Chapter 1

The lights of the club flashed and whirled, tattooing their neon shades over skin, latex, and leather. Arthur Kirkland sat at the bar in a casual sort of way, completely at ease in the wild, alternative scene. Like everyone else in the club, he wore a rather unique style of dress. Arthur's toned legs were covered in form-fitting, black leather pants with a studded belt. Tonight he was shirtless but for a black, leather vest, a fact which revealed the punk-looking tattoos that covered his pecs and his upper arms. He inhaled from his fag and then flicked the cigarette's ashes into a nearby ashtray.

At his feet, down on the club floor, knelt a young Japanese man in little more than a thong. He was the model of a perfect slave—quiet, submissive, and existing only to please Arthur. He was not collared, though, nor was he Arthur's slave.

Arthur's acidic green eyes finally landed on a slender Asian man moving through the crowd. He was beautiful, feminine, and skimpily dressed. He turned quite a few heads as he walked among the Dominants in the club, but most knew that Yao had no interest in being a submissive for any of them. Though slight in stature, Yao was likely one of the richest men in the club, and his shrewd, dominating personality in international finance extended to the bedroom. His eyes met Arthur's and he smiled.

"Dr. Kirkland, it is a pleasure to see you again," the Chinese man said sincerely.

"Likewise, Mr. Wang. May I buy you a drink?" Arthur offered politely. Yao nodded and slid onto the bar stool next to Arthur. His dark eyes dropped once to the figure kneeling quietly on the floor and his excitement was obvious—though he tried very hard to hide it. Arthur smirked as he took a sip of his own drink and waved for the bartender.

"I'll have sake to celebrate the completion of yet another highly successful business transaction between us," Yao said, alluding to the fact that the submissive at Arthur's boots was Japanese.

Once the drink arrived, Arthur rotated slightly on the spinning stool and addressed the submissive.

"Stand up, boy," Arthur ordered. Instantly, the Japanese man stood, head bowed low so that his dark fringe covered his eyes. "Your time with me is done. Your training is complete. Your Master will take you back now. Show him the same respect and obedience that you have shown to me, in all things," Arthur said calmly, but his tone was hard as steel.

"Yes, Sir. Thank-you, Sir. This slave is glad to see his Master again," Kiku said softly before dropping to the ground once more and crawling to the base of Yao's stool. Kiku approached the Chinese man's shoe and delicately licked it. "Your slave is ready to satisfy your every desire and ensure your satisfaction, Master," Kiku said in a smooth, practiced way.

Yao was practically beaming. "I can tell the difference already. You have made him a true slave. Your work is flawless, as always, Dr. Kirkland," Yao said. Kiku was the third slave that Arthur had trained for Yao, and he had almost been as challenging as the hyperactive, talkative lad that Yao had given him prior to Kiku. Arthur liked the challenge, though, and he admired Yao for taking on slaves that actually had personalities, even though they typically had emotional scarring that was quite severe in some cases...like with the young Kiku Honda.

It wasn't that Kiku didn't have all the potential of a lovely slave, but he had a tendency to act out with bouts of stubborn defiance and a surly wish to be left alone. Kiku wanted desperately to submit, but he'd had several emotional barricades in the way that had taken Arthur quite some time to break down. Yao was a good Dominant. He took care of his slaves with a fair, yet firm hand and ran his personal harem with the efficiency of one of his many businesses, but he did not have a background in mental health and so, like many, he sought out the services of Arthur Kirkland to break his slaves of their undesirable habits. It was all consensual, of course. What submissive didn't want a safe, well-respected, wealthy Dominant like Yao Wang to tend to their needs? Of course, Yao had specific tastes, and he was often drawn to submissives that were rather "rough" and new to the lifestyle. Though they were glad to be owned by Yao, they didn't always know how to be the best slaves. If their issues were simple or minor, Yao could handle them himself, but if he sensed that one of his slaves needed more serious attention to work through their emotional baggage, Arthur Kirkland was his trusted resource. Without any complaints, Yao handed over an envelope thick with money. Showing trust, Arthur tucked it into an inside pocket of his vest without counting it.

Dr. Kirkland's skills and his experience were well-known throughout the BDSM community. As a psychiatrist, Arthur had completed medical school at an early age and initially started as a general practitioner. He'd returned to school to complete the training necessary to specialize in mental health. For some mysterious reason, Arthur had never been able to join an established practice. All the same, he knew what the body was capable of and what it was not. He knew how the mind worked in a way that most did not understand. It also just so happened that Dr. Kirkland lived his life almost entirely immersed in the BDSM community, in some form or fashion.

If things went too far during role play, or a submissive ended up seriously hurt (which, unfortunately, happened quite frequently when a Dominant was inexperienced) Dr. Kirkland could fix up the slave good as new, and ensure that either the Dominant knew what he or she was doing wrong, or that the slave was entirely willing to push their play that far. Dr. Kirkland worked almost exclusively for the BDSM community these days, and he made quite a comfortable living doing so. Those in the lifestyle who did not want to deal with the questions they'd face at a typical hospital sought out his services from impressive distances and paid well for his discretion.

Dr. Kirkland finished off his cigarette as he watched Yao take Kiku off to the nearby dungeon to give him a "test run," so to speak. Eager to watch (a slave trained by Dr. Kirkland was guaranteed to give a good show) a crowd began to form around the post where Yao was securing Kiku's wrists to the shackles after he'd ordered the petite Japanese man to strip entirely nude.

"You did well with him, Dr. Kirkland," a burly voice praised. Arthur glanced at the barkeeper and club owner, a towering German by the name of Ludwig. "It is a vast improvement over the last time he was here," Ludwig added. He was referring to the "incident" wherein Kiku had visited the club with Yao for the first time. Yao had taken him to a dungeon and they'd started some rather light play, but in the middle of it, Kiku had freaked out and successfully managed to punch Yao in the jaw.

Yao had left him in Arthur's care the very next day. After nearly two months of treatment, Kiku was finally back with his true Master, and in a much healthier place mentally, physically, and emotionally.

"Hmm," Arthur agreed rather lazily. He glanced down the bar, where a bubbly brunette in a skimpy maid costume was happily chatting with customers and preparing drinks. "How's your boy doing?" Arthur asked with a soft smile. Feliciano had been Arthur's patient for nearly three years now. It had started when he'd gotten beaten up in the alley outside the club by some drunkards on his way to visit his grandfather, and Ludwig had come to his rescue. Knowing Dr. Kirkland had been visiting the club that night, Ludwig paid for Feliciano's treatment. Like a trusting little kid, Feliciano had stubbornly hung around Ludwig ever since.

"He is...Feliciano. There really are no words to describe him," Ludwig answered with his token note of exasperation. While not originally a member of the lifestyle, Feliciano was a natural submissive. He lived for Ludwig's approval and praise, but he was rather hopeless at times, and he didn't enjoy any sort of pain, during sex or otherwise. Ludwig had collared him roughly a year after their first meeting, and now he was a bartender at the club and Ludwig's only slave.

Feliciano and Ludwig had a good relationship. Arthur was envious of it, if he was perfectly honest. It was obvious to anyone with eyes that they made each other insanely happy.

"Scheisse," Ludwig cursed under his breath. Dr. Kirkland followed the bartender's gaze to the entryway, where a hulking Dominant had just entered, all but dragging one of his submissives in on a fairly short leash. This would have been nothing out of the ordinary, except the boy was crying out in pain and holding his swollen arm protectively against his chest as he half-crawled and was half-dragged. His lean, toned body was covered in lacerations—what looked like burns and whip lashes that had not been properly treated.

Dr. Kirkland would have intervened—respectfully, of course, as oftentimes such brutal punishment of a slave was entirely consensual—but he did not need to go to the hulking Dom, as a trembling man at the Dom's side pointed out Arthur, and the Dom began walking to him.

Arthur's eyes narrowed distastefully. If the slave needed medical treatment, it was poor form of the Dom to continue to be so rough with him. Then Arthur got a good look at the slave, and his heart all but stopped.

It was him. Alfred Jones. There was no mistaking those baby blues and that stubborn cowlick, though Alfred looked older now...and completely broken.

If the hulking, platinum haired Dominant sensed Arthur's pure rage, he didn't show it. To be fair, Arthur had a pretty good poker face.

Casually, with a disturbing smile, the Dominant dropped Alfred's leash at Dr. Kirkland's feet. Most of the club goers were watching with curious eyes.

"I am told by this useless sack of flesh that he belongs to you—or he once did. He has been mine for the past six years, though I am bored with his whining and his complaining. I have a prettier, far better slave now, don't I?" The Russian man directed his question towards the trembling brunet at his side. The nervous slave instantly and respectfully replied in Russian. The massive man continued his story. "I would have kicked him out in the cold to die, but he assured me you were wealthy and you would pay good money for him. I had business here anyway, so I decided to see if his lies were true for once."

Arthur's green eyes dropped to Alfred's pleading blue ones. Oh, how Arthur hated him. As a doctor, he should have hated seeing someone in such pain, but Arthur's eyes held nothing but contempt for Alfred. He deserved it. Whatever the abusive Russian had done, Alfred deserved it all.

"He did belong to me once, but he left our contract of his own free will. Whatever circumstances have fallen on him since are none of my concern," Arthur said flatly.

"Please, Arthur, please! I'll do anything! Anything! I'm sorry! I'm sorry for what I did to you! Can't you see how sorry I am?" Alfred pleaded brokenly—utterly pathetic. Arthur's lip curled in a sneer.

"I DID NOT TELL YOU TO SPEAK!" the Russian roared, and his heavy boot slammed down on Alfred's back. The wounded American collapsed onto the ground, tears pouring out of his eyes at the sudden pressure on his hurt arm.

With considerable effort, Alfred turned his cheek towards Arthur and stared pleadingly up at him from one teary blue eye, the other swollen shut.

"Please, Arthur. You loved me once...or claimed to, at least," Alfred said. The words hit Arthur like a physical blow to the stomach. The moment stretched, the Russian waited in anticipation, and Arthur wrestled with his desires.

"How much?" Arthur asked in a low voice. The Russian smiled in delight. Now that Arthur could see him more clearly, it was obvious the Russian was less than well-off. His coat was old and the hems were frayed. His slaves weren't dressed skimpily because of role play, but rather because it seemed like the Russian could not afford to dress them well. It was cold out, and while the club was pulsing with heat and many had removed thick jackets in the entryway, Arthur suspected the slaves with the Russian simply didn't have coats, period.

Yet again, it seemed Alfred Jones had gotten in over his head.

"Five thousand pounds. I'll even throw in an old souvenir—he's kept it all this time," the Russian said with a cruel smile. Alfred gasped and began to shake his head furiously.

"NO! Fuck you, Ivan!" but all the American did was earn another boot to the back...and Ivan pulled a very familiar, very worn band of leather from his coat. Arthur's throat nearly closed at the sight of it. It belonged to him...the only collar he'd ever given to a slave.

In defeat, Alfred pressed his good eye to the floor so he didn't have to see Arthur's rejection of the ridiculous price. The sight of that collar alone would enrage Arthur, surely. It would remind him of just how terribly Alfred had betrayed his trust. There was no hope for him now. Ivan would take him back to Russia and either whore him out till he died or save the grocery money by leaving him to freeze in the streets like a dog.

"Done," Arthur said stonily. He pulled the envelope from his vest, extracted the requested money, and handed it over to a delighted Russian. The taller man extended a huge hand. Arthur sneered at it in disgust and bent to pick up Alfred's leash instead. "Get out of here. You got what you came for," Arthur said.

Arthur carefully put the old collar inside his vest with the remainder of the money.

"Can you stand?" Arthur asked, though there was no kindness in his tone at all. On wobbly legs, Alfred shakily rose to his knees and then to a slumped over standing position. He looked up at Arthur, then, his expression one of cautious hope that died upon seeing the look in Arthur's eyes.

"We're leaving," Arthur said simply, and though it surprised many who knew the doctor, Arthur gave a sharp tug on the leash that nearly caused Alfred to fall to the ground again. Ludwig watched the scene with troubled eyes, being one of the only ones in the bar who knew exactly what Arthur's history with the slave was. It was a terrible situation, and Ludwig saw no way it could end happily for Dr. Kirkland.

Arthur waited a few moments for his coat, a long black trench coat that almost made him look like a "normal" member of society. Alfred wore nothing but ragged jean shorts and filthy sneakers missing the laces. He was dirty, wounded, shirtless, and the zipper and button on his jeans was rather noticeably broken, making the shorts sag around his rather beautiful hip bones.

The cold hit them as they exited the club and Alfred shivered, but Arthur didn't offer his coat. Not for someone like Jones. Arthur dropped the leash after he hailed a cab.

"Alright. I've bought you out of whatever mess you got yourself into with that creepy Russian, though you are incredibly lucky I didn't just leave you to him. Get out of my sight," Arthur said harshly. Alfred breathed raggedly in the harsh winter air.

"Arthur, please. I don't have any papers. My arm is broken I think. All I can do is whore myself out and I can't even do that right now with this arm. Take me home with you. I know you can fix me up, and I'll...I'll...work off my debt to you. You can use my body," Alfred offered.

The cab pulled up, and still Arthur hadn't responded. Alfred dropped raggedly onto his knees and clutched desperately at Arthur's boot.

"Please. I'm used to it now...not like before. I'm a good slave now, 'cept for my mouthing off, but a good smack will put me back in my place. You can...you can punish me for what I did to you. Don't you want to?" Alfred asked brokenly.

The answer to that question was yes, Arthur wanted to punish Alfred in ways the other man didn't even know existed. He opened the cab door and climbed in, with Alfred still weakly grasping at his boot.

"Get in," Arthur said coldly. Panting, relieved, nearly sobbing, Alfred dragged himself into the cab and didn't presume to sit on the seat. Having picked up patrons from the BDSM club for years, the cabbie had seen it all.

"Where to?" he asked gruffly. Arthur gave him the address of his home and they sped off into the night.

When they reached his large, beautiful home on the edge of town, Arthur tipped the cab driver exceptionally well and exited the cab. Alfred limped after him, leaving blood marks in the dirty snow, with his old, worn leather leash trailing after him. It was attached to a choke collar typically used on dogs, and there was heavy bruising around his neck where it had obviously been yanked repeatedly, and quite harshly.

Arthur led Alfred into his new home, and instructed him to wait on the mat just inside the door. He didn't want blood trailed all over his wood floors. Arthur fetched a large towel and gave it to Alfred.

"Wrap yourself up so you aren't dripping," Arthur said. Alfred did as he was told and rubbed a bit at his bright red nose, running from the cold. He sniffled.

"You got a nice place, Arthur," Alfred said appreciatively. Arthur backhanded him. It surprised Arthur, and scared him. Something about seeing Jones after so many years made him feel unhinged—like his self-control was made of glass and it was spider-shattering.

"Don't speak to me unless I speak to you, and don't think for a single fucking second you can call me by my name. You will never earn that right," Arthur spat. If one thing could be said for Alfred, it was that he took a hit well. His head hung for a moment after the blow, but then he looked up and challenged Arthur with his one good eye.

That look of challenge—not broken, after all—went straight to Arthur's cock...a fact that he utterly hated.

"LOWER YOUR EYES!" Arthur screamed harshly. Now smirking, Alfred's head lowered obediently, and Arthur wanted to smack him again but only barely refrained. Arthur took a deep breath and visibly calmed himself. "Follow me," he ordered.

Arthur essentially had a fully stocked clinic in one wing of his home, complete with guest rooms for his patients to stay if need be. He led Alfred to the bathroom in the clinic portion of the house where he took back the soiled towel and tossed it into a dirty bin.

"Strip, and take off the leash," Arthur ordered, as he readied the spray of hot water. Alfred looked like he hadn't bathed in days, and there were suspicious streaks of what looked like dried cum on his skin in rather random places. Arthur curled his lips in disgust. Finally, Alfred showed some shame as he pushed the jeans off his hips to reveal his bruised ass cheeks. There was more dried cum all down his thighs.

The shower was equipped with a chair, for patients who couldn't stand. Alfred toed off his filthy sneakers and then dropped onto the chair in relief as the steam from the shower began to warm his freezing body.

"Oh how the mighty have fallen. Alfred Jones, the illustrious writer, reduced to being a filthy whore. I would say I expected better of you...but in truth, you haven't really changed at all, have you?" Arthur asked. Mercilessly, he turned the hot water onto Alfred's abused body, blasting away the skin oil, the dried cum, the blood and the tears. Alfred yelped and shielded his sensitive genitals with his good hand.

Once Alfred had adjusted to the hot water and had begun to relax into the heat, Arthur tossed a soapy rag against his face. "Clean yourself completely, including your filthy hole," Arthur ordered. Panting raggedly, Alfred began to wipe at the parts of his skin that were still dirty, working his way down his body until he began to work the cloth over his limp cock. It was obvious he hadn't been well cared for. His body hair had grown unchecked. The blond, sunshine hair on Alfred's head was shaggy, his face was rough with stubble, and his nails needed to be trimmed.

Arthur fetched a razor and shaving soap. When he returned, Alfred had stood up and turned, letting the water hit his back, and was gingerly working the towel around his hole. Judging by what had been on his body, there was no way such a superficial cleaning was going to get the job done. After tossing the razor and the can of soap onto the chair with a barked instruction to shave himself hairless, Arthur went to ready the supplies for an enema as well. He'd be giving Alfred a full examination, and he didn't want any surprises.

Despite the pain, Alfred followed Arthur's instructions. While he hoped Arthur was at least a little less likely to kill him than Ivan had been, Alfred wasn't taking any chances. Wincing at the razor burn, Alfred began to shave first his legs, then his pubic area, and lastly under his arms.

When Arthur returned with the enema bag, Alfred's eyes widened and the razor clattered out of his grip, though luckily he had mostly finished the job.

"I'll clean better. You don't have to do that," Alfred said. He immediately leaned over the chair and spread his own cheeks, scooping up the soiled rag and pushing it further into his ass with a pained wince.

"Stop it. God only knows what you have inside you. Scoot the chair back and lay down. On your back," Arthur ordered. Alfred wanted to fight—he hated enemas—but knew he was in no condition to rebel...yet. He just had to bide his time. Arthur would patch him up and after awhile, he'd let down his guard. Then Alfred could run off. He just had to be patient.

