| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) is a Chrome extension that eliminates the need for endless browser tabs. You can search all your online stuff without any extra effort. And Sidebar was #1 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.

View
 

247

This version was saved 15 years, 8 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by PBworks
on December 17, 2006 at 3:32:55 am
 

Page too big to render

displaying source below

24/7

Author: NA8 Fandom: X-Files Pairing(s): Fox Mulder/Walter Skinner Warnings: BDSM Spoilers: none Summary: Mulder's need for ever more extreme thrills make him seek out the ultimate game player in DC - a mysterious top who is legendary on the BDSM scene, but Mulder must pay a high price to get what he wants. Nominated Category:
Best LoveSlave!Fic: Acted - TV & Movies
--- !Chapter 1: The Contract "A truth, still apparent, though disregarded, that things move violently to their place, but calmly in their place. To put it another way, everything has its right home, the region that suits it, and, unless forcibly restrained, will move thither by a kind of homing instinct." J. Winterson "Art and Lies" Part One: The Contract Mulder sat at the dark, oak table, his casual, relaxed posture belying his sensation of nervous anticipation. He wanted to appear calm, collected, in control of himself - in other words, an attractive proposition, not a wimpy basket-case. The room was tastefully furnished - just a table, and 6 chairs. No easy chairs, just the dining variety. There were some prints on the wall - nothing erotic - all so very sophisticated, and impeccably stylish. It was what he'd come to expect. He straightened in his chair, and flicked at his tie. An enormous mirror obscured the whole of one wall. He wasn't stupid - he knew that he was being spied on through it. Spied on, evaluated, judged. Mulder couldn't help himself - he began to fidget. This was a big moment - he really didn't want to fuck it up. Six years. Six years he'd been playing this game, and he was good at it. Damn good. They wouldn't find anyone better. He wouldn't find anyone better. If He was looking for the best sub in DC to play with, He need look no further. Mulder was here, and Mulder was that sub. No false pride - he was good, and he knew it. "Mr. Mulder." The voice rang out - sounding tinny over the microphone. Deep, dark, chillingly sensual. Mulder swallowed, and tried not to appear gauche by looking startled. He was a player, and a good one. He had every right to be here, in one of the most exclusive private clubs in DC, attending a meeting set up for him by the best players in the city. A meeting where he finally got a chance to present his case to Him. "You've gone to a great deal of trouble to track me down, Mr. Mulder. I'd like to know why." The voice was smooth, but the inquiry hid a hint of steel behind the polite façade. "Thank you for agreeing to see me, sir," he said, his tone carefully respectful. There was a pause. "Mr. Mulder, you've been pursuing me for over a year. In the end, it just seemed easier to see you in person than to keep evading you." "You've been evading me…? Why, sir?" Mulder frowned. "Etiquette, Mr. Mulder. I've been aware of your presence on the scene - who could fail to be? You've played with every top in the city." "There haven't been any complaints, have there?" Mulder asked, his voice holding a hint of challenge. "No. None. Except for the short-lived nature of your devotion…you have a tendency to consume your tops, and then move onto the next, Mr. Mulder." The voice sounded almost amused. "I didn't find any of them…interesting enough to stay with." Mulder shrugged. "And what makes you think that I'll live up to your exacting standards?" The voice snapped. Mulder hesitated. This wasn't going the way he'd planned. "I don't have exacting standards…I just…" He hesitated. How could he explain it? He'd been playing in this city for years, progressing from eager-eyed newbie, to experienced old hand, and the thrill was so transitory. "I need more," he whispered. "After each session I get the high, but it's becoming harder to reach, harder to sustain. I'm well trained - you'll find me exciting to play with." "The excitement isn't in question. The training is," the voice answered dryly. Mulder stared directly into the mirror, wishing he could see the man behind it. "Explain to me why I should bother with you?" "You're legendary. Everyone knows of your existence, but hardly anyone knows who you are. You're the best player there is…" "And you think that you deserve only the best?" The voice challenged. "Yes. No! I just meant…that I need something." Mulder's voice faded. He couldn't begin to put his needs into words, to explain the vast, gaping chasm he needed to fill. "You speak a lot about yourself, and your needs," the voice mused. "I'd address myself to you and your needs if you took me on," Mulder said hastily. "I'm a player, sir. I know how to please. If you accept me as your sub, sir, I'd do my best to please you, and I'd make you happy. Very happy." He glanced into the mirror with just a slight inclination of his head - a challenge, a promise, a hint of what could follow if this man would just say "yes." He didn't. "No, Mr. Mulder. You'd do your best to please yourself, and insofar as that pleased me, I'm sure I'd be very satisfied. Beyond that, I'd be left, as you clearly are, with a feeling of emptiness. Your offer is…unacceptable." Mulder sat down, feeling as if he'd been punched in the gut. "Please, sir…give me a chance," he whispered. "No." The voice was surprisingly kind. "You shouldn't have come here, Mr. Mulder. If I'd been interested in you, I'd have selected you myself, and you could have spared yourself this…humiliation." "Oh, haven't you heard? I'm a masochist. I thrive on humiliation," Mulder spat bitterly. There was a sound of a dry laugh from the microphone. "Masochism," the voice said. "Would you like the dictionary definition?" There was a pause - Mulder assumed it was a rhetorical question. "Masochism. Noun. 1. Psychiatry, an abnormal condition in which pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, is derived from pain or from humiliation, domination etc, by another person." Mulder closed his eyes, and saw himself hanging from a set of manacles, his body criss-crossed with the lines of his last master's whip. He re-lived the pain, the humiliation, the sheer breath-taking pleasure of both, and his cock responded by hardening almost immediately. "Does that describe you, Mr. Mulder? Do you view yourself as abnormal?" The voice asked, in an almost gentle tone. "No." Mulder snapped abruptly. "I know what I am, and I've come to terms with that." "Really? Shall I continue? 2. Psychoanalysis. The directing towards oneself of any destructive tendencies." Like coming here today, perhaps?" the voice commented, in a dry tone. "Is that what you do in your everyday life, Mr. Mulder? Do you court death and pain? Do you embrace your own suffering all too readily?" Mulder opened his mouth, and saw himself in a hundred different scenarios - jumping from trains, escaping bomb blasts, chasing after his lost sister - finding her - being rejected by her. He closed his mouth, and nodded, burying his face in his hands. "3. A tendency to take pleasure from one's own suffering - which, I think, is what you're doing right now," the voice laughed. "Mr. Mulder, let's start again from the beginning. Tell me your experiences, honestly. Tell me what led you from your first sado-masochistic experience to my door, and then I'll tell you whether I'm prepared to change my mind." Mulder sat up, his whole body shaking. He felt known - he felt as if this man knew and understood him, and it scared him. It reminded him of… "Phoebe," he whispered. "An old girlfriend - I met her when I was 18. She used to tie me up…and she was cruel to me. I found it…arousing." "Good. Continue," the voice ordered. "She did some great head fucks. She'd flirt with other guys to make me jealous - sometimes she liked watching me fight them, physically. I always won…except once." He broke off, stared into space. "What happened?" "She went off with the other guy. Spent the night with him - slept with him." Mulder clenched his fists. "The message went home loud and clear. I had to be the best, the strongest, to keep her. She was the prize, the top, and I was nothing. I existed just to serve her." "Did you find that arousing?" Mulder sighed. "Yeah. Oh god, yeah. I hated it though. I couldn't handle the insecurity. We broke up. I had some regular girlfriends for a while, and then I started working in DC. I…I couldn't forget Phoebe, so I found the BDSM scene. I only played with women at first…and then one day, the woman I was with gave me to this guy - made me suck his dick. It was supposed to be the ultimate humiliation…but I found myself enjoying it. Men are harder, stronger…the domination is so much more…total. I need to give myself up to that. I'm a strong person. I need to be owned by someone stronger," Mulder whispered. "After that, I sought out men. I've never viewed myself as homosexual, but I like being dominated by men." "I see." The voice was thoughtful. "I feel…out of control," Mulder continued. "That's what the appeal of this is to me. I can't control myself, or my life. There are things that have happened to me that are…well let's just say that I've diced with death for the sheer thrill of it on more than one occasion. I haven't decided whether I want to live. Every day I wake up wondering whether today's the day I'll die. It's an ongoing decision. I haven't chosen life. It's just what's happened. By default. Death might come the same way. With sex…with BDSM sex, someone else takes that decision away from me. They control me…and for a few hours I have some respite from that decision. I can't make it. I'm not free to. I belong to them." Mulder stood up, and glanced at the mirror, bitterly. "Well thanks for seeing me. Even if the favor wasn't returned," he said, "and for making me spill my guts. I hope it amused you." "It was…fascinating," the voice intoned. "You interest me enough to make me reconsider." Mulder stopped on his way to the door, and stiffened, then turned back, his heart beating too quickly inside his chest. "You'll have me? You'll take me as your sub?" He asked. "No," the voice said in a low, quiet tone. Mulder's whole body slumped. "I wouldn't consider taking you as a sub, Mr. Mulder. That wouldn't suit me, and it's hardly worked for you so far - as is evident. I will consider taking you as my slave though." "What?" Mulder strode over to the mirror. "You know what I mean, Mr. Mulder. You've been on the scene for several years," the voice chided softly. "I don't want to have you as a twice a week fuck. That wouldn't interest me, and it won't do you any good either. If you sincerely wish to play with me, then it would have to be a more…permanent arrangement - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." "What about my work?" Mulder asked incredulously. "I don't have a problem with you continuing to work - as long as you keep me briefed on everything you do. You would live with me though - I have special slave quarters - and you'd have a pager. I expect you to be available to me whenever I wish to make use of you - and in whatever way I wish to make use of you, from presenting your ass for a whipping, to fetching the groceries." "That might interfere with my job," Mulder murmured, wishing that his cock wasn't rock hard inside his pants. "You would have to ensure it didn't." The voice sounded unconcerned. "I prefer my slaves to have something interesting to talk about at the end of the day. I require my slave to be presentable, well groomed, polite, intelligent, educated, charming, and amusing. It's not an easy lifestyle, Mr. Mulder. There's no question of my slave sitting back and waiting for me to do all the hard work. I expect to be kept entertained, sexually satisfied, and generally looked after. You'll be my valet, chef and housekeeper - all on an unpaid basis - in addition to keeping my bed warmed." "Sounds like a tough job," Mulder commented. There was a dry laugh. "It has its compensations. You should think carefully about it before submitting yourself to any such agreement though. Sit down at the table, Mr. Mulder. I'll have my terms brought in, and then you can decide whether or not they're acceptable to you." Mulder did as he was told, wordlessly, his mouth dry. He was stunned by this turn of events. He thought he had known, when he first came here, what he was letting himself in for. He would charm this top top, this super-dom, and then he'd get what he needed, when he needed it - on his terms. Not anybody else's. He didn't like the way this was going at all…and yet…and yet his body was quivering with arousal at the thought of being so comprehensively owned. It was the kind of relationship he'd had with Phoebe, only without either of them ever specifying as much. The door opened, and a servant walked in. He was holding a piece of paper, which he placed in front of Mulder. Then he brought over a silver pen and an inkstand, together with a blotter, and placed them by Mulder's right hand. He left the room without speaking. Mulder looked down on the neatly typed parchment, and read: Slave Contract. 1. The slave agrees to obey and submit completely to his Master in all ways. There are no boundaries of place, time, or situation in which the slave may willfully refuse to obey the directive of his Master. 2. The slave also agrees that, once entered into the Slavery Contract, his body belongs to his Master, to be used as seen fit. 3. All of the slave's possessions likewise belong to his Master, including all assets, finances, and material goods, to do with as He sees fit. 4. The slave agrees to please his Master to the best of his ability, in that he now exists solely for the pleasure of his Master. 5. The slave understands that all that he has, and all that he does, shall now move from right to privilege, granted only as He wishes, and only to the extent that He finds useful. I have read and fully understand this Slavery Contract in its entirety. I agree to give everything I own to my Master, and further accept His claim of ownership over my physical body, heart, soul, and mind. I understand that I will be commanded and trained and punished as a slave, and I promise to be true and to fulfil the pleasures and desires of my Master, and serve Him to the best of my abilities. I understand that I cannot withdraw from this Slavery Contract. Signed: "Absolutely not." Mulder put down the pen, got up, and walked furiously over to the mirror. "You must be insane. I don't even know you - I haven't even met you. This is ridiculous." "Fair enough," the voice said smoothly. "It's been interesting meeting you, Mr. Mulder. Please close the door on your way out." "Fuck you." Mulder kicked the wall angrily. "My possessions? My heart, my soul…?" he floundered breathlessly. "I suspect that neither your heart, nor your soul, are areas that disturb you very much, Mr. Mulder. The part that caused you anxiety was, I suspect, your 'mind'." "It doesn't matter. You can't really own another person. It's crazy." Mulder thumped his head against the mirror, and stood there for a moment in anguish, leaning his head and forearms on that brightly polished surface. He needed this. He really needed this. Only he, and, he suspected, the man behind the mirror, knew just how much that contract turned him on. It was the ultimate thrill - to live in a state of constant submission. He knew his own nature all too well - he only ever feigned his submission during sex play, in order to get off on it. He wouldn't be able to do that under the conditions laid out in the contract. This was the Real Thing. It scared him. It excited him. A claustrophobic part of himself was already chafing under the idea of the restriction, even as his cock throbbed in anticipation of such ownership. Mulder looked up, into his own eyes, into the eyes of the man behind the mirror. "What about you?" He whispered at last, hardly believing that he was seriously continuing this conversation. "I see a lot in this contract about my obligations - what about yours?" He waved his arm at the piece of paper. "Good question." The voice sounded as if it were smiling. The door opened, and the servant came back in. He laid another sheet of paper on the table, and stepped quietly away again. Mulder returned to the table cautiously, curiously, hating himself for being so interested in this whole process. He had no intention of signing. He couldn't. And yet… Master Contract. 1. I accept this slave into my loving care and protection as his Master. 2. I will provide the physical and emotional necessities of life for my slave, and he will know my love as I choose for him to know it. 3. I will use my slave's body as I wish, such usage to be limited only by my responsibility not to damage either his physical or mental being. 4. I shall establish a clearly understood set of rules for my slave, and I shall enforce them in a firm but responsible manner. These rules will be for his protection as well as his discipline, and will - to the best of my ability - foresee every eventuality and control the most minute aspect of his behavior. 5. Within the self-imposed limitations above, I undertake to train and discipline my slave in a manner calculated to guide him toward a perfection of obedient submission that I know he can never achieve. In doing so, it will be my goal to reward his efforts by dispensing the punishment he requires and deserves. 6. I shall endeavor to provide for my slave's necessities of life, even in the event that I should die or otherwise be rendered incapable of caring for him. I have read and fully understand this Master Contract in its entirety. I agree to accept this slave as my property, body and possessions, and to care for him to the best of my ability. I shall provide for his security and well-being and command him, train him, and punish him as a slave. I understand the responsibility implicit in this arrangement, and agree that no harm shall come to the slave as long as he is mine. I further understand that I can withdraw from this Contract at any time. Signed: Mulder closed his eyes and leaned his head back, then opened them, and gazed at the plain, white ceiling, but he found no answers there. This Contract spoke to some need, deep inside him. The Master's contract spoke of caring, of punishing… of protecting him. The use of the word security echoed in his mind. He didn't feel secure, or loved, or cared for. He felt adrift. He wanted peace - would this contract give him that? "I see you get to end the contract whenever you like, but I don't," he commented bitterly. "There will be times you might be tempted to act in haste - and repent at leisure," the voice replied. "That's a saying usually used about marriage, not slave contracts," Mulder murmured ironically. More dry laughter. "If you're wondering whether there's a difference, trust me, there is. A significant one. However…" The voice was thoughtful. "I have no wish to keep an unwilling slave. If you wished to break our Contract, I'd listen to your arguments and treat them seriously - although I'd probably refuse your request. I have no legally binding hold over you - the laws of this land would uphold your freedom, except in regard to your property of course, which would be signed over to me. I might return it to you at my own discretion, if I terminated our contract. It is doubtful that I would do so if you chose to leave. In addition - if you decide to leave without my permission, then I wouldn't accept you back. I also suspect that you'd have to find a new playground. Nobody in this city would play with another man's property without his permission - and it's unlikely that I'd give such permission." "Dammit this is absurd! Surely you can see that!" Mulder pounded his fist on the table. "This is about sex, not everyday life. I cannot…I will not…give myself up to this." "No. I'm sorry. You won't ever find what you're looking for, Mr. Mulder, precisely because of that fact." "I'm not looking to become someone's slave!" Mulder protested. "No. I agree. However, in so doing, you might discover what you are looking for." The voice had a tone to it that implied a shrug. "Don't I even get to see what I'm letting myself in for?" Mulder questioned. "You've had a chance to inspect the goods - what about me?" "I think not. If you choose not to sign the contract, then I'd prefer for my identity to remain a secret. You came looking for me, remember. I don't have any obligation towards you." "What about negotiation?" Mulder asked despairingly. He always negotiated prior to playing. He and his prospective partner would talk about what sexual practices they enjoyed, and how far the top could go. He was so adept at them that he could talk easily on subjects some people might find highly embarrassing. It was standard safe practice on the scene - for good reason. "There is no negotiation. There's just the Contract," came the reply. "If you're my slave, I own you. There's no discussion about it. You have to learn to trust…and submit." "So, safe-words wouldn't be an option then?" Mulder asked, making a face. "That's right, Mr. Mulder. They wouldn’t," the voice replied dryly. Mulder paced around the room, thinking furiously. Shit, this man could be anyone - hell, it could even be that cigarette smoking bastard. Not that it would matter if he were. Mulder would just walk out, and not come back, if that were the case. So what if he couldn't play in this city again - at least he'd keep his integrity. And what, truthfully, was the point of playing here again? He'd been through every top, and yes, he'd consumed them, as this man had so accurately pointed out. He felt as if was spinning out of control, seeking ever more dangerous risks, more intense thrills…and this…this was the ultimate risk, the ultimate trip into the unknown, the ultimate thrill. If he signed this piece of paper, anything could happen to him. During a sex game he wouldn't have any control, or the buffer zone of a safe-word. He'd be totally, completely, at the mercy of his Master. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week… Shit, but this man reminded him of Phoebe. He seemed to have gotten into his head - he knew exactly the way to scare him and excite him, at one and the same time. "Yes," he whispered. There was a silence. "I said, the answer is yes, damn you!" He roared. "The pen is on the table," the voice replied implacably, clearly unimpressed by this display of temper. Mulder went over to the table, and sat down. He picked up the pen, and closed his eyes. He saw Scully's face in his mind's eye. She was frowning at him, yelling at him, asking him how the hell he could do something this stupid. He saw Skinner, standing over him, shouting at him - asking him why he'd risk his career over something so crazy. He opened his eyes again, trying to shut out their faces, their voices, their concern. How could he ever explain this to them? All he could hope was that this man he was giving his life over to was benign, and that somehow he'd keep him back from the brink of the dark abyss he walked. Mulder placed the tip of the pen to the paper - and signed his life away.
---
!Chapter 2: Five Gold Rings Mulder paced the room, anxiously chewing on a set of fingernails already bitten to the quick. It had been a week since he last stood here, a week during which he had done everything he had been instructed to do. He had complained that a week was too short a time to put his affairs in order, and arrange for his personal finances to be transferred into his Master's numbered accounts as he had been instructed, but his new owner had been adamant. "You should also view it as a cooling off period," his Master had said, his voice echoing around the room, and straight into Mulder's soul, sounding tinny, and distorted through the microphone. "When you come back here next week, if you've done everything as instructed, and if you still wish to proceed, then, and only then, I'll sign the Master contract. In your presence. After that - there's no going back." Mulder leaned against the wall, and tried to keep still. "No going back…no going back…" the words reverberated around his skull. He wished, profoundly, that this was all over. That his Master had claimed him, tied him up, dragged him back to his lair, and then at least he'd know whether he'd done a Good Thing, or a Very Bad Thing. All this waiting was making him insane. He'd been like a cat on a hot tin roof all week, driving Scully crazy, alternately fidgeting and sitting in a state of slumped lethargy. He hadn't been able to write up the two reports sitting on his desk - he'd just stared into space instead, rolling his new status around in his head. Fox Mulder - slave. Possession. Owned. Even Skinner had noticed his strange behavior and had asked him if something was wrong. Looking into his boss's concerned dark eyes, he'd wished for a moment that he did have someone he could confide in, someone who could save him from the consequences of his actions. He was paying the price for not trusting easily. In the end he'd brushed Skinner's inquiry off brusquely, and Scully hadn't even dared broach the subject of what was up with him. He was glad for that much at least. Soon it would all be over. He knew he was being a fool, but all the same he couldn't stop his head-long plunge into this unknown realm. He didn't own much, so he didn't care about the money. His father had left everything to his mother in his will, despite their divorce - maybe as some kind of recompense, maybe to punish his only son - Mulder didn't know. He had never understood his father. When his mother died, Mulder assumed he might end up a relatively wealthy man, but he wasn't at this moment in time. All he was giving up to his Master was a few thousand dollars. It didn't seem too high a price to pay for…for what? Peace? Mulder leaned his head back against the wall, and bounced it there - once, twice, three times, hating himself for the need, and berating himself for his stupid hope that he would find what he sought in this arrangement. That didn't stop him hoping all the same. He wondered idly what his owner looked like. It didn't matter, but he was still curious. He wasn't looking for love - he was looking to be saved from himself. "Mr. Mulder. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting." The voice rang out, breaking into his reverie, surprising him. Mulder jumped. He'd forgotten how deep and seductive that voice was, how it made his cock jump to know he was being addressed by his Master. "Do you apologize to all your slaves?" Mulder asked, raising an ironic eyebrow. That dry laugh rang out. "You're not. Yet. When I sign my part of the contract it will be a done deal. Until then…" "I'd like to get it over with," Mulder interrupted, his nerves frayed, and jangling. "I take it you haven't changed your mind then?" His Master inquired. "No." Mulder took a deep breath. "You got into my head and found some part of me I didn't even know existed. I've been walking around with a hard-on all week because of you," he said accusingly, his tone almost bitter. "My apologies for knowing my trade so well," the voice said softly, almost in commiseration. "Is the paperwork done?" "Yes." Mulder laid his briefcase on the table, opened it, withdrew a file and held it up. "Here it is. The sum total of my life - for what it's worth. And here's where you reveal this was all just a giant set-up to fleece me, and you take the money and run." Mulder tensed, almost expecting that to happen. "Don't be stupid," the voice chided. "You arranged this meeting through James Eckhart and J.M. Lucas, both high profile players with good reputations. Do you doubt their integrity?" "No. Maybe they might want to teach the pushy sub a lesson though," Mulder commented wryly. "There are other ways to do that," the voice reminded him. "And you won't be any kind of sub for much longer." The door opened and Mulder held his breath - but it was only the servant, who retrieved the file from him, and exited again. "Your personal possessions?" His Master asked. "In my car." Mulder shrugged. "The lease on your apartment?" "Put in the name of the company you gave me. Your company?" Mulder inquired, curious, wondering what line of work this man was in. He was ignored. "The keys?" "Right here." Mulder held them up, then, with a deep inhalation of breath, he put them on the table and backed away again. "This seems to be in order. Go back over to the table." Mulder felt himself chafing at the peremptory command, then caught himself and shook his head. Better get used to it… The servant had left a big white envelope on the table, with one word on it : Fox. Mulder suppressed a grimace. "Is there a problem?" His Master asked. "My name." Mulder shrugged. "I don't like it." "That's a shame. I've decided that will be your slave name," his Master told him, in an amused tone. "What?" Mulder turned and glared at the mirror. "A slave must have a slave name - bestowed upon him by his Master. Yours will be Fox." His Master said in a tone that brooked no contradiction. Mulder tried anyway. "Why Fox? That's my real name!" He protested. "Exactly," the voice replied. "Open the envelope while I check through these documents you've provided." Mulder stood there, quivering, hating being this much at a disadvantage, but finding it arousing at the same time. Finally, he slipped a finger under the flap of the envelope, and tipped the contents onto the table. Five gold rings, of varying sizes, slid out. The largest was a collar - wrought from real gold, thin and light, with his name inscribed on it in beautiful lettering, together with a tiny, perfect engraving of a fox. "It's thin enough to be worn under a shirt and tie. I expect you to wear it at all times - day and night," his Master said softly. Mulder swallowed, and ran his fingers over the smooth, cool metal. "It's beautiful," he whispered, a lump rising in his throat. Considerable care and attention had gone into making this collar - and he knew, without fastening it around his neck, that it would fit him perfectly. His long fingers moved over the other rings. One was mid-sized, but the other three were much smaller - two of them were identical. The third was slightly bigger, and much thicker. "If you're thinking it looks like a wedding ring, that's because it is," his Master chuckled softly. "Like the collar, you'll wear it constantly. You'll be punished if I ever see you without either of these symbols of my ownership." "I understand, Master," Mulder replied, bowing his head towards the mirror, thinking that he wouldn't want to be seen without them. They were both so exquisite. The wedding ring was simple, plain gold - shiny and new. Inside, his name was engraved again. F-O-X. Never had his own name looked so beautiful. "Thank you, Master," he whispered. "Society has its own way of recognizing commitment. It's important that nobody should think that you're available. You aren't," the voice said firmly. "No, Master." Mulder inclined his head again. "And this?" He held up the mid-sized ring, with a questioning, faintly amused eyebrow. "You don't need me to tell you what that's for," his Master chided. "And do I have to wear this all the time too?" Mulder asked. "Unless I remove it myself, or give you permission to do so, yes," his Master replied. Mulder fingered the cock ring. "I've never seen one in pure gold before." He shook his head. The cock ring was also engraved with his name, in the same ornate lettering. "And these?" Mulder played with smallest rings. "I like my slaves to be decorated," his Master said, his tone smooth, like honey. "Are you pierced anywhere?" Mulder swallowed hard. Nipple rings. "No, Master." He felt his cock hardening even more inside his pants. "We'll soon remedy that," his Master chuckled. "If I think it suits you, then I might consider other methods of decorating you - tattooing, maybe branding." "Branding?" Mulder echoed faintly. "If it pleases me, yes. These rings are all symbols of my ownership," his Master said, his voice almost caressing him. Mulder nodded - wondering how the hell he was going to explain the wedding ring to Scully. "In a moment I'm going to put the wedding ring, and the collar on you. Nobody but me can take them off you," his Master told him firmly. "If you remove them, then I'll punish you - harshly. The day I remove those symbols of my possession, is the day you are free to leave my service. Do you understand that?" "Yes, Master." Mulder bowed his head in awe. "Good. I'll put my cock ring on you later - in the privacy of your new home. Have you thought about this carefully, Fox? This is your last chance. Withdraw now, and I won't speak of this to anyone. You'll be free to go. If you proceed, then you'll belong to me - body and soul. There's no turning back after that." "I understand. I want…I want to belong to you, Master," Mulder said, fingering the collar, and the little picture of the fox. A deep sigh echoed through the microphone, and reverberated around the room. Mulder looked up in alarm. "Very well," his Master said in a low tone. "Lie face down on the floor, Fox, and close your eyes. I'll come and join you - then you can kiss my feet, and offer yourself up to me for collaring." Mulder did as he was told. He was wearing a tee shirt and jeans, so it would be easy enough for his Master to fasten the collar around his neck. Mulder shivered in anticipation, his whole body quivering with the need, the desire, to be this man's property, and to accept the tokens of his ownership. He laid his face against the carpet, and closed his eyes, stretching his body out, offering himself up. It took all Mulder's willpower not to look up as the door opened. He felt his stomach churn and clench, and he bit down on his bottom lip to stop it from trembling. His cock throbbed so much that it hurt. This was better than any game. Better and worse. Certainly more intense. Mulder held his breath as he heard footsteps, and they stopped next to his head. A boot nudged at his hand, and he shuffled forward, and pressed his lips against the shiny surface. He opened his eyes, and slowly raised them - seeing a pair of long, black boots. His eyes continued their slow scrutiny - up a pair of long, long legs, encased in black moleskin pants, over a thick black belt, with a classic, understated, shiny silver buckle, over a pair of slim hips, and a neat trim waist. His gaze lingered on the promising bulge in the pants, then moved on up over a broad expanse of chest, encased in a smooth, silky black shirt, up to a wide neck, and a firm jaw, over the contours of a handsome face, a pair of glasses, and behind them a set of dark, fathomless eyes… "Oh, fuck." Mulder put his head down on the carpet, and banged it. His whole body felt limp and useless, and his entire past flashed before his eyes. "You set me up," he croaked. Skinner didn't move. "No. You did that all by yourself," he replied. "Eckhart and Lucas. They contacted you. They told you I was heading for a fall. You just went along with it - to see how far I'd go. Oh, fuck. Is my career over? Is that what all this is about? An FBI agent entering into a contract of slavery with an unknown man. How fucking stupid is that?" "Very, I'd have said. I could have been anyone. You're in a very compromising position," Skinner mused. His boot nudged Mulder's chin, forcing Mulder to look up into those stern, dark eyes. "I know. I've been an idiot. You caught me. What can I say? Don't ask me why though. You know why. I told you why…" Mulder's voice trailed off, his heart beating so fast that he thought it would explode. How had this happened? To be caught, seen, exposed in this way? At the exact moment when he thought he'd found something, someone who'd force him back from the edge of the abyss, he found instead that he'd been tipped headlong into the dark. Mulder could have wept. "Yes. I know why." Skinner shrugged. Mulder lay there, still prostate at Skinner's feet. He couldn't move - he felt as if his entire body had been turned to jelly. "You went to such a lot of trouble to expose me for the fool I am." Mulder looked up at his boss through long, dark eyelashes. "The five gold rings were a nice touch." He glanced over at them regretfully. "Of course, I feel kind of cheated about the calling birds, french hens, and turtle doves, to say nothing of the partridge and pear tree, but I suppose that's too much for a guy to expect from his new Master, huh?" A small smile played around the edge of Skinner's lips, and he leaned over, put a big hand in Mulder's hair, and pulled his head back. Mulder gulped, as he found himself looking straight into those dark eyes. "Fox - what makes you think this isn't for real?" Skinner asked him. "Are you kidding? Uh…ow…" Mulder felt as if his hair was going to be pulled out by the roots. "The fact that you're my boss? That we work together? I mean, this has to be a set-up…right?" "Wrong." Skinner smiled. Mulder stared at him fascinated by the sight. He realised that he'd never seen his boss smile before - if this man was his boss. In these clothes, smiling, he exuded a completely different air - as if he was someone else. His teeth were straight, and white…all the better to eat me with…Mulder started to shake. "I'm sorry, all this has been a shock," he whispered. "I'm sure it has. I did try to spare you. As I said last week - I've evaded you for as long as I could, but you started to get too close. You've always been an excellent investigator, and it was only a matter of time before you found me. In the end, I thought it might be easier to try and dissuade you, without revealing my identity." "It's for real?" Mulder gaped. "You really are Him?" He asked, stunned. "Oh yes." Skinner shook him slightly. "And you really are persistent," he said. "So why this?" Mulder gestured around the room wildly, taking in the rings, and the contracts lying on the table. "Why the charade? Why the whole ownership deal? The contracts? What the hell did you want with my money? Were you trying to teach me a lesson?" "No." Skinner looked down on him. "I listened to your story, and I evaluated you very carefully, as I would any prospective slave. The deal still stands. You're mine. Signed and sealed." Skinner held up the Slave Contract Mulder had signed the previous week. "I told you if you wanted to pull out of it you could, but you kept pushing on. Now it's too late." Skinner let go of Mulder's hair, and strode over to the table. He picked up the Master's contract, and with a flourish of his hand, he signed it. Then he returned to where Mulder lay, boneless on the floor, and dropped the piece of paper on Mulder's head. Mulder gazed at the piece of paper as it wafted under his nose. He read it, and remembered why he had wanted it, then looked up at Skinner again. His boss, his owner, was holding the beautiful gold collar between his large fingers. "On your knees," Skinner ordered. "I think…I might have changed my mind," Mulder muttered, trying desperately to obey, wishing his muscles would do as he told them. "Why? Because it's me? I'm still offering everything I offered before," Skinner said firmly. "But we can't... I mean what about work?" "You'll be my slave - at work, at home, everywhere. Subject to my command, under my direct ownership. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Nothing has changed." Skinner told him. "But what about…?" Mulder flushed. He had a sudden vision of Skinner's big arms closing around his naked body, of the other man thrusting into him, overpowering, devouring…and he let out an involuntary moan. "Sex?" Skinner gave another of those truly wicked grins. "I told you - you're mine, boy. I'll use you when and where I like, as often as I like, or as little. You," he ran a finger down Mulder's forehead, over his nose, and then rested it lightly on Mulder's lips, "belong to me. Body, heart, mind and soul." He slipped the finger inside Mulder's mouth, and Mulder couldn’t stop himself sucking on it. Skinner laughed. "I rest my case," he said, withdrawing the finger. Mulder finally managed to make it to a kneeling position. He bowed his head, a thousand thoughts running through his mind, but at the end of the day nothing changed any of it. He still wanted this - maybe, deep inside, he wanted it even more now. Skinner was everything he'd ever had wet dreams about. He didn't know how it could work at the FBI, but he knew he had gone too far to stop it. This rollercoaster that he had set in motion wouldn’t let him off until the ride was over. And somehow, Mulder had the feeling that the ride was a long, long way from being over. Mulder placed his hands behind his back, and pulled his trembling limbs into some semblance of a submissive pose. "Okay," he said quietly. "You're right. I'm yours." He looked up into Skinner's calm eyes. The big man nodded, and opened up the hinge on the collar, then slid it around Mulder's throat. Mulder felt the cold metal caress him, gently warming itself on his flesh. It felt familiar - as if it had always been there. As if it belonged there. Skinner's eyes never left his as those big fingers adjusted the collar, and then snapped it shut. Done. A look passed between them, of ownership, of submission, of an understanding that went deep into their souls. "Your hand," Skinner ordered. Mulder presented his left hand, and Skinner took it. He caressed his thumb down Mulder's ring finger, then firmly slid the wedding ring into place. "Til death us do…" Mulder muttered. Skinner put a finger over his mouth, to shut him up. Mulder hung there, limply, his hand still held in one of Skinner's big paws. The moment stretched into an eternity. Brown eyes and hazel ones were locked as the commitment was made between them, and the contract sealed. Then Skinner laughed out loud, ending the moment. "Get up, slave," he ordered. "Yes, Master." Mulder scrambled to his feet quickly. All the blood raced to his head, and he swayed for a moment, wondering what the hell had just happened. Skinner walked briskly over to the door. He called the servant back in, and handed him the two contracts. "See that these are witnessed, and a copy placed in the vault, and then return them to me," he commanded. The servant nodded, and hurried to do his bidding. Mulder could understand the hurry. The Skinner he knew at work had always commanded his respect, and, occasionally, even his fear. However, this Skinner, this Master Skinner, was even more impressive. He lived this role utterly and completely. His body exuded a fierce grace, moving with the tightly controlled, muscled beauty of the panther. Mulder wondered how he had never seen it before. This was a man he could worship, and kneel before. This was a Master he could truly serve. Skinner turned back to him. "Take the other rings - and keep them safe. I won't be very tolerant if they get lost. Go to your car, and drive to the Viva Tower. Here's a garage permit. It's in your name." Skinner handed Mulder the card. "Wait for me there," Skinner instructed. "Yes, sir." Mulder did as he was told, collecting his briefcase, and scurrying from the room. ***** Mulder glanced at all his worldly goods in the back of his car. His computer, a couple of suitcases full of his clothing, several boxes of books. He would never, in a million years, have predicted that they'd all of them be moving in with Skinner. He drove slowly through the city, his body still shivering slightly from the shock of the recent events. What kind of a Master would Skinner be, he wondered? Kind? Cruel? Strict? Loving? What would he require of Mulder? And would it be more than Mulder could give? Mulder stopped the car, and considered turning around and heading to Alexandria, to the safety of his own apartment, and his old life, then remembered that it was too late for that. He couldn't, even if he wanted to. Skinner had the keys, he owned the lease - hell, he could even have sublet it by now. Mulder laid his head on the steering wheel, feeling trapped, scared, and aroused at one and the same time. Skinner…He thought of how good the other man had looked in his dark clothes, the shiny boots. He remembered that broad chest, the muscular arms, and the sheer power in the big man's body. Power that he would use to subdue Mulder. Skinner now had the right to whip him, fuck him, and do whatever he wanted to him, whenever he wanted to do it. Mulder glanced despairingly at the bright lights, shining in the dark city. He put his hand up to his neck, and traced the feel of the collar, light but implacable, against his flesh. It would always be there, reminding him of who and what he was, and who he belonged to. As he put his hand back down, he was startled by the flash of the gold ring in the dark. "How come, Mulder - how come that the very thing you want to run away from, is the exact same thing you want to run to?" He asked himself. Then he laughed out loud. "No choice," he muttered, shaking his head. "You don't have any more choices. You don't belong to you any more. You belong to him." Mulder started the car again, and resumed his journey into the unknown.
---
!Chapter 3: A Room with a View Mulder's new Master kept him waiting in the parking garage beneath the Viva Tower in Crystal City for over an hour. At first, Mulder sat in the car, his legs jiggling up and down, in nervous anticipation. Was Skinner going to take him straight up to his apartment and fuck him senseless? Maybe he would dive straight into a "scene." Or was he going to take a crop to Mulder's butt and try and instill some obedience in him from the outset? Mulder shivered, his cock in a more or less permanent state of arousal. In fact, his nerves were screaming from the sensory overload. He wanted this. He wanted this so badly it scared him. Finally Mulder got out of the car and did a few laps of the garage, trying to distract himself. By the time Skinner drew up in a sleek, black saloon, his erstwhile slave was a wreck. Skinner shot him a cool glance, and it was only through sheer effort of will that Mulder's knees didn't give way. "Follow me." Skinner beckoned with his head, and Mulder hesitated. Skinner turned, one eyebrow raised. "This is one of the first orders I've given you since taking you as my property - are you intending to disobey me already?" He inquired. Mulder shook his head, and hurried to catch up with the big man. "I was just wondering about my stuff, that's all, sir," Mulder said, waving his hand at the packed contents of his car. "Leave it. First I'll show you around, then you can get settled in," Skinner told him tersely. Mulder nodded, his throat dry. Signing those contracts had changed something fundamental between him and his boss. He didn't feel like he was with Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the FBI - he felt like a slave, trailing along behind his new and utterly formidable Master. Skinner stepped into the elevator and Mulder followed him. When the doors had closed behind them, Skinner handed Mulder a smart card. "This is a special key - it takes the elevator up to the 18th floor." "The 18th? But your apartment is on the 17th floor, sir," Mulder said, surprised. "Yes, it is, but your slave quarters are on the 18th floor. Nobody else has an elevator pass to that level except me, the apartment block's security, and now you." "Right." Mulder swallowed. "I, uh, didn't know." "There's a lot you don't know about me." Skinner treated him to another of those wildly sexual grins. "That's becoming evident. Master," Mulder observed dryly, rolling his tongue around the word 'master', his normally flippant personality struggling to re-assert itself. Skinner threw out a big fist, and thumped the stop button on the elevator. Mulder jumped. Suddenly his new Master was looming over him, his large body forcing Mulder back against the wall. "Let's get one thing clear," Skinner told his slave. "This is a completely different arrangement to that which existed between us before. What was acceptable to me as your colleague, and supervisor, is not acceptable to me as your Master. Your behavior towards me, both here, and in the office, will change, as of now." "Change?" Mulder echoed faintly, wanting desperately to reach out and hold onto the big man for support, to be folded into a pair of strong arms, and reassured. He despised himself for his weakness. "That's right. Now, you already know me, and have a certain way of dealing with me, so you're going to have to unlearn those bad habits." Skinner smiled, and then did something completely unexpected. He took Mulder's left hand in his own, and raised it to his lips, caressing the wedding ring with his fingers. "It might be painful - initially at least - but in the long term you'll feel much better for it," Skinner told his slave. He kissed Mulder's ring finger, his dark eyes never leaving his slave's face. "You belong to me now," he said in a low, throaty undertone that made Mulder's hard cock scream for release, "and I don't want you to ever forget it. Every minute, of every day, I want you to know that you're mine. You're not free, Fox, you belong to someone outside yourself. It's a new way of thinking, and it'll take you a while to get used to it, but we'll get there. Eventually. With perseverance." Mulder looked at him for several minutes, drinking in the authority and dark power of those brown eyes, and the seductive promise of Skinner's words, then he nodded. "Yes, sir," he managed to croak. "Good." Skinner stepped back, and pressed the button on the elevator again. The elevator doors swished open a few minutes later, and Mulder found himself on the threshold of a large, comfortable living room. It was impeccably decorated and furnished. There was a wooden floor in golden honey hues, and cream walls, with subtly tasteful lighting on the walls. Two couches and several armchairs took up the center of the room, and a large fireplace with a soft rug in front of it dominated one wall. Skinner put a hand on Mulder's shoulder, and ushered him out of the elevator. "This way." His Master walked down a corridor, and opened the door to a small, tidy room, containing a narrow single bed, a desk, and a closet. "This is your room. You can arrange your possessions however you like." Skinner shrugged. "I don't care how you keep your room but I do care how you keep the rest of this apartment - and the one beneath it." "Yes, sir." Mulder nodded, thinking it looked like a monk's cell. "The bell…" Skinner pointed with his head to a box in the corner of the ceiling, "is to summon you. Whenever you hear it, you'll come downstairs to address yourself to whatever I need." "Yes, Master." Mulder murmured, wondering what it would be like to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to have to rush to his Master's every summons. "Follow me." Skinner showed him an en-suite bathroom - equipped with a shower, and toilet. "The shower has a special nozzle." Skinner pointed to it. "Use it," he told Mulder, with a firm nod of his head. Mulder flushed slightly, and nodded back. He knew what the nozzle was for - although he'd never used one. "I like my slaves to be clean for me. If you show yourself incapable of keeping yourself that way, then I'm sure a few weeks of enforced enemas will help you learn." Skinner turned on his heel, and left the bathroom. Mulder stood there for a moment, taking several deep breaths and counting to ten to distract himself, before following the big man. Skinner walked further down the corridor, then paused outside a large, oak-paneled door. He removed a key from his pocket, placed it in the lock, turned it, and opened the door, ushering Mulder inside in front of him. Mulder paused… they were standing on the threshold of a huge room, with massive windows forming two of the outside walls. "It's like being at the top of the Empire State Building," Mulder breathed, going over to one of the huge windows, and looking down onto the street. "It's hardly that high," Skinner snorted. "I own the entire 18th floor, Fox. There's nobody above this level, and nobody overlooks this room." "It's like…flying." Mulder gazed, awe-struck, at the city spread around him, its twinkling lights reflected from all sides. The dark night outside pressed in, surrounding them with both blackness and starlight. The windows were so clear that it was as if he was standing outside, utterly enveloped by the night. He felt the warmth of Skinner's body, standing behind him, and the whisper of Skinner's breath on the back of his neck, making his hair stand on end. "It's beautiful," Mulder whispered. "Look up," Skinner suggested. Mulder did so, and took a sharp intake of breath: the central section of the ceiling was made of thick glass too, and there, framed perfectly in one of the windows, was a fragile crescent moon. They looked at it in silence for a moment, then Skinner turned, strode over to the other side of the room, and snapped the lights on. "Welcome to my Playroom, slave," he murmured. Mulder looked around in stunned silence. There was a sumptuous red carpet covering half the floor - the other half was in more functional linoleum, but he barely noticed the d�cor. The entire room was a fetishist's dream come true. There were spanking horses, sets of chains, interesting pulleys and ropes hanging from the wall and ceiling, and a padded upright whipping post in the shape of a cross. One entire wall was made up of cupboards. "May I?" Mulder placed a hand on one of the cupboard doors. "Go ahead." Skinner shrugged, a wide, amused smile on his lips. Mulder opened the door, and his heart skipped several beats: the cupboard was neatly arranged, scrupulously clean - and it contained several thousand dollars worth of the most exquisite bondage and discipline equipment that Mulder had ever seen. There was a row of leather crops, in varying sizes. Several floggers hung from a rack, ranging from the light suede variety, which Mulder knew barely hurt, and could reduce a man to sheer sensory bliss in the hands of a skilled top, to the heavy rubber variety which would have you whimpering in pain within seconds, and caused heavy bruising that lasted for days. There were paddles, canes, straps, long whips, short whips, bullwhips, and every single instrument of discipline you could think of. Mulder pulled open a drawer and discovered nipple clamps, cock rings, sets of fur-lined manacles, butt plugs, ball gags…so many instruments of torture, of pleasure, that it was like a kid being let loose in a candy store. Mulder found it impossible to resist the urge to reach out, and touch the beautiful array. "Ow!" He jumped, more in surprise than pain, as his hand was slapped firmly away. "You can look, but you must never, ever, touch without my permission," Skinner told him. "It'll be your responsibility to clean the toys after a session, under my supervision of course. You will not be given a key to this room. You will only come in here in my presence, or at my command. Understood?" "Yes, sir." Mulder whispered, still awe-struck. "Jeez…what's that?" He pointed to what looked like a set of loosely tied twigs. "A birch." Skinner reached out a big hand and massaged the back of Mulder's neck, proprietarily. "Do you like the idea of being birched, Fox?" He asked, his voice low and deep in Mulder's ear. "It's an interesting sensation - and very safe. You can use the birch over most parts of the body. It's light, and scratches, like several tiny, biting little stings. It's nothing like the heavier instruments. It has its own completely unique sensation." Skinner spoke like a true connoisseur, and Mulder would have been happy for his Master to rip his clothes off and treat him to a demonstration there and then. Skinner laughed out loud, as if guessing Mulder's thoughts. Mulder continued his examination of the cupboards. He saw a set of satin blindfolds, and a sumptuous silk shirt out of the corner of his eye, and was intrigued. Skinner's taste seemed to range from the purely functional, to the deeply erotic and sensual. Further inspection revealed another cupboard filled completely with costumes, boots, and other accessories. It was like finding Aladdin's cave, Mulder thought to himself. "I think I could spend all day in here, just looking," he told his Master with a deeply satisfied sigh. Skinner grinned. "You'll be spending several of your days in here, and your nights, don't worry," he replied. "You'll come to be grateful - when you're lying naked, and suspended in mid-air for hour after hour, that there are so many windows. It gives the sensation of floating," Skinner observed. "You're at the top of the world, surrounded by sky, and nobody can see your bare, tormented flesh but you, and your Master." Skinner's lean, powerful, muscular body was framed by one dark window, and the subtle lighting in the Playroom bathed and caressed his bald head. For a brief moment, Mulder was sure he'd died and gone to heaven. "You have to earn your playtime though," Skinner told him. "This place is designed for fun - although I won't balk at using its facilities for punishment sessions as well, which I'm sure, knowing you as I do, that you'll require." Mulder made a face, which Skinner ignored as he opened a door leading to a massive en-suite bathroom, containing the largest bath Mulder had ever seen in his life. A cursory look around revealed large quantities of lotions and oils, and a sizeable stash of condoms and lubricant. Skinner took a tube of lubricant and a handful of condoms and placed them in his pocket, ignoring Mulder's look of wide-eyed, hopeful curiosity. Then they both stepped back out into the Playroom. "All this…here, all this time, and I never knew," Mulder whispered. "How long have you been in the Lifestyle, sir?" "Personal questions won't be permitted at this early stage in your slavery," Skinner snapped, as he ushered Mulder out of the Playroom, and locked the door behind him. "In time, maybe, you'll earn the right to know, but for now, you have a lot to learn and focus on, and my past is irrelevant." Mulder begged to differ, although he didn't say as much. It seemed incredible to him that Skinner had been living in this place, with all this amazing equipment, and he had never known it - but then again, why should he? Skinner's stern, brisk demeanor at work, could be passed off as purely a necessity of his job. His boss had always been more than a one dimensional bureaucrat though. Mulder had always sensed there was far more than that to the big man - but he would never have guessed about this. On the other hand, who would have guessed about his own alternate lifestyle? Mulder's profiling mind longed to understand his new Master, to know him and understand him - to get a handle on him so that he could start to…control him? To manipulate him in order to get what he wanted? Mulder clenched his fists tightly - Skinner had already pointed out to him that he had an unfortunate tendency to consume his tops. Was he trying to do the same here? Was he trying to reduce his own fear at being under someone else's control by familiarizing himself with them and their methods? Wouldn't that lead straight to the contempt and emptiness that he had felt so often before? Didn't he in fact need the fear in order to get the high? Mulder found Skinner had stopped in the corridor and was waiting for him, his dark eyes seeming to see straight to the heart of Mulder's internal struggle. Mulder managed a wan smile, and Skinner turned and continued down the corridor. At the end, there was a set of stairs. "This is the back way down to my apartment. You can either use the elevator and knock on my door, like any other guest, or you can use the stairs. You have free run of both apartments, but the key to only one." Skinner said, jogging down the two flights of stairs, Mulder at his heels. The top level of the 17th floor apartment contained two large bedrooms, one with an en-suite bathroom, containing another huge bath. Another flight of stairs took them down into the living area of the apartment that Mulder had visited before. "This will be an important room for you." Skinner opened a door and Mulder surveyed the laundry room with a sinking heart. "You'll keep all my clothes laundered. You'll arrange for anything requiring specialist cleaning to receive it." Skinner gave his slave a firm look, as if doubting Mulder's capabilities in these areas. "You'll iron all my shirts." Mulder's heart sank even further as he remembered Skinner's taste for the most crisply ironed apparel. His usual rush job with the iron was clearly not going to be adequate. "You want me to spend my entire life ironing?" He grouched, reasoning that would be all he'd have time for each evening after work. Skinner fixed him with a dark stare. "Did I not make myself clear when I outlined the terms for your slavery?" He asked. "I seem to remember telling you that you would be my valet, and housekeeper. Maybe you're misunderstanding something here, Fox. You're my slave. You'll address yourself to my needs and my pleasures, to making my life run as smoothly as possible. The sooner you get your head around that concept, the easier it'll be for you - and the more rewarding trips to the Playroom we'll make. Understood?" Mulder swallowed down his resentment and nodded. "Good. Now, I suspect you're a disaster in the kitchen, yes?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. Mulder sighed. "Cooking isn't exactly my strong point," he agreed "Fine. There's a list of my favorite restaurants by the phone. Most of them do take-out." Skinner walked briskly back to the kitchen, and showed Mulder where everything was. "Eat whenever you're hungry - and make sure that we don't run out of basics, like bread and milk. There's cash for groceries in this pot. I expect you to take good care of yourself," Skinner looked at Mulder intently. "You swim and run?" "Yes." Mulder nodded. "Good. You'll continue to do that. I might arrange some special training for you," Skinner mused. "Now - I want you to get your stuff from the car, and settle yourself into your room. Later on, I'll inspect what you brought with you." "Inspect?" Mulder echoed, with a frown. "Your taste in ties is frankly atrocious. I'm sure we can dispose with most of them. I'll take you shopping and buy you the sort of clothes it would please me to see my slave wearing," Skinner informed him. Mulder closed his eyes, and leaned back against the wall, seeing every little part of himself being chipped away, piece by piece. He opened them again, to find Skinner standing close to him. "At first, it will be hard," Skinner whispered, his voice caressing Mulder's ear. "I'll make allowances for that. You're not trained as a slave - and you need a firm hand." Mulder's hard cock twitched at those words, and he longed to give it some release. Skinner seemed to guess his thoughts. His hand brushed against the front of Mulder's pants. "Another thing," Skinner whispered in Mulder's ear. "This…" he touched Mulder's cock lightly through his jeans, "...is mine. It belongs to me. You can only come when I give you permission from now on - so no jerking off in your bedroom, or the bathroom. I'll know. Trust me, I always know." Mulder felt as if he was no longer breathing - this turned him on more than anything in his life had ever done before. "Yes, Master," he managed to gasp. Skinner smiled. "I've found," he said, his fingers still lightly caressing Mulder's bulging cock, "that the hardest lesson for a new slave to learn is that his own pleasure is irrelevant. For that reason - this," he squeezed Mulder's cock hard, "won't be getting any release for quite some time. Pleasure is earned, and trust me, the rewards are worthwhile." Skinner's lips were so close to Mulder's face that he could feel them brushing against his skin and thought that, permission or not, he'd come then and there. "However, for now, you'll address yourself to my pleasure - and I'll make sure you're well used," Skinner said in that deep, sibilant, tone. "Yes, Master." Mulder moved his face, wanting to find those lips with his own, but Skinner caught his shoulders, and pressed him back against the wall. "You want to be kissed?" He put a finger on Mulder's lips. Mulder nodded, his eyes wide. "Well, those have to be earned too," Skinner told him. He caressed Mulder's bottom lip with his index finger, wet his skin with Mulder's saliva, then wiped the moisture off down the side of Mulder's cheek. Mulder swallowed, mesmerized. "Go and retrieve the contents of your car," Skinner told him, drawing back and getting down to business again. "Then shower, and come back down here for me to do a proper inspection." Mulder scurried to obey. He couldn't remember ever being so turned on his life. Everything Skinner said, everything Skinner did, spoke to some deep need inside him. He felt as if his very soul was being petted and caressed, and his body was so aroused it made him want to scream. Mulder sorted out his meager possessions, realizing as he did so that none of them belonged to him any more - they were merely granted to him by his Master. Now he understood why Skinner was spoken of in hushed whispers on the scene in DC. No wonder the man was legendary. He played this game better, with more sophistication, than any other player Mulder had ever known. Somehow he seemed to see inside Mulder, and to know that keeping him permanently on the brink like this, denying him his freedom, filling his life with tasks of menial devotion, dangling that fantasy room in front of him like a carrot…all of it worked. All of it made Mulder hotter than he'd even been in his life. He glanced down at his poor, stiff cock, so tightly confined in his jeans, wondering when it would ever get its release. Mulder took his shower, carefully avoiding his cock as he soaped himself. He examined the nozzle attachment on the shower head, and inserted it cautiously into his rectum. The sensation was curiously pleasing, as the warm water filled him then flooded out again. Mulder repeated the process several times, making sure that he was clean for his master. His whole body shivered in anticipation at the thought of Skinner taking him, bending him over, fucking him. His fantasies were those of domination - he was used to that, although it had taken him a long time to come to terms with that side of himself. Skinner…he could still barely get over the shock of discovering who his owner was. Could this bizarre arrangement ever work? He wondered what the week ahead would bring. He had booked himself a week's vacation from work on his Master's instruction, and he guessed that Skinner had done the same. What would happen to him in that time? What would Skinner do to him? Could Mulder ever truly accept the mastery of another man? And just how painful would it be finding out? He stood for a long time under that warm water, soothing himself after the momentous events of the day, then he dried himself, dressed, and walked down the stairs to where Skinner was seated in his living room. "Good. I was beginning to wonder where you were. Another five minutes and I'd have summoned you with the bell." Skinner held out a leg. Mulder looked at it questioningly for a moment, before realizing that he was supposed to pull Skinner's boots off for him. He knelt down in front of his master, and pressed his lips against the shiny surface of the boots, his hands caressing Skinner's long, lean legs through the leather. He removed the footwear, and then knelt beside his master again, awaiting further instruction. "I think it's time…" Skinner cleared his throat, and looked down into his slave's willing, hazel eyes, "...to examine my property, don't you?" "If it pleases you, Master." Mulder nodded, his stomach doing a wild flip. "It does please me. Stand up, and get undressed." Skinner leaned back on the couch, and watched the other man thoughtfully as Mulder pulled his tee shirt over his head. He sucked his stomach in, wanting to impress, and Skinner shook his head. "Fox - you're lean enough," he murmured. "Now your pants." Mulder took a deep breath, and shucked them off. He wasn't wearing any underwear, and his hard cock immediately stood to attention. Skinner didn't say anything. He just surveyed his new slave, looking him over, from top to bottom, up and down, then down and up, with excruciating slowness until Mulder was thoroughly unnerved. Didn't his Master like what he was seeing? Mulder couldn't believe that this was happening, that he was standing here, in the middle of this room, having his naked body inspected by his boss. He would never, in a million years, have predicted that such a scenario would happen, and yet, now that it had…it felt so right. "All right. Turn around." Skinner waved his hand in a circular motion, and Mulder did as he was told, presenting his ass to his Master, and clutching his buttocks together tightly, as the tension got to him. "Relax." Mulder heard Skinner get up, and then his bottom was grasped firmly in a pair of big hands. "Hmmm…" Skinner mused, kneading the flesh. Mulder's cock begged him for permission to come, and his mind firmly refused it. He wondered if this was a prelude to his Master having sex with him, and started to shake. "What's this about?" Skinner's warm body pressed even closer behind him. "My slave is trembling - is he scared of me?" "No, Master," Mulder replied. Skinner crossed his arms over Mulder's chest, and pulled him back against his smooth, sleek moleskin pants, and cool silk shirt. "The truth. You'll never be punished for being honest," Skinner whispered in Mulder's ear. Mulder took a deep breath. "I'm…scared of this, of us. How will this work? What about my job? Your job? The X Files. I can't give those up. I can't get my head around all this. Me, standing here as your fucking slave of all things, and, you, you being what you are, what I least expected you to be…and seeing me like this, exposed. I don't know what you're thinking, I don't know who you are…I thought I knew, but I don't any more…" "Ssh." Skinner's lips nuzzled against Mulder's ear. "I told you when I took you as my slave that I wouldn't make you give up your job. On the contrary. It makes you more interesting to me. As to who I am - I'm your Master. That's all you need to know." Mulder felt himself melting back into that warm, strong body, surrendering himself to Skinner's embrace. The heat of Skinner's body stilled his trembling, and he felt calmer. "You mustn't worry about things you have no control over. You made your decision, and now that moment has past. Your choice has been made. There's only one thing you need to worry about from now on. Do you know what that is?" Mulder swallowed, and nodded. "Pleasing you, Master." "That's right. Now, I'll ask you again - are you afraid of me?" Those arms held him tight, too tight to evade the question. "Yes." Mulder bit on his lip. "I don't know what you'll want of me, Master, and I don't know what you'll do to me. I'm worried that I won't please you, or that you'll harm me." "Good." Skinner's teeth nipped at Mulder's earlobe. "That's good, slave. I think a healthy dose of fear is good for a slave, but you know I won't harm you. I might occasionally hurt you, but that's what you want anyway." He gave a low chuckle. "I won't ever harm you though. You'll have to trust me to know the difference. Better now?" Mulder realized that he had stopped shaking, and nodded, then wished he hadn't as Skinner released him. He wanted to stay in that warm, safe embrace forever. Skinner turned him around again, and traced his hands over Mulder's chest. One finger lazily caressed a nipple, and Mulder moaned, and glanced up at the ceiling. His cock was leaking badly. Skinner ran his hand down over Mulder's flat stomach, and then over his long, hard cock. Mulder bit down on his lip, concentrating for all his worth on not coming. Skinner's hand grasped his balls, firmly, and held them, joggling them with his thumb. "Am I… acceptable to you, Master?" Mulder asked. "You're a bit skinny, and you need more definition in places, but you'll do." Skinner laughed, and gave Mulder's rump a resounding slap. He sat down on the couch again, and patted his knee. "Come here, Fox. Over my knee," he instructed. Mulder eyed him warily, wondering if he was about to experience his first spanking. "Why, Master? What are you going to do?" He blurted, then immediately regretted the question. Skinner's expression darkened, and he pointed insistently at his lap. "It's not a dialogue, slave, just do it," he ordered. Mulder nodded, and knelt down cautiously beside his Master, and then laid awkwardly over his knee. Skinner adjusted his position, and then ran his hands lovingly over Mulder's butt. "Relax." Skinner instructed. He continued the rubbing motion for several minutes, until Mulder started to loosen up, his body losing its tension. Then the caress stopped, and Mulder felt his buttocks pried apart. He looked around in alarm, and saw Skinner lubing up his fingers. "I need to see how tight you are," Skinner told him, and Mulder immediately tensed up. "I said, relax." Skinner gave his buttocks a sharp slap, and Mulder had to consciously open up his anus to his Master's probing fingers. "You're tighter than I would have thought. You've had anal sex haven't you?" Skinner asked. "Yes, Master…but…" Mulder hesitated. "Go on." Skinner's finger pushed deeper inside him, and Mulder gasped, enjoying the sensation despite himself. "I found it too uncomfortable, Master, so I didn't request this kind of attention very often…although…" Mulder trailed off, flushing bright red. "Although the idea of it really turns you on, and you love the way it makes you feel dominated," Skinner finished for him. "Yes, Master." Mulder agreed, gasping again, as another finger entered his ass. "Well, it was uncomfortable because you're tight, you're tight because you won't relax, and you won't relax because you never really submit, do you, Fox? You've never really given in, have you?" Skinner stroked Mulder's buttocks with his free hand, and Mulder nodded, feeling wretched. "We'll work on that," Skinner said cheerfully. "I'm skilled in using plugs, and you'll be pleased to know that I can keep an erection for a long time without much stimulation. In fact, we'll start work on stretching you tonight," he told his slave in a matter-of-fact tone, as if discussing the weather. "Okay." He slapped Mulder's butt again. "You can stand up." Mulder slid off Skinner's lap and back into a kneeling position, and Skinner handed him the lube and condoms he had picked up earlier. "Keeping yourself lubed up is your responsibility," he told his slave. "I won't do it in future. And remember that you must make yourself available for my use at any time, and in any place. I suggest you make sure you're always lubricated if you want to avoid the discomfort of a dry fuck." Mulder nodded, and took the lube. "Ditto condoms - your responsibility." Skinner gazed at his slave's still hard cock. "Hmm, what does it take to dampen that down?" He asked. Mulder gave a cheeky grin. "I usually find ejaculation works, Master," he suggested. "Good try." Skinner laughed. "But don't plan on coming any time in the next few days, Fox. I told you - your own pleasure has to be earned. However, I do want to put my cock ring on you, and I can't do that while you're standing to attention like this…I have an idea." He took hold of Mulder by the shoulder, marched him to the bathroom, turned on the shower, adjusted the temperature to cold, and thrust Mulder underneath it. "Ow, ow, ow!!!" Mulder hopped around under the freezing spray. "Stand still." Skinner commanded, and Mulder did as he was told, shivering dramatically to make his point. Skinner ignored him. After several minutes, Mulder's cock was still managing to hover at half-mast. Skinner glanced at his watch. "I'm impressed," he commented. Mulder gave a weak, apologetic smile. After several more minutes, the offending penis finally shriveled up and was pointing back towards the ground. Skinner turned the shower off, and handed Mulder a towel. "I'm going to retrieve an accessory that might come in useful. Run me my bath while you're in here. Then come back downstairs so I can put your ring on you." He glanced meaningfully at Mulder's cock, and Mulder shivered and nodded. He dried himself, then smeared lube on his fingers, and inserted them into his anus - Skinner's command on that subject echoing resoundingly through his mind. He resolved to lube himself whenever he used the bathroom. Mulder stared dreamily into space as his fingers caressed deep inside his body. He loved the feeling of being fucked, but the pain was usually too intense for him to bear. Skinner was right - Mulder only paid lip service to his submission. He was never truly open, he never truly accepted a top into his body, without resistance. Now he belonged to someone who intended to break down that resistance. It scared him - and aroused him. He wondered what time it was - late he thought, certainly well after midnight. He was exhausted after the day's events, yet still on a high. He wondered whether Skinner would fuck him tonight. A part of him wanted to get it over with, but another part was just so tired, he wasn't sure he could cope with it. Living on the edge, with the strain of constantly wondering when it would happen, was unnerving him. Mulder returned to the living room, fished the cock ring out of his jeans pocket, and went to kneel before his Master. Skinner slid the ring over first one testicle, then the other, before taking Mulder's cock in his hand. It immediately started to stiffen. Skinner raised his eyebrows despairingly, and Mulder shrugged helplessly. "Is it my fault if my Master is so damn hot?" He asked. "Flattery - it sometimes works." Skinner grinned, then brought the back of his hand down with a firm slap on Mulder's hardening member. Mulder yelped. "And sometimes not," Skinner said, taking advantage of the moment to slide his slave's cock firmly into place inside the ring. Mulder's cock started to harden again, and was painfully constricted by the metal. "That's better," Skinner commented approvingly. He picked up a smooth butt plug, that was lying on the coffee table. Mulder guessed that this was the object his Master had gone to retrieve. "Over my knee again." Skinner pointed, and Mulder obeyed swiftly this time. Skinner held Mulder's buttocks open with one hand, and Mulder felt the cool, hard edge of the butt plug as the tip was inserted inside him. He tensed up immediately. Skinner sighed. "You're really going to have to learn to open yourself up to me," he admonished. "I'm trying, Master," Mulder muttered. "Not hard enough. This is tiny - my cock is much bigger, trust me." Skinner stroked his hapless slave until Mulder relaxed, and then he swiftly rammed the butt plug home. "You'll have to grip it with your muscles or it'll slide out," Skinner instructed, "and that's unacceptable. You'll wear it until I remove it." "Just like everything else," Mulder muttered. Skinner laughed, and slapped his upturned buttocks. "Careful, slave. Smart remarks might get you into trouble," he warned, returning Mulder to the floor. Mulder got up, feeling the butt plug inside him. It was a strange sensation, but the plug was slender, and not more than vaguely uncomfortable. "Is my bath ready?" Skinner asked. "I would think so, Master." Skinner got up, and Mulder hesitated. "Master…" He bit on his lip. "Well?" Skinner asked. "Um…the other rings…?" Mulder quaked. "Ah, you're worried about the piercing." Skinner reached out a gentle hand, and caressed Mulder's damp neck. "Don't be. It'll be a beautiful ceremony. I'll make sure it's an experience you remember for a very long time indeed." He gently kissed Mulder's eyelashes, then his nose. "I can't wait to decorate these beauties." He tweaked Mulder's nipples firmly, squeezing them between thumb and forefinger, and Mulder gasped, his cock biting into the unfamiliar, cool metal of the ring as it hardened again. "But it will have to wait. We have other things to do first…and there are other ways to mark you." Skinner gave a mysterious smile, and, with one last tweak of Mulder's nipples, strode upstairs to the bathroom. Mulder picked up his clothes and followed him, uncomfortably aware of the butt plug inside him. He had to clench his buttocks tightly around it to keep it in place. "Don't get dressed," Skinner instructed. "I like seeing my slave's naked body, and as for the bath - it needs oil in it, and it's too hot," he said after putting a finger in to test it. Mulder nodded, and turned on the cold water, then dropped some scented oil from a bottle into the water. "Now, undress me," Skinner commanded. Mulder's heart thudded, as he approached his Master. He couldn't wait to touch that body, and worship his new owner. He had always been a good sub, but he had never felt like this before. The desire to please his Master was overwhelming. He stepped forward, and with shaking fingers undid the buttons on Skinner's shirt, then smoothed it carefully open. His fingers tangled in Skinner's chest hair, and lingered on the big man's nipples. Skinner smiled down at him indulgently. Thus encouraged, Mulder pressed his face against Skinner's chest, and licked him, and Skinner's hand came up and caressed his slave's thick hair. Mulder undid the solid silver buckle on Skinner's belt, and pulled it out of the other man's pants, then he moved on to the buttons, and finally he smoothed the soft, moleskin fabric down Skinner's long legs. He ended up kneeling at his Master's feet, where he helped him step out from the pants, and then removed his Master's socks. He finished by kissing each toe on those perfect golden feet. Skinner laughed. "You know some pretty tricks, but it'll take more than that," he said. Mulder nodded. "I know. I can give more." "Not more - you have to give me it all. Give me everything," Skinner whispered, running his hands over his slave's face. Mulder nodded, enraptured by the words. "I will. I can. I'll learn. I want to…so much," he whispered, knowing it was true. He reached out almost reverentially, and placed his thumbs under the waistband of Skinner's black silk boxer shorts, lowering them carefully over the other man's semi-erect cock, and easing them down to his ankles. Skinner stepped out of them, and Mulder sat back on his heels and worshipped wordlessly at his Master's shrine. Skinner's cock was beautiful. There was no other word to describe it. Thick, full, long, powerful, clean honey-toned flesh…Mulder couldn't resist burying his face in the other man's groin, and gently tonguing that resplendent cock, taking it into his warm mouth. Skinner sighed, and stroked Mulder's hair softly, then withdrew. "You're doing very well, slave," the big man murmured, and Mulder felt a curious sense of joy at the praise. "Kneel down in the corner of the room, and await further instruction." Mulder did as he was told, and watched as his Master stepped into the bath, his magnificent body settling into the warm water with a sigh. Skinner closed his eyes, and was still. Minutes passed, and Mulder feasted his eyes on his Master, devouring him with his gaze. Skinner's strength, even while resting, was so appealing. Mulder's gaze lingered on the other man's broad chest and hard pecs, the wiry chest hair, and firm, no-nonsense jawline. Mulder longed to have further proof of the man's ownership, to feel the condition of his slavery even more intensely than at this moment, kneeling here, waiting. He longed to be used, to have Skinner take him, make love to him, overwhelm him with his energy, his power, and his hard muscled body. Mulder couldn't believe that he was kneeling here, butt naked, in this agony of anticipation, waiting for his Master to notice him. It would have made a pretty hot scene, but it was real. This was his life from now on. He tried to get his head around that fact, but the throbbing in his captive cock tormented and distracted him. He had a mental image of himself, kneeling here, wearing three of his Master's rings. He glanced down at them - the collar, the wedding ring, the cock ring, and closed his eyes, imagining what the piercing would feel like, and loving the idea of wearing the final two symbols of slavery that his Master had given to him. Here at last was the escape, the release from everyday life that he had sought for so long, but would it, could it, last? Could he give up everything to Skinner as he had promised, and would his Master love him, and protect him, in the way Mulder craved? After about twenty minutes of silent devotion on Mulder's part, Skinner sat up. "Wash me," he commanded. Mulder scurried to obey. He picked up the soap, and ran it lovingly over his Master's body, delighting in being able to touch the other man. Then he used a washcloth to firmly remove the soap, stealing little kisses along Skinner's shoulders as he worked. His Master smiled tolerantly, amused by his slave's devotion. Finally Skinner stood up, and Mulder dried him down, and then wrapped him in his robe. "Next time, see that it's warmed," Skinner instructed. "Yes, Master," Mulder bowed his head, and followed as Skinner went to his bedroom. "Come here." Skinner pointed to the floor, seating himself on the bed. Mulder scurried over and knelt between his Master's legs. "You've done very well this evening. I know all this is new to you - but you'll learn," Skinner told him, caressing his face softly. "I think you've earned your kiss." He dipped his head down, and claimed Mulder with his mouth, his hard lips opening Mulder's, his tongue thrusting into Mulder's open mouth, tasting him. Mulder surrendered to the embrace, hanging helplessly between his Master's legs, holding onto his knees as the world spun around him. Skinner's kiss was an embrace, a promise, a caress and an act of domination, all rolled into one. Finally, after a thorough exploration of his slave's mouth, Skinner released him. "Thank you, Master," Mulder gasped. "You're welcome." Skinner ruffled Mulder's hair. "Now, let me outline a few more rules, Fox. I expect to be woken every weekday morning at 6 am, and every weekend morning at 9 am, with a cup of coffee, my newspaper, and a blow job." Mulder's eyes widened, then he grinned, and nodded. "I think I can manage that, Master," he said cheerfully. "I'm sure you can," Skinner commented dryly. "After coffee, I'll apply a little discipline - as much or little as I think you need to remind you of your status in this household." Mulder's cock rocketed into the air at that news. "We have a week to get you settled in. By the time we return to work, hopefully you'll be halfway trained. I expect there will be new trials and tribulations to face then, but we'll deal with them as they arise. That's all you need to know for now," Skinner said. He sat back and gazed at Mulder speculatively. "Now, I think want to feel my new slave's talented mouth again. Open my robe, and suck me." Mulder did as he was told, eagerly swallowing Skinner's hardening dick. It felt magnificent in his mouth - his master's cock, hard and strong, tasting of Him, smelling of Him. "Hands behind your back," Skinner instructed, leaning back with a contented sigh. "I want you to devote yourself to your task using only your mouth." Mulder did as instructed, enjoying the semi- bondage of holding his hands behind his back. He gave himself up to his devotion with his usual single-minded attention to detail, devouring Skinner's cock with his experienced tongue. He felt when Skinner was on the verge of coming, and looked up at his Master for further orders. Skinner made a small gesture with his eyes, and Mulder continued his enjoyable task to its conclusion, swallowing his Master's come gratefully. "Good, very good." Skinner stroked Mulder's hair as Mulder cleaned up his spent cock with gentle laps of his tongue. "Now, it's been a long day. I think it's time you were in bed." Mulder got up eagerly, and started to climb onto the bed, but Skinner laughed, and shook his head. "Your bed, slave. You have to earn the right to sleep with me." Mulder's heart sank. "Doesn't Master want to…?" "Make use of you? No," Skinner said firmly. "I'll decide when and where. Until then, you'll just have to wait, slave-boy." Skinner stood up, and clicked his fingers at the door. "Remember, the cock ring stays in place - as does the butt plug. All night." Skinner told him, a fierce look in his dark eyes. Mulder swallowed, and nodded. "Fox - I'll expect my wake up call at 9 am," his Master reminded him, his expression softening, and a smile creasing out the severity from his features. Mulder basked in the warmth of that smile for a moment, and then fled. It felt strange going to bed in his new room. Mulder lay on his back, thinking over the day's events. As a player, he knew that he had finally met his match. Skinner's refusal to sleep with him filled him with awe. The man was playing him like a musical instrument, denying him his pleasure, keeping him always on the edge. Nothing could have turned Mulder on more than being told "no" at this point. By being refused his Master's bed, he now wanted nothing more than to sleep in it. Whereas he had been apprehensive about anal sex, now he longed to welcome Skinner's beautiful cock into his body. The waiting, the wrong-footing, kept him permanently aroused. Mulder couldn't ignore his poor, aching cock any more. The cock ring kept him almost permanently erect, and he wasn't used to the feel of it digging into his flesh. Right now, he just wanted to come - as soon as possible. The fact that his Master had forbidden him to remove the ring was like a red rag to a bull; Mulder thrived on such rebellions. He went into the bathroom, and wrapped a cold wash cloth around his cock, until it was flaccid, then he took off the ring, and within seconds he was fully erect. He lay on his bed, jerking himself off, wriggling to maximise the sensation of the butt plug inside him, poor substitute though it was for his Master's cock. He soon tasted his sweet release, coming harder than he could ever remember in his life before, then he cleaned himself up, and put the cock ring back on. Skinner wouldn’t know. How could he? Mulder returned to bed, smiling to himself. He would use this situation to get what he wanted, but still retain his own control. Skinner couldn't stop him doing what he liked in the privacy of his own bedroom. Mulder had no intention of submitting beyond the level that gave him his own pleasure - maybe his new Master had met his match too. Feeling pleased with himself, he closed his eyes, and thought longingly of the contents of that Playroom, with its vast, wide windows looking out onto a world that couldn't look back in. Soon…soon…soon…
---
!Chapter 4: A Marked Man Mulder heard the alarm clock beep, and rolled over, ignoring it. The beeping didn't go away, so, with a sigh, he turned back, and opened his eyes…then sat up straight, suddenly remembering where he was, and, more importantly, what he was, and to whom. The clock told him it was 8.30, and Mulder was amazed that he had slept so well. Usually his nights were trials of insomnia, which was partly why he slept on the couch - at least that way he could flick through the TV when he couldn't get back to sleep. Of course, his unusually long slumber could probably be explained by the fact that he had been exhausted by the events of the previous day. Mulder felt a thrill deep in his stomach as he remembered everything that had happened to him over the past 24 hours. The gold rings, nearly passing out on finding that Skinner was his new owner, being brought here, that fantasy Playroom down the corridor, kneeling naked before his Master, being caressed by him, fondled by him…kissed by him. Mulder didn't usually kiss his tops, nor did he expect them to kiss him. This was different though - this was someone who had known him for years, unlike the usual ships that pass in the night scenario that had been the more usual pattern of his sexual relationships. This was…this was more like it had been with Phoebe. Mulder bit down on his lip. That had ended badly - would the same problems occur this time, in this…could he honestly call it a relationship? Mulder got up, and noticed that the butt plug had fallen out in the middle of the night. He retrieved it and washed it, then took a shower, making sure he cleaned himself thoroughly, inside and out, wondering whether Skinner would put him out of his misery today, and use him in the way he wanted to be used. Afterwards he lubed himself up, and carefully inserted the plug again. Skinner wouldn't know, and anyway, how could Mulder be expected to keep the damn thing in when he was asleep? He glanced at the clock again. 8:50. Mulder scrambled into his sweatpants and a tee-shirt, and ran downstairs, barefoot, trying not to make too much noise. Skinner's newspaper was sitting outside the door. He retrieved it, made a cup of coffee for himself, and drank it, flicking through the newspaper. Then he made a coffee for Skinner, and took it up to his Master's bedroom. It was 9:05, but Mulder reasoned that a few minutes here or there wouldn't make much difference. Skinner was asleep, his large, muscled arms splayed out on the bed. Mulder put the coffee and paper on the nightstand, and looked down on his sleeping Master for a long moment. Without his glasses, lying fast asleep, unguarded, Skinner seemed strangely different - somehow innocent, and much younger. Mulder gazed at him curiously, suddenly appreciating how much of Skinner's power lay not in his magnificent physique, but in the depths of those dark eyes, and the power of that rich, deep voice, that could send shivers up his spine. Mulder tingled all over in anticipation. He quickly removed his clothing, and slid under the bedclothes. It was warm and dark underneath, and smelled of his Master - it was a good smell; musky, and masculine, but inviting and arousing too. Mulder's cock was hard before he even located Skinner's. He got comfortable, curled up beside Skinner's groin, then gently flicked a tongue over his Master's sleeping cock, reasoning that Skinner would probably wake with a shriek of surprise if he went straight in for some deep-throating without any foreplay first. He heard Skinner shift, and mumble something, then the big man's hand appeared by Mulder's head and stroked his hair softly, and he heard little murmured words of encouragement. Duly encouraged, Mulder took the rapidly hardening cock in his mouth and swallowed it. He was good at oral sex - as a sub, it had been one of the main ways he had served his various tops, as he had rarely allowed them to penetrate him anally, after a couple of painful experiences. Mulder sucked Skinner's cock gently, then squeezed the tip between his tongue, and the roof of his mouth. Skinner's hand increased its stroking motion on Mulder's hair so he guessed the big man was enjoying this move. Mulder took even more of the cock in his mouth - Skinner was so big that he hoped he could bring him off quickly, or he'd have a sore jaw all day. Luckily, Skinner was happy to oblige, and a few minutes of hard, but entirely pleasurable work on Mulder's part, brought the desired result. Mulder swallowed Skinner's come, then cleaned the other man up, before wriggling up the bed, and poking his head out of the top of the sheets. "Good morning, Master." He grinned. "I trust it is a good morning." He licked his lips pointedly, tasting Skinner's come on them. Skinner shook his head, and gave a deep laugh. "Yes, slave - a very good morning. Thank you." He sat up, picked up his coffee, sipped it, and glanced at the clock. "However, when I say 9, I mean 9. Not 8:58, or 9:05. Understood?" He asked. Mulder pouted. "Sorry, Master," he muttered, privately thinking Skinner was making a big fuss about nothing. "And next time - wear slippers, or socks when you're running around first thing in the morning. Your feet are freezing." "Yes, Master," Mulder murmured, feeling somewhat crushed. "And as for this newspaper." Skinner held it up with a frown. "It isn't ironed." "What?" Mulder gasped. Skinner grinned. "Just kidding. Your wake up call wasn't bad for a first attempt." Skinner tousled his hair affectionately. "One of your problems is bending the rules, Fox, just a little bit here and there, thinking it doesn't matter - but it does. I expect to be obeyed to the letter. The sooner you understand that, the easier it'll be for you." "Yes, Master." Mulder made a face. "Being a slave isn't easy, Master," he muttered mournfully. Skinner laughed, and reached out a big arm to pull Mulder close against his naked chest. "I know," Skinner told his slave with a theatrical sigh. "You do?" Mulder looked up in surprise. "Of course." Skinner's eyes looked different without his glasses - closer, naked, more intense. "Everybody is owned by someone - we're all slaves to something." Mulder's mouth opened in surprise. "Who owns you?" He asked. Who would dare…? He thought. "I have a very demanding, very beautiful mistress," Skinner replied. A woman? Skinner had a woman? Of course he did. Why did Mulder think that he would be attractive to a man like Skinner? To someone this big, strong, attractive, and self-assured. No, Skinner had just taken him as a slave to amuse himself and get all that damn ironing of his done. He didn't feel anything more for him than that. Mulder felt a stabbing wave of the most intense jealousy deep in his gut. He was appalled by himself - how had he gotten to feel this strongly in less than 24 hours? There was such a vulnerability for him in this situation. If it hadn't been Skinner, someone he already knew, and, if he was honest, liked and respected, then maybe he wouldn't be feeling like this. Mulder sat up, unable to control his emotions, knowing they were splayed across his face as obvious as if he had said them out loud. He had felt like this with Phoebe, and he could see the whole thing happening again. He was right never to get involved, never to have more than a few one night stands and safe, twice a week visits with a series of faceless tops. It hurt too much to be devoted to someone, and have that devotion thrown back in your face. Skinner was gazing at him intently. "Who is she? Where does she live? How often do you see her?" Mulder demanded. "She's called Wanda, and I see her every day," Skinner replied calmly, unfazed by the interrogation and the tone it was delivered in. "She has big green eyes, and long, elegant limbs. She's the most beautiful creature in the world, and she lives here. In fact, I believe you're sitting next to her right now." "What?" Mulder frowned. Skinner pulled up the sheet, and Mulder found himself looking down into a pair of sparkling emerald eyes. "Wanda." Skinner patted his thigh, and an exquisite cat emerged from under the bedclothes. She treated Mulder to a disdainful look, then padded onto Skinner's lap, and settled there with a contented purr. Mulder hated her on sight. Skinner rubbed her behind her ears, and Mulder glared. You will not be jealous of a cat…you will not be jealous of a cat…he repeated to himself, trying to get a grip. Skinner sighed, and pulled Mulder's head onto his chest, then rubbed him behind the ears too. "So, the little green eyed devil plays with your heart," he whispered. Mulder nodded, wretchedly, and arched his back, leaning into Skinner's caress. "I'm sorry, Master," he whispered. "Don't ever be ashamed of your feelings - just be honest about them," Skinner told him firmly. "I want to know how you're feeling. I'm not a mind reader - I need to know what goes on inside your convoluted brain, slave." Mulder moved his head, and gazed at the cat. She was very beautiful, with soft, creamy-colored short fur. "Is she a special breed, Master?" He asked. "Yes - she's a Burmese." Skinner carried on rubbing both his pets. "Wanda - that's a pretty name." "I named her after the character in Venus in Furs. I am Severin to her capricious majesty." Skinner gave a rumbling laugh. Mulder glanced up at him, a question in his eyes. "Haven't you read that book?" Skinner asked in surprise. Mulder shook his head. "Well then you must!" Skinner said firmly. "I'll give it to you to take to your room and I expect you to read it. How about The Story of O, and The Torture Garden? They're all classics of the genre, Fox." "I've heard of them, but haven't read them. I suppose I'm not very well read on these matters, Master." Mulder made a face, privately thinking that he'd learned all he needed to know from the top shelf of the video store. "Your education has been woefully lacking," Skinner lamented. "You will read all of them, and I want you to tell me how you felt after each one. Which aroused you, and why. What in particular worked for you, and what scenes raised strong emotions." "Yes, Master," Mulder agreed. It didn't exactly sound like a chore. "I did flick through something by the Marquis de Sade, once." He heard Skinner make a grunting sound, and looked up. "He wasn't on your list, Master." "Read him, if you want." Skinner shrugged. "You don't like his writing? I'm surprised." Mulder's eyes were alight with curiosity. "In many ways I suppose I view myself as a masochist…" Mulder began hesitantly. "Does Master not view himself as a sadist?" "No. Oh no." Skinner smiled, and traced a finger lovingly down his slave's face, and over his lips. "Not a sadist, no - I'm a sensualist, Fox." He said the word sensualist in such a deep, sexy tone that Mulder's cock leapt in response. He gazed at his Master thoughtfully, then settled his head back on Skinner's chest. "There are many great erotic poems, and novels." Skinner continued to play with Mulder's ears as he talked. "I'll introduce you to some of them, Fox. I expect my slave to be interested in more than flying saucers, and chasing after monsters. It's very easy to become totally focused on one area of your life, and neglect the many other sides of your personality. It happened to me once, and cost me dear. I won't allow it to happen again." Mulder's ears pricked up at that. "What happened, Master?" He asked, holding his breath. Skinner smiled and shook his head. "I told you yesterday - personal questions are not permitted at this stage of your slavery." Mulder fought down a wave of curiosity and irritation. He wanted to know what kind of man his new Master was, damn it! He wanted to reconcile the strict, no-nonsense bureaucrat he had always known Skinner to be, with the relaxed, inventive, and devastatingly attractive sensualist he had already found his Master to be. Mulder watched out of the corner of his eye as Skinner read his paper, and finished his coffee. The agent's cock hardened even more as he remembered what had been promised after coffee. Finally, Skinner put the paper to one side, and glanced down on his slave. "I see that you remember what I told you last night about our morning routine." He looked pointedly at Mulder's cock which was straining prettily within its gold ring. "Yes, sir." Mulder held his breath. He liked being spanked - but he had always decided when, where, what implement, and how many strokes before. There had been negotiation, and safe words - Mulder had, basically, always been in control. This was different. This time, his Master would decide, and Mulder would have no choice but to submit, to fully relinquish all control. The idea of it excited him, even as much as he feared it. "Kneel beside the bed," Skinner commanded, and Mulder scrambled to do his bidding, dislodging the sleeping Wanda in his haste. She shot him a look of utter disgust, and left the bedroom with her tail held high in the air in jaunty protest. "Every morning, you'll present yourself to me for discipline," Skinner informed his slave. "When you do you'll be humble, and contrite - or I'll certainly make you so during your punishment. I would therefore advise you to present yourself without attitude." "Yes, Master." Mulder muttered, his whole body tingling in anticipation. "Shoulders straight," Skinner ordered. "Hands behind your back, head down." Mulder did as commanded. "Knees wider - that's right, display your pretty cock for me. Good. This is the pose I'll expect to you to assume prior to punishment, or whenever you're being scolded." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded, wide-eyed. Skinner continued. "Sometimes I'll punish you for misdeeds and disobedience the previous day, but even if your behavior has been exemplary, you will be spanked every morning. This is to enforce in your mind the knowledge that you are subject to my will, that your position in this household is one of slave, and that you may be punished solely for my pleasure - for no other reason than that it pleases me to tan my slave's naked ass. I find it's a very successful method for focusing a slave's mind on his duties for the rest of the day, and most particularly on his status." "Yes, Master." Mulder bit down on his lip, seriously aroused by the idea. "On this occasion though, we have some real issues to address, don't we?" Skinner placed a finger under Mulder's chin and lifted it up, so that the younger man was gazing at him. Mulder's eyes widened. "M…master?" he stammered. "I've tried to do everything you asked, I…" "You've disobeyed a direct order," Skinner said firmly. Mulder racked his brains. "I don't remember, Master." "Then let me refresh your memory," Skinner told him curtly. "Last night, I told you not to remove your cock ring, and gave you strict instructions not to come without my permission. You disobeyed me." Mulder sat back on his heels, his open mouth in surprise. How could Skinner have known what Mulder got up to in the privacy of his bedroom? "I didn't!" He blurted. Skinner looked at him steadily for a long time, until Mulder began to blush, and couldn't hold that stare any more. "The punishment for lying is considerably more than for disobedience," Skinner told him. "Now, I'll ask you again - did you jerk off last night?" Mulder considered bluffing it out, then gave in with a sigh. "Yes, Master." He flushed bright red, and dropped his gaze, unable to meet Skinner's eyes. "And you removed your cock ring, which I specifically told you was to stay in place until such time as I chose to remove it." Skinner continued the interrogation in a cool, thorough manner. "Yes, Master." Mulder bowed his head, feeling a sense of awed anticipation. His first taste of discipline at his new Master's hands, and he was guilty of so many offenses! His butt ached already. "Do you have anything else to confess?" Skinner asked. "No, Master." Mulder shook his head, his stomach turning to jelly. Wasn't this bad enough as it was? "Wrong answer." Skinner gripped his chin firmly, and raised his head again so that Mulder was looking into those strong, merciless dark eyes once more. "That's two lies," Skinner said. Mulder remembered the butt plug, too late. "The plug fell out, Master. Please, I didn't do that on purpose," he said desperately. Skinner shook his head. "The first thing you should have done was tell me what had happened. I would have been lenient with you if you had done that. Instead, you've just made things worse." Much to his surprise, Mulder found that he was shaking. "How did you know, Master?" He whispered. "It's virtually impossible to hold that particular butt plug in place while you sleep - it's too slender and not the right shape." Skinner shrugged, giving a wry, wicked grin. "I wanted to see how honest you are - I can see that's another area we're going to have to work on. Tonight, I'll see that the plug is chained in place." "Yes, Master." Mulder looked at Skinner miserably, waiting to hear his sentence. Skinner gazed at him speculatively for a moment. "I was going to just use my hand, to get to know the feel of my new slave, and observe his reactions, but I see we have some serious work to do here, so I'm clearly going to have to be more severe than I intended. I will not allow disobedience or deceit to go unpunished - that's a lesson that you might as well learn early in your slavery, to save yourself considerable discomfort later on. I want you to go up to your bedroom, and bring me your hairbrush," Skinner ordered. Mulder bit on his lip, his stomach quaking. His hairbrush had a flat, tortoiseshell back, and he was sure it would pack a deadly smack. He got up, and walked towards the door. "Fox." Skinner called him back. "Take your clothing with you." The big man gestured at the sweatpants and tee shirt strewn on the floor. "For this next week, whenever we are alone together at home, you will be naked," Skinner said firmly. "I enjoy looking at my naked slave, and your lack of clothing will also help you to focus your mind on what you have become. I want there to be no doubt in your mind that you are owned, subject to your Master's will and whim. When this lesson is learned, you'll be allowed to wear clothing more often, at my discretion of course." "Yes, Master." Mulder picked up the clothes, and carried them back up to his bedroom. He was surprised to find that he was still shaking. This was getting serious. Every nerve-ending in his body screamed his arousal at the same time as making him tremble in worry about his own helpless lack of control. He was now scared stiff about the spanking, and berated himself every step of the way for trying to lie his way out of his predicament. Mulder dumped the clothes on his bed, and picked up the hairbrush, already hating the innocuous object. How the hell had Skinner known? Did he have eyes in the back of that bald skull of his? And how the hell was Mulder going to manipulate his Master if he was always going to be one step ahead? He had a sudden idea, and glanced up at the ceiling. He saw the box housing the bell in one corner, and got on the chair, and fiddled around with it, checking it for a hidden camera. He couldn't see anything, but it was the only explanation for Skinner's prescience that he could think of. He was busily examining it when it let out a loud chime that sent Mulder falling off the chair and onto the carpet in surprise. He realized that his Master was sitting awaiting his return, and cursed himself once again for knowing how to unerringly get into trouble. He grabbed the brush and ran back down to Skinner's bedroom, jumping the steps two at a time. The big man glared at him. "What did you do? Go out and buy a less painful one?" He demanded. "When I send you on an errand, I expect you to come straight back, not dawdle." "Sorry, Master," Mulder gulped, still none the wiser on whether Skinner had just guessed about him jerking off, or really did have a camera installed in his bedroom. He handed Skinner the hairbrush, noticing as he did so that his Master had placed several pillows on his lap. "Present it properly!" Skinner ordered, and Mulder knelt down, assumed the kneeling position he had been taught earlier, head down, shoulders back, and held the hairbrush out. There was a long pause during which Mulder was dying to look up, but he restrained himself. Finally, the hairbrush was taken out of his hands, and he immediately placed them behind his back as he had been instructed. "This will do very well I think." Skinner slapped the hairbrush against his hand a couple of times, making a resounding smacking sound. Mulder closed his eyes, feeling giddy. "All right - over my lap." Skinner pointed, and Mulder arranged his long body on top of the pillows. Skinner pulled him into place. "I'd make sure you're comfortable if I were you," Skinner commented dryly. "You're going to be there for quite some time." Mulder wriggled into a position where he could breathe easily. His butt was pushed up as if it were an offering - he felt as if it were sky high, with all those pillows under his thighs. Finally, he was still - feeling cushioned and warm, lying face down on the bed, across his Master's legs. He felt Skinner's hand on his butt, and tensed, but no blows were forthcoming. Instead, Skinner stroked his buttocks, kneading them, and occasionally pinching them. Mulder started to relax. Skinner took hold of the end of the butt plug, and pulled it out, placing it on the nightstand. Mulder relaxed even more without the need to keep the object clenched so tightly between his butt cheeks. "I'm going to save the hairbrush for after I've given you a good hand spanking," Skinner told him, in a low, sexy growl. "I enjoy feeling a slave squirm under my hand - I wouldn't want to deprive myself of that pleasure. Open your legs." Mulder obeyed, feeling exposed, his hole open and gaping. "Wider." Skinner's fingers dipped into his lubed opening, and Mulder gasped. "Relax." Skinner stroked him, soothing him, and finally Mulder gave in, allowing the probing. Then, with two fingers still inside his slave, Skinner gave Mulder's buttocks a light tap with his other hand, then another. He continued with the taps, covering Mulder's whole bottom, until it began to glow a light pink. "Good…this is a good color for you," he observed. Mulder made a face into the pillow he was resting on. His bottom felt deliciously warm, and he was all too aware of those two fingers still inside him. The taps morphed into harder, heavier slaps, and Mulder started to wriggle - increasing the stimulation of those two fingers probing his anus. The slaps picked up in pace and with them went Mulder's squirming body. "Master…" he panted, wanting some relief from the endless slaps, twisting against those fingers, every lunge from him causing them to thrust deeper inside him. "Yes, slave?" "Please…Master…" he begged. He didn't really want it to stop, but at the same time, he was both aroused and worried by the fact that he couldn't stop it if he had wanted to. The slaps were harder and faster now, and Mulder's cock was straining for release. He started to move his hips, to rub his cock against the pillows. "Remember, slave - you're forbidden to come," Skinner told him. "Yes, Master…" Mulder gasped, as the smacks got harder, making him howl and wriggle so much that he almost fell off the pillows he was rested on. "Keep still," Skinner commanded. He withdrew his fingers and pressed down on Mulder's waist to keep him very firmly in place. Now his hand covered every inch of Mulder's flaming bottom, hitting home with a series of resounding loud slaps until Mulder was crying out loud, sure that he couldn't bear the intensity any more. Then, suddenly, without warning, it stopped. "Now for the brush," Skinner informed him. Mulder tensed up, expecting a stinging slap from the hated object, but instead, Skinner ran the cold, smooth, tortoiseshell surface over his burning buttocks, cooling them. Then he began to tap, just as he had before, working into a rhythm that was light, and comfortable. Mulder's muscles turned to jelly as he lay there, accepting the caressing strokes. Then suddenly, without warning, the rhythm changed, and a powerful slap reigned down on his reddened flesh. "OW!" He cried out. This was far worse than anything that had gone before - this was real punishment. "This…" Skinner brought the brush down hard on his lower buttocks, drawing another anguished sob from his hapless slave, "is for disobeying me by removing the cock ring." He slapped down two hard strokes in succession, making Mulder squeal and squirm fruitlessly under his big hand. It was no use - Mulder was like a butterfly pinned to a board, his body pressed into the pillows by Skinner's superior strength. "And this…" Two more viciously stinging blows descended on Mulder's quivering, unprotected flesh. "Is for lying to me about jerking off." The slaps for lying came fast and furious, making that point very clear. Mulder was surprised to find tears running down his cheeks. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" he gasped. "Ow! I won't lie again." "Good. These are for the other lie - about the butt plug." Skinner delivered several more stinging blows until Mulder felt as if his whole butt was on fire. He gave up his incessant squirming, and just lay there, moaning and sobbing into his pillow. "These…" Skinner brought the hairbrush down smartly on the top of Mulder's thighs, and Mulder almost jumped out of his skin, "Are for jerking off." "You just punished me for jerking off!" Mulder protested. His protest was met by swats of even more force. "No, I punished you for lying about it. This is for the disobedience," Skinner told him, raining several more blows down on the tops of Mulder's thighs in swift succession. Mulder's sobbing started in earnest as the spanking continued. His tortured butt felt as if it had been blistered from waist to knee. "Please, please, please…" he moaned incoherently, the tears streaming down his cheeks. Then he was aware that the slaps were softer, dissipating into little taps, and finally they stopped altogether. Skinner wound down by repeating the warm up, his probing fingers entered between Mulder's twin globes of reddened flesh, his other hand gently slapping and tapping the tortured buttocks, finally ending by stroking them softly. Then Skinner dipped his head, and licked the hot skin, teasing it with his teeth, giving a series of gentle bites, before finishing with that part of Mulder's anatomy, and withdrawing his fingers. Mulder lay there, stunned. He had never been so comprehensively, and yet so lovingly, erotically, punished in his entire life. It had been hard to bear, but paradoxically he was glad that Skinner had made him bear it. He was dimly coming to understand what Skinner meant when he called himself a sensualist. "Lie there for a moment," Skinner told him, in a low, intense tone. His fingers continued to lightly stroke Mulder's hot flesh as Mulder sobbed his heart out. Skinner moved one hand to Mulder's sweaty hair, and stroked that as well as his butt. "Hush, it's all over," he soothed. "Hush, hush, little slave. You've been well punished, and your Master is very pleased with you for taking it so bravely. It was a hard lesson, but I'm sure you've learned it well. Hush." He continued to talk in that low, soothing tone, until Mulder's sobs finally dissipated, and then the slave turned his head to gaze at his punished bottom over his shoulder. "Is it blistered?" He asked tremulously. Skinner shook his head, and laughed. "It just feels that way. It's certainly a nice color though," he winked. Mulder winced as he caught sight of his bright red cheeks - but Skinner was right. The flesh was burning hot but entirely unmarked by lines. He was amazed. It felt so much worse than it looked! "I like the way you look when you've been punished," Skinner mused. "I like seeing signs of my ownership imprinted on your flesh. I think that a permanent mark will be necessary eventually." "B…branding?" Mulder asked fearfully, remembering what Skinner had mentioned previously. "Hmmm." Skinner considered the matter thoughtfully. "I think branding would work. Maybe a tattoo as well. Two marks." He gently tickled Mulder's balls through his open legs. "Not yet though. Such a mark would be a sign of great commitment. I could only go ahead with it as part of a deeper level of understanding between us. It's far too early to think of such a marking." Mulder's heart sank at that news. He didn't like the idea of experiencing the pain of a branding, but the idea of being permanently marked as his Master's property was curiously appealing. He wanted to be worthy of the brand, and worried that he wouldn't be able to convince Skinner that he was. "I do like the idea of marking you as mine though - and also of forcing you to remember, in these early stages when you're still very prone to forgetting, that you are a slave," Skinner mused, his fingers resting lightly on Mulder's warm cheeks. "I think that I'll keep you marked for a while to help teach you that little lesson." "Marked, Master?" Mulder asked, tremulously. "With a crop - or a switch," Skinner said. Mulder's stomach flipped. Both those instruments hurt - big time. "A couple of welts should help you keep your condition in mind, don't you think?" Skinner asked. "I don't know," Mulder replied, somewhat acerbically. Skinner laughed out loud. "I do," he said, slapping Mulder's butt heartily. Mulder yelped. Skinner picked up his paper again, and began reading it. Mulder gazed at him for a moment, then wriggled off the pillows, and slid up the bed, putting his head under the paper, and laying it on his Master's warm, furry chest. Skinner smiled, and looked down on his slave, then kissed his forehead gently. He put his arms around Mulder, and held him. Mulder lay there for a long time, still hiccuping occasionally, his butt throbbing. It felt so good to be held, and comforted. That had so often been lacking in his previous encounters with tops - not because they had not been willing, but because he had never let them. The endorphins kicked in, taking Mulder to some other plane. He was aware, dreamily, of his beating heart, of Skinner's beating heart, of the big man's chest hair scratching the side of his cheek, of the warmth of his Master's flesh, and the pleasing ache in his own buttocks. He sighed contentedly, and nestled closer. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Skinner pick up the hairbrush again, and he gave a little whimper, and held on to his Master's chest more tightly. Skinner shook his head. "It's okay, little one. I'm just going to do this…" He placed the hairbrush gently against the side of Mulder's head and began to stroke it through his hair, smoothing it. It was such a beautiful sensation, that Mulder began to bliss out. "Tell me…" Skinner murmured, his low tone not breaking the mood. "Who was the first person to spank you?" "My mom." Mulder sighed. "She just used to smack the backs of my legs though, when I was small - nothing more than any other kid receives, and she never spanked me on my butt. It didn't scar me for life or anything. My father never disciplined me like that. He was never there for a start, and when he was… well let's just say that he had his own special ways of making his disapproval felt," Mulder trailed off. "I can't blame them for me being like this - corporal punishment really wasn't a big feature of our household. Hell, I think I was just born this way," he said, with a big grin. "Not that I think there's anything wrong with it, everyone's got their own fetish after all, just that it's a pain in the butt sometimes - literally." He grinned again. "And as an adult? Who was the first person to spank you then?" Skinner asked. "Phoebe. Only she…" Mulder hesitated. "It didn't feel safe. The first time she did it, I thought I'd die from the pain. I'd fantasized about it for years, but the reality was different - it hurt. In my jerk-off fantasies, it didn't - I just had the concept of pain, not the reality." "Hmm, yes. The first time can be a shock - it doesn't sound as if your girlfriend handled it very sensitively," Skinner mused. "She told me I was a wimp for crying, but it just brought up all these feelings. I wanted to be…" Mulder stopped, and buried his head in Skinner's chest, but that gentle stroking on his hair continued. "Go on," Skinner's voice was soft, but insistent. "I told you - I want you to be honest." Mulder nodded. "Loved," he whispered. "She made me feel weak, and useless. I came to believe her too - all the things she said about me not being strong enough to take it, and not being good enough to be with someone like her. It was kind of the way my dad used to make me feel. That whole sense of being a giant disappointment to everyone." Mulder glanced up, and caught Skinner in an unguarded moment. The expression on the other man's face took him by surprise. There was something akin to fury reflected in those dark eyes. "I'm sorry, you don't want to hear all this crap," Mulder apologized. "On the contrary," Skinner replied, his expression quickly being replaced by the inscrutable mask he usually presented to his slave. "Continue," he commanded. Mulder nodded. "After we split up, I just sought out the pain - there didn't seem any point wanting anything more. I suppose I pursued the pain - I craved it, and then I skipped out as soon as I received it. The catharsis was reached, and I was cut loose, adrift. It wasn't the fault of my partners though…" Mulder looked up into Skinner's dark eyes. "It was me. I didn't wanted to get close, to be obligated, or known, but this…" He hesitated again, and Skinner's big arms squeezed him encouragingly, "this is different," he mumbled into Skinner's chest, feeling a lump forming in his throat, and tears squeezing from his eyes. He knew the tears were partly the aftermath of such a thorough and skilled spanking, but he was angry with himself. Usually he could get out before this mood hit him, but this situation didn't allow him to do that. He was forced to stay, forced to accept the comfort he had so long told himself he didn't require, because with it came obligation, and affection, and with that he was soon disappointing the very people he most wanted to love him. He tried to rub the tears away surreptitiously, but Skinner reached out two gentle fingers and wiped them away for him. "Forget everybody else. You belong to me now," Skinner told him, his tone so strict that Mulder looked up in surprise. "And I'm an exacting Master, Fox. I'll train you well, but it's a hard path." "I know, Master." Mulder nodded. "I want it, Master," he added. "Good. I'm starving - let's get breakfast." Skinner sent Mulder on ahead, while he took a shower and got dressed. Mulder mooched around in the kitchen, finding some cereal and laying two bowls on the kitchen table. Skinner appeared a few minutes later, dressed in a pair of tight denim jeans that showed off his long legs, and a tight white tee shirt, that did the same for his chest. He smelled of soap and toothpaste, and Mulder's cock showed its appreciation - something that Skinner signally failed to notice. "Does Master want me to feed the cat as well?" Mulder asked, glancing at Wanda who was winding her way around Skinner's legs in a none-too-subtle fashion. "Absolutely not." Skinner looked shocked. He picked up the elegant cat, and lovingly kissed her behind the ears. "I will serve Wanda, just as you serve me. We all know our place in this world." He bestowed another kiss on Wanda's delicate little nose and Mulder sighed, suspecting he'd always come second to the damn cat. "Of all the Masters, in all the world, I have to be owned by the one who goes gooey over a stupid cat," he muttered under his breath. He was immediately rewarded by a firm slap on his already sore butt. "Ow!" he squealed. "Then don't push me." Skinner frowned. "Now sit down, and eat." He took a seat himself, and watched as Mulder eased himself gingerly into his chair, wincing slightly as he did so. "I've never eaten naked and collared before," Mulder said, glancing down ruefully at his ringed cock. "Get used to it," Skinner told him, grinning. After breakfast, Skinner piled a mound of shirts into Mulder's arms and commanded him to get ironing. He was under strict instructions to present the first results of his labors to his Master for his approval. Mulder slaved over that shirt for fully thirty minutes, doing his best with it, but his efforts were met by a raised eyebrow from his Master. "Using steam might help," Skinner observed. "Steam?" Mulder repeated blankly. Skinner got up, took hold of his slave's ear, walked him back into the laundry room, and showed him how to add water to the iron. "Steam." Skinner repeated firmly. Mulder wondered at the miracles of the modern steam iron as he made a much more passable attempt at the shirt on his second go. Skinner still sent him back to put some extra effort into the collar but finally, after an hour, he had managed to iron one whole shirt to his Master's satisfaction. Skinner left him there for the remainder of the morning, and Mulder stared dreamily into space as he ironed on automatic pilot. He ran through that spanking again, his buttocks still throbbing pleasantly from the memory. Occasionally he picked up the shirt he was working on, and pressed it to his nose. He could just smell the faint scent of his Master, clinging to the fabric even after washing. Mulder inhaled - it was a clean, musky smell. He idled away a few minutes fantasizing about it being bottled in some way, for him to smell whenever he needed his fix. He was so spaced out that he barely noticed when Skinner returned to the laundry room. "Fox." Skinner waved at him. "Hello? What were you thinking?" He asked, when Mulder finally looked at him. "Oh, I was just wondering how the hell I came to be standing here, butt naked, next to an extremely hot object," Mulder said with a heartfelt sigh. "Tell me that you're referring to me, and not the iron, and I might just let you out of here," Skinner said with a gleam in his eye. "Oh, definitely you, Master," Mulder replied with a grin. "Okay, get moving then. I think it's time I showed you some of the other facilities in this building." He held the door open, and Mulder sidled past him - but he wasn't quick enough to evade the slap that descended on his naked butt. "That's for the lie you just told," Skinner grinned "Aren't you ever going to let me get away with anything?" Mulder whined. "No." Skinner handed Mulder his sweats, tee shirt, and sneakers, and then beckoned him to follow. "Where are we going, Master?" Mulder asked, as Skinner pressed the button for the basement. "There's a pool, and a gym in this apartment building. The 18th floor elevator card I gave you grants you access," Skinner said, as they got out of the elevator. He showed Mulder to a small pool, and a well-equipped gym. "You'll swim every morning before waking me. 5:15 to 5.45, Skinner told his slave. Mulder pouted. "That's very early, Master," he pointed out neutrally, not wanting to earn himself another swat. "That's all right - you'll be having a lot of early nights so you'll be getting more than enough sleep." Skinner grinned. Mulder's heart sank. "We'll use the gym together on various occasions after work. You can spot me, and I'll make sure you're put through your paces - I want to work on building up some definition in your arms and legs - not much, just toning. For today though…" Skinner glanced at the empty pool. "It looks like we have the place to ourselves. Get undressed, and start swimming," he commanded. Mulder stared at him. "I don't have my speedos, Master," he protested. "I don't want you to wear them." Skinner grinned. "I want to see your red butt doing lengths in that pool. Now!" He snapped. Mulder jumped, and began to strip off his clothing. Skinner removed the cock ring, then beckoned with his head for Mulder to dive in. Mulder gasped as the cold water made contact with his still warm backside, the chlorine stinging his sensitive flesh. He was desperately worried that someone would come in and see him, red ass up, but also enjoyed the sheer sensory delight of swimming naked, his cock hanging down, the water caressing his skin. Skinner watched him swim for half an hour, then beckoned Mulder out of the pool. They returned to the apartment, where Mulder was set about doing various menial tasks for the rest of the day, before Skinner called for take-out, and instructed Mulder to assume his submissive position for feeding. "Whilst in this position you'll speak only when spoken to," Skinner told him. "Other than that you'll remain silent. Understood?" Mulder nodded. "Good. I'm going to outline some of the activities I have planned for the rest of this week, so that you can become accustomed to the idea of them in advance," Skinner informed him, as he spooned some food into Mulder's waiting mouth, then took a forkful himself and chewed it thoughtfully before continuing. "Training a completely obedient and submissive slave, who is also charming, intelligent, witty, cultured, thoughtful and can show initiative, is a long, hard process. I don't expect to complete it in a week - but I do expect to cover the basics. You should make the most of this week, Fox. It's unlikely that you'll receive this much time and attention once we return to work." Mulder nodded, keeping his eyes low, waiting to be fed again. The food was delicious - Skinner clearly had great taste in restaurants. "I have a small, private party planned for next Friday evening," Skinner informed him. Mulder looked up in surprise, then lowered his eyes again, as he had been commanded. "I will be inviting close personal friends - and will take the opportunity to show off my new slave. By then, I'll expect you to be walking to the leash, to entertain, and serve, and to submit publicly to whatever attention I wish to bestow upon you." Mulder looked up again. "Publicly…?" he blurted, then bit down on his lip, aware that he wasn't allowed to speak. "Publicly," Skinner repeated, allowing the transgression to pass with nothing more than a glare. "I should make one thing clear - you'll be displayed naked at the party. While I expect my friends to bring their subs, I'll specify that they should be clothed. You will be the only one without clothing. The whole point of the party is to show you off, after all," he grinned. Mulder felt a flush start at his neck, and flood up his face. "You're embarrassed by the idea?" Skinner asked. Mulder nodded. "Yes, Master," he whispered. "Please don't make me do it." "It's my wish," Skinner said firmly. "You'll obey." "Yes, Master." Mulder bit down on his lip again. "If you're not naked, how can I display the signs of my ownership?" Skinner told him. "On Friday, the only things you'll be wearing are my rings - all five of them." Mulder looked up, the panic showing in his eyes. "Don't worry." Skinner smiled, and caressed his slave's hair gently. "I'll pierce you towards the middle of the week. Probably on Wednesday or Thursday. It will be an important experience for you. Trust me." "Will…does Master intend to do the piercing himself then?" Mulder faltered, surprised and aroused by that thought. "Of course." Skinner nodded. "I'm fully proficient so you needn't worry. I wouldn't bring anyone else in - I don't want you to speak to anyone else between now and your return to work, even at the party. That way you can learn to focus entirely on me, and my demands, and it will reinforce the fact that your sole aim in life is to think of ways of pleasing me." "Yes, Master," Mulder whispered, thinking of X Files, and bureaucratic procedure, and how very unlikely it was that when they returned to work he would be half as obedient as he was kneeling here, enjoying himself in this extended sex game. He had a feeling that he wasn't likely to please Skinner any more in their professional lives than he had before he had signed that slavery contract. "Good. Next Saturday I'll take you out shopping," Skinner continued with the timetable, "to buy you clothes. Sunday will be spent preparing for our return to work, and discussing what will be expected of you. After that - we'll take it as it comes. Do you have any questions, Fox?" He lifted Mulder's chin so that Mulder was looking into his eyes. "Only one, Master," Mulder said softly. "When will you fuck me?" Skinner was silent for a long moment, looking down on his slave, and Mulder wondered whether he should have asked that question, but it had been preying on his mind. Skinner was keeping him in an almost permanent state of arousal, and not only was he refused his own release, but Skinner was also refusing to take any pleasure from using Mulder himself. Skinner studied him intently, then leaned forward, and drew Mulder's head close. "Is that what you want, slave?" He hissed into Mulder's ear. Mulder moaned, his cock hardening unbearably. "Yes, Master," he replied. "It'll happen," Skinner stated, "when I'm good and ready, slave." "Yes, Master…please, Master…will Master allow me to come?" Mulder requested. "Now?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Sometime soon," Mulder begged weakly. "No, slave. It's another hard lesson for you to learn, but I've told you before - your own pleasure has to be earned. What's important is serving your Master." Skinner's gentle, continuous fondling belied his stern words. "Now, if you hadn't disobeyed me on this matter last night, I might have been more lenient on the subject today. As it is - I want to make very sure you don't have the opportunity to repeat last night's mistake. You clearly can't be trusted when left to your own devices." Skinner stood up. "I think it's time to reinforce a few of the lessons you've learned today. Follow me." Mulder followed his Master upstairs, his heart beating as he realized they were going to the 18th floor apartment, and quickening even more when Skinner took the key from around his neck, opened the door to the Playroom, ushered him inside, and locked the door again behind them. He turned the lights on low, and the room was bathed in a warm, red glow. Skinner went over to one of the cupboards and pulled out a complicated leather contraption, then he went and sat down in a large, throne like chair, and beckoned Mulder over. Mulder was grasped between his Master's legs, and pulled close, then Skinner took hold of his cock and balls, and began fastening the contraption around them. "This, in case you haven't figured it out, is a male chastity device. It'll prevent you from becoming erect - and you won't be able to touch your cock either, as it'll be encased in leather. There's a small opening here," Skinner demonstrated, "so you'll be able to use the bathroom, but I'm attaching this," he held up a tiny padlock, "to ensure that you can't get access to your cock." "That's…cruel, Master," Mulder spluttered. "You only have yourself to blame. If you'd kept your hands by your sides, and your mind on pleasing me, and not yourself, then this wouldn't be necessary. Hands behind your back - NOW!" Skinner ordered, as Mulder's fingers feebly protested the strapping on of the leather device. Mulder gave the other man a hard look, then, reluctantly, did as he was told. Skinner also fastened a thick leather bag over Mulder's balls. "For protection," he told Mulder, slapping them lightly. "Protection from what?" Mulder asked in alarm. "From my switch. It's time to mark you," Skinner informed him, his legs tightening around Mulder's body as the agent's knees started to fail him, toppling him forwards. "I'll raise a couple of welts on your backside. That should give you something else to think about apart from your cock while you're in bed tonight." "Master." Mulder found himself sinking to his knees, and resting his chin in a gesture of supplication on Skinner's thigh. "Please don't punish me, Master," he whispered. "It's not a punishment, little one." Skinner kissed Mulder's forehead gently. "It'll hurt a great deal - but by experiencing my switch marking your body as mine, and welcoming everything I choose to do to you, you'll come to truly understand the nature of your devotion." His lips trailed down, and covered those of his slave, and Mulder opened up his mouth, welcoming his Master's tongue inside him, relishing the taste of him, and the power of his kiss. When it was over, Skinner gently fondled his face again. "Do you understand, Fox?" he murmured softly. "This isn't to punish or correct you, merely to mark you as mine. It's purpose is less to make you endure pain, than to enforce your understanding of your slavery." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded. He felt his cock fighting a desperate battle with the leather that encased it - a battle it couldn't win. "I…I'm your slave Master," he said, finally giving in, and kissing his Master's knee. "Do whatever pleases you. I'm yours." Skinner smiled down on him approvingly. "That's good - very good, Fox. I'll take very good care of you," he promised. Mulder nodded, and followed his Master over to the cupboard, watching from his kneeling, submissive position, while Skinner found the switch he wanted to use, and sliced it through the air a few times. Mulder's stomach clenched in fear and anticipation. Switches hurt, but the idea of bearing his Master's marks on his skin aroused him. He was once again torn between his fear and desire. Finally, Skinner was satisfied. He nodded Mulder to the spanking horse and bent him over it, but didn't tie him down. "Knees wider, that's right." Skinner tapped his slave's knee with the switch, until Mulder was fully stretched and open. Now he understood why Skinner had protected his testicles - he could feel them exposed to the air between his open legs. "Push that ass up, so I can get a nice clean target. All right - as this is the first time, I'll just give you three strokes," Skinner said. "The marks will take 2 or 3 days to fade completely. I think though, that an ass like yours…" he fondled Mulder's exposed buttocks, "should be kept permanently marked. It's up to you to keep an eye on them. When they're gone, I want you to remind me that it's time to mark you again. Understood?" "Yes, Master." Mulder agreed, staring face down at the floor. "If you fail to inform me, and the marks fade, then I'll punish you. It's unlikely that I won't notice them this week, when you'll be mostly naked, but in a few weeks time, when you're out chasing after UFO's again and I'm busy with my own job, it's entirely likely that I might not notice. The penalty for not refreshing my memory will be severe. Is that clear?" "Yes, Master," Mulder repeated, his buttocks twitching as Skinner sliced the switch through the air experimentally again. "Just because I might not always see them every day, and they are invisible to anybody else, doesn't mean that they aren't important. The crucial thing is that you will be aware of them constantly, wherever you are. Marking is more for your instruction, and to focus your mind on your slavery, than for my enjoyment - although I'm sure I'll enjoy them too!" Mulder shivered in anticipation, as Skinner took up position behind him, and rested the switch lightly on his backside. Mulder began to say a little prayer, moaning softly to himself. The switch was lifted, and there was a whoosh of cool air, before a line of pure fire was painted across his buttocks. Mulder let out a howl, and hopped up and down, holding onto the horse with both arms. "Again," Skinner said firmly, pressing his slave back down, and Mulder calmed himself, trying to prepare mentally for the next stroke. Another streak of lightning cut into his flesh and he wailed. "You're doing well, Fox. One more. You can stand it, little one. For me." Skinner's hand stroked Mulder's sweaty back, soothing him, and Mulder closed his eyes, awaiting the final stroke. It was as hard as the others, imprinting itself deep into his waiting, exposed bottom. Mulder gave a heartfelt whimper but he was secretly pleased by his ability to take the strokes. Skinner helped him to stand, and then his Master escorted him over to the cupboard and opened a door to reveal a full length mirror. Skinner put his arms around his slave, holding him tight against his chest, and turned Mulder's head so that he could look over his shoulder at his newly marked backside. Mulder surveyed the three distinct red welts with a sense of pride. "I haven't broken the skin," Skinner informed him, his arms tight around Mulder's shoulders. "You look beautiful with my marks on your flesh," he breathed, his fingers spidering down Mulder's back to lightly touch the welts. Mulder smiled at his reflection, then up at his Master, and buried his face in the other man's shoulder. "Thank you, Master," he whispered. Skinner smiled down on him tenderly, and held him for a few moments, then he disengaged, and walked Mulder over to the window. That side of the room wasn't lit, and for a disoriented moment, Mulder thought they were going to walk right out into the darkness. Instead, Skinner stopped him and placed his nose against the window. "Stand there and think about being marked as my property, and what that means. Just reflect on those marks, think of nothing but them," Skinner said in a low, intense voice that made Mulder shiver. Skinner's fingers touched the welts again, more firmly this time, and Mulder winced. "I'll be right here, enjoying the view." Skinner gave a throaty little laugh, and Mulder heard him move away. Mulder stood looking out onto the city beneath him, with its bright lights. This was the tallest apartment block around, and nobody overlooked the 18th floor, but even so, he felt exposed, standing naked in front of the window. It was impossible not to do as he had been instructed. His backside throbbed constantly, and it was all he could think about. He heard Skinner moving around the room, and he wondered at how comprehensively Skinner had outmaneuvered him during the course of this day. His Master had effectively provided him with a wonderland of sadomasochistic eroticism, as if he had seen into Mulder's secret soul, and dragged out even those fantasies he hadn't admitted to himself. A part of Mulder still wanted to fight, to manipulate, to force the pace, but another part of him just wanted to give in, and accept whatever new game Skinner came up with next. Mulder's cock ached inside its casing, throbbing in time to the ache in his sore backside. He fantasized about Skinner taking him, about Skinner piercing him, displaying him naked to his friends, branding him. He still feared it, but he was surprised by how much he wanted it all too. Mulder was dimly aware of time passing, of the soreness in his buttocks subsiding, of a feeling of calm washing over him, as he stood there, presenting his naked, marked ass to the room. Finally Skinner came over to him again, and kissed the back of his neck. "You're tired," his Master said, and Mulder was surprised to find that it was true. "We've just got one more thing to do, and then you'll go to bed." Skinner's hands ran up and down the outside of Mulder's arms, and his voice was seductive, and full of promise. He led Mulder back over to the large chair again, and sat down. Walking behind his Master reminded Mulder of something the big man had mentioned earlier. "You said…that you'd train me to walk to the leash, Master," he began. Skinner nodded, beckoning his slave forward. "When will that be?" Mulder asked tentatively. "When you're pierced." Skinner smiled. "The leash will be fastened to these." His fingers tweaked Mulder's nipples. Mulder opened his mouth wordlessly. "Ah, you assumed it would be attached to your collar." Skinner shook his head wryly. "No, Fox, my slave will be trained to walk to a leash attached to a much more intimate part of the anatomy. I find it helps focus a slave's mind minutely on his Master's slightest command if the pull is to this delicate little area." He rubbed Mulder's nipples again, and Mulder moaned, seeing himself in his mind's eye - naked, pierced, marked… His cock made another desperate bid for freedom, and was again constricted by the leather chastity device. Mulder whimpered in frustration, convinced that being constantly on the edge of arousal would drive him crazy. "Here. Over my knee." Skinner patted his knee, and held up a butt plug. It was slightly larger than the one Mulder had worn the previous night. Mulder swallowed, and arranged himself over his Master's lap. Skinner stroked his back for a moment, then gently blew on his welted backside, dipping his head to lick the marks. This sent a wild heat through Mulder's body, and he let out a little cry. He felt Skinner's fingers push inside him, and tried to relax and open up. "That's good. You've already improved on this," Skinner told him approvingly. "Keep open, there…" His fingers brushed Mulder's prostate, and Mulder writhed, a wave of ecstasy flooding through him. "Does that feel good?" Skinner asked. Mulder nodded, his throat dry. "Good. Now stay open for me." He removed his fingers, and Mulder felt the blunt nose of the butt plug gently inserted into his anus. It slid smoothly along the lubed passage, until it was fully inserted, wedging his butt cheeks apart. It wasn't painful - merely intrusive. Skinner set Mulder back on his feet, and attached a series of chains from the plug to the chastity device, securing it firmly in place. "That won't fall out," Skinner told his slave approvingly. "Now, bed." Mulder looked at him questioningly. "Doesn't Master want any personal attention." He knelt between Skinner's open legs, and gestured to his fly. "Not tonight. You've had a busy day. Save that talented mouth of yours for my wake-up call." Skinner grinned, fondling Mulder's hair. "I'm delighted that you're thinking of ways to please me though." He bent to kiss his slave again, and Mulder opened up his mouth, savoring his reward. Then Skinner stood up. "Bed," he said firmly, delivering a light slap to Mulder's backside that made his slave yelp and scurry for the door. Mulder lay face down on his bed, his mind and body both reeling from the day's events. He felt tired, and drained, and yet curiously happy. Suddenly he remembered his earlier worry about the camera that might be hidden in his room, and sat up, then yelped as his buttocks protested at being sat on. He got up cautiously, and searched the room, but found nothing. Mulder threw himself back on the bed, exhausted. "I'll play along for now," he told nobody in particular, "but only because I'm enjoying myself. Well, maybe not the ironing, but the rest of it. I'll just figure out what game you're playing, then I'll start to manipulate things. I won't be this obedient forever," he muttered, his eyes closing. Half asleep, he was almost sure that he heard a deep, rich laugh mocking his words.
