gaze.
"Did your master buy you, or are you free to leave his control?" Chloe flinches uncomfortably at the question, but when she responds, her tone holds only honesty.
"I wasn't bought, ma'am." Beca nods and stands.
"Good. Come with me." Chloe looks up wildly, her bright eyes a mixture of fear and confusion.
"Ma'am? I don't understand – my master left me here – he told me to wait for him – I – "
"Your master is undeserving of your company," Beca says coldly. Half of her can't help hoping that the bastard will hear and attempt to make a protest – she would love to ream him out for the situation he's created. "He is also clearly incompetent and shouldn't be permitted to call himself a master. It is unacceptable to leave a submissive unattended in public, not to mention naked and bound, and when you add the temperature to that, it becomes an act of cruelty. Don't even get me started on the gag and the blindfold; if you had been injured, or caught in an otherwise compromising position, how were you supposed to summon help? You're lucky that I heard your attempt to speak; who knows how long you might have been left here otherwise? In addition to that, he tied your bonds too tightly and with the wrong material; if you had been left any longer, blood would have entirely ceased to flow to your hands and you might have sustained real damage. This is a violation of the code of this community and serious abuse of a submissive, not to mention a violation of your trust. I would be unfit to call myself a member of the community if I permitted you to remain in that man's possession any longer." Beca's chest is heaving by the time she concludes her tirade, and the fire in her eyes has grown into full-blown fury. The entire time she was speaking, she had been watching Chloe for a negative response, but right now all she sees in the submissive's eyes is awe. The sight of it does something to her, and she clears her throat loudly before offering a hand and giving a beckoning jerk of her head.
"Come. I will bring you somewhere warm, and we will discuss where to go from here." When Chloe doesn't move, she crouches back down before the girl and uses a single fingertip to tilt her chin upwards. "Chloe," she says seriously, aware that she may have just pushed boundaries that, considering the circumstances, are important to be aware of. "Are you willing to come with me to a warm place where I will attend to you so that we may discuss your options?"
Chloe's face is contorted with something that looks a lot like distress, but she manages a nod.
"I need verbal acknowledgment, Chloe." Chloe swallows, and her throat bobs against an old, tattered collar that Beca hadn't noticed before.
"Yes, ma'am, I'll go with you." Beca permits a small smile to flit across her lips.
"Good. Can you stand?" She's well aware that after being trapped in a kneeling position for so long, Chloe's legs may have begun to numb. Her suspicions prove accurate when Chloe begins to nod, but then hesitantly turns it into a shake of her head.
"I – I don't know, ma'am. I can't really feel my legs," she admits, shifting her body a little to test her range of movement. Beca nods her acknowledgment.
"All right. Put your hands on my shoulders," she instructs, and Chloe obeys. "Now try to stand." The submissive slowly unfolds her legs from beneath her, revealing the imprints on her knees where they have been pressed into the pavement all night. She gives a valiant attempt at raising herself to her feet, but ends up using Beca for support to fully regain her footing. Beca is surprised to see that despite how small she had seemed when huddled on the ground, Chloe is a good deal taller than she. Once she is steady enough that Beca is convinced she won't fall, the brunette reaches up and unbuckles the collar around her throat. She tosses it carelessly behind her, and Chloe gasps.
"Right now, you are not a slave," she explains, seeing shock grace the taller girl's features. "We are equals unless you decide that you wish to submit to me. Furthermore, I see no reason for you continuing to wear that collar when its owner is no longer your master." She is surprised to see Chloe nod vigorously in agreement to that logic.
"Yes, thank you, ma'am." Beca frowns.
"You may call me Beca for the time being," she adds seriously. Chloe smiles shyly. She ducks her head.
"Thank you, Beca."
It takes a minute for Beca to maneuver them through the narrow side street and into the tiny space where she managed to squeeze her car earlier in the evening. When she unlocks it, she notices Chloe hovering near the rear door as if unsure of where to go, and she smiles encouragingly.
"You can sit up front with me, Chloe," she offers, and Chloe shoots her a thankful yet hesitant smile.
"What did I say you could call me?" Chloe's shoulders drop slightly.
"You said that I could call you Beca, ma'am. But I don't think I can. And I don't know if I can sit in the front." Beca fastens a hard stare onto her and raises an eyebrow. Honestly, she's not all that surprised, but the knowledge she has gained this evening has instilled in her a need to make clear that the rules are different in her presence.
"Why is that, Chloe?" Her tone isn't cold, but enough of her powerful persona sneaks in that her words come across as a demand. She's not entirely certain that they aren't.
Chloe's gaze stays fastened on the pavement as she speaks.
"I – I don't know, ma'am. I think I'm just so used to this mindset that I don't know how to get away from it. It'll probably take me a little while to adjust. I know that you don't require me to refer to you respectfully, but I feel like I need to. I wish I could call you Beca, but I can't right now. Not yet. I'm sorry." Beca sees her eyelids flutter rapidly as she blinks backs tears, and her heart softens. Despite never having been in the exact position that Chloe is in right now, she's lived enough of the lifestyle to understand almost exactly what conflict is taking place in the young woman's head. When she considers that alongside the compromising position that Chloe is already in, she makes up her mind not to push the issue too hard for the night.
"All right, Chloe," she says finally after a minute of consideration. Chloe's head lifts a little at the sound of her resigned tone, and she opens her mouth, perhaps to apologize, but Beca continues before she can protest. "You may use whatever name you're comfortable with for me tonight. I won't push you to address me on a level you're not yet accustomed to. However," she adds with a narrowing of her eyes. "I will insist that you sit in the front of the car with me. The backseat is for children and people who have not earned the privilege of sitting beside a master." Chloe's bright eyes brim with confusion.
"But – ma'am – I haven't earned that privilege," she points out bewilderedly. Beca shakes her head.
"No, you haven't," she acquiesces. "Not by doing anything specifically worthy of such an honor. But you have had a rough night – perhaps more than a night – and because you have been nothing but good throughout my entire experience with you, and since you are in a less than ideal situation, I believe you have earned it in another way. Besides," she raises her voice slightly when Chloe opens her mouth again to protest. "It is my desire to have you sit beside me. Would you deny me that?" Her words are a challenge that Chloe, with her present mindset and instincts, can't rise up to. The gravity behind the brunette's words has an immediate effect, and Chloe lowers her eyes respectfully.
"No, ma'am. I wouldn't. I will sit beside you." When Beca smiles it isn't quite wide enough to be comforting, but the look is genuine.
"Thank you," she says simply, and leans past Chloe to tug the door open. She doesn't miss the way that the taller girl shudders as the back of her hand brushes across bare skin. She conceals her grin expertly and gestures towards the seat. "Well. In you go."
Chloe's scramble to obey is so immediate that it brings another grin to Beca's lips. She forces it down in favor of a curt nod, and strides rapidly around to the driver's side door with what she desperately hopes is a collected, professional mask firmly in place. Judging by the curious look on Chloe's face when she enters the car, it's not, but she dutifully pretends that nothing is out of order as she starts the car. She pauses with her foot halfway to the gas when she realizes that her companion is not strapped in.
"Chloe, put your seatbelt on, please," she requests, too busy fiddling with the heater to look. When the order isn't immediately obeyed, she frowns. "Chloe?" She looks up from the dials to see Chloe biting her lip, crystal eyes darting nervously back and forth between Beca and her own lap. "Chloe, what's wrong? There's still a lot I want to talk to you about once we get going. I'm not a serial killer, I promise, but if you don't strap in, I can't bring you somewhere warm." Chloe raises her eyes anxiously to Beca's face.