With great reluctance, Alfred weakly pushed aside the shower chair and dropped to the porcelain floor. He flipped onto his back, injured arm still cradled protectively against his chest, and lifted his knees up towards his shoulders. He closed his good eye in resignation.

Alfred winced as Arthur inserted the tube into his anus, and frowned as he felt the warm liquid begin to run into his cavity. All those years ago, he'd hated Arthur's fastidious cleanliness. He had to keep their shared flat spotless, and keep himself always shaved and well-groomed. Randomly, Arthur would decide he was dirty and would give him enemas, even when all they'd done was had sex as usual.

Alfred felt his empty, hungry belly begin to harden as the water reached his guts and made his stomach distend. Arthur had used too much on purpose. Alfred weakly glared up at him, even though the shower was still spraying down on him and splashing in his face.

Arthur just smirked cruelly at him as Alfred's stomach swelled bigger and bigger.

But Alfred had learned a thing or two in the seven years he and Arthur had been apart. Even when he desperately wanted to, he could resist whining and complaining now if he knew it was in his best interest. So he gritted his teeth and bore it until (perhaps disappointed that Alfred hadn't given him a reason to smack him again) Arthur pulled the tube out of his ass and replaced it with a plug that was rather larger than necessary. Wincing, Alfred lowered his legs gingerly.

"Sit up. Trim your nails," Arthur said, handing him a pair of clippers, as if it were an easy task with a gut so full of salty water that it made him look pregnant and a broken wrist.

Alfred managed somehow, all under the cold, assessing gaze of his former Master. Alfred felt horribly uncomfortable, and he wanted the cleaning punishment to end, but Arthur seemed perfectly willing to let the enema soak in his bowels for a long time. Arthur fetched a pair of scissors. Holding Alfred's jaw tightly, he snipped away at the shaggy, wet blond locks until Alfred imagined he looked like he had all those years ago...back when he'd belonged to Arthur.

With the haircut complete, Arthur deemed it had been long enough for the enema. He roughly shoved Alfred back down to the ground and pulled out the butt plug. A long stream of dirty water came spurting out, filling the shower with the stench. It went on and on, for nearly twenty minutes, as the cold shower water beat down on him and whisked away the nasty water dribbling and spurting out of him.

Alfred couldn't help but let out a little groan of relief when it was out.

"See? You feel better when you're clean. You were always lazy and slovenly. You never appreciated all the effort I put into keeping you tidy," Arthur complained. Alfred just released a haggard sigh and wondered when Arthur would release him from the now freezing shower, if ever.

It seemed, though, that Arthur was finally satisfied. He turned off the water, much to Alfred's relief.

"Get up," Arthur barked. As Alfred shakily rose to his knees, a fluffy towel smacked him in the face and he barely managed to catch it. Carefully, he began to dry his body, and he had to admit...it did feel heavenly to be clean after being dirty for so very, very long.

Next, Arthur shoved him towards an examining table, just like one might find in a doctor's office.

"Got your own practice, huh? Good for you," Alfred said, though why in god's name he didn't just let the conversation attempts go, Alfred didn't know.

"No thanks to you!" Arthur snarled, and shoved him again, more harshly this time. Alfred just smiled as he weakly climbed onto the table. There were stirrups on the piece of equipment, as if Arthur regularly saw patients who were either about to give birth...or who had shoved things too far up inside themselves. Alfred was willing to bet it was the latter.

Alfred winced as he heard the snap of latex gloves being pulled on.

"Feet in the stirrups," Arthur ordered. Reluctantly, Alfred obeyed. What followed was the most painful, close examination of Alfred's entire life. Some cuts Arthur merely disinfected and bandaged, but others he deemed stitches necessary...and gave them, without any painkillers. He pricked Alfred's veins countless times, taking blood samples for god only knew what, and gave Alfred a very thorough examination of his genitals and his ass hole.

"Miraculously, you don't seem to have any STDs or any anal fissures. And your wrist isn't broken, you whiny little bitch. It's merely sprained," Arthur informed once his examination was done.

"Hate to tell you this, doc, but your bedside manners could use some work," Alfred said. His reply was a rather vicious pinch to the sensitive skin on his inner thigh. "Ouch! Jesus, I'm sorry!" Alfred replied. Scowling, Arthur placed a plastic brace around Alfred's wrist and secured it with velcro. Lastly, he began to rub some sort of lotion onto the worst of Alfred's bruises, including his eye, his throat, and the huge bruise between his shoulder blades.

Alfred breathed in relief at the application of the lotion. Whatever it was, it made his abused skin feel better almost instantly. When all that was done, Arthur returned to his desk and examined one of the tests he'd conducted.

"Negative for HIV as well, Jones. It seems your good fortune never runs out," Arthur joked wryly. Alfred sagged a bit in relief at that news. He hadn't been tested in so long, and he'd been forced by so many different sexual partners that Arthur was right—the fact that he was disease free was a miracle.

Of course...it also meant Arthur wouldn't hesitate to claim Alfred's body again, as he'd done all those years ago. Judging by the satisfied, almost eager look in Arthur's dark green eyes, it seemed that particular punishment would come sooner rather than later.

Alfred was tired—tired down to his very bones—but he'd gone for longer without sleep and been forced to have sex in much less pleasant conditions. It was no surprise to him when Arthur ordered him off the table and told him to crawl along beside Arthur's heels.

Like an obedient dog, Alfred crawled on protesting knees towards the nearest guest bedroom.

"On the bed. Your repayment of your debt starts now," Arthur said. Alfred began to crawl onto the bed, but before he could get more than his torso up, Arthur was forcing his legs open and thrusting into him. He was slightly lubed, as Arthur had slicked his fingers earlier when he'd given Alfred an unrequested prostate exam.

"Agh!" Alfred grunted in surprise and pain. Arthur had a thick cock, and while once upon a time, Alfred had loved that steady burn as Arthur fucked him. Now, it just hurt.

"I can tell what...you've been doing...all these years. You're so loose...I hardly feel this," Arthur insulted. Alfred knew it wasn't true. He'd always healed fast and bounced back from the abuse quickly. His youthful body was perhaps not as tight as when he'd first given himself to Arthur all those years ago, but he knew his ass wasn't a bad fuck, despite all his whoring.

Alfred gripped a handful of the sheets and tried to go somewhere else in his head, as he often did when he was raped like this, but he simply couldn't this time. It was Arthur fucking him again, the man he had once loved, but realized that fact too late. The man he had betrayed. The man whose heart he'd torn out and stepped on, all those years ago.

Alfred felt a few more tears leak out, and he blamed the pain of the rough fuck...but secretly he knew it was because he'd missed Arthur. He missed the gentleness that he'd never feel again, and the rare times he'd behaved himself and earned Arthur's approval as a reward. All those firsts they'd shared, all the things they'd learned together, about each other, and about love.

Now...they were reduced to this. Alfred had been bought out as a whore, and who knew how long Arthur would think of ways to punish him for the pain he'd inflicted back then before he...what? Let him go to whore himself again? To find another pimp, just as brutal and bloodthirsty as Ivan?

Usually, when another man forced his cock up Alfred's protesting backside, Alfred was secure in the knowledge that he never just gave in. He always fought, as much and as hard as he could, and he'd always believed that he didn't deserve the life he had. That simple thought had kept him going some times when he had nothing else.

But now...he felt like he deserved this. He deserved whatever Arthur could dish out and more.

Alfred gasped as Arthur's pace increased and the bed even began to scoot under the brutal pounding. Pain. So much pain. The tears raced faster out of Alfred's eyes and he screwed his eyes shut in a poor attempt to block it out when Arthur began to scream how pathetic he was, how pitiful, and ugly, and used, and worthless. Arthur's hand was clenched so tightly in Alfred's hair that he thought his new haircut would be in vain—Arthur was surely going to rip it all out.

Just before Arthur came, he pulled out and pulled Alfred back by his hair, dropping him to the ground. Arthur fell onto his knees, straddling Alfred's face.

"Suck it," Arthur demanded, his green eyes narrowed in hate. Alfred weakly opened his jaw and instantly his mouth was full of hard cock. Alfred had always been a baby about blow jobs before—whining that they tasted bad and he didn't like them, and Arthur was a meanie if he made him do it...and Arthur never had.

Everything was different now. Alfred was different. He relaxed his throat in a practiced way and worked his tongue as best he could around the thick, blunt cock jabbing at the back of his throat. His efforts paid off, and Arthur began to cum into his mouth, filling Alfred's gaunt cheeks with his hot seed. Dutifully, Alfred began to swallow it all down. He'd gotten used to the taste of semen a long time ago, with sexual partners who were not as respectful as Arthur had been of his preferences.

Alfred pulled his dick out and tucked himself back into his pants.

"Hope you enjoyed your dinner, whore," Arthur said. As a final insult, he spat onto Alfred's bruised face and then stood. "Follow me. You don't deserve a bed," Arthur said harshly.

Alfred weakly wiped the spit off his face and dragged himself back onto his knees. Gods, everything hurt. The hot cum in his belly made him want to puke—especially since it was the closest thing to a meal he'd gotten in what felt like days. His ass felt loose and slippery with lube, and his skin burned where he'd shaved and been cut and stitched. His wrist ached with those sharp, piercing pains that nearly brought tears.

Alfred was led deeper into the house, until he was in a dungeon room. A cage waited for him. It had been a long time since he'd slept in a cage. Ivan had always just hand cuffed him to his bed frame. Alfred wearily crawled inside. There was room for him to lie down and turn around, but that was about it.

"Seeing as I'm so thoughtful...here," Arthur said. He offered a dog bowl full of cool water. Alfred's throat felt parched with thirst, and with no dignity whatsoever, he pounced on the bowl, rising it to his chapped and split lips and chugging it down. He finished it all, and panted, exactly like a dog.

Arthur had crouched down outside the padlocked cage and was simply watching him, clearly deep in thought. Alfred endured his penetrating stare for as long as he could, and then he closed his good eye in defeat and dropped to the hard floor of the cage, falling almost instantly into a deep, troubled sleep.

Alfred awoke to the sounds of voices.

"He's not one of my patients, nor is he in training. He's highly manipulative and he can be charming when he wants. Do not, under any circumstances, follow any of his requests. He will lie directly to your face. He'll tell you I approved it. It will not be true, and if you indulge him, it will cost you your job here and your tutoring sessions," Arthur said in a cool, professional tone.

Alfred blinked his eyes open to see Arthur inside the dungeon with a shy looking, serious young man at his side. He had ashy blond hair that curled at the ends, and strangely intuitive looking lavender eyes. He seemed nice, but determined at the moment. Alfred could just tell he was a submissive, though clearly not in the role at the moment.

"Is he...and I'm sorry for questioning you at all...but is he here willingly?" the thin man asked nervously. Arthur sighed.

"It's not that type of relationship, Matthew. I paid off a considerable debt he owed, and it was agreed that he would repay that debt by doing whatever I asked of him. He'll be gone as soon as he can, and possibly before he's paid off his debt, if he's able," Arthur said. Matthew stared at him in a considering way.

"Alright, I understand, Dr. Kirkland," he said gently. The young man was a whore, then. While Matthew thought those who sold their bodies for money were morally repugnant...he felt pity for them. Not many turned to whoring themselves out because they had an easy life filled with comforts and luxuries.

It was surprising and alarming to Matthew, though, because it forced him to see another side of Dr. Kirkland. Everyone respected him so much as the pinnacle of Dominant perfection. He was always cool, rational, and knowledgeable. He never lost control of a situation, and he'd worked miracles for those who sought his services. Arthur was the first to intervene if he deemed a situation at the club was getting too dangerous. More impressive than his boldness, however, was the fact that the other Dominants, no matter their size or power, always listened to him. Even the bad Doms that really had no business role playing with a submissive, the stupid brutes, showed respect to Arthur Kirkland.

So Matthew was a little shocked to see that the perfect Dom had such an ugly side—a side that would lock a whore up in a cage against his will because of something as petty as money, which the doctor had loads of anyway.

It was sad to see, and Matthew couldn't hide his disappointment. Arthur immediately sensed as much.

"Listen, Matthew. My personal history with Jones is just that—mine and personal. It is not your place to ask...though he'll likely tell you about it anyway," Arthur said. As he talked, the two came more fully into the room and Alfred saw their business casual dress and the clip board Matthew carried, presumably to take notes. Arthur held a bowl of what looked like chicken soup.

He placed it in Alfred's cage and continued to speak, as if Alfred couldn't hear him.

"Jones nearly cost me everything as a young man. His selfishness and his heartlessness ruined my life professionally and personally. You are aware, I'm sure, that I have never collared a slave, though I've had no shortage of offers," Arthur said. He met Alfred's eyes with a cold, frigid glare.

"I heard...you collared one once, a long time ago," Matthew said shyly. Arthur's eyes narrowed at Alfred's sad, slightly sleepy gaze.

"No. It wasn't a true collaring. It was all just a lie. Nothing more than a selfish deception, though I should have known better. I'm a wiser man now," Arthur said. He placed the bowl of soup inside Alfred's cage and stood, as if brushing his hands of the matter.

"It was him?" Matthew asked quietly. Arthur hesitated, but then nodded briskly.

"I only tell you this because he will manipulate the facts if I don't, in order to gain sympathy from you. Don't trust him, Matthew. He is not part of our community and he only wishes to see us all destroyed and outed, for his own gain, if possible," Arthur assessed coolly.

Matthew was clearly torn about pushing it, but he decided to do so, much to both Alfred and Arthur's surprise.

"You can train any slave, though, Dr. Kirkland. Everyone says so. What's different about him?" Matthew asked softly, his lavender eyes meeting Alfred's. Arthur turned to glance at Alfred, who had decided he didn't give a fuck about their conversation now that he had soup.

"Some may think they want slavery, but in truth...they will never be anything but free. I have met others like him since, and I've always been honest with their Masters. Trying to shape them into our lifestyle will simply not work. It will lead to nothing but bitterness and disappointment," Arthur said. He tossed a nylon collar with an attached leash to Matthew, after grabbing it off a nearby table.

"Take him to the restroom after a few moments. I've laced his food with drugs so he'll be weak and won't try to overpower you. He might get a big giggly," Arthur said. Matthew nodded even as Alfred's eyes widened in surprise.

"You drugged me? You bastard!" Alfred shouted, slamming down the bowl. Arthur paused at the doorway, as if he desperately wanted to turn around and beat Alfred senseless for his insult, but he seemed to regain his composure and continued walking, back stiff and his shoulders tensed.

"You shouldn't push him like that, you know. Dr. Kirkland is a good man, but he's also exceptionally knowledgeable on how to inflict pain," Matthew said. Alfred felt his head begin to swim in an incredibly pleasant way. Everything started to feel floaty and all his aches and hurts just...drifted away.

He registered the cage being unlocked and the soft collar being slipped around his bruised throat. Gently, Matthew guided him out of the cage and towards a nearby restroom, where he seated Alfred on the toilet and waited until he relieved himself. Arthur had thought of everything, and a toothbrush with toothpaste waited on the nearby sink, as well as a razor.

Drugged as he was, Matthew let the whore brush his own teeth rather drunkenly, with lots of giggling, but didn't trust him to shave. Matthew did it for him, though it was less than perfect and he knicked him once or twice on accident when Alfred's head lolled unexpectedly. As loopy as the whore was, if Matthew had given him the razor, he'd likely have slit his own throat.

"Alright, come on. Back to your cage," Matthew said. High off the drugs and rapidly growing tired again, Alfred stumbled after Matthew blindly and let himself be guided back into the cage and locked inside once more.

"Arthur...he's a...grouchy old meanie!" Alfred said, followed by a sleepy giggle. Matthew just sighed.

"At least he gave you pain killers—good ones, too. He can give whatever excuse he wants to me, but it's obvious he still cares about you," Matthew said. Oblivious to the other man's words, Alfred promptly passed out in the deep, restorative sleep that had escaped him the night before. Alfred didn't realize it, but while they'd been in the restroom, Arthur had padded the cage bottom with a thick blanket, and added a small pillow as well as a throw for Alfred's comfort. Such rewards were usually only for very good slaves, which Alfred was very obviously not.

Matthew's smile broadened a bit, as he watched the beautiful young man cuddle into his blankets and pillow. Even the cool, ever-in-control Dr. Kirkland had a soft spot, and a slave he couldn't tame but could only spoil.

It had certainly been an interesting day at work. Matthew was a nursing student, but he'd only made it into school by the skin of his teeth. Not long after, he'd met the charming and energetic Gilbert—co-owner of the fetish club downtown that Matthew had visited with shy curiosity.

Not only had Gilbert explained things to him that night, but he'd made Matthew feel attractive and desired. The mutual attraction led to a date, which led to a few more, which somehow led to a shared apartment and a part time BDSM relationship. Lately, Matthew had thought about taking it further. He'd fantasized about being a true slave...about being collared. More sacred than a wedding ceremony, being collared meant a slave had made the choice to give him or herself completely to the Master. The slave would trust the Master to take care of their every need, and make all their decisions for them. Where the slave would work, what the slave would wear, even what television shows the slave was allowed to watch...all controlled by the Master. At times, Matthew craved to have Gilbert's collar around his throat.

Gilbert, however, said he was content with things as they were, and he wanted Matthew to pursue his dream of nursing school. To that end, he'd gotten his boyfriend tutoring and a job with Dr. Kirkland. Matthew did light chores for the doctor when he didn't have a training slave in the house, and assisted with patient care. Dr. Kirkland paid him well for his services, in addition to offering him tutoring before his nursing exams.

Because of Dr. Kirkland's help, Matthew had gone from a struggling student to one of the top in his class. He was grateful to Dr. Kirkland, and he respected him because it had been Kirkland that taught Gilbert how to be such a good Dom in the bedroom.

"Gilbert will be here for you shortly, Matthew," Dr. Kirkland said. Breakfast had been the only time Matthew had seen the whore. For the rest of the day, Arthur had slipped off alone to tend to Alfred's needs. Now, he'd prepared a rather unappetizing looking plate of food, seemingly for the whore's dinner. Matthew took a moment to appreciate the fact that he and Gilbert were both good cooks who enjoyed making nice meals together.

Once Matthew's boyfriend had arrived, Kirkland saw him off with a short, curt goodbye and returned inside the house. He had thought about the conversation he was about to have with Jones all day, and his actions from the night before were haunting him.

He prided himself on being an excellent Dominant, always in control of himself and those around him. Last night, he'd lost control completely. He'd been so angry and raw and emotional, in a way he hadn't been in years. If this was the way Jones was going to make him feel, then Jones couldn't stay.

Jones was nothing but bad luck anyway.

Arthur descended to the dungeon with fresh, clean clothes he'd bought earlier that afternoon. There was even a warm coat waiting on the coat rack for Alfred, as well as a pair of good, sturdy boots and thick, woolen socks.

"Arthur?" Alfred asked as he entered. Arthur went to the cage and undid the padlock. His tone was sad when he spoke.

"Get out...and get dressed. You can eat in the kitchen," Arthur said, his voice subdued. Surprised, and not sure if that was a good thing or not, Alfred hastily dressed in the warm layers. The clean, new clothes felt heavenly against his skin. He trailed after Arthur a bit hesitantly. When they reached the kitchen, Arthur rather carelessly gestured to the waiting dinner.

"Err, do I get to sit?" Alfred asked, surprised even more.

"I'm not role playing with you, Jones. I deeply regret my actions yesterday and, while I still think you are a repulsive, traitorous, lying son of a bitch...I should not have lost control as I did. Eat up, and then go," Arthur said. He carelessly dropped an envelope full of cash onto the table. Alfred still stood, frozen in place, his blue eyes unsure. He was convinced it was some cruel mind game Arthur was playing—making him think he was being offered freedom with some cash to get him by—but then Arthur would snatch it away and he'd be back in the cage...or getting his ass pounded brutally over the kitchen table.

Arthur sat down with merely a cup of tea and a troubled expression.

"Oh, for god's sake, sit down already! You were always terrible at being a slave. Don't act like it's your true nature now. I only caged you last night so you didn't rob me blind in the night," Arthur said. Alfred nodded and slid gingerly into the seat. The food looked...off...but Alfred was desperate. He began to polish off the meal uncaring of the taste.

"Your cooking hasn't gotten any better, huh?" Alfred asked between bites. The joking reminder of Arthur's early attempts at cooking, back during their days as a semi-happy couple...back before Alfred ruined everything...clearly upset Arthur. He flinched as if he'd been struck.

"I put enough in the envelope for you to rent a room for a few months. I included a list of some places that don't require paperwork...but I did still have your old passport, so you'll find it inside. It's expired now, but at least it's something. That same list has names of businesses that would hire you if you mention my name. Of course, these are people who trust me and my services, and it will reflect very poorly on me if you are a bad employee. I suppose you can also whore yourself out again, if that's what you enjoy doing these days," Arthur said bitterly.

Done with the plate of food, Alfred wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand and Arthur winced in disapproval. It was clearly killing him not to say anything about Alfred's poor manners.

"Why? Why do all that for me? You paid for me. You could fuck me for a long time before my debt to you is paid," Alfred said with sincerity. Arthur took another sip of his tea. He seemed strangely vulnerable—it was an alien expression on the normally stoic and reserved man's face.

"As you said, Jones. I loved you once. You were my first slave, and I can admit now that I made many mistakes. While your actions were reprehensible...I carry my share of the blame and guilt."

"Hey, it wasn't all bad. I had it pretty good with you. I didn't know it back then, but..." Alfred said, trying in vain to lighten the mood a bit. Arthur just took another sip, and his gaze drifted to the darkening night beyond the window.

"I hurt you, Jones. Badly. I think it's safe to say we hurt each other."

Alfred finished off the food and watched Arthur drink his tea. There had never been another man in his life like Arthur Kirkland. The saying, "you don't know a good thing till it's gone" had never been more true.

Slowly, marveling at his own action, Alfred pushed the money away, back towards Arthur.

"I want to stay...and I want seconds," Alfred blushed a bit and hastily added, "please." Arthur's fingers tightened tellingly around the teacup.

"No!" Arthur replied. "I want you out of my house. I never want to see you again," Arthur hissed.

"Arthur, don't be like that—" Alfred said cajoling. Arthur stood and slammed the tea cup onto the saucer, nearly breaking them both.

"Don't say my fucking name! If you just want somewhere comfortable to shack up, why don't you go find Francis Bonnefoy—he's still in town, still publishing filth in his sham of a newspaper!"

There was a long pause as the dreaded moment had finally come. In an instant, both of them flashed back to all those years ago...

Alfred Jones had the world at his fingertips. Fresh out of high school, good-looking, with a new job at a popular newspaper company and a brand new boyfriend on top of all that. He wasn't the best writer, but everyone knew the Editor-in-Chief of the London Inquirer was a bit of a pervert. A little flirtation during the interview had landed Alfred his first job as an official reporter.

He wanted to be a sports columnist one day, but for now he would be writing human interest pieces for the gossip rag. Alfred glanced at his cell phone and realized he was going to be late. Breaking into a jog, he ran the last few blocks until he came to a stop in front of a quaint little tea shop.

There he was. Arthur Kirkland...though in another half-year, it would be Dr. Kirkland. Alfred smiled and dropped into the seat across from him. The medical student raised his beautiful green eyes and scowled.

"You're late, Jones," Arthur said. "You know I value punctuality," he added. Alfred just leaned across the table and stole a kiss.

"You're gonna forgive me today, though, because I got the job!" Alfred beamed happily. Arthur's sour expression melted away and he smiled in pride and congratulations.

"Alfred, that's wonderful news," he said. Then he added, "Lunch is on me, then."

"Everything's always on you," Alfred laughed. At first it struck Alfred as a little odd, but Arthur was insistent about paying for their tabs. On their third or fourth date, Alfred had tried to sneakily pick up a tab (one of the cheaper ones) and Arthur had actually gotten annoyed with him.

"I believe a gentleman should take care of his date, that's all," Arthur said, averting his eyes and clearing his throat a bit nervously. Alfred just shrugged carelessly.

"Hey, it's cool with me! I can be the chick in the relationship if it gets me free food all the time!" Alfred joked. Arthur rolled his eyes.

"It's not about that, or about gender roles, you idiot. It's about...taking care of you," Arthur said. As always, when this topic came up, Arthur seemed uncomfortable, or like there was more he wanted to say or explain, but just couldn't find the words.

Oblivious to the atmosphere, Alfred just shrugged and reached for Arthur's hand across the table.

"You're more than I deserve, ya know that?" Alfred said with a bright smile. Arthur blushed, and tried not to let Alfred see how conflicted he felt about him. They'd dated for about two months now, though they'd only had the "let's be exclusive" talk the previous night. Much to Alfred's surprise, they still hadn't slept with each other yet. Arthur kept dragging his heels, as if he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to get so involved or intimate with Alfred.

As for Alfred, he was just happy to be in Arthur's life, and figured the guy was simply old-fashioned.

The waiter came to take their order, and Alfred began to hastily search the menu, since he'd been distracted by talking and hadn't looked at it. Arthur greeted the waiter politely.

"Yes, we're ready to order. I'll have the ham sandwich, with fruit as the side. He'll have the BLT with crisps. Iced tea for me, coke for him," Arthur said smoothly. Alfred glanced up in surprise, the menu still in his hands. The waiter picked up on Alfred's confusion and glanced at him.

"Umm, did you want anything else?" he asked Alfred. Arthur's eyes narrowed ever so slightly.

"That's our entire order, thank you," Arthur said. With an awkward nod, the waiter left with the menus. Arthur began unfolding his napkin and silverware, as if nothing odd had just happened.

"Err...Arthur...I didn't really get a chance to look at the menu," Alfred said. Arthur looked highly uncomfortable for a moment, and then cleared his throat and flashed a condescending smile.

"Ah, but you see, I did, since you kept me waiting for nearly ten minutes. If you wanted more say in your lunch, you should have been more prompt," Arthur said smoothly. Inside, he was kicking himself.

'Arthur! Why did you just do that? You know he's not one of us!' Luckily, the "you-were-late" explanation made it a little less awkward...but not by much.

"Ah, I guess it's okay. And it's kinda cute...that you paid attention to my favorites and all," Alfred said with an easy grin. In his heart, Arthur was aching to show Alfred just how well he could take care of the messy boy, if only he'd let him. So many unmannerly habits that he would break, so many needs he could meet that Alfred likely didn't even realize he had. The thought of catching the blond young man unawares, tying him up and blind folding him...

"Earth to Artie! Hey, you there?" Alfred asked. Arthur blinked rapidly and snapped out of it as their drinks arrived.

"Oh, yes. What were you saying?" Arthur asked. Alfred took a big gulp of his coke and then rubbed the back of his hand over his wet lips. Arthur actually jerked in his seat, as the urge to grab Alfred's hand and pop it for his rudeness was almost overwhelming. As usual, Alfred noticed none of this.

"I was saying that I have to write human interest pieces. I'm thinking I'll do something on local business owners, maybe? Where they come from and how they got their business started here?"

"Mmm," Arthur agreed, taking a sip of his tea. "Sounds like a good idea, pet," Arthur said.

For the second time that afternoon, Alfred gave him a strange look.

"Did you just call me...pet?" Alfred asked, already grinning. Arthur flushed. What was with him today? Usually he controlled himself so much better around the loud, unruly blond.

The blond who was now his boyfriend...the boyfriend who knew absolutely nothing about Arthur's darker desires.

"I...didn't mean to say that. Listen, Alfred, I hate to say this but I think I might have been too hasty in agreeing to your request last night," Arthur said. Alfred's blue eyes filled with hurt and confusion, and it hurt Arthur to be the cause of such a look.

"What? But...I don't understand! We're great together, right? I mean, I really like you...and I thought you liked me...is there someone else?" Alfred asked. While he did seem upset, he was not devastated. They hadn't been dating all that long, after all. Arthur was staring very intently at the tabletop.

"It's not that. Alfred...there's something you don't know about me," Arthur said. Instantly, his boyfriend's eyes widened.

"Are you an alien?" he asked wondrously. Startled out of his serious mood, Arthur scowled.

"What? No! You're an idiot!" he said fussily. Alfred just grinned.

"Well, whatever it is, it can't be worse than being an alien! Spit it out, Artie!" Alfred said, rather too loudly. Some of the other patrons glanced over at them.

"Not here. We'll finish our meal and then go back to my flat. My roommate is out of town this weekend so we can talk privately."

"Okay, but whatever it is...it's going to be okay, Arthur. I really like you!"

Arthur somehow doubted really liking someone was enough to override the reservations Alfred would certainly have once he knew about Arthur's dark side.

Their meal came and was finished off rather quickly. As usual, Arthur paid, and the two caught the bus to his flat. Alfred had been once before, but he'd only seen the shared area. Arthur had never invited him into his bedroom. Now, Arthur waved him towards the couch.

"Coffee?" he asked, knowing the American ex-pat still preferred coffee over tea.

"Wow, you actually have some?" Alfred asked, surprised.

"I bought some when I learned of your preference for it," Arthur replied. Alfred smiled, and began to hope that maybe they weren't over just yet, after all. His curiosity was mounting, though. Just what was Arthur possibly about to say?

"I'm good," Alfred said. Arthur set about making another cup of tea, more for the calming ritual than anything else.

"Come on, Arthur! Spill! You're driving me crazy, here," Alfred said. Leaving the kettle on to boil, Arthur moved into the living room and sat a few feet away from Alfred on the couch.

"A year ago I went to a very special club. I met people there that were...like me. I've been learning from them, and visiting the club regularly ever since. It's a...err...a fetish club."

"Oooohhhhh," Alfred said, his blue eyes widening in understanding. "So...you're into freaky sex?" he asked rather insensitively. Oh, how Arthur wanted to punish the boy for his cheekiness. It was a constant need burning inside him. Alfred Jones so had it coming.

"I'm not a freak, and the way I have sex isn't weird. At least, not to the people I usually date. But, obviously, you're not from the community. I guess, to you, it would be considered weird."

"I once saw a documentary about people that get off to jars of bugs. I like to think I'm pretty open minded, but I don't think I could handle a bug fetish," Alfred said, clearly still joking around. Arthur scowled.

"I don't have a bug fetish, Alfred! I'm a Dominant. I'm pretty involved in the BDSM community," Arthur said finally.

"Soooo...you only like to top? I don't care about that. I'm kinda relieved, actually. A lot of guys I date expect me to top them, but I've always liked catching. I...I just like how it feels," Alfred stuttered, finally getting a little embarrassed a blush brightened his cheeks.

"I already knew you were a bottom, Alfred. That's not the issue," Arthur said dismissively. The kettle was ready, and Arthur went to go fetch it.

"Huh? What's that supposed to mean? Almost all the guys I've dated think I'm going to want to top them," Alfred said, more curious than offended. Arthur glanced at Alfred knowingly.

"It's little things. You don't wear something unless it shows off how perfect your arse is. Your always trying to get me to slip my hand in your back pocket when we walk. You've tried on several occasions to get a sense of how big my cock is," Arthur stated matter-of-factly. Alfred's blush darkened.

"Have not!" Alfred retorted. Arthur rolled his eyes.

"Oops, I was trying to find the popcorn? Not the most believable excuse I've ever heard for copping a feel in a cinema," Arthur replied.

"Whatever! The point is that you like to always top and I don't have a problem with that. Are we good now?" Alfred asked. Arthur fixed his tea and sighed.

"It's not that simple, Alfred. For me...it's not just about sex, either. Eventually, I want a Dominant/submissive relationship that extends outside of the bedroom. I'm happiest when I have someone to control. I don't know if I can have a relationship that lacks that."

"Control like...how?" Alfred asked, finally starting to realize this wasn't something conventional.

"Like at the restaurant, when I ordered for you. When I pay for your needs and wants. When I see you dressed in something I don't like and I want to make you strip and put on something that pleases me. When I want you to forget about what makes you happy, and care only about what makes me happy. Now do you see, Alfred? I'm different. I don't think...this thing between us...is going to work out."

It was exactly in that moment that Alfred made the worst decision of his life. Because as Arthur Kirkland was laying out his soul and trying to be honest...Alfred thought of his new job, and his perverted new editor. The paper was edgy, and liberal. What if he did a piece exposing the secrets of Arthur's so called "community"?

He'd get to continue his relationship with Arthur long enough to get some action...and he'd get recognition at work. Nobody had to get hurt. Alfred would just date Arthur long enough to get his story. He wouldn't let him get too attached to him. He'd show Arthur that he'd be a terrible "slave," and Arthur would give up on him and go for someone that was actually good for him.

After all, Alfred liked his free will. He liked picking his own damn sandwich at a restaurant, thank you very much. He liked Arthur—liked him a lot—but Arthur was right. If Alfred was honest, they weren't going to work out long term.

"I...don't know, Arthur. You said it all started when you went to a club. Could you maybe take me with you, and let me see for myself?" Alfred asked. Arthur nearly dropped his tea cup in surprise.

"You...want to...give it a chance?" Arthur asked. His voice was filled with fragile hope, and Alfred felt the first of what would be many stabs of guilt.

"Yeah, sure. I mean, why not? You're a great guy, Arthur. I trust you," Alfred said. And it was true that Alfred trusted Arthur...but Arthur should have never trusted him.

It was not long after this first conversation about the topic that Alfred stood in his boss's office, after pitching the idea.

"An exposé on the invitation only, underground BDSM clubs of the city...yes...yes, that's fantastic! You will go undercover for this?" Francis asked, with a raised blond brow. Alfred had seemed so clean cut to him—this slightly manipulative, willing-to-do-anything to succeed attitude from the boy was entirely unexpected. Plus, he was gay! Francis knew he'd been right to hire him.

"Whatever it takes, boss!" Alfred said brightly. Francis stood, and rounded his desk, so that he was leaning back against it rather casually.

"Anything it takes? You know, when the story is over, you likely won't have a boyfriend anymore..." Francis purred. Alfred thought of his sports column, and he thought about how great it would feel to prove to his parents that he could be successful on his own, without having to go to college. He crossed the room until he stood directly in front of his boss.

"Technically, I don't have a boyfriend now. As I said in my interview...I really want to be a sports columnist," Alfred said. Francis smiled.

"Ah, but we do not have a sports section in my paper," Francis replied.

"But you have contacts. Once I've been here awhile...you could get me hired with a sports magazine, or with the city's major paper," Alfred suggested, even as he dropped to his knees. Francis sunk his hand into Alfred's golden hair.

"Oui...this is true. Let's see how you do with your undercover story...and with other job duties...and we'll see about getting you your reference, Jones," Francis said. With a pleased smile, (even though he hated blow jobs) Alfred eased his boss's erection out of his pants and began to give the best head he could. He'd seduce Arthur for his story, and he'd seduce Francis for his reference.

Then he'd find a nice, normal guy and live happily ever after.

At least, that had been the plan. Alfred's determination to carry it out began to wane when he found himself outside the seedy looking club with the muscular, blond bouncer.

Arthur had dressed him, insisting that the leather pants and the fishnet shirt was pretty modest for the club. Alfred hadn't believed him until they'd gotten there, and he'd got glimpses of the other patrons. In his head, he was scribbling descriptions of all the crazy outfits he was seeing.

Arthur took his hand with confidence and guided him up to the bouncer. Much to Alfred's surprise, the bouncer kind of smiled at Arthur and greeted him by name.

"Hello, Kirkland. Is this your new boy?" the muscular German asked. Arthur blushed rather adorably and glanced at Alfred.

"He's not a slave, Ludwig. Just a friend," Arthur said. That made Alfred feel better. Clearly, Arthur didn't see him as a boyfriend anymore, if he ever had. Besides, hadn't he called off their exclusive status the other day in his apartment? The beefy bouncer let them inside, and Arthur shed his coat to reveal he was shirtless underneath, and that he'd coated his pale, slender torso with...glitter? Well that didn't seem very macho, Alfred thought to himself with a snort.

A small, small part of Alfred knew he was being deceptive and leading Arthur on, but a bigger part of his heart said that Arthur was just a guy like any other—cute, but not irreplaceable. Alfred would get his story and move onto bigger and better things, and he'd do it before Arthur got too serious about him.

The club was not like anything Alfred had imagined...mostly because he didn't know what to imagine.

"Alright, Mr. Body Glitter, what first?" Alfred teased. Arthur blushed.

"I thought you'd like it...you're always going on about my pale skin," Arthur said, clearly a little embarrassed and mildly irritated by Alfred's teasing, as he always was. Alfred couldn't resist, though. He pulled Arthur's arms around his hips, guiding Arthur's hands to cup his ass in apology. Utilizing his small height advantage, he smirked down at his date for the evening.

