The apartment was quiet when he woke up. As he glanced at the clock he realised that Wilson would have left for work over an hour ago. He felt a twinge of guilt. He'd been getting up later and later, but had always at least been up when Wilson left. Last night however he'd worked long into the night on one of the papers he had due, and then found it difficult to get to sleep. It had been the early hours of the morning before he'd finally managed it.
He rolled over and out of bed, one hand clutching at his thigh. The pain that had been so much improved since coming had become worse over the last couple of weeks. He sat on the edge of the bed massaging the area for a few minutes and then limped to the bathroom - a hot shower might help.
The pain was still sharp after the shower and his first cup of coffee. Wilson had left his meds out for him but they weren't making much of an impression. He spent a few minutes half-heartedly cleaning the kitchen but his mind was dwelling on the pain and he found himself going along the hallway to Wilson's bedroom and through into his bathroom.
He knew Wilson kept the breakthrough pain meds in here. The ones that he wasn't supposed to be giving a slave without the slave being in hospital. They were in an unmarked bottle.
He opened the top and looked inside; there were a good number of pills there. He'd never taken them without Wilson giving them to him before, but he knew Wilson wouldn't begrudge him. The pain was red hot now and all he could think about.
He quickly downed a couple of the pills and replaced the bottle. He left the bathroom as he found it and went out to the kitchen to grab another cup of coffee and sit down for a while.
He was quickly absorbed in his laptop, catching up on emails which had arrived overnight. Gradually the pills did their work, and the pain receded to a more manageable level. He sighed in relief and looked around.
The apartment was in severe need of a good cleaning. Since going to Mayfield and regaining his memories he'd spent less and less time on housework. After all Wilson had kept emphasizing that he didn't regard Greg as a slave. He didn't have to do anything he didn't want to - not anymore. He'd spent the last twenty years living a very rigid existence, with every minute regimented and supervised. Even 'free time' had been parcelled into small segments of minutes, and heavily constricted. Now the only set points in his life were the weekly visits to Doctor Nolan.
The sessions were difficult for him. Nolan insisted that they had to discuss all aspects of Greg's life, from his childhood through to his time in prison and the circumstances that put him there, and of course his slavery. Greg didn't want to think about those years. He felt humiliated by what he had become. As a child, and a young man he'd been rebellious, hating authority and escaping it whenever he could. As a slave he'd been meekly compliant, obeying without even the smallest of protests. He'd forgotten everything he had ever been. He hated what they'd done to him.
Having to talk about that time with Nolan was acutely painful. Those twenty years - especially the last few after the infarction that had crippled him and left him in pain - were a time Greg would rather forget. He did not want to relive them, and what they had done to him.
Wilson had saved him - quite literally. He'd brought him here, given him the cane that made his life so much easier, made sure he had food to eat, books to read, and the most important gift of all - time and freedom to be himself. Then he'd made it possible for him to regain his memories. All of that and he'd asked for nothing in return. Greg still didn't know why he'd done it. Greg had been a stranger to him, not just a stranger but a slave. The lowest member of society, worse even than the criminals locked in jail.
Wilson had said that he would never sell Greg, and never treat him as a slave. But Greg knew he couldn't be freed for another five years. At any time Wilson might become tired of living with him - of always having Greg in his apartment. He'd begun going to work earlier and coming home later, in the last few weeks. He was meeting up with Doctor Cuddy more frequently at night, leaving Greg alone. And all that had been happening since he'd stopped being the meek, dutiful slave he had been and started becoming more independent.
Maybe if he went back to being that slave things would go back to the way they had been. He couldn't afford to alienate Wilson. Sure, he'd spent his first twenty or so years of life pissing people off, but things were different now. It Wilson got annoyed at him he wouldn't just give him an ice bath, or suspend him from school - he could sell him. And one thing Greg knew for sure - he couldn't go back to being owned by somewhere like Rent-A-Slave - not now.
He went into the kitchen and began pulling out his cleaning implements. He'd give the apartment a thorough cleaning for when Wilson came home. And he'd make sure he made dinner today, one of Wilson's favourites.
Several hours later he was done and he looked around, satisfied. The apartment was spotless again.
His leg was hurting again after all the activity so he went through to Wilson's bathroom and helped himself to another couple of the pills.
Then he spotted the bag of dirty laundry in one corner of Wilson's bedroom.
Wilson was in the middle of a biopsy in the operating room when he was interrupted by a nurse, holding a mask over her face.
"Doctor Wilson, there's a call for you. It's the police."
He looked down at his patient on the table, he'd only just started the procedure. He couldn't stop now.
"Whatever it is it will have to wait," he said shortly.
"It's your slave, Doctor. They have him in custody and want to take him back to their station. They said they need to talk to you before they do."
Wilson was conscious of all the eyes in the operating room on him. He knew that the fact that he owned a slave was a hot item on the hospital's gossip circuit. It wasn't something he was ashamed of - he'd even brought Greg into the hospital regularly for his physical therapy appointments - but neither did he want his personal business broadcast all over the OR.