"I – I'm allowed to put one on?" is her shaky query, and Beca nearly slams a hand on the dashboard in anger. If she hadn't been aware of it before, Chloe's question makes her painfully certain of just the sort of man she's being rescued from. It makes her insides fairly quake with fury, but she masks it for the sake of the woman next to her and responds as coolly as she thinks she can manage given the cold knot that's settled in the bottom of her stomach.
"Of course you're allowed to put it on; it's the law," she replies smoothly, and doesn't watch as Chloe struggles to operate the seatbelt for a minute before managing it and falling immediately still once more. She lets the silence sit for the moment, knowing that a small break from struggling with what she's been taught is what Chloe needs right now.
They've been driving for not quite five minutes when, to her surprise, it is the other girl that breaks the silence.
"Where are you taking me?" It's a viable question. Beca has been attempting to keep up the highest possible level of professionalism since the beginning of their encounter, and she knows that vagueness has a tendency to go alongside it. Chloe is right to wonder; nothing has been revealed to her so far besides the fact that she won't be returning to her old master tonight. Or any other night, for that matter.
"To my house," Beca responds, merging off a side street onto a larger, bustling avenue.
"Where's your house?"
"Seriously?" Beca bites her lip in an attempt not to laugh at the awe in Chloe's voice. She pretends not to notice the slip from submissive to casual, and notes vaguely that if she can continue tripping her companion up with similar reactions, maybe they can eventually progress to a stage where the other woman no longer feels the need to address her as a slave would a master.
"Seriously. My house isn't that expensive, though, and I share it off and on with a friend of mine whenever she needs a place to crash. She tends to sort of float back and forth between my place and another friend's, so I've got an extra bedroom set aside for her whenever she feels the need to stay."
"You just let her show up whenever?" Chloe seems to have lost her filter in her awe over the situation. Beca starts to nod, but corrects herself partway through the motion.
"Yes and no. She has a key, but it's kind of a mutual agreement that she'll call me before she shows up just so that I can be prepared. We've caught each other in enough compromising position that we've agreed to check with each other before we come home." She notices the blush that creeps up Chloe's cheeks out of the corner of her eye, and has to physically restrain herself from smirking knowingly. Chloe resettles a moment later, however, shaking away the warmth that blossomed temporarily in her cheeks, and resumes her questioning.
"So, what do you do for a living, if you don't mind my asking?" Beca sighs. She had been hoping on some level that her career wouldn't be brought up tonight. It's something that she'd rather discuss when her mind isn't occupied with her other lifestyle. She prides herself on her ability to keep her work and her private life separate, and one of her rules is that unless it's critically important, she won't discuss work during the rest of her life, or vice versa.
Nevertheless, for Chloe she feels she needs to make an exception. There is something oddly important to her about gaining the woman's trust, if she doesn't have it to a marginal degree already, and with trust comes admissions. She can sacrifice her rules this once.
"I'm a music producer," she says simply. "I'm also a DJ when I'm not working in the studio or counseling one-on-one with artists. I do gigs at private clubs, sponsored events; that sort of thing." She can fairly feel Chloe's awe grow tenfold, and holds back yet another grin despite herself. It's not an uncommon reaction, but for some reason, Chloe's appreciation settles with her in a way that most people's doesn't. She wonders if it's because the sentiment is genuine.
"That's – that's really cool, Beca." The grin threatens to break through again, and this time she allows it. She spares a quick glance at her passenger when she's sure the road is clear.
"You used my name." Chloe blushes again, but her reply is steady.
"Yes, I did."
"You make me feel like I can. Comfortable. I don't feel that disapproving weight coming from you. It's weird; I've never quite felt it before."
"Oh?" Beca asks vaguely, aware that it's not an appropriate response, but too curious to formulate a proper reply.
"No. It's a funny feeling. It's like when I used to be around my friends all the time in college; we weren't masters and slaves; none of us were above the others. We were just normal people interacting. That's what it feels like. I'd forgotten. But it feels nice." Beca shoots her a sharp glance.
"What do you mean you've forgotten?" she questions, and knows enough to understand that if Chloe weren't opening up, as she seemed to be doing, she probably would have flinched at the harsh tone. "How long has it been since you've interacted with people without slave and master segregation?" She's not really sure she wants to know, and when Chloe tells her, she's sure of it.
"Since the summer after senior year, so about . . . two years? Two and a half, give or take a few months." Beca's grip on the steering wheel tightens.
"That is not acceptable," she spits out before she can stop herself. Once she registers what she's said, she waits expectantly for Chloe to recoil, but the girl surprisingly remains steady. Maybe it's the admission that she enjoys the normal conversation, or maybe she can sense that Beca isn't angry with her. Either way, she remains stunningly casual for someone who is sitting naked in a stranger's car after being discovered bound and gagged in an alleyway.
"You know? Then why did you allow it?" All right, she takes it back – maybe she is a little irritated at Chloe, but it's only for the fact that she clearly hasn't been taking care of herself.
"I mean, I guess I know. I've been wrapped up in this lifestyle for so long that I've started to accept my role in it as normal, and my interactions with people as regular contact. I guess I knew in the back of my mind that something was a little off, but it didn't register with me that there was another option. I'd forgotten that, too." Beca has to draw blood biting her tongue to refrain from replying immediately and saying something that will most certainly make the situation worse. She can't believe this; she's seen cases where submissives retreat temporarily into full submissive mode, but never anything so permanent. It's not healthy, it's not right, and it makes her blood boil.
"It looks like you've got some remembering to do," she says finally, when she thinks she's able to keep her voice calm. Chloe only hums in agreement before turning her eyes to watch the city pass out the car window. A few minutes later, though, her curiosity appears to have returned. She watches Beca so intently that the brunette almost feels uncomfortable beneath her unabashed gaze.
"How old are you?"
"It's rude to ask that, you know."
"I know. But you don't look old enough to be self-conscious about it yet, and I'll tell you my age if you tell me yours. Besides, I think I'm older than you, anyways." Beca grunts.
"See? I'm twenty-seven. I knew I was older."
"You said you graduated two and a half years ago. How are you twenty-seven?"
"I graduated late. I intentionally failed Russian Lit three years in a row."
"Any particular reason why?"
"No. I just didn't want to be an adult yet. My professor understood, but after the third time, he told me that if I tried it again the next year, he'd pass me just to get me out of his hair. So I actually did a little homework, and he said that my writing was abysmal but at least I could translate, so he gave me a B and told me to grow some balls and graduate." Beca scoffs slightly at that. Somehow, the statement doesn't shock her in the least. She wonders if she's getting too comfortable here, because she can definitely feel this conversation slipping into casual friendship chatter.
A huge part of her doesn't mind.
"You read Russian, huh?"
"Not well, silly. Weren't you listening? I failed three times in a row." They've officially progressed to nicknames now, and Beca is shocked by how quickly Chloe has acclimated to her presence. Whatever she was expecting when she urged the meek girl into her car, it wasn't this. If she didn't know better, she'd say that Chloe had forgotten all the previous event of the evening.
"We're on Staten Island now. Where's your house?" She's starting to think that Chloe's a little insane; ten minutes ago, there's no way that she would have been this pushy and available. She wonders if it will go away when they leave the car and the reality of their predicament is re-established. The bubbly personality doesn't quite seem realistic; it's too much all at once, too forced, and Beca is willing to bet that it's only temporary. She's seen similar cases before, and likens it to the effects of adrenaline when a bone is broken; momentary painlessness, and then crashing agony once the recognition of the injury has set in.