---
!Chapter 5: A Cat Called Wanda Mulder woke up the following day to find his usual morning wood fighting against its leather prison. The prison won. Mulder sighed, and rolled over, only to yelp in surprise as his welted buttocks reminded them of their presence. For all that Skinner had avowed himself a sensualist, Mulder was of the opinion, at this moment in time, that his Master had some very definite sadistic tendencies as well. His fingers itched to touch his cock - if this went on much longer he'd have a bad case of blue balls. He glanced at his clock: 8:00. Yesterday Skinner had told him he was to complete his morning swim before waking his Master, but he couldn't very well go swimming wearing this leather chastity device - not unless he wanted to ruin it and somehow he thought Skinner wouldn't be very pleased if he did that. Of course, Skinner had said 5.15 to 5.45, which implied he only wanted Mulder to swim on a weekday before work, not at the weekend, or during vacations. Mulder procrastinated for several minutes, then almost laughed out loud. You're a grown man worrying about whether to go for a swim, he chided, getting up and deciding to use the time to flick through Skinner's paper before waking his Master. Damn! He couldn't even take a shower, wearing this stupid device. Mulder used the bathroom and brushed his teeth. He was aware of the butt plug pressing deep inside his body, but he was becoming used to the sensation of having his body invaded in this way. Of course the one thing he really wanted to have inside him was his Master's delicious cock, but he was beginning to despair of Skinner ever bending him over and taking him. Mulder sighed - he wasn't sure what kind of a game his Master was playing with him, but he knew it was driving him crazy. Mulder paused and took a look in the mirror - his stomach did a flip as he studied the 3 welts on his bottom. It had hurt like hell receiving them, but he loved what they stood for, marking him as they did as his Master's property. Mulder fingered them carefully, closing his eyes and drinking in the sensation of being able to feel the slightly raised flesh, without seeing it. Even in the dark, he was marked as Skinner's slave. If his Master was so minded to reach for him at night, he would find his marks imprinted on Mulder's flesh, like Braille, signaling who this slave belonged to. The idea excited him, which was no good at all in his current caged condition. Mulder wandered downstairs and retrieved the paper, then made himself a cup of coffee, and lay on Skinner's couch reading the sport's section. He kept a careful eye on the clock - he was determined that Skinner wouldn't find fault with his time-keeping this morning. Dead on the dot of 9 a.m., he opened the door to his Master's bedroom, coffee in one hand, newspaper clutched under his arm. He deposited both on the night-stand, then turned his attention to the bed. Skinner was still asleep, and for a moment Mulder felt a pang of regret at the huge empty space next to his Master. Damn, his Master's cock wasn't the only thing he wanted. He also wanted to sleep curled up in the big man's arms, to know that he was there all night, beside him. Instead…instead Skinner shared his bed with her. Mulder glared at the emerald eyed cat who was fixing him with a look of pure hatred, defying him to disturb her cozy love nest with HIS Master. Mulder returned her look with one of such malice he was sure Skinner would have blistered his backside all morning if he'd been awake to see it. Mulder crept noiselessly over to the bed, plucked the sleepy Wanda from her circle of comfort, and threw her out of the bedroom door, ignoring her squawk of protest. He shut the door firmly behind her, and rubbed his hands together, smiling to himself. Then he disappeared under the sheets, and located his Master's beautiful drowsy cock, soon bringing it to a state of full wakefulness. "How did you sleep?" Skinner asked, when Mulder emerged triumphantly several minutes later. "Not bad." Mulder shrugged. Actually he'd slept like a log all night, but he wasn't going to tell Skinner that. "Considering I'm all trussed up with what feels like a stick of dynamite up my ass." "Complaints?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. Mulder looked into those stern dark eyes for a moment, then sighed, and laid his head on Skinner's chest. "No, Master," he mumbled. "Good. Get up, and get your butt over my knee," Skinner told him. Mulder looked up in surprise - Skinner hadn't finished his coffee yet - in fact he'd barely taken a sip. "I want to examine you," Skinner explained, "and I want a surface to rest my newspaper on as well - the Sunday sections are so big aren't they?" Mulder gave him a cool look, but just the idea of being "examined" was enough to make his cock ache, so he gave in, picked up a couple of pillows, and arranged himself over Skinner's lap. He felt his Master's hand gently caress his welted buttocks, and wriggled. "Still!" Skinner ordered. Mulder bit on his lip, and did as he was told, submitting to his Master's thorough attention. Skinner didn't stop until he'd felt every single inch of those welts with his finger - or at least that was what it felt like to Mulder. Then his Master ordered him up, and undid the padlock on his chastity belt, before unbuckling the contraption and removing it. Mulder's cock immediately skyrocketed . "Oh god," Mulder moaned, leaning his head forward and resting it on Skinner's shoulder. "You've got to let me come soon, Master." "No, I don't have to let you come at all." Skinner grinned pushing him off. "Over my lap again, and I'll remove the butt plug." Mulder did as ordered, his heart sinking at his Master's comments about not letting him come at all. He had to! And soon - or Mulder would start climbing the walls. Skinner stripped Mulder of the plug quickly and efficiently, leaving him naked except for his rings. "Stay there." Skinner picked up his paper, and propped it up on Mulder's exposed backside. There was silence for a long time, then Skinner turned a page. Mulder lay there, seething inside. Here he was, stretched out, naked, like an offering, bearing his Master's marks, and all Skinner could do was read for god's sake! He started to fidget and was rewarded by a hard slap on his sore, welted buttocks. "Ow!" He glanced up. "Then stay still. You're going to be like that for an hour or more, so get used to it," Skinner told him. Mulder glared at him. "I am not some kind of newspaper prop!" He snapped. "No, you're my slave - and if one of the uses I want to put you to is propping up my newspaper, that's what I'll do. If I were you, I'd give some serious thought about whether you want to come any time at all in the next year, " Skinner warned ominously. "There's a direct correlation between service and reward in this household, Fox, and the sooner you understand that the better." So saying, he straightened out his paper, and continued reading. Mulder buried his face in the pillow and tried to caress his straining penis by a process of telekinesis. He had whole files on the technique, and was convinced that if he could just think hard enough, he could milk himself to orgasm before Skinner knew what was going on. He was so sunk in this reverie that he jumped in surprise when Skinner broke into it an hour or so later. "Where's Wanda?" He asked. "Um, she went out as I came in." Mulder grinned into his pillow. One up to the slave, one down to the uppity cat. "That's not like Wanda. What time did you get up?" Skinner asked conversationally. "8. There's one thing I meant to ask you, Master." Mulder turned his head, and propped one hand under his chin. "Um, you told me I had to swim in the morning, but I couldn't wearing the, uh, thing." He pointed his head in the direction of the leather cage. "I decided you wouldn't want me to wake you to ask you what to do," he said, feeling sure he'd get some brownie points for that. "Of course not. I intended you to start the swimming when we go back to work - and you don't have to do it on weekends," Skinner told him, taking a sip of coffee. "So - what did you do between 8 and 9?" "Read the paper." Mulder shrugged. "All right." Skinner folded the newspaper, and glanced at his slave. "Fox - I know that you're new to your condition, but I did hope that marking you last night might help focus your mind on your status. I have told you time and again since you arrived, that you'll be rewarded for addressing yourself to my needs, haven't I?" "Yes, Master." Mulder looked confused. "Did I do something wrong?" Skinner flicked his fingers at the floor beside the bed. "In position. Now!" He barked. Mulder scrambled off the bed quickly, still wondering what he'd done. He swiftly got into position, knees open, arms behind his back, shoulders straight, head down. "This morning, you were unsure whether to swim or not. That's fair enough - I didn't make myself clear, and you were right not to wake me. However, didn't you think how pleased I might be if you'd had the initiative to spend your free time ironing my shirts, for example? Or cooking breakfast?" "No, Master. I'm sorry. I didn't think," Mulder muttered, cursing himself for his stupidity. "I said I'd show leniency with you to begin with, but while I might not punish you, I'm hardly likely to reward you for continuing to be so preoccupied with your own needs," Skinner admonished. "Does this mean…that I won't get to come today, Master?" Mulder whispered. Skinner sighed. "Is your own pleasure all you think about?" He asked. Mulder bit on his lip, aware that he'd made another mistake. Skinner reached out and grasped his slave's chin. "Sometimes I think you don't even try," he said. "I'm really sorry, Master. I'll do better in future, I promise," Mulder said contritely. "Very well. Let's see if you do," Skinner told him firmly. "Now, into the shower - I think we'll apply your discipline wet, today." Mulder scurried for the shower, his cock perking up at the very mention of "discipline." Skinner joined him, and turned on the water, then he handed Mulder a bar of soap. "Wash me," he ordered. Mulder jumped to the task eagerly. One of the things that had taken him by surprise in this scenario was how much he enjoyed both looking at, and touching, his Master's beautiful body. In the past, he hadn't given the physical appearance of his tops much thought - they existed merely to serve him, one way or another, mainly by administering the discipline he wanted them to deliver. He was used to sucking other men's cocks, and kneeling at their feet - he enjoyed the completely submissive feeling of being dominated by another man, but he didn't remember actually lusting after one as he did after Skinner. He suspected that his attraction to the big man had always been latent - he remembered many occasions when he had longed to feel Skinner's large arms around him, restraining him. Hell, he'd even engineered that very scenario at work on a couple of occasions, even if he hadn't been honest with himself about his motivation. Of course he'd always kept his other tops at arm's length, and that was impossible in this scenario. Mulder was shocked by how much he was falling under Skinner's spell, and a part of him was shouting to get out, before it was too late. Too late for what though, Mulder had no idea… Mulder felt he more than made up for his earlier thoughtlessness in his attention to his Master's body during that shower. He soaped him thoroughly, delivered loving kisses to Skinner's collar bones, licked the water out of the dipping cleft where they joined, then gently circled each of his Master's nipples with the soap, and washed it off carefully with the spray. Skinner sighed, and leaned against the wall, as Mulder tenderly soaped his genitals, combing his Master's body hair through his fingers, then knelt to soap his legs, kissing his kneecaps, and inner thighs. Skinner's body was pleasing - there was no doubt about it. Mulder had never thought about what constituted an attractive male body before, but he had always been dimly aware that his own long limbs and tall stature attracted a few glances from both men and women. Skinner was a more typically masculine-looking man - his muscles were more clearly defined, and he was heavier, more thickset. Mulder loved the strength in those muscled limbs, and the feel of that smooth honey-toned flesh under his fingers. The trouble was, it was all too easy to worship a Master such as this. It took no effort at all. He finished his task, and was rewarded when Skinner pulled his naked body close and kissed him hard, the water streaming down their faces. "Soap yourself." Skinner ordered, leaning back against the tiled wall, and watching as Mulder quickly and efficiently washed his own body, then turned back to his Master obediently, to await further instructions. "Put your hands against the wall," Skinner told him. "Butt out…more…that's good." Mulder did as instructed, feeling sure that he'd slip over as Skinner kicked his legs apart even further, opening his body up. He watched out of the corner of his eye, as Skinner picked up the soap, then he felt it being dipped into the crease between his buttocks, soaping him there. Skinner's finger slipped easily into his anus, and began moving in and out, over and over again. Mulder gasped, putting his head back, the water dripping continuously from the ends of his wet hair. His cock strained against the cock ring, but he knew it was useless asking for permission to come. Skinner's one finger was joined by another, and Mulder opened up beneath the relentless caress, welcoming them into his body. He pressed his ass back even further, opening himself as wide as he'd ever been, hoping to encourage his Master to take him. Skinner grabbed his hips, and pressed his cock against Mulder's buttocks. It felt hard, rampant, large…big enough to claim him, fill him completely…Mulder groaned, wanting that, wanting Him. "Do you think you're ready to receive me?" Skinner asked in a low, throaty whisper. "Yes, oh god, YES!" Mulder cried. "Not yet." Skinner entered three fingers into Mulder's anus, caressing his prostate in a way that made the slave's cock leap. He finger-fucked Mulder comprehensively for several minutes. All Mulder could think about was those big, strong fingers, consuming him from the inside, making love to his body, claiming him. His mind felt as if it were filled with a blinding white light, and even without being able to come, his body was consumed by wave after wave of nerve-tingling pleasure. Finally, Skinner withdrew his fingers. "Like that?" he growled. "Y…yes, Master," Mulder panted. "Good. Stay there. I think it's time to see to that discipline, don't you?" Skinner's hand rubbed over Mulder's bottom, gently. "Keep your hands against the wall - don't move them," his Master warned. "The penalty for moving them is severe - trust me." "Yes, Master," Mulder moaned, keeping his palms flat on the surface of the tiles. Skinner continued to caress his ass, then without warning dropped a hard slap onto the side of his butt, swiftly followed by another. He avoided the welts, slapping between them, beneath them, or to the side of them, and Mulder's bottom got warmer and warmer. Then Skinner worked down lower, onto his thighs, slapping them soundly. Mulder hated being spanked there, and he half stood up with a yelp, then remembered, and stopped, one hand nearly in the air. "Move it another inch and your ass is toast," Skinner warned, and Mulder placed the offending hand back down flat again, presenting his thighs once more as an easy target to his Master's insistent hand. It hurt, but it was a good hurt, Mulder thought to himself, as the endorphins ran amok through his body, taking him to a blissed-out plane of existence. Skinner's hand was harder now, cracking against his flesh, and Mulder started to sob, the water cascading down the side of his face, mingling with the few tears that were running down his cheeks. Now Skinner's hand slapped lightly against Mulder's welts, sending a sting of pain through Mulder's body that made him shiver, and his cock harden. He struggled to keep his hands on the tiles - he wanted to wriggle and scream and all he could do was hop from foot to foot, moaning incoherently. "Oh god, Master…hurts, hurts…please…" he wept. "Why are you being spanked, slave?" Skinner growled over the sound of the running water. "For…for…not being more thoughtful of your pleasure, Master," Mulder whimpered. "Oh shit…please…oh god…." "And will you resolve to do better in future?" "Yes, Master! Ow! I promise! I promise!" Mulder cried, as Skinner's hand smacked down harder and harder on his red buttocks. "And why else are you being disciplined?" Skinner asked. "For…" Mulder wracked his brains, and then remembered. "Because it pleases you, Master! No other reason…" He panted. "Good." Skinner chuckled. "It does please me, slave, to see your butt turn bright red, and to feel you squirm and wriggle under my hand, to hear you beg and to see how hard you try to obey me by standing in position. Now hold still - let's finish this off properly shall we?" So saying he applied a dozen of the hardest slaps to Mulder's punished backside, and it was all Mulder could do to keep his hands on the wall as those blistering blows rained down on his wet, glowing bottom. Then the slaps grew softer, until they stopped altogether, and Skinner directed a spray of lukewarm water over Mulder's hot butt - if the water had been any colder Mulder was sure that his skin would have sizzled on contact. He leaned his forehead against the tiled wall, then felt Skinner stand close behind him, taking those warmed buttocks between his hands and kneading them softly. Mulder groaned, and gasped but kept in position as ordered. Skinner's fingers dipped casually into his anus as he kneaded, staying for a moment, then withdrawing. Mulder was so used to these intrusions now that he didn't tense up - in fact he pressed back, trying to force his Master's fingers onto that delicious spot inside him that Skinner had found earlier, and which caused him such pleasure. Skinner didn't oblige, the fingers entering and leaving too quickly, like the briefest kiss, leaving Mulder wanting more. His Master kissed the back of his neck as he kneaded, and Mulder could feel the other man's hard cock pressed against his sore buttocks. He wondered whether Skinner would part the warm flesh and enter swiftly inside him, pinning him to the shower wall, but after several minutes of petting, his Master stepped away and told him he could stand up. Mulder's first action was simply to kneel, prostrate at his Master's feet, and kiss them over and over again, while muttering incoherent thanks. Skinner laughed, and allowed him his devotion, then pulled Mulder up, wiped his wet hair back from his face, and kissed his forehead. Mulder leaned limply against his Master's shoulder for a while, caressing the big man's taut, naked buttocks, and then he felt himself being pushed away, and the shower was finally snapped off. "I'm sure we're clean enough by now," Skinner remarked dryly. Mulder eagerly opened the cubicle, and plucked a large towel from the rail, holding it out for his Master as he emerged. He wrapped it around Skinner, and set to work drying him off. "Good. Very good." Skinner smiled. He caught hold of Mulder's face between his hands, and kissed the tip of his nose. "That's the sort of thinking that will earn you rewards, little one," he murmured. Mulder's heart jumped in his chest. There were so many rewards on offer here that he wasn't sure which he wanted most. He wanted to be able to come, to play in that fantasy Playroom, to be used by his Master, and welcome his cock into his body, to sleep in his Master's bed, and then there was also his Master's deep kisses, claiming his mouth with his tongue…the list was endless. "Yes, Master," he whispered, feeling in that moment more a slave than he had done at any point before. He wanted to serve this man, he wanted to wash him, and dry him, and adore him. That was the easy part. "Your attention puts me in mind of something else." Skinner grinned at him. "Dry yourself - then follow me." Mulder did as instructed, and Skinner put on a bathrobe, and walked upstairs to the Playroom. Mulder felt a leap of anticipation as he saw where they were headed - then something occurred to him. "Master, I, uh, haven't had a chance to…use the lube this morning," he murmured. "That's all right, slave." Skinner smiled. "I won't be touching you. Just the opposite in fact." He grinned at Mulder's puzzlement, opened the door, and ushered Mulder into the room in front of him. He took his slave over to a large massage table, and brought out a box of oils from underneath. "I'm feeling stiff this morning - do you have any massage skills?" Skinner asked Mulder, who shook his head wordlessly. "Well, just improvise - we'll see how you get on." Mulder nodded, feeling all too eager to begin smoothing those oils over his Master's naked flesh. While Skinner lay down on the black leather table, Mulder began to warm the oil in his hands, then he placed them tentatively on Skinner's shoulders. "Harder," Skinner ordered, and Mulder set to work, his long fingers swiftly eating up the newly oiled skin beneath them. He probed into areas that felt tight beneath his fingers, doing his best to smooth out any kinks he found, and he was soon completely absorbed in his task. Skinner lay unmoving, and didn't protest when Mulder naughtily slipped his fingers between his Master's butt cheeks. "Would you like to serve me there?" Skinner asked suddenly, making Mulder jump. "Yes, Master," he answered, truthfully. "With your cock?" Skinner demanded. Mulder thought about it. "Yes, Master," he admitted, swallowing hard. Skinner laughed. "Something else to put on your list of rewards to be earned then," he said. "Yes, Master." "Have you ever served a top by giving anal sex, Fox?" Skinner asked. "No, Master." Mulder kissed the back of his Master's knees. "Well, we'll have to correct that - one day," Skinner mused. "For now - you have my permission to worship me there - with your tongue." Mulder had never rimmed anyone, but he had been ordered to, so he gently parted his Master's butt cheeks, and slipped his tongue tentatively inside. Skinner was clean, and smelled of soap and oil, and he soon responded to Mulder's attention by wriggling his butt in a most satisfying way. Mulder relaxed and started to enjoy himself, as he teased that puckered opening with his lips and tongue, pushing inside then pulling back, making his Master sigh. He worshipped his Master in this way for several minutes, enjoying the sensation of bringing such pleasure to the big man, to say nothing of the enjoyment of having those tautly muscled buttocks nestled against his cheeks. Finally Skinner let out a groan, and sat up quickly. "I think," Skinner said, his huge erection pointing sky high, "that I require your urgent services, Fox." Mulder knelt obediently in front of him, and Skinner guided his cock into his slave's waiting mouth, thrusting in and out for only a couple of minutes before coming, his fingers fondling his slave's hair as he sucked. "That's twice before breakfast." Skinner grinned. "I'm very lucky, Master," Mulder replied. Skinner gave a delighted laugh, and caressed the side of his slave's face. "You're doing wonderfully well, Fox. I'm very pleased with you," he said. "If you keep this up, then this afternoon I'll show you some of the delights of the Playroom." Mulder couldn't stop the grin splitting his face in two. "Go and look in the cupboards." Skinner pulled his robe back on. "And bring me the item you'd most like to play with." Mulder scampered over and surveyed the contents of the cupboard like a kid eyeing candy. There was so much, he could hardly decide which to choose! "Having problems, slave?" Skinner came up behind him. "Yes, Master." Mulder bit on his lip. "I was intrigued by the birch you showed me when we first came here, but I'm not sure…I've already been spanked once today," he sighed. "Fox, I can use the birch as punishment, or pleasure. Believe me - if you chose that, I'd make sure it gave you nothing more than the most deliciously nipping kisses," Skinner told him. "What else fascinates you, sweetheart?" He sounded like an indulgent lover, and Mulder looked up at him, with a beaming smile, relishing the moment. "The harness," he said. "I've been tied up before, but I've never been suspended in mid-air. I've always liked the idea of that." "Then that's what you'll have." Skinner kissed him fondly. "Now, I think it's time for brunch. After that, you can spend a few hours doing the laundry. If you finish it all to my satisfaction then we'll play later - and I'll allow you to come." He brushed his fingers over Mulder's cock with a wry smile. Mulder felt a giddy sense of triumph at his Master's words, but they were dashed by his next sentence. "Here - this is a card for someone who'll give you massage tuition." Skinner handed him a piece of paper. "Phone him tomorrow and arrange it please, Fox. I expect you to become fully proficient." Mulder took the card wordlessly. Hadn't his Master enjoyed his massage? Weren't his efforts good enough? "And just in case the temptation is too much for you…" Skinner pulled another chastity device from the cupboard, and Mulder sighed. This one was smaller, but just as efficient, and Skinner didn't forget the padlock either. Feeling slightly deflated, Mulder returned to his room and left the massage tutor's card on his night-stand, before jogging down the stairs to the kitchen to eat. After a large brunch, Skinner instructed Mulder to clear away, and finish doing the laundry he had begun the previous day. "I'm going out for a couple of hours. Do not succumb to the temptation to go nosing around the apartment," he told his slave in a severe tone. Mulder nodded, feeling faintly aggrieved. "Of course not, Master. I wouldn't dream of it," he answered. Skinner raised an eyebrow, and Mulder flushed. "Well, I won't now you've told me not to," he amended hastily. Skinner grinned, and tousled his hair. "Good. If all that ironing is done by the time I get back, then we'll play," he promised. Mulder nodded, and set about clearing away the brunch dishes with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Soon Skinner would tie him up with that amazing equipment, do exotic and exquisitely pleasurable things to his naked, helpless body, and allow him to come! Mulder's cock twitched gratefully inside its casing, like a dog panting to be let off the leash. He did wonder where Skinner had gone, but he was too preoccupied to care much. He finished tidying up, and then turned, having the distinct feeling that he was being watched. There, sitting on top of the fridge staring at him, was Wanda. "Cats…" Mulder told her, sweeping her down from her perch and depositing her on the floor, "are not allowed to sit on refrigerators. Nor…" he jumped into action as Wanda leapt on top of the kitchen work surface, "...are they allowed on any surface in the kitchen except the floor." He placed her back down by his feet again firmly. "Some of us know a cat's place, madam, and it isn't ruling the roost, like old toppy-toes seems to think. There's a new regime around here, Wanda baby, so you'd better get used to it." He glared at her to ram the point home, and then wandered off to the laundry room, ignoring the baleful look Wanda made at his retreating back. Mulder tackled the laundry with a zeal bordering on the obsessive. He poured every ounce of his energy and sexual frustration into the chore, until he was as steamed up as the iron. Finally, he surveyed the array of smartly pressed shirts with satisfaction. "I'm gonna come!" he proclaimed to nobody in particular, doing a little dance around the room, without a second thought for how bizarre a sight he must look, frolicking naked save for his chastity device, clutching an iron in one hand, and sporting a still glowing red bottom. Mulder hung up some of the shirts, and then ran out of hangers. He laid the rest of the shirts carefully on all the available surfaces, and trotted upstairs to Skinner's bedroom to retrieve some more hangers, then ran back down again, whistling cheerfully to himself as he went. He sauntered into the laundry, and then stopped, his mouth open in dismay. The shirts - those shirts he had laid out, those newly ironed, crisp white shirts were covered in…pawprints. A fleeing blur of cream and gold zoomed past his ankles, and he let out a cry of incoherent rage. "Wanda! I'll damn well kill you!" he roared, torn between chasing after the cat and repairing the damage to the shirts. A cursory inspection revealed that the shirts were beyond help. Each one of them was decorated liberally with Wanda's dainty, delicate pawmarks. They would have to be washed and ironed again. Mulder could have wept. He stood there for a long time, feeling a wave of despairing anger. Every ounce of sexual frustration at being so permanently aroused, and yet denied any release, welled up inside him. He threw the shirts onto the floor and ran up the stairs to his room, pulled out his case, and threw his clothes into it. Then he realized that he didn't have any money, and worse than that, he was still fastened into his chastity belt. He had no choice but to wait until Skinner returned home before leaving. Fine. So be it. Mulder eased his legs into a pair of jeans, pulled on a tee shirt, and then walked back downstairs to sit in the front room, awaiting his Master's, no, make that ex-Master's return. Mulder's mood worsened while he waited. He felt almost limp with the agony of his disappointment and a sensation of total and abject lethargy descended on him. What the hell had possessed him to sign that stupid contract in the first place? He was a grown man, of 37, being treated like nothing more than a…slave - his mind supplied the word for him dryly. Which of course, was exactly what he'd wanted. Mulder buried his face in his hands, struggling with this side of his personality. Just what exactly had driven him to this? He could survive without it, couldn't he? Maybe he could re-negotiate with Skinner, ask his boss to consider taking him as his sub - a nice, easy, twice a week arrangement, that Mulder could end whenever he wanted. No obligation, no restriction, no effort. Just 2 nights a week spent in that fantasy wonderland upstairs. Mulder jumped, startled out of his reverie by the sound of the front door closing, and Skinner walked into the room. His boss was wearing black jeans, a black tee shirt, and a plain black leather jacket. Mulder wished his throat hadn't dried up at the sight of him. "What's this?" Skinner threw his keys down on the table, and glanced at Mulder's clothed body pointedly. "And this?" He nudged the case with his foot. "I'm leaving. I've had enough. This is stupid, we can never make it work. It's crazy to think that you can be my Master, or me your slave. I'm a free man, not some unpaid maid!" Mulder exploded. Skinner looked at him thoughtfully. "Go on," he said, shrugging the jacket off, and hanging it on the back of a chair. Mulder noticed that he had a parcel under one arm. "I don't want to be subject to your every damn whim! I'm used to making my own decisions - hell, I'm a free spirit, Skinner, you know that. I don't respond well to restrictions like these. Damn it! I'm just not very good at following orders! I can't follow them at work - why the hell should it be any different here?" Mulder yelled. "What brought all this on?" Skinner asked calmly, placing the parcel on the table, and pouring himself a glass of water. "It doesn't matter! Don't you hear what I'm telling you? You don't own me, you don't possess me, you can't fucking well decide things for me," Mulder ranted desperately. "This whole situation is absurd. I know it was partly my fault for agreeing to it, and I know I signed that stupid contract, but it's over. You can't keep me here. I don't want to be kept. I need to get out…I need…oh fuck, I don't know what the hell I need!" Skinner finished his water, and waited until Mulder had finished, his face impassive. "Come with me," was all Skinner said, when the tirade was over. Mulder hesitated, hopping from foot to foot nervously, and biting on his lip. Skinner picked up the parcel, and began walking, then stopped, and turned back to Mulder. "It's a request, not an order," Skinner said softly. Mulder swallowed hard, then nodded, and followed the other man along the corridor and into a room he'd never been in before. The room was a small study, with a big desk, and a couple of chairs. There were shelves all around the wall covered in books. "Take a seat." Skinner gestured, placing the package on the desk, and seating himself in the big chair behind it. Mulder felt himself relaxing slightly. This set up - the desks, and chairs, reminded him of their more familiar surroundings at the Hoover building. He could cope with this. He noticed a pile of files on the desk, and nodded at them, braving a more civilized comment to show the other man that his hysteria had calmed. "Bringing your work home, sir. That's dedication." "It is homework, but it isn't anything to do with my job," Skinner waved a hand at the files. "Fox, you've asked my permission to be released from your contract. I'm refusing you that permission," he stated firmly. Mulder looked up, surprised to find that he was feeling simultaneously angry and relieved. "You can't keep me here against my will," he replied mutinously. "No, I can't, but someone else might have done just that," Skinner told him. Mulder frowned. "What do you mean?" He demanded. "I mean that you contracted to sell yourself into sexual slavery to someone you'd never even met. You didn't know it would be me, Fox. You could have been sold to someone who beat you senseless, fucked you, and kept you tied to the bed day and night with no thought for your well being. You arranged a week off work - you didn't know where you would be going, and I'll just bet that you didn't tell anyone else what you were planning on doing. Anything could have happened to you, Fox." Skinner's disapproval was clear, and Mulder shivered. He glanced down at his hands. "This guy, I mean, you, he - you - had a reputation. I felt I'd be safe…" he whispered. "Fox, you're on a mission to self-destruct. You have been since the day I first met you, and you will be until someone pulls you back from the edge. I intend to be that someone." Mulder looked up, surprised. "You're mine, Fox, whether you like it or not," Skinner told him firmly. "That's non-negotiable. I made that very clear to you before you signed that contract - there's no way out for you. However, I want a devoted slave, not a miserable one. If you have any problems with the way I treat you, you can tell me at any time. You have my express permission to do so - in fact, it's an order. I promise I will always listen to what you have to say - and if I don't agree with you I will tell you why. I told you before - your honesty is important to me. Now, I knew we'd have to have this conversation at some point. I'm a little surprised it's so soon, but not unduly concerned. Tell me what's bothering you." He leaned back in his chair, silent, and still, except for one finger that rubbed insistently against his thumb, in an almost hypnotic motion. Mulder hesitated. All his anger and frustration seemed so petty and meaningless when pitted against this calm, eminently reasonable man. All his fury dissipated into nothing, and he felt his body lose its stiffness, and settle into a boneless mass of self loathing. "I don't know where I stand with you," he said in a small voice. "I'm not used to this scenario. I thought you'd fuck me, but you haven't. I don't know what you want from me." "This is all because I haven't stuck my cock up your ass?" Skinner asked in disbelief. "We've done just about every other sexual act, Fox." "I know." Mulder shrugged, feeling two inches small. "Fox. Look at me," Skinner said softly. Mulder raised his head slowly, afraid to meet the other man's eyes, but when he did he found them warm and compelling. "What else?" Skinner asked. "You won't let me come!" Mulder knew it sounded stupid, even to his own ears, but Skinner's expression didn't change. He didn't snort in disbelief, or get up angrily. "I can't stand being constantly on the edge the whole time," he finished lamely. "Is there anything else?" Skinner asked. Mulder bit on his lip, but he'd started, so he might as well go on making things worse. "The massage. I thought you enjoyed it, but then you gave me that card and told me to learn how to do it properly. I wanted to please you," he faltered. "I have tried to please you, but I don't think I can. I'm just going to disappoint you like I did with the massage…oh fuck this!" He yelled, getting up angrily. "Why the hell am I apologizing? Let me just leave and we'll pretend it never happened. I don't need this. I can turn my back on it, bury myself in my work…" "Until the next time." Skinner interrupted softly. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Mulder paced the study in a frenzy of emotion. "That you can't bury this side of yourself forever. You try, and you fail. This situation will keep coming back," Skinner told him. "What the hell do you know about it? You're just some fucking sadist. You don't know me, Skinner, and you sure as hell don't own me," Mulder yelled, wondering even as he did so, why he was losing it like this. "Sit down." Skinner told him in a firm tone. Mulder clenched his fists at his side, and waged a silent battle with himself, until he remembered that Skinner had the key to the damn chastity device so unless he wanted to hack around his nether regions with a sharp knife, he had to co-operate. Mulder took a deep breath, and obeyed. "All right." Skinner said softly, leaning back in his chair. "I wasn't going to tell you this, but I will. Fox, these files here, they aren't work, they're you." "What?" Mulder looked at the assembled files in astonishment. "You've been spying on me?" He gasped, his usual knee jerk reaction after years of paranoia on the X Files. "Hear me out." Skinner held up a hand. "I didn't want to take you on, Fox. When you started looking for me a year ago, I did everything I could to avoid you. I knew how difficult it would be at work, and apart from anything else, you do have a reputation on the scene. Let me finish." He glared at the other man as he opened his mouth to protest. "People all said that you were an attractive player, and a good one, you knew what you wanted, and you stated it clearly. There weren't any misunderstandings, and you didn't seem to be carrying around a lot of emotional baggage - although some of the people I spoke to weren't entirely sure on that last point. Everybody spoke of your tendency to want something more than they could offer. They all felt that they'd subtly disappointed you in some way, and the more perceptive ones told me that they thought you were spinning silently, and desperately, out of control. I worried that you would seek ever more extreme thrills, until you got yourself killed in the process. When I spoke to you last week, you confirmed that for me. I went into that first meeting expecting to tell you "no", to get you off my back once and for all without you finding out who I was, but you said something that changed all that for me. I knew I couldn't turn my back on you. I had to help you." Skinner paused, and leaned forward, resting his arms on his desk. "Fox, these files contain interviews with the people you've played with recently. As soon as I took you as my slave, I spoke to all of them, to find out what your fantasies are, and how you respond to various stimuli. From there, I worked out a plan for your training." Mulder sat there with his mouth open, completely stunned. "I can see…" he observed finally, when he'd pulled himself together, "that you are as meticulous in your pleasure as you are in your work." Skinner gave a wry laugh. "You could say that. Fox - why do you think I took you on? What do you think the appeal is to me in this situation?" "Well…" Mulder thought about it. "I don't know. I assume you just like the power trip, the control, the available sexual services…" he trailed off. "I do enjoy it, yes," Skinner mused, "but that wasn't why I got into all this. I'm not sharing all the details of the whys and wherefors at this point in time, but let me tell you this: a good top gets off on bringing pleasure to his sub, or slave, or whoever he's playing with. Not on inflicting pain, per se, or being a control freak, but on making his sub squirm, and tingle, and beg for it to stop, while all the time desperately wanting more. A good top is also safe," he emphasized the word. "Something you don't seem to care about, as you were prepared to sell yourself to a stranger. " "It's not that." Mulder buried his head in his hands. "It's the thrill, sir. I need to be taken away from myself, and the danger of the unknown was so appealing," he sighed. "So, I'm a disappointment." Skinner stated flatly. Mulder's head jerked up. "No, sir. Hardly that. A revelation might be more accurate." He smiled weakly. "You're way out of the league, sir. I've never played with anyone like you. It's been…" he hesitated, then smiled again, "fantastic," he finished. "And yet you want to leave?" Skinner pressed. Mulder hesitated. "It's brought up some old fears," he admitted. "You can tell me to go any time you like, but I can't reject you." He bit on his lip, realizing he'd said the one word that gave his motivation away. "Ah." Skinner smiled. "And you see my refusal to fuck you as a rejection too, don't you?" he said softly. Mulder nodded, gazing at his feet. "Fox, you've only been here for 2 days," Skinner pointed out. "I know. I'm an idiot. You must hate me." Mulder shrugged. "I'm a huge disappointment. No staying power, huh?" He looked up, trying to smile. "That's not true." Skinner shook his head. "Although I think you need someone to make sure you stay, which is why I've insisted on your slavery. I will fuck you though - didn't it ever occur to you that I was preparing you for that? Your previous experiences of anal sex have been painful. I'm not small - if I'd just plunged straight in, you'd have been hurt. Now, it still might be a little uncomfortable, but there's some pain you enjoy, and some that's just too much for you. You told me you didn't ask for anal sex from previous tops because it fell into the latter category." Mulder leaned back, and ran a hand over his eyes. "The butt plugs…they weren't just a kind of humiliation, ownership thing," he murmured, hating himself for having been so dense. "No." Skinner smiled fondly. "It was preparation." "Damn, I'm an idiot." Mulder sighed. "Yes, but you're my idiot." Skinner laughed. Mulder looked up. "You'll keep me?" His heart was in his mouth as he realized just how much he wanted to stay. "Of course," Skinner said firmly. "There's a lot to be done, Fox. Firstly, I'm going to take you all the way down with me. Think of it as diving. I'm going to take you right to the bottom of yourself - your heart, mind and soul, and we'll find out what's there. I'll be holding you all the way, but all the same it might hurt, and it will probably scare you. You'll have moments when you freak out, and want to run, but I won't let you. We'll face you together, then we'll swim back up together, so that you can breathe freely in the air again, liberated from the darkness, and constant pressure. You've given over your life to me - but you haven't yet learned to give up the control. Once you do, you'll find the journey easier. It's not a journey you can escape from though. You're committed to it. I won't let you go until we're done, and that won't be any time soon. Tell me what you think, Fox - tell me, honestly, what do you want?" Skinner's dark eyed gaze transfixed Mulder where he sat. "I…" he closed his eyes, and opened them again, to find Skinner still sitting there, waiting, his gaze never wavering. "I want to stay…Master," he whispered. "Good." Skinner opened up the package on his desk, took out two picture frames, and placed them on his desk. They contained the contracts they had signed. Mulder's eyes flickered over both their signatures. He was so used to seeing them in the same place, on his work reports, but not like this; this was personal, and it felt good. It felt right. "Let's view this as a reaffirmation of our vows." Skinner smiled. "I want you to keep both these on your night-stand. I want them to be the first thing you look at in the morning, and the last thing you look at when you go to bed. The way ahead is hard, but you can trust me to be by your side every step of the way." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded. "And as for the issue about the massage - Fox I would have told you if I hadn't enjoyed your efforts. Wasn't my reaction evidence enough that I liked what you'd done?" Mulder shrugged, unwilling to cede the point. "Fox - you can't know everything without tuition. Clark Hammond - the man whose card I gave you - taught me massage! It's an important skill. I want you know all about the different oils, and how they can be used to treat different ailments. Your massage this morning was delicious - and Clark will teach you how to be even more skilled." "Oh." Mulder bit on his lip, feeling stupid. It was all so reasonable that he didn't know why he had ever doubted his Master. He hated himself for so nearly screwing up the first thing in his life that had taken him outside himself, and given him some escape. He glanced up at Skinner. "I screwed up," he admitted. His Master shook his head. "Everyone makes mistakes, my slave," he murmured. "I might make a few myself during the course of your slavery. Please feel free to point them out to me if I do." Mulder smiled, wondering if he'd dare. "Um, there's one thing I wanted to know, Master, while you're being so revealing," he said cautiously. "Do you have a camera in my bedroom?" Skinner looked at him with a curious expression on his face. "A camera? Oh, I see!" he laughed out loud. "You're wondering how I knew about the cock ring and you jerking off!" He got up, went over to where his slave was seated, and put a finger under his chin, looking down on his property. "Do you think I need to spy on you?" He asked, in a deep, throaty voice, "when I know you so well?" Mulder's eyes widened. "You guessed?" He asked. "How?" "Fox, I'm not going to give away all my Master secrets to you," Skinner chided, tapping his slave firmly on the nose, "but as this is the first serious discussion we've had since your arrival, I'll give you this one for free. Don't expect any more in future. Before you went to bed I put the idea into your head - by denying you your pleasure, I made sure it was the only thing you could think about. You were new to your slavery - I didn't seriously suspect you to obey me at that point, and I made an educated guess that you wouldn't. In time you'll obey me because you want to, and because wanting to please me is the only thing on your mind. You won't wake up deciding whether to live or die any more, little one. Have you even thought about that since I brought you here?" "No, Master." Mulder admitted, a slight lump welling up in his throat. "Good." Skinner dipped his head and lightly kissed Mulder on the lips. "Now," he stood up straight, his eyes stern, and his demeanor brisk. "We have some issues to deal with." "You're going to punish me for the way I spoke to you earlier." Mulder guessed, feeling his stomach churn anxiously. "Yes, I am. If you'd come to me and talked about your concerns quietly, there would be no question of punishment, but I won't be ranted to. Did you do the tasks I set you earlier?" Mulder's heart sank as he remembered that particular fiasco. "Yes, Master, I did," he murmured, "but then the cat," he spat that last word venomously, "decided to ruin all my hard work." Skinner gazed at him curiously. "Show me," he commanded. Mulder led the way to the laundry room with a heavy heart. Skinner took one look at the ruined washing and shook his head, a smile tugging at his lips. "Dear Wanda," he murmured. "You know, Fox, I don't think she likes you very much." He turned to Mulder, and frowned. "You're overdressed, slave," he commented. "Yes, Master." Mulder scrambled to rid himself of his jeans and tee shirt, then knelt down in front of the other man, his body quivering slightly as he settled himself into the submissive position, wondering what was coming next. "Is this what set off your mood?" Skinner asked. "Do you think I'm so unreasonable that I wouldn't recognize a catastrophe when I see it?" He smirked slightly at his pun, and Mulder sighed. Of all the Masters, in all the world, I have to be owned by one with a warped sense of humor… "I'm sorry, Master. I just kept thinking about the Playroom, and what you'd promised," he explained. "I wanted it so much." Damn, but that sounded so lame. "All right. Let me outline what's going to happen next," Skinner told him sternly. "In a minute, you are going to put these clothes back in the wash, then dry and iron them." Mulder looked up, biting back his anger at being reduced once more to live-in maid. "Yes, Master," he managed to squeeze out from between gritted teeth. Skinner smiled and shook his head, recognizing the effort that had gone into that little display of obedience. "After that, I'm going to take you up to the Playroom," he said. Mulder's face creased into a smile. "Thank you, Master," he whispered, leaning forward to kiss Skinner's shoes, feeling guilty for his earlier petulance. "However," Skinner continued. Mulder's heart did a flip. "This won't be all fun and games. I will use the harness, as you requested, but you're on probation - and I'll only allow you to come if I think you've been good enough. Understood?" "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded, resolving that the other man wouldn't find any fault with him. "In addition, I will use the item you requested for your pleasure, to administer punishment instead. I'll enjoy the irony." Skinner grinned. "Master will birch me?" Mulder felt his cock hardening, as he gazed at the ground. "Yes, Fox, Master will birch you - very hard indeed," Skinner told him in a cool, stern tone. Mulder swallowed hard but he knew he deserved the punishment - even if he was shaking inside at the thought of it. The first thing Mulder did upon being left on his own in the laundry room was to get down on his hands and knees, and check behind the washing machine. He found what he was looking for, dragged her out by the scruff of her neck, and held her up. "All right, missy. You just bought me a whipping," he told Wanda, looking into her baleful green eyes. "So from now on - and watch my lips because I don't want there to be any doubts on the subject - this is war. Understood?" Wanda's tail twitched angrily, and Mulder nodded. "Yeah, you think he belongs to you, but he's mine, lady, so watch out." He opened the laundry door and deposited her on the floor outside, shutting it again with a flourish Mulder spent the afternoon in an agony of anticipation. He longed to experience the joys of the Playroom, but he was growing more and more apprehensive about the birching. It didn't help that he'd never had any experience of that particular mode of punishment before. He didn't know what to expect. He finished his laundry tasks late in the afternoon, and then reported back to Skinner who was sitting at the kitchen table doing some paperwork, with Wanda wrapped around his shoulders, her plush fur enveloping the back of his bald head, like a ruff. Mulder stood there for a moment, examining the pair of them. It couldn't be comfortable for his Master, but Wanda was clearly enjoying herself as her purring could be heard from the other side of the room, and Skinner was gently stroking her tail as he worked, taking care not to dislodge her. Mulder shot his enemy a malicious smile, as he claimed her doting servant's attention away from her. Mulder held his breath as Skinner examined his work, desperately hoping it wouldn't be found wanting. His Master seemed satisfied though, and told him to take a bath, and relax, before reporting to the Playroom. Skinner unlocked the padlock on the chastity device, and pulled it away from Mulder's cock, and then, before his almost inevitable erection could develop, Skinner whisked the gold ring away too. Mulder's cock sprang into immediate life once released from its bonds. "Careful." Skinner slapped it gently. "You don't have my permission to come yet - that has to be earned," he told his slave. Mulder inhaled deeply, a worried frown creasing his forehead."I said relax!" Skinner laughed, kissing his forehead. "Pleasure and pain - you'll taste both, Fox, but not more than you can handle of each." Mulder nodded and scooted for the bathroom, his body starting to tingle in anticipation. When he'd finished, he climbed the stairs to the upper apartment, his stomach flipping inside. The door was ajar when he got there, and he knocked on it. Skinner opened it a few seconds later, and Mulder stood still, transfixed. Skinner had changed into a pair of tight leather pants, and was bare-chested. He looked divine, with his powerful shoulders, and tautly muscled chest. Mulder couldn't wait to kneel at his feet. Skinner ushered him into the playroom, and Mulder noted that the harness was already set up, hanging from several pulleys in the center of the room, directly under the glass ceiling panels. "I thought I told you to relax." Skinner frowned. "I am, Master," Mulder lied, and received a swat on his butt for his deception. "Then why are you shaking?" Skinner wrapped a big arm around Mulder's neck, and drew him close, stilling his trembling with the sheer warmth and reassurance of his body. Finally, Mulder's tremors faded, and Skinner drew back, his expression stern. "Hold our your hands," he ordered. Mulder did as instructed, and Skinner fastened a pair of furry cuffs onto his wrists, repeating the process with his ankles. Then he tied a wide, soft belt around Mulder's midriff. "This will support your back," Skinner told his slave, as he worked. Mulder nodded - the belt was extremely comfortable, as were the cuffs. "Now - go to the cupboard and bring me the birch," Skinner commanded. Mulder swallowed hard, and did as he was told, picking up the instrument of punishment almost reverently, and carrying it back to where his Master stood, adjusting the hoist for the harness. Mulder kneeled at Skinner's feet in the submissive pose, eyes down, hands holding out the birch, his whole body a mass of wildly conflicting emotions. Anticipation warred with fear, which in turn threatened to be swamped by excitement, and arousal. When Skinner was satisfied with his work, he turned back to his slave, but instead of taking the birch from him, he put a finger under Mulder's chin and pulled his face up to look him in the eye. Mulder shivered - Skinner's expression was stern, and determined. "This will be a proper punishment birching, Fox," he told his kneeling slave. Mulder swallowed, and nodded. "Yes, Master, I understand," he managed to croak. "Punishment should teach a lesson - I want you to think about the lesson you should learn from this birching," Skinner informed him. "When I punish you, I want the reason for your suffering to be uppermost in your mind." "Yes, Master," Mulder said, starting to tremble again. Skinner stroked his hair, softly, soothing him. "It will be hard, little one, but you'll survive." Mulder closed his eyes, and nodded, pinpricks of sweat breaking out on his body. Skinner took the birch from his hands, and laid it on a table to one side. "On your feet," he ordered, and Mulder scrambled to obey. Skinner fastened Mulder's cuffs and belt onto the harness, and tested each link firmly, to make sure they were secure. When he was satisfied, he paused to give his slave a brief kiss of reassurance, before swinging a startled Mulder into mid-air. Mulder gave a squawk of surprise, then surrendered to the sensation. It was actually very comfortable - his body was supported, and he felt as if he were flying. He was suspended on his front, at waist height. "I won't ever leave the room while you're in bondage," Skinner told him. "If you feel any distress, tell me. Immediately. It's important. Understood?" Mulder nodded quickly, then held his breath as Skinner picked up the birch. Mulder tensed, but all Skinner did was run the bound twigs over his back, then through Mulder's open thighs, and over his cock and balls, before continuing down his legs. Mulder lost sight of his Master briefly, then he reappeared, brushing the birch twigs along the side of Mulder's torso. It was a light, scratchy feeling, but it didn't hurt. Skinner stopped in front of the bound man, and looked down on him. "I think you should watch yourself being punished," he said, propping up a large, gilt-edged mirror on the 'throne' opposite Mulder's hanging body. Mulder looked at himself, soaring through the air like a bird, suspended on the harness. There was a curious kind of beauty in his bondage, Mulder thought. It gave him a chill of arousal to see himself trussed up like this, immobilized, at the mercy of his stern owner. He saw himself as Skinner saw him: a bound, naked man awaiting his Master's attention. Skinner returned to his side, and continued brushing the birch along Mulder's naked limbs, scratching it lightly under his chest, and over his nipples, making Mulder gasp. Then the stroking stopped, and the birch connected lightly with his bottom. It didn't hurt - in fact it created a delicious nipping sensation over his skin. Mulder sighed. The birch connected again, up and down his buttocks and thighs, over his shoulders, and down to his feet. Mulder could see now why Skinner had told him that he could make the birch an instrument of pleasure. This light tickling was sensuous and erotic. Without warning the pressure of the licks got harder. Now the twigs descended with greater speed and force on his naked flesh, making him gasp and cry out. Skinner ignored his wriggling, and continued to swing the birch down, confining his attention mainly to Mulder's exposed bottom, but occasionally applying it elsewhere, keeping Mulder on edge, not knowing where it would land next. The combined force of the twigs as they striped his bare backside made Mulder suddenly appreciate Skinner's warning that this was a punishment. "It stings, Master!" He gasped. "Yes, slave, it does." Skinner replied, applying the birch with more force. Mulder began to sob now, moving his body in the harness, desperate to escape the instrument of torture that he was sure was flailing the skin from his bones. "Please, Master…it hurts…ow!…it hurts…" he whimpered desperately. "It's a punishment, Fox - it will hurt even more before I'm through," Skinner informed him tersely. "Now, have you thought about the lesson you're being taught here?" "No! Yes…I…ow!" Mulder panted. "Well?" Skinner pressed. "It's difficult to talk, Master, when you're…oh fuck!" Mulder yelped as the birch landed on his shoulders, and then again on his thighs, before returning to his already sore buttocks. "I'm waiting." Skinner delivered another hard stripe on Mulder's bottom, wringing a sob from the helpless man. "What lesson will you learn from your punishment?" Skinner insisted, in a calm, inexorable tone. Mulder knew the torture wouldn't stop until he came up with a satisfactory answer. "To…not to try and leave!" He gasped. "No." Skinner slapped down a particularly hard stroke. "That's not what you're being taught here. Try again." Mulder wracked his brain, trying desperately to think of the right answer. He watched himself being punished in the mirror, his tall, strong, ruthlessly efficient Master reducing him to a quivering, helpless morass of sensation. He felt his cock harden at the raw, sweaty beauty of the scene. "Lesson…I'm thinking…ow! I said I'm thinking!" Mulder yelped as the birch bit into his flesh with a savage caress. "Think faster," Skinner instructed. "It's not a very hard lesson, Fox, although I have a feeling it'll take more than this one punishment to drum it home." Mulder thought back over the day's events and they all kaleidoscoped together in his mind, creating a series of jumbled images. He saw himself ironing, saw Wanda glowering at him from the fridge, saw himself seated in his jeans and tee shirt on the couch, mouthing off at his Master. "I mustn't be disrespectful to you!" He gasped, pleased with himself. "I won't swear at you again, or throw a tantrum like I did today…I promise…aarrrgghhhh!" He screamed as the birch descended once more, with full force on his upturned, waiting buttocks. "It would be nice if you could manage that," Skinner chuckled, "but I'm not exactly going to hold my breath. It's also not the lesson I want you to learn from this birching. Try again." "I can't…Master, please!" Mulder begged, feeling sure he'd reached his limit, wanting only for the punishment to stop for just one second so that he could think but the birch continued its vicious work, unrelenting, and unyielding. Mulder remembered sitting in Skinner's small study, and hearing his Master talk about diving, or something…he felt like he was diving now, suspended here like this. Then Skinner had told him that… "I have to talk to you, Master! I have to tell you what I'm thinking and feeling, especially when I'm upset. I have to be honest with you!" he cried out. The nightmare stopped, and Mulder hung in mid-air, the sweat pouring off his body. Then Skinner was cradling his face between his hands, looking deep into Mulder's eyes. "Good, well done, Fox," Skinner told him, kissing his forehead, then his lips, before softly nuzzling his hair. "You did well. I'm so proud of you, little one." He continued whispering praise and endearments, until Mulder stopped panting, and became bathed in a glow of warmth. The endorphin high hit him, and he felt the dual joys of being made to endure hard physical punishment while being suspended like this in mid-air. It made the dreamy sensation of floating away that he always got from the endorphin rush all the more real and satisfying. "Thank you, Master…thank you…" he babbled incoherently. "For what?" Skinner asked, in an amused tone. "For making me…go further than I thought I could…" Mulder sighed. Skinner grinned, and smoothed Mulder's hair. "I'll take you further yet, little one," he promised in a deep, sexy growl. Mulder closed his eyes and savored the words, the intent going straight to his cock. Skinner disappeared out of his field of vision, then returned a few seconds later with a cold, damp washcloth. He ran it gently over Mulder's hot skin, cooling the fevered flesh, pausing to lick at the light marks created by the birch, which were already fading. "Now - I'm going to play with you," Skinner promised. "I'm going to take my pleasure from you slowly, little one, and you are going to submit to everything I want to do to you. At the end, if I'm satisfied, you can come - but not before. Come before I tell you, and I'll get my crop out of the cupboard and add to those welts that I gave you yesterday. Understand?" Mulder nodded weakly, willing his rampant cock to calm down, and wait until it had permission to explode. Skinner adjusted Mulder's position, turning him onto his back, and reattaching him, checking the links to make sure his slave was secure. "Comfortable?" he asked. "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded, throwing his head back and gazing out of the window above him. It was starting to get dark, and the sky was a deep blue color. A flock of birds flew into his field of vision, turned, en masse, and disappeared again. This felt…so damn good! Skinner brought over a small box of objects which Mulder craned his head to try and get a good look at. Skinner tapped his nose reprovingly. "You'll soon become intimately acquainted with them, believe me," he chuckled. He fastened Mulder's legs so that they were open wide, then stood between his outstretched thighs. Without warning, he entered one lubed finger into Mulder's ass. Mulder gasped, taken by surprise, then gasped again, as Skinner's hand stroked his thigh, feeling something soft, warm, soothing - fur. A glance down confirmed that Skinner was wearing a glove. His Master stroked him with that smooth, furry hand, while he continued to probe inside his prone slave's body with his finger, adding another, then a third, finding Mulder's prostate, making the captive man writhe in pleasure from both sensations. "Ah, you like being stroked…like a cat…" Skinner murmured, running the glove up Mulder's chest, and down the side of his neck. Mulder moaned, and nuzzled into the embrace. Skinner continued with these dual caresses for several minutes, until Mulder thought he'd end up purring like a cat too. Then he jumped, startled, as a hot object landed on his thigh. He glanced down and saw the dildo resting on his skin. "It’s filled with warm water," Skinner told him, parting the captive man's buttocks and sliding the slender dildo between his open cheeks. Mulder tensed, but it was a curiously comforting sensation, warming him inside. He relaxed, and Skinner moved the dildo within his body, sliding it back and forth up the lubed passage. Then he removed it, and Mulder let out a startled yelp as a cold object was placed on his thigh. "Ice-water." Skinner grinned evilly. "No…" Mulder twisted, but Skinner parted his buttocks and smoothly pushed the cold, lubed object into Mulder's waiting body. "Fuck!" Mulder wriggled, and squirmed but couldn't dislodge the freezing intruder. It wasn't big, and it didn't hurt, it was just so damn cold. Skinner stoked his thigh again, fondling him until he quieted, then he teased the dildo in and out, making Mulder gasp with every cold lunge. The cold dildo was replaced once more by the warm one, and he relaxed again. Skinner alternated the two dildos for several long minutes, making Mulder alternately writhe, and bliss out. The bound man was aware of his cock growing harder and he groaned, wanting desperately to come. Skinner removed the cold dildo one final time, and took the tip of Mulder's cock between his thumb and forefinger, pinching firmly. "Not yet," he ordered. Mulder sighed. "Soon, Master, please…" he begged. "Maybe," Skinner smiled, and began running his hands over Mulder's prone body. "It feels good having you here, helpless, at my mercy," he whispered, bending his head, and taking one of Mulder's nipples in his mouth. It was the first time Skinner had sucked him there, and Mulder nearly shot through the roof, as his nerve endings, sensitized by the birching and anal play, jangled and screeched in arousal. "Hmmm, someone likes being sucked here." Skinner disengaged with a grin. "That's good - I'm glad these are such erogenous zones for you, slave, it'll make it doubly satisfying to pierce them." He pinched both nipples at the same time, jack-knifing Mulder's body into the air. "Yes, Master." Mulder panted, trying desperately to stop himself coming. "Time for a change of scenery, I think." Skinner flipped Mulder onto his front again, and arranged him into a kneeling position, tightening parts of the harness in places, so that Mulder's butt was completely exposed, his legs fastened wide apart, stretching his anus open, and displaying his most secret body parts to the world. "Look between your legs," Skinner commanded, and Mulder did as he was told, to see himself reflected back, the image in the mirror dominated by his ass, which was just about the only part of himself he could see from this position. He was completely exposed, and without dignity, just a butt floating in mid-air. A movement distracted his attention, and he looked up to see Skinner unbuttoning his leather pants in front of him. He watched transfixed, as Skinner slid the leather down his long limbs, to reveal that he wasn't wearing any underwear. His large cock immediately stood up straight, thick and arousing. Mulder made a small whimpering sound as he surveyed the lean, powerful body of his nude Master. Skinner stood in front of him, lifted Mulder's head to his chest and directed him to suck his nipples. Mulder enjoyed having the big man's arms enfolded around him as he worked, tickling the small nubs of flesh with his tongue, and scraping them gently with his teeth. He must have done something right, as his Master sighed, and leaned into the embrace, enjoying himself for several minutes, before he pushed Mulder away, moved down to his slave's buttocks, grasped them in his big hands, and rubbed his erect cock against them. "Please, Master…" Mulder pushed back onto that cock, wanting to feel it inside him, to be taken in this most helpless and submissive of positions, overwhelmed, and completely dominated by the other man. Skinner just teased him, rubbing himself along Mulder's crease, but not entering. "Do you want me, slave?" Skinner asked. "Yes, Master…please, please…" Mulder begged. "Not yet!" Skinner laughed, slapping his butt. Mulder felt his whole body go limp in despair at the constant wanting, and being denied. "I will take you, slave," Skinner continued in a low, sexy tone, "and I'll use you hard, and fast, but first I want you to think about how you can serve me. I'm going to leave you hanging here, your ass in the air, with this little beauty…" his finger circled Mulder's opening, "exposed and waiting. I want you to focus all your thoughts here, knowing that the only way you can serve me while you're in bondage, is with this…" His finger thrust into Mulder's body, sending a wave of pleasure through the prone man's body. "When I come back, I'll use you well. Until then, I want you to think of me entering you, of how it'll feel to serve me with this part of yourself, and of how you're going to welcome me and worship me here." Skinner withdrew his finger, and Mulder heard him walk away. He relaxed into his bonds, and tried to do as he'd been instructed. It wasn't hard. His backside was so exposed that it was all he could think about - that and the fact that Skinner was going to put him out of his misery and take him. It made his cock ache with desire. He wasn't sure how much time passed with him hanging there in that agony of longing, but finally he heard Skinner return. The big man trailed a line of kisses up Mulder's body, finally ending up at Mulder's head. "I have a little task for you, Fox," Skinner said, nuzzling his erect cock against the side of Mulder's cheek. "I want you to put the condom on for me." "How, Master?" Mulder blinked, looking at the unwrapped condom Skinner was holding, and his own tied, outstretched arms. "With your lips, Fox, how else?" Skinner grinned, opening his slave's mouth with his finger, and placing the condom on his tongue. Mulder did his best, but the condom ended up as a soggy heap on the floor. "Hmm, try again." Skinner opened another one, and placed that in his slave's waiting mouth. Mulder tried once more to apply it to his Master's magnificent, erect cock. He did a little better this time, and Skinner helped him by guiding the condom into place with his fingers. "I can see that you're going to have to practice this. I want you to become fully proficient," Skinner ordered. "I'm going to give you a dildo and pack of condoms to take to your room - you can practice it until you can do it blindfolded - which you're very likely to be asked to do at some point," he chuckled. He returned to Mulder's buttocks, patting them, and kneading the sore flesh with his hands, sending dizzy waves of pleasure/pain straight into Mulder's cock. Mulder felt Skinner's tongue on his spine, then lower, lapping at his buttocks, before they were parted and he felt the tip of his Master's cock nestle into his anus. "Do you want more?" Skinner asked, and Mulder nodded, and tried to thrust back. "Slowly, I want to fill you inch, by slow inch, to claim you, and possess you, to make you mine," his Master told him in a low, silky voice. Mulder shivered, and tried not to tense up, as Skinner continued pushing steadily forward. Now he dimly appreciated why his Master had taken such trouble to prepare him. He felt stretched almost to capacity, his body trembling with the strain of taking his Master's large cock within the small ring of anal muscle. Skinner's slow progress was a kind of infinite agony, pushing him open, claiming him with that hard thickness, plunging deeper and deeper as if aiming for Mulder's very soul. Finally, it stopped, and Mulder could feel the warmth of his Master's body against his buttocks. He blinked several times, trying to adjust to the intrusion, to relax his aching muscles around it. "How does that feel?" Skinner asked, and Mulder felt the other man's hands soothing his back. "Good…" Mulder panted, "hurts a bit…but good." "Your body will soon learn to accommodate me," Skinner murmured, stroking Mulder gently, not moving inside him. "I'll use you like this frequently - probably at least once a day, so the sooner you become accustomed to the feel of me inside you, the better." He adjusted his position, and Mulder grunted, gasping slightly as his body made sense of the new sensation. "You feel good, warm and tight - like a glove," Skinner said, continuing to stroke Mulder's buttocks and back softly. "I won't always take such care to arouse you though, slave. At times I'll expect you to serve me without any expectation of pleasure in return. I want you to think of a word…" Skinner moved slowly, steadily, back, the pressure inside Mulder's body decreasing as his Master's large cock withdrew to the tip, then slowly surged back in again. Skinner rocked against Mulder's helpless body, stretching him with his sheer size, and Mulder hung there, his eyes closed, consumed by the moment. "You can choose any word you like," Skinner continued, easing himself in and out again. "When I say that word, wherever we are, I want you to stop what you're doing, take down your pants, and without argument, or protest, either bend over the nearest surface, or get on your hands and knees, and present yourself for my use. There won't be any foreplay…" Mulder moaned, as his Master played skillfully with the erotic possibilities of his submission, creating a scenario in his mind's eye, of surrendering his will to his owner. "I'll use you, like the slave you are, and it'll be a hard, rough fuck." Skinner illustrated the point by thrusting his hips forward, pushing deep into Mulder's body, making him cry out, his body protesting the pain and welcoming the pleasure at one and the same time. Mulder felt that slick cock pick up rhythm inside him, thrusting in and out, getting faster, sliding into what felt like the very depths of his bowels, and then back out again. He was lost in sea of eroticism. Skinner's voice, outlining his ultimate submissive fantasy was arousing his mind, while his body was being aroused by his Master's skilful hands stroking him, and that hard cock deep inside him, filling him, and brushing against his prostate, sending waves of pleasure/pain coursing through his body. Mulder loved the fact that Skinner was standing while he used him, that Mulder was situated at just the right height to devour his Master's cock deep inside his body. Mulder's own cock was leaking badly, hopelessly aroused by his plight. Skinner's voice seemed to seep into his soul, connecting with his darkest submissive fantasies, and igniting them. "You're my property, mine to possess, and take, whenever I like…don't forget that," Skinner stated, thrusting hard and fast. "I won't, Master…" Mulder moaned, arching his back. Skinner leaned forward, and Mulder felt himself covered by the big man's warm body, as it plunged back and forth into him. "You feel so good, my dear, sweet, little slaveboy," Skinner growled, his teeth nipping Mulder's skin, his hands solid and reassuring as they petted him. "What's your word, Fox? Tell me the word to say whenever I wish to use you, to remind you what you are, and who you belong to." Skinner's thrusting reached a crescendo, and Mulder felt as if he'd blank out in a haze of sensation. "Can I choose any word, Master?" He asked, the sweat dripping into his eyes, blinding him. "Yes - whatever word you want." Picking a word was the last thing on Mulder's mind, but he screamed the first thing that came into his head: "Wanda!" He felt Skinner shudder to orgasm inside him, his body convulsing within Mulder's willing, waiting, wilting flesh. There was silence for a long moment, as Skinner lay panting against Mulder's back, his climax over. Mulder enjoyed the sensation of his Master softening inside him, holding him close, connected. After several silent minutes, the other man pulled out, and Mulder's anal muscles contracted gratefully. He felt sore, but utterly satisfied. He watched Skinner dispose of the used condom, then his Master returned, and flipped him over onto his back. "Wanda?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Sorry, Master. It was the first thing that sprang to mind," Mulder replied with a cheeky grin. It was revenge, of sorts. "Hmmm." Skinner eyed him suspiciously. "Well, you did say I could have any word," Mulder added with a butter wouldn't melt expression. Skinner gave a gruff laugh, and patted his slave's body affectionately. "Yes, Fox, I did, and you can. Wanda it is. Remember your choice - when I use it, I expect your response to be immediate, or I can promise you a long, hard retribution." "Have I been good, Master?" Mulder asked him hopefully, painfully aware of his hard cock. "Yes, little one, you've been more than good. You've been excellent." Skinner kissed him lovingly. "And for that - I'll let you come. Just wait a bit longer, until I give the word." He slathered his hand in lube, then grasped Mulder's cock firmly in his hand. Mulder let out a cry, and would have jumped six feet in the air if he had been able to. "Close your eyes," Skinner whispered, and Mulder did as commanded. He felt Skinner blowing softly onto his bare, sensitized skin, and shivered, thinking he would expire soon from an overdose of sensation. "Do you like poetry, Fox?" Skinner asked, continuing to blow on his slave's naked body. "What?" Mulder's opened his eyes in surprise. "Close them." Skinner said, with a chuckle. "As you haven't read the classic novels, I'm also going to assume that you haven't read much erotic poetry either. I'm going to recite one of my favorites to you - close your eyes, and let yourself go. Let me bring you to climax, then wait until I say you can come. When you do, it'll be a moment you remember for the rest of your life." Mulder opened his mouth to say something, but Skinner closed it with his index finger. "Not a word!" He recited softly. "The eyes speak in rivers, the fingers in trees. The body has a language all its own:The body has a language all its own: this time we will send the interpreter home."this time we will send the interpreter home." Mulder closed his eyes, wondering whether this could get any more surreal. First that exotic, masterfully delivered punishment, then the hot and cold play, before being fucked by his Master, in that slow, pounding way, his mind being made love to along with his body, and now poetry! Shit, Skinner wasn't just in another league, he was on a different planet. All that time spent looking for extra terrestrials and there was one right under my nose…Typical! "I will open you petal by petal taking all the time in the world." Mulder felt Skinner's warm, wet mouth descend on his nipples, and circle each one lazily. It felt almost comical, to be lying here suspended in space, while his Master recited poetry to him, and yet he didn't feel like giggling. His body was being caressed by an expert, and that rich, dark voice both soothed and aroused him - one more erotic weapon in the wide-ranging sensual armory his Master possessed. "I will build with you a slow fire stick by stick and watch the color of your sunrise." Skinner took Mulder's hard cock in his lubed hand, and milked it in a slick caress. Mulder teetered on the brink, holding on by the skin of his teeth. "I will play with the wind of you, cover your body with smiles and games, promises and fantasies that disappear without a trace." Skinner's warm breath tickled his inner thigh, blowing across his balls, down to his feet, and back up again. "I will stir your secret core, witch's brew of potions and incantations, and fell you simmering, rolling, floating in my hand." Mulder writhed, as Skinner's caress on his cock became harder and more insistent. He was floating, both literally and figuratively, suspended in mid-air, and drifting away on a haze of endorphins and sensation, which he had never experienced before in his entire life. "I will fill you slowly up, every crevice and curve, watch feel hear smell taste you growing full." Skinner nibbled along Mulder's navel, and up his neck, sucking his nipples again, making Mulder scream out loud. "And when every part of you is one, when you are saturated, suspended, water trembling over the brim, I will ride with you over the falls drown with you disappear all boundaries tumble over and over and over and over until there is only the spinning dizzy dance beyond dancing and the great wave crashing to bits everything, leaving us strewn with the seaweed in the sand and the sun to dry." Skinner finished the poem, his slick hand reaching a crescendo as it pumped Mulder's cock. "Any time you want, Fox," he whispered, his mouth descending on Mulder's, opening his lips and claiming a deep, powerful kiss. Mulder surrendered, his body giving in as he came in wave after wave of explosive orgasm. The sexual frustration of the past few days was swept aside as he came harder than he had ever done in his life before. He was dimly aware that it had been worth the wait, before a blinding white light flashed through his mind, overwhelming him, and causing him to black out for a second. When he came to, Skinner was washing him down with a damp cloth. "That was impressive," his Master said, gesturing to the cloth. "All right, little one?" His tone was kind and concerned. Mulder managed a weak nod in reply. "Good, I'm going to untie you. Hold on." Skinner gently lowered him, then knelt down beside him and undid his cuffs. When he'd finished, Mulder slumped onto the floor, utterly and completely exhausted. Skinner chuckled, swung his slave up into his arms, and carried him over to the cushions that were piled up on the carpeted side of the room. He deposited the sated man on them, then sat down beside him, and gathered his slave up in his arms. Mulder lay with his head on his Master's lap, completely unable to move. His whole body seemed to have turned into liquid. "Thank you, Master," he croaked, the sound of his own voice surprising him. "You're welcome, slave." Skinner ran his large, blunt fingers through Mulder's damp hair. Mulder studied his Master, committing to memory the face of the man who could reduce him to this boneless heap, taking in the dark eyes, and the sweep of wide jaw, the broad expanse of naked scalp, and the strong neck and shoulders. "Permission to fall in love with you, Master," he murmured. Skinner smiled, and smoothed Mulder's dark hair away from his eyes. "Permission granted, Fox," he said softly.