"I do like it. Kinda makes me want to lick it off," Alfred said huskily. Arthur gave Alfred's cheeks a firm squeeze—it almost hurt!

"That's a reward for good boys, Jones. I don't think you've earned it," Arthur replied, matching Alfred's husky tone.

Before Alfred could get too caught up in Arthur's weird dirty talk, a tall, broad shouldered man approached them. Arthur smiled at him (a rare, genuine smile), and they embraced. Alfred felt a stab of jealousy, but told himself he was being ridiculous.

"Alfred, this is Roma. Roma, meet Alfred...he's the one I told you about," Arthur said. Alfred reached for the other man's hand, but was a little thrown off when Roma didn't move to return the gesture. His gaze was friendly enough, but it was so piercing. It was like he was looking straight through Alfred, and seeing him for exactly what he was—bad intentions and all.

It was weird, but Alfred couldn't meet the man's eyes. Embarrassed and feeling a little emasculated, he had to turn his eyes away and down.

"He's attractive enough, isn't he?" Roma said, as if Alfred wasn't still standing there. To make it worse, the burly guy began to circle Alfred, looking him up and down, as if he were some type of livestock! Not liking it, Alfred reached for Arthur and curled around his back, ending the strange man's study of him by hiding behind the shorter man. Arthur blushed and instantly petted Alfred's arm.

"It's alright, pet. How people behave in the club might seem a bit odd at first, but you'll get used to it," Arthur soothed. Roma arched an eyebrow, more at Arthur than at Alfred.

Suddenly, Roma's serious, probing look was gone. He smiled, and Alfred relaxed a bit. His next words, however, made Alfred nervous all over again.

"I don't know that this is the place for him, Arthur. If he's truly here for the right reasons, why don't you get him a leash? No better time than the present to start teaching him his place," Roma said casually. He still had not said a single word to Alfred, speaking instead about him, as if he couldn't hear.

"Err, Roma, you know I respect you to the utmost degree...but I don't think Alfred wants to wear a leash," Arthur said. A loud cracking noise ripped over the music and Alfred's eyes snapped to a nearby part of the club, where there were all sorts of weird structures, all of them with dangling cuffs and restraints. A young man was bent over a heavily padded bench, and a lady dressed in skin tight leather was mercilessly whipping his bare bottom, causing big, red whelps to pop up on his skin. The man was crying out, and attracting a small crowd. Alfred watched with huge eyes. Was this shit for real?

"Come on...we can get a little closer," Arthur said. The two of them left Roma's judging stare and approached the man being whipped. "This part of the club is called a dungeon. You can find them in clubs like this, and some people have their own equipment at home, too," Arthur explained.

"Did he...agree to that?" Alfred asked in disbelief. Arthur quickly nodded.

"Everything here is consensual. Of course, sometimes patrons have paid escorts and such, and that's a little more questionable. Whores aren't uncommon here. Some like pretending it's not consensual, too. Roma—he's the club's owner—he does a pretty good job of keeping everything safe."

Alfred could see that being the case. It seemed like not much slipped by the older man's sharp-eyed gaze.

"But...why? Why would anyone want to get hurt?" Alfred asked, genuinely curious. Arthur dropped his hand to Alfred's round buttock and squeezed. It made Alfred jump.

"Under the right hands...the pain can be pleasurable. I could...err...give you a demonstration, if you'd like," Arthur offered.

Alfred gulped. He really did not want his ass exposed to a crowd while Arthur whipped him...but he had the article to consider. He needed to experience something for himself, if the story was going to be any good.

"O-okay," Alfred agreed, surprising the fuck out of Arthur.

"Come on then," Arthur said. His grip shifted from Alfred's ass to his hand, and he guided his date closer to the dungeon. The whipping was still going, and it was getting quite intense, so not many people paid attention to the two novices approaching a shadowy post in a corner.

"Okay...so what now?" Alfred asked, staring at the post and the leather cuffs dangling from the top of it.

"Well, I cuff you. You're here because I chose to put you here. I can do anything I want to please you. I can show off your body to everyone's hungry eyes as much as I want...but don't forget for a second that you belong to me," Arthur whispered.

"Err, alright, I guess," Alfred said a bit awkwardly. He let Arthur cuff him, so that his arms were stretched up over his head.

"Oh! Um, I almost forgot, which I shouldn't have, because that's completely basic! You need to tell me a safe word," Arthur said. Alfred blinked confusedly.

"Huh?" he asked. Arthur let out a sigh.

"If it gets too intense, or I'm hurting you and you want me to stop, we establish a safe word. You say it, and it instantly stops the role play," Arthur said.

"Err, what makes you actually stop, though?" Alfred asked. Arthur met his eyes, and he was earnest, and sincere, and Alfred could see how much all this meant to him.

"I'll always respect you, Alfred. You can trust me. You can trust that I'll keep you safe...if you want to let it all go," Arthur said. Alfred wasn't entirely sure he understood what Arthur meant by the last part, but Arthur's sincerity...his honesty...was obvious.

Alfred almost cracked, and told him that he was really freaked out by everything he was seeing, and that it was totally not his scene, and he was only here hoping to get some kind of story because his rent was due in a month and Alfred had no idea how he was going to pay all his bills.

Instead, he blurted out, "Hamburger!"

"What?" Arthur said, clearly surprised.

"That's my safe word. You said I could pick it," Alfred said. Arthur gave him a judgmental look.

"Really? Hamburger? That's what you came up with?" Arthur asked, his arms crossing over his slender, glittery chest.

"Jesus, Artie, it's our first sexual experience and I'm letting you cuff me to a pole. The least you can do is let me use hamburger as my damned safe word," Alfred replied a little heatedly.

They were attracting attention now, and not the good kind. The more experienced patrons were laughing at them, clearly doubting the glittery young man could get his toy under control. Roma had joined the crowd, and his gaze on Arthur was hard and unamused.

"I didn't waste my time on you, Kirkland, did I?" Roma's voice cut through the crowd.

The older man's words clearly flipped a switch in Arthur's brain.

"Fine, fat arse, fitting you would pick a word like that, seeing as you've clearly had one too many," Arthur insulted. Alfred blushed and he turned his head, noticing all the people now just staring at them...even with whipping boy next door getting louder and louder.

"H-hey! That's not very—"

"You do not speak unless spoken to, understand slave?" Arthur made his point by cracking strange whip-like thing in his hand down on the post. It had nine braids of leather coming off the end, and the sound of the leather cords smacking against the pole let Alfred know this was serious.

Suddenly, Arthur was pressed up against his back, whispering words in his ear that the other club-goers couldn't hear.

"If it's too much, you just use the safe word. I promise I'll stop," Arthur reassured.

Then, his nimble fingers undid the button and the zipper on Alfred's pants.

"Um, Arthur, I'm not wearing any—"

"My name is Master. Didn't I tell you not to speak without permission?" Arthur's hands trailed from his crotch to the waistband of Alfred's leather pants, where he pushed them down rather suddenly.

Alfred had the horrible realization that his bare ass was now on view for an entire room full of strangers. He felt his skin heat up until it was burning.

"And I already knew you weren't wearing any underwear, because you're nothing but a needy, desperate little whore for me. You've wanted your Master's cock for so long now, haven't you, slave?"

Alfred's brain was screaming "HAMBURGER" but when his mouth opened, all that came out was a shaky, "Y-yes...yes, M-master," Alfred all but whispered against the post. The braided leather cracked against the post again, like a clap of lightening.

"I can't hear you!" Arthur shouted at him gruffly.

"Yes, Master!" Alfred said more loudly. Alfred was panting like a race horse, and he didn't know if it was from fear or embarrassment.

Suddenly, the whip trailed down the small of his back, down the cleft of his ass, and up between his legs...leading Alfred to the realization that he was hard.

'Oh god, I can't believe I'm butt naked in this freaky-ass club and I'm hard! Fuck!' Alfred thought to himself. He tried to will away his erection. The last thing he wanted was Arthur thinking he was enjoying this. It was just that it had been so long! He'd dated Arthur for nearly two months now without getting any!

"Spread your legs, so everyone can see what a needy, little slave you are," Arthur said, his voice hard and unforgiving. Alfred decided to screw his masculine pride and let out a whimper of pure embarrassment. Oh, gods, he hoped nobody he knew was in the club. He couldn't do it. He kept his legs locked tightly together, having locked them up after Arthur so sneakily inserted the whip between his thighs.

Arthur's hand began a soothing descent down his side, comforting almost, until the hand popped down on his ass—hard! Alfred yelped and turned his head to glare.

"Hey!" he shouted. "That hurt!" he added in a babyish whine. Arthur looked at him dumbly for a second and then his eyes darted nervously towards the judging crowd.

"Uh, that's kind of the point, Alfred," he said, breaking character for a moment. Alfred's cheeks flushed with indignation.

"Well still!" he said. Then he added, "Not so fucking hard!"

"Arthur!" Roma's voice boomed. As it had before, it snapped Arthur back into whatever creepy mental place he went to when he decided Alfred needed to be abused and spanked and insulted.

"That's what the safe word is for, you git!" Arthur whispered hastily before resuming his role. Alfred bit his lip, wanting to shout the stupid word and have it all be done with...but not only was his job on the line, but now his pride was, too.

Sure, he was strapped to a pole, ass naked, and the fussy, cute British guy he'd thought was perfectly normal was calling him names and humiliating him...but Alfred wasn't going to submit. He could take whatever Kirkland's dirty, perverted brain could dish out!

"I will decide what you can take, slave! Spread. Your. Legs!" Arthur enunciated, popping the leather against the post with each word. Determined, Alfred shifted his legs open as far as he could, considering the leather around his knees.

Deciding it was not enough (damn him!) Arthur made short work of stripping off his boots and taking the pants off entirely. His slid his leg in between Alfred's long calves, and rather harshly kicked them open.

Alfred couldn't help but glimpse over his shoulder. Fuck, was the whole club staring at them? He blushed and turned back around, ducking his face against the pole. He'd just pretend they weren't there.

Suddenly, he felt a cuff ensnaring his right ankle, and just a few minutes later, his left as well. Alfred tugged his foot experimentally only to discover he was stretched uncomfortably wide, so that everyone could see his balls dangling between his legs, and likely see the dark little circle of his ass hole, too.

Okay, maybe Arthur could break him. Alfred didn't like pain, and if Arthur cracked that whip down over his spread cheeks, Alfred was going to rip the restraints out of the fucking floor if he had to.

"H-ha..." he started to say, as Arthur trailed the whip up one of his long, sweating legs. Arthur caught his scared expression with his own mocking one.

"What was that? I didn't quite hear you, slave," he said. That look. Arthur knew he was about to cave and wussy out! Alfred steeled his resolve.

"Nothing, you asshole!" Alfred spat. The whip came down on his butt cheek hard and fast, and the breath Alfred had been holding rushed out of him.

"Three smacks for daring to talk to your Master in such a shameful way. Be grateful I don't hit you across your filthy, fucking mouth," Arthur said in a deadly calm voice that sent shivers down Alfred's back and made him instantly regret trying to be tough. Alfred felt the whip being lifted into the air, and his whole body tensed in anticipation of the blow that was coming...

"Ow!" Alfred yelped, as his other butt cheek began to sting and burn.

"Count them, slave," Arthur ordered.

"O-one," Alfred stuttered. Arthur popped him again, just as hard, on the first cheek he'd whipped. That made it hurt even more, and Alfred felt his eyes cloud up with tears. This wasn't fun! It wasn't sexy! It just hurt, and he wanted it to be over! He was embarrassed, and his erection was long gone, and all those people he didn't know were staring at his most intimate place...laughing at him.

The braided leather crashed against his skin again, and Alfred nearly forgot to count, so wrapped up in his swirl of angry thoughts.

"Two!" he all but sobbed. "Don't...don't fucking hit me again, Kirkland or I swear I'll—"

That really pissed him off. The whip popped him hard at the top of each thigh, then across the small of his back, and then a fist was knotting in his hair, pulling his head back rather harshly.

"Threaten me again, slave, and I'll make it the last thing you ever say," Arthur promised darkly—and Alfred truly believed him. This wasn't Arthur—cute, punctual Arthur that owned like twelve teapots and enjoyed embroidery. This side of him was so different and frightening that Alfred began to feel like he'd made a huge mistake in trying to take advantage of the man.

The tears began to spill down his cheeks...but still, he would not give in. Not to a bully like Arthur.

"That was...three...Master," Alfred bit out harshly. His whole backside felt like it was on fire.

"Oh was it, slave? Because I think you lost count. Start at one, and when it's done, you can thank me for wasting my time on someone so fucking pathetic and beg me for another," Arthur ordered.

'Fuck him! Fuck him! I hate him!' Alfred roared in his head. The whip came down again—more gently this time—not that Alfred could make such a distinction anymore. He was a twitching, crying mess, clearly clinging to the tatters of his pride and refusing to yield to Arthur out of stubborn defiance.

Suddenly, Roma's voice could be heard over the excited moans and catcalls from the crowd—when had they stopped laughing and started rutting against whatever they could?

"Arthur, give me that," he said. Alfred's eyes widened in horror. What? No! He'd come up here with Arthur, not with the scary-as-fuck club owner he didn't know! He scrambled for his safe word, but in his panic, he couldn't think of it. His mind was drawing a complete blank.

"Arthur!" he cried out, clearly frightened.

"You address him as MASTER, and you've heard that enough times now for it to sink into your stubborn little head! COUNT!" Roma barked, and Alfred sagged against the bonds in surrender.

"Y-yes, S-sir!" he said shakily, truly afraid. He could think of nothing but the dominating man who'd so easily pushed Arthur aside, as if he were a little boy trying to do a man's job. The crowd, the shackles, the club—it all faded away to be replaced by the whippings that were coming.

The first popped down across his upper thighs, and it managed to expertly strike his ball sack—it stung, but oh, it stung in a way that felt fucking amazing. Alfred grunted in need, wanting that sharp little stab of pleasure and pain again. It was almost like when an exceptionally skilled lover took him raw and hit his prostate right out of the gate.

"Nnnngh," Alfred moaned, "One...please, Master, again!" Alfred arched his back, trying to push his bottom closer to the scary man that was also so obviously skilled. Alfred's erection was back, and he was dripping like a leaky faucet.

Roma's slender whip cracked down again, this time over his bared hole—lighter than Alfred expected it to be, and it made the sensitive little ring of muscle begin to twitch in need.

"Twoooo," Alfred moaned. "Please, please, fuck me. Please!" Alfred began to beg, and he didn't even know where it was coming from, because he'd never met Roma before in his life and hadn't thought the older guy was particularly attractive not too long ago.

Roma ignored his begging and cracked the whip again, this time over Alfred's lower back. It sent a tingle of pleasure sparking up Alfred's spine like a lit fuse.

Alfred screamed "Three!" even as balls nearly constricted up inside him and his cock began to spurt rivers, completely untouched. Alfred sagged against his restraints, completely exhausted and wiped out.

"Tend to your boy, Arthur. We'll talk once you've cleaned him up," Roma said. Despite cursing him out in his head just minutes before, Alfred nearly cried in relief when he felt Arthur's familiar hands gently caress down his sides. Arthur carefully removed his ankle restrains, and then his wrists. Still crying, Alfred wound his arms tightly around Arthur's shoulders, hiding his blushing face in the crook of Arthur's neck.

"Y-you let him hit me!" Alfred finally managed to accuse. Arthur hugged him tightly, mindful of the wounds on Alfred's back. Somewhat awkwardly, because of Alfred's clinging, Arthur managed to get Alfred's pants up around his hips again, and get his feet back in his boots.

"Come on, pet, let's get over to the bar. A drink will calm you down," Arthur said kindly. At the bar, Alfred couldn't bring himself to unwind from Arthur, afraid some other stranger would snatch him away. He couldn't imagine sitting his sore ass in a stool, so he rather bossily pushed Arthur into a stool and then crawled up into his lap, straddling him comfortably. He wound his arms tightly against Arthur's neck again, locking them in place, and went back to hiding against the other man's neck.

After a moment of obvious hesitation, Arthur began to gently rub his sides.

"You did so good, pet. So good. You were so beautiful—everyone thought so. Nobody could take their eyes off you. I got so hard for you. If Roma hadn't taken over, I would have fucked you against that pole. Everyone could tell how badly I wanted to. I wouldn't have been able to stop myself," Arthur explained. Sure enough, Alfred could feel that Arthur was still half-hard. Alfred wiggling about in his lap and clinging to him probably wasn't helping things, but Alfred didn't care. He just wanted to be held and soothed.

"Pet? Won't you say something? Are you okay?" Arthur asked nervously.

"Leave him be, Arthur. You pushed him too much, and too fast. The leash alone probably would have been pushing it, but you completely lost control up there with him. What the fuck were you thinking?" Roma's stern voice asked. Alfred realized he must have been tending the bar, but Alfred didn't want to see him. Not when he'd so shamelessly lost control of his own mouth and begged the stranger to fuck him.

"I'm s-sorry, Roma. You taught me better. I've just been struggling so hard to control myself around him—he makes it so bloody hard!" Arthur complained.

"A good Dominant does not loose control—not of themselves, and certainly not of their slaves. He wasn't ready for that. He was scared, and being too stubborn, and he could have gotten seriously hurt. You have to take responsibility for the fact that what you did today could have seriously scared him—traumatized him, even. If he resents you and never wants any part of this again, you have nobody to blame but yourself," Roma said, unforgiving. Now Arthur was clinging slightly to Alfred, needing reassurance as much as Alfred wanted it from him.

"I'm sorry. You did teach me better," Arthur said quietly. Alfred heard a glass being slapped onto the wood of the bar, empty likely.

"You should be. Get him home, Arthur. Give him some space," Roma advised. Alfred did want to go home, but not to his own. He didn't know why, but it was hard for him to hold onto any thought for very long. He felt detached from the world, like he was in it, but not at the same time. He just wanted Arthur to stay with him, and keep stroking his sides, and takeing care of him.

"Arthur...I wanna go home," Alfred said in a low, piteous whine.

"Of course, pet. Of course. Come on," Arthur said gently, encouraging him to stand. When he was finally up, Arthur buttoned and zippered Alfred's pants, and accepted a rag from Roma to wipe up the ejaculate that had landed on the leather.