"Right here." She grins at the wide-eyed expression that fills Chloe's face as she takes in their location. Beca's pulled off the road into a short driveway that leads to what can only be described as a mini mansion – two floors, but massive, decorated with stonework architecture, gables, and gigantic windows that overtake much of the front of the building.
"Here? You live here? How much money do you make?" Beca can't interpret the sudden irritation that fills her, but she attributes it to her previous recognition of the instability of Chloe's cheeriness. She feels the sternness click in her eyes as her domme persona settles back over her.
"That's not an appropriate question to ask, Chloe," she snaps harshly, fixing the older girl with a stony glare, and Chloe shrinks visibly under the look. Instantaneously, the cheery persona vanishes, and the meek, anxious girl from the alley has returned. Beca can practically see the tension overtaking slim shoulders, and she immediately feels guilty watching the way Chloe folds in on herself. The shift is almost painful to watch.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I didn't – I didn't mean to be rude – I just – I felt so comfortable talking to you, but I only did it because you kept responding to it, and then I couldn't stop because it's been so long since I spoke that way. I don't know what came over me." Before she can register her own actions, Beca is unbuckling her seatbelt and leaning over the center console to rub soothingly at Chloe's upper arms.
"Shhh, hey; it's all right. I'm sorry I snapped at you; I shouldn't have let my dominant side come without screening it first. I understand why you did it." Chloe looks up at her with huge, baleful blue eyes, and Beca's reasons for apologizing are reiterated.
"You're not mad?"
"No, Chloe, I'm not mad. However, I am concerned about you, and I think that we need to remedy that." She pauses momentarily, allowing her eyes to drift critically up and down the girl's skinny frame. Chloe doesn't appear to be perturbed by the scrutiny. "You're tiny," Beca declares after a moment, and she sees a giggle fight to escape from Chloe's mouth. It's not as though she's really one to be talking. "You're very thin, I mean," she rectifies, and Chloe frowns.
"That's not a good thing, ma'am?" Beca purses her lips.
"It's a good thing when it's a healthy kind of skinny. You haven't been eating enough, and you've dropped below what is clearly a healthy weight for you." Chloe's frown deepens; her eyebrows knit together as though she doesn't quite understand.
"But I've been so tired lately," she puzzles aloud. "Doesn't that mean that I'm lazy and need to work harder?" Beca's chest clenches uncomfortably, but she pushes the feeling aside to answer.
"No, Chloe," is her firm response. "It means that you aren't consuming the nourishment you need to keep your energy level up. When was the last time you had a warm, home-cooked meal?" Chloe's full lips pout out as she thinks, and Beca feels a flutter in her belly that has nothing to do with worry over the girl's condition.
"I don't know," Chloe says slowly, and it looks like her brain hasn't quite caught up with her mouth. "I guess that I – Thanksgiving?" she hazards a guess. Her words cause steely determination to fall instantly over Beca's face.
"That is unacceptable; we're changing that. We're going inside, and once I get you settled, I'm making you some proper food." As she speaks, the domme studies the face before her. Chloe's features are riddled with complexity, the lingering anxiety and fear in her eyes overtaken for the most part by curiosity and something a little like eagerness. Beca has never felt such an intense need to understand the workings of emotion behind an expression before, and when she considers it, it turns her own angst up a notch. The domme side of her knows that she's fully equipped to handle this, but the Beca side doesn't, and at the moment she's not entirely certain of which side is going to come further forward.
Chloe is speaking, and the sound of her voice pulls Beca away from her mind's wanderings.
"You don't have to do that for me, ma'am. I'll be all right on my own. I didn't mean to monopolize your time; if I can only borrow a change of clothes, I'll get out of your way as soon as I can. I'll be just fine." Beca is glaring at her with the full force of her dominant will before she realizes what she's doing. Chloe's head bows automatically at the look, and it makes something in Beca's heart twist.
"You will not," she snaps louder than she intends to. "You've been neglected, and so far as I can tell, you hardly even realize it. Now, not only is it my duty as a domme to rectify a situation in which a submissive has been unfairly treated, but I also would not be able to justify it to myself if I didn't take care of you. It is not merely my role in this society that necessitates me taking action; it is a personal need, and I request that you comply with that, lest you'd like to be returned to a situation where you may or may not be fairly treated." By the time she's finished, Chloe's eyes have found hers again, and they're filled with an unidentifiable sentiment that has Beca's pulse hammering through her ears.
"I'm sorry, ma'am; I didn't realize that it was so important to you. I didn't mean to question you," Chloe says contritely. "It's just that no one has ever done for me what you have, and what you say you're going to do, and I guess I just don't understand why you're doing it." Beca feels her entire body soften at the admission; her posture relaxes, and she offers a warm smile.
"I don't entirely know, Chloe," she replies honestly. "But I know that as a domme, seeing someone neglected instantly releases an urge to care for them. Not only to see them cared for, but to be the one who tends to their needs. And you . . . I don't know precisely how to explain it, but something about you only amplifies that need. Don't ask me to explain that; please just trust that I will do my utmost to make you comfortable and content, as it is both my duty and my desire to do so." A small smile is twitching at the corner of Chloe's lips by the time she is finished speaking, and the sight of it warms something within Beca that she's not sure she was previously aware of. She allows her own lips to curve in response and sends the older girl a comforting look before stepping from the car and striding quickly around to open the passenger side door. She extends a hand in offering and Chloe takes it, keeping her eyes lowered demurely as she rises. Both women appear to have forgotten to an extent the condition Chloe was in before her discovery, and so it comes as a slight surprise to both of them when Chloe stumbles and nearly loses her footing, forced to grab the car door quickly for balance.
Beca is at her side immediately, wrapping a supportive arm around the thin waist. Despite the fact that Chloe is several inches taller, the brunette manages to steady her almost instantly, bearing most of the submissive's weight as she holds her up. Chloe raises her eyes as she shoots Beca a grateful yet embarrassed smile.
"I'm sorry," she apologizes, and, having gained her balance, attempts to pull away. She is surprised by Beca tightening her arm around her ribs and tugging her back into the support of her body. "I'm all right, ma'am," she adds softly, and it's clear that she's unwilling to present herself as a burden to her companion. Beca shakes her head.
"No you're not; your body is weak and tense from being locked in a cuffed position all day. I'm sorry I forgot; I should never have let you try to stand on your own. It's my fault." When she sees Chloe open her mouth to protest, she sends her a sharp, weighted look. "Don't argue with me, Chloe; I assure you I will win. Besides, I'm concerned about you. You wouldn't want to make me upset, would you?" Chloe considers her options for a brief moment before shaking her head. Beca nods sternly. "That's what I thought. Now, would you like to try walking with my support, or shall I carry you inside?" Her tone leaves no room for argument. She is satisfied when Chloe seems to immediately grasp that she has no other options. Bright eyes fall to the ground submissively.
"I'd like to try to walk, ma'am. I think I would feel too helpless if you carried me." Beca nods understandingly.
"Thank you for being honest with me, Chloe. Now, I'm going to try to shield you with my body as much as I can as we walk, all right? We do have a privacy fence but if one of the neighbors is looking out of an upper story window, I'll have no way of hiding the fact that you are naked. Are you all right with that? If not, I can run inside quickly and get you a coat to wear." Chloe shakes her head the negative.
"No thank you, ma'am. I – I'd like to get inside as quickly as possible, if that's all right with you. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep standing."
"Of course," Beca replies instantly. "Now hold on to me tightly, and be sure to tell me if you think your legs are going to give out." Chloe gives a feeble nod, and then no more words are exchanged as they slowly make their way up the driveway.