---
!Chapter 6: The Piercing Mulder lay in the bed next to Skinner, trying to pretend that he'd been there all night. He hadn't. After that mind blowing sex the previous day, both men had taken a long time to wind down. Skinner had helped his stricken slave into the bath, then they had eaten together in companionable silence, after which Skinner had sent him off to bed. It had been early, but Mulder was too wrung out to argue. He had fallen asleep almost immediately, his entire body in a state of sated exhaustion. Neither of them had mentioned the 'L' word again but Mulder knew that his feelings had undergone a profound transformation. It was too soon for him to know what the implications of that were. He just knew that when he opened his eyes the following morning, and saw Skinner's signature scrawled across the Master contract on his nightstand, his heart leapt. He lay there just looking at it, feeling warm and safe. After staring at both contracts for a few minutes, he got up and made Skinner his coffee, then some devil in him prompted him to take it up ten minutes early. He tiptoed into the bedroom, and put the coffee and paper on the nightstand, then crept silently into the bed, and snuggled up beside his sleeping Master. Now he was busy convincing himself that he'd slept the night in Skinner's arms. It was a nice fantasy, and it wasn't even spoiled by Wanda's furry presence tickling his toes. Mulder's whole body felt tingling, and alive, and overnight he had become a great believer in the restorative powers of explosive orgasms. He wasn't really sure what was going on in his heart or mind. He'd started off trying to play Skinner, but somewhere along the way the rules seemed to have been changed, and he wasn't sure how, or why, or even what to do about it. For now, he decided to do nothing, and just give himself up to the moment. Resistance was not only futile, it wasn't even possible in the face of such an overwhelming opponent. Besides, Mulder wasn't even sure that he wanted to resist. For now at least. A nagging voice in the back of his head worried about how he was going to cope with these new emotions when he and Skinner returned to work. Mulder wasn't an idiot - he knew that his passion for his work had only been temporarily dampened during this week spent enjoying other passions. What would happen when his duties as a slave conflicted with his duty to his quest? Mulder resolved that he would answer those questions when they arose. For now, he had this week, this one week, with all the joys and terrors that it both threatened and promised to bring. Mulder mulled over the events that Skinner had outlined to him. Firstly, the piercing. Mulder shivered. Skinner had said that would be Wednesday or Thursday. Mulder ran his fingers over his nipples, wondering how they would look, pierced with his Master's rings. He longed to finally be wearing all five of the tokens his Master had given to him upon taking him as his slave, but his stomach churned at the thought of the piercing. He didn't have so much as a pierced ear, and he wasn't sure how he would cope when that needle pricked through one of his primary erogenous zones. Of course it could be worse…Mulder's cock went into a scared spasm at that thought. He continued playing with his now hard nipples. Phoebe had whipped them once, but she had been contemptuous about his inability to cope with as much pain as she wanted to deliver, ruining the scene for both of them. Skinner was right - his nipples were huge erogenous zones for him. He enjoyed having them sucked, and while the idea of being decorated in this way at his Master's hand was a turn on, he was worried that he wouldn't be able to stand the pain. Mulder glanced at the clock as these thoughts churned through his head, watching as it ticked over: 8:57, 8:58, 8:59…9:00. Then he disappeared under the sheets…and found himself face to face with Wanda. "Go," he hissed, disturbed by the idea of performing in front of that green-eyed audience. She blinked at him, and didn't budge. Mulder licked his lips - he could see his Master's cock, and longed to show the other man some small gratitude for that mind-blowing session in the Playroom the previous day. Ignoring the cat, Mulder nudged forward and gently started his wake-up call. Mulder enjoyed this part of the day best. Being able to serve his Master, bringing him to climax, and then having a few minutes nestled on Skinner's shoulder, or draped over his chest afterwards. The big man didn't seem to mind Mulder's need to get close to him while he drank his coffee, and read his paper. In fact he appeared to like it, and amused himself stroking Mulder's body absently while he read, as if his slave were a cat. Skinner's fingers idly played with Mulder's nipples, as the slave lay watching his Master drink. "Master…" he began. "Hmmm?" Skinner carried on reading. "About the piercing…" Mulder hesitated. Skinner looked down on him, and squeezed the nipple he was playing with encouragingly. "Yes." "Um, you have done it before haven't you?" Mulder asked. Skinner laughed. "Yes, Fox. I've done it before." Mulder sat and considered that information, thinking of Skinner sitting in all those meetings with him for all those years, while secretly having this particular skill. It was scary - and his cock made it quite clear that he found it a turn-on too. All that time spent searching for this uber-top, and he had been sitting within arm's reach, one step ahead the entire time. "Do you, is there…I mean, do you swab the, um, area, with local anaesthetic?" He asked hopefully. Skinner folded up his paper, and turned his attention to his slave. "No, Fox," he said gently. "I'll certainly disinfect the nipple, but even if you had it done by a professional they don't usually anaesthetize first." "Oh." Mulder shivered. "It's going to hurt then?" he ventured. Skinner's fingers continued to brush over his nipples, playing with them. Mulder moaned, leaning into the embrace. "Fox, it will hurt, yes," Skinner told his slave honestly, looking down into his eyes. "I know these are particularly sensitive areas of your body, but trust me, they'll look beautiful. As for the pain - it's intense, but the worst of it is over with very quickly. There's some throbbing afterwards, and they'll take several days to heal completely. I'll limit playing with them while they're healing - although I will train you to the leash during that time. I find the vulnerable sensation of newly pierced nipples gives a considerable incentive towards the training. Do you have any more questions?" he asked encouragingly. "Supposing I can't stand the pain? What if I pass out?" Mulder hated himself for being such a wimp, but he was terrified by the thought of disappointing his Master. He had never cared this much about pleasing a top since Phoebe. After she had ripped his chest open and pulled his heart out, he had never allowed himself to get close to another top. He used them, and he didn't care what they got from it or what they thought of him. This was different though. This was Skinner - his Master. "Sometimes people do pass out." Skinner shrugged. "As for the pain - you'll stand it, little one, because I'll make you. It's not a choice." He lifted Mulder's chin, and kissed him sweetly on the lips. "Your body is mine to decorate as I wish," he reminded his slave. "Yes, Master," Mulder muttered, trembling slightly. He loved the words, he just wasn't sure about the reality. Knowing that he didn't have any choice was a relief though. It was out of his hands. He had no say in the matter. Mulder relaxed, enjoying the way his Master was playing with the nipples in question, and arching into the caress. He didn't have to worry about it any more. It wasn't going to happen for a couple of days anyway…"Master?" He ventured. Skinner sighed. "Slave," he replied, pinching a nipple playfully. "You said Wednesday, or Thursday? Which day will it be? I'd like to, um, prepare. In my head." Skinner looked down on him steadily for a moment. "I will give you all the preparation you need," he stated forcefully. "And I think, Fox, that if I told you which day, you wouldn't use the time to prepare - you'd use it to fret." Skinner considered it for a moment, his expression thoughtful. Mulder looked up into his Master's dark eyes, whimpering as the other man's fingers rubbed his nipples to hard points, making his cock follow suit, straining against the cock ring that Skinner insisted he wore at all times - turning every arousal into an erection of some duration. Sometimes he felt like he had a permanent hard-on which might have been gratifying for his Master but was damn painful for the slave, especially as he wasn't allowed to come. "You know… I see no reason to delay," Skinner said, unexpectedly. "I'm a flexible man, Fox. I was going to concentrate on the wider aspects of your training for the next few days, but I think, as you're so anxious about this particular event, that I'll move it forward and pierce you today instead. That way you won't have time to worry yourself into a frenzy." "What?" Mulder sat up, startled. "Yes." Skinner nodded firmly. "Today." "Please, Master, I didn't mean…" Mulder floundered, flying into a panic. Today?! "That is, hell, you don't have to do this for me! I can wait a couple of days. No problem!" "Hush." Skinner kissed him into silence, then flicked his fingers at the floor by the bed. Mulder immediately scrambled down and got into position, knees open, shoulders straight, head down. "All right - listen to me," Skinner said in that low, throaty voice that his slave found so arousing. "For the rest of the day, I want you to be in a state of deep submission. I'll expect you to be able to enter this state at will by the end of our week together, but you'll spend the next few days learning how to reach it. By Friday, I expect you to be fairly proficient - you'll spend the entire party in a deeply submissive mind-set and you won't come out of that until I give you permission." "Yes, Master." Mulder said, not looking up. "Good." Skinner patted his head. "The first rule is that you will only speak when spoken to. You will not speak at any other time, unless it is to draw my attention to something important. Failure to follow this rule will result in punishment, which is likely to be several hard strokes of the crop, or cane. Understood?" "Yes, Master." Mulder could have cursed his treacherous cock for showing Skinner how much this scenario turned him on. "Good. Secondly - when you are not working on a task I have given to you, you will kneel in this position beside me at all times." Skinner emphasized those last words, sternly. "That's important. I want you next to my knee, so I can touch you, or use you if I wish, without inconvenience." "Yes, Master," Mulder whispered, tingling at the thought of being 'used'. Skinner placed a finger under his slave's chin, making Mulder look up at him. "Do not just play lip service to this, Fox," he warned. "Use the time to enter into a head-space where you fully embrace your slavery, and accept your Master's will totally. That means no smart comments, no answering back, and no making faces when I ask you to do something." Mulder swallowed. "Yes, Master," he said. "Give yourself up to your submission, and you'll do fine." Skinner smoothed Mulder's hair affectionately. "I won't ask you to exist in this submissive head-space permanently. I've told you before - I want a smart, witty, intelligent slave, who is able to act on his own initiative. When I've finished your training, you'll be able to enter into this most submissive state at the click of my fingers, without argument, or resentment. That won't happen overnight though. We have a lot of work to do to help you get there." "I understand, Master." Mulder could feel himself start to tremble, as he always did when Skinner spoke to him in this serious way. His Master's expression didn't soften, but his voice caressed Mulder lightly as he continued. "Fox - don't fight it. Today, of all days, it's important that you follow my instruction to the letter. If you do, then you'll find your Piercing to be an experience of profound submissive satisfaction. If you don't, then it'll just be painful." Mulder's throat had gone dry, and he couldn't even begin to speak. He just nodded. "I've given you a lot of leeway in the past couple of days," Skinner told him, cradling Mulder's face gently in his hand, stroking the slave's cheek with his thumb. "I wanted to win your trust, and show you some of the treats that were on offer. Now, as it's Monday, I think it's time to get down to some proper work if I'm going to get you ready by the end of the week. I won't ever be harsh, little one," he said softly, "but you will find me very strict. Unless I tell you otherwise, you can assume that you're in deep submission mode all week. Tomorrow, when you bring me my coffee, you'll perform your wake-up duty, and then kneel beside the bed in position until it's time for your morning discipline. That is the morning ritual you will follow this week. If you do well, then you'll be allowed to stay in the bed while I drink my coffee next weekend." Mulder's heart sank. No more fondling, no more lying with his head on his Master's chest until next Saturday? How would he be able to get through five whole days without that little treat. "Fox," Skinner said warningly. "I've been settling you in gently, but I have very high and exacting standards for my slave. You can expect some severe restrictions during your training." "Yes, Master." Mulder croaked faintly. "When I'm satisfied with you, and I think you've learned how to be completely submissive, then I'll allow you more freedom," Skinner said. "I want you to be a credit to me, Fox, and I'm sure you will be." "I want that too, Master," Mulder said quietly. "Good. Then we both have the same goal in mind. Fox," Skinner's hand smoothed Mulder's hair away from his face. "There are rewards for learning your lessons well," he said. "If you try hard this week, and make me proud of you at the party, then I'll grant you a treat. What would you like for your reward? A session in the Playroom? A special fantasy played out? Tell me." Mulder didn't even need to think about it. "I'd like to spend a whole night in your bed, sleeping in your arms, Master," he said, flushing furiously, knowing his fantasy revealed too much, but wanting it too badly to stop himself asking. Skinner's dark eyes looked at him gravely for what seemed like an eternity, but his hand never stopped caressing Mulder's hair. Mulder held his breath, scared that Skinner would refuse him. Instead of it being a simple request, easily granted, he was suddenly aware that he had asked for something of considerable magnitude, and he almost backtracked, annoyed with himself. "All right." Skinner said, with a nod. Mulder's heart did a somersault. "Pay attention to what I have to teach you, do your best to learn, and obey, and I'll take you to my bed after the Party. However, Fox…" Skinner's eyes held a warning in them. "This has to be earned," he stated seriously. "It's not a foregone conclusion." "No, Master. I understand. I promise I'll try hard." Mulder said, surprising himself with his earnest reply. "Good." Skinner pointed to his lap. "Over my knee," he ordered. Mulder swiftly got into position, arranging pillows under his thighs to lift his ass up for Skinner's attention. His Master didn't immediately dispense the morning discipline though. Instead he examined Mulder's body minutely. "Do you hurt anywhere after yesterday?" he asked, one hand stroking Mulder's buttocks, the other working its way into his slave's lubed anus. "No, Master." "What about here - sore?" Skinner's fingers worked harder, opening Mulder up beneath their insistent caress. "A little, Master," Mulder admitted, with a wriggle that earned him a hard slap on his rump. "Fox, you're mine. You'll allow me to touch any part of my property without squirming, or making a fuss," Skinner told him firmly. "Now, turn around, I want to examine you properly." Mulder knelt in place as ordered, head facing towards Skinner's knees, butt raised in mid-air. He flushed bright red as Skinner pried his buttocks open, and checked him over thoroughly. His Master's fingers dipped in and out of his anus, cool and probing. "Fine." Skinner slapped Mulder's butt lightly. "Get back in place. You've been nicely stretched, but there's no tearing," he told his slave. "That's good - it means I'll be able to use you again later today - after piercing you. You might find it sore after yesterday, but as I said, you should get accustomed to being used, and the sooner the better. It'll be an almost daily occurrence from now on. I think a combination of that, and daily discipline, should serve to remind you who you belong to, as well as reinforcing the lesson that you are a slave, and subject to your Master's will." Mulder felt a thrill running through his body at Skinner's words. He had always enjoyed the extreme submissive kick that he got from the idea of receiving anal sex from a top, but Skinner was the first one he had trusted to give him that without causing him damage. The idea of being on the receiving end of his Master's attention on a daily basis, struck a nerve deep inside him, and made his cock, that barometer of his mind's arousal, go instantly hard. Mulder heard Skinner open a drawer in his night-stand. Looking over his shoulder, he saw his Master retrieve a small, hard, functional black leather paddle from the drawer. Skinner looked back at him, and frowned. "Fox - when you've been placed in deep submission, you'll keep your eyes down at all times," he informed him tersely. Mulder bit on his lip, and rested his head on his arms. Nobody had ever required him to do anything other than pretend at submission before. He was sure he'd wouldn't be able to get away with doing that with his new Master. Apart from anything else, Skinner had told him the piercing would be all the more painful if he didn't try and get himself in the right mind-set. That was incentive enough. That morning's spanking was hard and fast. Skinner didn't caress him, or lead him in slowly with a warm-up - instead he swung the paddle down on Mulder's ass with a reverberating smack. "Shit!" Mulder cried, and he was rewarded by a hard smack to the top of his thighs. "I'm not cruel enough to make you keep quiet during spanking but I don't want to hear anything coherent from you," Skinner informed him, continuing with the spanking at breakneck speed. "What are you, Fox?" He demanded, one hand parting Mulder's butt cheeks down the cleft in the middle and pushing up, squeezing the right buttock into a tightly compressed, isolated, roll of flesh. Thereafter every single slap was delivered to Mulder's right cheek. "I'm your slave, Master." Mulder answered, trying hard not to wriggle. "What is your status in this household?" Skinner asked, continuing to concentrate on that one red buttock until Mulder wasn't sure he could stand it any more. "That of, ow! slave, Master! Owww!" Mulder replied. "What are your duties?" The paddle peppered Mulder's right buttock with a series of blistering blows. "To address myself, argh! you and your needs, Master!" Mulder tried hard not to wriggle under the onslaught, but it was difficult. The paddle stopped for a moment, and Mulder felt Skinner's hand move, pulling his left buttock down, close towards the big man's body. Now, his Master concentrated on his left buttock, every blow being delivered with the precision and concentration to detail that Mulder had come to expect from his Master. "Remind me what you are again," Skinner said. "Your slave, Master." Mulder sobbed, burying his head in the pillow. "Your duties?" "To serve you! Ow!" The tears were flowing freely now. That paddle was vicious. "And your status?" "I have none, Master. I'm only a slave," Mulder wriggled under that relentless paddle. "Please, Master, not in the same place all the time…please," Mulder begged, as his left butt cheek felt as if it would burst into flame. "Does the slave accept the right of his Master to punish him where he wishes?" Skinner asked ominously. "Yes, Master," Mulder panted. "I think that in the past when you've been punished, you've viewed it merely as a means to your own pleasure. Not any more, Fox," Skinner stated grimly. "From now on, spankings, whether for your instruction or your enjoyment, are delivered purely at my own discretion. What you want is irrelevant." To punctuate this statement, Skinner stepped up the pace, using the paddle like a maestro, his aim always landing true. Mulder gasped, the pain mingling with Skinner's words and impacting on him in the most profound way. "Stay still, Fox and take the discipline. It's a hard lesson, but one we'll be returning to over and over again until it's learned. Now you've earned yourself some extra attention on this spot." Skinner repeated the hard slaps to the center of Mulder's left buttock until Mulder felt he would have done anything, said anything at that moment in time, just to feel the paddle on some other part of his body. Anywhere but his aching, burning left butt cheek. He dissolved into a helpless mass of completely submissive slave, trying to switch off from the pain in that blistered buttock, to find a way with coping with it. He thought back to what Skinner had told him about being in a state of deep submission, reliving the words and concept. He was Skinner's slave, and his Master could punish him in whatever way he liked…he couldn't stop him, or plead with him; his Master would continue to his own satisfaction. Mulder was merely a slave, and had to accept whatever was done to his body, which was didn't belong to him anymore. It belonged instead to his Master. Mulder was his Master's property, to be used in any way his Master wished… Suddenly it stopped, and Mulder realized that he had barely felt the last few slaps as he had concentrated on the implications of his slavery. "Well done. I think you learned something this morning," Skinner commented softly. "Yes, Master." Mulder whispered, subdued by the quiet power of his own mental voice. He felt as if he had entered another realm, and he wasn't sure he wanted to leave it. Skinner seemed to recognize this, and spoke in a low, steady tone, not breaking the mood. "All right - I like this shade of red." Skinner slapped his sore buttocks, making Mulder jump. "Go and stand in the corner of the room so that I can see that red butt on display," he ordered. Mulder slid off the bed, and did as he was told. He stood quite still, facing the wall, his face almost as red as his bottom. He was used to being naked, but there was something particularly humiliating about the idea of his sore butt being on display. He felt as if waves of heat were rolling off his ass, warming the entire room. About a quarter of an hour passed and then he heard Skinner get up, and come to stand behind him. His Master grabbed his buttocks, and fondled them with hard strokes of his thumbs on the painful flesh as he gave Mulder his orders: "In a minute, I want you to go and start my shower for me and set my towel warming. Then you can come back in here and lay my clothes out - sweats and a white tee shirt. When you've finished you can stand waiting for me to finish in the shower, and dry and dress me. Then you can kneel beside me, and wait on me while I eat. When I've finished, and you've cleared away my dishes, you can help yourself to your own breakfast. After that you will kneel beside me again, and wait until I require your further services. Fox - one thing." Skinner's voice was firm and silky whispering in his ear. "I would prefer you not to fidget while you're kneeling. However, you're only human. If at any point you start to ache, or get cramp, just stand up and stretch, or change your position. I don't expect you to ask permission to do that. If you can't stay kneeling, it's acceptable for you to sit for short periods to relieve any aches. You don't need to ask my permission to use the bathroom either - just go quietly when you need to, and return to my side when you're done. You should be as unobtrusive as possible. If I want to notice you, I can assure you that I will." Mulder swallowed as his Master's voice caressed him, entering that private plane he seemed to have washed up on. When Skinner finished speaking he nodded. "Yes, Master," he replied, eyes down, fixed on his feet. He was surprised when Skinner drew him into a quick hug, kissing his forehead. "Fox, you're clever, brave, and independent. I like that in you, and in time that's what I'll allow you to be again. I like your conversation, to say nothing of the vibrant personality it reveals," Skinner grinned fondly at his slave. "I would never, ever want that lost. I know it's harder for you to be silent than almost anything else I'm going to demand of you, but it's a lesson in submission that you need to learn." "Yes, Master." Mulder whispered, spellbound, his head resting lightly on Skinner's shoulder. "Good." Skinner stepped back, and slapped his butt firmly. "Get moving," he ordered. Mulder sprang into action, trotted quickly into the bathroom, and turned on the shower, making sure it was the right temperature before finding Skinner's towel and draping it over the radiator. He watched Skinner step into the shower, fighting down an urge to follow him in, and run his hands over his Master's naked body. Instead he did as he had been commanded, and returned to the bedroom. He found Skinner's gray sweats hanging in his closet, and laid them on the bed, adding the tee shirt, briefs and socks from the dresser, and finding his Master's sneakers. Then he returned to the bathroom, and when Skinner emerged from the water, he stepped forward, enveloping his Master in the soft warm towel. He dried the other man with reverence, not even daring to steal kisses this time, just addressing himself to the task. He was fascinated by the tiny fringe of hair around the back of his Master's scalp, and towel dried it with particular care and reverence. He noticed for the first time, much to his own surprise, that Skinner's hair must have been wavy when he was young. Dressing his Master was more a pleasure than a chore. Mulder loved smoothing his Master's briefs up his long, tanned legs. He couldn't resist taking extra care to see that the other man's cock was nestled nicely into place within the white underpants, lingering over that task more than was entirely necessary. Then he held out Skinner's sweats for him, before handing him his tee shirt. Finally Skinner sat on the bed and Mulder lovingly peeled his socks on, then tied his sneakers for him, before following his Master obediently out of the bedroom and down to the kitchen. The silence was strange, and yet curiously welcome, Mulder thought, as he knelt watching Skinner eat. He concentrated every nerve ending on being alert to his Master's needs, jumping up to pour him some orange juice when he emptied his glass, and buttering his toast for him. He lost himself in the tasks, operating on some hazy level of submission that soothed his usually overactive mind. It was as if he had switched off for the first time in his life, and it was such a blessed relief that Mulder wanted to hang onto the moment forever. After they had both eaten, Skinner took him into the study. Mulder knelt obediently beside his Master resting his chin on Skinner's knee as the big man sat behind the desk. It was nice here, he thought drowsily to himself. He could sit here forever, in silence, watching Skinner work. He wondered if it would be possible to sneak up to the 5th floor occasionally when they were back at the Hoover building, to worship his Master like this. He loved the feel of Skinner's hard thigh under his jaw, and the simple pleasure of waiting to catch a stray caress; a light touch to his hair, or a gentle finger against his cheek. "I have invitations to send out for your party." Skinner looked down on his slave, and smiled. "My party, Master?" Mulder echoed, sitting up straight. "Of course it’s your party, little one. It's where I'll show you off in all your glory," Skinner chuckled. Mulder tried to keep himself from shuddering visibly at the horror of the mental image that phrase inspired. "I've already spoken to various people on the 'phone, but a proper invitation is only polite," Skinner told him. "Here's a list of the people I'm going to invite. You can write out the envelopes, while I design something to go inside them." He handed Mulder a list of type written names, and addresses, and Mulder gave a little moan of distress. "Is there a problem, slave?" Skinner asked. "These people, Master…I know some of them," Mulder replied in an agony of humiliation. "You seem to have invited a large number of my previous tops." "That's right." Skinner looked at Mulder over the top of his glasses. "Do you have a problem with that?" "No, Master…yes, Master." Mulder hung his head, and gazed miserably at the list. "Well?" Skinner prompted. "I have a temper, Master." Mulder admitted, his face flushing bright red. "We, that is I…um, we didn't always part on good terms, Master. I might have been a bit, uh, honest in my opinions of some of them when we parted company." "And the problem is?" Skinner's face was impassive. Mulder bit on his lip. "I never thought I'd see them again, Master, that's all." "No, the problem is that the last time you saw them you treated them to one of your famous Mulderesque rants on their inadequacy as tops, and when you see them at the party, you'll be naked, submissive, and walking on the end of my leash. You think they'll enjoy themselves far too much seeing you finally put in your place. Isn't that the problem?" Skinner pressed. Mulder sighed, every single inch of his body squirming at the very thought of it. "Yes, Master," he whispered. "You should be proud," Skinner chided. "I will be. They failed with you - I'm going to show them that with the right handling you can be the perfect slave. They'll envy me my slaveboy. You'll walk to heel like a puppy, Fox, straining to serve me, and obedient to my every word. Nothing else will be important - not your previous tops, not their new subs - nothing but serving me, and making me proud of you. Yes, it'll be hard for you, little one, but you'll do fine." Mulder nodded, glumly, none too sure on that point. He recognized several names on the list, which contained nearly all the key players on the DC scene. The fact that Skinner's party invites included such illustrious names brought home to him just how important a person Skinner was in this circle. He was the property of the most legendary player on the scene; he felt a little glow of pride as he considered that fact. The thought of being displayed naked, pierced, marked, and obedient in all his rings, in front of that forbidding audience still scared him shitless though. Supposing he did something wrong? Supposing he let his Master down? Mulder trembled. It didn't bear thinking about. Skinner designed a neat invitation, just plain black lettering on white card, announcing that he had a new slave to unveil, and stating that the dress code was 'casual', and the Playroom would be open for his guests' amusements. There was also an ominous note at the end: Refreshments and entertainment provided. "What will the entertainment be, Master?" Mulder asked. "Why, you of course, little one. What else?" Skinner chuckled, patting his slave's head affectionately. Mulder had a nasty feeling that his Master had something special in mind for him. When they'd finished, Skinner ordered him to dress in sweats, and then took him down to the gym. "I usually find the place is pretty empty." Skinner handed Mulder his towel, and began his warm-up stretches. "Especially during the day on a weekday. It's a small gym and the equipment isn't particularly fashionable. Most of the people who live here prefer to go to gyms where they can see and be seen. I'm don't give a damn about that crap so this place suits me fine." Mulder nodded, transfixed by the sight of his Master's rippling biceps as he swung an arm above his head, and flexed the muscle. "Do you use a gym?" Skinner asked, placing his leg on the window ledge, and leaning forward over it, treating Mulder to the prefect vision of taut gray-clad buttocks. "No, Master. Usually I just run and swim." "That's good aerobic exercise. Running can be hard on the joints though," Skinner told him. "Using the track machines here will give you a similar result, without the stress on your knees." "Running isn't about the exercise so much, Master," Mulder murmured. "What is it about then?" Skinner glanced at his slave, his expression curious. "It's…escape, Master," Mulder confided. "When I'm out running, I can let my mind wander. I feel like I'm floating…I feel free." "Do you sometimes run too far, too fast - so that you can get the endorphins rush?" Skinner asked. Mulder flushed. "Yes, Master," he admitted. "And you ran more when you didn't have a top available who could provide you with the endorphins in a different way?" Skinner placed both his hands against the wall, and pushed one of his long legs back, leaning forwards, but he still gazed at Mulder, an intent expression in those dark eyes. "Master knows me too well." Mulder crossed his arms over his stomach, suppressing the sensation of fear that Skinner's words had woken in him. He had never been known like this. Nobody had ever taken the time or trouble to get to know him like this. No, that wasn't strictly true - he had never let them. Mulder felt a lump form in his throat. Sometimes he had gone out running for hours at a stretch - usually on cold, wet nights, when the atmosphere suited his moods. He had been swallowed by the darkness, and had allowed it to eat him whole, taking him down to a level of existence where he didn't have to think - he could just be. It was the same place Skinner seemed to want him to go to while in this deep submissive mode, and it scared him. It was a place where he was used to being alone - his secret place achieved through sweat and pain, and now Skinner wanted to accompany him there, to follow him in, and stand beside him. Mulder wasn't sure he could share. Looking back, he could see that his marathon runs were just another way in which he had sought to control both his body and his mind, to seek respite from the demands of both - demands he couldn't meet. He had sought to bludgeon himself into submission, and Skinner was showing him a different path to the same end. It was as if someone had offered to share a burden with him, and he was both grateful to be relieved of the load, and scared of giving it up, at one and the same time. "Fox," Skinner's voice was soft, like a light kiss, breaking into his reverie. "You can still run - but ask for my permission first. I might not always give it. In the meantime, try using these exercise machines. I'll show you how they work." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded. "I'll also show you the settings I use for them. I want you to remember the seat heights I prefer, the number of weights I use, and any other details I show you. When we come back tomorrow, you can go ahead and prepare each machine for me when I'm ready." Mulder nodded again, relieved to have something practical to occupy his mind. He knelt by the treadmill and watched Skinner do a quick warm-up program on it, before moving onto to the kayak machine, and then various other pieces of equipment, in quick succession. The session was finished off by a bout of rigorous weight lifting. The sweat was pouring off his Master by this point, making his body gleam as if oiled, and the number of weights Skinner could lift seriously impressed Mulder. Skinner grinned at his obvious admiration. "I have to keep fit if I'm going to whip recalcitrant slaves into shape. Excuse the pun," he said as he accepted his towel from his slave, tousling Mulder's hair in the process. "I've noticed that Master's puns are excruciating," Mulder observed. "So are Master's whippings, so I'd take care if I were you, little one." Skinner winked, and slapped Mulder's butt firmly, making his slave yelp. They returned to the apartment, where Skinner instructed Mulder to kneel in silence while he took a shower. Mulder fully intended to obey… but after 5 minutes of silent kneeling he found he couldn't reach that restful place in his mind that he had discovered earlier. His brain wouldn't shut down - it kept buzzing at him. How did Skinner understand him so well? What had those other tops told his Master? What were the contents of those files in the study just along the corridor? Mulder risked craning his head to peer in the direction of the study, and from there it was really only one short, scurrying, breathless walk to the door of the study, and a quick prayer for good luck as he turned the handle and tiptoed inside. The files were laid out neatly on Skinner's desk; he had never known his Master to be untidy in his work or his play. Mulder took a deep breath, but this was no different to the many other places he had broken into when he knew he shouldn't. True, the penalties were slightly different: on those other occasions he had risked death, but this time he was only risking his Master's wrath. How come then, that he felt more nervous doing this than he had on all those other occasions put together? Mulder flicked open the first file, one ear straining to hear his Master's footstep on the stair. He was sure that if he heard him, he could scurry back just in time to avoid Skinner finding out about his disobedience. The files were all written in Skinner's neat scrawl, and Mulder didn’t have much difficulty deciphering them. A quick survey revealed that Skinner had been as meticulous as Mulder had known he would be. There were dates, times, and exact quotations - Mulder recognized the phrasing of one of the tops. If he closed his eyes he could even hear the man saying the words. "Mulder fights you, you know? Even when he was giving in I felt like he was just playing me along. It was crazy - like a fucking battle, and I don't think I ever damn well won. After a session with him I used to come out feeling like I was the one who'd just been topped." Mulder read silently, chewing on his lip. He wasn't sure he wanted to know in plain English precisely what his previous playmates had thought about him but it was such fascinating reading he couldn't tear himself away. He recognized the description of himself all too well though - he was just surprised that he hadn't managed to hide himself better. "Fox." The word was spoken softly, from a position just behind his left ear, and all the hair on the back of Mulder's neck stood instantly on end. He froze, like a cat caught by the scruff of its neck, body dangling, helpless and immobile. He could feel Skinner standing directly behind him, warm, and oh, so dangerous. "Master." He closed the file, and replaced it carefully on the desk, then turned, sank to his knees in one swift motion, and kissed Skinner's feet. "I'm sorry, Master," he whispered. "No, you're not; but you will be." Skinner lifted one booted foot, and raised Mulder's chin with it. Mulder looked reluctantly into those dark, dangerous eyes. "Following orders never has been your forte, has it?" his Master commented, in a deceptively light tone. Mulder shivered. "Please, Master, I can explain." "I intend to give you every opportunity to do just that," Skinner said. "Before I whip the living daylights out of you." "Master…" Mulder looked up, seriously scared. "Please, I'm sorry. It won't happen again." "Yes, it will - until you learn," Skinner said. Then, unexpectedly, he crouched down in front of Mulder, and took his face in his hands. "This isn't work, Fox. Whenever you disobeyed me there, the only sanctions I had at my disposal were the empty threats of dismissal, and the tedious official reprimands, such as warnings on your file, which you don't give a damn about. You put me in a difficult situation: how could I reprimand you in any way which had significance without booting you out of the FBI, which common sense told me was the only reasonable solution, but which I could never bring myself to do. So, you forced me to get creative, and I came up with a host of petty humiliations and punishments, which, I think, caused you some small degree of discomfort." "Tape surveillance." Mulder winced, keeping his face perfectly still in his Master's hands, like a stunned mouse between a cat's paws. "Yes, Master, you were creative, and I did hate it." "Apart from that, my only weapon was long sessions of punitive rhetoric. I hope they were as unpleasant for you as they were for me," Skinner murmured. "Master has always been very skilled at telling me off," Mulder said, looking down at the ground, unable to keep the eye contact. "Trust me, sir. It had impact." He remembered the many times he had stood in Skinner's office, undergoing one of the AD's famous tongue-lashings, and wishing he were anywhere else in the universe. "Now though…we are in a different situation." Skinner's voice was silky. Mulder looked up in surprise, and saw the grim smile on his Master's face. "Master is going to enjoy this," he whimpered. "Yes, Fox, Master is going to enjoy this very much indeed. Just think of it as payback for all those times you disobeyed me in the past, when I couldn't do more than give you a talking to." Skinner released his face, and stood up. "The Playroom is open. Go up there, and kneel in front of the throne. Fox…" Skinner stopped the slave with his foot. "This is a different kind of kneeling to what I showed you before. I want you to press your body down on your knees, and place your forearms on the floor in front of you, as if giving obeisance to an Emperor. Your nose should touch the floor. I want you to stay in that position until I come up to give you what you deserve. I call this the Confessional position - when you're in it, I'll expect you to talk, openly, and honestly. You won't be looking at me, and I won't interrupt you. Now, go!" he barked. Mulder scrambled to obey. He ran out of the study at full pelt, and chased up the stairs two at a time in his haste. It felt strange to open the door to the Playroom without Skinner being there beside him. He tiptoed over to the throne in awe, and knelt before it, in the position his Master had instructed him to assume. It wasn't until he was in place that he realized his heart was thudding in his chest, and he was more terrified than he had ever been in his life before. This was worse than haunted houses, worse than vampires and werewolves, worse even than Scully in gun-toting mode. In short, it was worse than just about anything else he had ever encountered. Mulder began to tremble. He wasn't sure how long Skinner kept him waiting; it felt like an eternity but he suspected it was probably more in the region of twenty minutes. When he heard his Master's footsteps clicking across the Playroom towards him he couldn’t decide whether relief or terror had the upper hand in his heart. The footsteps came to a halt by his ear. Mulder held his breath. He could see his Master in his mind's eye, staring down on his naked, contrite, terrified slave, and his trembling intensified. "You'd do well to remember how scared you are right now," his Master said softly. "Maybe in future you'll think twice about disobeying me." "Yes, Master," he croaked. He heard Skinner move away, and seat himself on the throne. "All right, slave, your explanation please - and make it full and thorough. You won't save yourself a whipping but you might earn yourself a reprieve on how harshly it's delivered." Mulder swallowed, and wondered what he should say. "I was scared, Master," he volunteered at last. "Of me?" Skinner asked. "No, yes…partly. Of myself too - and of what you knew about me. When we were in the gym, I felt as if you'd found my soul, and laid it bare. That scared me. I didn't know how you could know me so well. I went to look in the files to see what they had told you about me." "And did you find what you were looking for?" Skinner's voice was calm, and deep. Mulder felt his nerve grow stronger. "No, Master," he admitted. "I'm not surprised," Skinner snorted. "Fox, I've learned a lot about your submissive fantasies from those files, and the games you liked to play, but none of it comes close to telling me about you in the deepest sense of the word. I've learned that from watching you work for the past 6 years. I know you sometimes don't sleep, because you arrive at work with dark rings under your eyes. I know you sometimes don't eat because I've watched you toy with your food, and I know that your demons sometimes rise up to slay you, because of the shadows I've seen in your face and the dejected set of your shoulders. I know you walk a fine line between life and death, because I've read your reports, and I know that you sometimes long to fall into the abyss because I've seen it in your eyes." Mulder looked up wordlessly, forgetting about the position he had been ordered to keep, and gazed at this man who spoke about him as if he cared. Yesterday, Mulder had asked for permission to fall in love with his Master, but today he knew it was too late: he had already fallen in love with him. Not just for the sexual pleasure he knew the other man could give him like the maestro he was, but for the fact also, that for the first time in his life, Mulder didn't feel that he was struggling on alone any more. "Master should punish me hard," he whispered, burying his face in his knees again, scrunching himself up tightly. "We haven't finished yet," Skinner told him firmly. "Before I decide on the punishment, I want more information. What did you learn from those files?" "Nothing good." Mulder gave a short bark of laughter. "They seemed to say…mostly negative things about me. They didn't like me. That's fair enough." He shrugged. "When I first came to you, Master, I told you I was a good sub - the best you'd find. I was wrong. In my heart I wasn't a sub at all." "I know that." Skinner gave a wry laugh. "You will be though, Fox. I'll take you there, and you'll see what you've been denying yourself for so long. You're wrong about the files though. Your tops did like you; nearly all of them mentioned that they found you very endearing. You seem to have chosen to edit that information out." "Maybe, Master." Mulder said wretchedly. "I'm sorry for looking in the files. I've failed you." "No, you failed yourself, Fox," Skinner told him. "What happened? This morning you seemed to be enjoying the deep submission I instructed you to learn. What was the trigger that snapped you out of it?" "I'm not sure." Mulder bit on his lip. "All right - tell me how you felt when you were in that headspace." "Serene." Mulder looked up again, his eyes glowing. "It gave me peace; respite from all the shit that goes on in my mind, Master." "Head down," Skinner told him. Mulder obeyed instantly. "Serene - did you enjoy that feeling?" "Yes, Master, but I couldn't stay that way." "You couldn't be expected to; it was a new state for you and it's hard to learn, but you should have told me you were coming out of it, Fox. I know lots of tricks that would have put you back under. Next time, tell me before you get yourself into this kind of trouble." "Yes, Master." Mulder mumbled into his knees. "Is there anything else?" Skinner demanded, his voice penetrating Mulder's huddled form. Mulder was going to shake his head, but instead he found himself talking. "Master…I think…I was scared of the commitment of accepting your permanent mark on my body." Mulder knew he had hit on the truth, as he began trembling again. He was glad he didn't have to look at his Master - it made the confession easier. "I'm afraid of the pain too, Master. Phoebe…I had a fantasy once that I asked her to act out. I asked her to whip my nipples, and she did - but she did it so hard that she made me bleed. I…couldn't handle the pain, Master. She was disappointed in me. I wanted to please her, and that hurt more than the pain. I'm scared of the same thing happening with you, Master. I'll disappoint you." "Fox," Skinner's voice was gentle. "You've been shot, beaten up, involved in car wrecks, hurt in dozens of different ways in the course of your job. You don't need to prove to me that you're brave. I already know that." Mulder heard his Master move, and a second later, he was surprised to feel a tender hand on his hair. "Your piercing isn't a punishment, Fox, it's a celebration. Trust me - surrender yourself to me, and I'll finish what we started a few days ago, with a permanent affirmation of those contracts we both signed. Kneel up, and look at me." Mulder did as he was told, and drowned in those strong, knowing, dark eyes. "It'll hurt, but the pain will be erotic - I promise you that. The endorphin high will make you buzz, little one. Phoebe didn't understand her responsibilities. I do. This will be different. Trust me." Skinner fondled the side of Mulder's face, then leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips. Mulder moaned and opened up, wanting his Master's tongue, but Skinner laughed and pushed him away. "We'll spend the afternoon preparing for the ceremony, Fox. By the time it happens, you'll be ready. Now, before I punish you, I want to taste the flesh I'll be piercing later. Come with me." Skinner sat back down on the throne, and beckoned Mulder to kneel in front of him. Then he closed his legs around his slave, trapping him there. "Closer." Skinner pulled him in. "Kneel up straight, that's good." His Master dipped his head, and flicked a tongue over Mulder's nipples, making them go immediately erect. "Do you like having these clamped?" Skinner spidered his fingers over his slave's nipples, squeezing them. "Clamping hurts, Master," Mulder replied. "Yes, but do you like it?" Skinner asked, tugging at both nipples playfully. "Sometimes, if it's done right." Mulder admitted. Skinner's mouth nuzzled Mulder's right nipple, and then sucked on it. Mulder moaned, putting his head back, arousal shooting through his veins. The sucking got harder, the intensity too much to bear, and Mulder put his hands up to push his Master away for a moment's respite from the pleasure/pain. "You forget yourself, slave," Skinner told him firmly. "Your body is mine to play with as I want. Put your hands behind your back." "It was too intense…" Mulder began. "Behind your back - now!" Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, then watched as Skinner undid his belt. He wondered if his Master was going to whip him for this latest disobedience, but instead, Skinner tied his hands firmly in place with the belt. "Now, you'll let me touch you where and how I want, when I want - you don't have the right to withhold any part of yourself from my attention," Skinner said firmly. Mulder nodded, his cock going rock solid, and he moaned as Skinner returned his attention to his nipples, sucking hard on each one, reducing his slave to a state of quivering, moaning insensibility. Then his Master began to nibble, teasing the flesh with little bites that stopped just as they started to really hurt. Mulder squirmed, sweat running down his face as he accepted the exquisite torture. "I can't wait to pierce you," Skinner murmured, drawing back, his fingers taking the place of his mouth, twisting Mulder's nipples hard. "Do you have any idea what a turn on for me that is? Think how I'll feel when we're sitting in a meeting back at work, knowing that you're wearing all my rings - but only one of them will be visible." He drew Mulder's ring finger up to his lips and kissed it. "Knowing that you're wearing my collar…" he traced the slender gold chain, "and my cock ring," his hand brushed against Mulder's straining cock, "and that underneath your shirt, you're wearing my other rings, embedded in your flesh, placed there by my own hand. It's a beautiful thought, Fox." Mulder could see the picture his Master had painted for him. Himself, sitting across a table from Skinner, surrounded by serious FBI officials in suits, and him bearing this delicious secret underneath his shirt - proudly wearing the symbols of his Master's ownership, embedded in his very flesh. "Yes, Master…please," he whispered. Skinner smiled, and delivered a light kiss to each reddened nipple. "Soon, slave," he promised. "We have a punishment to deliver first, don't we?" "Yes, Master." Mulder sighed. "You know…" Skinner grasped his chin firmly, and looked at him, "you'll always be spanked once a day - that's a given. However, it would be nice if you could just once get through the day without earning yourself extra punishment. Trust me - when you're back at work, sitting on a hard chair all day, you'll regret it if you make me deliver extra whippings. You've been here three days, and earned yourself extra swats over and above your daily slave discipline on all three so far." "I'll try harder, Master," Mulder promised. "Good. Now get up and go to the cupboard. I want you to get out every single different kind of implement for delivering your punishment that you can find. Just one of each - a switch, crop, paddle, and so on." "Master is going to use each of them?" Mulder asked, his heart thudding in his chest. "Yes, I am. And you, little one," Skinner punctuated his endearment with a light twist to one of Mulder's nipples that made his slave gasp, "are going to give each one a rating for how painful it is. I want to find out how you react to each implement. Then, in future, I'll know which one to use for minor offenses, and which one to get out when we have something really serious to address." He undid Mulder's hands, and pushed him in the direction of the cupboard. "And Fox?" Mulder turned around, a questioning look in his eye, "be honest. You're in enough trouble right now without making it worse for yourself." "I wouldn't lie, Master," Mulder replied, somewhat indignantly. Skinner grinned, and gave him a light swat on the butt. "No, I don't think you would!" Mulder took a sleek, black leather paddle to his Master first. He held it reverently in his hands, and knelt before his Master, holding it up to him. Skinner took it, and placed it on the table. Mulder returned to the cupboard, and found a strap. He repeated the journey with a heavy rattan cane, a riding crop, and a flogger, then found a heavy rubber tawse. The last object he brought out was a long whip, with weighted tips. Skinner took one look at it, and shook his head. "I will give you a proper whipping one day, but not today. We'd need to create a lot of headspace for that," he said. Mulder returned the whip to the cupboard, shivering at the feel of that heavy leather in his hands. "I think we have enough to be going on with," Skinner surveyed the implements. "I'm going to tie you for this - stand up to the whipping post." Mulder did as he was told, quaking inside. Skinner fastened his hands just a fraction too high, so that he was standing on tiptoe, then knelt down and tied his legs as well, keeping them wide apart. Finally, he encased Mulder's testicles in the same protective leather pouch he'd used previously, when marking him. "The good thing about this is that you won't need marking again for a couple of days," Skinner chuckled. Mulder made a face at the wall. As Good Things went, he didn't rate this particular one very highly. "I'm going to give you two strokes with each." Skinner picked up the paddle, and delivered a sound thwack across Mulder's butt without any warning. Mulder gasped - he was still sore from the thorough spanking he'd received this morning. The second one landed with a thud across the center of his butt. "Reaction?" Skinner asked. "It's a dull kind of pain, Master. Heavy," Mulder said. "It doesn't hurt too bad. Maybe you could use it for lighter offenses?" "Very well." Skinner picked up the cane, and stroked a line along Mulder's butt, before delivering a firm lick. "Shit!" Mulder bucked into the air as much as his fastenings would allow. Another blow came down on his backside, and he whimpered. "That bites, Master. It's worse than the paddle - much worse." "All right." Skinner picked up the strap, and stroked two swats across Mulder's butt in quick succession. Mulder fought back a sob. "It's painful, Master. Not as bad as the cane, but worse than the paddle." "Good. You're doing well." Skinner paused for a moment, and stroked Mulder's striped butt lovingly with gentle fingers. "You're pinking up, sweetheart," he whispered in a chillingly erotic voice, "two nice welts, and a glowing ass." He bent down and kissed the ass in question, then licked it. Mulder shivered. "Let's continue." Skinner picked up the riding crop, and delivered the strokes quickly. "Not quite as bad as the cane, Master, but almost," he whispered. "They sting rather than bite." Skinner nodded, and retrieved the heavy tawse from the table. "Now, Fox, I want you to remember to take a lesson from this punishment," he said in a solemn voice. "Have you ever been spanked with a rubber implement before?" he asked. "No, Master," Mulder looked back over his shoulder at the implement in question. "Does it hurt, Master?" "Yes, Fox. This is a real heavyweight. Two will be more than enough to make you regret disobeying me, I think, but just to make sure the lesson goes home, I'm going to double that. Ready?" "Y…yes," Mulder said uncertainly. He buried his head in his arms, and then yowled out loud in sheer pain as the heavy tawse made impact on his buttocks with a loud thwapping sound. "Worse than the cane, Master, much worse…" he panted, hopping as much as he could within his bonds. "Please, don't use it again, Master." "I promised you four, and four's what you'll receive," Skinner told him. Mulder tensed, waiting for the blow, and when it came it didn't disappoint him. "Oh shit, Master…that, that instrument is demonic," he sobbed, lines of flame radiating out from his butt. "I did warn you. Perhaps it'll help remind you of the consequences of disobedience in future," Skinner remarked. "Brace yourself - and remember that the pain is a direct result of your behavior." Skinner swung the tawse against Mulder's naked, vulnerable bottom again. Mulder squealed, and his whole body shook. "That's bad, Master. It hurts more than anything," he panted. "Not quite anything, but nearly," Skinner replied tersely. "Now, one more and then we're done." He didn't give Mulder time to think about it - the next stroke came down hard and fast, and Mulder let out another roar of pain, shockwaves of pain reverberating through his ass. "How did you know, Master?" He asked weakly, as the pain subsided. "Know what, little one?" Skinner kissed his forehead firmly. "How that feels." Mulder moaned, enjoying the feel of Skinner's hands caressing his body. "I wouldn't try out anything on someone else that I hadn't first tried on myself," Skinner replied unexpectedly. Mulder tried to come to terms with the mental image that sentence evoked, and failed. He resolved to find out more about his Master's past when his butt wasn't distracting him by hurting so much. "Relax, your punishment's over." Skinner soothed him. "What did you learn?" "Not to disobey you, Master," Mulder said quickly. Skinner smiled, and kissed him again. "Good. Now, I'm going to use the flogger, but this will be nice - you'll enjoy this." Skinner untied Mulder and re-tied him loosely, and more comfortably. Mulder relaxed into his bonds, as his Master swirled the flogger over his body; up and down, down and up, kissing him with the warm suede strips. Mulder entered a blissed out sensation of hazy peace as the endorphins swept in, taking over, and making his whole body tingle. His cock hardened, and strained against his ring. "You'll come later, Fox," Skinner promised. Mulder nodded, satisfied with that. Later…later he would be pierced…later he would come. He still feared the one as much as he looked forward to the other. Skinner used the flogger liked the expert he was until Mulder was perched, dripping on the edge of erotic bliss. Then Skinner stroked his hair softly, and whispered to him. "Who do you belong to, Fox?" "You, Master," he replied, dreamily. "And what can I do to you?" "Whatever you like, Master." "Good boy. I want you to stay in that place in your head while you go to your room, and bring me the gold rings." "Is it time, Master?" Mulder looked up, the fear leaping into his eyes. "It's time." Skinner kissed him reassuringly, then untied him, holding him up until he got his balance. Mulder walked slowly to his bedroom, fighting down the fear and anticipation. He found the gold rings, and walked back to the Playroom, then stopped, on the threshold. Skinner had changed - instead of his jeans, he was now wearing a pair of tight leather trousers, and a soft cream-colored shirt that hung loosely, and comfortably from his muscled frame. He looked like an old fashioned romantic hero. Mulder sighed. "Come in, sweetheart." Skinner beckoned him in, and locked the door behind him. "Kneel down in the center of the room, and put a ring in each hand - close them into fists. That's right. Now close your eyes, and don't think about anything but how I'm going to make those rings part of you." Mulder did as he was told, feeling the gold warm up under his fingers. Soon they would decorate his body, placed there by his Master's hand. He heard Skinner move around the room, and fought down an urge to open his eyes, concentrating instead on the rings, as he had been ordered. "Okay - open your eyes, but don't move," Skinner commanded him a few minutes later. Mulder did, and looked around in surprise. Skinner had pulled the blinds down over each window, plunging the room into darkness. Now his Master was lighting what looked like a hundred candles with a long taper. The room seemed warm, intimate, and cozy. "This is private - between you and me," Skinner told him, walking slowly around the room, igniting each candle. They gave the room a warm glow, enchanting the kneeling slave and bathing him in warm, flickering light. When Skinner had finished, he blew out the taper, and beckoned Mulder over to the massage table, which had been adjusted to a sitting position. "Put the rings on the table and sit down," Skinner instructed. Mulder did as he was told, and Skinner paused and kissed him deeply on the lips. Mulder moaned, as Skinner's hand brushed over his nipples, a wave of electricity surging through him at his Master's touch. "I'm going to tie you to keep you still," Skinner informed him. "You'll be tied tight because I don't want you moving while I work. Understood?" "Yes, sir," Mulder replied, never taking his eyes off his Master's face. "Good boy." Skinner kissed him again, and then fastened him onto the chair, binding his shoulders and legs into place. "Can you move?" He asked, when he had finished. Mulder tried to wriggle, but he was secured firmly into place. "No, sir." "Good." Mulder watched as Skinner retrieved a bowl full what smelled like alcohol, and some cotton balls and placed them on the table. It was warm in the room, but even so, he started to shiver. "Hush," Skinner smiled at him. Mulder tried to relax, watching as Skinner sat down beside him, and opened a pack of sterilized needles. His Master picked up one of the rings, and dipped it in the bowl, then threaded it to the blunt end of the needle. Skinner swabbed his left nipple with alcohol, then picked up a pen, and moved his hand forward. Mulder moaned as the tension built up. Not knowing what to expect was the worst part. "I'm just marking the spot," Skinner told him. "Would you prefer to be blindfolded?" "No. No - I'll watch." Mulder whispered. Skinner placed a dot on either side of his left nipple, and then retrieved a vicious looking instrument with a triangular head from the table. "It's a clamp - it squeezes the flesh into place. It'll help me make a more precise job," Skinner told him. Mulder nodded. "When I've finished decorating you, your body will be even more pleasing to me," Skinner's voice was low, and soothing. "You don't have a choice, little one. Just relax." So saying, he attached the clamp into place. Mulder bit down on his lip as his nipple was lightly crushed between the metal, then his Master picked up the needle. He didn't say a word, just matter of factly plunged it straight through Mulder's flesh. Mulder let out a startled scream of surprise, but the pain didn't kick in until a few seconds later, when it zoomed through his body in a warm wash of agony. He struggled pointlessly against his bonds, wanting to do something, anything, to rid himself of what felt like a strip of molten steel pressed through his nipple. "Hush, it's okay, that one's done," Skinner stroked his chest soothingly. "Take it out! Oh fuck, it hurts!" Mulder yelled. "It looks beautiful though. Look at it," Skinner commanded. Mulder glanced down, and saw the gold ring lodged in his nipple. He was surprised by the sudden surge of pride that welled up inside him. "Okay…okay…that one can stay, but you can't do the other one. I can't face it…we'll do it another day," Mulder said firmly. Skinner smiled at him, and swabbed his right nipple with alcohol. Mulder changed his mind - not knowing what to expect was not the worst part. He knew what to expect this time, and that made the anticipation even worse. "You're doing well." Skinner pushed Mulder's damp hair off his forehead. "All right, little one, here we go again." Skinner marked the nipple with his pen, and then clamped it. Mulder tensed his muscles in preparation, and closed his eyes. He felt Skinner's fingers on his flesh, and then a sharp prick, and he yelled again. It seemed to take Skinner forever to tug the ring into place and close it, all the while jolting that sore, newly pierced flesh. When it was finally over, Mulder hung limply in his bonds, gazing down at his newly decorated body. "I told you they'd look beautiful," Skinner smiled, clearing away the piercing apparatus. He returned and untied his slave, and then walked him over to the mirror. "They suit you, and now you're fully mine, Fox." Skinner stood behind his slave, and touched his cock ring, and his collar, then picked up his hand and fingered his wedding ring before finally brushing the tips of his fingers gently against Mulder's nipples. Mulder flinched, but the endorphin high he had been on after the flogging was made even more intense by the piercing, and although it hurt, the pain sent a dizzy wave of arousal through his body. "Let's get this off before it's too late, shall we?" Skinner grinned, releasing Mulder from the cock ring. "You can't come yet - I want to play with you first," he said, taking Mulder over to the throne. He sat down, and made Mulder straddle his lap, facing him. "Undo my shirt - touch me. Good. Now open my trousers, that's right…" Skinner's cock leapt out eagerly from its restraint under Mulder's caress, and Mulder quickly slipped the condom Skinner handed him onto the broad penis. "I'm going to play with my new toys," Skinner smiled, and kissed the tip of each pierced nipple, making Mulder moan. His nipples were so sensitive after the piercing that the tiniest caress resonated deep inside his body, making his cock jump and harden. Skinner circled the tip of each nipple with his tongue, and Mulder held onto his Master's shoulders for dear life. "Oh shit…that feels…incredible," he whispered. "Good. I'm going to make it hurt a little more - hold still, slave." Skinner pulled Mulder closer, holding him tight within his muscled arms, and then fastened his lips around the sensitive nipple. Mulder howled, feeling the metal rubbed against his tender flesh. Skinner wasn't doing anything more than very light licking, but it caused wave after wave of pain in the sensitized nipple. "Shit…that hurts…that hurts…" he whimpered, his endorphin level skyrocketing. "Good. Hush…" Skinner continued his caress, and Mulder almost spasmed with the pleasure/pain. Each light touch of Skinner's finger, or lick of his tongue hurt those tender nubs of flesh, but each wave of pain sent him even higher in the sky until he felt as if he was floating. "Dear little slave," Skinner murmured, brushing his nipples lightly, "don’t wriggle, Fox…just accept my caress…good slave." He continued stroking Mulder's pierced nipples as Mulder climbed the walls of pleasure to dizzying heights. His cock was rock hard, and he began to thrust into his Master's lap, hoping that the friction would bring him some release. "Not yet. I haven't finished with you yet. I told you I wanted to use you today. Now, I'm going to teach you another trick." Skinner's fingers slipped into Mulder's lubed anus, and Mulder opened up for them, trying to impale his body on them, wanting to experience the pleasure of having his prostate stimulated in time to the throbbing in his nipples. Skinner laughed. "No, not my fingers," he said, still thrusting in and out, until Mulder was writhing in frustration on his lap. "My cock, Fox. I want you to go down on me, while I play with these," Skinner flicked the nipples lightly and Mulder threw back his head, the sweat pouring from his face. "Go down…?" He panted, trying to wrench himself back to reality. "That's right." Skinner took Mulder's hand, and placed it on his hard cock. "I'm ready and waiting for you." He grasped Mulder's buttocks firmly in his hands, and held them open as he guided him down onto his waiting cock. Mulder moaned as he felt the tip of his Master's cock slide into place, but he was unprepared for Skinner's next move. His Master suddenly grasped his thighs, and pulled him down hard onto his cock, bucking up with his hips at the same moment, and his cock rammed home, right up to the hilt. Mulder sat there, speared on that cock, his eyes watering as he grew used to the intrusion. He was still sore from yesterday, but the sensation of his anus being stretched mingled with the endorphin high of the piercing, and he almost passed out from the intensity. Skinner held him tight, keeping him upright, his big arms clutched around Mulder's body. Mulder put his head back, sweat pouring down the side of his face. "I can't…it's too much, Master…" he moaned. Skinner ignored him, and pressed his face against Mulder's nipples, licking them lightly. "Move, Fox, up and down…" He tugged at Mulder's hips, and Mulder felt that hard cock sliding inside him. He did as he was commanded, acting on instinct alone, and moved up, then impaled himself back down on his Master's cock. Somewhere along the way it found his prostate, and Mulder gasped, and held onto Skinner's shoulders for dear life. "That's okay, keep going, find it again," Skinner murmured, still toying with his nipples. Mulder started to move rhythmically, up and down on his Master's cock. He had never experienced anything like this before. Yesterday's orgasm had been explosive enough but what he was feeling today was even more intense. It hurt - it hurt bad, but it hurt so good too. Mulder rocked up and down on Skinner's cock, and with every thrust, Skinner stroked or licked one of his nipples, alternating the two. It was more than Mulder could bear. "Please, let me come…" he gasped, his hand milking his desperate cock hopefully. "Not yet - ride me for longer," Skinner instructed. Mulder was half out of his mind on sensation, as he obeyed. He moaned as that hard cock slid up and down his narrow passage, his nipples being lovingly tortured by his Master. His own cock stood out rock hard in front of him, but he could barely feel the ache in that with all the sensation in the other parts of his body. "Hurts…oh god, I've got to come…oh shit…Master, please…ow! Fuck…Stop, please…oh shit…" Mulder moaned, as his Master skillfully built the scene to climax, thrusting up inside his slave, and fondling his hot, pierced nipples in timed strokes. "Keep going," Skinner insisted, his firm voice the only thing anchoring Mulder to reality. Mulder didn't know how long he rode that cock in a haze of pain but suddenly he was aware that he was getting faster and faster, his movements governed by the bounce of Skinner's hips into the deepest recess of his body. "Now," Skinner whispered, and Mulder knew he wasn't coherent, but somehow his cock responded, even though his mind was far, far away. He orgasmed, his come splattering out over his own hand and over his Master's chest, and he felt Skinner's arms pull him close, as his Master reached his own climax buried deep within Mulder's ass. "Oh shit." Mulder clung onto his Master as they both rested in the aftermath of their shared orgasm. "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…" he nuzzled Skinner's neck, then his lips found those of his Master and he kissed him, half fainting in his big arms. He could feel Skinner's cock softening inside him, but still neither of them moved. They sat there, Mulder straddling his Master's lap, their arms around each other for an eternity. Mulder watched the candles flicker and die out of the corner of his eye as Master and slave floated away together, on a haze of shared pleasure. "I'm so high you're going to have to send a helicopter to get me back down," Mulder murmured. Skinner smiled, and licked some sweat from his neck. "Good?" He asked. "Oh god, yes," Mulder sighed. "I've a feeling I'm going to hurt like hell tomorrow though." "Maybe - was it worth it?" Skinner asked, his hands gently stroking Mulder's back. "You know it was. For you too, Master?" Mulder asked anxiously. Skinner laughed out loud. "In case you didn't notice, I was having a ball!" He grinned. "I like you like this…so close…" Mulder shut his eyes, and held on. There was just him, and the tautly muscled, lightly furred body of his Master, and the scent of sex, and sweat. Mulder felt a twinge of anxiety nag deep inside his stomach: his desire to spend a night in his Master's arms was no longer just a wish - it was a need. He thought of the trials ahead with a sinking heart. He knew his heart's desire depended upon him behaving himself for the next few days, and making Skinner proud of him at the party. Could he transcend his own self-destructive tendencies for long enough to avoid screwing things up? Mulder pulled his Master closer, relishing the feel of their bodies as they sat pressed together. Of course I can do it, he told himself. Easy. He closed his eyes, rested his head on Skinner's shoulder… and crossed his fingers behind the other man's back.
