Title: Party Kitty
Author: Rhion
Rating: NC17
Summary: Ties into Autumnspice's Prince of the Sea.
AN: This happened from two things, me musing for Autumnspice, and also as a birthday present for Stephie. I figured it's 'bout time I posted it though, so here 'tis, for all your enjoyment. Oh, and it'd probably help if you read the Prince of the Sea, aka Caspian of the Seven Seas series. Depending on the reception to this, I'll post the other Kitty stuff. Sad how I aim for simple smut, then wind up with plot. _

Caspian didn't even check his heading, he didn't need to. Not when it came to getting certain places. Born in the port city Iyorta on the peninsula nation of Telmar, Caspian could find his way back to the place of his birth with no problem. How many times had he helped his father chart the way back, checking over the headings as though he, a small boy, were the captain of the ship?

It was a bittersweet memory.

Nonetheless, Iyorta was on the horizon and the port authority would come soon to check his cargo and charge him whatever atrocious fee was considered normal these days. Susan would probably be counted as goods, for it was quite clear she wasn't a passenger or a relative in any way shape or form. Things had been quiet since the blowup which was good, but he needed to get away from Susan for awhile, gain some distance. Other than that, everything should be fine, he had no contraband and had clear documentation of his cargo so maybe it might be possible to have the representative overlook his pet.

Spying the long boat that was heading towards him from one of the naval patrol ships that moved across the mouth of the harbor, Caspian passed control over to Henric. Going to his cabin to gather the necessary documents, Caspian entered and without a single glance in his pet's direction he riffled for those all important papers. Everything was silent which did irritate him, normally she would at least make some acknowledgement of his presence but quiet was better than what had happened earlier.

XXX

"Caspian you arse-hair! I knew it was you the minute I saw that lanky bean-pole shadow fall over me!" Morgan got up, roaring and embraced Caspian hard along with much thumping of shoulders and backs.

Chuckling, Caspian returned the hug with enthusiasm, "Tell me you dog-headed rotten-brained scallywag, how long has it been, eh?"

"Four, five months?" Morgan cocked his head thinking, arm still draped over Caspian's shoulders. "Since oh the last night in town back at Mursha's place."

The Port Authority Office was generally packed, but Caspian had a few friends in high enough places, that it was always easy for him to sneak in. Having noticed Morgan's ship the iEnforcing Storm/i docked he'd gone straight there in hopes of meeting up with at least one of his friends. Information about the lay of the land – political, social and economical – was vital to Caspian's continued prosperity. Purchasing and sales were always Caspian's bottom line, and as a man who no longer held massive amounts of land, Caspian had to be sure he wasn't being screwed. This was easy to have happen since the government had confiscated almost all his properties and lands when he'd jumped from Captain Gyeardock's ship while in training for his captaincy. Having been reported as lost at sea had a tendency to have one's properties to be put up for sale.

Or stolen outright.

And so here he was in the seat of maritime bureaucracy. But at least he was in good company.
With a snort, "As I recall you still owe me some gold then."

"Oh damn, can we not forget that?" Morgan hung his head.

"I suppose I could put it on your tab," grunting.

"Or perhaps you should simply write it off as a loss," the supremely soft and deep voice was always welcome.

Turning towards his long time friend and ally, truly someone more family than friend, Caspian took the offered hand in a tight clasp, "Captain Glozelle."

The older man's smile was reserved but warm for all that, "Captain Caspian, it has been too long since I have had the pleasure of your presence."

"Far too long, perhaps we could have dinner together tonight or a luncheon at that café I keep meaning to try," suggesting.

To that Glozelle laughed, "As much as that would please me, I fear that young Morgan would rather have a few nights with his friend. And, in several days I am having a party – that I simply must insist you come to." Shaking his dark head, "Otherwise I think I shall go mad for all the dithering of the old men with their sons they wish to marry off to my daughters. Hah!"

"A frozen noon in Calormen, and a sweltering desert night in the mountains of Archenland would there be if you were to do that," Morgan snorted.

"Mph, those 'boys' of which you speak are older than I, yet how often have you jested over offering me to one of your daughters?" as they walked down the hall to Glozelle's office.

"No jest that my young friend," Glozelle opened up a cabinet taking out three short cut glass cups, offering some brandy with a gesture of the decanter. Universal nodding, as he poured, "I would trust few with my most precious things."

Accepting the drink, Morgan made himself comfortable in one of the chairs before Glozelle's desk, "A ship is no fit place for a woman."

Caspian nodded agreement, wondering what he would do with Susan, because Morgan was right. A ship truly was no fit place for a woman. But, at the same time… It would all bear thinking about, rather than his headlong rush into taking on the task of caring for someone like her. She did deserve a nice home rather than a cramped cabin.

"Glozelle, I am looking possibly into purchasing a series of apartments," deciding it would harm nothing to make inquiries. Besides she'd be safe here. And out from beneath his feet.

"Oh? Looking to settle down? I could see what still is there of your family's properties, otherwise I would have no trouble gifting you with –"

"No gifts, it is not for myself," sipping at his brandy.

Morgan downed his drink quickly, "Then who is it for? A woman catch your eye? Or are you finally considering one of those marriage proposals?"

"Not hardly, but I do not wish to discuss it Morgan, it is… a private matter," sighing. "Morgan, my friend, do you think perhaps we could meet later?"

"Ah, I know when I am unwanted," getting up with the scrape of chair legs, "I shall be at Mursha's place then if you care to join me."

"That I will," nodding a goodbye.

After Morgan had left, the door closing lightly, Caspian leaned forward, "I have.. acquired… an investment, one that is of a delicate nature. I find myself having a difficult time caring for this.. investment properly."

"And what sort of 'investment' would this be Caspian?" Glozelle's eyes narrowed, a worried frown creasing his face.

Shaking his head, "Nothing illegal I assure you. I have come to possess a young woman."

"You purchased a personal slave?" that obviously surprised Glozelle. And a flash of disappointment went over the man's face, "And what would you have me do? Look up someone to purchase –"

"Certainly not!" no, while he needed some separation from Susan, some breathing room – he would never sell her.

"Caspian, I do not know what you want then, you must tell me – I am no reader of minds, there is no sign hanging over your head telling me what it is you wish," Glozelle was a patient man generally, but Caspian was being waspish.

Calming himself, Caspian tried to formulate his thoughts into words, "I am not sure. Perhaps a townhouse to keep her in, with two slaves to see to her care, a small… stipend for her upkeep. Or something of the like."

"How long has she been in your care?"

"A few months, since I was last in Merikesh," getting up and moving to the liquor closet, asking for a refill with a wave of the glass. Requesting things in any other manner was considered impolite. As was offering in any other way as well.

"Ah," as though that explained everything. "You have decided to keep her then?"

"She is… of delicate nature," pouring a hefty amount for himself. He needed it. Noting Glozelle's raised cup, Caspian poured for him as well, "Intelligent and different. Very different."

"There is always a market for different, rarely one for intelligent," Glozelle leaned back, the gaze heavy and measuring.

Caspian couldn't tell what the look meant, but it didn't matter, not really, "She is not, nor will she ever be, for sale."

"I see," scratching his chin. "You will be bringing her to dinner then?"

"Would it be wise?" Caspian generally wasn't concerned with appearances, but asked only for worry over his friend's reputation.

"It would not matter if it was not," musing, "but I wish to meet this woman."

"So you will make inquiries?"

"Of course, but if she is intelligent she may be best kept out of trouble in a trusted household," waving his hand.

The implied offer moved him, "That.. that would be unnecessary. I am sure with a few trustworthy slaves all would be well."

