Beta: Sterling Dragonfly
Summary: Greg is unable to trust until he finds the perfect Master.
Warnings: Unsafe sex, BDSM, Kink, Angst
Disclaimer: CSI is the property of CBS Broadcasting, Inc. and Alliance-Atlantis Communications. Nothing was incurred in the creation of this fic other than a little amusement.
The voice teased at the edge of his consciousness, urging him to wake.
It tempted, but his mind so far preferred the soft blackness of sleep.
“Now, my dear Mr. Sanders, or I fetch the ice water.”
“L’dy H’ther?” he questioned. His eyes didn’t crack open, mouth barely moving around the dense fuzz.
“It’s time to wake. Further sleep will not cure your hangover.”
Greg blinked into the dusk-lit room and rolled over. The bed was comfortable but nausea made itself known with his movement.
“You will not be sick on my carpets,” Lady Heather ordered, watching him change colors.
Greg stilled, breathing slowly until his stomach had calmed. “What am I doing here?” he finally asked in confusion.
Lady Heather’s eyebrow’s arched in surprise. “You did know I monitor the community.”
It wasn’t really a question but Greg nodded. “Their reputation affects your business. I know.”
“Did you imagine I would not learn of your little contretemps?”
Greg frowned. “No, but…”
When he seemed not about to continue, she prompted, “Yes?”
“How did I get here?”
“You were very drunk, but I have need of you.”
His frown didn’t disappear.
“Do you not have tonight off?”
“I do, but…”
She waited until he finally muttered, “Nothing,” before standing, all business once more.
“Then clean yourself up and attend me in my parlor.”
As she swept from the room, Greg considered refusing and just leaving. However, he was loath to disappoint Lady Heather. While he had been disappointed in association with her, she had never let him down.
With a heavy sigh, Greg decided that a hot shower and aspirin would be just the thing.
Unlike last time, Greg was served his tea and crackers while kneeling nude at the side of Lady Heather’s chair. It was about all his still unsettled stomach could handle and he nibbled in silence.
“Are you finished?”
“Yes, Lady Heather,” he replied, returning his china to the edge of the table.
“Then we have a matter of discipline to address.” She quickly continued, meeting his concerned features, “Not yours, my dear Mr. Sanders.”
Leading him through the ever occupied halls, they finally approached a closed door. Greg had quite forgotten how comfortable public nudity could be when one trusted their companion. It was quite a pity he felt no urge to belong to Lady Heather, for he’d never have to concern himself with his care.
They stepped through the door to an ominous silence, it closing immediately behind them. Greg was transfixed by the room’s only occupant.
Kneeling, nude, his hands wrapped the restraints that hung from the ceiling to enclose his wrists. Skin of an olive tone glowed with the signs of punishment already received across the expanse of his back between his shoulders and buttocks.
But what caught the eye was the mask.
An explosion of color and texture, it covered the full head from chin to nape. The style was vaguely reminiscent of the commedia dell’arte pictures Greg had seen in his required college humanities classes.
“The fool,” Lady Heather stated flatly in introduction.
“A master?” Greg questioned. He’d finally noticed the man’s only adornment other than the mask, a golden ring on his left hand.
“Oh, yes,” Lady Heather answered. “But not only that. Look closer,” she urged.
Greg stepped forward, his feet near silent on the floor. Still, he must have made some noise. He watched the muscles tense as he neared the man.
“Do you see it? The ouroboros around his personal sigil?”
Greg reached out, nearly touching. The body was unfamiliar. But did he know those hands?
“Yes, Lady Heather. I see it. He’s a Protector.”
“Yes, he is. A master, who through his membership, was charged to protect the Domain, the community, and himself from false accusations, rumor and innuendo. A fine job he has done of it previously.”
Of its own accord, Greg’s hand settled on that upraised left hand. The fingers twitched under his own, as if they resisted the urge to entwine.
“Then why is he here?” Greg asked softly.
Lady Heather tilted her head. “He has failed at the Master’s basic duty. He placed his own fears above the needs of his subservient.”
Greg frowned, looking down at his own hand that had begun to stroke comfortingly along the taut forearm.
“Then… why am I here?” he asked.
“Because it was you he failed.”
The words appalled Greg and he whispered, “No.” He paused only a moment before repeating, “No. It was no failure. I wasn’t good enough.”
The muscles under his hand quivered. The mask covered all but the sharpest edge of a hitched breath.
Lady Heather shook her head. “My dear Mr. Sanders, you are everything that this particular Master could ever wish for or desire. His failure, in letting you believe that your separation was due to anything other than a misguided fear of his own, has purchased him this discipline.”
“Please… don’t beat him on my behalf,” Greg pleaded.
“I would not beat him. He receives nothing more than the punishment he’s earned.”
“Then let me take it for him.”
The mask again revealed that the Master’s outer calm was a façade as another hitched breath leaked through.
“He has already received the majority. While it would hurt him far greater, you do not deserve his remaining strokes.”
Greg’s face fell, his hand clutching. “Please?”
Lady Heather answered with a short, sharp shake of her head. “You may hold him, if you wish, while he takes the final six.”
Greg nodded spasmodically. While Lady Heather crossed to a cabinet with the vicious clicking of her heels, he moved around and curled in front of the restrained Master.
