The Bargain (S2 Finale)

Season Content notes: con noncon*, pain play, sexual contact, trauma reactions, verbal assault, mind control, reference to suicide attempt, coming to terms with kink (badly), avoidance as coping strategy, unintentional emotional harm, NOT a HFN season ending, mind fuck

Mattin froze in the doorway to the lady’s office, too ashamed to face her. Finally, he forced his feet forward. One step at a time until he was before her desk. He dropped to his knees and prostrated himself. His throat was dry and wouldn’t work. Then he waited, praying she wouldn’t leave him there all day.

After what seemed far too long but was probably a few moments, she spoke. “Stand up.”

He stood but couldn’t raise his head. “I will not throw away my chance to stop my enemy because a fool boy let his fear run away with him. If you are willing to wear my collar, it will be returned to you.”

Mattin’s knees went weak with relief, “Thank you, Lady. I—”

“Quiet.”

His mouth snapped shut. He felt a chill of fear. “If I could, I would ban you from the glamourhame. Court makes that impossible. Instead, you will never again speak while in the glamourhame. If you do, I will gag you.

“You will never again speak to Jaffrey or any of my toys unless you are carrying a message for me.”

Mattin heard Brit stir, but the older man stopped when Jahlene glared at him. “You will never again speak of glamourhai in my hearing.”

“Yes, Lady,” Mattin whispered. It… he deserved all this and more. She had every right to place these restrictions on him… but…

It didn’t matter. The lady despised him now, and he couldn’t blame her. Jaffrey would feel the same… But he still had a chance to save Marta. And he had Brit, whose solid presence had supported him since the day he arrived here. Cook, Elose… he couldn’t walk away from them any more than he could walk away from Marta.

The lady had a collar ready on her desk. For all Mattin knew, it was the same collar she had ripped from him the day before. She didn’t give it to him but tossed it to Brit. The older man turned to face Mattin and held the collar up. “Does it matter what you want, boy?”

Despite everything, a faint smile tugged at Mattin’s lips. “Yes… Yes, sir.”

He reached for the collar, but Brit stepped forward and fitted the leather around his neck. It felt right. God and Mare help him, the collar felt right. “You’ll do, lad.”

After a moment, Brit stepped back and moved to his place at the lady’s shoulder.

“Clean up and return.” Jahlene ordered, “It will be a long day.”

“Thank you, Lady.” Mattin bowed himself out and headed for the washroom and a clean suit of clothes.

~~~

Jahlene watched Mattin leave and allowed herself a moment to bury her head in her hands. Brit had been right. The pain radiated off of him. How had she missed it? She had seen what she wanted to see—what she expected to see and ignored the rest.

She managed to hold steady during their interview—barely. But dear Dannu, she had never imagined hurting so much. Not since her mother died had anyone been able to strike her to the heart that way.

“I’m not sure that was wise, lass,” Brit spoke from beside her.

“It was necessary,” she snapped.

“For who? The lad’s near to breaking. In one stroke, you stripped him of the best source for answers and his closest friend here.”

“For both of us.”

Brit sighed and ran a hand through his hair, “Alright, lass. I think you’re making a mistake, but you do what you need to. Make sure you don’t destroy him in the process.”

“I’ll try not to. At least this time… this time, he actually wanted the collar. It’s more than I hoped for.” She heard the wistfulness in her own voice and squelched it. Keeping her distance would protect both of them. There was no other way.

~~~

Mattin tried to slip back into the rhythm of a normal day. The pattern remained the same as always. Only the mood changed. The lady treated him with cold formality; there was no conversation, no banter. Just orders and obedience.

Mattin tried hard to focus on his relief, his gratitude. The formality, the distance, the coldness hurt. But surely he’d hurt the lady as much, if not more. He didn’t want to make the damage worse by inflicting his pain on her. So he smiled and reminded himself how lucky he was. He brushed a hand along the collar, reminding himself how right it felt. Still, the hours passed slowly.

The rest of the household made it easier to be grateful through the long day. Gossip ran swiftly, and everyone in the manor would know of his disgrace. He expected a harsh welcome from many, yet when he passed Elose while running an errand, she kissed him on the cheek and told him she worried about him. Toerff, when he went down to the kitchen, clapped him on the shoulder and slipped him a pastry saved from dinner. Even silent Harth took a moment to grab his shoulders and shake him, saying “Don’t scare us like that!”

Cook said nothing but pulled him into a awkward bear hug.

He didn’t deserve their support and care, but he clung to it. Especially when he returned to Jahlene and faced, again, her cold distance.

Poor sleep, a liquid dinner the night before, and his hangover combined to make the day a misery. Sleep weighed on his eyes for most of the afternoon. After dinner, exhaustion and formality made his attendance on Jahlene’s bath almost mechanical.

She stiffened under his hands as he washed her hair, and his heart broke a little more. In the intimate setting, the distance cut deeper. When she was settled in her dressing gown, he requested permission to seek his own bed. For the first time since he started serving the lady Mattin wanted desperately to leave her presence.

As he crawled into bed, he called to mind his last memory of Marta. “I remember, Marta. You are the reason I’m here. I won’t forget again.”

~~~

Jahlene huddled in bed, remembering the acid bite of Mattin’s fear and desperation. His eagerness to flee.

She had tasted his desire for the collar earlier. Somehow, he craved her collar but wanted nothing to do with her. She would need to armor herself against him. As soon as possible, she’d move him to another part of the manor. Before they destroyed each other.


That… didn’t go well.

We’re going to give these two a desperately needed break and start Season 2 of Mighty Hero Force Epsilon next week.

There are certain rules a sentai team is supposed to follow. They’re supposed to have matching uniforms, and a theme. And they ALWAYS have a guide or mentor. Someone who gave them their powers and can tell them how to use those powers. Someone who tells them what their team name is supposed to be and the history of their enemy.

The rules have been broken. They have no team uniform, the have no guide. They have magic powers they don’t understand and an unknown enemy taking over random cities.

At least they get along, right?

As usual, the newsletter is ahead of the website, so if you want to read the first month of Epsilon now, go ahead and sign up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *