Chapter 1: The Change
Derek sat nervously at the Elder’s side, with the Elder to his right and slightly below him. He reminded himself that he was in charge outside of the bedroom, but ever since last night things had changed. Something had changed last night, something that he sensed couldn’t be changed back very easily. His entire relationship with the Elder had changed. He didn’t know how, exactly. He couldn’t put it into words. But it had changed and now he felt awkward in a position of power over the Elder.
When the Elder had teasingly suggested spanking him in repayment for him likely sleeping with Scott, Derek had laughed and agreed with a little hesitation. The Elder’s eyes had glittered in anticipation and he had stripped Derek in the privacy of their chambers, then gagged him – with Derek’s permission, after fully explaining that he would likely leave some marks on Derek’s body that would go away in an hour or two. Derek had again been a little hesitant, but he trusted that the Elder wouldn’t do anything to get himself kicked out as the Queen’s mate so he had agreed.
It built a trust between them, because the Elder was making himself vulnerable to Derek, something he had never done before. If the Elder did something he really didn’t like, Derek could just run outside and show the guards the marks and the Elder would be gone. But Derek wouldn’t do it, because he suspected he was going to enjoy it. And he had. Boy, had he. That had been the problem, and the cause of the change, in fact.
At first, the difference between the painful strikes and the pleasurable ones was like night and day, and he felt like he was drowning in pain until the Elder gave him the pleasure he needed to stay afloat. But then something strange started to happen. At first he almost didn’t notice it, but he couldn’t tell the two blows apart every time anymore. It was subtle at first, and then – suddenly – everything was pleasure. He cried out then, gagged, luckily, as every single blow, painful or pleasurable, brought his cock jerking against the Elder’s leg. The Elder slowed slightly but it really felt like he was drowning now, unable to tell what anything was, unable to find any balance, unable to do anything in a world where pleasure was pain was pleasure, and then the Elder’s hand tightened in his hair and tilted his head back and the reassuring gesture brought him out of the lake of confusion into awareness again, and he knew that the Elder had saved him.
The Elder had saved him and was still giving him pleasure all at the same time, heightening his sensation even while tightening his grip and keeping him from drowning. Derek gasped around the gag and suddenly a hand stroked his back gently instead of the strokes he had grown accustomed to. The Elder lifted him to the bed and whispered sweet endearments in his ear and he melted into them. He owed everything to the Elder. He belonged to the Elder. The Elder was everything to him. He would always be the Elder’s. It almost didn’t matter that the Elder had sex with him and finally let him cum; he already had been marked as the Elder’s.
They spoke briefly afterwards, just the Elder taking the gag off and asking if he was okay, kissing him, and urging him to clean off and go to his evening class. As if he would be able to focus on anything after that. And that night, after class, they had barely spoken a word, Derek had just snuggled against the Elder as if it were the most natural thing in the world because it was. He belonged there, and the Elder seemed to expect it as well. Where else would he go? Sleep way over on his side of the enormous bed? When the Elder was over here? No.
And now, looking slightly down at the Elder, he wanted nothing more than to cuddle into the Elder’s strong arms again but he knew he couldn’t. Only in the bedroom. It would be difficult, he knew, but he had to be in charge outside of the bedroom and the Elder in charge in the bedroom. They would make it work. Besides, he was genuinely curious to meet the new student who had tamed a dragon outside of the first year exam and who was, if rumor was correct, Jamie’s secret crush. Not his lover, because of Tarragon law, but certainly a threat to Scott, who was also here. The dynamic between the two of them ought to be interesting.
Scott and the newcomer, TK, were preceded by a loud murmuring in the council chambers as they made their way towards the dais. Some were probably greeting the two, and the rest gossiping to each other about them. It took very little to disrupt the council and get them talking. When the two finally got into view, Derek saw one of the possible reasons for the noise. TK was black, which was pretty rare in Tarragon society since Africa was essentially banned from joining. He had known that Jamie was trying to integrate more people into Tarragon society, including Africa, but he hadn’t realized that this might be a reason. Had Jamie’s relationship with TK influenced his views on who should be included? No, Derek thought. It was just common sense to include everyone.
He saw shock flitter across the Elder’s face, however, and the Elder turned to him.
“Are people like him common now?” he asked softly, so as not to be heard by anyone else.
“No, but they will be in the next few years,” Derek replied just as quietly.
He looked carefully but didn’t see horror or disgust in the Elder, just shock. Good. He didn’t know what he would have done if the Elder had been racist. A fair portion of the council likely was, so he was going to have to deal with it, but he didn’t want to have to go against the Elder. In anything.
It took several more minutes and Derek watched as Scott went slowly, introducing TK to several council members as he went and recognizing those council members as the most likely to be friendly to TK. How did Scott remember all of this? He had his own council in Portland to remember, but he remembered the loyalties of the one here too? His dragon probably helped, Derek thought. Scott and Narné seemed to be in one another’s heads far more regularly than he and Jettie were. He was a little jealous. It was true what Ashton had said all that time ago that his relationship with Jettie was not an especially close one. But it was the one he had, and he loved her more than life itself. He wouldn’t trade what they had for anything, and he wouldn’t change it.
He felt her nuzzle in his mind and smiled. She was asleep, she assured him, or she would be helping him more. She had been sleeping a lot since the mating flight, which Jamie said wasn’t unusual. It was yet another thing they had in common: they were both the only people in over a century who had successfully partnered with Queen dragons, and they depended on each for support and help raising their Queens. It was rare that Jamie needed his help, of course, but it had happened. They were pioneers, because all of the information on raising Queens was so outdated it had almost no practical value in the modern world.