"Caspian, if she is as different as you are implying, and intelligent – something," soft chuckling, "that men your age rarely notice so she must be indeed – then she would be best kept where you know she is safe. No harm would befall her in that sort of household."

Sometimes the subtle intricacies of Telmarine social moors were a bit cumbersome, but in this case it made Caspian feel less like someone was taking pity upon him.

"Then we would both be honoured to attend your party," raising his glass in salute, "for there are none I trust more than you."

XXX

Susan was worried, the sun had set, and she was alone. There came a knock, and Susan went to get it, hoping it was Caspian. Diggit stood there, a tray of food held before him. The Badger entered and set everything out for her.

He paused, his small eyes kind, "Is there aught I can do for you?"

Hugging herself Susan, shook her head wordlessly.

"He will return soon enough, don't worry dear, his first day on land he tends to be overwhelmed with work business," Diggit came closer spreading his paws in sympathetic gestures.

Susan just nodded her understanding, trying to hide the fear in her heart. What if he was hurt? And… it didn't bear thinking that he may be in another woman's arms right now. She had read enough stories about sailors and what they did as soon as they hit the docks. Caspian hadn't done that since he'd come to possess her but Susan couldn't be sure he wouldn't. Diggit watched her a moment more then sighed, leaving. Glancing over the fare she'd been brought, nothing looked appetizing. Even though all her favorite things were there, it just didn't feel right sitting in that chair by herself. He would be furious if she didn't at least try to eat, so Susan did make an attempt. All she was able to do was pick at a few dates, drink her milk, and munch half-heartedly at a rotti. Getting up, Susan flung herself on his bed, and cried, hugging his pillows.

It was so lonely without him.

XXX

Caspian was drunk. He was blitzed. He was very very much inebriated. Soused. Wasted. Three sheets to the wind and then some. There were no words for how drunk he was. Technically – he shouldn't even be conscious. If even alive.

One of Mursha's whores was over him, trying to stir his body – after what he'd paid for the privilege of one of the nice girls, he should at least tryto get his money's worth out of it. And he couldn't. He could blame the rum. Or maybe the bourbon. Quite possibly the gallons of wine he'd consumed. But it would be a lie.

Waving her off as he slurred, "Nevermind. Rest easy, take this as …paid vacation."

Her eyes weren't blue. Nor was her hair anything but glossy black. Quite lovely, he'd had her a time or two, Caspian was sure. She was too dark. Lips too thin, breasts too large. Waist not as narrow over belling hips. Mostly, she wasn't Susan.

That was a painful realization.

Passing out gratefully, Caspian sunk into drunken sleep.

XXX

A knock awoke Susan. It was Trumpkin. Sitting bolt upright, Susan watched as the dwarf with the sharp blue eyes took in Caspian's cabin. Nothing was in disarray, except for her.

"You should eat."

Tucking a strand of hair away, "I wasn't hungry. I'm sorry."

"That's alright lass, must be strange for you then," it was gruff, and Susan could see him trying to find ways to be kind. "If you would like to go above deck, you just let me know. I'll have a tent set up for you."

"Thank you, but… I think I'll just stay in, if that's okay?"

He eyed her a moment, a concerned frown on his face, "Aye it is. But I'll check on you again in a bit."

Giving him a wan smile, "Thank you Mr. Trumpkin."

A gruff nod and he took the tray of food from Caspian's desk, leaving the fruit just in case, then left. Susan slumped, not knowing what to do. She had been trying to be quiet, to give Caspian his space since the argument. Never again would she want to go through that, he had been so irritated, and all she had wanted was to hold him. But the desire to soothe him of whatever his agitation was had led to him yelling at her for being 'demanding' or 'clingy'. Swallowing, Susan tried to hold in the hiccup. Caspian had been so mean, so angry, so unlike him.

Biting her lip, Susan hugged his pillow, whispering, "Don't sell me… please Caspian? I didn't mean to make you mad at me… I just wanted to make you feel better." Laying back down, crushing the heavily scented cushion to her breast, Susan fell back asleep, pining, no longer feeling quite as safe as she once had.

XXX

"Caspian," Morgan was shaking him awake.

Startled, Caspian flew up, reaching for his sword, then ireally/i wished he hadn't. Clutching at his head, "Oh… blazes…my ihead/i." Squinting up at his friend, "What ihappened/i?"

"First, let us get you out of here, Mursha was about to throw you out, apparently," sarcasm dripping from his words, "you made a very definite impression."

Lurching to his feet, Caspian tried to hold in the contents of his stomach. It was a narrow thing. Blinking blurrily, "Someone bring me some bourbon. Now."

Morgan looked at him a moment, then nodded, "Girl – bring the man a full measure of bourbon."

"But Sirrah," the whore was frowning worriedly, hands wringing.

"Say it is for me," Morgan's voice gentled, passing off a few coins to her.

She nodded, "Yes Sirrah."

It took some doing, but Caspian, on his own for the most part, got dressed, and was much revived once he guzzled the large portion of alcohol brought to him. Swaying, Caspian leaned on Morgan down the stairs, a disapproving Mursha with her hands upon her hips glowering at him.

Nodding at the madam, "And how much do I owe you?"

It came out slurred, but it was of no import.

"I know not what is wrong with you Captain Caspian, but if you ever do that again, I shall have you hauled out by the Guard," it was somewhere between concerned and angry. Caspian didn't really notice. Grunting, reaching for his purse, he went to pass it off, but a curt wave of her hand stopped him, "Merely leave and do not come back until you are yourself once more Captain."

"What was her problem?" growling to Morgan as they left.

"I do not think it is a problem with Mursha," was all Morgan would say.

Snorting, "I need a drink. Come. Drink with me Morgan. Let us – let us drown our sorrows with joy!"

XXX

Caspian awoke, hung over – again. Well it was more like he became slightly more sober, enough so that his eyes opened and the world intruded, rather than the drowning blackness of utter intoxication. Moaning, Caspian rolled over – straight onto the floor. A thoughtful soul, or quite possibly a cruel one, had made sure he lay on his side so he wouldn't asphyxiate on his fluids if he were to expel any. Which he did as soon as he hit the floor. Coughing, sputtering, Caspian weakly rose up on his hands, gagging on the foulness that came out.

Sound, vague and muffled due to his crushing skull, then a toe to his hip, "You want something to drink again Caspian?"

Spitting, "Water."

A bucket was tossed over him, and Caspian sat up, angry though the room spun. Eyes focusing slowly, he realized he was in Morgan's townhouse, and his friend stood over him, bucket in hand. His friend didn't look pleased. Taking stock, Caspian himself wasn't pleased. All this for the fact that he didn't like how he was dependant on Susan's presence now? Not good.

"More," croaking up at Morgan.

"So you are going to sober up?" Morgan's pale brown eyes were angry and concerned.

"Yes, now give me more water, I smell foul," raking shaking hands through his hair.

"I shall do you one better my friend, come," and Caspian accepted the assistance offered, stumbling to the bath that was waiting.

Clean clothes were laid out for him, one of the spare sets that Caspian always left with his friend, for one never knew when it would be a good idea to have something like that around. Dripping wet, feeling somewhat more human, Caspian dried off and dressed under the slightly older man's gaze.

"I do not know what has gotten into you Caspian, but I better not see you like this again," the disapproval was absolute.

"Do not fear, it shall not happen," taking razor to his stubbled face.

Creaking from the chair as Morgan shifted, "So, what was the reason for all this?"

"No reason of any import," scraping off the white cream along with short black hairs, rinsing the blade free, "I merely lost control of myself."

"That is what I mean Caspian," the strong scent of coffee filled the air. "You never lose it like this. Not even on the anniversary –"

"Do not complete that sentence my friend," unable to stop himself from snarling.