Alfred realized from his dreamy, strange other-place, that he was crying. He sniffled, and rubbed his nose against the fish net on his shoulder. Arthur gave his cheek a loving caress and kissed his lips.

"You were a good boy, Alfred. So good. I promise I'll get you home safe and sound, and get you tucked in, okay?"

Arthur continued to hug him as they waited in the chilly air for a cab, and he let Alfred stretch out over his lap on the way back to Arthur's flat, petting his hair and whispering sweet words the whole way. Once inside, Arthur guided him quickly past the empty living room (though the sounds of video games could be heard from his roommate's room) and into Arthur's bathroom.

Arthur stripped him gently and spent a good amount of time examining the marks on Alfred's back.

"Alfred, pet, I'm sorry. These marks are bad. I hit you too hard, and I knew better, but I was so nervous in front of everyone. I could tell they were all doubting me," Arthur rambled in apology. Alfred, who was finally returning to reality, felt the shorter man press gingerly against his shoulder blade. Arthur was crying.

"Shhh, Arthur, it's okay," Alfred said magnanimously, even though it was very far from that. "I'm tough. I'll be okay. You didn't break the skin," Alfred said, trying to lighten the dark mood in the little bathroom.

"Y-yes, I did. Roma's marks are perfect—beautiful, even—but mine are clumsy and angry and awful," Arthur said.

Alfred couldn't argue that. He remembered exactly where Roma had whipped him, but he only felt pain from the harsh stings of Arthur's many braids.

"Just, clean me up, okay?" Alfred suggested. He was tired, honestly, and he just wanted to crash. He also wouldn't care if he never saw Arthur Kirkland again.

The green-eyed man wiped away his tears hastily and nodded, a determined look in his eyes.

"R-right, of course. Just sit...or kneel...over the toilet seat and I'll bandage you up," Arthur said. "At least some good will come of all that medical school, right?" Arthur said weakly. His mood darkening, Alfred gingerly stepped out of the soiled pants and the boots. He straddled the toilet facing the tank and pressed his arms and cheek against the cool porcelain. He turned his face away from Arthur.

Even as Arthur lovingly and apologetically rubbed antiseptic over each whip mark and placed band aids over the ones that were bleeding, Alfred began resolving to write his story and hold nothing back. He wouldn't try to gloss over anything now. He was going to tell it exactly how it was, so that none of his readers would ever unknowingly stumble into a relationship with an inexperienced Dominant like he had, and end up humiliated and emasculated.

Arthur was almost done when Alfred's cold voice filled the bathroom.

"I forgot the stupid safe word. When he was hitting me—when you let him touch me—I wanted to scream it because I didn't want him, but my mind blanked and I called for you, but you were so fucking wrapped up in your fantasy that you didn't even fucking care!" Alfred accused harshly. His words bounced off the bathroom walls and caused Arthur to start crying all over again.

"Oh, pet, I'm sorry—"

"Stop calling me that! I'm not your fucking pet! My name is ALFRED! I used to be your boyfriend!"

"Fuck, Alfred, I tried to tell you! I told you this wasn't going to work! I think, after tonight, it's best if we don't see each other anymore..." Arthur trailed off, only for Alfred to interrupt him cuttingly.

"No. You dragged me into this tonight, and now it's your responsibility to take care of me and finish what you started," Alfred said harshly, thinking of his story and of his fragile career.

It had nothing to do with wanting Arthur's comfort again, Alfred thought harshly. Nothing whatsoever to do with wanting those gentle words of love after being pushed so far past where he thought his limits were. It was just for the damn story. That was all.

"I...of course, Alfred. I'll take care of you," Arthur said.

And so he had. Alfred wrote a few stories for the paper, none of them any good, while promising Francis the BDSM story was coming soon. Because he was angry at Arthur, and not clearly understanding why, Alfred had continued the sexual relationship with his boss in secret—not because it got him any favors, but just because he needed to feel like at least some aspect of his sex life was normal still.

Because with Arthur, it was anything but normal. Arthur had taken Alfred's words to heart, and soon work was Alfred's only escape. The Dominant wanted Alfred around constantly. He was forever telling Alfred what to do and when to do it, telling him what to wear and how to wear it, and demanding ridiculous things of him—like that Alfred stopped using chairs and sit only at Arthur's feet.

Most of these things, Alfred protested vehemently, pushing Arthur into asserting his dominance in all sorts of creative and torturous ways. To Arthur's credit, he got better. Pretty soon, Alfred didn't know if he was acting out because he resented the need Arthur had created in him, or if it was because he was starting to love the things Arthur could do to his body.

Arthur's flat mate had started picking up on weird vibes from them, and moved out about two months after that first night Alfred had gone to the club. Arthur downgraded to a one bedroom and told (not asked) Alfred that he was moving in with him.

Alfred had more than enough to write his story by then. It was only the fact that he was letting Francis fuck him that was keeping him his job, as Francis had likely assumed the story was never going to get written and all he was going to get from Jones was mediocre crap.

It was a mess, and the more out of control Alfred felt of his own life, the more control he gave to Arthur...thinking himself no longer able to do anything right. The night he moved in with Arthur was especially bad. At work, Francis had rejected his latest story completely and told him he needed to give a damn good blowjob if he wanted to see a paycheck that Friday. While Arthur took care of Alfred's financial needs, he also demanded that Alfred hand over all his checks. Alfred didn't know what the state of their finances were, but he worried what Arthur would do to him if he lost his job.

Alfred worried about a lot of things these days, as his life seemed like it had taken a sharp turn into self-ruin and he was helpless to stop it.

He dropped the last of his boxes in the living room and glared at the shitty apartment. Granted, he wasn't used to living in the lap of luxury, but it truly was a crap hole. What was worse, the protection of the roommate was gone. Now Arthur had added a post to the living room—similar to the one he'd put Alfred on their first night at the club—to the corner of the fucking living room, as if that was classy.

"Alfred, is that the last of the boxes?" Arthur asked, emerging from their shared bedroom. Of course, it wasn't Alfred's bedroom. It was Arthur's. Just like everything, even Alfred's stuff, was now Arthur's.

"Yeah, your stuff is all here," Alfred said sullenly. Arthur never really let him just go back to his own place and chill, but now that escape was completely gone.

Arthur narrowed his green eyes, and crossed his arms over his chest in a familiar stance.

"Gods, Alfred, we've talked about this a million times. If you don't want to do this, why the fuck do you insist we keep doing this?" Arthur asked helplessly.

"What? Getting sick of me now that you own me? Want to toss me out but you can't because you'd feel too guilty for fucking me up and then leaving?" Alfred shouted.

"Alfred, I love you. I love you in the only way I can. I can see you aren't happy, but I don't know what to do!" Arthur screamed, clearly frustrated. Alfred tore off his T-shirt, and fought his way out of his pants and sneakers, leaving them in a messy pile that he knew irritated his lover.

"Control me, Arthur—or do you not really know how?" Alfred taunted. Taunting Arthur about his lack of skill was the only way he knew to get at Arthur. Arthur cared so fucking much about being a "good" Dominant. He spent countless hours at the club taking lessons from Roma about just how much pressure to use with the different types of whips, and listening to his stories about his many slaves and how he'd handled them.

Alfred usually took these times as opportunities to stir up as much trouble as he could, until Arthur would drag him over his knee and spank him in public, or hitch him to a post and whip him till he cried. Whatever Arthur did to him, it was never enough. At the club, everyone called him the brat. The other Dominants stopped judging Arthur for not being able to reign him in, because nobody else felt up to the task either.

Alfred had insisted they try, of course. All under Arthur's protective gaze, Alfred had let countless men chain him up, or whip him, or knot him in ropes, or run blades over his skin—all the guys who insisted that if they were his Dom, they'd put him in his place. But Alfred wouldn't submit to any of them.

He let Arthur control him, and he hated Roma with a passion (perhaps because he'd manipulated Alfred so skillfully that first night at the club), so he wouldn't let Arthur's best friend anywhere near him, but the rest tried and failed.

Arthur was staring at him now, seeing all of Alfred's angrily swirling thoughts, feeling Alfred's rebellion saturating the air...but for the first time ever...Arthur didn't immediately jump into the role play and give Alfred what he demanded.

Instead, he crossed the small living room and looped his arms loosely around Alfred's hips. He pressed a gentle kiss against Alfred's frown.

"My beautiful wild one, my precious, precious love...I thought we might try something else tonight," Arthur said. The Dominant had grown more confident over the months—how could he not with a boy like Alfred challenging and pushing him at every turn?—but now he just sounded soft and tired.

Alfred's frown turned into a sullen pout.

"What?" he snapped, pulling back from Arthur's sweet kiss.

"Cooking. It's our first night together in our new place. I thought we could cook something nice for dinner and watch a movie. I got one I thought you'd like," Arthur said. Alfred scowled petulantly.

"If we're going to play normal for a night, you could have actually called and fucking asked what movie I wanted to see. That would have been nice for a damned change," Alfred spat, still feeling combative. Arthur seemed to be working very hard to control his temper.

"Alright. We'll go return the one I got and you can pick the movie. I'm...I'm trying, Alfred. Really I am," Arthur said softly. Alfred felt some of his defenses crumble. Was there a chance it could be better now? Maybe now that they were living together, Arthur would finally start to compromise...just a little bit.

"It's fine," Alfred said quietly, pulling Arthur a little closer. "We can watch whatever you got."

Arthur smiled at him, the relief shining in his beautiful green eyes. That look said 'Finally! I've done something right!'

Alfred smirked and played with the knot on Arthur's scrub bottoms. In just two more months he'd be a fully certified doctor—if the stress of dealing with his new boyfriend didn't cause him to be too distracted from his finals.

"I don't wanna get dressed again...so I guess you'll have to get naked with me," Alfred said.

"Oh?" Arthur asked, slanting his mouth over Alfred's in a deep kiss.

"Mm-hmm. And you're going to leave your clothes in a messy pile on the floor with mine...all night. You aren't going to make me pick them up until in the morning," Alfred said, as he removed Arthur's clothing. One of Arthur's large eyebrows twitched in annoyance.

"...fine," he growled, the sweet act dropping slightly.

"And—" Alfred began, only for Arthur to cut him off with a dark look.

"You're pushing it, Jones," he said bossily, and oddly enough, it made Alfred smile. Even after all they'd been through, Arthur was still incredibly cute to Alfred. Sometimes it was kinda hard for Alfred to take the Dominant seriously. Arthur got that a lot, actually. It was probably why he was so serious about learning how to do everything perfectly, so that the bigger Doms didn't give him so much crap.

"Okay. What are we cooking, Arthur?" Alfred asked with put-upon casualty. It was the first time he'd used Arthur's name in a long time...aside from when they were in the heat of a scene, and Alfred was trying to piss off Arthur on purpose. Now he used it just to see how far Arthur was going to take this fake act of domestic bliss and normalcy.

Well, as normal as two guys in an apartment could be whilst butt naked and contemplating dinner.

"Pasta. I bought all the ingredients," Arthur said, only cringing a little at Alfred's use of his name.

"Eh, I don't think I'm feeling up to pasta tonight. What else do we have?" Alfred asked with false innocence. Oh, this was fun. Arthur's hold on his hips had tightened, and Alfred could practically see the Dom wanting to snap that Alfred was going to cook the damn pasta for him, and now Alfred would be lucky if Arthur let him lick it off his boot.

Arthur admirably held his tongue.

"Cereal. We have pasta, or cereal," Arthur said with the patience of a saint. Alfred smiled.

"I love cereal," Alfred purred, as he teasingly began to rub his cock against Arthur's tense thigh. "Besides, if you're cooking I wanna go with something you can't easily burn."

Arthur's hand lifted, a thrill of delicious excitement raced up Alfred's spine in anticipation of the spanking...but it never came. Arthur slowly unclenched his fist and began gently stroking Alfred's round bottom.

"It's your night, love, so I guess cereal it is. But first..." and then Arthur did something he had never done before. In front of Alfred's shocked, plate-sized eyes, Arthur awkwardly sunk to the kitchen floor and began to give Alfred a horribly awkward blow job.

Alfred couldn't help it. He started to laugh. Arthur leaned back on his heels, clearly embarrassed, and glared up at him.

"Screw you, you damned brat! This is what I get for trying to please you! Forty pounds in wasted groceries, a stupid movie I don't want to see, and you laughing in my face for trying to do what you won't even do!" Arthur half-shouted. "It's our first night living together, and that means something to me! For just one night, I didn't want us to be at each other's bloody throats!" Arthur said as he awkwardly got back to his feet. His shoulders were shaking and in front of Alfred's horrified gaze, his Dominant broke down into helpless tears. "Fuck it! I don't know what the fuck you want from me, Alfred!" and Arthur scooped up his scrubs angrily, stormed off into the bedroom, and slammed the door for good measure.

Alfred blinked in alarm when he heard the lock click.

Alfred pulled on his jeans slowly, not bothering with his shirt or his underwear. He sat down at their tiny kitchen table for two and buried his head in his hands.

What was he doing with Arthur? He could admit now that it was no longer about getting his story. He didn't give a fuck about his shitty writing career anymore, or his loveless affair with Francis. He'd developed an unnatural dependence on Arthur, because Arthur made it so fucking easy.

Arthur was smart. When he finished school, he was going to be an amazing doctor. What was Alfred? Just a screw-up, and practically a high school drop out. Alfred had lied to his parents. It wasn't that he thought college was for spoiled rich boys...it was that he didn't think he could cut it there. But Arthur could handle everything. He could handle the money, he could handle their bills, and their living arrangements. Alfred was damned lucky he'd met Arthur, because he knew he was one missed deadline away from eviction. But Arthur handled all of life's little details with total ease. He'd even filed Alfred's taxes for him—for the past two years that he'd neglected to do so.

Alfred had been relieved to hand his money over to Arthur. Tons of partners did that, he justified. One was better with money and stuff, so the other just handed over the checks and didn't get too involved. What was harder to accept was handing over control of other things. What music he listened to. Where they went on a Friday night. What he ate when they went to a restaurant.

Being completely cared for in every way was great...until it conflicted with what Alfred wanted to do. Then he felt trapped, and manipulated, and angry...because now being submissive was something he needed.

He didn't know how, because he'd never planned such a lifestyle for himself, but he could only be happy when he pushed Arthur to his breaking point and the Dominant lost it on him—whipping him and smacking him as hard as he could, for as long as he could, and then holding him after when Alfred cried. And he had to know that no matter what he did, Arthur wouldn't ever abandon him.

Nobody else understood him like Arthur, which wasn't saying much when even Arthur claimed to be clueless about what Alfred wanted or needed. Maybe it was because Alfred didn't know himself. Maybe Alfred just wanted to be used up, until there was nothing of him left to give.

The bedroom door opened. Arthur came out almost hesitantly. He ignored Alfred slumped on the table and went into the kitchen. With little skill, he began getting out what he needed to cook the pasta—his eyes rimmed red from crying.

After a few moments, Alfred stood up and joined him in the kitchen, just watching him.

"I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm like this," Alfred said honestly. Arthur nodded tightly, but didn't say anything. "I can help with the pasta...if you want."

"It's fine," Arthur said. Alfred flashed a small smile.

"You know you're sprinkling in the sugar right now instead of the salt, then?" Alfred asked. Arthur froze, and he slowly set the shaker down on the cabinet. A few more tears leaked out of his beautiful green eyes and he wiped at them absently. He carried the pot over to the sink and dumped the sugar water.

Maybe it was the sight of the tears, but something in Alfred's messed up heart finally softened. He looped his arms around Arthur's trembling form and nuzzled against his neck.

"Master, you've had a hard day, and I've been an especially bad brat. Let me help you...please," Alfred said sweetly.

After a long moment, Arthur relaxed in his hold and nodded weakly. Alfred pressed a hot, open mouthed kiss against Arthur's neck and slid his hands down Arthur's. He guided Arthur's hand to the water faucet, and turned on the warm flow.

"If the water's already hot, it won't take so long to boil," Alfred murmured against Arthur's skin.

Gently, moving a bit awkwardly, Alfred pulled Arthur backwards with the full pot of water, and they set it down on the stove top together. Alfred began to run a hand up and down Arthur's side, slipping it up under his T-shirt randomly. He continued to kiss and sweetly nibble at the skin of Arthur's neck and shoulder, where he knew his older lover was sensitive.

"Now the salt—not the sugar," Alfred said, and reached for the proper shaker. Arthur's hands slipped backwards, rubbing at Alfred's hips and his long thighs. Arthur's head rolled backwards against Alfred's shoulder, and he waited for the taller blond to kiss him. Alfred set the salt aside, forgotten, as he and Arthur sucked on each other's tongues, their eyes half-lidded.

After a moment of this, Arthur turned in Alfred's hold and twined his arms around his partner's neck, and kissed him hard and passionate. Alfred moaned into the kiss wantonly, and he felt his jeans begin to get uncomfortably tight.

"Mmm, Master...you're so good to me," Alfred purred, his big hands sliding up and down Arthur's rib cage. He started pressing kisses all over Arthur's neck. "Nobody else knows how to handle me...nobody else ever could."

And this simple reassurance from Alfred was all Arthur needed to hear. Arthur's hand slipped down Alfred's chest to the growing erection tenting the jeans. He began to rub it roughly, just how he knew Alfred liked.

"Nngh, please, Master!" Alfred moaned lowly, rolling his hips up to meet Arthur's firm palm.

"We aren't done with dinner, pet. Don't we need to put on the pasta? The water's boiling now," Arthur said. Eager to get back to their activities, Alfred grabbed the box of expensive pasta and dumped it rather carelessly into the hot water.

"There, it's done," Alfred said, trying to guide Arthur's hand back to his weeping erection. Arthur smiled and pulled him into another kiss instead, pressing his own hardness up against Alfred's. They kissed and thrust against each other, finding a perfect rhythm pretty quickly. This time, it was Alfred who broke them apart.

"Master, I want you inside me. Please," Alfred asked. Arthur nodded and undid the button on Alfred's jeans, pushing them off him for a second time that night. Alfred tugged down Arthur's scrub bottoms and let himself be guided backwards, into the living room, towards their new couch. Alfred didn't know where Arthur had bought it, but it was second-hand. It seemed to have more spring than cushion, and it groaned painfully when they fell onto it in a tangle of limbs.