---
!Chapter 7: I Must Be Honest With My Master Mulder paused outside Skinner's door, carrying two cups of coffee. It was amazing - he'd only been living here for a few days, and already Skinner was allowing him to sleep in his bed, to have sex on demand, and to skip the ironing chores. He'd even promised to give Wanda away to Scully. Mulder smiled, and pushed open the door: everything was good. He felt safe, secure, loved, and the sex was so damned hot! This was everything he could have hoped for, or dreamed of. What could possibly go wrong? He entered the bedroom, and stopped short. The coffee spilled, dark brown liquid spiraling in slow motion, scalding his naked chest. Skinner wasn't in the bed. He was standing by the window, frozen, caught in the beam of a bright light. Mulder shouted at him to get away, ran to the night-stand, found a gun, aimed it, and tried to fire, but nothing happened. He could hear his own voice from a great distance, screaming, and his chest hurt. He watched, helplessly, as Skinner disappeared in front of him, and he couldn't do, or say, anything to bring him back. As the light faded, Mulder knelt down beside the bed, and cried until his ribs ached, and his chest hurt damn it! It hurt. Mulder woke up, still sobbing from the dream. His chest did hurt - his nipples throbbed from the piercing yesterday. His cock twitched as he recalled the erotic heat of that ceremony, and he longed to pump it into a full erection, and jerk off, but Skinner had hobbled that particular pastime by strapping him into the chastity belt again. His Master had also warned him that he wasn't allowed to come for the next few days, so he'd be wearing the damn thing every night until the party, after which he'd consider the situation again, depending on how well Mulder behaved. Four days without being able to come! Here he was, slap-bang in the middle of the most erotic situation he'd ever been in, in his entire life, and he was unable to relieve the pressure. It was a most exquisite torture, and his Master seemed to know the best way to manipulate it for maximum torment value. His Master… Mulder felt a cold sweat sweep over him as the full details of the dream came flooding back. He tried to calm himself. He wasn't exactly a stranger to insomnia, but he'd never had this particular nightmare before. He got up, turned the light on, and the sparkling gold of the nipple rings caught his attention as he passed the mirror on his way to the bathroom. His nipples were erect, and if they weren't so damned painful he'd have enjoyed how enticing they looked. As it was, he shuddered at the very thought of anyone touching them. His Master had already exhibited a strong interest in this particular part of his anatomy, so he might well choose to fondle them. Mulder knew there was nothing he could do if Skinner wanted to play with any part of his slave's body, but he was hoping that his Master would be merciful, and allow the painful nubs of flesh a few days in which to heal. Mulder winced as he saw how pale he looked, with dark shadows under his eyes. Damn! Where had that dream come from? He went to the bathroom, then crawled back into bed, but, try as he might, he couldn't erase the image of Skinner disappearing from sight, wrenched away from him. Taken, just as Samantha and Scully had been taken, and he couldn't do a thing to stop it. He was always so damn helpless, a victim of circumstance, and fate. It was as if everyone he loved was doomed to this particular fate. Everyone he loved…Mulder bit on his lip. Love. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to fall in love with anyone. Skinner had entered his heart like an unstoppable force of nature, and taken up residence there as if it were a kingdom he had been born to rule. Mulder tossed and turned, and then finally gave up any hope of sleep. He thought about Skinner lying all alone in his bed, unprotected, unaware of the danger he was in, and struggled with himself for half an hour. He knew he was being stupid, that it had just been a dream that had tapped into his worst fear, but he couldn’t stop himself worrying. Losing Skinner would just about kill him. However likely or unlikely, he couldn't just stand by and let it happen. He'd never be able to forgive himself if he did. Mulder got up, picked up his blanket and pillow, grabbed his gun for good measure, then crept noiselessly down the stairs. He paused for a moment outside Skinner's bedroom, then took his life in his hands, and opened the door. Skinner was lying under the bedclothes, arms and legs outstretched as always, in a pose of abandoned repose. Wanda was nestled under one of his strong, muscular arms. She looked up as Mulder came in, and he willed her to be silent. She didn't move, just stared at him with those glowing green eyes as he lay down on the floor at the foot of the bed, and pulled the blanket around him. He didn't even want to think about the trouble he'd get into if Skinner found him here. It was just where he needed to be. Mulder fell asleep within seconds, reassured by the deep, comforting sound of his Master's breathing. He awoke just after 8 am, wondering why he was suffocating. He soon located the source of the problem: Wanda was sitting on his chest, gazing at him curiously with her shining eyes. Clearly the novelty value of having a strange man lying on the floor for half the night had been too much for her. "Wanda, there's a saying you should be aware of. It goes 'curiosity killed the cat'. Remember that," Mulder hissed in an undertone, casting a glance at his sleeping Master to make sure he wasn't in deep shit. He sent up a swift prayer of thanks to whatever deity looked out for insomniac slaves for the fact that his Master was clearly a deep sleeper, and disengaged himself from Wanda, placing her soundlessly back on the bed. "Just view it as a friendly warning," he whispered, patting her head. She emitted a trilling purr that erupted like the sound of a volcano in the quiet room, and Mulder hotfooted it for the door, making it just in time as his Master mumbled something drowsily in his sleep, and turned over. "Did you sleep okay?" Skinner asked, an hour or so later, looking at his slave keenly as he sat up and accepted the coffee Mulder brought him. "Yes. Why?" Mulder replied defensively. Of all the Masters, in all the world, why the hell had he been lumbered with the one with eyes in the back of his head, and the ability to seemingly know what was going on in the entire household when he was clearly fast asleep? "Because of your piercing," Skinner replied mildly. "I thought you might have been in some discomfort during the night." "Oh, yeah. That." Mulder shrugged. "No. I'm fine." "So you slept okay?" Skinner repeated, those dark eyes still staring at him searchingly. "Yes. I slept fine," Mulder lied, just managing to stop himself from rolling his eyes in irritation at his Master's sudden obsession with his sleeping habits. He let out a startled yelp, as Skinner put the coffee down smartly on the night-stand, plucked his ear between his thumb and forefinger, and dragged him onto the bed, delivering several slaps to his upturned rump in quick succession. "I'm hearing some attitude this morning," Skinner told him, cheerfully peppering this statement with a series of stinging slaps. "I'm sorry!" Mulder gasped, taken by surprise. "No, I'm still hearing it." Skinner clamped one hand firmly over Mulder's waist, and began whaling his slave's ass in earnest. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry…Master!" Mulder yelled at last, dimly realizing what had offended his Master. The spanking stopped, abruptly. "That's better. Kneel." Skinner clicked his fingers, and Mulder quickly obeyed, getting into position beside the bed, back straight, and head down. "All right, let's start again. Did you sleep well last night, slave?" "Yes, Master," Mulder responded immediately. "Are you sure? You're not exactly looking bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning." Mulder looked up, suppressing a sigh. How the hell did Skinner get to be this observant? Was he never going to get anything past his Master? "My chest did hurt a bit in the night, Master," he admitted finally. "Did you take any painkillers?" Skinner asked. "Um, no." Mulder remembered the medicine cabinet in his private bathroom. He had been so preoccupied by his nightmare that he hadn't even thought of taking any painkillers, but he wasn't going to admit that to Skinner. He never spoke of his restless nights - not to Scully, not to anyone. Investigating the causes of his insomnia required a level of self-analysis that he didn't feel capable of. He was so used to his fucked-up, dysfunctional life that he didn't even think there might be a solution to any of it, and he sure as hell wasn't telling Skinner that his worst nightmare was seeing his Master whisked off by a spaceship. For a start, that would mean admitting how much the other man meant to him, to say nothing of the fact that he'd probably die laughing at the absurdity of it. "Why not?" Skinner took a sip of coffee, his eyes never leaving those of his slave. "I don't know," Mulder snapped, with a sulky shrug. "Master," he added hastily as Skinner's face darkened. "Well in future, please remember to take better care of yourself," Skinner told him firmly. "Yes, Master," Mulder muttered. "Good. Go and get me a bowl with some boiled water in it, and the salt," Skinner instructed, "and bring me some cotton balls as well." Mulder scurried to obey, and returned a few minutes later with the requested items, laying them on the night-stand. Wanda wandered over and sniffed at them curiously, clearly intrigued by the proceedings. "On the bed. I think we'll do a thorough inspection today," Skinner told him, clicking his fingers. Mulder felt stupid clambering onto the bed and trying to arrange his long limbs as tidily as possible for Skinner's examination. "All right - I'm going to start your leash training today, so we might as well start with some basic commands," Skinner said, as he surveyed his slave's clumsy maneuvering. "When I click my fingers, you'll assume the kneeling position that I've already taught you. Kneel facing me on the bed - you can put your knees on either side of my legs. That's right." He moved Mulder into position. "Hands behind your back, eyes down. I've noticed that you're not very good at keeping your eyes down, slave." "No, Master. Sorry, Master." Mulder bit on his lip, keeping his eyes lowered. "I like reading your expressions, Master." "Well, you can listen to what my voice tells you instead," Skinner replied. "You should learn to respond to non-visual clues, Fox. I want you to become attuned to every aspect of my command - from my voice to my gestures." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded. This was so hard though! He liked looking at his Master, and he found it almost impossible to keep his head down, in the submissive position. He was just too curious, too eager to know what was happening, and to figure out a response to it. "I suspect that you disobey me on this because you're fighting your submission," Skinner observed. "Isn't that the case? You're so busy trying to read my response to you, that you aren't thinking about pleasing me. I've already told you that addressing yourself to my needs is the only thing you need concern yourself with. Forget about yourself, Fox, and learn to embrace your submission." "I'll try, Master," Mulder replied in a small voice. He let out a deep sigh, and Skinner chuckled. "I know - it's hard, but we'll get there," he said gently, kissing his slave's forehead. "If I want you to look at me, I'll lift your chin up. When I want you to look down again, I'll click my fingers. Understood?" "Yes, Master." "Good. Remember it then. Now, let me have a look at these." Mulder watched from under lowered lashes, as Skinner's hand came into his field of vision, making a beeline for his sore nipples. It was all he could do not to flinch, as his Master investigated the newly pierced nubs of flesh gently but thoroughly, then reached for the bowl of salt water. "I'll bathe these twice a day. It might hurt," Skinner warned him. Mulder nodded, and took a sharp intake of breath as his Master carefully dabbed the warm water over his sore flesh. It was actually quite soothing, and he soon relaxed, but he yelped when Skinner gently turned one of the rings, and put his hands out instinctively, looking up. Skinner paused, and flicked his fingers again. "Eyes down, hands behind your back. Get used to it, Fox," he said softly. Mulder swallowed hard, and then did as he was told. He'd found that one of the hardest thing about his slavery was allowing Skinner to touch his body whenever, and however, he wanted - but it was also one of the things that aroused him most as well. Skinner finished up with his nipples, much to Mulder's relief, and continued his inspection. He undid the chastity belt, and examined his slave's cock, and balls, although Mulder wasn't entirely sure what he was looking for. "Is there a problem, Master?" he asked, as the examination continued for several interminable minutes, during which his cock started to swell and rise. "No, I just enjoy touching my slave, and you know, I'm thinking that a piercing would look pretty here." Skinner grinned, caressing the tip of Mulder's cock. Mulder looked up in alarm. "Please, Master…" he said weakly. "Any argument with that?" Skinner asked dangerously. Mulder hesitated for a long time before backing down. "No, Master," he whispered. "Good. Fox - you're supposed to be in deep submission right now. I don't recall asking you a question, or giving you permission to look up." He clicked his fingers, and Mulder reluctantly lowered his eyelashes. "That's better." Skinner slapped his rump lightly. "Turn around. I told you today's inspection would be thorough, and that's exactly what it's going to be. On your hands and knees, slave." Mulder obeyed, flushing furiously. He found this to be the most humiliating position of all - butt raised in the air, right in front of his Master's nose, and not for the purpose of their mutual pleasure, just for inspection. He felt Skinner's hands on his bottom, stroking, and prodding. His Master trailed along a sore area with his finger, and Mulder winced. "This is where I punished you yesterday afternoon. I told you that would leave a mark. Do you remember the lesson you were being taught with that punishment?" Skinner's fingers pressed hard on his sore butt, and Mulder gave a strangled yelp. "I'm waiting. If you can't remember the lesson less than 24 hours after the punishment, then I'll clearly have to make your corrections more…memorable." "Ow! Sorry, Master. I do remember," Mulder gasped. "I must not disobey my Master. That was the lesson!" "Good." Mulder bit on his lip, as Skinner's finger continued to examine the welted area in exquisitely painful detail. Then he moaned as Skinner pried his buttocks apart, and inserted a finger into his anus, wriggling it around. It felt different, and Mulder realized, too late, that after his interrupted night, he had forgotten to lube himself. "Fox, you're dry. Supposing I'd wanted to use you this morning?" Skinner asked. "I'm sorry, Master. I forgot." Mulder wriggled as Skinner inserted a second finger, and then a third. He was rewarded by a slap on his bottom. "Still." Skinner commanded. "Forgetting isn't good enough, Fox. Have you ever experienced a dry fuck?" "No, Master." "Well, trust me, you wouldn't forget it in a hurry. Can you feel that this is more uncomfortable dry?" He pushed all three fingers forcefully into Mulder's anus, making Mulder gasp. "Yes, Master," he panted. "Well, imagine it's my hard cock, slave," Skinner said shortly. "You're a bit red here after yesterday, so I'm not going to use you today. This…" he thrust his fingers deep into Mulder's anus, and twisted them, making his slave yelp, "will have to get used to receiving me on a daily basis, but we have more than enough ground to cover today without wasting time on pleasure." Mulder's heart sank at that statement but he didn't dare say anything. Skinner withdrew his fingers and clicked them again, and Mulder turned around and knelt obediently, facing his Master. "Hands out." Skinner ordered, dipping his own hands in the water, and wiping them on the washcloth beside the bed. Mulder obeyed, confused. "Why does Master want to inspect my hands?" He asked, as Skinner took hold of his wrists, and examined each finger in detail. "Has my slave forgotten that he's in deep submission and forbidden to speak until spoken to right now?" Skinner asked. "No, Master," Mulder sighed. After a shitty night, it looked as if he was in for a shitty day. His nipples throbbed, and his head felt like it was filled with sawdust after his nightmare and lack of sleep. He wanted to scream, and shout, but instead he was forbidden speech altogether. Mulder wondered how the hell he was going to get through this day without bringing his Master's wrath tumbling down on him like a ton of bricks. Skinner finished his inspection of Mulder's hands, then examined his head, sifting through his hair as if looking for nits, and bending his ears back to look behind them. Mulder endured this with a growing sense of frustrated humiliation. Skinner tugged at the hair under his arms, and chest, then continued down his belly, stopping to insert his little finger carefully into Mulder's navel, for no reason Mulder could fathom, then his Master's firm, capable fingers traveled down his thighs, and examined his feet. Finished with that, Skinner tipped his slave's face up, and ordered him to open his mouth. Mulder obeyed, flushing to the roots of his dark hair. He felt like a damned horse being examined for purchase! Skinner felt around in his mouth for what seemed like hours, then he let him go, and sat back, regarding his slave with a frown. "Your fingernails are dirty, and a couple of them are broken. Your hair could do with a cut, and you haven't brushed your teeth this morning," he said briskly. "To say nothing of the fact that you haven't prepared yourself properly for my use. You will, in future, ensure that whenever you are in my presence your grooming is impeccable. The same applies for when we return to work, when I will expect you to look your best whenever I see you. Your hair grows quickly?" "Yes, Master." Mulder replied sullenly from under lowered lashes. "Then I'll trim it once a week starting this weekend," Skinner said. "What?" Mulder looked up, alarmed. "Problem, slave?" Skinner asked. "No, Master…just…I hope Master isn't going to make my appearance, um, emulate his own," Mulder said, then regretted it instantly. "You think I'm going to shave your head?" Skinner roared with laughter. "Why would I do that? I love your hair, slave, and, you know, I wouldn't want it too short, or I wouldn't be able to do this with it." He buried his fist deep into Mulder's locks, and tugged his slave's head back so that his throat was exposed, then ran a finger down his jaw, and over his Adam's Apple. Mulder hung in mid-air, trying to keep his hands behind his back, as Skinner licked a line from his collarbone to his chin, finishing up at his slave's lips, and kissing him firmly. Mulder moaned. "You really like being kissed don't you?" Skinner grinned, releasing him a few seconds later. "Yes, Master," Mulder agreed. "Well, perhaps if you behave yourself, you'll earn more kisses." Skinner's words sounded somewhat ominous to Mulder's mutinous ears. "Now, it's time for your morning discipline. We'll do things differently today. Go and brace yourself against the wall. Hands flat, legs open, butt out. We'll call this the Grace position shall we?" "The Grace position, Master?" Mulder raised an eyebrow, but he did as he was told, scrambling off the bed, and going to stand in front of the wall, placing his hands on it, and sticking his butt out. "That's right," Skinner took up position behind him, and delivered a stinging slap to Mulder's backside. "As in, 'for what we are about to receive, may the lord make us truly thankful.'" He punctuated this statement with a series of smacks to Mulder's exposed ass. Mulder made a face. Really, the scariest factor about this whole Master/slave thing was discovering the true weirdness of Skinner's sense of humor. It had been bad enough discovering his Master had one at all, but it just kept getting worse with each new corny pun and wisecrack. "Keep that ass out, ready and waiting, slave," Skinner ordered, as Mulder hopped from foot to foot, trying to ease the pressure of the punishment on his already sore backside. It took all Mulder's willpower to stay with his hands flat, his legs open, and his ass pushed up to receive the punishment his Master was dishing out. Skinner was as thorough as ever, although he did only use his hand, for which Mulder really was truly thankful. He still remembered the vicious sting of that paddle his Master kept in his night-stand. "What are you, Fox?" Skinner asked, the familiar morning litany, slapping his slave firmly on the middle of his ass. "A slave, Master." Mulder panted, his cock going hard, and immediately lurching into a full erection. "Wrong. Again." Skinner slapped him hard. "Ow! Um…oh, your slave, Master. I'm your slave!" Mulder yelped. "Good. And what is your status?" "None, Master! I have none. I exist to serve you!" Mulder cried. The spanking came to an abrupt halt, and Skinner turned him around. "Thank me," he ordered. Mulder swallowed, and nodded, then knelt and kissed his Master's beautiful toes. "Thank you, Master," he whispered. He looked up at Skinner's magnificent, naked body, and felt a wave of serenity wash over him. He blinked back his tears, and kissed his Master's toes again, and then again, hiding his face from the other man, not wanting him to see how much he loved him. All he could think about was that damn nightmare, and how much losing his Master would hurt. I can't lose you, Master. I'll protect you with my life… "All right," Skinner said softly, soothing Mulder's hair. "Stand up, little one." Mulder obeyed, trembling slightly. Skinner pressed his lips softly against Mulder's forehead, and pulled him close, fondling his buttocks lightly as he pressed him against his body. Mulder's hard cock got even harder, and Skinner laughed. "You're amazing, slave," he murmured, pushing Mulder away from the warm, comforting circle of his arms. "Master?" Mulder frowned. "Like a car ad." Skinner glanced at Mulder's erect cock. "From zero to fully erect in less than 10 seconds," he grinned. "It's a shame that this," he squeezed Mulder's cock, "won't be racing anywhere for the next few days, but it sure as hell is nice looking at it!" He ran a finger along Mulder's swollen shaft, and Mulder felt himself start to leak. "Hold it, slave," Skinner whispered in an unforgivably sexy tone, making Mulder shiver. "You have to learn to come on order," Skinner told him. "Yes…Master…" Mulder ground out, wishing he could think of anything but the close proximity of his Master to his straining cock right now. "And the cock ring keeps you nice and erect, doesn't it?" Skinner purred, touching the ring, and the hard flesh around it. "Yes…Master…" Mulder gasped, clenching his fists behind his back, desperately wanting to pump his cock into orgasm. "Does it ache, slave-boy?" Skinner asked, circling him, his warm breath caressing Mulder's naked flesh. "Yes, Master…it aches…I want to come, Master." Mulder looked at his Master with a plea in his eyes, but Skinner shook his head. "Not today, not tomorrow, not any day soon, sweetheart," he replied. "After the party, if you've been good all week, then, when I take you to my bed, I might allow you to come. Would you like to come down my throat, slave? Do you think you deserve to have my mouth wrapped around this desperate, needy piece of flesh? Sucking you? Taking your shaft whole and warming it with my tongue?" Mulder closed his eyes, unable to reply. "I'm waiting for an answer, slave!" Skinner's voice hurt him with its intensity. "Master…I want that so bad, I could weep," Mulder managed to stammer at last. "Please, Master…please let me come, let me come now…" "No." Skinner smiled, and flicked a lock of dark hair from his slave's forehead. "Now, we have work to do. Let's recap on what you've learned so far, Fox. The three positions. When I say them, I want you to assume them - immediately, and without question. First - the Submissive position." He clicked his fingers, and Mulder knelt, hastily, hands behind his back, shoulders straight, head down. "Good. The Confessional." Skinner slapped his hands together once, and Mulder immediately went down on all fours, nose pressed against the carpet. "Good - remember the non-verbal signal as well, the single clap. Now, the Grace position." Skinner slapped his hand against his own thigh, and Mulder got to his feet, and leaned against the wall, butt out, legs spread wide, hands flat. "Very good." Skinner delivered a quick smack to Mulder's exposed buttocks, and then turned him around. "I want you to focus all your attention on getting into position whenever I ask you to. I won't always ask verbally, but my non-verbal signals will always be very clear and direct. Follow them, Fox. I expect you to be alert to them at all times. I'm sure you don't need to be reminded that you'll be punished if you're slow or don't pay attention." "No, Master," Mulder agreed, very sure that he knew what sort of punishment to expect for such lapses. "And we have one more position don't we?" Skinner moved close, his large body overwhelming, and Mulder's cock went into a painful spasm against the gold ring. "Wanda." Skinner said in a sibilant undertone, his voice dark with sexual promise. Mulder glanced around frantically, then knelt down by the bed, bending over it. "First things, first," Skinner stood over him, forbiddingly. "Before you get into position you will hand me a condom. When you're bent over, ready, you'll make access easier for me by holding yourself open with your hands until I'm inside you. Understood?" Mulder felt as if his heart had stopped beating, as he nodded, his cock about ready to burst. "Do it then!" Skinner commanded, and Mulder put his head down, and grabbed his buttocks, holding them open. He flushed as he did it - this was the most unbearably humiliating position he'd ever been in, in his life, and yet his cock was practically perpendicular to his body. Skinner stood there, just looking at him for an eternity, and Mulder waited, wondering if his Master was going to take him despite what he'd said earlier. Then a thought occurred to him. "Master…I don't have a condom at the moment," he confessed. "I know that, slave. That's fine, as I have no intention of using you right now. When you're naked in the apartment you will ensure that you have a stash of condoms in every room. You will go and get one, present it to me, and then make yourself available. When you're clothed, and out and about, you will carry a supply of condoms around at all times, in case I should wish to make use of you. You will not talk. When I say this particular word to you, I want you to enter into the deeply submissive mode immediately, and simply present yourself for my use." "Yes, Master. Is there a signal for the word, Master?" Mulder asked, looking up into his Master's dark eyes. "Well, I allowed you to pick the word - why don't you pick the signal too?" Skinner suggested. "Thank you, Master." Mulder swallowed and racked his brains. Skinner seemed to have taken all the best signals already. "Master could…um…cross his arms?" Mulder suggested. Skinner raised an eyebrow. "I cross my arms a lot during the average day, Fox. Unless you want to spend your entire life on your hands and knees, I'd suggest a different signal if I were you." "Master could…make two fists and bang them together once?" Mulder offered. "Hmm, that's verging on Neanderthal. Another suggestion, please, and quickly, slave." "Um…" Mulder thought frantically. "When I was a kid, we got a puppy, and when we were teaching her to lie down, we went like this." He held his hand flat, and moved it down towards the floor. "Okay, that works for me." Skinner looked at his slave thoughtfully, then smiled. "Pup," he said. "I think I'll call you that for the rest of the day, pup. After all, I'm going to be training you to walk on the leash, and you make such sweet puppy-dog eyes. I believe the fox is a member of the canine family as well, although personally I've always thought them fairly feline. You're that same nice mix of cat and dog, puppykins." He tickled Mulder under the chin, and smiled at him fondly. "Yeah, a puppy with a degree from Oxford." Mulder said, tartly, unable to bear the humiliation of that particular term of endearment. He didn't usually give his degree a second thought, but there was something too degrading about being reduced to the level of household pet. "You know, I'm sensing that my slave is having some trouble keeping silent today," Skinner mused. "Is that the case, Fox? If it is, just say, because I have a few tricks that will help you with that little problem." Mulder looked his Master in the eye, and bit back his smart reply. Skinner was looking very dangerous right now, and he had no wish to become acquainted with any of his Master's 'little tricks'. He had a feeling that they were likely to be either very painful, very humiliating, or both. "No, Master." He bowed his head. "You're sure you don't want my help, pup?" Skinner fondled Mulder's ears affectionately. "No, Master. I promise I'll try harder," Mulder whispered. "Good, pup. You know, I think that we should consider getting you your own kennel. What do you say to that, puppykins?" "A kennel?" Mulder echoed faintly. "Yes, a kennel. For the puppy to sleep in." Skinner grinned. Mulder closed his eyes, and swallowed, then opened them again. He had a sudden mental image of himself naked, his long limbs arranged awkwardly in a kennel, and a thick dog's collar around his neck with the name PUPPYKINS written on it. "Whatever pleases Master," he whispered, drowning in his Master's dark, brown-eyed gaze. "Good puppy." Skinner patted his head. "I think we'll keep this theme for a while. It might help you with the problems you're clearly having with obedience today. Let's give the puppy a good wash, and then feed him, shall we?" Skinner grinned, cuffing Mulder lightly around the head, and then shooing him in the direction of the bathroom. The shower was business-like; Skinner had forbidden Mulder to touch him, so he just watched, miserably, as his Master soaped himself down then handed the soap to Mulder. His Master didn't even allow his slave to help him get dressed, so instead Mulder had to kneel in Submissive mode, his eyes cast down so he couldn't even enjoy the sight of his Master pulling on his jeans and tee shirt. If that was bad, breakfast was worse. Mulder knelt by the table, expecting to serve his Master as he had the previous day, but again, Skinner neatly circumvented his expectations, clicking his fingers instead towards the corner. Mulder watched surreptitiously, from under lowered eyelids, as Skinner made some oatmeal, then placed the bowl on the floor in front of him. Mulder looked up at him, horrified. "Breakfast, pup!" Skinner grinned. He seated himself at the table, and immersed himself in the newspaper. "Um, Master hasn't given me a spoon," Mulder pointed out. "That's right, pup, Master hasn't." Skinner didn't even look up, his intent obvious. Mulder sighed loudly and tragically, then hastily lowered his face to the bowl as Skinner looked at him warningly. It wasn't easy, dipping his tongue in the oatmeal, but he managed to consume most of it, although not before thoroughly decorating his face with the creamy mixture. When he'd finished, Skinner put a couple of slices of toast on a plate in front of him. "No hands," his Master warned, and Mulder shot him a look of pure malice. "Problem?" Skinner asked mildly. "No, Master." Mulder swallowed down his reply, and picked up a slice of the toast with his teeth, somehow managing to get a bite of it. "Good, make sure you finish it all up." Skinner patted him on the head and returned to the table. With breakfast over, and his face given a brisk wipe with a cloth, Skinner announced that it was time his puppy learned to walk to heel. Mulder felt his stomach flip, and his nipples started to ache before they'd even begun. He followed Skinner up the stairs, and into the Playroom. It looked totally different to the previous day. Then it had been so nice, and warm, decorated by candles, and today - well today it was a mess. There was wax on the floor, implements strewn around, and the remains of the piercing operation on the table. "Looks like you have some clearing up to do," Skinner glanced at his slave. "I think this is the perfect opportunity to train you to the leash." He clicked his fingers, and Mulder knelt immediately, watching as his Master went over to a cupboard, and returned a few seconds later with a gold chain, and a leather lead. "Shoulders straighter - that's right." Skinner clipped the ends of the short gold chain to each of his nipple rings. "Oh, that's nice," Skinner smiled, opening the cupboard door so that Mulder could see his reflection in the mirror. "Look up, slave - there, don't you look good with this piece of decoration?" Mulder considered himself for a moment. He did look kind of cute, in a slave-boy way, with the gold chain stretched in a loose semi-circle between his nipples. The chain was gossamer light, and didn't tug on the healing flesh. "Yes, Master." He smiled up at the other man. "Sweet pup!" Skinner laughed, and then he unwound the long, leather leash, and clipped that onto the gold chain, midway between the two nipples. "Now, there's no reason why this should be painful," his Master told him, "as long as you remain alert at all times, and concentrate on my every signal, and move. I have no intention of causing you any distress or discomfort during your leash training - if that happens, it'll be because you aren't paying attention. Understood?" "Yes, Master," Mulder gulped, quivering slightly at the thought of any pull on his tender nipples. "All right - let's take this slowly. I'll explain the rules, and then I'll lead you around the room. You can clear up gradually as you go. Firstly - whenever you're on the leash you'll walk to heel. There's no exception to this rule. When I'm walking, you'll walk one step behind me." Skinner started to walk, and Mulder followed him, making sure he kept exactly one step behind. He didn't allow his Master to get any further ahead than that, for fear of creating a pull on his sensitive nipples. Skinner took him on a tour of the room, and then stopped beside the disciplinary implements. Mulder stopped immediately behind him. "Okay, rule number two. Whenever I stop - you kneel." Skinner clicked his fingers and Mulder immediately sank to his knees. The leash stayed loose between them. "Very good," Skinner bent down and kissed his slave soundly on the lips. "Well done, pup. Now, I want you to pick these implements up, and return each item to its proper place in the cupboard. Take them one at a time - and pup?" Skinner looked down into his slave's eager eyes. "There's no need for me to accompany you. When I send you on errands, I'll place the lead in your mouth so it doesn't trail. Open for me." Mulder opened his mouth obligingly, and Skinner slipped the leather between his lips. "I don't want to see any bite marks," Skinner warned. "Hold it under your tongue - that's right." Mulder picked up the rubber tawse and took it to the cupboard, then returned and reached for the sleek black paddle. "Not that." Skinner plucked it out of his hands. "We'll keep that out for now. Let's just call it my doggy paddle shall we?" He grinned maliciously at his own joke. Mulder sighed, and rolled his eyes. Another bad pun - he was beginning to wonder if they weren't more of a torment than all the discipline and slave training put together. It took them a couple of hours intensive work to clear up the room, with Mulder walking to the leash the entire time, every nerve fiber in his body concentrating on following his Master, and obeying his every command - non-verbal as well as verbal. Skinner tested him several times on each position, and introduced some new commands. "Fetch." Skinner pointed at the paddle he'd left on the throne, and Mulder walked over obediently, picked it up in his mouth, and walked back. Then he knelt at his Master's feet, and offered the paddle to him. "Good pup." Skinner fondled his head, and Mulder surprised himself by practically panting with appreciation for the caress, and rubbing his head against his Master's leg. "When I issue the 'stay' command, you'll remain put, wherever you are, until I come back for you. Understood?" Skinner looked down into his slave's willing hazel eyes, and Mulder nodded, uncertainly. "Even at work, Master?" He asked, having a vision of waiting in meeting rooms, or outside Skinner's office for hours on end while Skinner was off elsewhere, leaving him bored. "Fox - do you remember the terms of your contract?" Skinner frowned down at him. "Yes, Master." Mulder gulped. "Then I think you'll recall that your obedience is required at all times, not just when you're naked on the end of my lead," Skinner said sharply. Mulder nodded, his heart sinking. He didn't think he liked this 'stay' word. Somehow, it seemed to be the very opposite of the 'ditch' word, which he was fairly partial to. "In your free time you'll learn the terms of your contract off by heart," Skinner informed him tersely. "I expect you to be able to recite them to me when ordered." "Yes, Master." It wasn't that much of a chore; Mulder was pretty sure he already knew the terms of both contracts by heart. Mulder returned all the implements to the cupboard, then knelt beside his Master again, awaiting further instructions. Skinner took the lead out of his mouth, and led him around the room, opening each blind as he went, letting the daylight in. Mulder knelt beside him obediently each time he stopped, and made sure he stayed exactly one step behind him the entire time. It was tiring, concentrating on each minute detail of his Master's walk, and pretty boring too. Mulder went on automatic. When Skinner reached the end of the row of blinds on one side of the room, he assumed his Master was going to cross the room to the other row of blinds, but instead Skinner wrong-footed him, going in the direction of the cupboards instead. Mulder howled as the leash gave a tiny tug on his nipples, sending shock-waves of pain through his entire body. "Shit, fuck! Shit!" he yelled, stopping immediately. "All right - kneel down." Skinner crouched in front of him and examined his chest carefully. "No damage caused, but I think you learned a lesson. Don't try and second guess where I'm going, pup - just follow me." "Yes, Master," Mulder sobbed, leaning his head on his Master's shoulder. Skinner rubbed his back for a moment, then stood up. "Come on, pup, that wasn't so bad, let's continue." "After just having my fucking nipples yanked around? No fucking thanks!" Mulder growled, the aftershock of the tug still reverberating through him. Mulder wasn't sure what happened next, but before he knew it, he was face down over his Master's raised knee, and the paddle was being applied liberally to his ass. After four sharp strokes, that took his breath away, he was walked over to the cupboard, and shoved unceremoniously onto his knees. Skinner pulled out a ball gag, and pushed it into his slave's mouth, fastening it behind his head, with short, angry movements. "That's better." Skinner looked down on his gagged slave. "Now, perhaps you'll lose the attitude." Mulder stared up at him miserably. The ball gag was large, and it kept his mouth uncomfortably open. He felt tired, sexually frustrated, and humiliated, and now he couldn't even damn well say so! "You'll wear that until I see an improvement in you," Skinner warned, then his expression softened. "The sooner you give in, the easier it'll be. Now, try harder," he said, gently fondling his slave's hair. "Fox?" He tipped Mulder's chin, and looked directly into his eyes. Mulder nodded, feeling all the fight leave him. He hated this gag, but more than that, he hated himself for fucking up so badly. He wanted his Master to smile at him again, and call him 'sweetheart', and kiss him, and most of all, he wanted to sleep in his Master's bed on Friday night, and if he carried on like this, he knew that wouldn't happen. He nuzzled his face against Skinner's knee in a gesture of contrition. "Fox - this is for your own benefit. I want to display you at the party, and I want you to be proud of your slavery, and eager to show off your training, but if I don't prepare you properly, then you'll freak out. I told you this week would be hard work." Skinner looked down on his slave thoughtfully. "You look very tired. Are you sure you're feeling okay, Fox?" Mulder stared up at his Master miserably. He knew he should tell Skinner that he hadn't had much sleep the previous night, and he also knew that he should probably tell him about his nightmare, but he just couldn't. He knew how stupid his worries would sound in the cold light of day apart from anything else, and he also knew that it would be clear he had lied this morning when Skinner had asked him how he'd slept. All these thoughts whizzed through his head, and he came to a decision, and shook his head. "Fine, we'll continue then." Skinner picked up the leash again, and started walking. Mulder buried himself in the lesson, the tears pricking at the back of his eyes even while his cock stayed swollen and erect. The idea of being on the end of his Master's lead was so horny he was permanently hard. He could see himself, naked, walking to heel, straining to obey the slightest change in his Master's body language. He hated the gag, but in some ways the silence it afforded him was a relief. As he wasn't able to protest, he had to resign himself to Skinner's will, and, somewhat to his own surprise, he realized that his Master was right: he was happier when he just gave in, and accepted. By the time the Playroom was tidy again, Mulder had returned to that serene state he'd enjoyed briefly the previous day. He knelt, obediently, as Skinner got the harness out of the cupboard, so lost in a submissive daze that he hardly wondered what was going to happen. Skinner smiled at him. "Stand," he ordered, and when Mulder obeyed he pulled his slave into a loving hug. "You've done well, pup." He kissed Mulder's forehead, and held him close, hugging him tightly. Mulder felt as if his entire body had melted into nothing, as he nuzzled into his Master's chest, burrowing there, loving the attention. Skinner looked down on him fondly. "This gag seems to have done the trick, Fox. Is it uncomfortable?" Mulder nodded vigorously, longing to have the pressure on his aching jaw relaxed. Skinner ran his finger around the sides of the gag, checking it carefully. "It isn't biting, so I'm going to keep you in it, uncomfortable or not." Skinner smiled at Mulder's obvious disappointment at receiving this news. "It's a punishment, Fox, for your smart mouth - a sore jaw might help you remember to keep it closed in future. Learn from this, and then hopefully I won't have to gag you too often. You know, Fox…" He tipped Mulder's chin and gazed into his eyes, "I think that sensory deprivation might be a good way of dealing with you. You clearly have some trust issues, and you find it hard to let go. I need you to trust me implicitly, to give yourself up to my every command, obedient to my every whim. Come with me." He marched Mulder over to the hoist, buckled him into the harness, and then blindfolded him. Mulder took a deep breath around the gag. "I'm not going to do anything to hurt you - I won't let you come but this will be entirely pleasurable. I want you to relax, and trust me, without being able to see what I'm doing," Skinner said. "If you're in real distress, shake your head, but I expect it to be genuine distress or there'll be trouble. Understood?" Mulder nodded, and a few seconds later he gave a gasp as his feet disappeared from under him, and he was suspended in mid-air. Mulder felt strangely dislocated from the world, wrapped up in black silence, his body hanging in space. He relaxed into his bonds. Skinner hadn't put him in tight bondage at any point during his slavery so far, and Mulder had never yearned for it before, but for the first time, he felt as if he'd enjoy it, and wanted to try it. Maybe he would ask his Master for that, next time he was offered a reward. He lay in mid-air for a long time, suspended in nothingness, every part of his body supported by the harness. He couldn't see Skinner, and the big man was being very quiet. Mulder strained his ears to hear where his Master was, but after several long minutes he relaxed his vigilance, and just gave himself up to the sensation. Therefore, he nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a light touch on his abdomen. "Easy," Skinner's voice soothed. "I'm going to play this particular game with you every day until Friday. "There's only one rule - you mustn't move. Not a muscle. It doesn't matter what I do to you, you must stay completely still. It's important - I have the paddle here," he touched it against Mulder's thigh, "if you move, you'll get a lick from it." Mulder relaxed again, determined to obey. He felt what must have been Skinner's fingertips, trailing over his chest, and down to his cock, which leapt in response. "Well, I'll forgive you for that, as it's clear you don't have any control over this part of your anatomy," Skinner said with a wry chuckle. His fingers moved on, just stroking gently, touching every part of Mulder's body - his hair, his neck, his throat, even his sore nipples. Mulder didn't move - he didn't even flinch. He just allowed it all to happen. This was nice, this gentle stroking. "I'm doing this for a reason. By Friday, I need you to be able to keep absolutely still. I'm not telling you why," Skinner whispered, his fingernails continuing that light, scratching caress. Mulder barely heard him - his whole body was sinking into a state of bliss. He was floating away, on a haze of…Mulder jerked into the air as Skinner's fingers tickled under his armpit, and he was immediately rewarded by a slap from the paddle on his butt. He gave a muffled "oomph", and squirmed in his bonds. "Relax…breathe through your nose," Skinner advised. His fingernails continued gently scraping at Mulder's armpits, and it was all Mulder could do not to wriggle. He started to break out into a sweat, wishing Skinner would touch him anywhere but there. "You have to get used to this," Skinner told him, "relax." He delivered another firm swat to Mulder's butt as Mulder twisted away from the tickling fingers. Mulder couldn't think of one single reason why it was important he had to get used to such agony, except possibly to satisfy his Master's more sadistic impulses, and he felt somewhat aggrieved as the paddle kept thwacking against his ass. I'm trying, dammit! Finally, Skinner turned his attention to Mulder's balls, teasing them unmercifully, and tugging on his pubic hair. Mulder began to relax again - he wasn't so ticklish here, and soon he was transported away on that haze of serenity again. There was a pause, and he felt Skinner turn him over, onto his front, and refasten him. He hung there, in the darkness, and silence, his jaw aching in earnest around the ball gag. Skinner's fingertips scraped over his legs, up and down, down and up, and then played around his butt for a while, just lightly caressing him. He didn't push his fingers inside Mulder's ass, just played with the hair on his butt, tweaking it. Mulder moaned, and moved, wanting his Master's fingers inside him, and was immediately rewarded by a hard smack from the paddle. He gave in, and surrendered to the stroking. It was delicious - soothing without being overtly erotic. Just what he needed to relax him after his tense day. Mulder enjoyed this so much that at some point he tuned out completely. The silence, the way the gag denied him a voice, focusing him inwards, the darkness…it all contributed to his blissful mood. Mulder gave himself up to the moment, and the next thing he knew Skinner was laughing as he took the blindfold off his slave. "I think someone fell asleep," Skinner grinned, kissing his slave fondly. "What's the matter, pup - didn't I send you to bed early enough last night?" He lowered Mulder to the ground, and untied him, before instructing him to kneel. "How's your jaw holding up?" Skinner fondled the side of Mulder's face, checking the straps again. Mulder looked up at him eagerly. His jaw muscles ached so much, he was sure he couldn't stand having the ball gag in his mouth for one more second. "Have you learned your lesson?" Skinner asked. Mulder nodded enthusiastically. "So, when I take this out, you'll be respectful, courteous, and obedient?" Skinner asked. Mulder nodded again. "I'm glad to hear it. However…" Mulder's heart sank. "Before I remove it, I just want to warn you that there are worse punishments than this for a smart mouth." He opened the cupboard. "The ball gag you're wearing is pretty small. I save this one for when I'm really pissed." He pulled out the most enormous ball gag Mulder had ever laid eyes on. He blinked, horror registering in his eyes. He already felt as if he had a giant bomb in his mouth - he had no wish to experience its big brother. "I can see that you're duly impressed," Skinner chuckled. "And let's not forget, that good, old-fashioned favorite - mouth washing. There's some hard soap in the bathroom - I find that more effective than the liquid variety. There's nothing like a good scraping around the teeth to really drum the message home. I always choose a quick foaming variety - guaranteed to clean the most filthy of mouths!" He laughed at Mulder's look of complete outrage, and undid his slave's gag, easing it out of his slave's mouth. Mulder moved his jaw cautiously, relieving the ache. "Thank you, Master," he leaned forward and kissed Skinner's feet devotedly. "And I'm sorry for swearing at you, Master. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to correct me." "You're welcome, pup. You see, you really do have the prettiest manners when you try." Skinner smiled fondly. "Now, you can spot me while I work out, and do a small work out yourself, then we can eat. After that - I have some new lessons I want you to practice, and then it's bed for you, I think." Mulder spent the next few hours wondering what the 'new lessons' would be. After they'd eaten, Skinner handed him a packet of balloons, some shaving cream, and a cutthroat razor. Mulder looked at them in surprise, wondering what the hell he was supposed to do with them. "Blow up a balloon, cover it in shaving foam, and then give it a nice, clean, shave," Skinner instructed him. "Can I ask why, Master?" Mulder ventured, thinking the whole thing sounded like a giant waste of time. "No, but I'll tell you anyway. I like to have a good, clean shave once a week - slow and thorough. It will be your job to perform that task, but I'm not letting you anywhere near my throat with a razor until I'm sure you can do it without cutting me." "Yes, Master," Mulder gulped, suddenly seeing the sense in the preparation, even though he knew he was going to feel stupid shaving a balloon. He set to work, while Skinner sat down on the couch, leafing through the sports section of the paper. Mulder exploded 7 balloons in all, showering himself in shaving foam on each occasion. "I can see this is going to take a lot of practice," Skinner observed, surveying the mess of foam and balloon remnants and a rather bedraggled slave an hour or so later. "An hour a day until Sunday, Fox. Don't forget - if I do, then remind me. My face isn't going anywhere near your razor until you can shave 3 balloons in front of me without killing them." "Yes, Master," Mulder sighed, wondering why the very idea of shaving his Master sent a delicious warmth through his body. "Sundays are when I expect a full service," Skinner tickled him under the chin. "You'll wait on me in the bath, dry me, shave me, give me a massage…talking of which, did you call Clark?" "No, Master. I forgot." Mulder admitted. "Go and do it now - and wash yourself down. Then come back here, and keep that smart mouth of yours occupied putting condoms on this dildo." He placed the object on the table. "That's another skill I want you to have in your repertoire, slave. Talking of skills," he looked at Mulder thoughtfully, "before you go to bed you can serve me with your mouth - you can demonstrate what you've learned with the dildo, and I want to help you brush up on your oral techniques." Mulder stared at his Master resentfully for a while, but turned on his heel and scurried to the 'phone when Skinner took a threatening step towards him. First he doesn't like the way I massage, then my hair's too long, now he doesn't like the way I give head. Fuck, what the hell does the miserable bastard like? He aimed a kick at the passing Wanda with his bare foot, only to succeed on stubbing his toe on the wall, which didn't help his mood. He made the call, then returned to address himself to the task of putting condoms on the dildo using only his mouth. This was almost as stupid as the balloon shaving, and Mulder grew tired of it. His jaw ached, and the whole exercise was ridiculous. What possible difference was there to Skinner whether he put his own condom on, or made Mulder twist himself into contortions doing it using his mouth? "Problems, pup?" Skinner asked from the couch, hearing his loud and dramatic sigh. "I can't do this." Mulder pouted. "And it's ridiculous. Look, I have…" "A degree from Oxford, yes, I know." Skinner nodded. "You're also a talented profiler, an excellent, if ill-disciplined agent, and my slave. The last part of that description is the only one I'm interested in right now, so get cracking." He turned his attention tersely back to his paper. Mulder sat there for a moment, staring at his Master resentfully, and then turned back to his task with a sigh. It didn't help that his jaw still ached from the ball gag incident earlier. After another half an hour, Skinner called him over, and for a demonstration of what he'd been practicing. Mulder knelt in front of his Master, while Skinner opened his jeans, and stroked himself into an erection. "Hands behind your back, pup. Serve me with your mouth." Skinner placed the condom in Mulder's mouth, and the younger man leaned forward, and carefully tried to ease it into place. He failed. "One more try. If you don't get this right, then you can spend another hour practicing before bed, pup." Skinner pulled on Mulder's ear to punctuate this statement, and his slave nodded, glumly. He put all his effort into the next one, and managed to get it almost into place before it slid off with a sloppy, plopping sound. "Not bad, but you clearly still need practice. You can take the dildo and condoms to your bedroom. I won't check up on you, but if you still can't manage this the next time I ask you, then there'll be punishment," Skinner told him. "It's not fucking easy!" Mulder protested, his hackles rising. Skinner grabbed his hair, and thrust his hard cock into Mulder's mouth, holding him still. "Right - I've just about had enough of your opinions today. I think this might be a good way of keeping you quiet." Skinner held Mulder's head, and thrust back and forth into his slave's mouth. Mulder opened his eyes wide - he was used to being the one giving oral sex, not having his mouth so comprehensively fucked in this way. He struggled to keep his throat open, and his gag reflex under control, as Skinner pushed back and forth in his mouth. "Now, you give head pretty well, slave-boy, but you can still learn a thing or two," Skinner told him brusquely between thrusts. "In the next few days I want you to try varying your technique, and experimenting with a few new things. In other words - surprise me. It's not enough to just deliver the same thing each day. I want variety. I want to be the proud owner of the slave that gives the best head in this city, hell, in this whole damn country. Think you're up to that?" He eased himself out a little way, and Mulder nodded, his cock hardening. He really loved it when Skinner got forceful with him - the feeling of being totally dominated by someone bigger, stronger, and more powerful than himself just did it for him, and the mouth-fuck was a giant turn on. He lowered his eyes, and sucked Skinner's hard cock enthusiastically, until the big man came down his throat. "Good." Skinner fondled Mulder's hair affectionately. "Now, you've been tired and cranky all day. Go to bed, slave, and wake up in a more willing mood tomorrow." "Yes, Master." Mulder knelt there for a moment. "Is there something else?" Skinner demanded. "Could…Master kiss me?" He asked, hesitantly. He was dreading what dreams the night would bring, and had no wish to hurry off to bed. Skinner looked at him coolly. "Kisses have to be earned. Have you earned one tonight, pup?" he asked. Mulder sighed, and looked down. "No, Master," he whispered. "I'm sorry. I'll try harder tomorrow." He was surprised when Skinner tipped up his chin, and planted a sweet, tender kiss on his lips. He moaned, opening his mouth for more, but a tongue wasn't forthcoming. "You can have that on account," Skinner murmured, squeezing his slave's naked buttock. "Before you go, slave." He held up the chastity belt. Mulder sighed. Mulder tried to avoid sleep for as long as possible. He went over the day's events, and was just about to drop off, when a chilling thought occurred to him. Why was Skinner insisting that he got so good at giving oral sex? Was it because he wanted to show off his skills at the party on Friday? Mulder shuddered. He had been forced to give oral sex to strangers before, with other tops, as an extreme demonstration of his submission but somehow, this time, it felt different. It would be the ultimate humiliation, and usually he got off on that, but…but…he heard a small voice deep inside: he didn't want to know that Skinner felt so little jealousy, that he could just stand by and watch Mulder serve another top. He wanted Skinner to become enraged at the thought of anyone else enjoying his services - he wanted a degree of exclusivity that he knew he was in no position to ask for. Mulder tossed and turned, worrying about it for an hour or so. He didn't know that was what Skinner intended, but it was a reasonable assumption to make, wasn't it? Skinner's bedroom was empty when Mulder pushed the door open the following morning. He glanced around, but the only occupant in the bed was the green eyed Wanda. He checked in the bathroom but there was no sign of his Master. Feeling anxious, he began checking the whole apartment, room by room, then the upstairs one. He was starting to feel worried now. Skinner hadn't told him he'd be going anywhere this morning…Mulder began to run, looking under beds, and in closets, chasing around in circles like a dog pursuing its own tail. Outside, it got darker and darker, until he couldn't see anything. "Master!" He yelled. "Skinner! Where are you?" Finally, he gave up, and just sat, alone in the dark, by his Master's bed, clutching one of his lost Master's crisply ironed shirts to his chest, and drinking in the scent of him, sobbing his heart out… Mulder woke up, still shaking, exhausted by his dream. He sat in bed for a long time, but he knew he couldn't stay there. The need to check that Skinner hadn't really disappeared was overwhelming, and he grabbed his pillow and blanket as he had the previous night, then picked up his gun just in case his Master needed protecting, and slipped silently down the stairs. Wanda didn't even look at him as he tiptoed into the room. Mulder's heart skipped a beat - Skinner was there, spreadeagled as usual. He couldn't resist tiptoeing closer, and kneeling for a moment beside his Master, in silent worship. Then he leaned forward and laid the merest whisper of a kiss on Skinner's thumb, before going to lie down on the floor at the foot of his Master's bed. As he had the previous night, he fell asleep immediately, the tension leaving his face as soon as his head hit the pillow. Here he was not only safe; he could be of service. If anyone came to hurt his Master, he could protect him, with his gun, and every last drop of blood in his body. A bright light shone into Mulder's dreams a few hours later. "Fuck - get away, get away from the window!" he yelled, disorientated. He sat up, reaching for the gun under his pillow, only to find his wrist grasped firmly, and twisted behind his back. "Slowly…it's only me," Skinner said, disarming him. Mulder blinked, and then let out a groan. The clock beside Skinner's bed read 6:38. "Now, perhaps you'd like to tell me what you're doing here?" Skinner asked, placing the gun out of his reach, and taking hold of Mulder's other wrist, keeping both Mulder's arms firmly at his side. Mulder swallowed, and looked up into his Master's dark eyes. "I couldn't sleep, Master," he admitted. "Did you sleep last night?" Skinner asked. "No, Master," Mulder began to tremble. "Did you lie to me about that?" Skinner demanded. "Yes, Master." Mulder's trembling got worse. Skinner pulled the quilt off his bed, and sat down on the floor behind his slave, wrapping them both in it. He pulled Mulder back so that his shoulders were resting against his Master's chest. "So you thought you'd come down here and sleep in my room without permission?" Skinner continued. "Yes, Master," Mulder said miserably. "With a gun?" Mulder knew without looking that Skinner had that raised eyebrow expression. "Yes," he replied, not sure just how bad this was going to get, but feeling pretty certain that he was up to his neck in shit. "Okay, I'm going to ask this, although I'm sure I'll regret it - the gun, Fox. Why?" "Oh, you know, in case you found me, and got so angry I had to defend myself," he wisecracked. This was a bad move. Skinner's body stiffened. "All right. It's early, and I was on my way to the bathroom when I tripped over you, so, as you're clearly not in any mood to be co-operative, I think I'll continue just as I would have done." Skinner got up, and Mulder immediately regretted the loss of his Master's warm body, and his comfortable quilt, which was whisked away and replaced on the bed. "I told you I want your honesty, Fox," Skinner told him firmly. "Are you going to punish me?" Mulder couldn't keep the quaver out of his voice. "Yes, I am - in a way that will cause me the least inconvenience. I'm going back to bed, slave. I want you to use the next couple of hours to think very carefully about this honesty issue. You can do that from this position." He moved quickly, dragging Mulder to his feet, and over to face the wall. "That's nearly two hours corner time you've bought yourself, slave. I don't want to hear a peep out of you in that time. You can go downstairs at 8:45 and get me my coffee. When you come back, I'm going to want a full explanation. Think very carefully about it," Skinner hissed into his ear. Mulder bit on his lip. He didn't dare defy his Master, but two hours! Standing, facing the wall, while his Master slept in his nice, warm, comfy bed. Mulder heard Skinner return from the bathroom, and walk towards the bed. He half turned his head. "Master, I'm…" he began. Skinner froze him with a look. "Face back towards the wall. You had your chance, Fox. Now you can think about how you blew it, and how you're going to make up for that in the morning." He picked up the quilt, and slipped under it. "Fox - trust isn't just about the things I do to your body in the Playroom. It's about your heart and mind too. Give me those and the rest will follow," he said softly, then he turned out the light, and left Mulder standing there. It was a long two hours, and cold too. Mulder didn't dare move in case Skinner was still awake, so he stood, as silently as he could, resting his forehead on the wall, churning things over in his mind. He felt as if there were two of him. There was Mulder, the FBI agent, who was preoccupied by his quest, who was bright and intelligent, and haunted by nightmares, and there was Fox, who wanted nothing more than to give it all up, and kneel at his Master's feet. So far, he had gone as willingly as he was able down this path. He knew he wanted it - it had been his choice to sign himself into slavery. Skinner was asking him for more than he could give though. He was looking beyond Fox, to Mulder, and he wanted to have them both. He wanted to see into the darkest recesses of Mulder's psyche, at what made him tick, and to know even his darkest nightmares. Mulder wasn't sure that he could give him that. He took a deep breath. This was just the beginning. Next week, when they returned to work, he could see the difficulties would start in earnest. No wonder Skinner was putting him through this intensive training program. Mulder closed his eyes, and wondered what the hell he was going to tell his Master in the morning. Mulder slipped out, as he had been ordered, at 8:45, and grabbed the paper. He was almost distracted from his problems as he read that the Red Sox were playing the Yankees for the American League title that evening. He wondered if there was any chance in hell that Skinner would let him watch it. Skinner was already sitting up in bed when Mulder returned. "Master is awake," he murmured, putting the coffee down on the night-stand. "Master had an interrupted night," Skinner scowled. "Sorry, Master." Mulder knelt down, wretched, beside the bed. "I think…Master might want to give up on me," he said, surprising himself. "I think…maybe I'm not trainable, Master." He was surprised when Skinner broke into a long, deep laugh. Mulder looked up, wide-eyed. "I'm sure you'd like to believe that, Fox. It'd save you from having to reveal anything about yourself. You could just duck out of this, as you've done before whenever anyone has gotten too close. Well, tough luck, sweetheart. This is it. There's no escaping this one. You're mine, and that's the way it's going to stay, however hard it damn well gets for you. Now get up on this bed, and into the Confessional position." He patted the empty space on the bed beside him. Mulder hesitated, feeling an overwhelming sense of relief, combined with a gnawing anxiety in the pit of his stomach. "Do I have to come and get you?" Skinner asked dangerously. "If I do, your butt will pay for it." Mulder was galvanized into immediate action. His butt had been on the receiving end of enough spankings in the past few days. He knelt beside his Master, tucked his whole body neatly into position, and placed his nose on the quilt, eyes closed. He was surprised when Skinner's hand came down gently on his exposed back, stroking him. "All right, little one. Tell me why you were sleeping on my floor last night," Skinner asked softly. "I couldn't sleep, Master. I have…nightmares. It isn't a recent thing," Mulder admitted. "But you didn't feel the need to tell me before?" Skinner asked. "I…I didn't think it was relevant, Master," Mulder whispered. "Something that affects my slave's well-being, and you didn't think it was relevant," Skinner echoed, in a tone of disbelief. "Well, in future, slave, let me decide what's relevant and what isn't." "Yes, Master." Skinner's hand continued it's slow caress up and down Mulder's spine. "Keep going," he ordered. "What do you normally do when you have these nightmares?" "I watch TV, Master," Mulder said, "and sometimes I go out for a run." "I see. Well, you can't run without my permission, but you have a television in your room. Did you try that?" Skinner asked, his fingers straying into Mulder's hair, stroking him softly, like a cat. "No, Master," Mulder said. "Why not?" "Because it doesn't work. I just lie awake all night, watching. Sometimes it takes ages to fall asleep again. Sometimes…I just don't." "But you didn't even try - why? "I don't know," Mulder said the lie before he was even aware of it. He did know. He knew he couldn't have just stayed in his room watching TV when his nightmares had been about Skinner. The urge to check that his Master was safe had been too strong for him to resist. "What were your nightmares about, little one?" Skinner asked gently. Mulder started to rock back and forth. He hated being perceived as weak, or emotionally needy. Even in his submission he tried to keep his strength, the strength that had kept him going for so long through innumerable ordeals. He didn't need his tops - emotionally any way. He just needed what they could give him. If he let them get close it would end up like…Phoebe. "My nightmares are usually about my sister, Master, or Scully. About them being abducted. About…not being able to help them." Mulder told the half-truth, curling himself up even tighter in the semi-fetal position and rocking with a vengeance now. And about you, about losing you, Master… "Usually?" Skinner picked up on the detail. "Was that what they were about last night?" "Very similar, Master, yes," Mulder whispered. There was a long silence during which he hoped Skinner wouldn't delve any further or he knew he would tell the other man an outright lie. "All right. Come here." Skinner held out his arms, and Mulder looked up in relief, and crawled into them eagerly. He found himself settling against his Master's chest, clinging on for dear life. There was something so reassuring about the scent, and strength of his Master, about his muscular arms, and powerful body. It's just a physical thing, not any big emotional deal, he told himself, as he closed his eyes and allowed his Master to kiss his forehead. "Is there anything else?" Skinner asked. Mulder didn't want to lie, but somehow, the truth was beyond him. "No, Master," he whispered. "All right." Skinner pushed him back so that he could look into his eyes. "I won't have my slave distressed, and tired during the day. It'll interfere with your training, and your ability to serve me, apart from anything else, but I also take the terms of my contract very seriously. Quote me clause 2 of the Master Contract, slave." Mulder thought about it for a moment, then opened his mouth. "I will provide the physical and emotional necessities of life for my slave, and he will know my love as I choose for him to know it," he gabbled. "I think sleep counts as a physical necessity," Skinner commented. "Now, as far as I'm concerned, being allowed to sleep on my floor, is just one step down from allowing my slave to sleep in my bed. In other words - it's something that I would usually make you earn. However, I have an idea, pup, based on our discussion about the kennel yesterday." He got up, and pulled on his robe, clicking his fingers for Mulder to kneel in the submissive position. "Stay," he ordered. Mulder did as he was told, and Skinner returned a few minutes later, bearing a long length of chain. He fastened one end of it to one of the legs at the foot of the bed, then beckoned his slave over. "In future, if you have a nightmare, and feel that you need to sleep in my room, you can. However - if you do, you must sleep chained to the foot of the bed, in bondage. Please try to ensure you don't wake me as well. Just clip this," he held up the end of the chain, "to your collar. It's a locking mechanism - I'll be the only one with a key to it. So, you should think very hard about whether to come down here. If you do, you'll be chained for the rest of the night, unable to use the bathroom, or to move around much." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded, feeling relieved. He didn't mind about being chained - in fact, his cock told him that he rather liked the idea. It was just so good to know that he could spend the night here without worrying about the consequences. "And if I find you here in the morning, I'll expect a full account of what brought you here," Skinner warned. Mulder crossed his fingers behind his back, and nodded. "All right - I'll do a quick inspection and then we should get moving. I want you to do a thorough work out in the gym this morning." Skinner took off his robe, and headed for the shower. "Doesn't Master want…" Mulder gestured to Skinner's cock. "No - I'm going to be using you in the shower. Get a move on." Skinner slapped Mulder's butt and his slave scrambled quickly for the door. Skinner inspected his slave briefly, and removed his chastity belt, before stepping into the shower. He allowed his slave to soap him thoroughly, and then he told him to get into the Grace position. Mulder obeyed, placing his hands flat against the wall. Skinner soaped his fingers and finger-fucked his slave for several minutes, then withdrew. Mulder watched out of the corner of his eye, as Skinner unhooked the long back scrubbing brush from the shower rail. "Oh shit," he murmured. "I told you, slave, morning discipline is a given. Accept." Skinner warned. "Yes, Master," he gasped, putting his head back, the water flowing down his face. The brush packed an almighty whack as it slapped against his buttocks. Wet skin always hurt more than dry, and the brush was as big and hard as any paddle, although Skinner was swinging it lightly on his already tenderized flesh. "What are you?" Skinner asked. "Your slave, Master," Mulder replied automatically, knowing the litany by heart now. "And your status?" "I have none, Master, I exist to serve you," Mulder panted, as the brush made painful contact with his upturned butt several times. "Who does your body belong to?" Skinner demanded. "OW! You, you, Master," Mulder whimpered. "And how can I use you?" Skinner asked. "Anyway you like. Unnnnhh! Ow!" "That's just what I intend to do." Skinner threw the brush down, and Mulder heard the sound of a condom being unwrapped. He gasped out loud as his Master grabbed his sore buttocks, and entered him swiftly, and smoothly. "Push your butt out, slave. More," Skinner squeezed Mulder's red ass, making his slave's internal muscles contract around his hard cock, milking him. Mulder struggled to push his butt out, gasping as Skinner's cock slid home. His Master's hands slipped around, and lightly touched his slave's sore nipples, making Mulder yelp. His cock, already hard, went as straight as a ramrod. "Master…please…" he whimpered, as Skinner continued that gossamer light touch on his nipples. "Quiet, slave. Accept me." Skinner grabbed Mulder's hips and thrust into him with more urgency. It took all Mulder's strength to keep in position as Skinner pounded into him, over and over again, his wet hands fondling Mulder's entire body, sometimes stroking, sometimes pinching, sometimes making the lightest contact with his nipples, or squeezing his tender ass, before finally reaching climax. He stood, covering his slave's body with his own for several minutes, while their breathing returned to normal, and then he withdrew, and disposed of the condom. He returned to the shower, and turned his slave around. "Good boy." He kissed Mulder firmly on the lips, plundering his slave's mouth with his tongue, and Mulder opened up, and went weak at the knees, holding onto this Master's shoulders for dear life. "Please…" he found himself rubbing up against Skinner's groin, trying to achieve the climax that was always just out of reach. "Naughty." Skinner stepped out of the shower, flicking the switch to cold as he left. "You know the drill. You can stay there until that," Skinner pointed at Mulder's erection, "has gone down." Skinner took Mulder through the rest of the day at such breakneck speed that his slave barely had time to remember his broken night. He was given a thorough work out in the gym, whisked up the Playroom for an hour's light stroking in the harness, then ordered to spend another hour shaving balloons. After that, it was time to wash the brunch dishes. Mulder approached the full sink and noticed Wanda nosing around under the faucet. "Stupid cat," he murmured. "You have a bowl of water, Madam. On the floor, which, incidentally, is where you belong." Wanda didn't take any notice of him, she just continued licking moisture from the faucet. Mulder glanced over his shoulder, but Skinner was in the other room. With a grin of evil delight, Mulder reached out, and snapped the faucet on quickly. Wanda jumped, as the deluge consumed her, and scurried away, her tail twitching angrily and one damp ear flicking back and forth. It was at that moment that Skinner came into the kitchen. "Not even started yet?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Hurry up, Fox. I want you to join me on the couch." He picked Wanda up absently, and kissed her, then paused. "Fox - Wanda has a wet ear," he commented. "Does she, Master?" Mulder busied himself clearing up, plunging his hands in the soapy water. "Do you know anything about that?" Skinner asked ominously. "No, Master," Mulder gave a seraphic smile, his hazel eyes meeting Wanda's. "Maybe she dunked it in her water bowl by mistake, Master," Mulder commented neutrally. Skinner's eyes narrowed and he regarded his slave thoughtfully. "Maybe she did," he murmured, taking Wanda with him back to the other room. "Come on, little darling," he crooned as he went. "Let me take you away from the nasty slave." Mulder made a face. It was ridiculous, a grown man talking to a stupid cat like that, although not, he pondered, any more ridiculous than a grown man doing the washing up stark naked, save only for a cock ring, 2 nipple rings, a gold collar, and a wedding ring. He joined Skinner on the couch as requested after doing the dishes. Skinner was leaning back, looking through the TV Guide, and he beckoned Mulder to sit between his open knees, then he pulled his slave back against his chest. Mulder relaxed into the embrace with a sigh. This was so nice. "You had an interrupted night, last night, pup," Skinner mused, gently stroking Mulder's hair. "Now, I want you to take a nap." Mulder closed his eyes obediently, listening as Skinner rustled through the TV Guide again. A thought occurred to him, as he remembered the game. Normally, nothing on this earth would have stopped him watching a playoff game between the Red Sox and the Yankees for the American League title. Skinner seemed to be in a very mellow mood this afternoon. He wondered if there was any way he could wheedle his Master into allowing him to watch the game. Still musing, he turned on his side, and fell into a deep slumber. He was awakened a couple of hours later, by an insistent stroking inside his anus. He blinked, and glanced up. Skinner was finger fucking him awake. "You can't sleep all day, pup," Skinner smiled. "We do have some more chores to do. However, I must say, this is nice." His fingers picked up speed, and Mulder started to writhe, and moan, as they found his prostate. His cock jerked awake with a vengeance. "You know, I think it's your lucky day," Skinner murmured into Mulder's ear. "I think I'm going to use you again." He dug into his pocket for a condom, then removed his finger, and pressed his hard cock against Mulder's buttocks, rubbing it between them. "One of the good things about having you in my bed, when the day comes, is that I'll have you to hand to use if I wake up in the night. I'll enjoy using you while you sleep." "I'm sure I'll soon wake up if you do that, Master," Mulder moaned, trying to impale himself on his Master's cock. He could hardly believe himself. Up until last week he had avoided anal sex, but now he was rubbing himself on Skinner's cock like a cat on heat. He still found Skinner's thick cock hard to take, but the sensation of it filling him, left him satisfied in a way he could never have imagined. He opened up eagerly, as Skinner pushed his hard length into him, and rocked his hips against his slave's body, getting into an insistent rhythm, never quite thrusting to the hilt, just dipping in and out. It was a new angle for Mulder, with both of them lying on their sides on the couch, and he had to will himself to relax for the first few strokes, which he always found the most painful. Once Skinner was fully inside him, the big man stopped moving, and held his slave close. Mulder closed his eyes. Shit, this felt so good. His back against Skinner's chest, being held tight, his Master's cock fully inside him, claiming him. They were still for a moment that seemed to last forever, and then Skinner started a slow, tantalizing movement, back and forth, every thrust seeming to stimulate Mulder's prostate, until Mulder felt sure he'd come just from that dizzying pressure. Skinner seemed to sense that he was on the edge, and pinched the tip of his cock firmly. "You don't come. Not yet. Not until Friday, and then only if you're good. I've been too soft on you so far, slave." Skinner murmured in his ear. "Master feels pretty hard right now," Mulder quipped. Skinner tightened the grip of his arm across the front of Mulder's chest and thrust a few more times before coming. Once more, he stayed inside his slave for several minutes, as his penis softened inside Mulder's body. "I want you to remember what this feels like, to think about me inside you, as often as possible," Skinner whispered in his ear. "I read somewhere, about someone who had a plaster cast made of his cock. I'd like to do something similar - have the shape and size of my hard cock fashioned into a butt plug, and make you wear it all the time, so that I'm claiming you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, like the slave you are. The only time I'd take it out would be to use you, like I just did, so there would never be a time when you couldn't feel me inside you. How does that sound, slave?" his voice was low, and sexy, and Mulder groaned, his cock aching with need. "Master is just tormenting me now," he whispered. "That's right. I like tormenting you, little one. It gives me pleasure," Skinner laughed. "How are you feeling after your nap?" "Fine, Master." Mulder snuggled against his Master's body. "Is there anything you want to talk about?" Skinner's hands gently stroked his body. Mulder sighed happily. "No, Master," he whispered. They lay there for a long time. Mulder felt himself drifting off into a dreamy haze. He glanced at the TV Guide on the floor, and remembered his plan. He was sure Skinner wouldn't let him watch the game if he asked him, so he decided on a different tack. "Master?" "Hmm?" Skinner hugged him close, and kissed the back of his neck, making Mulder's hair stand on end. "You know what I was saying about not sleeping?" "Yes," Skinner nibbled at his earlobe. "Well, I usually find that watching baseball before I go to bed helps me drop off. I don't know why," Mulder said, taking his life into his hands. "Baseball?" Skinner licked behind his ears. Mulder shivered, willing his erection to go away. "Yes, Master. It works every time. I'll probably sleep all night if I watched the game this evening," he said. It sounded unbelievable, even to his own ears, but Skinner seemed to be relaxed, and zoned out, so it was worth a try. It might work. His Master sounded as if he could be in an indulgent mood right now, on his post-sex high. "Could we have the game on tonight, Master?" he asked. "Why not?" Skinner nipped Mulder's earlobe again. "Yes, we'll have the game on tonight, slave. I'll enjoy that. Very much." Mulder grinned silently to himself. Hah! At last he had found a chink in his Master's armor. Appealing to Skinner's good nature, taking advantage of his concern over Mulder's nightmares, and asking straight after some hot sex. Those were the keys. Mulder snuggled down in his Master's arms, feeling pretty damn pleased with himself. Skinner seemed to be looking forward to the evening as well. He put Mulder through his paces once more on the end of the leash, then they had dinner, after which, Skinner got out some beers, and a bag of popcorn and handed them to his slave. "You can't watch a game without these vital accessories," he grinned. Mulder grinned back, sensing the training being relaxed. Maybe tonight, for just a couple of hours, they could be regular guys. They could immerse themselves in the game, and forget about the training for a bit. Maybe, if he was lucky, Mulder could lie in his Master's arms again while they watched TV, just as he had that afternoon. Mulder took the beers into the living room, and put them on the table, then sat down expectantly, turning on the TV to catch the intro. Skinner came in and sat down beside him. "On the floor, pup," he gestured. Mulder pouted, reluctant to relinquish his fantasy of lying in Skinner's arms, but Skinner clicked his fingers and he didn't dare disobey. "Okay, I think we can use this as a training opportunity." Skinner smiled down at his slave. "For tonight, Fox, I'd like you to be my footstool." "What?" Mulder opened his mouth wide in wordless shock. "You heard me, pup. On your hands and knees. No - facing that way." Skinner pointed in the opposite direction to where the TV was located. Mulder just knelt there, mouth opening and closing uselessly. "But - Master said I could watch the game!" he protested at last. "No, Master said we'd have the game on, and we will - but you won't be watching it." Skinner smiled at him. "Instead you'll be on your hands and knees with my legs on your back. I think I'll balance the remotes on you as well. Get used to it, slave. I'm fond of human furniture - and it's a hard skill to learn. You have to be completely still for a start. I won't put any drinks on you tonight, but I will at some point, and I don't expect them to spill. I think it's time that you found a quiet center to your soul, boy. Blank out the rest of the world, and just concentrate on being a footstool." Mulder choked in disbelief, but Skinner turned him around, placed his unwilling limbs into position, and then rested his long legs on Mulder's back. "Master, please," he whimpered, hearing the game start on the television behind him. He was rewarded by a swat on the butt from a rolled up copy of the TV Guide. "Quiet, boy." Skinner said, leaning back in the couch. He opened a beer, and dug his hand into the popcorn. Mulder flushed to the roots of his hair, feeling utterly humiliated. Apart from anything else, it was uncomfortable, this kneeling in position. He tried to remain still, but after barely ten minutes, he felt sure he'd collapse, and shifted his weight - only to receive another hearty slap. From then on, every wriggle was met by a swat from the TV Guide. Behind him, he could tell he was missing one of the most exciting games in living memory. "This has been a game for the history books so far! I've never even seen a play like that before," Tim McCarver, the Yankee announcer babbled. Skinner leaned forward, excited, removed his legs from Mulder's back, and plunked his remote and the popcorn down on him instead. "Master!" Mulder protested, flinching from the anticipated blow from the TV Guide. He wasn't disappointed as it swatted down on his upturned butt. "And now here's the play at the plate!" Mulder heard from the television behind him. "This run could be it! He's out! No! The ball is dropped! He's safe! He's safe at home!" Oh god, this was excruciating. Mulder craned his neck to get just one glimpse of the play, and found the back of his head swatted with the rolled up magazine. Fuck! He couldn't bear this! "Master, I'm sorry. Please let me watch," he begged, doing his best to sound contrite, while thinking furious thoughts. "What are you sorry for, slave?" Skinner asked. "For lying to you so that you'd let me watch," Mulder admitted with a sigh. "Hell, it was worth a try, Master!" "What about just asking me? Wasn't that worth a try?" Skinner demanded. "I--you might not have let me, Master," "Well, I'm sure as hell not going to let you now!" Skinner retorted. "Just kneel there, and give the matter of honesty some more thought. That seems to be a theme with you at the moment." "Is Master going to punish me?" Mulder asked, suddenly worried. "Yeah. Now shut up. I'm watching the game, boy. One more word out of you and I'll kill the sound so you can't even listen to it." Mulder opened his mouth, and then closed it again. It wasn't worth the risk. He listened in agony, as the duel between the Yankees and the Red Sox progressed. Mulder missed it all, including a final 'once in a lifetime' triple play that brought the game to an end. "But not in my lifetime," Mulder groaned to himself as the announcers exulted about the end of a baseball game that would go down in the history books as one of the most exciting ever played. Skinner turned the TV off, and clicked his fingers. Mulder rose up stiffly into an upright kneeling position, his back protesting the movement. "Okay, we have some issues to address." Skinner got up, and took off his belt. Mulder watched him, alarmed, his butt cheeks clenching in anticipation. "I don't know what it's going to take to get this message home, Fox, but I do know I'm going to keep trying until we get there. I need your honesty." Skinner stood in front of his slave, looking down on him. "It's important. I need it in the little things - like the stunt you just pulled, because if you can't be honest about that, then there's no hope with you about the big things. And I need you to be honest about those, Fox, because if you're not, I might end up doing you some serious harm, and I don't want that any more than you do. I'm talking emotional harm as much as physical harm," Skinner warned. "By big things, I mean the truth about your nightmares, because I don't think you gave me that this morning did you?" Skinner asked. Mulder looked up, his eyes wide and fearful, then looked down again, and shook his head, wordlessly. "I did hope that relaxing you on the couch might encourage you into confessing of your own free will, but I can see that's not going to happen, so I'm going to be take a harder line with you. You deserve to be punished for the crap you spouted to manipulate me into letting you watch the game. I hope you learned that lesson. Did you?" "Yes, Master." Mulder bit on his lip, and watched as Skinner doubled up the belt in his hands, and pulled it taut, then slapped it against his thigh a couple of times with a resounding thwack. "What did you learn?" Skinner asked. "Tell me the lesson you learned, slave." "That I must always be honest with my Master?" Mulder suggested. "Yes - that's about right, and to drum that lesson home, I'm going to give you one lick of my belt for every word in that sentence, with you spelling each one out as we go. Present yourself for discipline, Fox." He sat down, and patted his knees. Mulder got up quickly, and bent himself over them, his stomach churning. He really didn't want a spanking right now. "Okay, let's go," his Master said, laying the first lick right across the middle of Mulder's tender flesh. "I," Mulder panted. "Leg's further apart," Skinner widened them with his knee, then, trapped Mulder's cock between his legs, before delivering the next lick. "M!" Mulder yelped. Another swat followed on quickly behind. "U!" he cried. Each lick came hard on the heels of the next one. If Mulder was too slow spelling the phrase, Skinner laid down an interim stroke to remind him to hurry up. He got lost somewhere around the middle of the word 'honest,' so Skinner started all over again from the beginning of that word. By the time he'd finished spelling out the phrase, Mulder's butt felt like it was on fire, and he was sobbing freely, his head buried in the couch. "Okay," Skinner paused. "Say each word for me, and I'll give you a stroke for each, then we're finished." "I…ow! Must…always…fuck!…be…hon…honest…please, ow!…with…my…unnnh…Master!" Mulder repeated frantically, each lick of Skinner's belt printing a line of fire in his flesh. Finally, the onslaught stopped, and Mulder lay, panting, over his Master's knee. He felt Skinner's hand soothing his back, and got up, burying his face in his Master's shoulder. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" he sobbed incoherently. "I know you are. Come here." Skinner pulled his kneeling slave between his open legs, and kissed his hair until the tears finally subsided. Mulder felt sure he'd soaked his Master's shirt through to the skin. He'd never cried like this after a whipping. He'd always had his escape, damn it! He hated himself for his weakness, and tried to draw back, to retreat, but Skinner held him close, soothing him, which just made Mulder's sobs start up again. He cried for a long time, then lay limply in his Master's strong arms. Skinner pushed him back, and gently wiped the tears from his slave's cheeks, and deposited a light kiss on Mulder's swollen lips. "Now, talk to me, sweetheart," Skinner murmured, "and this time, make it the truth. Or I'll throw you back over my knee, and make you spell out that phrase again. In fact, every time you're dishonest, that's exactly what I'm going to do to you." "Please…I promise I'll tell you…" Mulder babbled. "The nightmares…they were about you, Master." "About me?" Skinner frowned. "Yes…I…" Mulder closed his eyes and some instinct made him assume the Confessional position. "I dreamed you were abducted, just like Sam and Scully were abducted. It happens to everyone I love." He froze, annoyed with himself for uttering that word. He didn't want Skinner to know the hold he had over him. It made him vulnerable, and weak. "I saw you being taken away, and, another time, you just disappeared. I looked for you everywhere. When I came to your room, I brought the gun because I wanted to protect you. I feel so goddamn helpless in my life, Master. I couldn't stop them taking Samantha, or Scully. I suppose - I wanted to protect you if they came for you. I know it's load of fucking stupid crap, but it was 4 o clock in the morning, and it made some kind of half-assed sense then." Mulder sighed, trembling with the effort of the confession. "Hush, it's all right." Mulder was surprised that Skinner hadn't burst out laughing at the absurdity of what he'd heard. "Fox, I'm not going anywhere," Skinner told him, softly. "Not now, not ever. You're stuck with me, slave." His fingers gently massaged Mulder's stiff shoulders. "We have to deal with these issues, Fox. You've had some bad crap happen in your life. You can move on - but only if you deal with it, instead of trying to hide from it. From now on, you'll tell me if you have any more nightmares, and you'll tell me what they are. Now, do you have anything else to confess?" Mulder shook his head, and was surprised when his mouth opened and he started talking. "I'm worried you'll make me suck the other tops at the party, Master," he admitted, shaking again. Skinner's fingers dug deep into the back of his neck. "What the hell made you think I'd do that?" he asked. "Because you want me to be so good at it. I thought that was why," Mulder admitted. "I want you to be good at it for my own benefit, not anyone else's!" Skinner laughed. Mulder felt his shoulders relaxing in relief. "Anything else, sweetheart?" "I turned the faucet on, and soaked Wanda's ear," Mulder gabbled, seemingly unable to stop the torrent of guilty secrets. Skinner roared with laughter, and Mulder looked up in surprise. "Well, I'm not saying I condone that, but hell, she does hover around that faucet like she's asking for it sometimes," Skinner said between great gasps of hysteria. "Well, Fox, it seems like you've got a lot on your conscience. I think, maybe, we should institute a confessional half hour every evening." He leaned forward, and helped his slave to kneel upright, his face turning suddenly serious. "The honesty issue is important, little one," he said, fondling Mulder's cheek. Mulder nodded, a lump in his throat. "The fact that you have trouble being honest with me shows you don't trust me yet. I need that trust. I told you, Fox, I'm going to take you right down. If you don't trust me, if you fight me all the way, then it'll be a harder experience for you. Learn to trust me, and it'll be a lot less painful." "Yes, Master," Mulder bowed his head. "And, you know, the excitement of that game has made me horny. There's something I'd like to do to you before you go to bed. Lie on the floor, hands above your head. Good." Mulder lay on the carpet, watching as Skinner approached him. Without warning, the big man knelt down on top of him, his legs astride Mulder's ribs. He took hold of Mulder's arms, and pushed them back onto the floor, leaning over his slave, and looking into his eyes for a long moment. "Who do you belong to, slave?" He asked. Mulder felt a thrill pass through his body, at being held in such a submissive pose. "You, Master," he said, happily. "There are many ways of marking you." Skinner grinned. "Do you know that cats scent mark their territory? That's what I'm going to do to you now. Hold still." He opened his jeans, and pulled out his cock, then fed it into Mulder's waiting mouth. "Suck me until I'm just about to come. No, don't move. I'm going to hold you down, slave boy." Mulder obeyed his Master, sucking on his hard cock, his hands held captive over his head, the weight of Skinner's body keeping him pinned to the carpet. When Skinner was on the verge of coming, he withdrew from his slave's mouth, and spurted out on his naked body, his come splashing onto Mulder's chest, and over his neck. Mulder closed his eyes as he accepted the semen onto his body. "Okay," Skinner leaned forward, and held Mulder down again. "Wait here until it dries, slave boy. Then go to bed stinking of me, with my come still marking your chest. You can't wash it off until tomorrow morning. If you wake up in the night, I want you to smell me on your body, to feel claimed by my come, and to remember that it's me marking you as my territory. Nobody," he said the word with savage intent, "gets to use you but me, boy. You're mine." He dipped his finger in his come, and painted some down the center of Mulder's chest. "Scent-marked," he whispered. Mulder shivered. He felt more owned than he ever had in his life. He loved the note of jealousy he heard in his Master's voice. Skinner had even made the thought of sleeping in dried spunk sound sexy. Skinner held him there until the moisture had dried on his body, and then let him up. He fastened Mulder into his chastity belt for the night, and then pulled his slave into a deep, loving kiss. "Sweet dreams, sweetheart," he murmured. Mulder gazed at him in wordless adoration, and then retreated to his bedroom in a haze of happiness. He got into bed, smelling of sex, the dried semen feeling slightly itchy on his chest, but for some reason he found the smell and sensation reassuring - and he didn't have one bad dream all night.