"Just get their names and numbers and I'll call them when I finish here. I can't leave." Wilson said. He was worried about Greg, what the hell had he gotten himself into? Why had he even left the apartment? Whatever it was it would have to wait.
The nurse nodded and left, only to return a couple of minutes later.
"I told them you were busy in surgery and couldn't come. They just wanted to know if his collar is set to shock him if he leaves the building. They asked me to find out."
Everybody was staring at him and Wilson felt himself flush.
He shook his head. "No, it's not. He'll be fine. Can you find out where they are taking him?"
The nurse looked disapproving. Running messages, especially messages about a slave, was not her job. But she nodded and went out. Wilson sighed and went back to the biopsy.
Wilson was lectured at the police station by the sergeant on duty.
"The slave's collar should really be set to restrict his movements. A small shock won't hurt him but it will keep him where he should be. Can't have them wandering all over the place. If it had been set properly he wouldn't have been able to go to the laundry - or any other place he shouldn't be."
"The collar sends an alarm to my phone if he leaves the building," Wilson said. "And he's easily trackable by the GPS chip in it. There's no need for anything else." He was impatient to see Greg and check he was okay. He was also furious at Greg. He knew better than this. Wilson had told him not to go down to the laundry again after that first time.
"I think your neighbours would disagree. They're the ones who called when he decided to wander down to the laundry."
"My slave should be able to do my laundry without being arrested." He hated referring to Greg as his slave, but that was what the sergeant would expect. "The neighbours shouldn't have called you in."
The sergeant nodded. "The by-laws of a private building are none of our concern but we have to intervene if any member of the public feels threatened by a slave. Your one looked docile enough when we got there. We would have just returned him to you but you weren't available."
"I was operating. I'm a doctor. I came as soon as I could."
"Well, there's a charge of $500 for the pickup and detention. Once you pay that you can have him back."
Owning a slave was turning into an expensive business. "I didn't ask for him to be detained," he pointed out. "He was perfectly okay where he was."
The sergeant shrugged. "That's the law. Standard fee if we have to come out and pick up a loose slave. Of course you could leave him here and contest it in court in fourteen days time. If you lose the case you'll be charged $200 a day for his accommodation in that period."
Wilson paid the requested $500.
"What the hell were you thinking, Greg?" Wilson asked, his voice tinged with irritation, as he got into the driver's seat of the car. Not only had he had to pay the fine, but there had been paperwork to be filled out before Greg had been brought out to him. Greg had been limping heavily without his cane but didn't seem harmed otherwise. His cane had been returned to him at the front desk. "You know you can't go to the laundry by yourself. I had to leave work early to come and get you."
"I was thinking I'd get our clothes clean. You didn't get it done on the weekend."
"Because I was driving you to therapy on Saturday and I had to go into the hospital on Sunday!"
Greg shrugged and slouched in his seat. Wilson was put in mind of a sullen teenager.
"Nobody was in the laundry room when I went there. I thought it would be okay."
Wilson started the car and pulled away from the kerb. "Well, it wasn't."
Greg shrugged again and stared out of the window.
"Is this the sort of thing you used to do? Just ignore rules because you want to?"
"Yep. Didn't you know - I was a bit of an ass when I was free. They don't put you in prison for being a girl scout."
"I don't know what's got into you lately. Is the therapy upsetting you? You don't have to go." Wilson wouldn't put it past Nolan to encourage Greg to rebel like this - he'd made his dim view of Wilson very clear.
"You want me to stop going, Master?"
Wilson held onto his temper. "No, I don't want you to stop going, unless you want to. I do want you to talk to me and tell me what is going on. You didn't used to be like this."
"You want your pathetic slave back."
"You were never pathetic!"
"I was too scared to move without you saying it was okay. All I did was clean the apartment, and cook, and hang on your every word. That's what you want. You want a good little slave who'll say 'yes,sir','no,sir' all the time."
Wilson pulled into his parking spot. He felt totally drained. He didn't want to fight with Greg like this. He didn't want to have to counter his ridiculous accusations. His work was hard enough; he didn't need conflict at home. Dammit, he'd done everything he could for Greg to make his life better - at a cost to his own life, and this was his thanks.
He got out of the car without saying anything else and waited. Eventually the other door opened and Greg got out.
They went back to the apartment in silence. In the elevator Greg stood apart from him, staring at the wall. Wilson noticed that his right hand was shaking, the cane trembling in his grasp.
Once they were inside Greg immediately stomped off towards his bedroom while Wilson headed for the kitchen. He heard Greg's bedroom door slam shut.
In the kitchen he stopped dead and stared. Greg had cleaned. Every surface was sparkling, like it used to be. There was even something that smelled delicious cooking in the slow cooker on the counter. It must have taken Greg hours to do everything. He'd done all this and then for some bizarre reason he'd then decided to do the laundry despite knowing that he couldn't. Wilson shook his head - he didn't understand it. He needed to talk to Nolan. He needed some help with this; he was out of his depth.