"Well then, are you safe for me to leave you to your own devices? I have business to attend to," as Morgan sipped from the small white cup.

"Yes, I do not need a nursemaid," patting his face dry on a towel.

The cup was drained rapidly, and Morgan got up, "Then there is breakfast waiting for you in the kitchen. And I shall see you at Glozelle's this evening."

Listening to Morgan leave, Caspian closed his eyes, gathering his patience, Morgan didn't deserve his ire. Calling out, "Morgan?"

Footfalls stilling, "Yes?"

"Thank you."

The door opened and closed, Morgan vacating the premises.

XXX

A furry paw touched her hand, jolting Susan awake. Squeaking in fear, Susan shifted back, sleep fogging her mind until she realized it was merely Diggit. Clutching her chest, gasping for breath, "I'm sorry Diggit! You startled me!"

"It's quite alright," as he gave a little apologetic bow. "You did not answer me when I called your name. I was worried."

Struggling to smile, "I was just asleep, that's all. I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."

"You've hardly eaten a bite," the Badger was quite distraught, "is there anything at all I can do? Make you? Your colour is not so good either, please you should go outside, eat a little, even some fruit? I've made date cakes."

Touched by his worry, "I'm okay, honest.

Diggit's whiskers twitched forward as he sighed, "Please, come outside, a breath of fresh air will make all well once more."

"Okay," sighing, she got up, not wanting to distress him further.

Rummaging about for a loincloth, Susan got herself arrayed quickly, topping it off with another scarf to bind her breasts, not for modesty's sake, but mostly because Caspian wasn't there to see her. Which was the only reason she tended to prance about in quite so little. It was for his appreciative looks that Susan aimed for, not anyone else's. They didn't matter.

XXX

Sipping some tea under Trumpkin's watchful eye – though it wasn't obvious that he was watching over her – Susan spied something. A tall form was on the docks, moving through the crowds. Most certainly not the tallest of men, but the gait was correct, and Susan's heart lifted, worry somewhat eased. It was Caspian standing mostly a full head over many, shaggy hair lifted periodically by the breeze a package underneath his arm.

Not wanting to appear as though she'd been watching for him, Susan rolled onto her stomach to feign sleep. Minutes later the click of boot heels approaching and darkness from Caspian's shadow. The crinkle of paper wrapping, and Caspian was then sitting by her. Susan would turn over but wanted to see what he'd do. He was close enough for her to hear his breathing, to feel the warmth of his body. It was so welcome.

Fingers landed on the small of her back tracing lazy patterns his silence absolute. The snapping of rigging in the wind, the music of the harbor in the air – squalling seagulls, shouts of dockhands, bustling bodies and carts, while loud, seemed distant outside of the bubble of shade.

"Kitten, wake up," Caspian kept his voice gentle. He didn't want to startle her awake.

Watching as she stretched languidly, rolling over as he stroked her side, Caspian smiled. The one he got in return was bright but reserved. Well hopefully the dress he had purchased Susan would cheer her up.

"I have a present for you," stroking her chin and neck.

"You didn't have to do that," his little kitty arching her neck to encourage more of the soft touches.

Getting up, "Yes I did. Now come, let me give you your present."

Entering his cabin, the parcel under his arm, Caspian set it on his desk and waited. Something was a bit off with his pet but he couldn't place what it was. She hadn't hugged him or taken his arm, and she was standing off a ways from him. He didn't like that, but he kept the frown that was looming off his face. Rather than grab the box and tear into it, Susan peeled the paper off in orderly fashion, careful neutrality covering her like a blanket. Caspian was becoming uncomfortable with her behavior, and it became a fight to keep the glower waiting the wings as far from his features as possible.

"What is it?" pale fingers touching the burgundy taffeta.

"It is a dress," reaching over and pulling it free from its box. "The current rage of fashion, fit for a princess."

Susan eyed it, "It's pretty."

Holding it up in the air over her form, Caspian cocked his head the frown finally breaking, "Do you not like it?"

"Oh no, it's pretty," she nodded vigorously.

"We have been invited to a dinner party over at Captain Glozelle's villa," Caspian sighed. "There will be many prestigious people there. Some will be from the army, some from the navy, and many guildsmen and merchants. It is an honour that we have both been extended this opportunity," stressing the word 'both' heavily so his Kitten knew that she herself had been specifically requested, "and I wish for you to be properly attired for it."

A wall came down over Susan's face, "…No…"

"Pardon? Come now, Kitten – how else am I to show you off?"

"You're just going to sell the kitty aren't you?" throwing her hands up in the air as she cried, then bolting for her customary hiding corner for when she was being difficult. "I thought you were going to keep me Caspian, not give me to some crony!"

"I assure you that that was not in my plans Susan," blinking rapidly in confusion. He buys her a dress to wear to a nice party, and his little kitty gets mad? At him? That made no sense….

His pet snorted indelicately, "It was too!" Then she huddled into an even tighter ball, "I bet you were going to parade me around looking like a proper Telmarine girl - well sorry to disappoint you!" And from there even stranger actions, for Susan raced around with manic and purposeful movements doing her hair, her makeup, and adorning her body in all the jeweled finery he'd purchased her over time. She even pulled out the perfumed body oil with crushed pearls making her body glow even more. While she was looking lovely, none of this was something for public viewing – it was all the things that were best viewed while naked.

Clearing his throat, "Ah… so… you are getting ready? You do not have to wear that Susan, I have this dress for you. We are going out in public as you know."

"I'm ready," as Susan bent over, bare bottom shimmery with crushed pearls as she buckled her sandals. It had only taken minutes for his pet to get ready, she had it down to an art form. "Let's go then!" sailing past him and out his cabin and onto the deck. Nude. But for the dangling of jewels.

"Susan!" Caspian hurried after her, catching hold of Kitten's arm, "What the blazes do you think you are doing?" hissing.

Susan turned around lightly, stomping this way and that so that the setting sun sparkled all over her, "Well you're going to show me off. Might as well show them what they're really getting..."

Growling, Caspian glanced around and winced when he spied Morgan not too far from the Isobella. Dragging Susan by the arm, Caspian pushed her into his cabin, "Get dressed at once, we do not have much time!" Slamming the door closed, Caspian went and met Morgan at the gangplank, "Punctual as always."

"As always," holding out his hand, "I brought a carr-"

Morgan's sentence was cut off by feline yowling of anger and the tearing of fabric. The sound was far louder than it had any right to be. Caspian blanched, running back to his cabin, Morgan close on his heels.

On the floor, torn to shreds was Susan's dress, face flushed in anger, giving another rip to some fabric throwing it into the air like expensive confetti, "I will not be sold, given, or traded! I am not some item for sale! I belong to you Caspian and that's how it's going to be!"

Morgan made a sound beside him, "You bought yourself a slave girl? And a.. a... pampered one.. at uh," coughing into his hand, "at that."

Sparing his friend a glare, Caspian turned back to his pet, "Susan, my little kitten, calm yourself," picking up the largest chunk of dress, " this was a fine dress, did you not like the colour?"

"What I don't like is that you're going to get rid of me!" jingling as she stomped, the wood thudding even under the thick padding of the carpet as she wailed.

"You are going to sell her? Well she is lovely indeed, I would –"

Cutting him off, Caspian snapped, "Morgan my friend, you do not want to finish that sentence!" Taking a deep breath, Caspian approached his kitty slowly, "Now Kitten, come, please, calm yourself," pulling out his chair and sitting upon it, still holding the wreckage of the gown, patting his thigh, "come, sit."

Reluctantly she did so, draping an arm over his shoulder, while ignoring Morgan, "I won't belong to anyone else. Not ever."