Arthur offered Alfred his fingers and the younger man eagerly sucked them, rolling his tongue over the digits until they were soaked in spit. Arthur pulled them out of Alfred's mouth and brought them, dripping, to Alfred's waiting hole. Alfred spread his legs, needing Arthur's thick, blunt cock inside him. Alfred didn't typically get much stretching before Arthur fucked him, but tonight the Dom worked in first one finger, then two, then three and finally four before he had Alfred reduced to pitiful begging. Still perfectly composed, with the exception of his rather heavy breathing, Arthur lined up and pushed in without any resistance meeting him.

"MASTER! Yes! Fuck me!" Alfred shouted, no doubt straight past the thin walls of their crappy first place. Arthur slapped a hand over Alfred's mouth.

"Hush, brat! The last thing we need is a noise complaint!" Arthur said. Alfred just rolled his ass up towards Arthur and began to clench and unclench his muscles, and licked obscenely at the fingers Arthur had splayed over his lips. "Ugh, I don't even know why I try. Your incorrigible," Arthur said.

"Mmm, Master, I love it when you use big words during sex...not. Can't you just moan my name like a normal person?" Alfred teased playfully, poking his tongue out between Arthur's fingers and grinning cheekily. Arthur gave him a particularly hard thrust for his impertinence and then stuck to the pace, causing their new couch to start braying like a donkey as Arthur pounded into his bratty lover.

When Arthur came, Alfred came nearly at the same time. Alfred entangled his long legs around Arthur, holding him in place. Alfred stole little kisses until Arthur obliged him and french kissed him properly.

"Master?" Alfred asked.

"Hmm?" Arthur replied.

"Your fancy pasta is probably burning," Alfred said casually. Arthur's eyes widened in adorable alarm and he wormed his way out of Alfred's octopus like hold. Alfred smiled as his long limbs stretched out over the couch. It was nice to have sex with his lover without needing antiseptic and burn relief medication afterward. They hadn't made love...well...had that been really their first time? To just have normal, regular sex, like normal, regular people?

Alfred marveled. "Master," he said.

"Just a minute, pet. The noodles are sort of...clumped," Arthur replied. Lazily, without feeling any burn in his ass at all, Alfred got up off the couch and went to the restroom, where he cleaned up and found some basketball shorts.

When he returned to the kitchen, Arthur was pouring jarred pasta sauce over two hardened chunks of noodles that he'd split into two bowls...after he'd likely scraped them out of the pot rather brutally with (Alfred's eyes trailed down the counter to find the culprit) a metal spatula.

"Woohoo...looks yummy, babe," Alfred said. The pet name had just sort of slipped out, and Arthur and Alfred's eyes met in a surprised sort of way. Forgetting all about the pasta, Arthur wrapped his arms around Alfred's neck and kissed him hard. When they parted, Alfred flashed a look of confusion.

"Err, I figured that pet name would piss you off, ya know, Mr. Call-me-Master-or-else," Alfred teased. Arthur shook his head.

"When you call me Master...I can't help but feel like a part of your heart hates me. Just now...the way you said that...it felt as though you might really love me after all," Arthur said. While he'd told Alfred he loved him plenty of times, typically after particularly rough sex, Alfred had never said the words back. Alfred awkwardly turned his gaze to the side, away from Arthur's probing green eyes.

"It's just a pet name. It's not a big deal or anything," Alfred said. Arthur pressed a kiss to his cheek, making Alfred blush a little, which was absurd considering all the things they'd done together.

"Let's eat, before it gets cold," Arthur said. Less than enthused about that plan, and debating whether or not he wanted to ruin the peace by getting cereal, Alfred sat down with his rubbery, burned noodles and his unheated sauce.

Maybe it was routine, or maybe Arthur just couldn't control himself, but as soon as he was sitting, he scooted Alfred's bowl out of his reach and picked up his own fork. Once he'd choked down as much of the horrible pasta as he could, he cut up a bite for Alfred and held it out for him. Wincing, Alfred leaned forward and ate it, making a funny face as he chewed.

"Oh, fine. Stay there," Arthur said. He went into the kitchen and a moment later, he returned with a bowl of cereal. "I spoil you," he realized glumly, as he held out the spoonful and Alfred happily devoured it. Alfred polished off three more bowls in a similar manner before he was satisfied. Arthur told him to take the dishes to the sink, and when he'd done that, Alfred picked up his dirty shirt without being asked.

"Movie?" Arthur asked with a soft smile. Alfred returned it.

"Yeah, sounds good," Alfred replied.

Sadly, the nights of relative peace were few and far between. The club brought out the worst in Alfred, and it was hard for Arthur to convince Roma and the other Dominants that Alfred really was quite different at home.

Currently, Alfred was on the dance floor, doing his utmost best to seduce and distract a fellow submissive away from his Dominant, who was alternating between getting turned on by the scene and getting annoyed that Alfred was intruding...and that his submissive was more interested in Alfred than in him.

"I'll go get him," Arthur said to Roma, who only shook his head.

"You need to let him go, Arthur. He's not a true submissive," Roma insisted for the millionth time.

"You're wrong," Arthur said, finally daring to backtalk his old friend. Roma blinked in surprise at the vehemence of Arthur's tone. Arthur and Alfred had been dating for six months now, and living together for four. "He behaves for me at home—just not here," Arthur said as he got up.

"No, he dominates you from the bottom. It's perfectly obvious to everyone here that he runs the show," Roma said. Arthur scowled.

"I'm a good Dom. I've respectfully listened to everything you'd taught me—"

"Which is why I want to see you with a good match, Arthur. Plenty are interested. Don't get your heart broken by someone like Jones. I'm telling you—he doesn't love you like you love him," Roma said truthfully.

Arthur stubbornly shook his head and walked off, towards Alfred, who was now actually shoving the Dominant who'd tried to pull him away from his submissive.

"Kirkland, you better get control of your little bitch!" The Dominant sneered, annoyed by the smirking expression on Alfred's face. Alfred addressed the new little submissive that he'd been dancing with so provocatively.

"You should hook up with someone more skilled. He's crap with a nine-tails. He's tried to put me in my place before—didn't have a clue what he was doing," Alfred said.

"Alfred, heel!" Arthur barked, stepping between Alfred and the Dominant just in case. Alfred made a big show of sliding rather sensuously down Arthur's leg and dropping onto his knees once there. He gazed up at Arthur coyly, curious to see what the little Dominant would do next. He really hoped Arthur would punish him hard tonight—maybe a little knife play? Alfred winked at the confused submissive before he crawled off after Arthur, biting rather playfully at Arthur's calves. When they reached the bar, Alfred stood up and dropped out of character.

"Take me somewhere else. You know I don't like him," Alfred demanded. With Roma's words heavy on Arthur's mind, the Dominant grabbed a nearby slip leash and slid it over Alfred's head in a quick movement. He jerked the leash down, and Alfred stumbled to his knees. Then Arthur tied the leash quickly to the bar stool, forcing Alfred into a kneeling position at his feet.

"Stay," Arthur said simply. Alfred pouted, and instantly set about trying to work the rope leash off his neck. Arthur hadn't left him any slack, though, and he had no room to maneuver. Alfred whined and pulled, even though it hurt his neck.

"Masteeeeer," Alfred whined again. Whatever discussion might have followed was stalled by the arrival of a pretty large group of those in the community—all of them acquaintances of Arthur's, but none of them really friends. They were obviously celebrating, and just what they were celebrating became pretty obvious.

"Looks like Sam finally collared him," Roma said with a soft smile, returning to where Arthur was sitting.

"Looks like," Arthur said softly. Despite himself, Alfred looked up in curiosity. He knew the basics of collaring—a ceremony much like a wedding, wherein a submissive agreed to forever and completely submit to the will of his or her Master.

Alfred thought it was a joke. Sure, they all liked a little rough sex, but nobody really committed to a lifestyle like this their whole lives. Who would possibly want to be chained down like that forever?

Arthur's soft sigh of longing reached Alfred's ears even over the loud, pulsing music. Oh. Of course. Someone like Arthur. Arthur probably fantasized about them both being in their nineties, wrinkled and hideous, and bossing Alfred about in a nursing home.

Fuck that.

"It's beautiful, no?" Roma asked. Arthur agreed. Alfred rolled his eyes.

"It is. I can't say I'm not just a little bit—hey! Stop that, Alfred!" Arthur scolded. Not wanting to hear Arthur wax poetical about a frankly disturbing practice, Alfred had protected his throat by slipping his hands up under the leash and was now tugging harshly on the rope—hard enough to nearly knock over Arthur's bar stool.

"Arthur don't let him do that," Roma scolded.

"Fuck you, Roma!" Alfred replied. Then, to dig himself in deeper he added, "And stop talking like I can't hear you! My ears work just fine, you dickhead!"

"ALFRED," Arthur shouted, causing everyone in the club to look their way, even the celebrating couple.

"See Arthur? He will never let you be happy like they are. He doesn't want to be your slave. At some point, you're going to have to accept that!" Roma said.

"Shows what you know, asshole! Arthur's going to collar me. I'm just waiting on the fucking proposal!" Alfred spat, not really even caring about the impact of his words on Arthur. Arthur's hands were suddenly on him, and a blade was pressed near his throat. With anyone else, Alfred would have panicked...but with Arthur, Alfred just waited patiently for Arthur to cut him loose.

"You've gotten yourself all tangled, pet," Arthur said gently. Alfred was breathing hard, furious for some reason that escaped him, and he wanted to be cut loose so he could punch Roma in the face.

How dare he say that Alfred couldn't make Arthur happy? So what if it was true? It was none of his fucking business!

Alfred stood, rubbing his sore throat, satisfied now that the attention was on himself rather than on the happy couple.

"You think you're the shit, Roma, but you aren't. You broke me one time. It's never happened since, and I bet you anything you couldn't do it again!" Alfred challenged. Roma, however merely rolled his eyes.

"A slave who wishes to be collared by his Master shouldn't spend so much of his time trying to get attention from other men," Roma said, the implication clear. For a frightening second, Alfred wondered if Roma knew that he was fucking Francis, but then Alfred shook his head. There was no way Roma could know about that. If Arthur didn't even know, then Roma sure as fuck didn't know.

Arthur's hand curled around his arm, and his Dominant tugged him a little so he could whisper in his ear.

"I want to leave, Alfred. Haven't you embarrassed me enough for one night?" Arthur asked, and it was obvious he was feeling quite emotional. Probably all that talk about collaring. Alfred mentally groaned, knowing where it was all headed.

It wasn't enough that Alfred essentially lived as Arthur's 24/7 slave. Now Arthur would want him to wear a collar around his neck at all times to prove it, and he'd likely want a big, sappy ceremony as if said permanent ownership was something worth celebrating.

More and more, Alfred was getting sick of the club and all the assholes in it, like Roma. He was getting sick of Arthur, too, who lately didn't even try to punish him or dominate him anymore, and instead reacted to all his obnoxious behavior as he just had—with guilt trips and cajoling.

It had been ages since he'd bent Alfred over his knees and given him a good spanking. Alfred never thought he'd actually miss it. Sick of the club, and the happy couple, and Roma's knowing gaze, Alfred stormed off in a huff, leaving Arthur to try and catch up to him.

In the cab on the way home, Alfred sat as far away from Arthur as he could. Arthur sighed, reached for him...but then seemed to think better of it when he remembered the cab driver. At home, Alfred went straight to the shower, without waiting for permission, and stayed in quite a long time.

When he emerged from the bathroom, Arthur was sitting on the bed. In his hands was a slender, beautiful leather collar, accented with a brilliant little sapphire stud.

Alfred stood in the doorway to the bathroom, pretty sure that his mouth was hanging open.

"I know you don't like most of the people at the club, so I figured you wouldn't want a big ceremony. We don't even have to have a ceremony at all. I only bought it because...well...I wanted you to know that I'm serious about you, Alfred. I love you so much. I can't imagine my life without you. I know it's only been six months, and I know we have our problems...but this collar is my way of saying that I'll never give up on you. It's my promise," Arthur said softly.

Roma's taunting burned through Alfred's head. They all hated him, but loved Arthur. Arthur could do no wrong. Arthur deserved someone better than him. Poor Arthur, having to deal with a headache like Jones.

Alfred crossed the room and snatched the collar. He inspected it critically.

"If you don't like it, I can get you a different one—" Arthur said softly, nervously. Alfred thought it was kind of pathetic, how soft Arthur had gotten since they'd first started dating. Where was the Dominant who brought him to the club and on the first night hitched him to a post and whipped him bloody?

Now he was all but begging Alfred with his eyes to love him, and the poor, dumb bastard still didn't know about Francis. For all his book smarts, Arthur was a pretty big idiot.

Wordlessly, almost carelessly, Alfred unclasped the collar and handed it back to Arthur. He sunk to his knees and waited, eyes cast downwards so Arthur wouldn't see how angry he was. As always, Arthur cared more about the fantasy than he did about Alfred.

Alfred had never, not once, said that he loved him. Shouldn't something like that matter?

Arthur slipped the slim, leather collar around Alfred's neck, and clasped it in place. There was a clever locking mechanism under the clasp, which meant that only Arthur could ever take the collar off.

As it clicked into place, Alfred grit his teeth. He let Arthur make love to him, far too soft and gentle, and he hated him all over again—almost as much as he had that first night in the club. He hated Arthur for making him doubt himself, and doubt his ability to make it on his own. He hated Arthur for Dominating him in more than just a sexual way—for taking away all the things that made Alfred feel like himself.

Alfred looked back on the last six months of his life and felt nothing but bitterness and confusion. What had he let happen?

"I love you, Alfred, so very, very much, pet. You'll always be mine, now. You don't need to fear me leaving you ever again," Arthur said, murmuring against his hair. Alfred rubbed in irritation at the collar around his neck—it felt like it was choking him—and turned his face suddenly into Arthur's chest, to hide how upset he was.

The next day at work, Francis called him in. Whatever he'd been about to say died on his lips when he noticed the collar around Alfred's throat. His coworkers had just dismissed it as an odd jewelry choice—Francis suspected the truth.

"Oh, Jones, what poor, miserable man's heart are you breaking?" he asked. Despite his words, he was grinning in amusement. Alfred rolled his eyes in annoyance.

"I'm ready now, Francis. I'm ready to write the article," Alfred said. In a darker tone he added, "I'm ready for this to be over. I want a promotion after this. Enough pay that I can get my own place. I'll get a second job if I have to, but I need out."

"I was actually about to tell you that the crap you have been writing is no longer going to cut it. Either you write this story, and it sells out on newsstands, or you're done here. As to that second job, I know of a quaint little stripper bar on the outskirts of town. I think you'd be a natural. You know, make your money using that gorgeous body instead of your pea-sized brain," Francis teased. Alfred forced himself to smile, as if the joke didn't hurt his feelings, and left the office after Francis had mockingly insisted on writing the bar's name down on a sticky note for him.

"Good luck with the article, Alfred, though I don't expect much!"

Alfred stayed late that night, knowing he couldn't write the story at home, where Arthur would think nothing of distracting him from his task or reading over his shoulder and correcting his grammar. All while he wrote, Alfred scratched and tugged at the damned collar—completely irritated by the feel of it on his skin. He was done lying. He was finished being Arthur's slave and Francis's play toy.

When Alfred finally caught the late bus home, Arthur was waiting for him worriedly.

"Alfred, where were you? Why wasn't your cell phone on?" Arthur started immediately to nag. Alfred took his shoes off and put his bag away.

"I had to work late. My phone died," he said. Arthur deflated a bit.

"Oh. Well...I've got good news," Arthur said. Alfred pulled off his already loosened tie and began to unbutton his white shirt.

"Yeah?" he asked rather uncaring. Clearly determined not to be dragged down by Alfred's moodiness, Arthur barreled on.

"I got my scores back on my finals and I did the best in the class. I'll have my pick of residencies! I'm thinking about the neurosurgery—I know it's ambitious, but I'm confident I can do it," Arthur said. Alfred took a moment to stare at the dark shadows under Arthur's eyes. Alfred suspect quite a bit of the fun had drained out of their love life around the time Arthur had started devoting his days and nights mostly to studying.

"But, Alfred, what I wanted to say was that I really couldn't have done it without you. Always making me dinner and keeping me going on tea, staying up late with me and all the back rubs and—"

Alfred cut Arthur off by giving him a bland little peck on the lips.

"It's great news. Congrats," Alfred said rather flatly. Then he went into their bathroom and shut the door. Of course, because it was Arthur, he followed.

"Alfred, pet, is something wrong? You seem...upset," Arthur said weakly.

"I just had a long day. The AC went out at the office and I'm covered in sweat. I know you hate it when I stink, so I'm taking a shower for you," Alfred said. He'd learned to do what he wanted, and somehow twist it so that it sounded like he was doing it for Arthur. Of course, it didn't work with most things. It was hard to justify watching cartoons or listening to his favorite type of music with such logic.

"Oh...right...you're a sweet pet, aren't you? I bought groceries, so start dinner whenever you're ready, love," Arthur said. Alfred rolled his eyes. Arthur used to bark at him to cook, breathing down his neck the whole time, forcing him to smell the good food and then denying it to him for hours unless Alfred ate it off Arthur.

Now it was "whenever you're ready, love." Alfred wanted to pound his fist against the shower tiles. Honestly, he didn't even know what he wanted from Arthur these days. When Arthur was acting like a normal partner, albeit one who was bossy as fuck with OCD, Alfred wanted him to be less house-wifey and more aggressive and straight forward. When Arthur was being Dominant, putting Alfred in his place and making him feel about three inches tall, torturing him in all the right ways, Alfred resented it, and wished they had a normal, less serious relationship.

Roma had been right about him all along, and it pissed Alfred off.

Soon the article would break, though, and Alfred wanted to personally shove it in Roma's face. Then everyone in London would see his picture and know what he did for a living, and know what a perverted old freak he was. Alfred didn't understand what the fuck Arthur thought was so amazing about him.

The water managed to calm his temper, but only a little. The leather collar always got wet in the shower and irritated him, making Alfred even more aware of its annoying presence.

As Alfred came out of the shower, Arthur was sitting on the bed, going through some mail. He cast tired, yet appreciative eyes over Alfred's wet body, and smiled.

"Hey, feel better?" Arthur asked, still smiling. His test scores must have put him in a fantastic mood. Arthur never smiled so much.