Derek sharpened his attention as they drew nearer. He was close enough to hear now, and he listened as Scott introduced TK to a councilmember. TK had a beautiful voice. He was aware of Scott glancing over at him – no, not him, the Elder – and he tried to hide his excitement. He had permission to sleep with Scott, but did Scott have permission to sleep with him? Oh, technically Scott didn’t need permission, he knew that, but he also knew that Scott was unlikely to do anything without Jamie’s express permission. Would he dare ask Jamie? Would he dare lie to Jamie? Could he get around Jamie to get Scott into his bed? The Elder hadn’t quite gotten around to teaching him how to be a master yet, just a slave, so he couldn’t exactly overpower Scott, but he could seduce him. What did Scott want, and how could Derek give it to him?
Then Scott was before him, bowing, and TK was bowing as well. Derek gestured for them to stand.
“Queen Derek,” Scott said formally, “May I present TK, of the Portland campus, and his dragon Devon, waiting just outside. He requests permission to attend this school as a sophomore next fall.”
Derek was silent for a moment and let his eyes linger on Scott before shifting his attention to TK.
“Have you been attending classes in Portland?”
“So you expect to skip freshman year?” Derek asked, a little surprised. He had expected the student to be one who didn’t find an egg at the first year exam and come back for another shot in the spring, not someone who wasn’t even a student. But if Jamie had approved this, and he had if he had sent the student here, then Derek would allow it too. With some alterations to assert his authority.
“You’ll take the relevant classes over the summer,” Derek said, “As well as classes in dragon care tailored to your unique case. Then you will start in the fall with the sophomores. Councilmember Laura will show you to your quarters.”
Luckily, Scott had already introduced him to Laura and he left with little fuss, leaving the council watching him and Scott.
“Scott, you are welcome to stay as long as you like. How long do you expect to be here?”
“As long as it takes,” Scott said, though he didn’t specify for what.
Derek nodded, and ended the meeting, gesturing for Scott to remain where he was. Scott waited as the rest of the council left, some rather slowly as if wondering what Derek, Scott, and the Elder would have to talk about. But finally they were alone.
“I just wanted to clarify,” Derek said. “I am in charge of this campus, Scott. Elder, would you go back to our chambers?”
The Elder smiled. “Of course.”
Derek smiled in return. It was strange now, giving commands to him, but he knew Scott was worried about them. He led Scott out of the council chambers where a councilmember could easily be hiding and out onto the mountain, to a beautiful spot he had discovered a while ago where the stars twinkled and the grass swayed, and everything seemed at peace. Oddly, he didn’t feel at peace anymore, standing here with Scott, as if Scott’s presence were upsetting even though it wasn’t.
As soon as they stopped, Scott grabbed his chin. Derek flinched, but the man simply held him still and stared in his eyes. A look of sadness passed over his face.
“Did he break you, darling? Did that bastard actually break your spirit so quickly?”
Derek laughed nervously and pulled away, feeling like some secret had been exposed even though he knew it hadn’t. He would know if he had been broken, wouldn’t he? He would sense it. He would feel it. His thinking would change. He wouldn’t be the same person.
“Of course not,” Derek said. “You’re being ridiculous.”
Wasn’t he? He remembered the feeling of change that had overcome him, the feeling of drowning and being rescued, the irrational warmth he felt for the Elder now. No. They had shared an intimate moment, a moment where Derek could have turned him in for marks on his body, a moment of vulnerability, and because they had shared that they were closer together. That was all. It wasn’t like he belonged to the Elder or anything.
Yes you do, a voice whispered in his mind. It wasn’t Jettie. You belong to him.
Derek shivered. Did he belong to the Elder? Isn’t that exactly what he had been thinking earlier? That he belonged to the Elder? But that didn’t make him broken. If he were broken, he wouldn’t be able to make sense of things, and… well, he wasn’t doing a good job making sense of things right now, was he?
“Derek,” Scott said, wrapping his arm around Derek’s shoulders, “Fight it, Derek. You’re not lost. You’re too strong for that. I’m with you.”
A tear ran down Derek’s cheek. Why should he fight when it was so much easier to just cuddle the Elder and let the Elder take care of things? The Elder knew what he was doing. The Elder could do what was best. Why was Scott forcing this issue? Of course Derek wasn’t going to let the Elder do anything like kill dragons, so why couldn’t Scott just accept this?
Derek straightened his shoulders. Scott’s mouth set.
“I brought you here to talk about us,” Derek said.
“There could be an us, if you didn’t belong to someone else,” Scott replied.
Derek’s heart skipped a beat. Really? If he just pretended not to care about the Elder for a while, maybe a couple of days, then he could be with Scott? He would have to tell the Elder his plan, but that sounded excellent. He hesitantly touched Scott’s shoulder but Scott knocked his hand away. Scott kept his hand, though, and to Derek’s surprise he raised it to his lips for a kiss.
“I’m here for you, Derek, when you’re ready. Any time, day or night. Just come find me and I’ll help you with anything. I’ll defend you. I’ll protect you. I’ll do anything for you.”
A flood of emotions ran through Derek and for one clear moment, he saw the situation clearly, without the weight of that change hanging over his perception. Then that change was back and his thoughts were back to the Elder. He nodded and they both headed back to campus.