Stroking her thigh, then moving his hand up gently, "Did you stop to think that maybe I just wanted to take you out?"

Pouting, "You said you wanted to show me off. That means you wanted to see who was interested.. who'd pay you the most or you'd get the most from..."

Finally realizing what the problem was, Caspian slipped his fingers inside her tight sheath, stroking and soothing, "No no, you are mine, are you not little kitty?" His Kitten arched into his hand, the smooth wetness of her pussy clenching around his intrusion, sighing as she was completely unashamed of being observed - all that mattered was that Caspian was the one really watching, "And I do not part with my valued possessions. You know that."

Her hand went down to his wrist, begging for him to stroke harder, pressing her face into his neck, "Promise?"

"Promise," purring at her.

Cuddling her with one arm, Caspian did his best to reassure her that she was his. It was odd, he really didn't want Morgan in the room, but couldn't be bothered to do anything about it, mainly because Susan kept looking up at him, and he saw the worry there. He hadn't realized she liked being his pet so much, his fingers still softly soothing her, "I just want to show them that I have a lovely Kitten Susan, I am not going to get rid of you anytime soon."

"You really promise?" bottom lip trembling, the platinum hoops moving with the motion. Her hand was in his hair - he'd have to do something to make it settle into normal lines before going to the dinner party - and she was trying to snuggle into him.

"Yes I truly promise," kissing her firmly, showing her the only way he knew how.

"Okay," though he could still hear the tremor of uncertainty, and he'd have to work hard to regain her trust. Oh why had he said something so stupid to her in the first place the other day? His Kitten shouldn't ever worry that he was going to let her go. Susan was his, all his, and only he deserved her.

Gently, Caspian pulled his fingers from her, then held them up to her mouth to clean off. She kept hold of his gaze as she did so, making a tiny little moan. It was hell to not let one of his own out, she was so good. Kissing her once more, he gave her bum a little pat to make her stand up, "Now I have to figure out what to put you in."

Susan glanced down at the burgundy dress that'd been torn to shreds, picking it up, "I.. I could still wear it."

Laughing at her, "Nonsense Susan, it's ruined now, and is of no consequence." Rubbing her cheek, Caspian took the material from her, tossing it onto their bed, "Wait here, I think I might have something."

She nodded and he left, going down into the guest cabins - this ship originally had also served as a transport for passengers. Since he'd claimed it years ago, Caspian had put in a few smugglers closets, and in one of them were a few more of his mother's things. Why had he kept them so long? Shoving that aside, Caspian found the tight board, and kicked it gently at the bottom, so the upper part of the bored popped out. Prying it free, Caspian reached in, feeling for satin or cotton. Silk touched his fingers, and thick embroidery.

Frowning again, he tried to remember the dress it would've gone to. Pulling it out, he looked it over, then closed his eyes not wanting to remember the last happy dinner with his family. Taking a deep breath, he draped the teal fabric over his forearm and resealed the hidey-hole.

Entering his cabin, he saw Susan, still dressed much the same (which was pretty much not at all - all the chain and metal jewelry notwithstanding) speaking with Morgan.

"Did he tell you about the time when we got questioned by the Kessian guard? I have never seen someone speak so fast," Morgan chuckled, apparently charmed by Susan who was listening raptly.

That wouldn't do at all his pet was his pet, but Susan's response warmed him, "He's very good at getting out of bad situations. Sometimes I think there's nothing he can't do."

"One dress for my Kitten as ordered," laying it on the desk between Susan and Morgan.
His pet bounced up and hugged him, "I'm so sorry, I thought... so I -"

"Hush I know," running his hands up and down her back before turning her towards the dress, "now, I suppose you do not know how to put this on?"

"Nope!"

"Morgan, do me a favor, eh?"

"Of course my friend."

"Go and inform Glozelle we will be a bit late, and that I have not hired a carriage and send my apologies."

Susan was rustling fabric and wiggling trying to figure out how to get it over her head, and listened, then Caspian's sure hands began assisting her. With a sigh of relief, she relaxed. Only he made her feel safe after all the bad things that had happened. Showing up in this weird place, Miraz, the Raj hunting them, Miraz, more hunting, storms, Miraz - Caspian was her calm place. She had no idea what she'd do if he decided to sell her or give her away. And until he had said he was going to show her off, she wouldn't have believed it possible - but, she couldn't forget him yelling at her the way he had.

Finally she managed to get her head popped through, then realized that the shoulders of the gown were utterly absent. Looking up at Caspian, "Do I wear anything else with this?"
Morgan cleared his throat, "Caspian, about a carriage, mine is waiting right on the dock, it is no trouble, I can wait for you both."

Caspian sighed, "Yes, then thank you Morgan. A moment more, let me get Susan hooked into this properly."

Caspian was tugging and tying and buttoning a few buttons for her, and Susan felt like a little doll or girl being put in the soft blue-y green dress. It was beautiful, and she wondered why she'd never seen it before. And it smelled delicious, much like Caspian. Lifting her arm up, she inhaled deeply, smiling happily. In no time at all she was gusseted up to his satisfaction, and Susan went on tippy toes kissing his chin, "Thank you."

"You are welcome Kitten," tip of his finger going to the loose collar she wore. "Please, behave while we are there? And, please, worry yourself no more."

Nodding obediently, though still it was a worry, "Okay." Stepping away from him, she spun about in a little circle, making the skirt bell out quickly, "Do I look nice?"

"Beautiful, stunning," his lips curling into a smile in response. "Now, let us go," having forgotten that his hair wasn't quite in proper array. At least he was dressed somewhat acceptably, and anyway - no one would be looking at him. They'd have eyes only for the lovely creature at his side. Grinning now, let them look, it's all they'd ever get of her.

XXX

Susan did not like the party. There were girls - and they were ilooking/i at Caspian. He was hers. And there were so many people looking at her too - the men with avarice, the womenfolk with jealous disdain and disapproval.

"I cannot believe he brought something like ithat/i here," a catty laugh from a pair of greasy looking, pimply Telmarine women - girls really, all cinched in like Victorian hussies, the words said loud enough for her to hear as they passed.

Susan maintained her aplomb, a haughty look given to all who were swept with her gaze. She knew she looked different, and unlike the other women, she was wearing no corset, she didn't need one. Just firm fabric holding her in place. She hadn't been stuffed the way these hens had been, so would actually fit into the narrow waist, generous bust, and flared hips that constituted their ideals of beauty. And unlike them, she wasn't looking for some hapless officer or merchant to net as a husband. Susan didn't need a husband. Caspian was her keeper, and he was the only one she'd accept.

But the whispers of women around her, as she sat in a chair while Caspian talked and danced with the daughters of important men grated on her. Supposing that's what she got for not accepting his request to dance - after all she had no idea what sorts of dances were performed here - Susan fumed quietly.

"Oh look how stuck up she is, when she is just a little slave girl!" tittering.

"Yes just an amusement, and look how she stares at him, glares at her betters for going anywhere near Captain Caspian. Oh, he is a fine specimen..."

Susan huffed and decided to butt in on that conversation. Gliding regally as a queen to the trio of girls, she smiled sweetly, "Hello, how are you?" giving a little curtsey the way she'd seen them do it.

Hideosa - well that's the name Susan had tacked onto her, sneered a greeting, "I was doing quite well, but the air seems to be filled with ordure now."

Cocking her head, Susan widened her blue eyes innocently, looking around, "I'm sorry, your father must be approaching then. Correct? Ah there he is," pointing to the potted plant next to Hideosa. Curtseying to it, "Good Sir, I've been making your daughters acquaintance, I'm sure she resembles her mother quite well. Ah you say your wife's in the kennel? Seeing to the dogs? Oh oh! You meant being seen too by the dogs. Ah sorry. My apologies, I misunderstood!"