As they walk, Beca tries valiantly to ignore the feeling of Chloe pressed so tightly against her. She herself is almost completely covered in her dark jeans and long-sleeved shirt, but Chloe, despite having been left out in the cold for hours, is unbelievably warm, and the heat that presses through her clothes and into her skin is a little overwhelming. Add to that the recognition of the fact that Chloe is completely naked, and Beca's ashamed to admit that she's having more than a bit of trouble controlling her reactions. She's thankful that her need to care for Chloe is taking precedence at the moment; she's a little afraid of what might happen when that need is satisfied.
When they reach the front door, Beca fumbles for a moment in her pocket for the key, trying to keep her grip on Chloe firm. It takes a moment, but she manages to unlock the door, and she calls out as they step inside the warm entry.
"Stace? You home?"
"In the living room!" Beca feels slight relief at the sound of her housemate's voice; she's perfectly capable of tending to Chloe's needs without help, but she needs to be bathed and dressed as well as fed, and she would rather not leave Chloe alone if it can be helped.
"Can you come here for a sec?" There's the sound of distant movement followed by footsteps in the hallway, and then the tall, languorous brunette rounds the corner.
Stacie's jaw drops.
"Beca? What's going on?" Beca feels Chloe stiffen at her side, and runs her free hand soothingly down her upper arm as she replies.
"Chloe here needs dinner and a bath, but she can't walk very well on her own at the moment. I was hoping you could cook something up while I help her out with a shower and some clothes." Her tone warns Stacie very clearly not to question the situation, and the taller woman blinks rapidly before the movement turns into a curt nod.
"Absolutely. What would be appropriate?"
"It's a cold night; something warm would be nice," Beca responds promptly. The professionalism in their tones strikes Chloe as slightly odd, but she makes no comment, choosing instead to lean more heavily on Beca as she feels the strength in her legs draining.
"Not a problem, captain. I'll call you when it's ready." Beca nods her thanks as Stacie turns on her heel and strides off, presumably in the direction of the kitchen. When the woman is out of sight, Beca turns to the girl at her side.
"Chloe? Are you still okay to walk? One of the master bedrooms has an en-suite bathroom with a full tub and shower. Do you think you can make it that far?" Chloe's face is drawn with exhaustion, but she manages a slight jerk of her head in reply.
"Don't worry ma'am; I can walk a little farther," she says softly, and Beca narrows her eyes.
"Are you sure?" she persists, not wanting the girl to agree out of guilt or stubbornness. Chloe raises her eyes to make contact, and though Beca can see the weariness in them, determination is also clear.
"Yes ma'am. I can make it. I'd like to, please," she requests quietly, and the feeble tone swiftly makes Beca acquiesce.
"Very well. Hang on to me, then. It's just down the hall." Chloe doesn't reply, but she makes a distinctive effort to move more determinedly as Beca guides her down the short hallway. She's too focused on staying on her feet to take in much of the décor as they enter the large bedroom, but she notices the minimal yet tasteful decorations and comfortable atmosphere. It takes her a moment to realize that the brunette has most likely brought her to her own room, and she feels a surge of gratitude fill her at the recognition that Beca cares about her enough to bring her into her private space. It's flattering as well as reassuring, and Chloe would remark on it if her attention weren't devoted so intently to staying upright.
That concern disappears when Beca leads her to sit on the floor of the massive en-suite bathroom, turning to surprise when the domme fiddles with the taps for a moment before stripping hastily out of her jeans and shirt, leaving just her bra and panties on as she turns to leave the room. Forgetting her shock at seeing the brunette barely dressed, Chloe feels unwarranted panic set in as Beca begins to leave.
"Wait!" she calls out, struggling to stand, and Beca halts in the doorway in confusion. When she sees Chloe fighting to pull herself to her feet, she quickly crosses back over to the girl and places her hands steadyingly on her shoulders.
"Hey, hey, shhh," she soothes, trying to convey calmness through her eyes. "It's all right. I'm just going to put on a more comfortable change of clothes, and then I'll be back to help you into the tub, all right?" Chloe feels a flush spread up her cheeks as recognition sets in.
"Oh," she mumbles embarrassedly, and feels a short burst of irritation shoot through her when Beca smiles.
"It's all right," the brunette reassures. "I can understand why you panicked. Are you going to be all right if I leave for a moment?" Chloe refuses to meet her gaze, this time out of shame rather than submission.
"Yeah," she mutters grudgingly, and misses the slight grin that spreads across Beca's face at her irritability. "I'll be fine. Sorry." She is startled when a comforting hand strokes briefly down her cheek before Beca stands again and strides quickly from the room. Chloe barely has time to process the touch when the woman is back, dressed now in a tank top and baggy sweatpants with her hair thrown up in a messy bun on top of her head, looking less like a powerful domme and more like a college student headed to an early morning class. The difference is so great that it strikes Chloe as amusing, and a tiny giggle escapes her as she takes in Beca's appearance. Beca's eyes narrow at her reaction.
"What's so funny?" she wants to know, and Chloe bites her lip.
"You just – you look – different," she tries, hoping that she's not offending the other woman, and she is relieved when Beca permits herself a rueful smile.
"Not exactly like a domme, huh?" she agrees, casting a glance down at her haphazard attire, and Chloe shakes her head with another giggle.
"No." She stops laughing when Beca's expression falls serious.
"Yeah, well, don't underestimate it," she says quietly, and Chloe takes it as a warning even though it probably isn't one. She can't imagine that Beca would grow angry with her over something so petty, but then again, she doesn't exactly know the woman despite what they've been through in the past two hours, so she really has no way of knowing.
"I'm sorry; I hope I didn't offend you," she offers guiltily, bowing her head, and Beca smiles.
"Not at all. In fact, I'm glad to see that my appearance doesn't entirely change the way you respond to my presence," she says lightly before sobering somewhat. "However, I need to reassure you that you will never have a reason to be frightened of me," she says seriously, and Chloe finds herself nodding before she can even register the movement.
"I know," she says simply. It takes her until a moment after the fact to realize that she's telling the truth – she does know that Beca would never give her a reason to fear her, despite having only known her for several hours. When she considers it, she's not quite sure how to feel about that.
Beca doesn't bother to respond as she bends back down beside her, wrapping an arm around her waist again to pull her upright and lead her over to the bathtub. Once she's gotten Chloe settled in the warm water, she gestures to the door.
"I'm going to go get you some clothes," she states, straightening up. "My clothes won't fit you, but I'm sure that I can find something of Stacie's that she'll let me borrow; you're probably close enough to her size. The soap is to your right in the tray, and the shampoo is above your head. There are clean towels on the rack for when you're done, but if you feel like you can't reach them without hurting your back, just call for me and I'll come help you out. All right?" She fastens Chloe with another steady stare, and exits the room on a determined march.
It takes Chloe a little longer than it otherwise might have to get clean, seeing as her joints are tight from being bound all day. It's harder for her to reach up to grab the shampoo off the shelf above her head, and twice she almost calls for Beca, but at last she manages to get her hair washed and the tub drained before tackling the task of reaching for a towel. It almost proves to be too difficult, but something in her is determined not to summon help for this simple task when she's been so demanding already all evening.
Having bathed leaves Chloe feeling fresher and much more energetic, and after wrapping herself in a thick, fluffy towel, she manages to walk shakily over to the bathroom door and peer out into the bedroom. Beca is currently nowhere to be seen, but a pile of neatly folded clothes is sitting on a chair right beside the door. Chloe examines them, and is surprised to see that while the shirt and pants have clearly been worn, the undergarments left to her still have their tags on. And she can't help wondering if Beca has seen situations like hers before. The thought causes a small wave of jealousy to rise within her, but she quickly pushes it aside, reminding herself that even if the thought proves to be true, Beca seems to genuinely care for her wellbeing, and at the moment, that confirmation is all that she needs.