For the first time, he blessed his spare form. It allowed him to shelter behind his sturdier partner. As he settled, tucked closely into the chest, he discovered what the mask had so far hidden.
Salty droplets fell from the bottom edge and slid down the man’s neck. The sobs were very careful, very quiet, but present.
Greg looked up, his face crowded with concern, when Lady Heather spoke. “Press your forearms to his chest and cup your hands around the back of his neck under the mask.”
He complied, feeling the breathing ease as his Master’s emotions steadied. “I’m sorry,” Greg whispered, still not convinced he bore no fault.
“Count for him, Greg,” Lady Heather commanded.
The whistling crack was imposing as the whip cut through the air. It landed with a snap and the body in Greg’s arms jerked with a grunt.
“One,” he said calmly.
“Two,” as it fell.
“Three,” resulted in the repeat of the grunt and Greg shuddered. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Four and five went quickly and Greg winced as he pronounced, “Six.” He soothed the sweat damp hair under his fingers and urged the mask to drop against his bare shoulder. It scratched and poked but Greg watched Lady Heather coil her implement.
“It is done,” she confirmed. “Penance has been paid for the lapse in commitment to the community and position. Thus, it is forgotten. Whether you forgive his trespass, Greg, is for you to decide.”
He stared at her before insisting, “Yes! Of course.”
“Yes,” he repeated, nuzzling the slick neck before him.
It had taken extensive reassurances by Lady Heather to draw Greg from the room. He finally followed her, glancing back all the while. When they’d returned to her parlor and she’d seated herself, he curled at her feet and pressed his forehead to her knee.
Her hand in his hair was meant to be reassuring. It only reinforced his longing to go back and provide succor.
“Thank you, Greg.”
He glanced up at the unexpected words. “Lady Heather?” he questioned, not understanding.
She cupped his face, serious in her consideration of him. “You taught that lesson far swifter than the pain would have.”
“But,” Greg hesitated, “he cried.”
“His tears were for your pain, not his own,” she gently rebutted.
From Greg’s face, it was clear he found this sentiment inconceivable.
Lady Heather frowned. “Despite his wavering, do you still want him?”
Greg ducked his head, hiding his burning face against her knees. His ‘yes’ was barely audible and she could almost feel his palpable shame at longing for someone who’d already rejected him.
Lady Heather resumed her careful petting of this skittish one. “I won’t let him harm you like that again.”
Reaching for his kit, Grissom pulled the skin over his shoulder tight and hissed in pain. He ignored the look it brought from his coworker on the interior of the scene and continued to work.
At least until she slipped her fingers into his shirt collar and pulled it back.
He spun around in outrage, but she had already perched her fists on hips ready to take him on.
“If it wasn’t Heather that put those stripes on you, I’ll beat the shit out of you myself.”
He ignored the statement and scowled. “We have a scene to process.”
But she didn’t waver. “It won’t be going anywhere while you explain letting your private life interfere in your work.”
Gil sighed, rubbing at the headache building just behind the bridge of his nose. “I’m trying not to let it.”
“Those are welts, Gil. That means you let someone take a whip to you until you could no longer stretch.”
Catherine's stint as an independent supervisor, not to mention her developing partnership, had made her a lot pushier. It seemed that answering her would be the fastest way to have this dropped.
“It was Heather and it had to be dealt with immediately. Which is why I’m working through it.”
Catherine’s eyes widened in shock. “What the hell did you do?”
When the scowl only deepened, she raised her hands in dismissal. “Fine, whatever. I’ll start on the outside, but you’re not going to be able to finish this by yourself.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Gil, there’s castoff on the ceiling. I’ll call someone.”
He turned back to his work with a grimace of distaste. Even Sara would be an improvement over Catherine in full grip of her curiosity.
“A beautiful woman calls and I respond.”
Catherine looked up from the bush she had been examining to stare questioningly at Greg. “You’re awfully chipper for someone called in on his day off.”
He smiled, shrugging with his hands to the side. “What can I say? Life has a way of surprising you.”
“Uh huh,” she responded doubtfully. “Well, life has pulled Grumpy’s back. So, if you would please go inside to assist him?”
Greg nodded. “Sure.”
It hurt to even consider reaching for that evidence. Grissom stared balefully at the ceiling and stepladder. Neither moved to cooperate.
“Where do you want me, boss?”
Gil had long ago mastered the art of not blurting out the first thought in his head. Thus, he managed not to tell Greg ‘naked at my feet.’ However, judging by Greg’s patient expectation, he hadn’t managed an appropriate reply either.
“You had tonight off.”
Greg’s face fell at the statement, some of his enthusiasm ebbing. “Catherine called me in. I’m okay to work, but…”
When Greg trailed off, Gil prompted, “but?”
Greg met his gaze with calm resignation. “Sir, I would understand if you didn’t want to work with me after last night. Say the word and I’ll request a transfer.”
That wasn’t what Gil had expected. “About last night…”
Greg sighed, waiting.
“Are you okay?”
He startled, surprised at the inquiry and lack of accompanying criticism. “I’m fine. A friend came to my place and helped me through some things.”
Grissom nodded, face blank. He’d have to find out what Heather had told the younger man. He’d at least expected to be questioned on why Greg had awoken at the Domain.
“Get to work. Start with the ceiling,” Gil finally answered, dropping the personal concerns for now.
End Part Five