"I shall have you know harlot, that Daddy is negotiating a deal that entails me given in marriage to your owner, hmph!"

Laughing gaily, Susan hopped a bit from foot to foot, "That'd be nice - I could use another servant girl!" Mockingly serious, she held up her index finger while her other hand rested on her hip, "The last one jumped overboard you know - right into a school of sharks. I can't say that Caspian was too upset. But it was oh so annoying - I had no one to help me with my henna," lifting her skirt and showing off the deep cinnamon designs on her feet and ankles.

Hideosa and her companions gasped in horror, Susan had bared her legs!

Daintily, Susan stuck her foot out farther, showing off the silver trimmed black sandals she wore, now her knee was showing, she'd lifted her skirt so high, and since she was leaned over, her breasts were beginning to just spill out, mounding at the top. "But, I manage, the peacock design's my favorite - but I need help with it. I mean it'll take you awhile to figure out how to do it as your fingers resemble the sausages you ate for breakfast, but I'm sure with some good dieting you may be serviceable... Oh so what I do," transferring her grip of her skirt to one hand, leaning over further, her semi-loose hair trailing around her bare shoulders, pointing with a finger at the ink on her feet, "is a simple flower one. It's not as nice, but still. Caspian quite likes them you know, my feet that is. Many mornings he wakes me up, rubbing in some lovely salve, all up and down my bare legs. He's got wonderful hands too I may add..."

"What is this?" it was strident and old and shrewish.

Susan popped up smiling gaily, her heavily kohl lined eyes strange and foreign - despite the heavy trade with Calormen, "Hello! Do you like my henna? This nice girl is going to be my servant if Caspian marries her! Isn't that splendid?" waving a hand at 'Hideosa'. Clapping her hands lightly as she hopped up and down - making sure that all her jewelry tinkled, and so little of it was visible - let them wonder where it came from... "It will be so lovely! And I'll help her remove that swine she must have swallowed..." Tapping her pierced lip thoughtfully, "Though I do hope she lasts better than my last assistant. Shark bait and all that... But I'm sure she'll do just fine!"

Susan was utterly aware that she was making a spectacle of herself. But if they wanted some slave-whore to be around, then that's exactly what she'd give them.

To a point.

"This is unseemly!" the older woman grabbed Susan's arm painfully, dragging her from the room.

Susan followed, knowing that she could take the old biddy down - a few notches or physically.

"He is a disgrace for bringing something like you here," and still Susan followed, actually quite amused by it all. "To think his father was one of the best naval captains Telmar had! Ugh! Utterly obscene."

Susan finally threw her weight forward, right into the old hag, making her fall, "Oops! I'm such a klutz!"

"You girl will be punished as befits a slave! Guards! Guards!"

XXX

Caspian looked around, finally free of the short pig he'd been forced to dance with. This time he'd have his dance with his little kitty, now if only he could find her. Frowning, she wasn't where he'd left her, and he did his best to ipolitely/i decline another offer of a dance, moving from the floor focused on finding Susan.

"Morgan," tapping his friend on the shoulder, "have you seen Susan? I cannot seem to find her -"

A sharp scream that was familiar - though laced with pain rather than pleasure came from the garden courtyard.

"Shit," Morgan swore and the two of them raced outside.

The wife of some captain was taking a switch to his pet, and she was huddled on the ground, arms held outstretched by two guards as the willow snapped at her skin and dress.

Without thought, Caspian was there, yanking the long thin branch from the harridan's hand, and he laid into her himself, rage pounding in his head, "You do not touch her!"

Stick-like arms came up to protect her over powdered face, and Caspian changed the blows to whip over the heavy skirts and bodice of the woman's dress.

Morgan tried to restrain him, but Caspian threw him off, "Bitch! You lay hands on her, I should kill you!"

"Caspian!" it was a sobbing cry, and it broke through the fog in his head, and Caspian tossed his weapon away, turning to Susan instantly.

Glaring at the guards who hadn't had time to do more than try to figure out what to do, and had his sword leveled at them, switching back and forth between who he was aiming at, "Release her. Now."

Morgan was beside him, his own weapon coming out, and Caspian knew he'd have an ally there - even if Morgan didn't approve.

"What is going on here?" Glozelle's voice sliced through the air like a knife through butter as he roared. "Caspian - you draw weapons in my home? You are a guest what is the meaning of this?" Glozelle stormed up to him, but not so close to get cut if Caspian felt further provoked.

"Tell your dogs to release Kitten," growling.

A gesture, and it was done. Susan wobbled to her feet, bare scraped knees showing because she'd tried to spare the dress he'd given her by not letting her legs rest on the material even as she'd been whipped. The sentiment made his heart break, she was trying so hard. Waving her to come to him, Caspian took her in a one armed embrace, sword still at the ready, keeping her pressed against him,

"Kitten tell me what happened?"

"She.. she dragged me down a hall, then I tried to get free, and then she called for guards, then then dragged out here," panting as she tried to catch her breath.

Glozelle snapped, "Inispemina - is this true?"

The woman's face was a mask of fury, pointing accusingly at Susan, and Caspian was tempted to hack the gnarled finger right from the woman's hand, "That little harlot was being obscene! Then she attacked me!"

"I find that hard to believe," Morgan muttered.

"Which, the obscene part or the attack?" Glozelle's voice was suddenly mild.

"It is not obscenity if one is a foreigner," Caspian pointed out, "whatever it was she was doing. And I find it odd that she would really do anything so terrible as to deserve that hag carting her off. Kitten belongs to me, and as such the only one with a right to punish her is myself."

"What was she doing Inispemina, what was it she was doing that was so terrible that you felt you needed to break a law to punish her?"

"She attacked me!"

"I did not you old bitch!" Caspian was probably the only one who heard it, but it was spat with much anger into his chest where his pet was hiding.

"She was lifting her skirts," the daughter of- Caspian tried to remember but there were so many daughters who were being offered in alliances that he couldn't keep track. But dogsbreath was she ugly, even though by current Telmarine fashion she was quite... nice he supposed, "And saying I was going to be fed to sharks! And that I'd be her.. her servant if I were to wed Captain Caspian!" The over stuffed, over powdered, girl drew herself up in offended pride, "She insulted my honour!"

Glozelle grunted, "It is hard for someone else to insult what is not there."

A ripple of shock went through the crowd, but Glozelle was humoured, "Honour is so relative in our class, do you not think so Caspian?" Before Caspian could respond, Glozelle continued, "I see no wrong having been done by the girl, but much done to her. Enough Inispemina - do not test my patience. Sister in law you may be, but you too are a guest in my home. And you have broken many laws in my house. I wash my hands of you. Captain, do you wish a punishment to be doled out or charges to be made?"

"What laws have I broken?" it was snarled.

Glozelle scratched his beard thoughtfully, "You have violated a guest's rights, you have also damaged a possession of another guest, you have attempted to make off with a possession. And you have sullied my honour as a host. Is that clear enough for you?"

"Caspian?" Susan's voice was tiny, and her eyes pleading.

"Yes my little pet, what would you like done?"

"Leave her be, don't punish her, she's just a bitter, ugly old woman with nothing, let her live with her shame," whispering. "Please?"

Looking over to Glozelle, "I seek no reparations." Pinning Inipesmina with an angry glare, "Know that I would not have granted you any mercy and you would have hung from a tree quite easily if clemency had not been begged. If you, or anyone else, thinks to attempt such a thing again, know I will go to the full letter in the law."

Carefully, Caspian sheathed his sword after releasing Susan momentarily, then gathered her up close, "I had meant for this to be a good evening for you."

"The dress... it's ruined... I'm sorry," fingers curled into his vest.