---
!Chapter 8: It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To The first thing Mulder's Master did on Thursday morning was to order him into the shower. The second thing he did was to tell his damp slave that he was taking him down even further, and that he would be silent for the rest of the day. Mulder stared up at him in shock. A whole day of silence? Without even the benefit of the gag to enforce it? "You have to learn, sweetheart," Skinner chuckled, reading his expression. "You'll be silent for most of the day, until I give you the command that you can speak. View this as a learning opportunity, Fox." Mulder opened his mouth to protest, and Skinner placed a finger over it. "It's one stroke with the strap for every word you say today. I'll keep tally and deliver them this evening. Now, do you think you can take your morning discipline without talking? Screams are fine, and I'll keep it light." Mulder thought about it for a moment, and then nodded, but it was with some trepidation that he lowered himself over his Master's knee. Skinner was true to his word, and the slaps that rained down on Mulder's ass from his bare hand didn't do more than sting, but even so, after the sheer volume built up on his sore ass, Mulder was writhing, and kicking. It took all his willpower not to cry out, or beg his Master for a reprieve. When it was over, Skinner placed him back on his knees, and gave him a deep, searching kiss. "I'm very proud of you, Fox," he said when he'd finished, leaving Mulder almost whimpering for more. "When you can regularly take even the most severe discipline without pleas, or resistance, accept it as your due, as symbolic of your slavery, and kneel and kiss my feet afterwards in thanks, then your training will be complete. This was a good first step. I'm pleased." The afterglow of Skinner's praise stayed with Mulder for most of the day, and the trial of silence actually turned out to be pleasurable, as he watched his Master intently, relieved of the necessity to communicate in any way save through his body language. Skinner was firm but attentive. He took his slave on an hour's leash training - Mulder's nipples were still sore, but the worst of the initial aftermath of the piercing had worn off. Skinner assured him that within 2 weeks they wouldn't give him any discomfort at all. "Then we can really begin to play with them," he promised, touching the tip of his index finger to one, which sent tingles down Mulder's spine. Mulder was now confident on the leash. Learning the signals had been a walk in the park - Mulder's worst enemy was his over-active mind. If he switched off, and, as Skinner had told him to do on so many occasions, surrendered to his submission, then he performed brilliantly. If, however, he tried to think about it too much, or to second-guess his Master, then he usually screwed up. Skinner was firm but patient, and Mulder actually came to actively enjoy his sessions on the leash. He had a mental image of himself walking behind his Master down the corridors of a deserted Hoover building, himself naked, Skinner fully clothed, leading him by the chain attached to his pierced nipples. It was the kind of image that made him immediately hard. He was so used to his aching, unrelieved erection now, that it was easier for him not to be distracted by it. He still couldn't wait to be allowed to come, and he hoped desperately that the party would go without incident, and he could claim his prize of a night in his Master's arms. Skinner had even hinted that he'd perform oral sex on his slave, and Mulder practically salivated at that prospect. Mulder went through a familiar litany of tasks on his day of silence. He shaved 5 balloons, and only killed 3 of them, then performed an extensive workout, under Skinner's watchful gaze. "I'm going to improve your diet - more protein, less junk food," Skinner informed him, as he ran on the treadmill. "And add some definition to your pecs and upper body. I've worked out a program for you that should achieve that. I like you as you are though - I don't want you bulked up, so the program will just tone you, and increase your levels of fitness. Your body is over-stressed," he frowned at the full fitness survey he'd made his slave complete, including an in depth study of his eating habits, fitness methods, body stats, and a cardio vascular work out. "We'll work on that. You'll find that being a slave has its own stresses, but, by and large, it can be a very restful condition." Mulder shot him a look of disbelief, and made his first slip up of the day by not being able to contain the "yeah, right," that slipped out of his mouth. Skinner raised an eyebrow. "That's two with the strap this evening, Fox," he warned. "Keep a tally - I'll ask you for the total later on. I hope for your sake that it doesn't grow too much." Afterward the workout, Skinner took him to the Playroom, and tied him up in the harness again. He didn't blindfold him, and Mulder enjoyed another hour of soothing, light stroking, and tickling. He only earned two swats for not being able to stay still, and he only gasped out a "shit!" once, when Skinner indulged in some prolonged tickling of his armpits. All in all, he thought his Master was pleased with him. Later that afternoon, Skinner made him kneel on the floor with his hands outstretched, and placed a pot in each of them. "Half an hour without moving, then you can go on all fours and be my footstool again for another half an hour," Skinner informed him. Mulder made a face. He hated this human furniture thing. It made his muscles ache apart from anything else, as Skinner insisted on complete stillness. "You can take a rest every time the strain is too much - 30 seconds or so to get the blood moving again, just lower your hands until the ache has gone, then raise them again," Skinner told him. "I'm not asking you to be superhuman, just to learn the benefit of discovering a still center to your soul, and how to inhabit it for short periods of time. If, at the same time, you can also be of service, then that's even better," he grinned, pouring water into one bowl, and filling the other with peanuts, which he helped himself to every time he past his hapless, silent slave-come-coffee table. Mulder sighed, and tried his best to master the skill, but he still hated it. He hated being a footstool even more. There was something utterly degrading about kneeling on all fours with his butt in the air, having his back used as a footrest. Skinner's long legs were heavy as well, and the demands that he be completely still were hard for him to obey. Skinner pulled him into a hug when his half hour was up, and kissed his slave's forehead tenderly. "Well done. I know that wasn't easy," he said, and Mulder laid his head against his Master's shoulder, with a heartfelt sigh. "I hate being furniture, Master," he said mournfully. "That's five more, Fox." Skinner said cheerfully. "Now, I want to use you. Do you think you can remain completely still and silent, while I do that? I can gag and tie you if need be, but I'd prefer it if you learned to obey me of your own volition." Mulder looked at his Master wide eyed. He loved that Skinner found his body so exciting, that he enjoyed exploring it, and opening it. Having his prostate stimulated wasn't quite as enjoyable as being allowed to come, but it was the next best thing. However, he did have a tendency to move around, and shout out a lot during sex. His Master was combining two lessons in one with his question. Mulder thought about it, and nodded - he would try at least. "Good boy," Skinner kissed his forehead again. "Lie down on your back, and open your legs. I'll place you into whatever position I want you in - I don't want you to move at all, and speech is forbidden. If you disobey me on either of those, then I'll add it to the list for punishment tonight." Mulder nodded again, wondering if he would regret turning down the use of the gag, and bondage. He lay on his back on the floor, and opened his legs wide. Skinner knelt between them, and entered a finger into Mulder's anus, probing gently, and thoroughly. Mulder started to moan, and had to bite back the sound. It was much harder than he thought to lie completely still, without moving, as Skinner continued that long, probing caress. Two fingers, then three, and Mulder wanted to shout out loud, and put his arms above his head, to lean into the slow, loving caress. It took all his willpower to resist. After several minutes of this, Skinner undid his jeans, and took out his pulsing erection, stroking it. He laid it against Mulder's inner thigh, and teased him with it, then he unwrapped a condom and placed it on his hard cock. He raised Mulder's legs over his shoulders, and grasped his slave's thighs, impaling him on his cock in one swift movement that made Mulder shout out, then bite on his lip. The first moments of entrance were always slightly painful to Mulder, but when Skinner started to thrust, and found his prostate, that discomfort rapidly changed into an intense, burning pleasure. He was amazed by how much he enjoyed anal sex now. Part of it was the thrill of being dominated, opened by his big, strong, powerful Master, and taken by him without mercy, subject to his whim, and will, but part of it was simply enjoyment of the act itself. Mulder strained every muscle in his body to keep still, and quiet, as Skinner pounded into him, back and forth, stimulating his sensitive nerve endings, and making his whole body quiver with the need to shout, and move. It was hard to lie so still when his anus was being stroked to the heights of ecstasy, and Mulder started to sweat, the moisture dripping off his face with effort. He longed for it to go on forever, and for it to be over, at one and the same time. Skinner had enormous control of his body, and he hadn't been lying when he had told Mulder on his first night as his slave that he could stay hard for a long time. Mulder felt as if he was subject to the most bizarre form of sexual torture he could ever have imagined. Skinner's big body possessed him, slow stroke, by slow stroke, thrusting and withdrawing so many times that the whole event became a haze, and finally Mulder snapped, and flung his head back, the sweat flowing down his neck. "Oh god!" he cried out. "That's another 2 - add them to the tally," Skinner told him between panting thrusts. "Hands back down by your sides, keep very still or it won't be the strap I use tonight - it'll be the tawse." The threat of that particular implement was enough to stun Mulder into silence again, and he bit down hard on his lip, his bare back starting to rub on the carpet. Mulder watched, the enforced stillness and silence making him focus his attention not the sensations in his own body, but on his Master. He noted the way Skinner's strong neck muscles bunched up as he thrust into his slave's body, how his Master's broad forehead was covered with a thin sheen of sweat. He watched, fascinated, enjoying the way his Master half closed his eyes as he went about his pleasure, how he focused all of his formidable will on the event, pursued it almost, until he was sated. Skinner came with a long exhalation of breath, and Mulder lay silently, not moving, just watching, as his Master's breathing slowed, and returned to normal. "Good boy. That's another hard lesson. We'll be returning to it several times." Skinner smiled. "I notice you watched me - that's good. Next time, focus on me even more, and you'll gradually learn how to please me. When you can finally come to concentrate on me, and how best to serve me, then you'll have learned the true nature of your enslavement. Remember," he withdrew from his slave's willing body, "your own pleasure is incidental, Fox. My pleasure is paramount. If I choose for you to be rewarded, or for this," he tugged on his slave's hard cock, "to be allowed to release, it's because it pleases me, not because I want to please you." Mulder blinked, drinking in these words, and the breath-taking vision of the full range of his own submission that was being presented to him. His already hard cock almost went into spasm. Skinner grinned, and slapped it. "Down boy!" he laughed. "Hopefully, tomorrow night it'll please me to give this little monster what it's panting for." Skinner got up, rearranged his clothing, and disposed of the used condom, then he clipped Mulder's leash on him and set him some basic household chores to get the house ready for the party the following day. Mulder followed his Master in a haze of silent obedience. He fought his slavery less this day than any other day previously. The serenity he had caught only briefly before, now claimed him, and he was almost surprised when the day came to an end. "Your punishment before bed." Skinner smiled, handing him the key to the playroom. "Go and get the strap, Fox, then go and wait for me in your bedroom." Mulder looked up at him in surprise. "Your bedroom isn't your own personal territory, sweetheart!" Skinner laughed. "You're still my slave in there, just as you are everywhere else. You shouldn't get into the habit of thinking you're exempt from my attentions in any particular place. Go and kneel beside your bed, with the strap in your mouth, and consider what you've learned today." Mulder nodded, and went up the stairs, holding his leash under his tongue. He retrieved the strap and went back to his bedroom, then placed the strap with the leash in his mouth, and knelt, waiting for his Master. He watched as the minutes ticked by - long, endless minutes of waiting. He considered getting up, but somehow he just knew that Skinner would choose the exact moment he disobeyed, to appear in the doorway. Half an hour passed, and Mulder experienced a range of emotions. Nervous anticipation about the spanking mingled with anger about being kept waiting. He tried some mental tricks to help him get through, reminding himself that his Master could keep him waiting if he wanted to, just as he could whip him, when, where, and how hard he liked for as long as he liked, if he wanted to. His buttocks clenched in fear of the event. He could taste the leather strap, and knew that it would soon make hard contact with his ass, but Mulder reminded himself that had no choice but to accept, and allow it to happen. Finally, he reached a state of serenity and acceptance. He switched off, and allowed the time to pass, without noticing it. When Skinner did finally appear, his slave was almost surprised to see him. "Good boy." Skinner patted his head, and took the strap from his mouth. "Bend over the bed." Mulder obeyed quickly, spreading his knees as instructed, so that Skinner had full access to every part of his ass. This also made it harder for him to clench his muscles, and made his bottom feel even more exposed, and available for his Master's correction. Even then, Skinner didn't put him out of his misery straight away. He paused, and Mulder tried to slow his breathing. "I make it eleven in all," Skinner informed him, Mulder having earned a couple more at various points during the day. "Do you agree with that tally, slave?" Mulder thought about it for a moment, and then nodded. "All right. I want you to accept this discipline in the same manner as I asked you to accept your discipline this morning. Without speaking, calling out, or begging. Focus, slave." There was silence. Mulder strained, waited for the first blow, and waited…and waited…Finally he started to relax, to switch off, and regain the silence - and that was when the first blow struck home. The strap was a light, snappy implement, and it stung badly but didn't leave much by way of evidence once the redness had worn off. Skinner whipped it lightly across his slave's ass, and the shock of it made Mulder jump, but he didn't cry out. After six licks he was breathing hard, and he longed to shout out loud, but he didn't. Instead he kept breathing, and kept reminding himself who he belonged to, and what he was being asked to do. He was stunned to find how easily he accepted the stinging swats, and how quickly the whole event was over. When the last blow had been delivered, he turned around, and kissed his Master's feet, and then knelt in happy submission, looking up at his Master with adoring eyes. Skinner was clearly delighted. He crouched down, took his slave in his arms, and kissed him again. "I'm so proud of you. Keep this up, and I'll be the envy of all the other tops in the whole country," he laughed. "If you perform like this at the party tomorrow night, I'll be inundated with requests to buy you." Mulder looked up, his eyes holding a wordless plea. "Don't worry, sweetheart. I'd never sell you," Skinner reassured him. "Apart from anything else, I don't think anybody else could handle you - and I wouldn't want a runaway turning up on my doorstep every few days!" He laughed, and kissed Mulder again. "You're very special to me, Fox," he murmured. "I promise I'll take very good care of you. Do you trust me?" Mulder's eyes were shining as he nodded. "Good. I know I'm strict with you, but I think you respond well to boundaries. When you can take the lessons I've taught you today about your own submission, and weave them into the tapestry of everyday life, then you'll feel so free you could fly, little one. It won't be easy, and it'll take a lot of getting used to, but I'll get you there. Now, after seeing the benefit of that confessional last night, you can get used to talking to me most nights." Mulder looked up wordlessly, suddenly no longer sure that he had anything to say, but Skinner's expression was firm, and his dark eyes serious. "You can kneel, or sit, look at me, or look down, I don't mind, but I want to hear what's going on in your head. I won't ever punish you for what you say during this half-hour, so long as you are truthful, and polite, and I won't interrupt. All I ask for is your honesty." Skinner sat down on the bed, and gazed at his slave expectantly. Mulder took a deep breath, then found himself crawling over, and placing his head on Skinner's knee. He couldn't look at the other man, but he was reassured by the way Skinner stroked his hair. "I…" He stopped - his voice sounded strange and unreal as he broke his silence. Skinner's hand continued to stroke his hair, encouraging him to continue. "Uh…" Mulder cleared his throat. "Today was good. I found a place…I really liked being there." He closed his eyes, and rubbed his cheek against his Master's thigh. "I want to be everything you want of me, Master, but…I think I'll screw it up." Skinner didn't say anything, and Mulder found it impossible to look at his Master. "You could be harder on me, Master," he shrugged. "Some of that stuff you do to me turns me on so much…I like it when you're hard on me. Okay, sometimes I hate it too, but it sends shivers up my spine, it has an edge to it…I need that edge…" He felt as if he was rambling now, but the words just came out in a disjointed torrent. "Sometimes I feel like I'm flying into orbit, and I need someone to pull me back down to earth, and keep me here - by force if need be. I'd like you to do that for me. I want you to, and in return, I'm happy to serve you. It's easy to worship you for doing that for me. That doesn't make me weak. I'm not needy." Mulder clenched his fists. "With Phoebe, it was…she wanted to dominate me, but then she despised me for allowing it. I didn't get off on her loathing. I wanted more from her than that, I thought we were well-matched, that we had complementary needs, so when I saw the naked loathing in her eyes - that hurt. You…if I thought you despised me for being what I am, I'd be so fucking angry…so…" Mulder couldn't continue, because he couldn't bear thinking about that. "The submissive kink - that isn't all I am. When we go back to work…it'll be different. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that… how you're going to deal with that. I have all these questions. I want to know about you, and about the Playroom. How did you get into the Lifestyle, and what do you mean you've tried out all that stuff on yourself?" Mulder paused, but no answer was forthcoming. "I've known you for 6 years and I never guessed, although, hell, I suppose, if I'm honest, I did get off on some of our, uh… altercations." He bit on his lip, wishing he hadn't shared that particular guilty secret, and longing to know what Skinner made of it, only he didn't dare look up. "I know, you've known me the same amount of time, and you probably didn't guess either. Or maybe you did. Jeez, you are so going to regret giving me the opportunity to talk. One thing about this crazy shit deal that totally freaks me, and has taken me by surprise, is how much I want to serve you. The shaving thing…the idea of washing you…I never knew shit like that would turn me on. Phoebe used to fuck with my mind more…I hated that, but I really loved her… This scares me, Master. I go to bed every night, and I wake up every morning scared shitless about how deep I'm getting into this, but it's so good too. So damn good, and I want to give in, I really want to, but there's this crazy Mulder person holds me back sometimes. Fox could kneel at your feet forever, but Mulder…I dunno about him. He's such a difficult bastard." Mulder finally ran out of steam, the stream of consciousness coming to a faltering halt. He watched the seconds tick by on Skinner's watch, and then the time was over. Skinner hadn't said a word throughout. Mulder had no idea how his confessions had been received, but he felt curiously light-headed at having spoken so freely and openly. There was more, so much more, that he hadn't said, and couldn't say, but this was a start. Skinner seemed to think so too, because he got up pulled his slave to his feet, gave him a deep, loving kiss, then pointed to the bed. "Thank you, Fox," he murmured. "Sleep well. Tomorrow's the big day, and I know how cranky you can be if you don't get enough rest." Mulder nodded, and watched as his Master went to the door. He wanted to say more, to ask questions about the party, to tell Skinner how freaked by the whole idea he still was, but he found that he couldn't. "Fox." Skinner turned around as he opened the door. "Just one thing. When we get back to work - it won't be any different. Agent Mulder is merely the public face of my slave, Fox. Fox is what you are. I won't allow you to be two people at once. You're mine; body, heart, mind, and soul. Here, there, and everywhere, as the Beatles once said. Maybe that should be our song," he grinned. Then he turned out the light, and disappeared. Mulder awoke the next morning with a knot of anxiety in the pit of his stomach. He was worried about so many things to do with the party that he wasn't sure what concerned him most. Seeing his old tops, the mysterious 'entertainment' that he was somehow supposed to provide, being displayed naked, having to be submissive all night, and, most of all, he was scared he'd screw up, and there was so much at stake. Not only the night in his Master's arms that he'd been promised, but also his Master's honor, and prestige on the scene. If Mulder screwed up, it would reflect badly on his Master. Skinner, on the other hand, seemed positively jovial when Mulder took him his morning coffee. His Master remained on a high all day, accepting deliveries of food and drink, directing Mulder in tidying up the Playroom, and upstairs lounge, to make it spick and span for their guests, and fitting in a brief session of leash training, and stroking. "Excellent," Skinner beamed as he released his slave from the harness, after their daily ritual of Mulder keeping still while his Master touched him all over. "Not one swat of the paddle. I think you'll be ready for tonight, little one." "Why, Master. What are you going to do to me?" Mulder asked, anxiously. Skinner just grinned mysteriously, and gave him a swat on the backside. "Whatever I want, slave," he reprimanded mildly. "Now, you've done so well that I'm going to grant you a reward. Come with me." He went over to one of the cupboards, and opened it. "You can choose what I wear tonight, Fox," he said, waving a hand at the sumptuous array of clothes inside the closet. This was Skinner's 'fantasy' wardrobe, which contained completely different items to the starched shirts, and formal suits that could be found in his normal closet. Mulder looked in, eagerly. He'd never been particularly interested in fashion before, but there was something erotic about choosing the clothes his Master would be seen in at his slave's party. If Skinner was looking forward to displaying the charms of his naked slave, then Mulder found the idea of making his Master into an object of envy, equally appealing. He rifled through the many costumes, before short-listing a pair of black leather trousers, a black vest, a garnet silk shirt, a pair of stone-colored chinos, a black polo neck, and a leather waistcoat. "Problems choosing, slave?" Skinner inquired. Mulder looked up thoughtfully. "If Master would consider giving me a, uh, display?" he asked. Skinner sighed. "All right - but make it quick," he said, although Mulder noticed that he couldn't stop grinning. Mulder undressed his Master swiftly, and then helped him into the garnet silk shirt, and chinos. Skinner looked magnificent in them, although Mulder just knew they weren't items his Master would be seen dead in at the office or in fact, anywhere but at a scene party. They were too extravagant, the garnet too deep. It made his Master look…exotic. Mulder exchanged the shirt for the black vest. "Now this is a look I could really go for…" Mulder surveyed the way the vest displayed his Master's rippling biceps to best advantage. He hung the leather waistcoat over it, and was pretty damn pleased with the result, but the black items didn't go with the chinos, so he helped Skinner into the leather trousers, then stepped back in awe. "Master looks…hot," he grinned. "But…maybe a bit obvious? Try on the black polo neck." Skinner shook his head. "Just wait until I take you shopping tomorrow, sweetheart," he laughed. "Then I'll get my own back for your indecision." Mulder helped Skinner into the thin cotton polo neck, and took a step back, then felt his knees go weak. "Oh, yeah!" he muttered feebly. The polo neck clung to his Master's broad chest, displaying his rugged good looks to the best advantage, and accentuating his flat, washboard stomach. The leather trousers weren't too tight, but they were snug, and they seemed to make his long legs even longer. "I, uh, think that's it," Mulder whispered, awe struck. "Good. Take them down to my bedroom, then run me a bath. Our guests will be with us in a couple of hours. Kneel." Skinner clicked his fingers and Mulder obeyed immediately. "Fox…" Skinner tilted his head to look into his slave's eyes. "From now on, you're in deep submission and you'll remain that way until after the party. Then, if you behave well, I'll release you from deep submission, and take you to my bed tonight. Do you have any questions before we begin, little one?" "Supposing I screw up?" Mulder blurted. Skinner frowned. "Fox, I've been preparing you all week for this. You're ready. I have every confidence in you. All you have to do is embrace your slavery, and remember all the lessons you've been taught. If you are having any difficulties, you will tell me." "What's going to happen, though, Master?" Mulder couldn't keep the whining tone out of his voice. Skinner sighed. "I'm not going to tell you everything, Fox. You'll go into the unknown, because I tell you to, and because you trust me. I'll be beside you all the way. That's all you need to know. Anything else?" Mulder shook his head, numbly. Skinner nodded, and his whole demeanor changed. He pulled himself up straight, and glanced down at his slave from what seemed to be a great height. "All right, slave. You're in deep submission now. Let me tell you what I expect of you tonight. You will not speak to any of our guests. When they arrive you will take their coats and place them on the bed in your room. If they talk to you, you won't answer, no matter what they say. The only person you may talk to tonight is me, and then only unless spoken to, except in the case of an emergency, or if you need to draw my attention to any distress you're feeling. Our guests won't touch you, little one." Skinner's expression was serious, and his fingers held Mulder's chin firmly, forcing his slave to drown in his gaze throughout this long speech. "Nobody will touch you but me. If anybody does touch you, tell me immediately, and they will be ejected from the party. Forcibly," Skinner said flexing his muscles unconsciously. Mulder nodded gratefully. "It might please me, at some party in the future, to tie you to a spanking horse, with an array of disciplinary implements in a rack beside you, and allow other people to administer discipline under my supervision, but that won't happen tonight," Skinner told him. Mulder's cock did a strange leap. He wasn't sure whether he thought that idea was horrific or not, but his cock certainly seemed to like it. "For tonight, you will wear your leash at all times, and you will watch for my every command. You will concentrate on pleasing me, and obeying my every order. That is all you need do. You are not required to be witty, or charming or entertaining, although I will certainly expect you to display these talents at other parties I might hold in the future. For tonight, I will display you in such a way as to entertain our guests, but I will decide how, and you will merely follow my orders. You will do everything I tell you to, immediately, and without question - without even thinking about it. That is the level of submission and trust that I require from you." Skinner's dark eyes impressed upon Mulder the serious intent of this statement. "That is all, boy. Go and run my bath." Mulder scurried to obey. He ran the bath, added scented oils, and laid out his Master's clothes on the bed. When the bath was ready, he undressed his Master, and placed a towel to warm on the heated rail. He returned to kneel beside the bath, eyes down, completely submissive. He didn't even steal a glance at his Master as he soaked himself thoroughly. After about twenty minutes, Skinner sat up, and instructed his slave to soap him. Mulder obeyed, quickly and efficiently, not daring to steal any kisses. Then he helped his Master out of the bath, enveloped him in the warm towel, and dried him thoroughly, before escorting him into the bedroom. Skinner insisted on his slave dressing him completely, from head to foot, and Mulder reveled in pulling those tight leather trousers up his Master's thighs. He finished by combing the tiny fringe of hair at the back of his Master's head, and then waited in silence, kneeling beside his Master, awaiting further instructions. "Take a shower - and meet me in the playroom. I want to…" Skinner paused, a slight smile tugging on his lips, "decorate you," he murmured. "And Fox?" Mulder turned on his way to the door. "You'll be marked," Skinner told him. Mulder felt his stomach do a nervous flip, but he nodded, and exited quietly. He examined himself in the mirror when he got back to his room. His morning discipline had been light, and despite the punishment it had undergone that week, his butt was curiously clear of marks - Skinner was skilled enough to deliver even quite severe punishment without leaving much evidence. The marks he'd received a few days earlier had now faded almost completely. Mulder shivered. The idea of being marked was a turn on, but the reality of it was damn painful. He knew he had no choice, so he went to the shower, and cleaned himself thoroughly, inside and out, before presenting himself back at the Playroom for his Master. Skinner was already waiting for him, a long, thin cane hanging loosely from his belt. Mulder's stomach lurched. "First things first." Skinner opened the cupboard, and pulled out something that made a tinkling sound. Mulder looked up, intrigued. "I'd like to be able to hear where my slave is at any given point, and although I want to display you naked, a bit of decoration doesn't go amiss." Skinner grinned, and approached his slave. "So…you're going to be the prettiest slave in the house this evening…with bells on." He laughed at his own joke, and Mulder opened his mouth in silent horror. He watched, dismayed, as Skinner clipped a tiny, gold bell to each nipple ring. "Get up, and, uh, prance, boy," Skinner ordered. Mulder knelt there, mutinously. Skinner raised an eyebrow. "I think I gave you an order," his Master told him dangerously. Mulder tried to get back down into his submission, but it was hard when he just knew that if he moved so much as a muscle, his nipples would… ring. Skinner raised the cane, ominously, and Mulder gave in and got to his feet, his face flushing with embarrassment as the bells tinkled. There was an irritating, tinny quality to the sound. "Master, please," he whispered, "don't make me wear these." "Why not? I like them. They're pretty." Skinner placed the end of the cane under one of the bells, and flicked, making it tinkle merrily. Mulder clenched his fists behind his back. "I feel like a fucking fairy or some kind of Christmas ornament or something," Mulder growled. "Well I like the look. Now, I think I told you to prance," Skinner said firmly. Mulder shot him a look of pure hatred, and Skinner drew himself up to his full, formidable height, and stood over his slave. Mulder went eyeball to eyeball with his Master for a long time, and then, slowly, reluctantly, backed down. "I hate this, Master," he whispered, as he attempted to prance, as directed. "And why should that interest me?" Skinner asked dangerously. "Master did say I could tell you if I was in any distress," he reminded Skinner. "And having bells attached to your nipple rings distresses you how?" Skinner demanded. Mulder opened his mouth to argue, then closed it again. "There's a difference between being in genuine distress, and submitting to the will of your Master, even when you hate what he is asking of you," Skinner told him. "Don't confuse the two. Remember the cautionary tale of the boy who cried wolf." Mulder nodded glumly. "Come here." Skinner pulled him over to the cupboard, and showed him his reflection. The gold bells were very light, and barely tugged on his nipple rings, but they looked ridiculous - to Mulder's mind at least. Skinner stood behind him, and stoked his nipples gently, with a gossamer touch, mindful of the fact they were still healing. "When these have healed, we'll play some fun games with them. They can stand a lot of pulling." He nuzzled his slave's cheek with his own. "And I have far more interesting ornamentation than these little bells. I had to keep it lightweight for now, but did you know there are weights that can be attached to these? The pull can be very…erotic. Painful, but full of sensation." He pinched Mulder's right nipple lightly, making his slave gasp. "Now, I've had enough disobedience from you, boy. I think it's time to remind you who's in charge. When you go into that party this evening, you'll be wearing the signs of my ownership - my rings on your body, and the marks of my cane on your ass." Mulder felt the handle of the crop push between his butt cheeks. Skinner tightened the hold of his arm across Mulder's chest. "Who do you belong to?" Skinner demanded. Mulder looked at their reflections in the mirror. They seemed to fit together perfectly. Skinner was just a bit taller than him, his bald head in stark relief to Mulder's thick hair. His Master's chest was just broad enough to be visible around the side of his slave's naked body. Skinner's black clothing, so smooth, and satanic, was in contrast to Mulder's pale flesh. There was something so perfect about their reflection. Skinner so much the Master, Mulder so much the slave. He wanted to encapsulate the moment forever, to imprint it on his memory. "You, Master," he replied. "I belong to you." "And what can I do to you?" Skinner asked, flicking a bell with one lazy finger, making it chime repeatedly. Mulder closed his eyes, his body melting against Skinner's black clad form. "Whatever you like, Master," he said, with a resigned sigh. "Good. Now, I'm going to mark you." Skinner took out the leather pouch, and fastened it around his slave's testicles. "Go and stand by the horse." Mulder did as he was told, his stomach flipping. "Ask me." Skinner stood in front of him. Mulder dropped to his knees. "Please mark me, Master," he requested. Skinner held the cane under his slave's nose. "Kiss the cane, Fox," he ordered. Mulder did so, his mouth dry. The cane was long and thin, and quite vicious looking. "I save this cane for special occasions so you won't have seen it before," Skinner informed him. "I've found it marks exceptionally well. It's got a sting on it that you won't believe, but the line it draws is perfect." Mulder didn't feel at all heartened by this news. "Bend over the horse," Skinner instructed. Mulder did so, his heart beating anxiously in his chest. "As this is a special occasion, and as we want our guests to see the extent of your submission, this marking will be particularly severe. This is less to cause you pain, Fox, than to remind both you, and our guests, that you are my possession, and subject to my whim. Understood?" Mulder wasn't sure it made any difference what the reasons were, but he nodded, and steeled himself for the first cut. "Legs further apart, slave." Skinner ran the crop between the inside of his thighs, and Mulder stretched his legs out even further. "Lift that ass up to me so I can kiss it with my cane. I want to make sure my aim is particularly true tonight. I'm going to mark you with parallel lines so our guests can admire my skill. Each mark will be clear, and to do that, I have to hit my target cleanly. Make sure you don't move." "Yes, Master," Mulder said, and his voice sounded like a whimper to his own ears. Skinner rested the crop on Mulder's butt for what seemed like an eternity, and then it was removed. Mulder heard a swishing sound, and then the cane landed on his ass, with an almighty streak of pain. "Oh shit." He stood up, and hopped around for a moment his hands going to his abused behind. Skinner stopped them before they got there. "Don't touch my handiwork," Skinner said. "I don't think it'll do you any harm to live with the sting." He put a big hand on Mulder's shoulder, and thrust him back over the horse. Mulder was dimly aware that his Master hadn't been kidding when he said the cane had a sting to it. It was like nothing he'd ever experienced before. "Prepare yourself for the next one," Skinner told him. Mulder spread his legs wide, his knees shaking, and Skinner caressed his back for a moment, calming him. "Ass up more, that's good." Mulder felt the cane against his buttocks again, and he took a deep breath. Skinner's hand stopped stroking his back, and rested just above his bottom, holding him pressed firmly into the horse so that he couldn't move. The second blow landed fractionally lower, and Mulder let out a loud yell, and squirmed beneath Skinner's hand. Somehow, bellowing at the top of his voice took his mind off the appalling sting of the cane. "We've only just started," Skinner warned, settling his slave back down again. Mulder's heart sank. Last time he had been marked, his Master had only given him three strokes and that hadn't even been with this particularly nasty instrument of torture. Mulder was amazed he'd endured that much. He was sure he couldn't take more than three with the cane, and said as much. Skinner laughed, soothing his back again. "You'll take more than three, Fox. I think 6 would make the right impact on your ass, as well as being, uh, somewhat traditional as well, and I'm a traditional kind of Master. Ass up." He tapped Mulder's ass with the cane, and before the slave knew it, another stroke had kissed his buttocks, leaving a trailing red line of fire. "No more, Master. Please. I can't stand it," Mulder whimpered, trying once more to caress the sting out of his buttocks, and once more finding Skinner's hands blocking his way. He moaned in frustration. Skinner pulled him up, and looked into his eyes. "Fox, you can stand more. You can stand three more to be precise. You'll stand it, because I'm asking you to, and because you want to look your best for this party. You'll enjoy the attention your ass gets, all nice and striped - my own little zebra!" Skinner grinned, and kissed his slave's forehead. "Now, bend over, Fox, and I don't want you to get up again until I'm finished. Understood?" "Yes, Master." Mulder muttered, angling his face hopefully for a kiss. Skinner laughed, and patted his cheek. "When we've finished you can have your reward, slave," he told him. Mulder bit on his lip, and lowered himself reluctantly back over the horse. He spread his legs, and pushed his ass out before Skinner could tell him. He felt so exposed, his butt waiting to receive its marking from his Master's cane. A part of him just wanted to run away from the pain, but some other instinct kept him in place. He saw himself, naked under his Master's cane, being marked as his Master's property, and his cock sprang to attention. The next stroke bit deep into his flesh, making him cry out again, but he didn't move, and kept his ass in place to accept the next sharp, stinging caress from the cane. The final cut came hard on its heels and Mulder let out a sob of pure pain, tears springing into his eyes. "That's all, boy." Skinner helped him to his feet, and Mulder held onto him, shaken. He was immediately enveloped in a pair of reassuringly strong arms. Skinner tilted his chin and looked into his eyes. "Well done, little slave. I'm so proud of you. I know that wasn't easy. The sting will go soon - no, don't touch," Skinner batted Mulder's hands away from his abused butt again, grabbed them in his own big paw, and held them behind his slave's back. Then he dipped his head, and opened his slave's mouth with his own, holding Mulder tight, his mouth plundering his slave's with passionate force. Mulder melted against that strong chest, and surrendered to his Master's kiss, loving it, losing himself in it. Then Skinner marched him over to the mirror in the cupboard. "Look at how beautiful you are. This is how our guests will see you." Mulder looked over his shoulder at his buttocks, and gave a gasp of surprise. Skinner had placed the marks at evenly spaced intervals, imprinting them with perfect precision on his flesh. Six clear, distinct welts were raised on his ass, each of them the same length. Skinner hadn't made the novice's error of 'wraparound', of lashing the end of the cane around his thigh. The marks stopped at the edge of his buttocks, all in perfect, synchronous lines. Mulder was astounded. He'd never seen a more accurate job with the cane. "Thank me." Skinner prompted. Mulder fell to his knees, kissed his Master's feet, and then kissed the proffered cane, shivering slightly as his lips touched the hated, biting wood. He hoped this wasn't an instrument his Master would use on him too frequently. "Now, I think an hour's silent reflection before our guests arrive will do you good." Skinner propelled Mulder back over to the window. "An ass like this, should be displayed I think." Skinner grinned, slapping Mulder's sore backside soundly, making his slave yelp. That hour went quickly, and soon Mulder felt his Master's breath on the back of his neck, and his hands on his arms, caressing softly. "Time, Fox. Our guests will be here shortly. How are you?" Skinner turned him around to face him. Mulder looked into those dark eyes and trembled. "I'd rather be out chasing mutants, or facing down Big Foot, Master," he admitted, making a face. Skinner laughed. "You'll do fine," he said firmly. "Just keep your eyes on me the whole time, or on the floor. I have every confidence in you, sweetheart. Hell, I've been training you solidly for a week now. You've come a long way. Your old tops aren't going to recognize you." He kissed Mulder's forehead, then attached the leash to the chain hanging from his nipple rings. "Follow me," he instructed. Mulder fell into step instantly behind his Master. After only a few days, it already felt like an old habit, an instinct, something ingrained deep in his soul. It helped that Skinner's ass was framed beautifully in his tight black leather trousers, the two taut globes of flesh jostling inside the fabric, like some kind of ripe fruit, offered up for the plucking. Mulder felt his cock react appreciatively to the sight. He resisted the impulse to grab his Master's buttocks, and sink his teeth into them, but that was pretty much all that was on his mind as he followed along behind. The upstairs lounge was all laid out ready for their guests, with peanuts, pretzels, and other nibbles on the various coffee tables. There was a pile of crudit�s and dips stacked untidily on one side. "Master - shouldn't we make more room for these?" Mulder asked. Skinner glanced at him. "Fox - you're in deep submission. Don't speak again unless spoken to. As for the dips, leave them where they are. I have plans for them later." Mulder dropped his head, and gazed at the floor, trying to recapture the serenity he'd found in deep submission before, and trying even harder to ignore the way his heart was beating so fast in his chest. The small galley kitchen had been turned into a bar, with drinks and glasses laid out. Mulder had already been informed that he would serve his guests with their beverages of choice when they first arrived. At that moment the doorbell chimed, and Mulder's heart flipped wildly. He looked up, wanting nothing more than to bolt wildly out of the door. Skinner placed a hand on his head, and tipped it back down to look at the floor. "Remember who and what you are, slave," he said in a low, sexy growl. Mulder's cock skyrocketed at the same time as his heart plunged and they met somewhere about midway. Skinner opened the door, and greeted someone - Mulder wasn't sure who as he had his eyes down. His Master turned, and handed him two coats, and he scurried off obediently to his bedroom with them, leash in his mouth, ignoring the jingle of the hated bells as he walked. He returned to Skinner's side, and was told what drinks to bring from the kitchen. He did as he was ordered, returned with the drinks, and knelt in front of their guests, holding up the tray with the drinks on them. "Hmmm, most impressive," a man remarked. Mulder recognized the voice as belonging to JM Lucas, one of the top players on the DC scene. He had never played with the man, although he knew him well, and had spoken to him at several parties. It was Lucas who had finally agreed to set up the meeting with Skinner. Mulder relaxed. He had no history with Lucas, who only played with women. "I like the way you have him decorated," Lucas laughed. "I must do something similar with my own sub, sometime." "Stand up, Fox, and show them your markings," Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, shaking as he got to his feet, and turned around. Skinner's fingers brushed lightly over his welted backside, as he displayed him to their guest. Mulder held still, hardly daring to breathe. "Very nice!" Lucas whistled. "You've outdone yourself, Walter!" "Thanks. It was a pleasure," Skinner grinned at Mulder, and kissed his slave's head, then clicked his fingers. Mulder knelt immediately beside his Master, in the submissive mode, head down, shoulders straight. "An excellent level of obedience. I'm impressed," Lucas murmured. "You achieved all this in just a week, Walter? I'd have said this boy was untrainable." "Clearly not." Skinner patted Mulder's head fondly. "I won't say that it was easy, but with patience, and a healthy dose of discipline, we got there, didn't we, Fox?" Mulder looked up. "Yes, Master," he said, then he put his head down again. "Amazing," Lucas mused, clearly astounded. "I'm pleased you've decided to throw a party, Walter. Your parties are always legendary - perhaps because they're such a rarity. That amazing Playroom you have…I hope you'll be treating us to one of your demonstrations later on." "Of course," Skinner grinned, sipping at the glass of fruit juice his slave had brought for him. The other guests arrived quickly, one after the other, and everybody was assembled by 8:30. Mulder guessed that nobody would dare be late to one of Skinner's parties. He recognized some of his old tops among the guests, but his Master kept him too busy running around with coats, and fetching drinks to be worried by them. People were dressed in the usual scene costumes, and there were a variety of outfits on display. Some were in rubber, some in PVC. There were vamps, virgins, stern Masters, corseted Mistresses, even a couple of transvestites. There was, in short, an endless variety of clothing, and that was just the point. Everybody but Mulder was fully dressed. His solitary naked condition stood out like a sore thumb. When everybody had a drink in their hands, Skinner clapped his hands for silence. That was when the pit of anxiety opened up in Mulder's stomach. Conversely, he felt amazingly alive and alert at the same time, completely preoccupied with watching out for his Master's slightest command, relishing every small caress. "Welcome, friends," Skinner said. "I'm holding this party to introduce my new slave to you, and to display him for your appreciation. I've been working him hard, training him for tonight, so I hope you enjoy looking at him. I've already told you not to touch, and I know you'll all respect that. Fox, stand up." Skinner took the leash out of his slave's mouth, and drew him into the center of the room. "Take a good look everyone!" An appreciative murmur spread around the assembled audience, and Mulder closed his eyes, flushing bright red. He could see a blur of bodies - all of them clothed, while he stood here, stark naked, and chained, being scrutinized. It was so…humiliating. "As you can see, I've pierced him, and decorated him with signs of my ownership. His collar bears my insignia," Skinner traced his fingers over the gold collar around Mulder's neck. "He's parceled up prettily for his Master," Skinner grinned, his fingers touching the gold cock ring. Mulder's cock jumped involuntarily, and the audience laughed. "Looks like he's responsive to his Master's touch!" someone shouted. "Of course. I told you - he's been very well trained," Skinner replied, with a deep laugh. "He bears the signs of my ownership, because he's my property. Fox and I have exchanged contracts," he told the assembled audience solemnly. There was a muttered response, as people digested the implications of this statement. "He is my slave, and I am his Master. He belongs to me; body, heart, mind and soul. Isn't that so, Fox?" Skinner asked. Mulder licked his lips, his mouth having suddenly gone completely dry. "Yes, Master," he managed to whisper. "Louder, Fox, they can't hear you, and I don't want there to be any mistake about this," Skinner told him. "Yes, Master. I'm yours. I belong at your feet," Mulder replied. Then, acting completely on impulse, he knelt at Skinner's feet, and kissed his shiny leather shoes. A hush descended over the party guests, and Mulder heard a few heartfelt sighs, and at least one "awww," of appreciation. "All right, little one." Skinner drew his slave back up to a standing position, and kissed his lips softly. "The purpose of this party was partly to show my beautiful slave to you all, and also, by doing this, to remind you that this particular creature is off limits to all of you from now on. If he should approach you, which I very much doubt he'll do, then you should inform me immediately. He isn't free to choose his partners any more. He belongs to me, and will serve only me. If anyone touches him, or propositions him, then they'll have me to deal with." Mulder looked at his Master, a feeling of awe washing over him. Skinner's voice was so determined, and his tone so dangerous, that it sent a thrill running through his body. He could tell, glancing around the room, that some of the other subs there were equally enamored with his Master, and he fought back a wave of jealousy. He felt the bubble they had existed in for the past week, all alone in the apartment, being burst as outside reality intruded in. Skinner had the right to take other subs, or slaves, if he wished. Mulder did not. That was implicit in the terms of their contract. Mulder wondered if he was interesting enough to hold his Master's attention, and the jealousy inside his gut settled into a seething rage. If anyone made so much as the slightest move on his Master, they would answer for their audacity. "I'm sure you all know the difference between a slave and a sub," Skinner continued. "A slave is property. He has signed away his rights to his Master. As an outward sign of this commitment, Fox wears my ring." Skinner picked up Mulder's hand, and kissed his ring finger tenderly. "He's mine to punish, mine to love, mine to do what I like with. He has no rights of his own. He has given himself to me freely, and I wanted to show you all what a beautiful thing it is when this happens. When a person willingly gives himself to a Master, or Mistress, and enters into a state of complete submission, and devotion. It's not an easy life, and I'm sure Fox will tell you that during this initial week of training, he's been on the receiving end of some harsh discipline, but he's learned, and he's learned well. I'm proud of him." Skinner wrapped his arms around his slave, and for a moment, Mulder felt as if he'd been transported to heaven. To be praised, and admired, in front of all these people. Suddenly he understood what Skinner had meant when he'd told him he should be proud to be displayed to his former tops in this way, as an example of what the right Master could achieve, and to show how they had so signally failed him. Mulder glowed. "When I first told my slave he would be wearing these decorations," Skinner flicked at Mulder's bells, "he wasn't very happy about it." A laugh went around the audience. "However, I think they're very pretty. Fox, prance for your guests - let them all admire you," he ordered. Mulder looked at his Master, appalled, a mute plea in his eyes, but Skinner just slapped his butt, daring Mulder to disobey. Mulder clenched and unclenched his fists, then stepped forward and…pranced. He shook his body, so that the hated bells pealed, and rang, and an appreciative round of applause went up from the audience. "Good boy!" Skinner kissed him again, and Mulder heaved a sigh of relief that this particular humiliating ordeal was over with, although somehow, he was sure that there would be more before the night was through. "All right, little one, I think our guests need some time to mingle, and enjoy themselves before the demonstration I'll be laying on later. Please, everyone, help yourself to food and drink. Fox, here, will serve you all by acting as a table for the next half an hour. I'll put the dips on his back, and you can help yourselves. Crudit�s are on the coffee table over here." Skinner pointed, and Mulder's heart sank as he was made to kneel on all fours, and his Master placed bowls full of various dips on his back. He wanted to protest, but somehow his voice wouldn't work. Instead he settled down without a murmur. "All right, Fox?" Skinner asked, tapping his head. Mulder looked up, and drowned in his servitude. He was surprised to find that it was all right. It was more than all right. His whole body was suffused with a kind of sexual excitement he didn't think he'd ever experienced before in his life. To be so totally owned, so completely subject to his Master's will, to embrace his own submission so comprehensively…it made every nerve ending in his body tingle. He wanted to impress his Master, to serve him, and more than anything else, he wanted to be rewarded by his Master's smiles, and caresses, and for the evening to end with his Master taking him to his bed, and allowing him to sleep there. Mulder nodded. "Yes, Master," he whispered, and then he put his head down again. "Good. This is for half an hour. You must stay completely still and not dislodge the pots, but you've done longer than this in training so you should be fine," and so saying, Skinner left him, and circulated amongst their guests. Mulder tried to work out why he was so turned on by this. Being Skinner's slave in private was one thing, but being seen to be his Master's slave, visibly showing his submission, and his training, submitting to this most humiliating of experiences somehow worked at some deep level in his psyche. He wasn't sure how or why. Usually, in his real life, he hated being humiliated, or shown up. It happened so often during his career, from being called "Spooky", to the way he was talked about in the canteen, and jeered at by jerks like Tom Colton. On such occasions it was all he could do to keep his notoriously fiery temper in check. Yet with Skinner it was different. With a jolt of surprise, he realized that with Skinner it had always been different. He remembered the time when he'd barged in on his boss during a meeting. Skinner had allowed him into his office, knowing he would be humiliated, and had made his errant agent stand there, and state why he was protesting his current assignment. Mulder treasured that memory. Skinner had been so hard, so uncompromising - he had used Mulder's agitated state, and brought him down, forced him into submission, his eyes boring into his subordinate's soul. Even then, all those years ago, Mulder had thrilled to the moment, and had gone and jacked himself off, even while trying hard not to figure out why this was such a turn on for him. If it had been anyone else…if it had been someone like Kersh for example, it would have given him no pleasure at all, but with Skinner… Mulder saw a truth he hadn't admitted to himself before: he had been attracted to his Master for a very long time. Mulder was so deep in thought that he barely noticed the constant milling of people around his back, as they discussed whether the salsa dip tasted nicer than the guacamole. On a couple of occasions he felt cold dollops of the various dips drop on his back, accompanied by a muttered "oops," and while one part of him squirmed in humiliation, another part just accepted it all serenely, as his due. His eyes continuously followed his Master around the room, drawn to the big man's leather clad form wherever he went. He saw him laughing, animated, totally alive, in a way the other man rarely was in their working environment. Skinner was a man who understood control, Mulder realized. He understood how to control himself, those under his command, and his slave. The man was a master at it. Mulder smiled to himself. His Master. Skinner was his master, and he was suddenly sure that there wasn't a sub in the room who didn't envy him, as he knelt here, acting as a piece of goddamn furniture of all things, his body marked with so many different signs of his Master's ownership. Skinner removed the dips on the very second that the thirty minutes were up, and wiped Mulder's stained back with a washcloth, then led him around the room, as he continued to circulate. Mulder knelt whenever Skinner stopped, and got to his feet and followed meekly to heel whenever Skinner walked. His Master kept introducing him, fondling him, showing him off to his friends, and extolling his virtues as a slave, punctuating every order with a kiss or caress, barely able to keep his hands off his slave, and Mulder responded in kind, loving the attention. After half an hour or so of this, Skinner ordered his slave to kneel submissively in the corner. Mulder did as he was told, reveling in his submission. He was used to being on the outside, looking in, so this wasn't much different, and he was pleased that Skinner was so proud of him. The unusual feeling of being admired had gone to his head, and transported him to a different place entirely. He was feeling so happy and serene that he was surprised when a voice broke into his reverie. "Looks like you've got your Master well trained," it said. Mulder glanced up from under his eyelashes. He saw a man, at least a decade younger than himself. The kid was beautiful: that was the only word for him. Almond shaped brown eyes, set in an olive skin, and an amazing shock of thick, long black hair, dyed blond at the tips. He was dressed in a tight, leopard-skin vest, and ass-hugging, black velvet jeans that showed off his lithe, graceful body. He held himself like a dancer, and he was sneering haughtily at Mulder. "He thinks he's in charge, but I'll bet you've got him wrapped around your little finger," the youth continued. "Isn't that the way with Masters? We manipulate them into giving us what we like? My Master's that fat guy over there - see." He pointed with his finger, and Mulder couldn't resist taking a peek. The youth laughed at his disobedience. "He won't be my Master much longer. I've seen something I like better, and you know, I don't think much of the competition," the youth smirked. "Oh, I forgot, you're not allowed to talk, are you? Or to move. That's a shame - it means you'll just have to watch while I steal your Master." He gave Mulder a wink, then slipped gracefully across the floor in Skinner's direction. Mulder knelt quite still, his mind racing. He didn't know who the hell the kid was, but he could feel that familiar surge of jealousy rise within. The youth was beautiful, he was young, he was goddamn pushy…and Skinner could take as many slaves as he wanted. Mulder's hands clenched into fists behind his back. He could see Skinner in his mind's eye, kissing this man, making love to him, making Mulder watch from the corner as they shared a bed together. Mulder bit down hard on his lip, frozen in time. He watched, unmoving, as the youth laughed extravagantly at something his Master had said, then ran a perfect, tanned hand over his Master's arm, circled his Master's biceps…even from this distance, Mulder could see the "wow" that formed on the kid's lips, and his expressions of delight. Skinner smiled, and they talked for a few minutes. Mulder could feel the heat rising inside him. The other man was still stroking his Master, still touching him…Mulder couldn't take it any more. He was on the verge of getting up, and doing something really stupid, when Skinner looked in his direction, and clicked his fingers. Mulder was over there like a shot. He elbowed the enemy out of the way, and knelt beside his Master, where he belonged. "All right, ladies and gentlemen," Skinner clapped his hands again. "I think it's time for the main event. If you'd like to follow me to the Playroom, I'm going to put on a display, using my slave's body." Skinner pointed in the direction of the Playroom, and Mulder was distracted from his jealousy by the ominous sound of that announcement. He followed his Master obediently, glaring at the kid who laughed at him, and licked his lips lasciviously, in the direction of Skinner's leather clad buttocks. "He's going to forget all about you by the time I'm through with him, sugar," the youth hissed, as he pushed past Mulder. The Playroom was soon filled with a jostling throng of BDSM players - the best on the scene. Those who hadn't been there before, wandered around, awe-struck, looking in the cupboards and admiring the hoist, and harness which were both out, ready and waiting, much to Mulder's concern. He was even more concerned when he saw the enormous bullwhip Skinner was holding. His Master strode into the center of the Playroom, and snapped the bullwhip, making a cracking sound that provoked a roar of delighted admiration. Skinner clicked his fingers, and Mulder found himself obeying on instinct, his legs moving him to his Master's side of their own volition, his mind screaming frantically that he should turn around and run. His outward demeanor gave no hint of this internal struggle though. He knelt beside Skinner, and leaned into the soothing caress his Master gave him. "As a sign of his commitment to me, Fox is going to undergo a very special, transformation ceremony," Skinner announced. Mulder swallowed, hard. He was? "In the old days, when people entered into a monastery, or convent, their hair was ceremoniously shaved to symbolize their new commitment. The transformation of the body can represent the transformation of the soul, the putting aside of the old life, and embracing the new. That is what Fox is going to demonstrate today. I've been training him all week to undergo this particular ceremony. It will be the culmination of our work, symbolizing, both to him, and to me, and witnessed by all of you, that he has chosen to enter into my service as my slave, and he has put his old life behind him. He won't be going back," Skinner said that with such a note of finality that Mulder looked up, surprised. "During the first few days of a new slave contract, there's always a period of wariness, when the slave worries about his decision, and maybe the Master wonders what he's taken on. Many contracts collapse under the weight of expectation, or fear. Fox and I have weathered a couple of crises during our first week, but that's behind us now. He knows what to expect from me, and I from him. The ceremony I will perform next, is symbolic of our commitment to the future - he as my property, me as his Master. Fox, hold out your hands." Mulder did as he was told, and Skinner strapped the cuffs around his wrists, then fastened him, carefully, into the harness, checking each strap, and fastening thoroughly, in an unhurried manner, oblivious to his audience. When he'd finished, he attached Mulder to the hoist, and swung him into the air. It was only then, suspended in mid-air, that Mulder saw the shaving apparatus on the table. His Master had told him that he liked his hair. He'd promised him he wouldn't shave his head. Was he going to renege on that promise? Mulder couldn't even being to imagine what Scully would say if he arrived at work on Monday morning with a shaved head. Skinner left him hanging there for a while. "Admire my slave," he commanded his audience, turning Mulder around so that they could all get a good look at his naked body. "Witness his marking." Mulder felt Skinner's finger on his buttocks. He flushed bright red - this was so embarrassing. "My slave was caned not because he had disobeyed me, but as a demonstration of my skill, and his obedience, and also…" Skinner lowered his voice conspiratorially, "because an ass like this," he pinched Mulder's butt, "should bear its Master's imprint, dontcha think?" A laugh greeted this statement, and a mini round of applause rippled around the room. Mulder knew Skinner to be many things, but he'd never seen evidence of the showman in his Master before. Skinner swung the harness down, and arranged Mulder so that he was lying at a tilted angle, on his back, the whole of the front of his body clearly visible to the audience. "All right, little one," Skinner murmured, reassuring his slave with a kiss. "I've been preparing you for this all week. The stroking?" he reminded Mulder. "There was a method in my madness." Mulder suddenly understood. It wasn't his head his Master was going to shave - it was his body, and he was going to use a…Mulder's balls tried to fight their way back into his body as he saw the cut-throat razor lying on the table. He remembered his own failed attempts at shaving the balloon. Please god, let Skinner be more skilled with that razor that I am… "My slave will keep perfectly still throughout this procedure," Skinner announced. "He's used to his Master touching his body, and understands that it's his Master's wish that he be clean shaven. I'm going to confine myself to his torso, and the area between his neck," Skinner gestured, "and his thighs." Mulder heaved a sigh of relief. At least his arms and legs were to be spared this particular humiliation. He watched, nervously, as Skinner approached, and began lathering his groin, chest, and armpits with shaving cream. Then his Master picked up the razor, and began to scrape away the hair on his body. Mulder was used to being tickled and stroked, but even so, it took all his willpower not to wriggle or squeal as the razor went about its work, shaving under his arms, then down over his chest. It removed the line of hair leading from his navel to his groin, and then Skinner paused, and grinned at his audience, flourishing the razor as he approached his slave's balls. Mulder gave a squeak of alarm, as he felt the sharp edge of the razor on that particular part of his anatomy. The entire room seemed to hold its breath as Skinner worked, slowly and painstakingly, disposing of swathes of dark hair into a dish on the table. Mulder was trembling with the effort of keeping still now. He wanted to scream, and kick out at every tiny caress of that vicious instrument as it carefully worked on the most sensitive part of his body. He knew he mustn't move though - if he did, one small flick of that razor could cause the most unpleasant damage. So he stayed perfectly still. Finally, finally, it was over. Skinner washed the foam from his body, and he looked down on his newly shaved body. His penis was pink and shriveled, bereft of its usual dark nest. It reminded Mulder of one of those sphinx cats, born without fur. "Beautiful." Skinner ran his hand over the smooth flesh. Then he poured some lotion onto Mulder's chest, and worked it into the skin. When he was finished, he turned Mulder over, and his slave realized that his Master hadn't finished yet. His legs were spread, and he was placed in a bent position, his butt exposed to the room. Mulder flushed - this was the most embarrassing position he'd been placed in so far. He closed his eyes, trying to block out the knowledge that the entire room had a good view of his most private of private parts. Skinner lathered the cream over his ass cheeks, and upper thighs, then set to work again. He didn't stop until he'd shaved his slave's butt completely, then he washed it down, and gently rubbed lotion onto the flesh. A round of applause broke out, and some cheering. Mulder heaved a sigh of relief. A part of him enjoyed all the attention being focused solely on him, while another part was curled up in a little ball inside his mind, desperately hoping he'd be able to live it all down, and actually look all these people in the eye again one day. Skinner finished caressing his slave's butt, and lowered him gently to the ground. Mulder looked down on his naked body. There wasn't one cut, not even the slightest nick. "58." Skinner whispered, as he unfastened Mulder from the harness. "In case you're wondering." "58 what, Master?" Mulder asked, confused. "58 balloons to get this good." Skinner grinned, winking at him. Mulder laughed out loud. He actually felt rather proud of his shaved body. There was something silky about it, and he liked the way it made his cock look so clean and pink. "Here's my slave, Fox, newly shriven in celebration of his status," Skinner announced, presenting Mulder to the room. There was another round of applause, and Mulder noticed that the kid in the leopard skin vest was giving him a glare worthy of his own dear Master. "Now for the next part of the demonstration," Skinner said. "Fox, go and fetch my bullwhip." Mulder looked at his Master, wide-eyed, but obeyed anyway. He picked the long whip up in his mouth, and took it back to his Master, trying to balance it so that neither end trailed as he walked. He knelt in front of Skinner, offering it up, and Skinner took the whip from his slave. "Remove my sweater," Skinner ordered. Mulder did as he was told, carefully taking his Master's glasses off first, and returning them again afterwards. He noticed that the audience all seemed most appreciative of his Master's physique - the kid was positively ogling him. Mulder felt a growl rise in the back of his throat. Luckily his Master distracted him at that moment by handing him a piece of paper. "Take this, and go and kneel at the far end of the room," Skinner ordered. Mulder did as he was told. "Hold up the paper, and kneel perfectly still, slave," Skinner instructed. Mulder did as he was told, trembling slightly. He had no idea how skilled Skinner was with that whip, but it took all his nerve not to move, as his Master raised his arm, and swirled the whip into the air, and then forward in his direction. There was a sharp crack. Mulder closed his eyes, fearing the worst, waiting to feel the whip tearing into his flesh. When nothing happened he opened his eyes to find that instead of holding one piece of paper, he was holding two: the whip had sliced the paper right down the center. Another round of applause broke out, and Skinner clicked his fingers as he took a bow. Mulder returned to his Master's side, wondering what other displays of skill the big man had up his sleeve. He soon found out. Skinner placed a hat on his head, and ordered him back over to the other side of the room. Mulder knelt again, perspiring, and discovered the new sensation of sweat rolling down his underarms, as there was no hair to soak it up. He waited, watching as Skinner paced around, cracking the whip into the air, his biceps rippling as he moved. Then his Master was still. He looked at Mulder, concentrated for a few seconds, and then swung the whip forward. It cracked in mid-air again, and Mulder felt the merest whisper on his head, and then the hat went flying. Another round of applause greeted this display. Mulder knelt quite still, waiting until the thumping stopped in his chest, then he got weakly to his feet, and returned to his Master's side. "Master is…magnificent," he whispered, kneeling and kissing Skinner's feet in total adoration. The image of his Master, standing bare-chested, wearing those tight black leather trousers, and whirling that long, vicious whip above his head, was one that would stay with him for the rest of his life. It was his every fantasy made flesh. Mulder was overcome. "To finish off the proceedings," Skinner told the assembled multitude, "my slave would like to address his previous tops, and to apologize for any rudeness in the way he behaved during his time serving them." "I would?" Mulder looked up in dismay. "Yes. You would." Skinner grinned at him. He picked up Mulder's lead, and led him over to a small, stocky man, who had his arms around another man. Both were dressed entirely in bright blue rubber. Skinner clicked his fingers, and Mulder knelt, mutinously, in front of his old top. Skinner nudged him with his foot. Mulder cleared his throat. "I'd like to say…I'm sorry," he whispered. "Kiss Jackson's feet." Skinner prompted. Mulder obeyed. "What is the lesson you learn during your morning discipline?" Skinner asked. "Repeat it, please, Fox." "I belong to you…" Mulder looked up at his Master, and suddenly understood what was required of him. "I am now the property of Walter Skinner. Thank you for your kind attention in the past, sir," he said. "That's okay, Mulder." Jackson grinned down at him. "It was always a pleasure. You were cute, if a goddamn handful. I'm glad you're Walter's problem now, not mine!" Skinner took him to the next top. She was a beautiful, buxom woman, with dark golden hair, wide hips, and vivacious blue eyes. She was one of the first tops who'd taken pity on him when he arrived in DC, and he'd almost fallen in love with her. She had a smart, well-behaved, handsome sub at her side. Mulder was pleased for her. She deserved someone nice. "Elaine, thank you for being so kind to me," he told her sincerely. "I know I behaved like a brat, and ran out on you. I'm sorry." He kissed her feet. "I'm now the property of Walter Skinner," he announced. Elaine smiled at him, tears in her eyes. "Oh, Mulder, you little darling!" she exclaimed. "Walter, you've worked wonders with the boy. He looks so much happier now than when I knew him. I know you'll take good care of him, my dear." "You can rely on it," Skinner nodded to her. He took her hand, and kissed it tenderly, bowing to her. Mulder watched, intrigued. He sensed a history here, and wondered what it was. As Elaine was a dominatrix, who only took men as subs, and as Skinner was a top who preferred male subs…hmmm. Whatever there was between Elaine and Skinner, Mulder wanted to know more. It was inconceivable to him that Skinner had ever been anyone's sub, so he dismissed that thought out of hand. He wondered if Elaine ever wanted to walk on the wild side, and sub to someone safe, like his Master… He was so busy pondering these mysteries that it took a sharp jerk on the leash to remind him that he had other tops to apologize to. Skinner took him to each and every one of his previous tops, and there were several of them. He made Mulder kneel before them, kiss their feet, apologize for his past behavior, and announce that he was now the property of Walter Skinner. When he'd finished, Skinner pulled him to his feet, stood him in the center of the room, and kissed him soundly. It was a long kiss, a claiming kiss, designed to show everybody in the room that this slave belonged to his Master. Mulder loved every second of it. When it was over, they both received another round of applause. "All right, show's over. I hope you enjoyed it!" Skinner grinned. He directed Mulder to help him back into his sweater, and then returned to the lounge. He placed Mulder in the submissive position again, and then went to get a drink. It was at that moment that a pair of shiny PVC boots stopped right in front of him. "Aw, poor, shaven, little bunny rabbit," the kid sneered. "Made to apologize to all the people he's ever fucked for being such a lousy lay." "Fuck. Off." Mulder muttered in an undertone. "Oh, it speaks!" the kid said in an outraged falsetto. "And it doesn't have anything to say for itself. How sad. How bored the bunny rabbit's Master must be. Did you ever see that film, Fatal Attraction, little slaveboy? Did you see what happened to the bunny in that? That's what's going to happen to you, honey. Your Master isn't going to look twice at his bunny after he's tasted Lee. You watch." And so saying, Lee made a beeline for Skinner who was just emerging from the kitchen with two drinks in his hand. Skinner said something to the youth, and continued walking over to Mulder. Lee followed. Skinner held a drink to Mulder's lips, and he drank, eagerly. He hadn't realized how thirsty he was. Lee was simpering, sidling up against his Master. "That demonstration with the bullwhip really impressed me," Lee purred. "I've never seen anyone so accurate. You could try it out on me, any old time." "I'm sure your Master would have something to say about that," Skinner told his admirer. "Oh, I'm sure he'd love to watch," Lee winked. "The bullwhip leaves an almighty sting. I wouldn't use it on anyone but my own slave." Skinner fondled Mulder's head fondly. Mulder wasn't sure whether to be pleased or dismayed by that piece of news. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have someone I need to speak to," Skinner smiled affably, and left. Lee smirked down at Mulder. "It's just a matter of time, honey," he said. "Leave him the fuck alone or…" Mulder began, looking anxiously out of the corner of one eye to make sure Skinner was out of earshot. "Or what? You can't do anything, sugar, your Master's got you hobbled! Lee grinned. "Which leaves the field clear for me. After all, why would he want a weak, obedient piece of shit like you, when he could have someone with balls, someone who's more fun, someone who'd be a real challenge to him!" He sauntered off in the direction of the bathroom. Something inside Mulder snapped. The place was thronging with guests. He only needed a couple of minutes alone with that little jerk, and he'd soon scare him off. He saw Skinner talking animatedly to a group of his friends. Everyone else was busy chatting, and drinking. Nobody was looking at him. He stood up, and moved noiselessly towards the bathroom. He waited outside, and when Lee emerged a few seconds later, he grabbed his neck, and pushed him back into the bathroom, shutting the door behind them. "Listen to me, you little shit. Skinner's mine. You don't touch him. Nobody touches him." "Oh, funny, I thought you belonged to him, not the other way around," Lee sneered. "I don't give a fuck what you thought. He's mine. Go near him again, and I'll damn well kill you," Mulder snapped. He was so angry, he couldn't even think straight. Lee had called him weak, he had sneered at the submissive state Mulder had been so proud of being able to achieve, and which he'd worked so hard at. Worse than that, he had tapped into Mulder's fears of inadequacy, the insecurity that still dogged him from his relationship with Phoebe, by suggesting that his Master might be bored by him. "Yeah, right. The shaven, collared, ringed…belled," Lee reached out a finger and flicked at the bells contemptuously, "slave, is really scaring me now!" Lee laughed. Mulder's fists went into action before he could stop himself. He swung a right hook at Lee's jaw, knocking him back against the toilet, and then jumped on top of the prone man, and pummeled him repeatedly in the stomach. Suddenly his fists stopped working - someone had grabbed his arms from behind. "Stop that, now!" a low, growling voice barked in his ear. "Is this what you call obedience, Fox. Is it?" Mulder's heart sank, and all the fight went out of him. He could hardly bear to look into his Master's angry brown eyes. He took a step back, and looked down on his whimpering tormentor. "He's been winding me up all fucking evening," he fumed at Skinner. His Master clicked his fingers, but Mulder ignored him. He drew himself up to his full height, and glared back at Skinner. "Don't give me that submissive crap. This bastard has been rubbing himself up against you all night. Every time your back is turned he comes over and taunts me. You can't damn well expect me to stand by and watch some stupid kid fawning all over you. It's not fucking fair!" Mulder ranted. "I'm not a machine, Skinner. I've done everything you asked me to, I…" He trailed off, as he took in his Master's body language. Skinner was standing with his hands on his hips, his face dark with anger. "Shit…I'm in real trouble now, aren't I?" Mulder asked miserably. "Yes, you are. Now kneel down and shut up, and I'll see if I can limit the damage you've caused," Skinner snapped. Mulder opened his mouth to protest again, but he felt like a kid in the school playground, saying "it was all his fault, sir, not mine," and it sounded lame, even to his own ears. He got down on his knees, his eyes still rebellious, and watched as Skinner crouched down beside the kid, and examined his cut lip. "You'll live, Lee." Skinner said, his tone almost amused as Lee continued to sob. "Get up, you'll be fine." Skinner helped the other man to his feet. "You can't just let him…" Mulder began. Skinner silenced him with a glare. "Fox - heel, and put that damn leash in your mouth - maybe that'll shut you up. Follow me, keep very quiet, and listen carefully," Skinner told him. "Lee, this way." He put his arm around the kid, and ushered him back to his Master, singling him out of the crowd and taking him into a private corner. "Lee has behaved very badly this evening," Skinner told the fat man. Lee's head spun around in dismay. "Please take him home. He isn't welcome here any more. And, Mike, when you get him home, see that you give him the worst punishment he's ever had," Skinner instructed. Mike raised an eyebrow at Lee, took hold of him by the arm, and dragged him away. Mulder watched them go, then glanced up at his Master. "Thank you," he mumbled. "I told you that if you were in any distress, you could speak to me at any time," Skinner snapped. "You chose not to do that. You chose instead to disobey me." "I know. I'm sorry," Mulder sighed. "No you're not, but you will be," Skinner warned ominously. "Now, you're just damned lucky that all took place in private. I'll deal with you properly later, but for now, I think I have a way of keeping your mind focused in one place." He disappeared in the direction of the Playroom, and returned a few seconds later with a length of chain. He attached one end to the chain hanging between Mulder's nipples, and the other end to his cock ring. Mulder stared down, uncomprehending. The chain was slack, and apart from being a nice piece of decoration, it didn’t seem to serve any other function. "Submissive position - now!" Skinner ordered. Mulder put his head down, and pulled his shoulders up straight, and then gasped in pain, as the slack chain became taut. It only exerted the tiniest pressure on his sore nipples, but it was enough to damn well hurt. "Keep your shoulders back - if they slacken, I'll notice. I'll be watching you," Skinner warned. "Now kneel there, like that, until the party's over." "Yes, Master," Mulder whispered. His nipples hurt like hell, but he knew that was all his own fault, and no less than he deserved. Mulder knelt in abject misery for another half an hour or so. He had fucked everything up. He had been so close to achieving his goal of spending a night in his Master's bed, and now he knew that wouldn't happen. He bit back the tears of anger, frustration, and sheer disappointment, but two escaped, and crept silently down his cheeks. He couldn't even move his hands to wipe them away, as Skinner would be sure to notice. Their guests began to leave, and soon there was only Skinner and a couple of his closest friends left, including J M Lucas, and Elaine. Skinner returned to his slave, and undid the chain that was tormenting his nipples. Mulder breathed a sigh of relief. "All right, Fox?" Mulder looked up in surprise. His Master's tone was gentle, and loving. His big fingers caressed away the wetness on Mulder's cheeks, and dropped a kiss on his mouth. "Come on, little one, you must be tired. We're going to sit down and talk for a while. You can join us." Skinner led him over to the couch and sat down, then pointed at the floor beside his feet. "Any position you like, just relax," he told his slave. Mulder nodded, and rested his head on his Master's knee, looking up at the other man adoringly. It was dark in the room - which was only lit by one lamp, and the flickering orange glow of the flames in the grate. It was peaceful. Mulder sighed. He loved looking at his Master, watching him talk, watching him listen to his friends talking. Skinner's face looked so familiar, so handsome, the light illuminating the cleft in his jaw, and the golden hue of his skin. Mulder sighed, and moved his head so that he could kiss his Master's fingers. Skinner smiled, and gently stroked his slave's head. "You've worked wonders with that boy," Elaine remarked. "Really, Walter, it's a joy to watch him like this, so happy in his slavery. I'm glad he finally figured out where he belongs," she smiled at Mulder. "Elaine's right. He's just where he should be," Lucas commented. Mulder thought it was strange the way they were all talking about him as if he wasn't there. "When he was making a nuisance of himself, pestering me to contact you, throwing himself around the scene, getting himself a reputation, I just despaired of him. Seeing him here tonight, it's like a miracle. He's been transformed." "He just needed a firm hand." Skinner smiled, ignoring his slave. "He was running out of control. He needed to be brought down." "And you were just the man to do it," one of the other men said. Mulder didn't know his name. He gazed dreamily at his Master, tracing imaginary lines over the other man's lips. He knew he'd be punished severely for what had happened with Lee, but he didn't care right at this moment in time. It just felt so good to be sitting here, naked, at his Master's feet, adoring him. "How did you manage it?" the man continued. "What's your secret, Walter?" "Discipline, discipline, and more discipline!" Skinner laughed. "No, seriously, lots of hard work, Jeff. The details are between me and Fox. Taking him as a slave, rather than just a sub helped." "Yes, that was intriguing," Elaine's soft, mellow voice. "I have my reservations about 24/7 arrangements usually, but it seems to have worked in this case." "I agree with you, Elaine," Skinner said, nodding his head in her direction. "Usually I wouldn't consider a 24/7 arrangement either. There has to be an enormous degree of trust between the two participants in such an arrangement." "I didn't even realize that you even knew Mulder before you took him on," Jeff commented. "Oh yes. I knew him. I knew him very well," Skinner chuckled. "I'm of the opinion that lifestyle slavery only works when the Master or Mistress and the slave love each other," Elaine commented. "Otherwise it can lead to abuse." "Hmm, take Mike and Lee for example," Skinner sighed. "That's a relationship that really isn't working. There's no love there at all." "Oh god, yes. They're a terrible couple!" Lucas laughed. "What about love, though?" Elaine pushed, clearly worried about this issue. "It seems evident to everyone in the room that your slave is crazy about you, Walter, but how do you feel about him?" Mulder went quite still, his shoulders freezing under his Master's insistent caress. "Fox's emotions are new to him, aren't they sweetheart?" Skinner smiled, and ran his fingers through Mulder's hair. "I think he's been surprised by the bond that developed between us, and because his emotions are so new, they sometimes overwhelm him." He looked at Mulder meaningfully, and his slave bit on his lip, remembering the fight in the bathroom. "For me, well, it's easier for me to keep my emotions under control - it's what I've been doing for years after all!" Skinner laughed. "Of course I love my slave, Elaine. I've known him for six years and I've grown to love him more as each one passed. I knew he'd have to come to me - that was the only way we could make it work, but even then I resisted for a long time. Sometimes it's hard to believe I have the reality after so many years wanting him. He's the perfect slave, just the right mixture of charm, initiative, challenge, and spirit. What's the matter, Fox? Were you really in any doubt that I love you?" Skinner asked, noticing his slave's look of amazement. "I…yes, Master. I didn't know. I thought I just amused you," Mulder whispered. Skinner roared with laughter. "Fox, I've been in love with you for far longer than you've been in love with me, sweetheart," he sighed. "It's been a long, lonely road. There have been many times I've wanted to take charge of you, and give you what you need. I'm glad you finally managed to ask for it, although I suspect we have many difficulties ahead. Don't ever doubt that you're loved, little one." Skinner leaned forward, and kissed his slave softly on the lips. Mulder melted into his Master's thigh, his heart pounding. He knew in that second that he could take any punishment his Master gave him because he was loved. He was on cloud nine, far above the stars. He didn't hear the rest of the conversation as his mind buzzed with this new information. His Master loved him. He loved him…he had loved him for years…Mulder felt warm and safe, and shit, yes, actually happy, in a way he didn't remember feeling in his life before. When the last of the guests finally left, Skinner commanded him into the confessional position. "Well, slave," he sighed. "Have you earned your night in my bed?" "No, Master," Mulder replied in a small voice. "I'm sorry. I let you down." "Yes, you did. That display of jealousy was petty, and unnecessary. Do you really think I was interested in that stupid kid?" "I don't know, Master," Mulder replied. "Are you going to punish me, Master?" "Yes, but I'm going to offer you a choice as to how," Skinner informed him. Mulder looked up in surprise. "You behaved impeccably apart from that one lapse. I was proud of you, and you saw how impressed my friends were. Tonight was a great success, and you helped to make it so. Now, I know that you wanted to spend the night in my bed, and I'm still prepared to offer you that," Skinner told him. Mulder's face broke into a smile, and he scurried forward and kissed his Master's feet. "Thank you!" he beamed. "Wait - there's a price," Skinner said solemnly. "You do have to be punished, Fox. You can either be punished by not sleeping in my bed tonight, or, and I want you to think very carefully about this, you can sleep in my bed, but in the morning I'll use the bullwhip on you." Mulder's heart leaped into his mouth. "The bullwhip is a special punishment," Skinner continued, "which is why I want you to think about this very carefully. It won't be an easy thing to endure." Mulder did think about it, but not for very long. Much as he was scared of the bullwhip, he didn't know when he'd ever get another chance to spend the night in his Master's bed. He'd cope with the bullwhip tomorrow, but for tonight, he'd sleep in his Master's arms. "I want to sleep with you, Master," he told Skinner. "Are you sure? Be very sure, Fox," Skinner warned him. "You've seen the bullwhip in action." "I am sure, Master. Please, take me to your bed," Mulder begged. Skinner's expression softened, and he broke into a smile. "Very well, sweetheart. Go and run a bath in my en-suite. We'll share it," he said. Mulder ran to do his Master's bidding, and ten minutes later, he was sitting between Skinner's legs in the big corner bath, soaking up the warm water, relishing the feel of his Master's arms around his body. He had never felt so relaxed in his life. "Fox, you can come out of deep submission now," Skinner nuzzled at his ears with his lips. He had already removed his slave's bells, and the chain linking his nipple rings. "I want you to be yourself. Talk to me. Tell me what you thought of the party - you can be as honest as you like. There won't be any repercussions for it." He squeezed Mulder's chest encouragingly. "How do you like being shaved?" he grinned into Mulder's ear. "I'm not sure. It's different," Mulder grinned back. "Do I have to stay this way forever?" "No, that's not necessary." Skinner kissed his head. "However it will make what I intend to do to you tonight nicer for me!" "What's that, Master?" Mulder asked, craning his head to look up into his Master's eyes. "I'm going to take you into my mouth, and remind your poor cock what it's been missing," Skinner told him. The cock in question immediately leapt to attention. Skinner laughed, and fondled it gently. "I'll shave you occasionally, when I feel like it, but you don't have to keep yourself shaved." Skinner nibbled Mulder's neck. They talked for half an hour about the party, sharing observations, laughing about the costumes a couple of the guests had been wearing. It was so nice, Mulder thought, to be lying here in the arms of someone he loved, someone who loved him. He didn't care what the future brought, or about the past. At least he had this one moment in time. They got out of the bath only when the water became cold. Mulder picked up the towel to dry his Master, but Skinner brushed it aside, enveloped both of them in it instead, and dried them both. "Fox." He looked down into his slave's eager eyes. "Have you ever had a male lover before?" "What do you mean?" Mulder frowned, confused. "I mean, have you ever been involved with a man who you had plain, old, regular sex with, not just the BDSM variety?" Skinner clarified. Mulder shook his head. "I thought not. Well, tonight, that's what you've got. There's not going to be any BDSM, there's just you, and me, two lovers, sharing a bed. That doesn’t mean you're not still my slave," Skinner grinned, "just that for tonight, this is how I choose to love you. Go and wait for me in the bed, sweetheart." Mulder did as he was told, trembling in anticipation. The sheets felt cool against his warm, clean skin. He waited there, until Skinner came into the room. His Master turned off the light, and slipped into the bed beside him. He pulled Mulder into his arms, and held him, kissed him tenderly, in a way no other top had ever kissed him before. His hand stroked Mulder's body, his fingers rubbing inside him. "We'll rely on the alarm to wake us tomorrow," Skinner whispered. "So you're exempt your normal wake up call." His head dipped, and he kissed his slave's throat, and neck, ending up at his abdomen, then disappeared further, down to his groin. Mulder's cock was already erect by the time Skinner's warm, wet mouth descended on it. Skinner swallowed him whole, and Mulder gasped out loud, bucking into the expert caress. Skinner's hands continued to gently stroke and caress his body, while his mouth devoured him. It was too much for Mulder. He ran his hands over his Master's naked scalp, mewling and whimpering in ecstasy. "Oh, that's good, Master…oh fuck…Master…oh shit…" and after several days abstinence, Mulder came. And came. And came. He tried to draw back, but Skinner held his thighs close, and devoured every drop. Then he emerged once more, grinning. "Like that?" he asked. "It was wonderful," Mulder sighed dreamily. He snuggled up close to his Master's furry chest, and laid there for a long while, just licking and kissing the other man's body. Skinner's hands meanwhile kept up their languorous stroking on Mulder's skin, soothing, and loving him. Mulder could feel his Master's hard cock digging into his thigh. "Can I take care of this?" he asked, taking the broad length in his hand, and savoring the feel of it. "If you like," Skinner smiled. "I don't need any release though, Fox. I've had plenty this week." "I’d like it if…would you…?" Mulder's hand increased its pressure on his Master's cock, and he could feel it pulsing into life between his fingers. "What, Fox? What do you want? This is your evening," Skinner whispered. "I'd like you to make love to me, Master," Mulder told him. Skinner smiled, and kissed his slave's forehead. "All right, sweetheart. Lie on your back." Skinner rolled over, and got a condom out of the night-stand, and put it onto his hard cock. Then he turned back to his slave. He knelt between Mulder's legs, and inserted a finger inside him. Mulder groaned, and bucked. Skinner inserted another finger, then another, before pushing Mulder's legs further apart, and gently pushing his cock inside the other man. Mulder stared. He was fascinated by this position, as he had been last time his Master had used it. He loved watching his Master make love to him. He rested both his hands on Skinner's shoulders, and opened up his body, pulled his Master deep inside him, relishing the power and hard length of his Master's cock as it made love to him. "Oh god, it's so good," Mulder sighed, Skinner's cock rubbing his prostate into a frenzy of sensation. His Master came, and collapsed on top of Mulder, softening inside his slave. Then he withdrew, and threw the used condom into a dish on his nightstand. Mulder was utterly sated, and spent. It had been the perfect ending to a perfect day. Skinner rolled towards him again, and took him in his arms. "Now sleep, sweetheart. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow," he murmured. "I want this night to last forever." Mulder didn't think he'd ever been more relaxed in his life before, all wrapped up in his Master's loving arms, their naked bodies entwined. Skinner's flesh was warm and comforting, and his Master occasionally kissed his ear, or nuzzled his neck. He could feel the other man's chest hair on his back, and the weight of his body pressed against his own. This was where he belonged, this was the only place he could truly call his home. It was his natural environment, and he knew he could never be truly happy anywhere else. With a sigh, Mulder closed his eyes and fell asleep, locked in his Master's loving embrace.
---
!Chapter 9: Suits You, Sir The room was dark, and there was something warm and heavy resting on his thigh. Mulder felt disorientated, wondering where he was, and why he felt so damn good. He shifted his hip, and the weight on his thigh moved, then settled again a bit lower down. Mulder wondered what it was, and what it was doing in his bed. He opened his eyes, then closed them again with a contented smile. Skinner's arm. His Master's arm was draped over his slave's body. Mulder frowned. Something soft and furry was nestled under his chin, and it was vibrating. Mulder opened his eyes again, and glared at Wanda. She notched her purring up a decibel, and rested her head proprietarily on Skinner's shoulder. Mulder nudged her out of the way with his chin, and claimed this prime position himself. It was strange seeing his boss, his Master, at such close quarters - asleep, unguarded, emitting his powerful Skinner pheromones that made his slave dizzy. Mulder studied his Master carefully for several minutes. Skinner looked so different asleep and at such close, intimate quarters. He looked much younger for a start. Without the aura of power that usually surrounded him, without the trappings of his office, his trademark white shirt, without his glasses…he looked serene, and he had a rugged, intensely masculine beauty that turned Mulder on. Mulder pressed his lips gently against his Master's shoulder, enjoying the feel of the bare flesh under his lips. His welted butt ached, and his nipples were sore, but he had never felt more relaxed in his whole life. He felt somehow different this morning. Mulder kissed his Master's shoulder again, and pondered the change. He felt…happy. No, it was more than that, it was something much more profound. A wave of peace and radiance swept through him as he remembered last night. Skinner had said he loved him. More than that, he'd loved him for years. Mulder went through every single one of their confrontations in his head, since the moment Skinner had taken on the X Files, and tried to figure out how the hell that had happened. He remembered drug induced tantrums, throwing a punch at his boss, his constant rebuttals of the other man's authority, to say nothing of his own paranoia and distrust. He winced as he recalled the numerous occasions when he had accused Skinner of betraying him, or his work, and yet Skinner was here, solid, unmoving, like the proverbial rock. He had always been here, catching Mulder when he fell, cleaning up after him, and yes, disciplining him when he needed that too. It was as if Skinner understood him, in a way nobody else ever had, or ever could - not even Scully. Skinner saw the darkness inside his slave, and neither allowed Mulder to drag him down into it, nor held back from reaching into the void to anchor him to sanity. Mulder remembered calling him his beacon in the night once - he'd meant it facetiously at the time. He would never have guessed the resonance the words would one day hold for him. The hand on his thigh shifted, and Skinner muttered something in his sleep. Mulder moved closer, and pressed his body against his Master's as if he wanted to melt into him. He could feel Wanda's soft, furry presence between them, the three of them warm, close, sleepy. Usually, this was the time when he ran. He had managed to separate love and sex quite happily for several years. He hadn't wanted this. He still wasn't entirely sure how it had happened. He had been looking for an extreme thrill, a way of satisfying sexual urges that wouldn't go away, and he had found this instead. Last night had been the first time he had ever made love to another man. Love. Love, as opposed to sex. Love, as opposed to giving his body over to sensation, to use and abuse in order to get the high he craved. And it had been good. Mulder shivered, and burrowed his head into Skinner's warm chest, whimpering softly to himself. He was scared by how much he wanted this, by how completely he'd fallen in love with his Master, his boss, in just this short space of time. By denying him his liberty, Skinner had effectively forced him to stay around long enough to care, and more importantly, to be cared for. Mulder wasn't used to the sensation. A part of him wanted to run, while another part, one that he had denied for so long, wanted to rest his head on Skinner's shoulder forever, and never leave his Master's side. He was so busy thinking, that he gave a start of alarm when he looked up to find his Master's eyes open, and his gaze fixed on his slave. "Awake, little one?" Skinner kissed his hair. "Yeah." Mulder smiled, and stroked his hand along his Master's thigh. "And thinking hard, I see." Skinner drew him into the circle of his warm, strong arms, and held him. "Yeah." Mulder shrugged. "About?" Mulder hesitated, then looked up into his Master's eyes. "Love," he admitted honestly, "and what you said last night." "Ah. Love," Skinner murmured absently. "Yeah. I never thought I was interested in all that emotional crap," Mulder confided. "But?" Skinner prompted. "Today I woke up happy, Master, for the first time," Mulder whispered. "Good." Skinner grinned. "No, you don’t understand." Mulder looked up again. "I woke up happy for the first time ever, in as long as I can remember. Usually, every morning I wake up to the same old angst of being me, of living my life the way I do. I wake up thinking 'fuck, another day.' Today…I woke up thinking that being me could be pleasurable for a change…" "That's good." Skinner's hands ran up and down his slave's back. "…and I wanted to run away," Mulder finished. Skinner's hands found his welted buttocks, and stopped, pressed hard on the sore flesh, making Mulder squirm. "Well, that's not an option, slaveboy," he growled. "You belong to me, and the penalty for running away isn't one you want to pay." Mulder's eyes were alight and curious, and his cock lurched to attention. Skinner in he-man mode always did it for him. "What would you do, Master?" he asked, in a faltering tone. Skinner's expression hardened, and his eyes were deadly serious as he replied. "I'd track you down, drag you back here, and whip you within an inch of your life," he promised. "Oh." Mulder wasn't sure why he found that reassuring. "And when I'd finished tanning your hide, I'd hold you down, hold you damn tight, and keep you there, until you told me why you'd left. I wouldn't allow you to be dishonest, or flippant, or to get by on those half truths, and that half baked crap you tell yourself, in order to hide from what you want most," Skinner informed him. Mulder thought about this for a moment, then kissed the other man's lips, tenderly. "Thank you, Master," he whispered. They drifted off, dozing for a while, then, without warning, Skinner angled his knee forward, and pulled Mulder's body over it, so that his butt was raised a little way in the air, then the big man thrust a finger inside his slave's body. Mulder moaned, and wiggled, accepting the finger, opening under the caress. Another finger followed. Skinner's other hand came down on his slave's back in a hard, fluid motion, pinning him to the bed, immobilising him there. One more finger joined those already probing inside Mulder's ass. "Have you ever been fisted, boy?" Skinner asked, in the low, throaty tone that made Mulder's cock ache. "No, Master," Mulder whimpered, his rectal muscles clenching in response to this horrifying question, trapping his Master's fingers in his body. Skinner laughed. "Not today, little one, not today," he soothed, "but one day soon." He slid his entire hand into Mulder's body, keeping the fingers straight. It didn't hurt - a part of Mulder liked the sensation of accepting any part of his Master's body into his own. It seemed to be the ultimate expression of his Master's power and authority over him. Another part of him remained frozen with fear at the very mention of the word "fisting". Skinner had big hands, and Mulder was sure they would make very capable, very large, fists. It didn't bear thinking about. "Scared, boy?" Skinner asked, one hand stroking his slave's trembling body, as the other caressed insistently inside him. "Yes, Master," he replied. Skinner laughed, and kissed the back of his neck, nipped at it like a lioness picking up her cub by the scruff of his neck. "Good," he replied, in that low, sexy drawl. "Master, can I come?" Mulder asked, writhing, pressing his cock into the bed. "No. I thought I'd made that clear," Skinner replied. "Unless I tell you otherwise, you can only come with my permission, boy. You'll experience pleasure entirely at my discretion." "Yes, Master," Mulder's body tingled at his Master's words and tone. He felt Skinner's tongue on his buttocks, tracing a line along the welts that had been raised there the previous day, and he squirmed, and moaned. "Keep still," Skinner advised. "I'm in the mood to play - that's one of the consequences of waking up to find my naked slave in my bed. If you don’t like it, then don't insist on sharing my bed, boy." "Yes, Master," Mulder panted, privately thinking that being played with was hardly a disincentive to asking to spend a night wrapped up in his Master's arms. Skinner stroked light, gentle circles on his slave's buttocks, then pressed harder, his large, blunt fingers massaging Mulder's sore ass, making his slave cry out, at the same time as the younger man's cock got harder within its golden prison. Skinner moved down the bed, and trapped Mulder's body beneath his own, covering him with a heavy thigh, and strong, furry chest. Mulder lay, inert, trying to remember to breathe. He felt Skinner's tongue on his ass again, then his Master pulled his buttocks open, and Mulder gave a squeal of pure pleasure, as the sensitive nerve endings on his asshole responded to his Master's wet caress. "Have you ever been rimmed before, boy?" Skinner asked, his voice muffled by the bedclothes, and his close proximity to Mulder's butt. "No, Master," Mulder panted, taking a fistful of sheets in one hand, and slipping the other one down to caress his aching cock. "Hand back up." Skinner slapped his butt hard, and Mulder obeyed him quickly, flushing. "Okay - I think we need to invent a new rule, slaveboy. The only time you touch your cock from now on is when you use the bathroom. Other than that, it's out of bounds to you. It belongs to me, and I'll say when, and if, it's going to get any attention. If I catch you touching it you can bet the punishment will be swift, and painful. Understood?" "Yes…Master…" Mulder agreed, writhing as Skinner dipped his head back down to continue rimming his slave. His Master never ceased to amaze him. If he had assumed, after last night, that he had any rights, or any new privileges, then Skinner had been quick to disabuse him of that notion. Last night Skinner might have treated him as a lover, but this morning he was quite clearly back to being a slave again. Skinner's hands massaged, and kneaded Mulder's sore buttocks, at the same time as he skilfully licked his slave's sensitive opening, overloading Mulder's nervous system with the twin sensations of pleasure and pain in a way that threatened to make him black out. He gasped, and began to rhythmically thrust against the bed in time to the kneading, licking rhythms until he was sure he couldn't last any longer. "Please let me come, Master," he begged. "No," came back the inevitable reply. "Do you seriously think the slave should come before the Master? Do you, boy?" Skinner slapped his butt again, and Mulder yowled. "No, Master…I'm sorry!" he cried. Skinner returned to his work, and Mulder endured the delicious torment, until his entire body was drenched with sweat, and he wasn't coherent. He kept himself from coming by the skin of his teeth, his cock almost going into spasm with need. He longed for it to stop, and to go on forever, at one and the same time. Finally, it came to an end, and Skinner's head reappeared beside him on the pillow. "I'm hard - ride me," Skinner ordered. Mulder gulped, and nodded, trying to pull himself back together for long enough to obey. He got up, pushed the sheets back, and found his Master's large, hard cock standing out straight. Mulder fished a condom out of the night-stand, and placed it reverentially on his Master's cock, then he took it in his hand, and straddled his Master, facing him. He concentrated for a moment on opening his body, then slid the cock into position against his entrance, before impaling himself on the hard length, allowing it into his body, sliding down on it all the way until it fit snugly inside him. He stopped, the sweat still running down his face, his own cock hard, and neglected. Skinner grabbed his hips. "Hard - and fast," he ordered, and Mulder began to rock, rhythmically, taking his Master's penis deep into his ass, then sliding back up the solid shaft, up and down, over and over again. He flung back his head, his adam's apple bobbing in time to his moans. "Good boy…" Skinner murmured. "Oh, that's good…keep going, boy…" His hands stroked Mulder's thighs, and his body moved up urgently to meet his slave's movements. At the moment he was on the verge of coming, Skinner suddenly wrapped his hand around Mulder's cock. Mulder felt his rectal muscles go into immediate spasm, and that was enough to finish his Master off. He came with a shuddering sigh of satisfaction, and then continued pumping Mulder's cock. "How long can you hold on?" Skinner grinned, sliding his hand along his slave's hard shaft, milking it. "Not much longer when you do that, Master…unnnhhh!" Mulder screamed in pleasure, and need, his body protesting that he couldn't hold on any more, his mind, and his Master, insisting that he had to. "Do you want to feel my crop on your ass, slave?" Skinner asked. "If you come, you will." "Please, Master…don't…I can't…" Mulder begged helplessly. He could feel Skinner's cock softening inside his body, even as his Master's hand pumped up and down his own hard cock. "It's not fair…" Mulder whimpered, his body limp, wrung out with effort. "How can I hold on…if you're going to do that…?" he accused. "You'll have to learn. Think of something else," Skinner grinned, still continuing his caress. "Come and I'll punish you." Mulder tried to think about work, about wading through sewers, and running through forests being chased by monsters. In desperation he even thought about AD Kersh, but nothing worked. He could still smell his Master's earthy scent, see his half-naked body, feel him inside his ass… "Come!" Skinner said the word at the very moment Mulder was unable to hold on, and he pumped out onto his Master's chest. Then he looked down on the semen apologetically. "Sorry, Master." "For what? You came on order. That's good." Skinner grinned. "Now go and turn the shower on - I think it's time we got moving. We have a busy day ahead of us." He glanced at the clock, which read 8:30. "We won't do your normal morning discipline today. We have some unfinished business to take care of anyway," Skinner commented. "That will suffice." Mulder stopped in mid-stride, his heart suddenly sinking like a lead balloon as he remembered what would take place today. "Fox?" He heard Skinner got out of the bed behind him but his legs wouldn't move. "I forgot." Mulder hung his head, his whole body trembling. "About the whip. I forgot about it." "You had what you wanted, sweetheart," Skinner said gently. He put a hand under his slave's chin, and lifted his face to look into his eyes. "It was your choice. You do have to be punished." "I know, but not the bullwhip, Master. Please." Mulder got down on his hands and knees, and kissed Skinner's feet. Last night it had all seemed so different. Last night, he had been so focused on what he wanted, that he had been prepared to pay any price to attain it. Today, in the hard light of day, he wasn't so sure of himself. "I promised the bullwhip, so the bullwhip is what you'll get," Skinner told him firmly, pulling him to his feet. "What kind of Master would I be if I didn't keep my promises?" Mulder swallowed hard. "A compassionate, kind, and sympathetic Master?" he asked hopefully. Skinner laughed out loud. "No - a bad Master," he said, aiming a swat at Mulder's ass. Mulder hopped into the shower to avoid it. "I want you to think about this in relation to your life, Fox," Skinner told him seriously, as his slave washed him. "What do you mean?" Mulder frowned. "Well, how many times have you pursued something, and regretted it later?" Skinner's eyes were dark, and intense. "Do you weigh the risks and possible outcomes, Fox, or do you ignore them? You always assume that you can deal with the pain of the consequences - but one day, that might not be the case." "Today?" Mulder hardly dared ask. "If not today, then one day." Skinner took hold of his slave's shoulders and pushed him against the cool, tiled wall of the shower. Mulder tensed, uncertain what was coming next, but Skinner didn't hurt him. He just lowered his head, and kissed his slave's wet lips, pinning him against the wall with his large body, keeping him upright with his hands, as his mouth plundered his slave's. When the kiss was over, he kept his slave standing there, and looked at him with that serious, dark-eyed gaze. "Your actions, and your decisions, always have consequences - both for you and the people around you. Remember that, Fox," he advised, and his tone was a world away from the deep, throaty, sexy growl that Mulder loved so much. It was firm, but curiously vulnerable, and for the first time Mulder saw himself as others must see him: running headlong into trouble, risking his life in pursuit of his quest…and hurting those who cared about him. "I don't know that I can change," he said. Skinner sighed. "You don't have to. I don't want you to," he said. "I just want you to make some better decisions than you have in the past." "Choosing to sleep with you last night wasn't a bad decision," Mulder declared angrily, pushing his Master away. Skinner caught hold of his arms, and pinned them behind him, placing him roughly back into position. "You haven't felt the kiss of my whip on your back yet, boy," he replied. "I don't care." Mulder assumed an air of bravado that he didn't feel. "It was still worth it." "Maybe this time," Skinner warned, his brown eyes seeming almost black, as if in despair, or grief. "Maybe not next time. One day, you might pay the ultimate price for a poor choice. If you don't care about your own life, think about the others who do care." Mulder stared at him for a moment, unable to reconcile this side of his Master with the man who had been training him all week. He bit on his lip. All eroticism had gone from the situation. Skinner was taking him back to reality - and he didn't like it one bit. Mulder went about his tasks in silence - washing his Master, then drying him, but inside he was scared. Scared of his decision, scared of the newly revealed depths of his Master's emotions, and most of all, scared of that damned whip. He'd seen enough flogging scenes, in enough movies, to be seriously worried about it. Skinner had said they were going shopping today. How the hell was he going to manage that when the flesh was about to be torn from his bones? Mulder dressed Skinner in a pair of stone colored chinos, and a white henley, then towel dried his own hair. "Time to take care of business," Skinner said grimly. He opened the bedroom door, and gestured his slave through it. Mulder walked slowly, as if going to his execution. His legs felt like lead as he climbed the stairs to the Playroom. He knelt without even thinking about it, when Skinner clicked his fingers, and watched as Skinner made the room ready. His Master got out the bullwhip and laid it on the table, and then he pulled out some cuffs, and fastened them on his slave's wrists. "We'll use the whipping post," he told Mulder gravely. Mulder's throat was so dry he wasn't even sure that his mumbled "Yes, Master" was audible. "Before we begin - what are you being punished for, and what lesson will you take from your correction?" Skinner demanded. "I'm being punished for…" Mulder closed his eyes, and thought back. It had only been last night, but so much had happened since that it seemed like a lifetime away. "For hitting a guest, Master?" he offered, his entire body flushing as he remembered the altercation with Lee. "What else?" Skinner asked. Mulder swallowed. "Disobedience." He hung his head. "All right - that's part of what you did wrong last night, but it's not what I'm really getting at here. What else?" Skinner demanded. Mulder sat back on his heels and thought about it, but he couldn't make his brain work while that bullwhip was sitting there, waiting for him. "Jealousy?" he offered at last. He looked up in surprise as Skinner tapped his head. "No. I would never punish you for an emotion. I can't dictate what you feel," Skinner told him firmly. "And I wouldn't want to. The crux of what you did wrong last night is the problem you have all the way along the line - the problem we keep coming back to. Now, what is it?" Realization flooded through Mulder. "Honesty, Master," he sighed. "I should have come to you, instead of, uh, losing it like that." "Yes - you should. Look, Fox, I don't need you to come running to Master every time you have a problem, but I placed you in deep submission last night. That made you vulnerable, and removed the normal weapons you would have had for dealing with an obnoxious little shit like Lee. It's my duty - my responsibility - to take good care of you while you're in that state. I can't do that if you don't follow my orders, and tell me if there are any problems." "No, Master." Mulder bit on his lip. "Are you ever going to learn this lesson?" Skinner shook his head wryly, and fondled his slave's hair. Mulder leaned into the caress eagerly. "I hope so, Master," he said with a shrug. "Do more than hope, slave." Skinner took firm hold of his shoulders, and looked down into his eyes. "Try harder," he ordered. Mulder nodded, awe-struck. "Honesty goes hand in hand with trust," Skinner continued. "You have issues there as well." "Yeah. I know," Mulder agreed. "I will try harder. I promise." "Good. Go and stand by the whipping post." Skinner turned away, and picked up the whip. When he turned back, Mulder was still frozen to the spot. "I believe I gave you an order, Fox," Skinner said firmly. Mulder licked his lips. "There won't be any reprieve - no last minute cavalry riding over the hill to rescue you. This is real life. Today my whip - tomorrow maybe someone's gun. All consequences of your actions, and your choices. Now get up, and go over to the post." Skinner's tone wasn't harsh, but it was firm. Mulder knew there was only one way out of this. He got to his feet, shakily, and walked over to the post. Skinner followed him, and strapped the cuffs onto his trembling slave, checking them in his usual thorough way. Mulder clamped his mouth shut, and tried to still his nerves, wishing that Skinner would just get on with it. He wondered how good Skinner's first aid was, and how much blood the whip would draw. He remembered the way it had sliced through paper last night, and his flesh crawled as he thought of it doing the same thing to his own tender skin. Skinner moved away, pacing his steps with precision as he went. Mulder tensed. The whip cracked in mid-air as his Master did a little practice, and then Skinner turned to face his slave's naked back and buttocks which were ready and waiting to receive the kisses of their Master's lash. Mulder was determined to show Skinner that he didn't regret his decision, but all the same, he was sure he would pass out during those few seconds waiting for the whip to fall. He clenched his fists tight, and offered up a prayer to any deity that was listening. He could feel his heart beating in his chest, the noise so loud that he felt sure it was echoing around the room. He had memory of a dozen different hurts. Of gunshot wounds, of his finger being broken, and he had taken each and every pain, defiantly, faced up to them, and endured, but this was so different. To go willingly into this dark arena was so much harder than to have it happen to you, without your collusion. Mulder hung his head, and wondered at the darkness of his own soul, that he was offering himself up like this, to be flayed alive. There was silence behind him, then a sudden rush of movement, and Mulder cried out the minute he heard the whip crack, his over-anxious body convulsing in his bonds, but he felt no pain until a split second later, when the burning lash caressed his skin. He clung to the post, yelling his head off, more in anticipation of pain than any real sensation of it. "Hush, little one." Skinner's voice, close to his ear. He felt his Master's hands on his body, soothing him. "Think, Fox. How much did it hurt?" Mulder calmed down as his Master's fingers continued with their stroking. He started to relax. It had hurt, but now that Skinner mentioned it, it wasn't as bad as he had expected. "All right?" Skinner's lips nuzzled the back of his neck. "All right, little one." His Master's big body was folded around his back, warm and reassuring. Mulder put his head back, rested it on his Master's shoulder, and nodded. "Yes, Master," he whispered. "You can take more, sweetheart, can't you?" Skinner's hands were so comforting on his naked flesh, gently rubbing little circles on his skin. "No." Mulder said, automatically and emphatically. "The truth," Skinner whispered, his voice tickling Mulder's ear. Mulder was silent for a moment, then he sighed. "Yes, Master," he agreed. "I can take more." "Good boy - my brave Fox." Skinner pulled his slave's head back, and kissed his lips, gently parting them. He gave Mulder the sweetest, most loving kiss, and then gently pushed him back against the post. Mulder gave a whimper when his Master walked away again, and paced back to his former position. He closed his eyes, and his whole body flinched when he heard that terrible cracking sound, but this time he was dimly aware that the whip didn't actually touch his body until a split second after it made that sound. It hurt! It was a quick, flashing, bite of pain that stung deep into his flesh. There was a pause, and then another crack, and he felt the lash land on his shoulder - adjacent to the other two licks. Then Skinner was at his side again, unlocking the cuffs from the post. Mulder fell on the floor at his Master's feet. "Am I bleeding, Master?" he whispered. Skinner laughed, picked him up, and held him tight against his chest. "I didn't break the skin, sweetheart!" he exclaimed. "Did you think I'd want my slave scarred?" He pushed Mulder back and looked into his eyes. "I don't know," Mulder mumbled. "Come with me." Skinner led him over to the mirror, and showed him his back. There were three distinct red welts on his shoulders, but they weren't any worse than those on his butt, and they were a damn sight smaller. "How…?" Mulder looked up at his Master, mouthing the word soundlessly. "The crack isn't the sound of whip on flesh," Skinner told him, holding him close, and soothing his hair gently. "The whip hits the floor first - that takes most of the power out of the stroke. If I hit the skin direct, then you wouldn't have any skin left, little one. I paced my position to ensure that only the very tip of the whip touched you at all. What you felt was the last inch of it - that's how long the welts are. You were more scared of what you thought it would be, than what it actually was. I can do worse than this with it, little one, but as we have a busy day planned, I had no intention of giving you any more than that. Three strokes didn't do you any harm - I think your anticipation was more punishment than the lash, yes?" He tipped Mulder's chin up. "You bastard," Mulder muttered. "You let me think…?" "What you think, and what you feel, are two entirely different matters," Skinner told him tersely, unbuckling his cuffs. "Using language and anticipation to keep you on edge is a trick I've been using on you since you arrived. You're smart, Fox. You must have figured that out." Mulder closed his eyes. He remembered the first time Skinner had entered him. His Master had talked about being rough, and fast, as he thrust into his slave, but in actuality he had gone slowly, and carefully. When he talked of 'using' his slave, it was a turn on to Mulder. It helped create the submissive head-space that he enjoyed so much. "And as for being called a bastard," Skinner sighed, and without warning placed his foot on a shelf in the cupboard, and tipped Mulder over his knee, then he applied half a dozen stinging swats to his slave's upturned butt with his hand. "Don’t do that again. It really pisses me off." He righted Mulder, who immediately went down on his knees, and kissed his Master's feet. "Sorry, Master." He made a face. "It's just…nobody's ever got into my head and freaked me out like that before. Let's just say I'm not use to being played so well." "Fox." Skinner lifted his chin, and looked down on him. "You're the only one playing a game," he warned. "I'm deadly serious. The sooner you come to terms with that, the better it'll be for you. Now, go and get dressed." "Dressed?" Mulder repeated blankly. "Yeah - unless you want me to walk you down the street on the end of your lead stark naked." "Uh, no." Mulder got to his feet. "Fox - take another shower first - you got all sweaty just now. And Fox?" Mulder paused, his hand on the door. "You'll wear briefs, blue jeans, and that navy blue sweatshirt. Timberlands on your feet." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded. It felt weird to have his choice of clothing dictated to him, but not as weird as the thought of actually being dressed after days of nudity. He ran along to corridor to his room, feeling curiously elated by the prospect of the shopping trip. Usually he hated shopping for clothes, and only did it twice a year in a frenzy of activity, desperate to get the whole event over and done with as quickly as possible so he could get back out chasing UFO's as soon as possible. Mulder's bedroom door was ajar. He crashed through it, and came to a skidding halt. Wanda was sitting on his bed, viewing the contents of his fish tank with a predatory eye. She must have slipped through the door to the upstairs apartment, which was usually kept shut. "You - out!" he ordered. She gazed at him with the disdain of one not used to acknowledging commands. "I said, out," he repeated, picking her up, and looking into her haughty green eyes. "It's a fish tank - not cat TV," he told her firmly. She glared at him, and he opened the door and put her down smartly on the floor outside his bedroom. "Don't make me tell you the story about the enormous cat-eating mutant fish that wiped out every feline within a 5 mile radius of a small lake in Minnesota," he told her. She put her head on one side, and began washing her ears with an air of studied disinterest. "It's true - I have an X File on it at the office. I'll bring it home and read it to you if you're not careful," he said, then looked up into his Master's questioning brown eyes, and one raised eyebrow. "I was just, um…oh fuck," Mulder sighed. "Clothes, Fox. Now. You have ten minutes - there'll be one stroke with the paddle for every second you go over that time." Skinner clapped his hands. "Daylight's burning, slave." It felt strange to be wearing clothes. Mulder trotted down the stairs 9 minutes 57 seconds later, feeling decidedly weird. Having clothes transformed him immediately from Fox, slaveboy, into Mulder. Skinner, wearing a smart jacket, was already waiting for him by the door, checking through the contents of his wallet. He looked up when his slave came down the stairs, and assessed him for a moment, then clicked his fingers. Mulder stared at him, then suddenly remembered that, clothes or no clothes, he was still Skinner's slave. He got down on his knees. "A bit slow," Skinner tapped his head reprovingly. "All right - this is your first trip out with me in public since you became my property, and that's going to be difficult for you. I want you to remember one thing - you're my slave. Clothed or naked, in public or in private, at work or at home, you're mine. That's the bottom line. If you keep it in mind at all times, you'll do fine. If not…vell, ve haf ways of reminding you," he grinned, affecting a silly accent. Mulder sighed. His Master was clearly in one of his jocular moods. That didn't bode well for the outing. "You're not in deep submission, and I don't expect you to walk to heel. I don't think it'd be very smart to address me as 'Master' out there either. You can call me 'sir'. You should be used to that - you've been doing it for years after all. Do you have any questions or anxieties?" "No, Mast…sir," Mulder replied. "Good - then let's go." Skinner opened the door, and Mulder leaped to his feet and ran out, like an eager little puppy being taken on a walk. Skinner laughed, and shook his head. Skinner didn't take his slave to the mall as Mulder had expected. Instead he drove him to an exclusive establishment of the kind Mulder never even knew existed before. A tall, silver-haired gentleman in his fifties greeted Skinner with a warm handshake. "Walter - on time as usual." The man had a smooth, cultured voice, and an elegant manner. He was dressed impeccably in a silver-gray suit, with a pink tie and matching handkerchief. He looked exquisite. His young assistant hovered behind him, shadowing every move his boss made. He was about 25 years younger than the silver haired man, with floppy blond hair, and the bluest eyes Mulder had ever seen. "Elliott." Skinner shook the older man's hand warmly, and then waved a hand in Mulder's direction. "This is Fox. He needs a couple of new work suits, a wide variety of casual clothes, and some tasteful," he stressed the word with a meaningful glance at his slave, "underwear." Mulder remembered the imaginative and assorted array of Star Wars, and Bart Simpson boxer shorts his Master had thrown out forcefully on his first day in his service. "In addition, I'd be grateful if you'd show him your tie collection." Skinner winced, and Mulder rolled his eyes. His ties weren't that bad. "Basically, his clothing tastes need…re-educating," Skinner said ominously. "Dear me, yes." Elliott fixed Mulder with a disapproving stare, taking in his jeans and crumpled sweatshirt. Mulder was suddenly aware of looking so much less elegant than his neatly dressed Master, and he felt resentful. He was only wearing what Skinner had told him to wear. Of course, when he thought about it, he didn't actually own any elegant, understated clothes of the kind Skinner was wearing, but even so - he still felt aggrieved. "It would be a pleasure to help this young man, Walter," Elliott mused, ushering them over to a set of comfortable armchairs. Mulder was starting to feel like Julia Roberts to Skinner's Richard Gere in that scene from Pretty Woman. It wasn't a good feeling. Elliott's assistant seemed to share his boss's opinion on Mulder's lack of sartorial elegance. He fixed Mulder with an appraising stare that made the agent's hot temper rise. The younger man's blue eyes traveled the entire length of Mulder's casually dressed body, examining his ruffled, towel-dried hair, and faintly stubbled chin with a supercilious air. "Donald, please fetch coffee for our guests." Elliott waved his hand, and his assistant gave Mulder a smug smile, then disappeared. Mulder glanced around, bored, while Elliott and his Master made small talk. Jeez, this was dull. He felt like he had as a kid when his Mom took him out shoe shopping. His busy mind needed distraction, and stimulation, and shopping just didn't do it for him. Of all the Masters in all the world, he had to get landed with the one who had some weird fascination with fashion of all things. I mean, what the hell did it matter what clothes Mulder wore, when it was his slave's naked body his Master was interested in? Mulder smirked to himself, enjoying that thought. His Master did seem very interested in his body. He flushed when he remembered being 'played' with this morning. Boy, that had been good. He could feel himself going hard just thinking about it. "….Fox?" Skinner was looking at him expectantly but Mulder didn't have a clue what he'd said. "What? I wasn't listening," he admitted. Skinner fixed him with a frown, and Mulder's stomach did a flip. "Sorry, sir," he added contritely. "Pay attention, Fox. I don't expect to have to say things twice," Skinner reprimanded. He placed one hand on the back of Mulder's neck and squeezed lightly, making his intent clear. Mulder swallowed nervously. Donald had reappeared with the coffee, and he caught this exchange, doing a double take. Mulder flushed to the roots of his dark hair. Shit, they all thought Skinner was his sugar daddy, taking him out, buying him clothes, like he was some stupid 18 year old, bimbo toyboy. It was so damn embarrassing. And isn't the truth even worse, slaveboy? A mocking internal voice asked him. He felt a sullen mood start to settle around him like a storm cloud. "I was saying that you'll be a regular visitor here from now on. You'll collect items for me, as well as for yourself. I have an account here," Skinner informed him. "Yeah. I'd kind of figured that out," Mulder muttered, thinking that the whole place was incredibly camp, from Donald's prima donna body language, to Elliott's exquisitely coiffured hair, and pink tie. I mean pink for chrissakes! "If you'd like to go with Donald, he'll measure you. We'll keep your measurements on file, as we do for Walter," Elliott informed him. "That way when you need any new suits…" "I don't," Mulder snapped. "What's wrong with my suits?" He turned to Skinner. "Nothing," Skinner replied, urbanely, his dark eyes belying his casual manner, as they bored holes into Mulder's soul, warning him. "Maybe it's the way you wear them but they do have a tendency to look a bit…crumpled. However, you can clearly do with some spares - especially considering all the wear your clothing gets, running through forests, falling into swamps, stepping in burning piles of green goo…need I go on?" "No. I think you've made your point," Mulder muttered sulkily. Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Sir." Mulder added, after thinking about it for a few seconds. "Good - get moving." Skinner nodded his head in the direction of a curtained recess, and Mulder couldn't quite manage to stop the cross between a growl and a sigh that emerged from his throat. Donald's superior air got on Mulder's nerves even before the other man started measuring him. "If sir would like to undress." Donald pursed his lips, investing the 'sir' with a tone that implied profound disrespect. He's so obviously gay, Mulder thought to himself, as he peeled off his sweatshirt and started tugging at his jeans. As opposed to me. I mean, I'm just a regular guy who likes being screwed by my, big, strong, macho Master- come-boss. Huge difference, asshole. His brain chuntered along at top speed as he stripped down to his briefs. Donald took in the sight of his nipple rings without comment, but Mulder caught his expression, and wanted to land a good right hook on the other man's baby pink skin. He knew just what Donald was thinking, and how he was laughing at him. He turned away, to avoid the other man's smug stare. Donald took a sharp intake of breath and Mulder remembered, too late, the three welts on his back. He swung back in time to see the other man's expression of shock, before it was replaced by that polite, supercilious mask. Mulder was suffused by a wave of intense embarrassment. He was about to make up some story to explain the welts away, but couldn't think of anything that wouldn't just draw attention to them, and make the whole thing even worse. If Donald had been in any doubt about his relationship with Skinner before, then he wasn't now. Mulder opened his mouth, and found himself saying: "So, Don-baby, do you prefer to be called Donny as in Osmond, or Donald as in f…duck?" Donald stared at him for a moment, then smoothed a hand nervously through his floppy hair. "Donald," he replied politely. "Now if sir would…" "Oh cut all this 'sir' crap," Mulder snarled. "You've made it clear as hell that you think I'm something you walked in on the street." "Please, sir, I just need to take your measurements." Donald pressed the tape against Mulder's leg, and hurried through his task. Mulder felt his whole body flush, from the tips of his toes to his forehead. Hah, if Donald was intrigued by the welts on his back, he should see the ones on his butt. Oh shit. Mulder remembered that Skinner wanted him to buy underwear. It would be just his luck if his Master made him try it on for his approval. He fidgeted throughout the measuring process, then waited in sullen silence as Donald slipped back into the other room. Fuck. This whole shopping trip was his idea of hell, and he hated his Master for putting him through it. Donald returned a few seconds later, his baby blue eyes full of some emotion Mulder read as barely suppressed amusement. Blondie was laughing at him. "Your…um…" Donald hesitated, clearly unsure how to refer to Skinner. "Master?" Mulder supplied, knowing he was behaving badly, some devil in him wanting to make it worse, trying deliberately to shock. Donald paled. "Um…that is, Walter, Mr. Skinner, uh, he said to try these on," Donald murmured weakly. Mulder snatched the beige trousers and shirt savagely from the other man's grasp, and pulled them on, then glanced in the mirror. Damn, he looked stupid! "Oh, that looks good. It suits you, sir," Donald said encouragingly. Mulder quelled his enthusiasm with a glance, and marched out into the other room. "These, are crap," he announced to his Master. "I'm not wearing them." Skinner looked at him coolly. "I think the shirt would benefit from being buttoned up properly, and tucked into the pants," he observed. "Go back, and straighten yourself out, then come back out here, and present yourself properly." Mulder saw Donald out of the corner of his eye. The man was wide-eyed, his gaze going from slave to Master, and back again, and then flickering over to Elliott. Mulder felt a heat rising from deep within. He knew that the minute they left, these two ghouls would laugh their heads off. Mulder stomped off back to the changing room, and obeyed his Master, feeling his temper spiral out of control. He hated the beige shirt and pants. He'd never, ever wear clothes like this. Scully would laugh at him. Scully. Mulder felt a pang as he thought about his partner. This was the first time since he met her that he'd gone more than a couple of days without even seeing or speaking to her, except for when she had been abducted. He felt guilty about the fact that, much as he loved and cared about his diminutive partner, he hadn't thought about her all week. He rearranged his clothes, and stepped back outside. Skinner was deep in conversation with Donald, and the young man's blue eyes were fixed on his Master in an expression of barely concealed awe. "While you're here, you might as well have a fitting for that new suit, Walter," Elliott was saying. Donald nodded eagerly. Can't wait to get his hands on him, I expect, Mulder thought angrily. "Not today." Skinner shook his head. "Today is for Fox. Another time." "Yeah, right. Like you really give a damn about doing anything other than showing off what a complete fucking wuss I am!" Mulder exploded. "How does this look?" he asked, doing an ironic twirl. "What am I? Some kind of fucking performing monkey for these goddamn clowns?" There was a shocked silence, then Skinner turned smoothly to Elliott, and Donald, and smiled through gritted teeth. "My apologies. Please, would you give us a couple of minutes alone?" "Of course." Elliott quickly ushered his young protégé out of the room. Mulder was sure he could hear them sniggering as they went. That thought was driven out of his head by his more immediate awareness of imminent danger. He swallowed nervously as he realized that he was in deep shit right up to his eyeballs. He saw a big shadow looming over him and bit on his lip, then looked up defiantly into his Master's dark eyes, but Skinner's expression was puzzled, rather than angry. "Fox." Skinner put his hands on his slave's shoulders. "I thought you looked pretty damn good in this actually." His fingers smoothed along the silky fabric. "Of course, if you don't like it, we won't buy it. I don't want to change your tastes - I'm sure there'll be things we can both agree on." "I wouldn't wear anything like this and you fucking know it," Mulder snarled. "Well, maybe you need to have your horizons broadened?" Skinner suggested mildly. "Now, tell me, what brought this on, sweetheart?" "They think we're sleeping together," Mulder blurted. "Hmm. We are," Skinner pointed out. "Why is this a problem?" "What I am. What I like…it's private," Mulder whispered. "It wasn't last night," Skinner told him, his hands continuing to rub his slave's shoulders. "Last night I displayed you naked in a room full of people. I told them you were my slave, and I your Master, and you loved it." "That was different!" Mulder protested. "That was us, in private, with people who understand. This is…" "Public? Fox, I've known Elliott for years. His very name is a byword for discretion, and he wouldn't employ anybody who didn't abide by his rules on this. Whatever happens here won't go beyond these four walls." "But…" "You're ashamed." Skinner lifted Mulder's head, and looked into his eyes. "You're ashamed of what you are, little one. Why? There's no need to be. I love what you are, and at the end of the day, pleasing me is the only thing that should matter to you." "He's laughing at me. He thinks I'm weak." Mulder muttered, trying to hold onto his outrage in the face of his Master's kindness, and failing. "Who? Elliott? Of course he doesn't…" "Not Elliott - Donald stupid duckface." "Fox - he's not laughing at you, and even if he were, it's irrelevant. What's important is that you focus on me, not anyone else, and not on your own fears." "Okay, okay. I know he's just a stupid tailor's assistant, but what will happen when someone important finds out?" Mulder snarled. "What will Scully think?" he asked in a broken voice. "Ah." Skinner rocked back on his heels. "That's what's behind this." "I suppose." Mulder wrapped his arms around his body, and hugged himself. "Well, Scully's your partner, and a damn good friend. Why don't you trust her not to judge you?" Skinner asked. "Because. Because…" "You judge yourself so harshly that you think that everyone else will too? And you're always scared of love being withdrawn? Isn't that why you try not to let anyone get close in the first place?" Skinner asked, moving in close, his eyes searching. "I…damn you for knowing me like this," Mulder whispered, feeling as if he'd been hit in the stomach. "Fox - you're mine. I need to know you. I've been studying you for a long time. I understand you, sweetheart. I can help you, but you have to learn to trust: me, Scully, and most of all - yourself." Skinner's eyes were dark in their intensity. "Oh shit." Mulder clenched his fists, and then thumped one angrily against the wall, his whole body suffused with self-loathing. "You're thinking what a fucking screw-up I am. The first time you take me anywhere, and I fuck it up. I won't be able to handle this in the real world, sir. I can't do it. When we get back to work…" "It'll be tough." Skinner shrugged. "We both know that. However, you're only human, Fox. When you screw up I'll punish you, and you'll learn. Then we can go forward. I don't expect you to adapt without any problems. It'll take time. We have plenty of that. You've given me the rest of your life." "A life sentence, huh?" Mulder made a face. "If you like. Let's hope it's a long and happy one, for both of us." Skinner smiled, and pulled his tense slave into an embrace. Mulder stiffened, then finally relaxed into his Master's arms, and buried his face in his shoulder. "Now, I'm going to punish you," Skinner whispered tenderly into his ear. "You deserve that, Fox, don't you?" Mulder couldn't disagree on that point. "Here, Master?" Mulder looked up, his eyes wide and alarmed. "Yes. That way we can put this incident behind us, and you can stop wallowing in the guilt trip. Take off your pants, Fox, and your briefs, and bend over the armchair." "Master, please…not here." Mulder glanced at the door, nervously. For all he knew, Elliott and Donald were lurking just outside. He couldn't stand the thought of them hearing every last scream. "Here. Now." Skinner said firmly. "Then it'll be over, and we can start again," he promised. He gentled his slave, soothed him, ruffled through his hair, and caressed up and down his back. Mulder swallowed hard, then nodded, and did as he was told. He leaned over the armchair with a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. Then he watched, out of the corner of his eye, as Skinner undid his belt. There was a familiar swish as the belt was pulled through the loops on Skinner's pants, and then his Master doubled the leather, and slapped it against his hand a few times. Mulder closed his eyes. He felt the cool leather against his buttocks, and then it thwacked down hard on his bare butt. "What's the lesson you're learning from this punishment, Fox?" Skinner asked. "Shit!" Mulder buried his head in his arms, as another lick flashed down on his ass. "To…be polite, not to care what other people think…oh shit, sir, I don't know!" "All right." Skinner's hand stroked his back, calming him, and he paused the strapping. "I think it goes back to the issue of trust, and honesty. If you'd spoken to me about the way you were feeling before you exploded, we could have avoided this. Yes?" "Yes, Master." Mulder agreed. "Like last night. Yes?" "Yes." Mulder sighed. "Good. Keep that in mind then. I'm going to make this count." Skinner swung the strap again, delivering a good dozen licks to Mulder's butt. Mulder tried his best not to scream, but it damn well hurt, and he yelped out loud on more than one occasion. Then it was over. Skinner stopped, and ran a hand through his slave's tousled hair. "Up you get, sweetheart. This incident is over - or it will be just as soon as you've apologized to Elliott and Donald." "Yes, sir," Mulder mumbled contritely. Somehow he had just known that Skinner was going to insist on that. His Master had some kind of manners fetish. "Ready for that?" Skinner asked, placing a big arm around his slave's shoulder. Mulder heaved a huge sigh, and pulled himself back together. "Yes, sir," he agreed at last. "Good. Later on we'll go to a very expensive French restaurant I know," Skinner grinned. "I want to spoil my beautiful slave after all. Fine clothes, good food, wine." Mulder managed a wan smile, then he donned the hated beige pants again, and stood, head down, as Skinner strode over to the door and disappeared. He reappeared a few seconds later with Elliott and Donald in tow. Mulder took a deep breath, and stood up straight, the Mulder charm kicking in. "I'm sorry for the way I spoke to you just now," he said, smiling at them. "It won't happen again." "That's all right, Fox. Let's start over, shall we?" Elliott beamed. Mulder nodded, relieved. He caught sight of his reflection in the mirror and decided he liked what he saw. "These clothes aren't bad. Can we have them?" he asked Skinner. His Master grinned at him. "Of course, Fox," he nodded. "Next one then?" Mulder disappeared back into the changing room. Donald appeared a few seconds later, with another outfit, and a selection of briefs and boxer shorts. He put them down on the table gingerly, and backed away. He watched as Mulder pulled on another shirt, and then he edged closer, and cautiously began to help Mulder button the shirt. "Did he…?" Donald swallowed hard, and looked around. "What did he do?" he asked, clearly taking his life in his hands. Mulder tried to remember what Skinner had told him. His Master was right. What did he care what this supercilious, baby-faced little brat thought of him? "He whipped my ass with his belt," he replied. Donald's fingers faltered on the buttons, and he closed his eyes. "Oh god," he breathed. "You lucky bastard." Mulder looked at him in surprise. "What?" "I envied you from the minute you walked through the door," Donald confided, continuing to button Mulder's shirt for him with shaking fingers. "I could see the way you looked at him, the way he looked at you…you were so right together, like you belonged to each other, fitting together like a hand in a glove. I wish…I want…that is…it's hard when you work with someone, and they don't even know how you feel…" He glanced towards the other room, his expression wistful. "You mean…Elliott?" Mulder raised an eyebrow. "I worship him," Donald sighed. "But he doesn’t even take any notice of me. Sometimes I pull all kinds of crazy shit just to get his attention. If he'd just once throw me over his knee, and give me a good spanking like Walter did to you, I'd be in heaven," he grinned, and Mulder's jaw dropped open in surprise. "The way I fuck up sometimes, I'm lucky he hasn't fired me," Donald added. "Donald - hang in there, buddy," Mulder grinned. "I think it could all work out for you and Elliott. Trust me - stranger things have happened," he winked. "Shit, I've been an idiot. I thought you were looking down on me, but…" "Hell, no. I'm so jealous I could die," Donald told him melodramatically. "You do know how lucky you are, don’t you? Having someone like that, who cares about you - who cares enough to correct you too?" Mulder sighed, and glanced out into the other room. Skinner was deep in conversation with Elliott. His Master looked so composed, one long leg balanced over the other at a 90 degree angle, his Henley showing off a broad expanse of lean, muscled chest. "Yeah," he told Donald. "I do, buddy. I do." The rest of the day passed in a blur of activity. Mulder and Skinner emerged with Mulder dressed in a new pair of pants, and a soft, silky green shirt that brought out the color of his eyes, a pair of expensive Italian loafers on his feet. "I'm starving," Skinner grinned. "Time to check out that very expensive restaurant then?" Mulder suggested, a gleam in his eye. "Oh yeah. I think so." The restaurant was so classy it was untrue, and Skinner was clearly a regular, and honored guest as the maitre d' fussed over him, and called him by his first name. "Where the hell did you get all this money?" Mulder asked, taking a sip of the most exquisite wine he'd ever tasted. "Well, I work hard, without having much by way of expensive pleasures, until relatively recently at least," Skinner gave an amused little smile. "I've dabbled on Wall Street a bit - nothing much - I'm pretty cautious. Enough to finance more than you'd expect on my salary though," Skinner poured himself some wine, and held up his glass. "To you, Fox," he said, sincerely. "Me?" "Oh yes. My Fox," Skinner told him, his dark eyes twinkling with pride of ownership in the lamplight. "This is our first meal out together - order what you like. I want you to enjoy it." "Thanks." Mulder grinned. It felt weird just sitting, wearing clothes, eating, talking, drinking like normal guys. At first, Mulder wasn't sure he'd know what to say, but Skinner asked him some questions about his work, his life, his hopes, and before long Mulder found himself talking nineteen to the dozen in typical Mulder style. He hopped from subject to subject, making a determined effort to both amuse and entertain his Master, and it seemed to have the desired effect. Skinner was a pretty good conversationalist himself. He talked about his early career in the FBI, which had his slave listening with rapt interest, and before long Mulder forgot all about the Master/slave situation between them, and was firing questions at the other man, pulling his experiences apart, and digesting them. He relished the time and attention he was getting, and the wine loosened his tongue, and relaxed him. He realized, glancing at his watch, that several hours had passed with him barely noticing the passage of time. It came as a shock to discover that he liked Skinner not only as a Master, and lover, but also as a friend - someone to talk to. Mulder had a kind of goofy, geeky friendship with the Lone Gunmen, and a close and unique bond with Scully, but he couldn't remember ever having a male friend he could really talk to; someone to hang out and have a few beers with. Someone he could watch sport with, or talk about politics, history, the X Files, or any subject under the sun. Skinner was quirky, and smart, with his own distinctive views on a myriad of different subjects. Mulder sat and watched his Master run a finger around the rim of his wineglass, transfixed. This was so good. It was better than good. It was perfect. "So, that's what the X Files was like in the bad old days before we got assigned to you," Mulder grinned, finishing an anecdote. "And before Scully made them respectable," he added. "Have you spoken to Scully this week?" Skinner asked. "No." Mulder shrugged. "You told me I wasn't to speak to anyone apart from you." "You have your cell phone though. You could have made calls from your room." Skinner looked at him keenly. "Yes, but I didn't." Mulder shrugged, then he bit on his lip. "The truth is…that I didn't even think about it. All this is so new, I didn't have the head-space to even think about anything else. Scully will wonder what's happened to me." "Call her." Skinner got out his cellphone, and handed it to Mulder. Mulder looked at the other man uncertainly, but Skinner just nodded. Mulder punched in Scully's number, and grinned across the table when she answered. "Yo! Guess who this is?" he said. "Mulder!" His face lit up in delight at the sound of her voice. "Where are you? Who is she?" Scully demanded. "What?" Mulder laughed. "What the hell is that supposed to mean, Scully?" "Mulder it's been a week! Now I'm assuming it would have been all over the papers if you'd found Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster, or ET, or something, so it has to be a woman." "Not necessarily," Mulder reached over the table, and stroked his Master's hand. "Oh, all right, play it cool!" Scully laughed. "Are you coming back to work on Monday?" "Yeah." Mulder sighed dramatically. "I guess. Did you miss me?" "Of course," Scully replied. "I actually managed to get some work done without being interrupted for once!" He talked to her animatedly for a few more minutes, and agreed to go out for lunch with her on Monday so they could catch up. Then he severed the connection and gave Skinner the phone back, with a grateful smile. "Thanks." Skinner shrugged, and pocketed the phone, then drank some of his coffee. "How was she?" he asked. "Fine." Mulder chatted on for several minutes. He wasn't sure if it was the wine, or the phone call, or just being with his Master, but he felt so high he was in danger of spinning off into orbit. Skinner just listened, tolerant, and indulgent as Mulder rambled on and on. Therefore it came as a total shock, when Skinner leaned across the table, looked him in the eye, and said one word: "Wanda." Mulder tried to process what his Master meant - did they have to get back home because of the cat or something? Then he remembered his word - that word, and he glanced around the restaurant. True, it was late, and most people had gone home, but there were still several diners finishing off their meal. What the hell did his Master want from him? They couldn't - not here, surely…? "Master?" he protested weakly. "Go and wait for me in the men's room - and have a condom ready. I'll be along when I've finished my coffee." Skinner gestured with his head in the direction of the bathroom. "Master? Please," Mulder begged. Skinner fixed him with a severe stare. "Are you questioning me, boy?" he hissed. "No, sir. I'm just…" Mulder glanced around again, scared of being overheard, but even more scared of his Master. "Yes, sir," he said at last, slipping out of his chair. His stomach was churning as he made his way to the men's room. He remembered that he and Phoebe had once made love on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's grave, but that had been in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere, damnit! Not in the public restroom of one of the most expensive restaurants in town. All the same, his suddenly hard cock told him that he found the idea a turn-on, even while his mind was yelling at him to get out of there and run. He walked into the men's room, and glanced around, relieved to discover that he was the only occupant. He went into one of the stalls, and fished a condom and the lube out of his pocket. He had remembered that much at least. He took down his pants and briefs, and lubed himself again, then spent a while stretching himself. Skinner had told him quite specifically that he'd enter him without prepping him, and take him hard and fast, in silence. Mulder's cock ached in longing at the very thought of it. There was something so impersonal about it - the fantasy of being overpowered by a stranger, combined with the safety of knowing it was his own Master, who he was learning to trust, and whose body was now so familiar to him. He loved the idea of his body being so comprehensively used by his Master as a vehicle for the other man's lust. It exhilarated and scared him at one and the same time. Mulder stood there for a moment, wondering what to do next. Skinner had been very specific about what was expected of him when he gave him his 'word'. Mulder shivered, his cock arcing to full erection, as he remembered the humiliating position in which he was supposed to present himself to his Master. He wondered if he had enough time to jerk off before his Master came and used him, but dismissed that thought almost immediately. Skinner had told him not to touch his cock, and he was sure his Master would know if he did. Mulder put the lube back in his pocket, and wondered where to put the condom. There was nowhere obvious in the small stall. Finally, scared that his Master would come in and find him unprepared, he placed his hands on the wall behind the toilet, and got into position, butt out, legs wide apart, pants around his ankles, ready and waiting for his Master's attention. Then he reached up and put the condom on his own back, where Skinner wouldn't have any trouble seeing it. He waited in that humiliating position for several minutes - although it felt like hours. He started to get nervous. Finally, he heard the sound of the main restroom door being opened, and he took a deep breath. The stall door was closed, although it wasn't locked, and that just made Mulder even more twitchy. Supposing this wasn't Skinner? Supposing someone else came in? Then he heard the sound of a key turning in the lock of the main door, and he realized, without surprise, that Skinner had borrowed the key off his friend, the Maitre d'. The stall door behind him was suddenly flung open, and he had to resist turning around to make sure it was his Master, and not a stranger. His cock almost went into spasm at the eroticism of the moment, of being found here, ass in the air, waiting to serve his Master. He took a deep gulp of air, trying to clear his head. He felt hands caressing his butt, and then the sound of the condom being torn open, and something hard nudging his anus. He placed his hands on his ass, spreading the butt cheeks to make it easier for his Master to enter him, and sighed as he felt the familiar, hard length of Skinner's cock slide into his lubed passage. He placed his hands back on the wall to steady himself, and stood bent over, moaning as his Master began to move his hips. Skinner was true to his word: he grabbed Mulder's thighs, and buried himself deep in his body, sinking himself in, back and forward, in a series of hard, jerky thrusts that made his slave pant. It was, quick, perfunctory, and to the point, and the most devastating display yet of his Master's power of him. Mulder struggled to keep his hands on the wall, as his Master's cock devoured him, then suddenly it was over. He felt the shudder of Skinner's climax, then his Master withdrew. Mulder got up, and turned around, suddenly feeling an urge to make sure that it was his Master who had just taken him, and not a stranger. He found himself looking into Skinner's dark, amused eyes. Skinner removed the condom, threw it into the toilet, and flushed it, then adjusted his clothing, and left the stall without a word. Mulder watched him go, his heart beating fast in his chest. It had been everything Skinner had promised, and more. It had pulled him back down to the most basic level of his slavery. Mulder marveled at his Master's skill. First he had allowed Mulder to be himself, chatted to him all evening like a friend, and lover, and then he had reminded his slave, in the most clear, and unsubtle way, just who he belonged to at the end of the day. When Mulder went back into the restaurant a few minutes later, his Master was signing the check. He looked up, and smiled as his slave rejoined him. "I'm tired. Time to head for home I think. How about you?" "What?" Mulder tried to drag his head out from the surreal scene they had just enacted. He could hardly believe that Skinner was acting as if it hadn't happened. "Time for bed?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Will you do that often?" Mulder asked, ignoring the question. "As often as I want. You're mine. I can use you whenever the urge takes me. Now, you're looking tired. Tomorrow you have to clean the apartment - it's still in a mess after the party, so I suggest we turn in." "Do I…I mean, is there any chance that…?" Mulder faltered, his eyes hopeful. "No, sweetheart. You have to earn a night in my bed. You know that," Skinner told him with an affectionate smile. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that last night wasn't good - it was. However, don’t get into the habit of thinking it'll happen every night." "No, sir," Mulder murmured. He was tired, he realized, as Skinner drove them home. He kept yawning, and staring dreamily into space. He still couldn't believe he was sitting here, in his new clothes, behaving as if nothing strange had happened, when all the time he was owned by the man sitting next to him. He had traded himself for security, and sexual fulfillment, and he didn't regret it at all. Leaning back, he saw the street lamps light his Master's face as they passed beneath each one, illuminating his strong jaw, and bouncing off the large expanse of forehead. Mulder was suffused with a combination of emotions that almost overwhelmed him. He closed his eyes, and swallowed down the lump in his throat. He had never been this happy in his life before. When they got back to the apartment, Skinner ordered him up to his room. "We didn't have time for a confessional last night, but I don't want you to get out of the habit. Go and get undressed, and wait for me in your room. I'll be up in a few minutes." Mulder obeyed. He took off his clothes, and hung them neatly in his closet, then knelt by the bed. Skinner appeared on cue, a few minutes later, and sat down. Mulder immediately crawled over to him, and laid his head on the other man's knee. Skinner smiled, and stroked his hair softly. "All right, sweetheart. Say whatever you want to. I won't interrupt, and you won't be punished for anything you want to talk about - including any criticisms of me, and my treatment of you. Just as long as you keep a civil tongue in your head," "Yes, Master." Mulder closed his eyes, and thought for a moment, but he was so tired. Skinner nudged him with his knee. "Okay…I…last night. I'd never had a man, a top make love to me like that. You know, I thought that vanilla sex wouldn't turn me on to be honest. I thought I needed the BDSM stuff to get my kicks, but last night…well, I was turned on! And it was good, it was really good. You're right, about trust, about honesty, about all of it, but don't expect me to give it all up without a fight. I know it's crazy, because it's what I want, but I'll fight it all the way. I'll fight you all the way. You'll have to be strong to tame me, Master, really strong, and I'm scared you'll give up, because it isn't worth the effort. I'm too much work. Shit, I'm rambling…I'm so tired…" Mulder closed his eyes, and zoned out for a moment, then started again. "You can be as strong, and tough, and as much a bastard to me as you like, so long as you don't give up on me. I don't want you to give up on me…" His voice faded into nothing again. "Tired…" he mumbled into Skinner's thigh. His eyes closed, and opened, then closed again, and stayed closed. He was dimly aware of a hand soothing his hair, for several long minutes, then he felt himself being lifted up. He opened his eyes drowsily, then closed them again, and buried his face in his Master's neck. Skinner placed him gently on the bed, then covered him with the sheets. Mulder's head lolled onto the pillow, and he sighed. He felt his Master kiss his lips softly, then he heard the other man walk towards the door. Skinner paused, and turned the light off, and only in the silence, in the anonymity of darkness, and the haze of sleep, could Mulder say the words his waking mind always refused to let him speak: "I love you, Master."