It takes her a minute of awkward balancing to pull on the jeans and dark navy shirt – a long-sleeved V-neck of some material she thinks might be close to cashmere, but that is warm and comfortable and feels a little bit like a cozy blanket that she could curl up and fall asleep in. Being clothed immediately lessens the feeling of vulnerability that she's been harboring all night, and she struggles to remember the last time she was permitted to have her body so covered. It clicks in the back of her mind that that fact should probably be a cause for concern, and it fully strikes Chloe for the first time how thankful she is that Beca found her.
It's not that Mark was . . . abusive, so to speak, but he never quite gave her a comfortable life, and he certainly was never attuned to her needs. He didn't have time for that nonsense, he had told her once, and she had accepted his explanation; it made sense that a man as busy as he wouldn't have the kind of time and energy to devote to his slave as other masters she had seen. He had nearly always left her to fend for herself, sometimes leaving her bound and gagged for hours in public, blindfolded, while he went about the business of visiting his clients.
That had been another thing, the clients, and one that Chloe had never quite been comfortable with, but had tolerated for the sake of maintaining their relationship. She knew that he spent time with other women; he had told her that he did, and she had accepted it for the fact that it made him happy. He had never told her why he did it – whether he simply needed the release or if she wasn't pleasing him enough – but by the end, it had gotten to a point where Chloe had been feeling more than a little neglected. Mark had never taken time for her anymore, and her needs, which he had been more attentive to in the beginning of their relationship, had been pushed to the back burner as he entertained himself with other fancies.
She won't admit it aloud, still not entirely comfortable with the idea, but she had been considering the idea of leaving him recently, right up until the time that Beca had found her. And despite whatever obligations she might feel towards the brunette after being granted so many privileges, she's grateful that Beca has stepped into her life so that the decision is no longer hers to make.
Part of her wonders, even after their brief time together, if surrendering most of her decisions to Beca might not be a wise thing to do.
She's spared the headache of further contemplation when Beca's voice issues from somewhere deeper in the house, calling to Stacie to find more butter, and Chloe straightens her shoulders. Beca told her to wait for her to help her out of the tub, but she's already out, and she doesn't want to make the domme come looking for her if she's occupied with helping her roommate. She decides to go find them.
It takes her a few minutes of weaving back and forth unsteadily through the various hideaways in the cavernous house to find the kitchen, but when she does, it's immediately evident. The room is large and homey, brightly lit with double chandeliers and a droopy array of twinkling Christmas lights strung up in the corners. Stacie, the leggy brunette, is standing at the stove with one hand on her hip and the other holding a wooden spoon like a throwing knife. Beca is on a stool at the center island, bright red with a puff of what looks like flour decorating half of her face. Both are laughing uproariously, and it takes them a moment to notice Chloe, who has paused shyly in the doorway as though waiting for permission to enter the room. When they turn to her, she feels herself blush.
"Chloe!" Beca's tone conveys surprise. "You didn't have to come out here by yourself; I was just about to go help you." Chloe ducks her head uncertainly, not sure where her sudden bashfulness is issuing from, but feeling it radiate from her toes all the way up to the roots of her hair.
"It's all right, ma'am," she assures quietly, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "I didn't want you to feel obligated to help me if you had to help with the cooking." Beca's face is drawn with concern, and Chloe can't ignore the warmth she feels at the woman's newfound lightheartedness, and the way a strand of hair has come loose from her bun and is dangling messily in her face.
"Chloe, you're not an obligation; it's not a burden for me to help you," she says quickly. She's brushing at her clothing in an attempt to make herself more presentable, and Chloe doesn't have the heart to tell her that she has flour all over her face that is essentially ruining the effect.
"I know, but I didn't want to tear you away from your cooking. And besides, I'm feeling a lot better now; I swear," she adds sincerely, when Beca doesn't appear convinced. "The bath and clothes really helped. If you'd like me to, I can leave now; I can find a hotel to stay at for the night and return your clothes to you as soon as I can get some of my own." Almost instantaneously, Beca is in her face, pressing her close to the wall with a hand above her head, effectively preventing her from escaping. The effect is somewhat startling, but Chloe isn't frightened, and she can see in the brunette's gaze that Beca knows it to be true.
"You will not," the domme hisses out, anger practically dripping from her words. It's not anger with her, Chloe knows, but with the situation that has forced her hand. "You're staying here, where I can make sure that you're taken care of. Once you're fully recovered, you're free to go, but I don't trust someone not to take advantage of you when you're in such a vulnerable state. Freshening up may have temporarily lessened the effect, but you're tired and undernourished, your body is in a weakened state from being tied up for God only knows how long; you've been kept in a mindset where you haven't had to fend for yourself, which has prompted you to forget how to do it, and you have no way of defending yourself from someone who would try to take advantage of you. So if you're through pretending like you're fine, Chloe, then we can sit down and discuss where you're going to go from here." Her eyes, which Chloe is only just noticing are blue, not brown, are steely and challenging, as though daring her to argue, and Chloe knows enough not to bait her with further protests. God, her eyes are gorgeous . . . .
"Chloe!" Beca barks, and Chloe startles and blushes. "Are you listening to me?"
"Shirt," she says stupidly, and Beca raises an eyebrow.
"Your eyes are the same color as my shirt. I thought they were brown. I mean, you know, I hadn't really looked yet, but I just assumed they were brown because – "
"Right. Sorry." She feels her cheeks grow hotter as she stares at the floor.
"Chloe," Beca starts again, and this time, her voice is gentle. "Come sit by me at the counter while Stacie finishes making dinner. I'd like to take a look at your wrists."
"Oh. O – okay," she mumbles awkwardly, allowing Beca to lead her over to the counter, and hears a quiet giggle issue from the other side of the room. Beca's stare turns reproachful.
"Stacie, be nice." The leggy brunette snickers and waves her wooden spoon airily.
"But she's so cute, Becs, I mean, look at her! She's adorable!"
"Stacie! You're making her uncomfortable!"
"But she is!"
"Stacie, the food's burning."
"Shit!" Stacie whirls back around to the stove, only to realize that the pot of water she's been heating for the pasta hasn't even been filled yet. Her eyes narrow. "Bitch." Beca laughs.
"You love it," she taunts easily, turning back to the girl seated across from her. It's when she's prompted to look at her again that she realizes that Stacie's right; Chloe is adorable – or at least somewhere between adorable and drop-dead gorgeous. Earlier, in the car and the alleyway, she had been too occupied with taking control of the situation to really take in Chloe's appearance. Now, with the immediate franticness removed and Chloe in a less compromising position with the addition of clothes, Beca is free to let her eyes wander a little under the guise of checking the woman for ailment. She supposes she shouldn't be surprised at what she finds, but she can't help doing a double take.
Chloe is gorgeous.
Her frame is thin but womanly, and despite the still slightly uncertain way that she holds herself, Beca notes that she's visibly quite a bit taller than she. Her startling cerulean eyes, already shocking in their brightness, make for a strong contrast with her hair, the color of which Beca hadn't even noticed before. It's still damp where it lies against Stacie's sweater, but she can tell that in its normal state it will be somewhere between curly and wavy. It's also darker due to not yet being entirely dry, but it's a subtle auburn that suits her rather than being overly bright.