"Hush now, it is only a dress," kissing the tip of her nose.

The public display of affection would be the talk of the party goers and gossip mongers – such things were considered inappropriate by the stiff-necked upper and middle classes. But Caspian had memories of how his parents were, and they had always disregarded such things, openly kissing one another with happy smiles. As much as Iyorta was home for Caspian, most times he felt an outsider even here in the home of a long time friend. Stares were directed at Caspian and Susan, but he paid them no mind, even though he was aware of them. Brushing the apple of her cheek softly with a fingertip, it seemed Kitten only had eyes for him. Aiming at making her lips part further in a smile, Caspian leaned in pressing his mouth to hers, watching with hooded eyes her reaction. A collective gasp, then Glozelle quietly ushering his guests indoors made Caspian's hackles rise, but again – he paid no attention to them.

"That'd be two dresses I've gotten ruined tonight," her voice mournful.

Wrapping her in a hug, resting his mouth atop her shoulder, "Again, it is only a dress. It is my fault that this happened, such functions as this are no place for decent human beings." Sighing, "But I had thought that you would be treated with more courtesy than they have shown."

Susan rubbed the side of his shoulder, "You couldn't have known. Debutants are generally backstabbing, while people like you are more straightforward. They're nicer to you because they want something from you. While they're so terrible to me because they think I have something that they want."

Morgan cut in, "Yet more reason why neither of us have wedded any of the cows in there."

"They don't really know any better I think," Susan giggled.

Caspian kept his pet tucked into his side as he looked to his friend, "I do not know what the reasons are, nor do I care, for all their screams of propriety they are still whores and bastards – men and women – which is why I prefer the company of actual whores and bastards. At least then I know what I am dealing with. Their faces are on their face, not hidden behind a mask."

"Just think, if you had still been a landholder how much more you would have to deal with it," Morgan snorted.

His pet held her hand out to Morgan, who took the delicate fingers in his, "Thank you for helping me."

Morgan bowed over her hand, kissing her knuckles as lightly as was appropriate, "I have always been a fool for a damsel in distress."

"So long as you remember whose damsel she is," Caspian pointed out darkly, a small stab of jealousy entering his heart. Morgan was far more polished than himself, and of better social standing. But the little squeeze Susan gave him made Caspian feel better. She was his and just as she'd said – she would not be bought, sold nor traded to anyone. Because she belonged to him and only him.

"We had best see what Glozelle is doing," Morgan glanced over Caspian's shoulder towards the ballroom. "I for one will be glad when this party is over. Wine and dine – it sounds like such a lovely idea, that is until you find out that who you are dining with are a covey of rumor-mongers and backstabbers."

A dark-skinned slave approached, waiting to be acknowledged, polite and non-intrusive.
Caspian waved a hand indicating, "Yes?"

"Sirrahs, the Master wishes to speak with you privately and the Miss as well when it is convenient in his study," bowing low.

"And what of the party?" frowning, he wouldn't want Glozelle's business and social prospects to suffer because of his actions.

Another deep bow, "The guests are being seen to, and shall be leaving presently Sirrah."

"Mph," cutting a glance down to Susan, Caspian felt it would be best to send his apologies and simply leave to take care of his beautiful pet, but he owed Glozelle better than that. Nodding, "It is in the left wing?"

"No Sirrah, the Master has had many of the rooms moved since your last call," somehow he managed to sound wry and apologetic in one, "If it pleases you Sirrahs, I shall lead you."

"That is acceptable," following him, Caspian didn't relinquish his tight grip on Susan, and he wasn't sure if it was to comfort her or himself, but what did it matter?

XXX
Susan was sitting by a fireplace, though the night wasn't cold, while Glozelle and Caspian talked in the Captain's study. Morgan had left not long after meeting with Glozelle. She supposed he'd only come for politeness' sake. Her legs stung, but the public humiliation had been just too much. She was tired, and cranky, and scared, and upset. They were working out some deal or other, which normally would've been very interesting but right now wasn't.

Plus she was hungry, she'd been so wound up during the party that she'd only eaten a few bites.

"Dear do you need anything?" Glozelle broke through her reverie.

Surprised at how gentle he sounded, Susan shyed a bit, checking Caspian's facial expressions. His back was turned and he was going over some document. Licking her lips, "I'm actually quite hungry..."

"Not as spicy as you are used to?" a smile splitting his features showing off even white teeth amongst his dark beard.

"Yes, well, it looked good, and it smelled good. But..." trailing off - though the food had looked a bit heavy for her tastes.

"But you were not comfortable, yes?" Susan nodded. "It is to be expected. Which is why my two daughters live on one of my plantations now, the backstabbing has always been bad, but of late it has gotten far worse." His smile turned wry, and Susan decided she quite liked him, he reminded her of Caspian with his warm smile and snarky wit, "They are much like sharks, ravenous to eat all in their path. So, Kitten was it?"

"Susan," correcting gently - she was only Caspian's Kitten.

"Well then Susan, what would you like? Something spicy, something with meat, no meat...?"

"Whatever's convenient."

"Come now dear, you are my guest, allow me to make up for my beloved sister-in-law," another warm smile.

Returning it, Susan sat a bit straighter in the stuffed chair, "Spicy and um... chicken? If there's any already made?" Trying not to sound too hopeful, "And.. some fruit if at all possible?"

"Of course," grinning, "it will be a few moments. And I shall even see if we have some fruit ice as well."

He left, and Susan got up, wincing with the motion. It seemed that Caspian had preternatural hearing, and rushed over his strong hands keeping her steady, "You should stay seated."

"No, I really should move around, or I'll get stiff," using his arm for support. "He's very nice, I like him."

Caspian grunted, "He was my father's friend for many years. Glozelle is also my main supplier of coffee and sugar, it was only because of contracts from him when I first became a captain that allowed me to pay my crew and keep them fed."

"So, he's like family?"

"Hmmyes, he is very much like family. He did his best to convince me to stay in the navy, but it was not for me," shrugging, helping her hobble, he'd have to get a good look at her legs, what he'd seen had been fairly extensive scraping. Hopefully it wasn't too bad, and he'd have to make sure none of the injuries got infected. But she was being very tolerant of it all, which made so little sense. Susan was a gentle thing, except when truly riled, and even then that'd flee quickly.

Caspian just hoped she wouldn't hide the poison of hurt. It was an easy thing to have happen. Glozelle returned presently, a slave wheeling in a cart and setting it up where directed. Scents wafted on the air, and Susan left off leaning on him rushing towards the meal a happy laugh coming from her. Unable to help the small smile, Caspian followed, she was such a vivacious thing. A friendly wave to the slave followed by a 'thank you very much' as she sat down in front of the table, taking off the plate covers before the slave could do it for her.

Glozelle drew up a chair for himself, and Caspian followed suit, though his first urge was to have Susan sit in his lap so he could feed her himself, and they each began eating.

"Caspian, I must know, what do you know of the rumors coming from Calormen?" politics and commerce - subjects that generally weren't acceptable conversation in front of a woman, but Caspian didn't mind, and Glozelle had never sheltered his daughters from life either.

So, Caspian answered with, "Which rumors? There are always millions to choose from."

Susan was trying to get a piece of chicken into her mouth along with rice and lentils, but it kept slipping and she'd jerk forward in an attempt to get where she wanted it, "The ones about the Tisroc and his health."

Caspian reached over, catching the bit of food for Susan, and depositing it deftly, her lip-rings brushing the tips of his fingers in a quick kiss, "Yes. Well, what did you expect? He is older than dirt."

"True, he was a Raj when my father came back to Telmar," speaking around a piece of lamb.