"Yeah," Alfred answered curtly. He shamelessly undid the towel around his waist, and used it to towel off his hair. When Alfred resurfaced, Arthur was eying him hungrily. Alfred just wasn't feeling it. Maybe because he knew he'd be finished with the article, and in just two short days he and Arthur would be over. Maybe it was because all he wanted to do was shout that he was fucking Francis—just to ruin Arthur's day.

When had he become such a petty bastard?

Maybe Francis was right. Maybe he did need to give up on his stupid sports writing dream and resign himself to some seedy place like a strip joint. Arthur would go onto be some big fancy brain surgeon. Alfred was nineteen and didn't have a future. It was as simple as that. He'd rather be poor and morally destitute than be Arthur's kept boy the rest of his life.

"Err, Alfred...I wanted to talk to you about something. Here. I've set us up a new joint checking account, which will make managing the money easier. I know you have no interest in such things, but I wanted you to know the pin in case there's ever an emergency and for whatever reason, I can't get to the bank," Arthur said.

Blue eyes lighting with interest, Alfred peered down at the papers.

"You think of everything, don't you, Master?" Alfred purred, sliding onto Arthur's lap and trying to encourage Arthur's idea to share. Alfred wouldn't wipe him out, but he was fucking taking half for sure.

"Mmm, I just want to make sure you're always safe and tended to, pet. Even if something were to happen to me, I want to know that you're okay," Arthur said, very much enjoying the attention he was expecting when Alfred first came in the door and he shared his big news.

"What's the pin, Master?" Alfred asked, licking along Arthur's ear as he did so.

"Ngh! Err...0704...your birthday," Arthur said. Alfred was a little surprised. He didn't know when Arthur's birthday was, and he didn't especially care.

'Jesus. If he gets any sappier on me I don't know that I can wait two days to leave,' Alfred thought angrily. Something dark and furious inside his heart wanted to snap at Arthur and ruin him...like he'd ruined Alfred. His happiness, his success, it all rankled Alfred in ways he couldn't say aloud.

Alfred expertly undid Arthur's fly and pumped his arousal a few times before sliding onto him dry. It hurt, and Alfred wanted the hurt...but Arthur quickly shifted them and pulled out. He got the lube, and began to generously slather it on.

Alfred was going to hit him. He really was.

"Master, please...don't you want to tie me up? Spank me? Burn me? We haven't used the knives in awhile, or the vibrator. In fact, I'm pretty sure the toy box is dusty. Come on, Arthur. It's been weeks since you gave me a good fuck," Alfred finally complained.

Much to Alfred's disappointment, Arthur actually smiled in relief!

"Oh, is that what's been bothering you, pet? You were acting so distant and upset...more so than usual...and I thought it was work or all my studying..."

"ARTHUR! Fuck me! Seriously. We don't need to talk about it, you just need to do me. Like, NOW," Alfred ordered.

Finally, that snapped Arthur out of whatever loving funk he'd been in since he'd bought that stupid collar.

"You impertinent little cunt! You will not use that tone with me and expect to get away with it," Arthur said darkly. He slid his fingers under the collar and twisted it a bit, cutting off Alfred's air supply. "If you think for a second the fact that I've collared you means I want to hear your voice, you're wrong. The only words your allowed to say to me are please and Master!"

Alfred's erection grew impossibly hard as he was unable to get air. His hands scrambled against the sheets, clutching and grasping desperately.

"Oh, don't look so panicky, slave. The human body can go quite awhile without air before vital functions stop working. Plus, it's rather difficult to mouth off when your airway is restricted, isn't it?"

Alfred wanted to say something, he tried, but he honestly couldn't. Arthur released the collar, allowing air to rush into Alfred's lungs, at the same time he backhanded Alfred across the mouth.

"Now, I'm going to teach you what I do to naughty slave boys that forget their place," Arthur said, while Alfred was still gasping from air loss and spinning from the blow. Damn, Arthur was making up for lost time.

Alfred knew Arthur had gotten up, but he didn't know what for until he saw the bar of soap in his hand.

"Fuck...that!" Alfred wheezed. But his limbs still felt heavy and when he tried to sit up, the bedroom tilted dizzily, as if he were on a carnival ride. Arthur pinched his nose after pinning his arms down with his knees. Already weakened, Alfred barely lasted a few seconds before his mouth was hanging open, desperately trying to suck in air. Vigorously, Arthur began to scrub the bar of soap over Alfred's tongue, working up quite a lather. Alfred tried to spit it out, or buck Arthur off, but he was pinning Alfred by pressure points. Alfred felt like he'd never be able to lift his arms again.

Carelessly, Arthur stood and returned the soap to the bathroom. Alfred curled to the side weakly, gasping, trying to rub his tongue off on the bedspread to get rid of the foul taste.

When Arthur returned, he prevented this by quickly securing Alfred with ropes to their sturdy headboard.

"I suppose you're right, slave. The toybox has been getting a little dusty. Let's see what we have here..."

And Arthur went straight to the big guns. He pulled out his huge, oversized dildo, the one that was nearly as big around as a can of vegetables. The big dildo was followed by the small, remote controlled vibrator. Arthur sometimes liked to dress him up in something far too skimpy and inappropriate—like cut off jean shorts that barely covered his ass, and then take him for a walk, pulsing the vibrator as they went by "normal" people, who eyed Alfred's glassy eyed stare and his skimpy attire with judgment and disgust. Alfred could only guess at what Arthur was planning on doing with it now.

"Master...please," Alfred said, truly wanting Arthur to make him hurt. He didn't want to have to be disobedient, either. He just wanted Arthur to take care of him. He wanted to forget about the article, and what he was about to do to Arthur, and how his life was going to change in just two short days.

Once that dildo was up inside him, Alfred knew he wouldn't be thinking about anything except pleasure and pain.

Arthur also selected the ball gag—which let Alfred know that he wouldn't be given the option of talking tonight. Arthur likely just got a little tired of Alfred always mouthing off. The ball gag went in, and Alfred worked his tongue around it a bit before accepting it. It had been awhile. Arthur probably didn't want him criticizing his performance.

Arthur got the lube from the bedside drawer, because there was no way that dildo was going in without it. He started with one finger, working it in quickly, and building steadily up to four fingers. He worked them in insistently, earning screams from Alfred, muffled by the gag in his mouth. They hadn't had rough sex like this in so long. Alfred's body wasn't used to it.

When the knuckles slid in, Alfred closed his eyes and tried desperately to relax his sphincter. It was going to hurt so fucking bad if he couldn't relax.

"Look how greedily your hole is sucking down my fingers. You're such a greedy ass slut, aren't you? I bet you wish it wasn't just me here. I bet you wish we were in the club after hours, and all the Doms in the room would take a turn shoving into your filthy, loose hole. Would you want them? Other men?"

Alfred thought of Francis, and a vindictive little smile came to his lips. Unluckily for Alfred, Arthur saw it.

"Smiling, hmm? Is this worthless slave smiling at the thought of cock that doesn't belong to its Master? Well, you worthless sack of shit, I'll give you a cock that isn't mine," Arthur promised. With no further preparation, the hard rubber penis was being pushed into him.

Alfred screamed, all his nerves on fire, feeling like he was being split in two down the middle. It just kept going and going, up deeper and deeper, its ridged sides scraping his anal canal like nails.

Then Arthur began to fuck him with it, good and slow, splitting him open over and over again while he drooled past the ball gag and cried.

Suddenly, Arthur's weight shifted off the bed. When he returned, he had a shiny new electronic device in his hand, and Alfred's eyes widened in horror.

"That's right, slave. I made a new purchase today—I wanted to film my graduation ceremony...among other things," Arthur said. He flipped open the view screen even as Alfred was weakly shaking his head, the big dildo still half-hanging out his abused hole.

"This is my slave. That's my collar around his neck, see?" Arthur panned the camera up to Alfred's face, panting and drooling, his blue eyes wet with tears and shining with pain. "And this...is the sort of cock that satisfies this little whore-slave, because nothing is ever good enough for this slave until he's had much too much. Mmm, I have to admit...I spoil him," Arthur began to work the huge dildo out of his hole, and Alfred screamed in pain again. He knew the camera was filming him, and he felt completely violated. There was never meant to be a record of this! The only person meant to see him so debased and ugly was supposed to be Arthur.

And still that huge dildo kept fucking him, too big to ever feel good. Arthur put the camera right up near the action.

"Look at how he takes it. Everyone says he's a worthless, cheeky slave that I should have tossed out along time ago...but I just can't let go of such a greedy little hole. Look at it eating up that big toy. It's almost too much for it—anymore and he'd start tearing—right here, see?" Arthur pointed out some part of his anatomy to the camera and Alfred started garbling senselessly into the ball gag.

"Ham...fur...ahh! 'Am gerrr," Alfred sobbed.

Arthur looked at him, green eyes dark, clearly off in his own head. He leveled the camera at Alfred's sobbing face.

"I think he's trying to say his safe word...it's a shame I can't hear him around that gag. If the fucking slave had learned to hold his damned tongue, maybe I wouldn't have to gag him like this," Arthur said coldly. Then, he put the camera back between Alfred's legs and began to work the big dildo out one-handed, making the extraction process even more jarring.

All the while, Alfred just kept sobbing the safe word he'd never before used into the gag, hating the feel of the camera roving over his skin, and hating Arthur for using it.

Alfred's sobs grew in intensity as the toy was finally pulled free. Then Arthur was there with the camera, poking and prodding at his exhausted hole, showing just how big and sloppy looking it was now.

"If I fucked him now, I wouldn't even feel it," Arthur marveled, laughing a bit as he easily slipped his whole fist up inside Alfred. Even as he boasted this, Alfred's muscles began to work to contract again, tightening slowly back around Arthur's fist. He pulled his hand out, and panned the camera over the vibrator. Alfred still had absolutely no erection. He was soft and totally limp. Arthur filmed it as he began to pump him, working Alfred up to full mast against Alfred's will.

When Alfred was hard, his stretched hole starting to clench and beg for something inside it again, Arthur slid a cock ring on Alfred's erection. Alfred nearly started crying all over again in frustration. He would never taunt Arthur again. He'd never ask for something like this! Why the fuck hadn't he just been satisfied when Arthur wanted to coddle him and make love to him, as he hadn't been willing to do at the beginning of their relationship?

Why did Alfred like being hurt and ashamed now?

The camera panned lower again—to his gaping hole—and Alfred cried as he tried to draw his legs closed.

"Look, this slutty slave is acting bashful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just last week at the club, I had to drag him off another man on the dance floor. He comes home from a long day at work...and goes straight to the shower. Roma says he's fucking around behind my back. But now he wants to act bashful."

Alfred was truly crying then, shaking his head pitifully to deny what he knew to be true.

"But I know my slave better than anyone else. Nobody else could tame him. Nobody else could make him submit like this. That collar around his neck means this slave only wants my cock, and he'd never give this beautiful hole to anyone else. Isn't that right, my slave?" Arthur asked, and Alfred heard the suspicion and the worry in Arthur's voice, despite his words.

Weakly, Alfred nodded his head in confirmation. Arthur pressed the vibrator up into Alfred, so that it rested right against his prostate. Arthur was a fantastic lover—he knew Alfred's body better than his own, likely.

Then he switched the vibrator on and sunk into Alfred behind it, using the wire to keep the vibrator in place as he slid in.

"Nnnnghhh," Alfred moaned, as the powerful vibrator reduced him to jelly. His cock strained against the ring as Arthur began to fuck him good and slow, pulsing the vibrations with his thrusts. Alfred trashed his head from side to side, and strained his arms against the restraints. Tears streamed like twin rivers over his flushed cheeks.

"What do you say, slave?" Arthur said quietly. He slipped off the ball gag.

"P-please M-master p-p-please please M-Master, please!" Alfred released in a long stream of pitiful begging. Arthur released the cock ring, and thrust in hard, the vibrator turned to its highest setting. Alfred bucked and thrashed and he came, spurting so hard his cum splashed onto his tear-stained face. Arthur came deep inside and stayed there, collapsing onto Alfred's heaving chest and staring deep into his crying blue eyes.

"Who do you belong to, slave?" Arthur asked, fingering the collar, his voice hoarse and deep. Alfred stared at Arthur for a long time, realizing the answer to that question and letting the answer shine in his fierce blue eyes.

No one. I will always be free.

Instead of answering, Alfred tugged on his wrists.

"Let me go. Let me go now," he ordered. Arthur blinked, perhaps a bit in surprise.


"I used the fucking safe word, and you knew it! Delete that fucking video. Delete it now!"

Stone-faced, Arthur sat up and calmly undid Alfred's restraints. He had a guilty look in his eyes as he retrieved the camera where it had fallen and allowed Alfred to furiously watch as he deleted the recording.

"There. It's gone. There was no reason for the safe word—we've used that toy plenty of times before—"

"Get off me and shut your god-damned mouth! It was my safe word. You've taken everything else from me but that was mine! I choose when to use it, not you!"

"I understand that your angry, pet. In retrospect, that was quite horrible of me and I should have warned you about the camera," Arthur said calmly. Alfred got his wish. He balled up his fist (weakly, but still) and punched Arthur in the chin.

Arthur staggered off the bed, looking completely shocked.


"What? Oh, I'm sorry, I should have warned you first!" Alfred shouted. Cradling his jaw, Arthur shouted right back.

"That collar means you trust me. It means you love me! It means we don't need a fucking safe word! I know what's best for you!"

"I have never said I love you, Arthur. You can take my pride—" Alfred picked up the ridiculous toy that had hurt him so badly and flung it across the room. "You can take my dignity," he grabbed the expensive looking video camera next, and sent that smashing against the wall, too. "But you can't take my love. I won't ever give you that, you selfish bastard! I hate you! I hate what you've done to me!" Alfred shouted, his spittle landing on Arthur's face.

Arthur sat stunned, his jaw throbbing, his world collapsing around him. Alfred wobbled off the bed, nearly couldn't support his own weight, and limped like a wounded animal into the bathroom, where he slammed and locked the door.

Arthur tried to replay the events of the night in his mind, and while he realized he'd horribly hurt Alfred by denying him his safe word, he also felt like it was more. Arthur closed his eyes, massaging his jaw.

He'd accused Alfred of cheating on him, hadn't he? And at the worst time, in the most insensitive way. That had to be it. Arthur felt terrible. What sort of Dominant ignored his lover's safe word and then accused him of an affair while he mercilessly fucked him on camera?

Roma would be ashamed of him. Arthur was ashamed of himself. He dragged himself to the bathroom door and sat down heavily outside of it.

"Alfred...I'm sorry, love. You were right. I went too far, and—"

Arthur's voice was cut off by the shower turning on. Arthur felt tears threatening, as the reality of the situation began to dawn on him.

"Fuck," he hissed, angrily banging his fist against the nearby wall. Not knowing what else to do, or where to turn, Arthur pulled on fresh clothes and left the apartment. He needed to talk to Roma, get some advice, admit his failings.

It was a horrible night, as Roma had punched him just like Alfred had when Arthur admitted he hadn't respected Alfred's safe word.

"Arthur, when are you going to understand? This is not just sex! You're playing around up here," he harshly jabbed Arthur in the temple. "You and that boy have been all wrong from the start. Nothing good will come of it. If he's not cheating on you already, he will be after this. You have to let him go. You're only hurting him."

"But I can't! I love him!" Arthur said brokenly.

"Arthur, if I thought there was any hope for him—if I thought even at all that he was meant for our lifestyle—I would offer to help you with him. You know I would. But he's not like us. He's never going to be a true slave. If you're truly honest with yourself, can't you admit that's what you love about him? That boy can't be tamed—not by you or anyone else."

Arthur winced as the tears began to fall. "He'll get mad at me. I've tried letting him go before—"

"You have to stay firm. At the very end...show him that his Dom really did know what was best for him," Roma advised gently.

When Arthur returned to the apartment, Alfred and his things were gone, along with the debit card linked to their savings. Arthur didn't want to panic—he wanted to think that Alfred had just gone to a hotel or something for the night, but when he checked their account online, Alfred had taken half of their net sum out. He'd withdrawn the pounds from the ATM at the gas station near their apartment.

The days dragged after that. Arthur didn't go to his own graduation. Roma and Ludwig stopped by to check on him, only to realize he hadn't eaten a solid meal since Alfred left. He was drunk, though. Very drunk.

"Arthur...it is bad," Roma said sadly. Arthur stared at him blankly. Of course it was bad. His pet, his love, his slave—the man he'd fucking collared—had left him. Arthur had ignored all the warning signs, and now there was no hope of ever having him in his arms again.

Gently, sadly, Roma placed a newspaper on Arthur's coffee table, after swiping away all the empty bottles of liquor.

"What?" Arthur asked dumbly, staring at the front cover. It was a huge picture of the club—and he was front and center, wearing leather pants and holding a whip. Roma stood nearby, and one of Roma's lovers was draped nearby, ass barely covered and waiting for his whipping.

The headline was jarring. LONDON'S SECRET SEX CLUB—BY INVITE ONLY!

Furiously, Arthur ripped open the pages of Alfred's newspaper and read the article that dominated the paper—page after page of intimate details about one undercover reporter's journey into the hidden world of sex and violence. Every word was all that Alfred had never said. His fear. His unwillingness. His disgust.

And his hatred of Arthur, and everything he stood for. That was clearly the main theme. Alfred talked about how badly dating Arthur had messed him up. He alluded to all the most intimate acts of their sex lives, and talked of how it steadily stripped him of any feelings of worth or value. He concluded the article by saying that he was leaving the paper, but would remain in contact with his real lover, who was helping him to recover from the traumatizing experience.

Arthur saw red. Ludwig and Roma couldn't even hold him back as he stormed out of his apartment, paper clutched in hand, and hailed a cab.

"Arthur, no!" Roma shouted.

"It's not worth it!" Ludwig added.

But Arthur was at the headquarters for the London Inquirer just twenty minutes later, still so furious he wanted to punch Alfred's block off. He stormed through the lobby easy enough, past the big room full of cubicles where writers were typing furiously on their desktops, and (without knocking) flung open the Editor-in-Chief's previously closed door.

He'd expected to see some smarmy git with no integrity, and Arthur had planned to threaten his ass with slander charges, and whatever else Arthur could think up in the moment, but his words abandoned him.

Because it was none other than his Alfred bent over the big desk, and the Editor-in-Chief was happily thrusting away. He stopped for a moment when he realized they had a visitor.