Beca feels her mouth dry out just the slightest, and quickly coughs and devotes her attention to examining Chloe's wrists when she realizes that the redhead is watching her quizzically. The hard lines in tender flesh have dissipated somewhat, and she swiftly determines that while they are sure to be uncomfortable for a while, no lasting damage has been done.
"Your wrists might hurt you for a couple of days, but they'll heal," she proclaims aloud, tugging the ginger's sleeves back down. "Are you hurt anywhere else that I don't know about?" She watches Chloe consider for a minute, presumably doing a mental check-up, before she shakes her head.
"No, ma'am, I don't think I am," she says slowly. Beca doesn't remove her gaze.
"You may call me Beca, remember."
"Beca. I'll try," Chloe grants, and Beca knows better than to push her. Instead, she lowers her voice into a conspiratorial whisper.
"You know, Stacie's a domme too," she reveals secretively. "But if you call her anything other than Stacie or Legs, she's not going to be happy. I saw her dunk a guy in a keg once because he tried to call her 'Mistress Stacie.'"
"I heard that," Stacie calls over her shoulder, and Beca is relieved to hear Chloe let out a giggle. "See if you get any ravioli now, Mitchell." Beca sobers immediately.
"Don't you dare."
"I guess you'd better be nice, then," Stacie says simply. Beca grumbles, but her eyes light up as Stacie slides two bowls of pasta onto the counter, followed swiftly by a plate of toasted sandwiches and a pot of what smells suspiciously like hot chocolate.
"Sweet!" Stacie smirks at the smaller woman's eagerness.
"See, you love me, Mitchell," she teases lightly, and Beca shoots her a glare before pulling the food possessively towards her.
"Only because you make me food."
"Of course," Stacie grants with a smirk. "Now eat up before it gets cold." Beca doesn't hesitate to do exactly that, but she halts abruptly when she sees that Chloe isn't eating.
"Chloe? You okay there?" The redhead blinks as though coming out of a daze, and Beca suspects that she's not the only one who's a little enthralled.
"Yes ma – I mean, Beca," she corrects herself hastily, and Beca smiles at her around a mouthful of red sauce. "I was just . . . thinking." She looks across the room at Stacie, who has begun loading the dishwasher, and gestures to the food. "Thank you, Stacie. This must have taken a lot of work."
"Nothing to it," Stacie replies breezily, returning with a mug for each girl, which she sets down by the pot of cocoa. "I enjoy a little jaunt in the kitchen, unlike Little Miss Incompetence, here. Did you know she set fire to the microwave the very first day we had it?" Chloe looks uncertain of whether she should laugh or not, and settles for asking how. Upon hearing that Beca had tried to melt ice cream like many a microwave newbie before her, she relaxes and allows herself to laugh quietly.
Dinner progresses without further conversation, the only sounds the clinking of forks against plates and the swishing of the dishwasher in the background. Chloe finds it strangely comforting, an unchanging background of white noise that distracts her from the jabbering hubbub of her brain chatter, and she's almost disappointed when Beca pushes back her plate and leans across the counter. Stacie takes the movement as a cue to clear their dishes, and when Chloe offers to help, she waves her away with a dismissive, "Shortstack wants to talk to you now. You'd better let her unless you want to see the wrath of a tiny person up close." Chloe only offers her a wan smile, feeling uncomfortable beneath the scrutiny of Beca's intense gaze.
"You're staying here for now," Beca declares gruffly after a moment, and Chloe can't decide whether she's relieved or made more uncomfortable by the announcement. "We've decided that already, and I think you've seen enough of us by now to see that we're not serial killers or anything along those lines. So now," she continues seriously, "it's time for you to think about what you're going to do." Chloe goes to swallow nervously but swiftly realizes that her mouth is dry. She grabs her mug to distract herself and takes a large gulp.
"Uh . . . what are my options?" she asks finally, when she realizes that Beca is waiting for her to respond. Beca casts a look at Stacie that the redhead can't interpret before leaning a little closer.
"The situation is this: whether you like it or not, you're staying here for as long as it takes for you to regain your footing in the outside world, and then you can decide where to go from that point. By then we can set you up in a hotel while you figure it out if you'd rather not stay here in the meantime, but after that, your options are these – if you're still interested in living the lifestyle as a sub, Stacie knows people, and she can hook you up with somebody you trust, or we can find you somewhere to stay until you've found someone on your own. If not, we can help you find an apartment and a roommate, and a job if you don't already have one." A quick shake of the head tells Beca the answer, and she continues. "All right. We have a friend, she calls herself Fat Amy, who would be willing to put you up; she's been looking for a roommate for a while now, and I'm sure that she's be more than willing to accommodate you for the time – "
"What if I want to stay here?" Chloe blurts out. Beca freezes, and it's hard to tell for a moment whether it's because of the question or the fact that she was interrupted. After a moment, though, she relaxes somewhat. Chloe's eyes have darted off elsewhere in the meantime, trying to avoid both Beca and Stacie, who is standing stock-still up to her elbows in soapsuds at the sink, and it takes a couple snaps from Beca's fingers to lure her gaze back.
"Do you really want that? Chloe, think about what you're saying."
"I am thinking about it." She doesn't mean to snap, but that's the way it comes out. Maybe the bath wasn't as relaxing as she thought. And she's not thinking about it, not to the extent that she should be if she's actually asking Beca to consider it. Hell, she met this woman fewer than three hours ago, and she's basically requesting that they move in together. It's completely ludicrous; she really can't blame Beca for being incredulous.
Except, now that she has planted the seed in her own brain as well as Beca's, she can't help contemplating the idea. Living with guaranteed care, friendship, and affection as opposed to staying in a hotel, or living with someone she knows even less, or (God forbid) moving back in with him. And even with all of the logistics of it aside, she can't help but admit that her mind is currently engaged in a rising fight with itself over the draw she feels to Beca – because there is a pull there, whatever the circumstances may be. Maybe it's the clear, powerful energy that the shorter woman radiates, the fact that she was the one to pull off her gag and blindfold, or that she's started to show Chloe after only a few hours how a real domme would treat a slave, but no matter what the reason is, Chloe is losing track of her logical reasons not to request what she's requesting.
Maybe the rest of her brain thinks she's an idiot, and she probably is one, but both the submissive side of her and the long-neglected normal side agree that having Beca for her domme is swiftly becoming a priority.
She's arguing with Beca before she realizes what she's doing.
"Is there something so wrong with me staying here? Stacie's been wonderful, and I like you, Beca; you've been so good to me, and maybe it's crazy because I only met you a few hours ago but I feel a connection with you that's telling me I should be here. I can't really explain it; I just know I need it." Beca watches her with an unidentifiable expression as she speaks definitively, but by the time she's finished, her face has hardened somewhat. It's not a frightening look, so to speak, but it's solemn enough that it gives Chloe the impression that she won't be getting what she wants – not immediately, at least. She knows that she was a bit forward in her persuasion, and in retrospect she probably shouldn't have said a good portion of what she did, but it's out there now and she can't retract it. She's not sure that she would if she had the ability to, either.
Beca doesn't know what to say. It's not that she's surprised, really – Chloe is a submissive, after all, and deep into the mindset that goes with it. Add to that the fact that she was treated in a way that probably countered her needs as a sub, and Beca can understands why she needs what she says she does. Chloe's old master, in whatever dingy corner of the world he now lurks, clearly never addressed the emotional and psychological aspects of his relationship with the redhead. Their relationship had been hindered by a lack of trust, which Chloe had probably wanted to give but had been unable to, and Beca knows enough of sub mindsets to know that the inability to trust someone that she would instinctively put complete and utter faith in had to have been confusing and essentially damaging to her role as a sub. Also missing had been respect; that much was evident, and as far as Beca is concerned, a relationship without trust or respect isn't a relationship at all, and especially not when it's a master-slave relationship.