Caspian loaded up a garlic rotti with food for Susan, then passed it to her in a roll so she could actually feed herself, "I would ask what was so bad about the Tel-nia kingdom, but seeing as I have a few refugees of that place in my crew..."

From the corner of his eye, Caspian watched as Susan wiggled side to side happily as she chewed, a far cry from the accusation of poisoning from her first taste of what was proper food in his mind. Picking at a chicken wing, not truly hungry, he waited as Glozelle got his thoughts in order.

"Yes, Telmar, Galma and the Lone Islands, we are situated between two behemoth nations, sometimes I fear what would happen if the King of Narnia were looking for conquest..." Glozelle went on, "For now, that is not a problem. But Caspian, of the Tisroc - do you know which of the twelve Rajs is going to be the successor?"

Susan froze then, her eyes going big as saucers and she swallowed, "The one in Merikesh - that's what I think. He's crazy, and crazy people do well.. crazy things." She gestured with her half eaten stuffed rotti, "And the kind of crazy things crazy people do when they have access to power... well... "

The observation was astute, and Caspian wasn't totally expecting it, but he nodded, "It is a possibility. But the other Rajs could put him down. Easily."

Glozelle sided with Susan rather than him, another surprise, "If he is mad as I have heard, I would not be surprised if the other Rajs fear him. Or, that Raj Merikesh has plans or leverage. Crazy rarely means 'stupid' Caspian. You would do well to remember that."

Susan was happy to stuff her face, well okay she wasn't stuffing her face per se, but she was eating well for the first time in a few days. Even though Trumpkin and Diggit had made sure she'd had food while Caspian had been in port, she hadn't really felt much like eating. So the days of not really eating combined with the not eating and stress of the evening, and she found herself eating until she thought she was going to pop. Every time she'd finish one of the rolled up pockets Caspian gave her, she'd point to a few things and he'd put it all together for her. Now she was feeling both energized and sleepy, but the debate over who would become Tisroc was troubling and interesting in one.

Frankly her worst fear was that Raj Merikesh would gain that seat of power, for wasn't Hitler both insane and intelligent? And just look what he was doing to Europe. So she was very well aware of what a charismatic madman could accomplish, and yet Caspian just waved off Glozelle's concerns as that of an older man. Picking up a huge date she ate it uncaring of the fact that her face was probably a bit messy.

Caspian's soft chuckle made her look at him, date in one hand, rotti in the other, and then he was using a small cloth to wipe around her face, "You are such a mess sometimes."
Beaming at him, "Would you have me any other way?"

"No, no I would not," chuckling some more and his dark chocolate eyes were lit up. She liked that alot, and he looked at her like this more and more often.

Purposely making her mouth messy again, she made sure to get sauce from the food on her cheek, and giggled.

"Oh what am I to do with you?" another wipe of the cloth.

"Whatever it is you normally do?"

Glozelle snickered, "She is a sweet thing. Dear, you remind me of my youngest - when she was young.. well younger."

Shrugging, "I'm safe, I'm secure, why not have fun, be silly? You only live once."

Glozelle's face darkened, "I am glad you feel safe now dear. It is dismaying what happened earlier. Frankly if I could, I would wash my hands of so much, but I cannot. Too many responsibilities weigh me down."

"You could always be like Caspian," finishing off her date.

"Oh I have.. plenty of responsibilities Susan," sardonic.

"Well... you know what I mean, no king, no country -"

"No asylum, no safe harbor, no home outside of my ship and the sea?" Caspian cocked his head, his expression sardonic and self depreciating.

"Oh," she hadn't thought of it that way.

Unable to stop the jaw cracking yawn that threatened, Susan missed Glozelle's offer.

The men got up once more, leaving her picking at the food in front of her now that they were all done. Really she thought that they'd eaten at all so as to not make her feel left out. Caspian had only had a few pieces of chicken and some dates. Glozelle had matched her fairly well, but he looked like a man who ate much, and worked most of it off. Her Captain on the other hand she'd found out had a tendency towards not eating and only running on manic energy. Thin men were like that sometimes. But when he ate, he ate.

Polishing off the last chicken quarter, Susan wiped her hands and face to be sure she'd cleaned up all the traces of her meal. Then she grabbed the bowl of dates, and made her way around Glozelle's study, tilting her head to the side so she could read the names on the spines, every now and then munching on a piece of fruit.

"Do you know what the spines say?" Glozelle sounded curious and his ever present kindness was pervasive in his tone.

Nodding absentmindedly, nibbling on the wrinkled flesh of her date, "I can read. I can write, I can do arithmetic, subtraction, multiplication and division. Algebra, geometry, and while I'm a tad iffy on calculus I could muddle through some simple problems."

Stunned silence filled the air. Shifting the bowl so that the hand she'd been using to pickup the sticky fruit could still reach her mouth, with the bowl in the crook of her arm, Susan reached out for a book on science after making a quick check that that hand was still clean.

"You... you know..."

"Mmmhmm, I also know some basic science stuff - did you know if you mix sodium bicarbonate and citric acid you get fizzy bubbles? Or if you mix sulfur and zinc and then apply heat – you get a sparkly boom? Nifty huh?"

"You... ah.. I shall have to take your word for it," Glozelle looked pained.

Turning to him, she held out the bowl, smiling, "Date?"

Caspian was frowning at her, "You did not tell me you know of so much."

Shrugging, "You never asked. Oh, ha! No this book is silly." Reading a page for a moment, Susan snorted, "Silly people, gravity is what makes things fall. Otherwise we'd all float around doing nothing! Silly silly." Giggling, "How primitive - magic makes things stay in place and makes objects fall down rather than up. How dumb was this person?

Two sets of eyes were big as saucers just blinking every now and then as they stared. Caspian was even a tad slack-jawed.

Glozelle recovered first – seeing as he'd made sure his daughters had good, very good, educations - clearing his throat, "You would not perhaps know how to... triangulate distance?"
"Well yes, I'd need a few basic measurements first," flipping the book in her hand closed, then setting it back carefully. "Are you sure you don't want a date? They're really good."

Glozelle shook his head, and went to his desk, pulling out quill and paper, scribbling out a few numbers. Susan followed curiously, fingers rummaging for another date and realized they were all gone with a sad frown, "Oh no... all gone-gone."

Caspian took the bowl from her and pointed down at what Glozelle was writing, "Can you figure out the solution?"

"Easily," barely glancing at it, "that's the equation for a golden triangle." Listing off the answers easily, Susan was quizzed for several minutes.

It took the men twice as long to check the results by hand as what she came up with in her head.

"She is... Caspian, son, if she did not belong to you already, I would try and purchase her this instant - just for her simple ability to do her numbers," Glozelle collapsed into his chair.

"Hmph, I think I have something for you to do Susan," Caspian took her chin in his hand, tilting her face up - a little flash of a smile as he wiped a bit of juice from the corner of her mouth yet again - "Do you think you could do it?"

"Well possibly, probably even, what is it?"

"I want you to check over my banking statements, make sure I am doing as well as I should be, I have an annoying suspicion someone has been embezzling my money."

"Not a problem, that's easy. Where are the books, I can do it now," though she was really tired.
"Not this evening, tomorrow, you two may use my carriage, rest, have a good sleep," Glozelle suggested.

"Okay," Susan nodded, leaning into Caspian's chest.

"Then I suppose Glozelle, I really shall take you up on that offer," grunting.

Susan wasn't a light weight, but she was a small one, and he didn't mind carrying her at all, because much like any young person, she was all energy until it was spent - and then it was spent and she had wobbled too much for Caspian's liking. So, he'd swept her into his arms, following Glozelle to a guest room. Entering it, Caspian turned to tell his mentor that it was too much, but the man was gone. With a sigh, Caspian nudged the doors open with the toe of his boot, the folding screens not making much sound as they rolled on their oiled tracks.