"Oh, it's you. Welcome to my office. I'd offer you a drink, but I was in the middle of an appointment with one of my staff. If you don't mind, maybe you can come back at a later time?" Francis suggested, pulling out of Alfred, who only stared at Arthur with burning hatred before turning his face away completely.

He wasn't wearing his collar anymore. It was obvious enough why, Arthur supposed. Feeling like a fool—like a complete and total idiot—Arthur stumbled out of the office and returned home, where Roma and Ludwig took care of him.

Francis finished up with Alfred and then waited for the young man to redress.

"So, the article was highly successful, and your last check will reflect that. Are you sure you truly wish to quit?" Francis asked.

"I just want my reference. I did all you asked," Alfred said rather pathetically, his head hung low.

"I'm afraid, Mr. Jones, a good reference will not be possible. You see, quite frankly...your writing is terrible. Even with a good reference and a semi-decent article under your belt, another editor will see your portfolio and wonder why in the hell I kept you as long as I did. Then again, knowing my reputation, and considering your newreputation, thanks to this article...maybe everyone will assume the truth. That I kept you around because you had a nice ass and not much else. Nobody will hire you, Jones. I was willing to keep you on a bit longer out of pity, but I guess it's better for me that you're resigning now."

Alfred sat perfectly still for awhile, letting the realization wash over him. Francis wasn't going to give him a good reference. He was never going to be a sports writer. He'd ruined Arthur's reputation...but he'd ruined his own, as well.

He wanted to leave Europe, but he couldn't go back to America—not to his sweet, innocent, hard-working parents. They wouldn't recognize him. He would disgust them.

"I'm telling you, Jones. Look into that bar I told you about. The dancers there make incredibly good money. The owner will snatch you up in a heartbeat."

A week later, that was exactly what Alfred did.

"I never loved Francis. I didn't even like him, actually," Alfred said in a hollow tone. "I mean, yeah, I let him fuck me the whole time I was working there, but it was the only reason he let me keep my job. You read my stuff. It wasn't very good," Alfred said. The pristine kitchen was silent. All the years behind the two, all the hurt and the mistrust, was laid out on the table like Arthur's terrible cooking.

Arthur's eyes turned glassy with pain. "Alfred...why didn't you tell me? I could have stopped him. I could have gotten you another job," Arthur said. Alfred shrugged.

"He lied to me. He said if I kept him happy, he'd give me a reference and get me hired on with a paper that covered sports. I had this stupid idea that I was going to be some big shot sports writer. Dumb huh?" Alfred said self-deprecatingly.

"Not dumb. I never...I never knew that about you, Alfred. I suppose there was a great deal I didn't know."

"Not all that much. I've always been pretty simple," Alfred said, playing with the fork idly.

"Complicated enough to fool me," Arthur said. Alfred flashed him a tired smile.

"You loved me. People act stupid when they're in love, ya know," Alfred turned those beautiful blue eyes on him, his expression curious and guilty at the same time. "So...what happened with your residency applications?" Alfred asked. Arthur's mouth tightened.

"I wasn't invited to join the neurosurgery team, or any team actually—not after the article. I had to relocate out of London to the middle of nowhere to find a hospital that was just desperate for any residents, no matter how sexually depraved they were. I studied general medicine, got it done quick. I missed London, so I came back. I returned to the club scene and, well, things just evolved from there."

"I'm sorry," Alfred said simply. Arthur took a sip of his tea and sighed.

"We cost each other our dreams. It's only fair, I suppose," Arthur said. "Besides...I've obviously had a much easier time of it than you," he said. Alfred snorted.

"I worked at the strip club for about a year. I was out of control. Got into drugs. Started being bad about not showing up to work at all. Started whoring to pay the rent. That's how I met Ivan. He was...well...let's say he knew what he was doing with a whip or a knife. He gave me what I needed, but he never loved me. I was just a hole to fuck to him, and a body to scar. He dragged my doped up ass back to fucking Russia—which is a horrible place in the winter, by the way—and pimped me out. Then Toris came along, like a young me, all twisted and needing something or someone to take care of him—and Ivan figured I was losing my value. I was never a very good whore. Pissed off the customers, usually. I know you'd never believe it, but I can be a bit rude and demanding in bed."

"No, I wouldn't believe that for an instant," Arthur said, a hint of a smile on his face.

"So, sensing my time was at its end, when Ivan said he was taking us to London, I told him to try and sell me off to you. I didn't even know if you'd still be in town, but I thought it was worth saying if it got me back to London. I'd rather be homeless here than in fucking Russia," Alfred said. He shrugged. "Never really picked up the language...'cept the dirty words."

"I was...surprised...to see you," Arthur said levelly. Alfred laughed. Oh, Arthur had missed that sound.

"I bet you were. I was surprised Ivan found you. I guess, when he thinks there's money to be made, he can work himself up to actually do something—other than be a huge, fucking creeper, that is." Alfred stood, and dumped the inedible bits of his dinner into the trash. "If you want me to go, I will...but can I eat a bit more before I do?" Alfred asked.

Arthur nodded tightly, not sure he trusted himself to speak at the moment. Alfred returned to the table with his plate loaded down. He dug in heartily, like a starving dog on scraps in the trash, and Arthur had to turn his eyes away.

"I'm a different person now," Arthur finally said quietly. Alfred glared weakly at the food in his hands and took a vicious bite. He spoke without chewing first.

"Seemed like your old self last night. People don't really change, Arthur. I'm still me—still wild and too much trouble. You're probably smart in wanting me to go. It was good of you to get me some warm clothes, and the money is a nice offer. I won't take it, but it's big of you," Alfred said. Arthur shook his head.

"I already told you I lost control last night. I haven't been that way since...well...since you left," Arthur said. "I've finally learned what Roma tried so hard to teach me all those years ago."

"Oh yeah? And what's that?" Alfred asked, still focused more on his plate of food.

"Some people may enjoy a little role play, or like a little pain, but it doesn't mean they're suited to a life of total surrender to another. You should have always been free. Your determination to never submit—not to me or anyone else—that ferocity was what made me love you."

Alfred stopped eating. His jaded baby blues rose slowly to meet Arthur's gaze.

"I've never been broken. Not by anyone. I never will be, either. That's who I am," Alfred said firmly. Arthur stood and rounded the table, so that he could grip Alfred's shoulder.

"I've missed you, love. All these years I've missed you—not the fantasy I had of you, but the real you."

"It can't be like before. If I want cereal for lunch, then I want my bowl of cereal. And if I want to watch cartoons, I'm going to watch cartoons," Alfred said. Arthur smiled.

"And if I respect you, and never break your trust again, and understand that I can't keep you chained?"

"Then I'll ask you to chain me, because I won't want to leave. I'll be with you by my choice, and I'll love you. I'll even let you play rough sometimes," Alfred said with a flirtatious wink.

Arthur claimed Alfred's lips in a needy kiss, clambering into his lap because there were too many clothes and years and memories in the way, and he wanted to push past all of them and just feel his old love again.

This time, it was a large ceremony. They had it on the grounds of their home, and everyone came. Now, they were genuine friends to Alfred. Thankfully, nobody remembered Alfred's betrayal except for Ludwig, and he wasn't the sort to gossip maliciously. It was obvious Alfred had suffered enough for his betrayal of Arthur, and of himself.

"I'm honored you wanted me to be your best man, Alfred," Matthew said in his soft, gentle way.

"I've met a lot of great people since I came back to London, but you've been the best. I know we're pretty different, but we get along pretty good, huh? Arthur would be a lonely old fart without us around," Alfred joked. It was still a little off-putting to Matthew, how casual Alfred was in addressing Arthur. It was hard for Matthew to accept that Arthur Kirkland, the epitome of all that was Dominant...chose not to have a slave for a life partner, but rather someone like Alfred Jones.

But it was funny, seeing just how skillful Alfred was at getting his way with the stern doctor. Matthew was pretty sure they still role played from time to time, if Alfred's random bouts of limping were anything to judge by, but on the day to day, their relationship was rather typical. Normal, even.

Alfred was whiny, and babyish, and he pouted when Arthur insisted he take out the trash or tend to the lawns. He surprised Arthur by joining him at the club in something stunning and small and latex, and showing everyone just what sort of play was possible when the Dominant and submissive had perfect trust and understanding of one another.

Nobody doubted Arthur as a Dominant, because it was obvious that Alfred rather blissfully followed Arthur's lead. He was not a slave, but he was subservient. 99% of the time he was respectful. When he wasn't, Dr. Kirkland knew just how to handle him to get him back in line.

Yes, Matthew thought with a smile as he fixed the sprig of flowers in Alfred's tux, Dr. Kirkland would always be the only man for Alfred Jones, the only man who could hold him gently, without crushing his wings.

"Wow. So this is really happening, huh? I'm getting married. Never thought I'd see the day," Alfred said sincerely. Matthew smiled and patted his shoulder.

"You're going to be crazy happy together, and I'm happy for you both," Matthew said.

"Thanks, Mattie. I guess it's time?" Matthew nodded and the two made their way out of the side door and down the lawns, to where the big white tents were assembled and everyone attending was dressed in their best formal wear.

There was still quite a bit of latex and leather, though.

Alfred approached the end of the aisle with Matthew by his side and steeled himself. Arthur stood just fifteen feet away, not realizing yet that he'd made his grand appearance. He was fussing with his lapel, likely irritated that it wasn't just so. Without any additional fanfare beyond the soft classical music, Alfred rather briskly walked the aisle.

"Let me, babe," Alfred said. Arthur blinked in surprise and then smiled as Alfred expertly adjusted his suit, flashing Arthur a wink after he'd finished.

"I wasn't sure you'd come," Arthur said, surprising everyone in hearing range at the admission of insecurity—except Ludwig and Roma, that is.

"Of course I came. I can't miss my own wedding. Besides, I planned this whole thing. I want to hear you admit that I did a good job," Alfred said bossily. Arthur smiled, casting his gaze over the truly lovely ceremony. It was elegant, beautiful, and surprisingly simple.

Alfred wore white, and Arthur wore gray. Alfred's tie was a soft baby blue. Arthur's rather old-fashioned top hat was adorned with a matching band of the same color. They wore forget-me-nots in their lapels, and even the sun had come out for the occasion.

"You did very well, pet. Its a beautiful day, but not as beautiful as you," Arthur finished this statement by raising Alfred's hand to his lips and gently kissing Alfred's knuckles.

"Now now, no kissing till the end of the ceremony. I may not be an actual preacher, but I'm pretty sure I've got that part down," Roma said with a smile. Arthur and Alfred grinned at each other. So what if their country or the laws didn't recognize their union? It didn't make their promises less real, or the love less romantic.

Roma cleared his throat and then began.

"When I first met Arthur, I could tell he was a special kid. He wanted to conquer the world, and he'd settle for nothing less. He started with medical school, and in everything he applied himself to, he was perfect, exact, and dedicated. Then he met Alfred. Alfred...well...what is there to say that you don't already know? He's loud and messy and fun and free-spirited. He was everything Arthur didn't realize that he needed all those years ago. If you can believe it, Arthur was even more serious and uptight back then."

A smattering of laughter rippled over the guests, and Arthur shot them all a weak glare.

"Sometimes, though, what we want and what we need get all tangled up. Love can be confusing. At the end of the day, though, it's about acceptance. It's about learning that sometimes what we want is not what we need. Sometimes what we need is not what we want."

Arthur held Alfred's hands tightly, their gazes locked deeply as all the grief and tragedy of their past washed over them, like a wave on the seashore. The emotion receded gently, and Alfred leaned forward, to rest his forehead against Arthur's shoulder, needing his strength.

"All those years ago, Arthur had to learn a very hard lesson. It's a lesson we all have to learn, at one point or another. When you love someone—really love them—you have to let them go. Love and devotion are precious gifts we give each other, and they can't be stolen away in the night, or demanded with harsh words. When a lover comes willingly, with an honest heart, in perfect trust, that is when love can start to grow. That is when love can be given and shared."

Alfred pulled back, wanting to see Arthur's expression. He wanted to remember every detail of this day for the rest of his life. Arthur was smiling that soft smile, just for him.

"Today, we come together to witness just that. Two lovers deciding to walk the rest of their road together, with honest hearts, with perfect trust, with eternal love. Alfred, do you have Arthur's ring?" Roma asked. Feeling a bit teary eyed, Alfred nodded and turned to Matthew, who offered him the simple, platinum band. With trembling hands, Alfred slid on the ring. He was shaking not so much because of the ring ceremony, but because of what he knew was coming next.

"With this r-ring, I promise to love you. I promise to remember how cute I think you are, even when you get on my nerves. I promise to respect you, but we both know sometimes I can get a bit cheeky. You know what I need when I get like that," Alfred said, causing Arthur to blush and and a few guests to smile knowingly. "I promise to be honest with you. I promise to let you know what I need, so we don't break down. I promise to be faithful to you always, and to never eat the last of the bread pudding, because I know how much you love that stuff...and...yeah. That's it," Alfred said with a nervous smile. Arthur laughed a bit and smiled at the perfect fit of the ring.

"Arthur, do you have Alfred's ring?" Roma asked. Arthur nodded and turned to Ludwig, who offered him the golden band.

He slid it onto Alfred's finger. "I promise to respect you and cherish you. I promise to keep you safe and happy and loved. I promise to always remember that your free spirit is the most beautiful part of you, and I won't ever try to break it. I promise to stay loyal, and faithful, and ever true," Arthur kissed the ring on Alfred's finger, and averted his eyes rather bashfully, "...and, err, I'll try to nag you less during Saturday morning cartoons, since I know that drives you crazy."

"You're the best, you know that, babe?" Alfred asked lovingly. Arthur smiled, and waited for Roma to give him permission to kiss his groom senseless...but it didn't come.

"At this moment, Alfred has something he'd like to give to his groom," Roma said. Arthur blinked in surprise. Shakily, Alfred reached into his tux and pulled it out.

It was just as Arthur remembered seeing it last, when Ivan had so carelessly thrown it at him. The old leather was worn. The sapphire had long ago been pried out and likely sold off, but one thing was different. The broken lock had been removed, and the clasp had been fixed. Now, it was just a simple strap of plain, ordinary leather.

"Everyone knows this isn't a traditional collaring ceremony, because we aren't a traditional couple. You are my Dominant, and I am happily your submissive...most of the time. Usually these collars mean complete obedience and total and willing slavery. I can't ever be a perfect slave to you, not for real. So I had the lock removed. Now I can take it off whenever I want. That's important to me. But...it's just as important to me that I wear it, because I want everyone to know, no matter where I go, that I have a very special relationship with you, Arthur. It is a relationship of perfect trust. We both broke that trust a long time ago, when we were young, and stupid and cruel to each other. Now I want it to stand for our new future together. One of my renewed trust and faith in you, in all parts of our lives. You take care of me like nobody else could. You're good to me, Arthur. You know me now, probably better than I know myself. So, I'd like you to put this back on me, and this time, for all the right reasons."

Holding back his tears, Arthur undid the clasp and gently, delicately, collared Alfred once more.

With a broad smile, Roma started to say, "You may now kiss the—" but it was too late. Alfred had launched himself against Arthur and curled his legs around Arthur's slender but sturdy hips. Arthur grunted, and laughed, and staggered a bit under Alfred's weight, but he managed to give him a good first kiss as his husband before he left Alfred's legs slide back to the ground.

"Groom! I now pronounce you wed, collared, and whatever other words you can think of to mean blissfully and totally in love with each other."

There was loud applause from the guests, and catcalling, and cheering. Pictures were taken, more sweet words were exchanged, and the happy couple did all the things a happy couple does, including share bites of their wedding cake, and listen to toasts in their honor, and slow dance rather tiredly together at the end of the night.

"Well, babe, that's one challenge down—wedding complete!" Alfred said, resting his head against Arthur's shoulder.

"And what's the next challenge, pet?" Arthur asked, half-afraid to hear the answer. He should have been.

"Getting our toy box past customs and onto the plane, of course. It won't be a proper honeymoon without the whips and knives and the big plastic cocks."

"Alfred, love, I know it's terribly hard on you...but can we get through just one day without you trying to get me hard in an inappropriate place?"

"That depends. Is today gonna be the day that you finally just give in and fuck me here on this dance floor?" Alfred asked teasingly. They both knew they wouldn't—even a BDSM wedding had some limits—but the promise of payback glittered in Arthur's green eyes.

"Just you wait, Alfred. Soon I'll have you on that island all to myself, and not a soul will hear you scream," Arthur purred.

"I can't wait," Alfred replied with a kiss, ending their very first dance together as grooms on a very sexy note.

A/N: Hmm. I have issues with this one. It feels weird to me, like the transitions are too jarring. Maybe it's the end I don't like? The flash back to the present scene parts. Huh. The end feels way too sappy considering where they're at just a few pages before. When I repost it on my website (coming soon!), I'll likely add a lot more to this to flesh it out. But yeah! This is my stab at Whore!Alfred and BDSM all in one fic. It grew out of a request made by a lovely reviewer who wanted to see some non-con type stuff. I'm kind of awkward with non-con, so the whore thing was my solution to that. I dunno. Aside from fleshing it out, lemme know what I can do to make this better. Right now it just feels...not good, lol.

Notes on the BDSM aspects of the story:

Yes, I'm aware that the mentoring system I used here is not really in practice today. Nor would people pay someone else to "train" their lover. This was purely fantasy on my part, as I wanted to show that Arthur was a big part of the community without being able to have a slave because of his butthurt over Alfred.

Alfred is a lying liar face, and Arthur is a rapist! I don't like either of them! Yeaaaaah. No excuse for that one. I just felt that Alfred needed to have some serious emotional issues and Arthur needed to have this dark side to him that he can't always control, despite trying with all his might.

But you wrote collaring all wrong! Quite possibly. I did do research—even watched a collaring ceremony on youtube—but it seems kind of individualized to the couple. It's meaning also seems like it can be different things to different people.

Submissives are not whores! I tried to show my understanding of that distinction by showing Alfred contrasted to Matthew. Matthew and Gilbert probably have the healthiest, most typical D/s relationship in the fic. The USUK is pretty messed up.

You can not jack off, cum or fuck in a BDSM club. This is probably true. I partially based the club off a "hardcore" club in London, which had a strict alternative-only dress code and basically said "we don't allow masturbation...but we probably won't catch you." Since the club in the fic is very exclusive, I figured sexual acts would be allowed.