Of course Beca's involvement is comforting – Beca doesn't exactly go around shouting it from the rooftops, but privately, she considers herself to be an excellent domme. She's made it a priority, and she's always made sure to meet the standards that she sets for herself. It's only natural for Chloe, who has been so far deprived of a healthy relationship with a master, to be captivated by someone who is clearly the opposite of what she's used to. The allure in a powerful and firm, yet steady, trustworthy, respectful domme is something that Beca can appreciate, even if she can't understand it.
That being said, while she knows that she's a good domme, and while she knows that there is something between them, and while she knows that she would be more than willing to keep Chloe in her life, Chloe doesn't know that yet. She's only known her for several short hours, and while the same may be said for Beca, the brunette is intimately familiar with the workings of submissive mindsets; Chloe has never experienced a true master, and that hinders her ability to see every corner of the situation.
Beca is happy to allow what is being requested of her, but she's not going to do it until she's sure that Chloe is certain of what she's asking for. She tells the redhead as much, feeling a slight trace of guilt wash over her at the sight of disappointed blue eyes, but she knows that it's for the best. She wouldn't be a very good domme if she didn't ensure that her submissive is entirely aware of their predicament. It's one of the first rules of being a mistress; she knows how far she's willing to push things, but she needs to know a sub's limits before engaging in any sort of interaction with them.
She explains this to Chloe, though in fewer words, and doesn't mention her own opinion on the matter. She only suggests that the redhead sleeps on the idea, and that once she is fully recovered and has had a chance to acclimate to her new life, that they can revisit the subject in a proper conversation.
Chloe continues to look sad, but she's courteous, and she expresses her gratitude once again as Beca suggests that they move into the living room to talk and get to know each other a little better before retiring for the night, seeing as it is still somewhat early.
Beca has resolved not to display any sort of behavior that could sway Chloe's opinion either way, but she finds that she can't help placing her hand protectively on the small of Chloe's back as she guides her into the living room, or the firmness in her posture as she tucks a blanket around the girl once she's settled on the couch. She can't help showing her domme side around Chloe, and part of her wonders if perhaps she should be a little worried, but the other half of her craves it, somehow, and Beca's never been good at denying herself what she needs.
"So, Chloe," Stacie starts off once they've settled in. She's taken the large armchair in the corner of the room and has curled her legs up under her body like a cat, leaving Beca and Chloe to share the couch. "Where are you from, originally?" Chloe shifts under the blanket, settling in more comfortably to take the weight off her aching knees.
"I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida," she answers, and gets a wistful look in her eyes that Beca knows is associated with childhood. "I grew up with four older brothers in the house. Then I went to college for seven years in Atlanta, and after I graduated I moved out here to work in a law office, but things got difficult and I started training as a speech therapist to make some money while I figured my shit out." Stacie looks suitably impressed.
"That can be a pretty intense job," she comments, and Chloe nods seriously. "What was your major?"
"So why did you go into law?"
"It paid the bills, and I thought I'd try to work my way up the ladder, you know? I had the idea that I could be a big fancy lawyer – family law or something – but I didn't have the money to get a degree in law school, so I tried to make it just by recommendation. I almost made it, too, but then I ran into – um – the lifestyle, I guess, and things changed." The two dommes notice the way she lowers her head at the admission, a faint blush creeping up her pale cheeks. Beca shares a significant look with Stacie and decides to let the other woman ask.
"Chloe, when exactly did you get involved in the lifestyle?" Chloe blushes deeper.
"Um . . . two years ago, I guess? Two and a half, maybe?" Stacie's expression remains serious.
"Uh-huh. And you say that it interfered with your job?" Chloe's voice, when she answers, is low and filled with shame, and it makes Beca want to reach out and pull her into her arms.
"It's Stacie, Chloe."
"Then how long has it been since you've been able to work?" Chloe's response is hardly audible; Beca has to lean forward to hear, though the girl is only about two feet away.
"Two years." Beca feels a rush of fury surge through her, and judging by the look on Stacie's face, she's not the only one.
"You haven't been able to be a functioning adult for two years?" Stacie demands indignantly. At Chloe quiet mumble of affirmation, her expression turns almost angry. "Let me get this straight; you paid for seven years of college before working your way up the corporate ladder almost to a legitimate position of authority, and then you just threw that away?" She sounds horrified, and if she's being perfectly honest, Chloe can't really blame her. It does sound absurd when it's put that way; she has her reasons, of course, but Stacie's astonishment has a way of suddenly making her reconsider how much they're worth.
"It's – it's not like that," she says hurriedly, raising her head to look from one domme to the other with pleading eyes. "At first, when I got introduced to the lifestyle, it was just a kind of relaxation thing; something I did on the side. But then after a while, when it got intense, it started getting in the way of everything else that I was trying to do. Besides, once Mark and I had been going for a couple months, he asked me to stop working, and I didn't like it, but I kind of had to, or lose him, and I was so into the situation that I didn't realize how easy it could have been for me to step out and find another solution."
"Damn right you could have."
"What, Beca? Don't tell me you're not just as bothered by this as I am." Stacie turns her fiery eyes to the shorter brunette, and Beca doesn't shrink beneath her gaze, but rather glares back with equal intensity.
"Of course I am Stacie, but there's no need to push her around because of it; she admits she knows better now!"
"Does she? Then why is she sitting here right now, if she knew better than to let herself remain in a situation like that? If she knew better, then why did you find her tied up and helpless in an alleyway?"
Beca slams her fist down on the coffee table.
"That's enough, Stacie!" Stacie draws a huge breath, about to retaliate, but shuts her mouth abruptly when a small voice breaks in.
"No. Stacie's right; I don't really know better. I'm realizing now that what I did wasn't the smartest thing to do, but that doesn't mean that I would be able to stop myself from doing it again. I'm kind of oblivious anyways, and I'm not really the greatest with self-control." It's Beca's turn to snap as she turns her gaze to the ginger.
"I guess maybe we'd better teach you some, then," she bites, before clamping her lips shut, wide-eyed, as she realizes the implications of what she's said. Far from appearing contrite, Chloe's expression is ecstatic.
"You really mean that?" Beca hastily reorders her thoughts into an acceptable answer.
"Not now," she replies coolly, careful to keep her composure. She's not displaying excellent domme behavior at the moment. "If we agree that you're going to stay, then we'll bring that up again later." It takes a good deal of effort to keep her face stoic and not reveal a hint of the thrill that shoots through her at the possibilities the idea provokes. It doesn't help that Chloe isn't looking to be at all deterred.
Her mind dangerously muddled, Beca shakes her head slightly and pushes herself abruptly up off the couch.
"I think it's time to go to bed; we should end this before this conversation goes to places where we can't contain it tonight." To her surprise, the others agree, and both she and Chloe wave off Stacie's offer to help settle them in for the night. The tall brunette disappears after bidding them goodnight, presumably in the direction of her bedroom, leaving Beca to help Chloe up off the couch.
By this point, the redhead's weariness has grown more pronounced, and the shaking in her legs is apparent when she tries to stand. Her body fairly vibrates with it, spreading the unsteadiness up her thin frame and into her arms and hands and diaphragm. She hates to admit it, but despite her resolution to not push anything until Chloe has had time to consider it, the sight of the woman's weak, trembling body does something to Beca. She has no intention of encouraging Chloe to depend upon her in any way other than an impersonal, stranger-to-stranger manner, but as she watches the girl quiver, it occurs to Beca that maybe Chloe's ability to see clearly isn't the problem here.