Caspian frowned, the rooms weren't ones he was familiar with. Or if he'd known them it'd been a long time ago. Before his parents died. With a sigh, he looked down at Susan, his mother's teal dress looked mostly intact, but he'd know once he got it off of her. Finally he found the bedroom, passing a living room, a closet that may as well have been a room - a palatial one at that, a bathroom that was double the size of his cabin and a dressing room. Snorting, a dressing room with mirrors and all manners of things - when not that many steps away there was a closet big enough to fit dancing girls as they, well, danced.

Laying Susan down softly, she stretched and yawned blinking at him, then frowned. Pouting lips and a few tugs at the dress, and she woke up fully once more. Caspian motioned for her to roll over, and he made sure to spare the material of the dress as much as he could so he could inspect its damage in a bit. That and a few soft 'owwy'ies from Susan encouraged him to greater gentleness.

Dragging it up over her head, Caspian put the garment aside for now, and went to inspect Susan, his biggest concern at the moment. Kneeling on the floor, he picked up one small foot as she watched him trustingly. Unbuckling her sandals, massaging the arch of her foot, he then placed a soft kiss to the top of it. For the gesture he got petting fingers moving through his hair. There would be no place for Susan to get her feet re-hennaed other than at her own hands, and it looked like she had been keeping up with it mostly on her own.

"They're mostly just scraped, and only sting, that's all," her voice quiet, soothing. As though he were the one who needed comfort right then. "Though - you could kiss this boo-boo," pointing to a knee that had a scab on it.

"You should rest Susan," leaning down and lightly brushing his lips over the abrasion.

"I'm awake though," a little wiggle closer to the end of the bed.

"You were asleep not five minutes ago," shaking his head.

"Well that was then, this is now, I'm awake," trimmed nails scratched at his slowly growing stubble.

"And what do you want to do now that you are awake then?" feeling tired, he'd had a long few days. Too much drinking after he realized he'd been unable to perform at a brothel he and Morgan had gone to. So he'd spent a bit at the bottom of a bottle. His pet didn't need to know any of that.

"I could go for a bath, they have baths here right?" hopeful.

Nodding, "We have our own bath yes. Most likely with running water, Glozelle tends to spare no expense for creature comforts."

"Let's go!" hopping off the bed and taking his hands, tugging on them.

Not understanding why she was so excited, or even how she could get so excited when moments before she'd been out like a light. Perhaps the analogy of a cat truly was the most accurate description of Susan, she was no human, she was no girl, or woman - she was some sleek little leopard. All lazy energy, and sleeping, and then a burst of movement - for play, mating, or hunting.

The red welts on her back and shoulders angered Caspian, waking him up enough to lead her rather than follow - the sight of her lusciously curved back marked so made him want to go and find Inispemina and take it out of her weathered hide.

His kitty's sudden stop made him look back, her mouth in an 'O' of awe, "It's huge... like... like something out of a Roman villa..."

"Roman?" giving her a look. Rarely did he let himself wonder where she came from, and the little display in Glozelle's study was a disconcerting reminder that he knew very little about her. He knew she preferred dates to figs, apricots to dates, and that she liked blue, but didn't wear much of it. That she loved to read - voraciously - and that she now liked goat milk over bovine. Mostly those were little things, personality things. Not.. history.

"Oh they came from Italy, built a city called Rome, then went about and conquered most of the known world," breezy, as she moved about the marble floors, poking her head into the cabinets and drawers, "then some political and social upheaval stuff happened and the nation fell. No biggie, just your average world history yawn inducing class."

"You... come from a place called 'Rome' then?" going to the dolphin shaped taps and flipping them on for her.

"Uh, huh? Oh no. No I don't, oohhh I like this stuff, it smells good," holding up a glass decanter of something to her nose. "What is it? Do you know, because I don't know," pattering over to him with her prize.

"Bath oil, amber," sniffing and shaking the bottle back and forth, examining the way the liquid moved.

"Oh I like that then, but we need soap?" bouncing away just as fast as she'd come over, riffling around, setting things out along the floor - and there was his messy Kitten again. But there were slaves and servants to clean up her mess, so he made himself not worry over it.

Checking the temperature of the water, he added a short stream of the oil to it, but jerked in surprise as his foot was lifted, boot being tugged. He hadn't noticed her return, but tilted his foot to aid her in the removal of the leather footwear. The tip of her pink tongue was held between her teeth as she concentrated on taking off the other one then she was on her feet, tugging on his hands once more.

"Up up, naked, you're supposed to be naked for a bath, you're overdressed for this party," fingers flying over the stays of his vest and then his trews, and all of that was being shoved around haphazardly.

"A moment, I can do it myself," laughing.

"Well then why aren't you working on that faster?"

[REDACTED]

And she wanted him to touch her, because even if it hurt or was uncomfortable, he made it better. Under his watchful gaze she felt like she was so safe she could do anything she ever wanted. And many things she never knew she wanted. Instead of being a nursemaid and secondary mother, she could be gleeful and playful. She could be anything she wanted, and she'd still have him there to catch her or protect her if she fell.

Inside she wasn't a child, or all that silly, but she'd never really had a chance, she'd never been truly safe before. And he could be a bit controlling, a bit demanding. But in return he gave her everything he had.

So naturally all she could do, was tell him it was okay when it wasn't - because she knew she didn't ihave/i to tell him that to protect him or make him happy - but that she could tell him that. It was her choice. Never before had she had choice. How strange to know one had real choices when one was technically little more than an object. An expensive object, but an object nonetheless. It wasn't even her herself who was of so much value to outsiders - a pretty girl was rather cheap as she understood it. But from the first moment Caspian had talked to her, he'd made it clear: be nice to him, and he'd be nice in turn. Equality, despite the difference in power. Then on top of that, he made a second thing clear: he would value her as something more than her street value, he'd sink a fortune into her upkeep and not bat an eyelash. Just because he could and because he wanted to. On the surface one could say he gave so much to her for selfish reasons – to make her more attractive. Looking into his eyes right now, Susan wasn't sure of why he did the things he did, gave her the things he gave her – but it certainly appeared to be for her enjoyment and happiness rather than his. Like he took joy in seeing her happy and beautiful.

And so she took pleasure and comfort in her security, and gave back what she could. She made him smile, she made him irritated or angry, she made him laugh or sigh. Susan was there for him to cling to in the night when he thought she was sleeping, she gave him something to wake up for and come home to. In fact, she knew she was as much a comfort and security for him as he was for her.

It was only natural, Susan realized of a sudden - she cared for him.

Someone can't take care of you and do so much and do it so willingly, and protect you to the extent he'd been doing for her, without you forming something deep for them. Taking his cheeks in her hands, Susan kissed him once more. This time she poured whatever it was that filled her up, back into him, sharing it, because he'd given it to her.

Caspian sucked in a sharp startled breath, his arms coming to wrap around her, enclosing her in the security of his embrace.

Susan licked inside his mouth, lips moving slowly, but surely, gentle but not light, making sure to let him know she had absolute trust in him, and it was only him that made her feel this happy and safe. Breaking free of him after long minutes, Susan traced his mouth with the tip of her tongue, then pressed her lips between his eyes. She wanted to kiss his lids, but that would entail him closing his eyes, and she wanted to hold onto his intense gaze as long as possible.

Stroking his temples, then his jaw, Susan smiled, "Thank you..."

"For what?" brows furrowing in confusion.

"For everything I suppose," kissing his chin. "Or.. or maybe just because I want to. And because I want you to know that.. that I am thankful and.. and so happy to be yours."

[REDACTED]