It's instinctive for her, after more than seven years, to react the way she does – or at least, that's how Beca justifies it to herself when she moves quickly to Chloe's side. A warm, supporting arm quickly snakes around the redhead's waist, and Beca wastes no time in pulling her close. She nestles Chloe into the support of her body and tries dutifully to ignore the way that her insides tangle pleasantly at the sensation of their bodies pressed so tightly together. Chloe's curves are wrapped around her own in a way that should be illegal for the way it causes the brunette's belly to tighten. She tries her best to brush it off. She has a job to do.
This time, Beca leaves her with no room for argument; curling her hands firmly around Chloe's thighs, she hefts the girl up into her arms. It only proves to make things worse as Chloe's legs wrap tightly around her waist, clinging on like a koala as they move from the room into the hallway, and from there to one of the spare bedrooms with an adjoining bath.
She sets Chloe down on the bed and departs briefly, promising to acquire a pair of pajamas, which leaves Chloe free to let her thoughts run wild in the brief minute that the brunette is gone. She feels so comfortable with Beca that it's actually a little insane, seeing as they're practically still strangers. Chloe doesn't think that the brevity of their time together is important; not when she can clearly sense the protectiveness and possessiveness oozing off the younger woman. Neither will she pretend that the power Beca exudes isn't more than a little bit of a turn on. When she gets down to the facts, Chloe knows that she feels safe with Beca in a way that she's never quite experienced with anyone else. The feisty brunette's attentions are steady and focused; she is kind and gentle, protective, but also straightforward; Chloe appreciates the fact that she's been put in her place several times already tonight, and unlike with Mark, she knows that Beca is right.
Not only that, but she clearly puts great effort into taking care of Chloe. She's careful and concerned and attentive, and it makes Chloe feel like she's important; like she matters. It's an odd feeling for someone who spent so long being treated like a slave – even though that's what she was – without any hint of love or respect behind the act. Beca respects her; she clearly values the trust Chloe puts in her and the privilege of having her under her care. It's an entirely new concept to Chloe, but she won't pretend that she doesn't appreciate it. She enjoys it, in fact; she likes being valued, and looking back on her previous experiences, even back to college, and she can't think of another time when she felt so safe and content. The power Beca holds over her is, she realizes, something of a necessity for her; though her freedom is enjoyable, she depends to a large degree on the structure that being cared for and controlled by someone offers her. It's especially effective when that submission is balanced with the recognition on both of their parts that Chloe is still her own person.
Not to mention the fact that the idea of being helpless under Beca's control is totally hot.
When the younger woman returns, it's with a pair of warm flannel pajamas that have clearly been swiped from Stacie's room. Chloe doesn't know if it's because she's been naked for the better part of their time together, or if it's simply due to the kind of connection that she can feel building between them, but neither of them are the least embarrassed by the fact that Beca has to strip her down in order to help her change. In fact, she's sure that the domme's hands linger unconsciously as she tugs the pants up her legs. Chloe may be oblivious a lot of the time, but she knows attraction when she sees it, and she knows that she isn't imagining the firm sweep of Beca's hands across her hips or the lingering brush of fingertips up the sides of her ribcage. The touch is gentle but steady, easy yet firm, and Chloe can't help imagining what those hands would feel like somewhere else, and it sends a dart of warmth shooting through her.
Her body is already stiff and hurting from being tied in a cramped position all day long, but at Beca's touch, there's a sudden, new ache blooming somewhere that has nothing to do with exhaustion.
Beca knows, and while she manages to not give it away, it's a close call. Her own desire has been ramped up a couple notches to match, and not just from seeing Chloe naked once again. Actually, it's anything but that; if anything, the sight of the thin, aching body makes her chest well up with anger at the neglectful treatment afforded to this sweet, trusting young woman. No; it's the sight of the clear trust and familiarity on Chloe's face as she dresses her and gets her settled, tucking her warmly beneath the covers and stroking a pacifying hand down thick auburn curls.
Chloe's gorgeous, and she's trusting, and it all makes Beca's heart clench as she leans down to press a light kiss to the top of her head before murmuring a goodnight and walking quickly from the room so that Chloe doesn't have the chance to give her a funny look.
Too worked up to be tired, the redhead tosses and turns for a long time, trying to find a position that doesn't make her legs hurt or her back cramp. Her mind is in a whirl, jumping from thoughts of Beca to Mark to the lingering, dull ache in her wrists. She's still not entirely sure how she went from being gagged and blindfolded naked in a dark alley, waiting for a master who would have brought her home only to leave her in a similar position all night, to being warm, fed, and clothed with a bed to herself, in the presence of two dommes who seem to genuinely care for her wellbeing. All she knows is that she's grateful, and for the first time in a long time, content.
Well, not quite content. The bed is cold despite the warm comforter and cozy pajamas; maybe her body is too weak or exhausted to radiate much warmth. Either way, it's not long before she's being overcome with the shivers. She curls into as much of a ball as her body can manage and wraps herself around a pillow for warmth, but none of it seems to do any good.
Plus, she's not afraid of the dark, but there's something about spending two years frequently bound and often blindfolded that can make being alone in a strange, dark room not particularly enjoyable.
After about an hour of fighting a restless, trembling battle to fall asleep, when she still isn't even beginning to feel a hint of drowsiness, she gives up and drags herself out of bed.
She's not quite sure how she manages it in the dark, especially with her legs so weak and shaky, but she locates Beca's room. Her body hurts from struggling down the cold hallways, and she's shivering violently now to stay warm. By the time she tentatively pushes open the door, which is standing ajar, she's aching so badly that she only hesitates for a moment before making her decision.
Beca is sprawled out beneath the covers, clearly sound asleep. Chloe creeps over to the side of the bed and contemplates. She knows that she should wake the brunette, if only to ask for an extra blanket (or three), but Beca looks so peaceful asleep, the frown gone from her pretty features. Chloe stands still for a moment at the bedside, debating whether to simply go back to bed and freeze or not, but her legs are close to giving out, and she's really, really cold, and she's never been great at curbing her impulses, so when the urge kicks in, she doesn't think twice before lifting the covers and crawling beneath them to join the sleeping brunette.
Beca simply radiates heat, and Chloe knows instantly that she's made the right decision as she curls into Beca's side. The brunette doesn't wake, for which she is grateful, but she does shift slightly in her sleep, making her position more accommodating, and Chloe gratefully snuggles in deeper, burying herself in the warmth and softness of the domme's body. She nuzzles instinctively into Beca's neck, presses her face into the warm skin, and breathes in the strange-but-familiar smell of shampoo and clean laundry and something else that is purely Beca, and finds herself becoming drowsy almost instantly.
Her body quickly grows heavy with sleep, and Chloe feels the muscles in her legs relax, drawing away the majority of the pain. After a moment, all that remains is a subtle ache, and she lets out a quiet sigh of contentment as she burrows deeper into the warmth.
She's just beginning to drift off when Beca shifts again beneath her. The movement draws her momentarily out of sleep, but when Chloe feels a sleepy hand come up to wrap around her hip and feels Beca rub small circles into the skin in her sleep, she relaxes again and presses even closer than before.
Her last thought before sleep overcomes her is that she has no need to be worried; Beca had been wary of her request, but while the brunette may be reluctant on the surface, the arm around her waist that draws her closer in sleep is telling Chloe something entirely different.