---
!Chapter 10: Master's Day Mulder thought that the sound of his Master's beating heart was the nicest sound in the world. He lay with his head on Skinner's chest, just listening to that steady thrump sound, his cheek nestled against the warm fuzziness of his Master's chest hair, wondering if life could get any better than this. Skinner was reading his morning newspaper, and sipping his coffee, one hand playing idly with his slave's body as he read. Mulder liked that. He liked the steady stroke of Skinner's fingers across his chest, along the side of his jaw, and through his hair. He especially liked it when his Master gently tickled the rings embedded in his nipples. It hurt just enough to be erotic, but not so much as to make him have to bite his lip to keep from screaming. Skinner had been kind to his slave, allowing him to stay in bed after delivering his customary wake-up call, and holding him in his big arms. Mulder loved mornings such as these. Being allowed to stay close to his Master, warm and safe, just lying nestled against him, was his ultimate goal in life. He thought he might almost swap it for all the erotic pleasures his Master was so expertly skilled in delivering. Almost. They were nice too. He supposed he should make the most of this moment in time. Tomorrow, the specter of work loomed large in both their lives. Mulder wondered what it would be like to leave for work from this apartment block, wearing his work suit. Would he and Skinner travel to work together? His heart leapt as he remembered how damn good his Master looked in his work clothes. How was Mulder going to be able to concentrate on work knowing how much more fantastic his Master looked underneath those crisp white shirts that he had ironed? Would Skinner treat him differently at work now? Would he be more patient with the way Mulder operated, or less? Would he make sexual demands on him in his lunch hour? Mulder's cock told him that whatever he might think about that idea intellectually, sexually he found it a real turn-on. Mulder thought back to when he first sold himself into slavery a little over a week ago. He remembered his mistrust of his new Master, his attempts to manipulate Skinner, his insecurity, insolence, and downright disobedience. He knew the change in himself to be profound. In just over a week his Master had transformed him from manipulative sub into passable slave material. Skinner had certainly been strict with him, but he had also been patient, and loving, and Mulder knew how hard it was to find that combination in any top. More than that, Skinner knew and understood him, in a way that made Mulder feel both safe and trapped at one and the same time. Knowing there was no way out kept him here, kept him from running, but sometimes the impulse was still there. Only you could want to run away from the best thing that's ever happened to you, asshole, his mocking internal voice told him. A familiar, cold fear gripped his heart - supposing he let Skinner down at work? Supposing his Master found him just too much to handle, and gave up on him? Then he'd have to move out, leave this place that already felt like home, with its amazing fantasty Playroom, far behind. Worse than that, he'd have to leave his Master, the one person he had come to rely on almost as much as he relied on himself. Hell, Skinner was legendary on the scene - he wouldn't have any trouble finding a new slave, but Mulder knew he'd never find another Master he could hope to care about the way he cared for Skinner. God knows he had been looking for long enough before Skinner had turned up to claim him. He had a sudden image of someone else sleeping in his Master's arms - another, different slave, and he felt a surge of jealousy. Not for the first time, he wondered who had occupied the slave's quarters in the upstairs apartment before he'd arrived on the scene. Mulder chewed on his lip, lost in the implications of his dark thoughts. He was surprised when Skinner's fingers gently touched his lip, then held up bloodstained evidence of his anxiety. "What was that about?" Skinner asked softly, glancing down on his slave, and wiping away another drop of blood as it welled up in the wound. "Work," Mulder sighed. "I know I'm going over old ground, but I feel like my execution date has been set for tomorrow. Shit, how the hell is this going to work out when we go back to our jobs, sir?" Skinner opened his mouth to reply, but Mulder interrupted him, sitting up in a state of agitation. "I already know the answer. I'm going to screw up big time, you're going to get really mad and dump me, and we're both going to have to deal with the embarrassment of knowing we were once… once…" he came to a floundering halt. "What?" Skinner's dark eyes were cool, assessing, and ever so slightly amused. "Involved?" Mulder finished weakly. "Wrong choice of word." Skinner shook his head, and Mulder had a sudden sensation of imminent danger. "Several wrong choices of word, as a matter of fact. Firstly, there can be no 'once', Fox. I own you. You are my property. There is no time in the future when I will stop owning you, so you can put that idea out of your head. I thought I'd made your status clear to you more than enough over the past week, but I can see that we still need to work on that. Secondly, the only one thing I have given you permission to worry about is pleasing me. There is no possibility that you'll be "dumped" as you put it, so you can forget about that as well. The consequence of screwing up big time, is being punished big time - not being dumped. Understood?" Mulder nodded, reluctantly. "Was there anything else?" Skinner demanded. Mulder thought about it, then blurted out his worries. "What happened to your other slaves, Master? You say that I won't stop being your property, but if that's the case, what happened to them? I don't see them here now. I thought...the same thing could happen to me." Skinner sighed, and Mulder caught a curiously wistful expression in the other man's eyes. "I understand your curiosity, Fox," he said. "However, there are some answers you will have to be patient for, and in the meantime you must accept my assurances that you have nothing to worry about on that score." "I'm not very good at waiting for things to happen," Mulder admitted, kneeling on the bed, gazing at his Master. "I prefer to go out and meet them halfway. I wish tomorrow was here, so I could get on with it." "That would be a shame, because then you'd miss out on today," Skinner observed, with a sly glint in his eye, "and I have plans for today." "What kind of plans?" Mulder didn't know whether to be nervous, or excited, and settled for a combination of both. "All in good time. Now get your butt over here. I'm having that same problem with the Sunday sections of the paper as I had last weekend, and, as I recall, your ass served as a nice newspaper prop - very nice in point of fact!" Skinner chuckled, guiding his slave into position. Mulder sighed, and resigned himself to an hour's duty as inanimate object. "Master," Mulder piped up, half an hour later. "Hmm?" Skinner glanced at him over the top of his paper. "I've been thinking. I mean…that is…" "Yes, Fox." Skinner put the paper down, with the merest hint of a weary sigh, but his eyes were encouraging. "You said to tell you when the marks on my butt faded, Master," Mulder whispered. "Yes, I did." Skinner glanced at the butt in question. "They haven't - not completely, anyway." Mulder knew that the six distinct welts on his backside had faded to the merest hint of a pale pink. "I know. It's just that…I can't even feel them now, and I just thought that…well, by tomorrow, they'll be almost gone." "Yes." Skinner nodded, then waited patiently to see what was coming next. "And…as we're going back to work, I'd like to feel…that is…I want to be reminded of what I am. I think I might forget," Mulder admitted, shamefaced. "You know what I'm like, Master. I get engrossed in what I'm doing…and I'll forget, and…if you…" Mulder took a deep breath. "If you marked me again today, Master, it might help me keep it in mind," Mulder managed to blurt out before all his courage left him. "You're asking for a taste of my cane when it isn't, strictly speaking, necessary?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. Mulder flushed. "I don't like the cane, Master, I'll be honest," he admitted. "I just thought…if, every time I sat down, I was reminded what I am, then I might not do anything really stupid," he finished in a whisper. Skinner looked at him for a long moment that stretched into an eternity. Mulder flushed an even deeper shade of crimson. Finally, Skinner put aside the paper, and took his glasses off. Mulder began to bite on his lip again. He wasn't sure how good Skinner's eyesight was, but he always found the sight of his Master without his glasses to be awe-inspiring. Skinner's dark brown eyes had an intensity that was diluted when he was wearing his wire-rims. Without them, he looked not only younger, but also somehow more frightening, as the full force of his personality was unleashed upon the world. "Fox," Skinner said gently. "Come here." Mulder shuffled nervously up the bed, unable to meet his Master's stern gaze, but Skinner wasn't going to tolerate that. "Look at me." Skinner took hold of his chin, and looked deep into his soul. "You're mine. I could take off these…" his fingers touched Mulder's nipple rings gently, "and this," his fingers brushed over Mulder's cock ring. "I could even remove this." He touched Mulder's collar, "or this." He took hold of Mulder's left hand, and lifted his ring finger to his lips, pressing the gold to his mouth. "I could remove all the marks and symbols I have placed upon your body, and it wouldn’t make any difference. You would still be mine in here." Skinner laid his hand over Mulder's heart, and his solemn, dark eyes held Mulder in thrall. Skinner moved his other hand to the back of Mulder's head, entwined his fingers in his slave's abundant hair, and drew Mulder close. Then he kissed him, hard, and deep, reaching into the very depths of Mulder's heart. Mulder moaned, helpless in his Master's grasp, completely and utterly abandoned to that long, claiming kiss. When Skinner finally released him he was gasping for breath, and had gone, quite literally, weak at the knees. "Don't get me wrong - I enjoy marking my ownership on your flesh," Skinner grinned, tracing a line over the fading welts with one hand, and squeezing Mulder's tender nipples gently between the thumb and forefinger of his other hand. Mulder gasped. "I'm just saying that it isn't necessary. It's for show; visible symbols of a truth we both know. I don't need the props, little one, and neither do you, although they're a very valuable training aid. I could have achieved the same effects without using them, but I had more fun this way." He grinned, and pulled Mulder close, took a nipple gently in his mouth, and sucked. Mulder gasped, and put his hands on Skinner's head. His nipples were healing, thanks to the careful attention his Master gave them, and frequent washings in salt water, but even so, they were still very tender. Skinner took one of the rings between his teeth, then flicked it up and down with his tongue, not pulling on it. Mulder felt his cock harden, and he cried out, clutching onto his Master's shoulders. Finally, Skinner finished playing with him, and drew back. "I'm not dismissing your concerns lightly, slave." Skinner laced both his hands into Mulder's thick hair, and looked intently into his eyes. "However, for my own reasons, I don't want to mark you today. You see…I have something else in mind." His eyes held a hint of promise, and Mulder felt his cock harden even more. "What, Master?" He asked, trembling in anticipation. Damn, but how did Skinner always manage to keep him on the brink like this? "Well, as morning discipline will be a feature of your life for…well, for the rest of your life," Skinner gave him a truly evil grin, and Mulder's stomach lurched. "And as morning discipline takes place in the bedroom, and not in the Playroom, I thought it was time to invest in a set of implements to be kept solely for the purpose of reminding you of your status. Open the closet and bring me the brown briefcase," Skinner ordered. Mulder scrambled eagerly off the bed, ran to the closet, retrieved the shiny, new case waiting for him there, and returned with it. He knelt obediently in the submissive position beside the bed, and offered his Master the case, with his eyes down. "Good boy. You've come a long way, sweetheart. I'm so proud of you." Skinner leaned over and dropped a kiss on Mulder's head, while his slave's heart did a dozen little flips in response to his Master's praise. "Okay, you can look," Skinner informed him, and Mulder glanced up, bright-eyed and busy-tailed, eager to see what the case contained. "Here's the key." Skinner held up a small key. He unlocked the briefcase, then beckoned Mulder closer, and fastened the key to Mulder's collar. "These are your implements, Fox," he said, in a deep, sexy drawl that made Mulder's cock harden even more. "It's only right you should wear the key around your neck. Don't lose it." Mulder shuddered. He wouldn't dare. "All right, little one," Skinner laughed, and soothed his hair affectionately. "Open the case." Mulder glanced up nervously, and Skinner affirmed the verbal command with a nod of encouragement. Mulder placed his thumbs on the shiny gold locks, pressed them hesitantly, and they sprang open. He paused, then slowly, in trepidation, he opened the lid. The inside of the case was made of rich, burgundy silk, and nestled upon that, in their own separate spaces, were four items that took Mulder's breath away. "Can I…can I touch them, Master?" he asked, awe-struck. "Please do." Skinner smiled. Mulder put his fumbling, sweaty palms into the beautiful case, and reverently touched a thick, brand new strap, fashioned out of the finest brown leather. He withdrew it from the case, and his breath caught in his throat, as he saw that the implement had been engraved. There, written in beautiful, copperplate lettering, was his name. Fox. Next to it was a perfect drawing of a fox - the same one that he wore on his collar. Mulder held the leather to his nose, and inhaled the heady scent of fresh, new leather. "Good?" Skinner ruffled his hair again, laughing at his slave's reaction. "Yes, Master. Oh, god, yes." Mulder thought he'd come just from the smell, from knowing that these items were for him, and him alone. They hadn't been used on anyone else, and they never would be. His Master had bought them to be used on his slave, had engraved them to mark them out for sole use on Mulder's body, and his flesh tingled at the thought. He nervously plucked at the next item - a sleek, solid paddle. This implement was fashioned out of the most expensive brown leather, just like the strap, and again, it bore his name, in large lettering across its center. Another exquisitely detailed picture of a fox, with wide, curious eyes, and a long, inquisitive snout was drawn beneath it. Mulder slapped the paddle experimentally against his hand, swiftly coming to the conclusion that it was designed to administer a hearty slap, but not to cause the longer lasting discomfort that a heavier paddle would deliver. He turned back to the strap, and tried that on his hand, too enthusiastically, then let out a yelp of surprise. "The strap stings," Skinner offered sympathetically. "The paddle's probably kinder - it spreads the impact over a wider area." "I hope Master remembers that," Mulder said, with a gulp. "Oh yes. I'll remember it. You can rely on it," Skinner replied with a sly, and none too reassuring chuckle. Mulder put the strap back in its place, and drew out a flogger. The handle was made from the same leather as the other implements, but its short, thin tendrils were fashioned from a soft, pliant brown suede. It would kiss, and deliver the lightest of bites, if used properly, and somehow, Mulder was sure that Skinner knew every nuance of sensation it could deliver. He found his name, and the emblematic fox, engraved on the handle. Finally, his hand shaking, Mulder plucked the last object from its resting-place in the case. It was a crop: smooth brown leather, with a tiny brown flap at its tip. Mulder raised it to his mouth and kissed it, found the engraving of his name on its long stem, and pressed his lips reverentially against the carved leather. Then Mulder carefully returned all the items to the box, and when he glanced up at his Master, he had to blink the tears out of his eyes. "Thank you, Master," he whispered. "You might not want to thank me in a minute," Skinner said wryly. "After all, it's only right that we should christen all these implements, hmm?" Mulder's heart missed a beat. "All of them, Master?" he echoed faintly. "In one go?" "All of them," Skinner replied firmly. "Each implement has its own weight and feel, and I would be most negligent in my duties as your Master if I used them on you without discovering how you experience the sensation of each one. Fetch the pillows, slave, and arrange yourself over my knee…and Fox?" Mulder paused in his wild scramble, and glanced up, a question in his eyes. "Make sure that you're comfortable. I might not agree with you on the marking, but I do think you should have a tangible reminder of your status before we return to work. It probably won't be possible to linger over your morning discipline during the week, so this will be a very long session." Mulder swallowed nervously, then nodded. Skinner smiled. "Good boy. Get settled." Skinner sat back, watching, while Mulder gathered up four or five pillows, and placed them over his Master's knee, and on the bed beside his knee. Then Mulder carefully got himself into place. He rested his torso on two of the pillows, hugged another one under his chin, and kicked his long limbs into the most comfortable position, then tried to ignore his racing heart, and relax. He felt Skinner's hand on his bottom, and almost jumped out of his skin. "Hush, little one," Skinner murmured, as if soothing a leggy, inexperienced racehorse. "Just relax." He caressed Mulder's butt for a long time, until Mulder gave into the sensation, and started to bliss out, losing all the tension in his limbs. Then Skinner began to deliver a series of little taps, warming the flesh, until Mulder was moaning, his cock growing hard again. Skinner paused to kiss his slave's ass, and delivered a couple of gentle play bites. Mulder squirmed. Then he tensed, as Skinner drew back. He heard his Master opening something, and glanced over his shoulder. Skinner was holding a silver tin, containing some kind of ointment. "This is a special cream, little one," Skinner told him. "It increases the sensation." "You mean it increases the pain!" Mulder protested. Skinner laughed. "Yes, it does, but that means I don't have to swing as hard, which in turn means that I can carry on for longer, without causing you any lasting damage. Ingenious, isn't it?" "Diabolical more like," Mulder muttered, then yelped as Skinner delivered a stinging swat to his upturned butt. "Careful, boy," Skinner growled, and Mulder felt his insides turn to mush. A few seconds later, something cool was rubbed into his butt. Skinner took his time, making sure that his slave's entire bottom, and the top of his thighs were liberally massaged with the ointment, and a few seconds after it had been applied, it turned warm, creating a burning sensation that made Mulder gasp in surprise. "Interesting effect, isn't it?" Skinner murmured. "I'm not sure," Mulder croaked. His butt felt unbearably warm, and his Master hadn't even started yet! Skinner started slapping him with hard, measured strokes, and Mulder could feel the difference on his butt now that the cream had been applied. Each slap stung! The pain was sharper, and clearer than he had ever known before. He started to squirm. "Fox." Skinner paused, and Mulder glanced over his shoulder at him. "You'll learn to take your morning discipline without all this fuss, or I'll make sure that it's more painful than it would otherwise be," Skinner stated sternly. Mulder bit on his lip, and nodded. "Remember, I've only just started," Skinner remarked ominously. Mulder's cock stirred significantly, as he contemplated a long session utilizing each and every one of those exquisitely beautiful, and horribly dangerous new toys. Skinner peppered his ass with a series of stinging blows from his hand, then paused. "Which one would you like to try first?" He asked. Mulder glanced at the open briefcase. "The paddle," he said firmly. Skinner grinned. "Easing yourself in gently?" He raised an eyebrow. "Too damn right. I'm not stupid," Mulder muttered into his pillow. Skinner guffawed, and pulled the paddle out from the case. He laid the cool leather against Mulder's warm flesh for what seemed like an eternity, and then swung. The paddle made contact with a slapping, thudding sound, and although it smacked his butt hard, it didn't hurt too much. Mulder gave a dreamy smile, and rested his head on his pillow. "How did that feel?" Skinner soothed his sore flesh with a tender hand. "Flat pain…kind'a nice," Mulder murmured. "Obviously I was doing something wrong then," Skinner commented. He set to work in earnest, slapping the paddle down on Mulder's ass, building the pain up expertly to levels just short of exquisite torture. Mulder liked the paddle - it got his endorphins racing without taking him to the edge of his endurance. He started to moan, pressing his erect cock into the pillows, wanting to fondle himself, knowing that wasn't allowed. "Next." Skinner put the paddle to one side. "I can see that particular paddle is never exactly going to strike fear into your soul." "Strap," Mulder said from his endorphin high, sighing softly to himself. He nearly jumped out of his skin as the first stroke from the strap streaked a stinging pain across his butt. "Details please," Skinner remarked, laying another couple of stripes on his ass. "It's sharp, it stings, it…oh fuck!" he yelped. "No more! Please, no more, Master!" "Nonsense. I want to give each implement a thorough test." Skinner pressed his hand into the small of Mulder's back, and applied the strap with considerable gusto to Mulder's rapidly reddening ass. "Oh shit…oh fuck…" Mulder squirmed helplessly under his Master's strong hand. Skinner paused, and Mulder breathed a sigh of relief, but the respite was only temporary. A few seconds later, he felt Skinner's hand smoothing cool ointment onto his butt again, and he tried to get up in protest. "Not more of that stuff!" he objected, but Skinner quelled him with a hard look, and the next minute, the most exquisite wave of hot pain flooded through his body. "Oh god," he moaned weakly, taking a bite out of the pillow as the waves of pain billowed liberally through his body. "My ass is one fire! Please, wash it off. Please!" "Hold still." Skinner gripped his body firmly, and then resumed the strapping. Mulder could hardly believe the sting in that first blow. He knew Skinner wasn't hitting at anywhere near his optimum strength, but the ointment that had been rubbed into his butt made the stroke hurt like hell. If he had ever doubted the fiendishly diabolical ways in which his Master's mind worked, he didn't now. As far as Mulder was concerned, his Master knew tortures that even the Spanish Inquisition would have been proud of. "Master!" he begged. "Oh god, MASTER! Please!" "I think you've forgotten what your morning discipline is for," Skinner said in a low, hard voice. "Remind yourself, slave. Out loud. Why are you disciplined every morning?" "To…to…help me to remember…that…" Mulder tried to think but it was hard while that strap was doing its evil, burning work, on his tormented, flaming flesh. "That I'm your slave, Master," he gasped at last. "And?" Skinner prompted, continuing the onslaught. "I don't have any rights. You can do what you want with me. My body belongs…to…you…ow!" Mulder's whole body dissolved into the pain, his hard cock competing for attention now with his tormented ass. "Not just your body," Skinner reminded him grimly. Mulder blinked. This was a new part of the litany. Skinner brought the strap down again, smartly, on his burning backside. "No, Master!" he yelped. "All of me! All that I am. I belong to you." "Where?" Skinner asked. "EVERYWHERE!" Mulder cried in reply. "Please, Master, I won't forget, just stop, please, stop for a second, just a second…oh god…" Skinner's hand was relentless though, and the strapping continued until Mulder was sure that his ass was quite literally on fire. Then, suddenly, it stopped. "Not bad, little one." Skinner soothed Mulder's sweaty hair from his eyes. "Not bad at all. Now, what next?" "Breakfast, Master?" Mulder asked hopefully. Skinner's hand was so fast he never even saw the strap deliver another, stinging blow. "Ow!" he yelped. "Moral." Skinner leaned forward and kissed Mulder's ear. "Never smart-mouth your Master when you're lying butt naked over his knee and he's holding a strap in his hand. Only you would need to be told that, pup," he grinned, blowing softly into Mulder's ear. "Yes, Master. Sorry, Master." Mulder wriggled, the burning in his ass competing with his aching cock for his attention. "Next. I'm waiting." Skinner said, folding his arms, and glancing at the contents of the case. "The flogger, Master," Mulder whispered. "Okay." Skinner put the strap back in its place, and removed the flogger. "Hmmm. I'm not exactly at the optimum angle for this, but let's see what we can do anyway." He sat up straight, and pushed Mulder away a little. "Splay your legs, and arms, that's right. And don't move," Skinner warned. Mulder nodded, and buried his face in his pillow. A few seconds later he felt the tender kiss of the flogger on his shoulders. Skinner couldn't do a proper backhanded motion with the implement, but he managed to deliver a series of biting, stinging kisses all the same, covering Mulder's back, bottom, and thighs, and then working his way up again. Mulder relaxed. This was nice. It nipped, but it didn't deliver the vicious kick that the strap had done. He felt his shoulders open up under the onslaught. It was like a really fierce massage; it hurt, but it was such a nice hurt. Mulder sighed. To be fair, Skinner gave the flogger the exact same work-out that he had given both the strap and the paddle. He increased the tempo as he went, and by the time he'd finished, Mulder was sweaty, and had started to squirm and wriggle, and his hard cock was desperate for release. "We can do more with this another time," Skinner said, shaking the flogger to even out the strands, and returning it to its case. A whole session with you in the Grace position against the wall will acquaint you with the darker side of this particular implement I think," he grinned, the implicit promise in his voice making Mulder's cock ache even more. "All right. Last, but most definitely not least." He picked up the crop, and swung it around experimentally. Mulder flinched as the implement made a hissing sound as it sliced through the air. "Oh shit," he muttered weakly. "Hmmm. Sounds good, doesn't it?" Skinner's deep, low voice spoke next to his ear. "No, it sounds scary," Mulder replied, clutching onto his pillow for support. "Please, Master, my butt's already on fire." "Then perhaps we should stoke the flames up a little more," Skinner mused. Mulder's heart sank as Skinner reached for the evil contents of his silver tin. "Hold still." Skinner rubbed more of the ointment into Mulder's fevered flesh, and it was almost too much for his slave. Mulder started to sob, as waves of fire consumed him. "I need to come, Master," he begged. "Please!" "Not yet. First I want to make sure that you're fully aware of your position in this household. Let's run through it again." Skinner picked up the crop, and held Mulder still, then he raised his arm, and delivered a hard swat to Mulder's bottom. "FUCK!" Mulder took a huge bite out of his pillow. He knew that the angle made it impossible for Skinner to deliver as hard as blow as he was capable of, but the ointment made the swipe across his butt hurt as much as the most viciously swung stroke. "I'm going to take you down," Skinner informed him, swinging the crop again. "Make the journey with me, Fox. Tell me who and what you are. Let the words - and the tears - flow." Skinner set up a steady rhythm with the crop on Mulder's backside, and Mulder felt the tears start to run down his cheeks. "I'm your slave, Master. I exist to serve you. I have no status, I am your property. You own me, you can hurt me…or love me…or play with me…whatever you want. I give myself up to you, Ma…aster," he moaned. The words came out in a torrent. "I want only to please you. I worship at your feet, Master. I belong to you. Do whatever you want to me…I'll accept it willingly. I'm yours, Master…yours…" He was panting now, as the crop continued its deadly, accurate work, but he didn't beg Skinner to stop. He reached that place in his head that was so elusive, and so beautiful. Here he was truly at his Master's mercy, could truly offer himself up, and be only what Skinner wanted him to be. He thrust into the bed in time to the blows raining down on his flaming butt, feeling the pain as the most intense mix of pleasure and sensation. He wanted it to stop, and never end at one and the same time. "I'm yours," he whispered. "Here, at work, wherever…here, there, everywhere…like you said, Master." He felt the blows diminish, and then stop completely, and he lay there, in a stupor, as Skinner caressed his glowing, beacon-red backside. "Beautiful, little one. You've taken your discipline well. Will you keep that lesson in mind?" Skinner put the crop back into the briefcase, and clicked it shut. "Yes, Master," Mulder replied, dreamily. "Good boy." Skinner rubbed his butt gently, then opened the silver tin again. Mulder lay there, accepting his Master's will. Skinner tenderly rubbed more of the ointment onto his sore flesh, and Mulder moaned as the now familiar wave of fire consumed him. His butt was so hot he thought he could have heated the entire building with it. Then Skinner bent his head, and pressed his lips firmly into Mulder's hot flesh, and he almost jumped out of his skin. The imprint of Skinner's mouth, left a trail of fiery red kisses, as if Skinner's lips had been made of pure flame. It was the most intense, most erotic sensation he'd ever known. Skinner bit his flesh gently, and Mulder dissolved into a series of incoherent whimpers. His Master's teeth felt like sharp pin-pricks, his tongue like warm water. Skinner kissed his sore buttocks over and over again for an eternity, and Mulder gave himself up to the moment, possessed by the sultry caress. When it finally came to an end, he was on the brink of total erotic exhaustion. "Get up," Skinner whispered in his ear, aiding him as he struggled to make his lifeless limbs obey. His cock was sticking out at an angle, leaking badly. "I want you to remember," Skinner said, drawing him close, "that I can bring you pain, and pleasure - or both at once. You can come whenever you want." And, so saying, he put his hands on Mulder's red-hot buttocks, pulled him towards him, and without warning enveloped his slave's cock in his warm, wet mouth. Mulder cried out, and placed his hands on Skinner's shoulders. "Master…oh fuck…that's so good," he yelled, as Skinner expertly tongued and sucked his hard cock, at the same time as kneading his punished, glowing buttocks with big, strong hands. Mulder's nerve endings went into overload, and he became a creature of pure sensation, the pain and pleasure merging in one exquisite torment that blew his mind. He didn't remember coming. The next thing he knew he was lying on his back on the bed, his head on Skinner's chest, his whole body a quivering mass of jello. "Ah, you're still with us then?" Skinner glanced down at him. "Not necessarily," Mulder replied, dreamily. "Oh shit, sir, where did you learn to do this stuff?" Skinner gazed at him coolly for a moment. "That's the second time you've called me 'sir' this morning. I understand the difference, Fox. 'Sir', although undeniably a term of respect, is what you call me in the office. It distances you from your condition, so I would appreciate it if you saved it for work, or in public. Addressing me as 'sir' in here is one step away from calling me 'Walter', and that, I can assure you, is not acceptable." "I wouldn't dare, Master." Mulder shivered in dread. "You didn't answer my question," he ventured tentatively. "I learned…from an expert." Skinner smiled. "And I learned the hard way - as you are, sweetheart." He looked sad for a moment. Mulder frowned. What the hell was that supposed to mean. "Is Master saying that…you didn't ever… I mean you've never subbed, Master, have you?" He asked in surprise, and alarm. Skinner smiled another wistful smile, and tangled his hand in Mulder's hair. "You ask too many questions, slaveboy," he growled. Then he clicked his fingers, and pointed to the floor beside the bed. Mulder tried desperately to get to his feet, but his muscles hardly obeyed his brain's command, and he half-staggered, half-fell off the bed, and into a kneeling position. "Today was unusual," Skinner told him. "Normally on a Sunday we will follow a very specific routine. Remember it, Fox, as I do not expect to have to keep instructing you in the basics. Sunday's are your Master's day. After the morning, uh, cuddle that you seem to have instituted as a new ritual, and after you've been disciplined, you will go and run me a bath. When you've finished bathing me, you will give me a full body massage, trim my hair, and give me a full, clean, shave, before dressing me. I do not expect to dress myself. You will lay out my clothes and help me get dressed. Then you will prepare brunch, and you will wait on me while I eat. You will make sure that you have bought appropriate groceries, and you'll cook for me. Understood?" "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded, his eyes wide. He had never before thought that the idea of waiting on somebody so fully could be so erotic. He likened himself to an old fashioned manservant, seeing to his Master's every need, and the idea turned him on. "Fox." Skinner tapped him on the head, and he looked up, eagerly. "Sunday may be Master's day but Saturday is slave's day. Before you get too excited…" he held up a hand. "This does not mean that I will wait on you on Saturdays. It does mean that you can expect a session in the Playroom if you've behaved well the previous week. It's also likely that I'll put you into the deeply submissive mode, and brush up on your training. This weekend was different for obvious reasons, but I want you to understand that there will be some pattern to your existence here." "Yes, Master," Mulder whispered, awe-struck, and ever so slightly annoyed that he had to wait six whole days until the next Saturday. "That doesn't mean there won't be other sessions in the Playroom during the week - or that I won't demand a massage or other services at other times. It's just to give you some structure and routine. I think you respond well to routine, sweetheart." "You do?" Mulder looked up in surprise. This didn't exactly fit with his own assessment of his personality. "Yes, little one. However much you might think you hate it, secretly you like to know what is expected of you - with a few surprises thrown in along the way to keep you on your toes," Skinner grinned. "Now, get to work, slave. I'm looking forward to experiencing your tender ministrations for the next couple of hours - and Fox?" Mulder paused on his way to the bathroom. "This is the true heart of your servitude. Not the discipline, or what takes place in the Playroom. Here, in small, dutiful ways, in the everyday acts of service, you can show me what's at the heart of your slavery." Skinner's dark eyes were so intense that Mulder had to hold onto the door frame to stop himself from toppling over. He nodded, swallowing down the lump in his throat. He wanted to serve his Master more than anything else in the world. He resolved to pour all his devotion into the next few hours of servitude. Mulder prepared Skinner's bath exactly the way he knew his Master liked it, then laid out the towels to warm, before helping his Master into the bath. Skinner sat back with a contented sigh, and Mulder knelt down beside the bath in the submissive position. Damn, but it was hard keeping his eyes down! He loved watching his Master lying naked in the water. Silent adoration had never exactly been his scene before, but he was definitely coming around to the merits of it. Skinner, though, had other ideas. "Go and kneel over there," he instructed. I want to look at you." Mulder obeyed, kneeling in Skinner's line of sight. Skinner surveyed him for a moment, and Mulder felt himself going red under the intense scrutiny. "Is there a problem, Master?" he ventured. "No. I just enjoy looking at my property," Skinner stated mildly. "I was also thinking of various things I'd like to do to you." "Yes, Master?" Mulder could hardly believe it when his flaccid, completely sated cock, started to harden within its gold ring. "Yes. Fox, you've never trusted a top to do more than spank you and humiliate you a little, have you?" Skinner asked. Mulder bit on his lip. "You've researched me, Master," he pointed out. "You know what I've done in the past…and what I've allowed to be done to me." "Yes. I have." Skinner mused on this. "You've happily sucked other men, and you've enjoyed being dominated by them verbally. You've experienced some harsh whippings - which were always instigated by yourself, and you determined the level of intensity as well. You've also accepted some light bondage. On only two occasions you allowed anal intercourse, but you adamantly refused that again after the second time." "Yes, Master." Mulder clenched his fists behind his back. He didn't enjoy in-depth analyses of his psyche, and he was worried about where this was going. "So, despite several years on the scene, there are many practices you are unfamiliar with," Skinner pointed out. "Such as?" Mulder could feel himself going red again. "Well, I mentioned fisting to you yesterday," Skinner mused. "I think I'd also enjoy placing you in very tight bondage." Mulder looked up, suddenly wondering why he was gasping for air. "Does that scare you?" Skinner asked, looking at him intently. "A little," Mulder admitted. "Did Phoebe ever do that to you?" "No. Hell, no! I allowed her to tie me up occasionally, but nothing heavy, just the usual handcuffs. That's not to say I didn't want more, Master, it's just I wasn't under any illusions where Phoebe was concerned. I didn't trust her not to run off and leave me there." Mulder fought down a sense of claustrophobia at that thought. "I will never leave you while you are in bondage," Skinner said fiercely. "It's bad practice, and shows a blatant disregard for safety - and whatever I might put you through, you will always be safe with me, Fox." His tone was forceful. Mulder gave a little smile. "Yes, Master. I know that." "Were you ever clamped?" Skinner asked, as if making idle conversation. Mulder swallowed hard. "A couple of times, Master. I didn't like it much," he admitted. "Hmmm. I can do some interesting things with clamps," Skinner said, with a wry chuckle. "While I'll take your likes and dislikes into consideration, little one, there are some activities I will insist upon, whether you like them or not." "Yes, Master." Mulder's cock hardened almost immediately. He found the idea of enduring something disagreeable at his Master's insistence almost unbearably arousing. Skinner grinned. "Something's woken up," he commented. "Speaking of which, have you ever had that particular part of your anatomy whipped, Fox?" Mulder almost choked. "NO!" he exclaimed. "Oh god, Master, please…" he spluttered. "Quiet!" Skinner held up his hand. "I think we agreed barely an hour ago that your body is mine to treat as I wish, didn't we?" Mulder's cock was now fully erect, and he nodded, feeling a wave of almost orgasmic pleasure flood through him. "Good." Skinner nodded. "Now, I want to relax, and I want you to entertain me." So saying, he leaned back in the bath, and crossed his hands over his stomach, expectantly. "Entertain you, Master? How?" Mulder asked, frowning. "Play with yourself. Put on a display." Skinner waved a negligent hand. "You have my permission to come again, but make sure that it takes a little while - I want to enjoy watching you first." Mulder thought the ground would open up and swallow him. It was one thing to jerk off in the privacy of his bedroom, or even to wriggle and squirm in his Master's hands, but another to kneel here, and perform under his Master's watchful gaze. "Don't make me wait too long," Skinner said, ominously. "Or the contents of that briefcase might get another workout. Fox? What's the problem?" He asked, as Mulder knelt there, unmoving, his cock flagging. "I've never done anything like this, Master," Mulder admitted, miserably. "Well there's always a first time," Skinner said, reasonably. "And you'll only get better with practice. Or would you prefer it if I ordered you to fetch my bullwhip? A couple of taps from that and I'm sure you'd put your heart and soul into the performance." "No, Master. That won't be necessary." Mulder shot Skinner a withering look. "Good. Get on with it then." Mulder put his hand on his cock, and squeezed, lightly, but there was no response. Shit! When he thought of all the times he'd been ordered not to touch the damn thing, when it had been all he wanted to do, and now, when he'd been given permission, it hung like a piece of putty, limp and soft. He tried running his hand up and down it, but there was still no response. Mulder started to flush an angry, frustrated red. "Fox," Skinner's voice was curiously gentle. "Close your eyes," he ordered. Mulder did as he was told. "Put your head back…that's good. Now, moisten your lip with your tongue, and run your hands over your body. Imagine it's me touching you, claiming you…" That definitely got a response, and Mulder felt a tentative stirring in his cock. "Now, play with your nipple rings, flick them, suck on one of your fingers…that's good…" Mulder did as he was ordered, allowing himself to go into a trance, just obeying each of his Master's commands, and enjoying the sensations in his body. "No, don't touch your cock yet. I want you to sway a little, moan, move your hips - no, stay kneeling - that's right. Now caress your neck, and down over your chest…good boy…" Mulder felt his cock definitely starting to perk up. "Keep going now, just improvise…think how beautiful you are, little one. I want you to imagine how pleasing a sight you are to your Master. Think of how your Master is enjoying watching you on your knees, playing with the toys he likes playing with…" Skinner's voice trailed off, but Mulder kept moving his hands, sliding them sensuously over his body, enjoying himself. Mulder could see the picture of himself that Skinner had painted for him. Kneeling, legs splayed, a lock of his dark hair plastered to his sweaty forehead, his wide lips swollen with desire. "Good, now you can touch your cock." Skinner broke into his reverie. "And open your eyes, sweetheart, make love to me as you touch yourself. Imagine me making love to you." Mulder moaned as he wrapped his hand around his cock. He opened his eyes, and stared directly at his Master, faltered for a moment, as reality kicked in again, then continued with his caress, finding that place in his head where he had been. Skinner's eyes were dark, and appreciative, and Mulder responded to the fact that he was pleasing his Master. "Is this good, Master?" he asked, running his hand along the full length of his hard shaft, and gently tweaking one of his tender nipples. "Yes, Fox…very good…" Skinner grinned. "Keep going. I want to watch you come." Mulder nodded, and suddenly realized how damn great this felt! He had always had an exhibitionist streak, and this was a turn on! Especially, when it was obvious that it also turned his Master on - big time, judging by the way Skinner's hard shaft was visible sticking out from the bath water. Mulder moaned, and put his head back, but he never took his eyes from Skinner's face, as he continued caressing his body, and pumping on his cock. He had an image of Skinner's hard cock pounding into him, of his Master covering his naked body with his own, and claiming him, fast and rough, the way he had done last night, with no thought for his slave's pleasure, only his own, and the idea turned him on. He existed to serve, and his Master adored using his slave's naked body. Skinner loved taking charge of him, and making him submit to his will. Mulder could hear himself panting. He was on the brink. "Do you want me to come, Master?" He asked. "Yes, slave. Hard," Skinner ordered. Mulder let go with a whoosh, and his come spilt out on his hand, and on the tiled bathroom floor. Mulder knelt there, spent, his head hanging, his chest heaving. "Good. Very good," Skinner sighed appreciatively. "Now, clean up the floor, then come over here." Mulder did as he was told, then went and knelt beside the bath. "Soap me, then you can climb in and wash yourself down before washing me," Skinner ordered. Mulder grasped the soap eagerly, and placed it on his Master's chest, then began to gently lather the wiry chest hair. He loved the scent of his Master's damp skin, and frequently leaned forward to smell it. While he was there, it was impossible not to press his lips against the flesh and steal a series of little kisses. Skinner accepted this evidence of his slave's devotion with a wry, amused smile, and when he was fully soaped, he beckoned Mulder into the water. Mulder knelt, facing his Master, nestled between his knees, and carefully passed a washcloth over Skinner's tanned skin, caressing it in circular motions. He stopped when he got to the bullet wound on his Master's stomach, bent, and kissed it. There was evidence of other, older wounds, on Skinner's back, and thighs. Mulder kissed all of them, then looked up. "Vietnam, Master?" he asked in a whisper. "Yes, Fox." Skinner nodded quietly. "I've wanted to ask before." Mulder trailed a finger over the scars. "But I didn't dare." "You can always, ask, sweetheart," Skinner said, catching Mulder's hand, and kissing it. "Just don't always expect a reply." "No, Master. You were badly wounded though?" Mulder fingers continued their gentle caress. "Yes, but I lived." Skinner shrugged. "At least I lived." He looked suddenly so sad that Mulder couldn't stop himself pressing his lips against his Master's, and pulling the big man close. Then he backed off, apologetically. "I'm sorry, Master," he said quietly. "No need to apologize, little one," Skinner said softly, drawing Mulder back for another kiss. Mulder drowned in dual sensations of the warm water, and the wet warmth of his Master's tongue as it pushed into his mouth. "I want to know you," Mulder confided, when they broke away a few seconds later. "Hell, you know so much about me, but you're such a damn enigma." "All in good time, sweetheart," Skinner replied. "You have the rest of your life to get to know me - there's no need to rush, although I know it's not in your nature to wait, my impatient little slaveboy." He smiled, and pushed the dark lock of hair off of Mulder's forehead. Mulder smiled back. "Master is very patient with me," he murmured, then dipped his head, and sucked Skinner's nipples lightly. "Amen," Skinner muttered ironically, stroking his slave's head as he worked. "Would…" Mulder broke away, and pointed to his Master's hard cock. "Would Master like to use me?" He asked. "Does the slave have a condom to hand?" Skinner asked pointedly. Mulder grinned. "Yes, Master!" he announced, reaching under the bath mat, and drawing one out triumphantly. Skinner grinned, and slapped his slave's butt affectionately. "Although…" Mulder bit on his lip. "Master…I'd like to feel you inside me, without anything between us. Flesh on flesh," he admitted. Skinner's hands stoked his thighs as he considered this. "Well - that's something of a commitment, Fox," he stated. "I'm clean," Mulder said hopefully. "So am I - however…I think we should both think about that some more before we take that step. I also think we should both be tested as a show of good faith. Much as I want to experience your ass without a layer of rubber between us, I'm your Master, and as such I'm responsible for your welfare. I won’t rush this, Fox." "No, Master," Mulder sighed, crestfallen. "And you know…" Skinner grinned. "I think this might be a good opportunity to see if you've been doing your homework, as instructed." He opened the packet, then put his fingers in Mulder's mouth, and slipped the condom inside. "Impress me, slave," he ordered. Mulder felt his heart beat anxiously inside his chest. He had been practicing, but even so, there was a difference between putting a condom on an inanimate object, and sliding it onto his Master's hard cock while they were both in the slippery confines of the bath. Still, his Master had given him an order. He just hoped that Skinner would bear the difficult circumstances in mind when he punished him for his failure. Mulder took hold of his Master's thighs, and positioned himself with his mouth over Skinner's cock, tonguing the condom to get it in the right place. Then he dipped his head, and smoothly went down on Skinner's penis, drawing the condom tight around the hard shaft in one deft movement. He wasn't sure who was the more surprised, him or Skinner, when the condom stayed perfectly, tautly in position. "Shit!" Mulder breathed. "Well done, little one!" Skinner laughed, and gave him a full-throated kiss by way of reward. The bath was of the corner variety, very large, with a little seat on one side. Skinner levered himself onto the seat, and then turned Mulder around, so that he was kneeling in front of him, his chin just out of the water. Mulder felt his Master part his buttocks, and then water flooded into him, in a deliciously warm wave. Skinner played with his ass for a while, slipping his finger in and out, and then he grasped Mulder's buttocks firmly in his hands, and slid his hard cock between them. Mulder, completely relaxed by the soothing warmth of the water, and the previous foreplay, opened up with a moan, as Skinner's shaft found that spot deep inside him that tingled vibrantly at each hard stroke. "Oh shit, Master…shit…it's so good…" he whispered, as his Master took him, deeply, and thoroughly, plunging hard and fast into the very depths of his slave's body. Mulder could feel Skinner's hands on his back, and thighs, and the water splashed around them, soaking the bathroom floor. Mulder wondered why he had ever had an aversion to anal sex before. With Skinner it just felt so right. He gave himself up to the joy of serving his Master with his body, with his whole heart, reveling in the fact that his Master took such pleasure from entering him, and consuming him in this way. When Skinner came, and withdrew, Mulder turned around, and removed his condom, then kissed his Master's now flaccid cock. "Thank you for honoring me with this part of yourself, Master," he whispered. They were words he could never have imagined even thinking before now, let alone saying, but they just felt right for the moment. Skinner smiled, and caressed his slave's ears. "Good boy," he murmured. Then he laughed out loud. "You've come a long way, slave," he said. "I'm so proud of you." Mulder knelt between his Master's legs, and closed his eyes, cherishing the moment, his Master's praise still ringing in his ears. Mulder helped Skinner out of the bath, and dried him - slowly, lingeringly, and with exquisite care and attention to detail. He was so used to rushing through tasks, getting from a to b by the quickest possible route, that he would never have imagined that something so simple could bring him so much pleasure. He lost himself in the task, rubbing down his Master's glistening body, gently patting his butt, and stroking his penis and balls with the soft towel, bending to dry between each and every toe until he was finished. Then he wrapped Skinner in his bathrobe, and walked him back into the bedroom. "You can massage me on the bed - and shave me in front of the mirror," Skinner pointed. Mulder nodded, and went to get his oils. He returned to find his Master stretched out, naked and glorious on the bed, like a large lion resting in the sun. He warmed the oil in his hands, then dripped it onto his Master's body and began to stroke his tanned flesh, losing himself in the task. He poured every ounce of his devotion into the massage, and was pleased when his Master relaxed completely under his tender ministrations. Skinner's hard muscles gradually loosened, as Mulder's long, skillful fingers smoothed away his Master's cares and stresses. This felt so good! Being a slave, being able to serve his magnificent Master. Mulder was struck suddenly by how damn lucky he had been. He could have sold himself to anyone, to someone who didn't understand him, and didn't even want to try. He stopped suddenly, in mid-stroke, stunned by what he had done. "Fox?" Skinner sat up and looked at him. "I've been such a fucking idiot," Mulder told him. "What are we talking about in particular here?" Skinner raised a questioning eyebrow. "Signing that contract," Mulder replied, distracted. Then he looked at his Master and caught a glimpse of hurt misunderstanding in those usually expressionless brown eyes. "Oh shit, no. I didn't mean that. I meant…you were right, when you pointed out how reckless I was to sell myself to a stranger. If it hadn't been you…" he broke off, a lump rising in his throat, as he imagined how terrible it would have been if he hadn't ended up with Skinner. If he was standing here, serving someone else, someone who didn't love him, someone he couldn't love the way he loved his Master…Mulder felt his chest constricting - he couldn't breathe. "Fox. Hold on." Skinner took hold of his shoulders, and shook him lightly. "It was me, and this is a good breakthrough - if you can see your behavior like this. If you can see the way you throw yourself into situations that are potentially harmful to you, without thinking about the risks. Now, breathe. In, out…that's good." "A breakthrough?" Mulder sat down on the side of the bed, his body nerveless, taking deep gulps of air. "Yes," Skinner grinned at him, and tousled his hair. "A good breakthrough. I told you I'd take you down to the bottom of yourself, sweetheart. Don't worry - the process might hurt occasionally but it'll be good for you." "Only a top could say something like that," Mulder grinned back. "You betcha!" Skinner cuffed him lightly on the side of his head, and then his expression became thoughtful. "Fox - did anything lead to you spinning out of control to the point where you were prepared to sign that contract? Was there a single event that led to it, or was it just a gradual build up?" Mulder frowned. He didn't like coming out of the role they'd built up here, and tackling any of his real life issues, but he knew that Skinner wasn't about to let him evade this subject. "No, there wasn't anything in particular," he shrugged. "And in the past - when you sought out punishment in order to get sexual release, was there a pattern to that?" Skinner took hold of his face, and looked directly into his eyes. "Did it happen after particularly difficult cases, or if there had been a set-back in pursuit of your quest?" "No." Mulder tried to drop his eyes, but Skinner stroked his thumbs down the side of his cheeks, until he raised them again. "I know what you're thinking, but I'm not punishing myself for Sam, or for anything else…the plain truth is I just get off on it. I don't deny that sometimes I sought out this kind of release after I'd been involved in a particularly cerebral case - as if I needed to get back into my body again, to touch bases with it. I know that sometimes, I, uh, I ignore what my body needs, with food, medication, rest and so on." He bit on his lip, but Skinner's eyes were encouraging. "Go on," Skinner prompted. "Then it helps me to feel, to really feel - pleasure, pain, both." Mulder's could see his own shining eyes reflected back at him in his Master's dark eyes. "But usually, after bad stuff happened with my quest, as you call it, my libido went into hibernation to be honest. That wasn't when I felt the urge to be topped most. It's when I'm distanced, when I'm not so involved in that obsession that the sex thing kicks in, and starts spiraling away from me. Sometimes I think I've used my quest in the past simply to avoid my sex drive, not the other way around. I don't pretend to understand it. Does it have to be understood?" he asked. "No." Skinner smiled. "Some things are just the way we're made. I just wanted to get a handle on your behavior patterns. Are you feeling calmer now?" His dark eyes were searching. Mulder swallowed hard, and nodded. "Okay - get back to work then, slaveboy." Skinner slapped his thigh affectionately, and laid himself back down on the bed. Mulder didn't need telling twice. He devoured his Master's body with his oiled hands, wondering at himself. He knew why he had wanted the safety and security of that contract now. He knew he had wanted to be stopped, before he went too far. He knew he had wanted to throw himself into the abyss that had haunted him all his life, to drown in whatever darkness awaited him, and to finally give into it. Only Skinner had been waiting for him, had caught him, and carried him back to the light, and now Mulder was lost and found at the same time, and he didn't know what would happen to him next. "Master…I said something last night, but you didn't hear. I didn't have the courage to say it to your face - I still don't, but…" Mulder began in a flurry. "It's all right, little one. In your own time," Skinner said soothingly. "Okay. I wanted to say…" Mulder was glad Skinner was face down as he wasn't sure he could have continued otherwise. "I know…that it'll be hard when we go back to work. I know I'll drive you crazy, and I'll probably resent you, and that sometimes you'll curse Agent Mulder and wonder what the hell happened to your slave, and… I just wanted to say that this last week has been the best week of my whole crappy, fuck-up of a life. Somehow, being this, to you, is at the core of my soul. I think I've been more truly myself here than at any other time, in any other way. I know it can't carry on. I know we have to go back to the real world…but I wanted to tell you that anyway. So that you know." "I do know, Fox." Skinner caught Mulder's hand as it massaged his shoulder, and kissed it gently. "I know." Mulder finished his task silently, enjoying every second spent massaging his Master's taut, firm flesh. Then he wrapped Skinner in his robe again, and sat his Master down in front of the mirror, before fetching all the apparatus for shaving him. He was nervous, but he had managed to shave the requisite number of balloons without killing them, and if Skinner thought he was ready, then he had to hope he was. He lathered his Master's chin with shaving foam, then held the other man's face steady, and raised the cut-throat razor to his jaw. Skinner didn't so much as flinch. His eyes met Mulder's, and they held an expression of total trust. Mulder felt his nervousness leave him, and he set about his task with a firm, steady hand, whisking the foam from his Master's chin, and neck, with sweeping movements, utterly confident. When he'd finished, he applied after-shave, patting his Master's face appreciatively, and Skinner ran a hand over his newly shaven jaw, and gave a whistle. "Thank you, Fox. That's one of the finest shaves I've ever had," he said. Mulder glowed with the praise, and went to get his Master's clothes ready. He dressed Skinner in faded blue jeans, and a navy henley, then laced him into his timberlands, before leaving his Master in order to go downstairs and prepare the breakfast. Cooking wasn't exactly Mulder's strong point, but he managed to serve up something passably edible for breakfast. When Skinner had finished, he left Mulder to eat his own breakfast, and clear away the dishes, instructing him to join him in the lounge when he was done. Mulder went about the task happily enough, whistling to himself. Wanda sat and watched him, or, more accurately, sat and watched the faucet, hoping for a stray drip of water to escape so that she could bat it with her paw. Mulder tolerated this for a while, then suddenly took a handful of bubbly suds, and deposited them on her head. She gave a startled squawk, shot him a venomous look, and then ran towards the kitchen door, shaking her head vigorously. Mulder got there first, and banged it shut, looking down on her from a lofty height. "Not so fast, Wanda baby. If you go telling tales to daddy, then the next meal I'll be serving up to him will be cat stew. Comprendi?" he said. She glared at him for a second, then sat on her haunches and licked her bottom energetically in reply. He nodded sagely. "I see that we understand each other, madam!" He opened the door, and she walked haughtily though it, with as much dignity as she could muster while burdened by one limp, and completely sodden ear. Mulder sauntered out to join her a few minutes later, then stopped. Skinner was seated on the couch, with a bedraggled Wanda on his lap. She was washing her assaulted ear with far too much enthusiasm, Mulder thought, clearly drawing attention to it. He approached, cautiously, and Skinner pointed to his feet. Mulder crouched beside them. Skinner laced his hand in Mulder's hair, and drew his head back. "Wanda has a complaint," he hissed, ominously. "She got in the way!" Mulder yelped. "The truth, Fox, or you'll go over my knee until you remember the honesty lesson," Skinner warned. "Oh, okay. I dumped some water on her - but she was in the way." Mulder glared at the cat. "Well, I won't have you upsetting her. You'll have to be punished," Skinner told him. Mulder pouted, not seriously worried, although his butt still ached from earlier. At least if Skinner upended him over his knee then Wanda would have to vacate her cozy position, and that was a victory of sorts. "Yes - I want you to apologize to her," Skinner told his slave. Mulder's mouth hung open in dismay. "You have got to be joking!" He exclaimed. "Master," he added, as a hasty afterthought. "No. I'm deadly serious. And after you've apologized - on your hands and knees - you can kiss her nose," Skinner informed him. Mulder had the very real suspicion that his Master was trying hard not to laugh. He glared at him through narrowed eyes."No," he said. Skinner's hand tightened in his hair. "Would you like to repeat that?" Skinner asked pleasantly. "No…Master?" Mulder offered, hopefully. Skinner's hand went to his belt. "Oh all right. I'll kiss the stupid cat," Mulder capitulated gracelessly. Skinner released his hold on Mulder's hair, and Mulder got to his knees, and looked at Wanda. She looked back at him, calmly, from the safety of her slave's lap, a triumphant gleam in her eyes. "Wanda, I'm sorry, okay." He glanced at Skinner, who made a movement with his eyebrows, indicating that Mulder should continue. Mulder sighed. "You're a cute cat, whose been spoiled rotten by an indulgent master laboring under the misapprehension he's your slave, and who…" "Fox." Skinner's voice held a warning. "Oh, all right. Sorry, Wanda," Mulder sighed. "You're a really nice cat." He leaned forward, and planted a kiss on her delicate creamy nose, and she waved her tail menacingly in reply. "I don't think you're forgiven, but it's a start." Skinner fondled the cat's ears affectionately. "However, in view of your attitude, from now on I'm going to institute a ten minute compulsory cuddle period every day. That's you and Wanda - not you and me," he stated firmly. "So, now wouldn't be a convincing time to mention my cat hair allergy would it?" Mulder asked. Skinner raised an eyebrow. "I thought not," Mulder sighed. "You're such a hard bastard, Master." "Yeah, and don't forget it," Skinner grinned. "I think ten strokes with the strap before bedtime for your tone and attitude will help you keep it in mind, Fox, and another six for the 'bastard' comment. Remind me to administer them. Now, you fell asleep before you could finish your confessional last night, and I don't want that habit to lapse, so I think we'll do another one now." "Now? Here?" Mulder found the confessionals hard, and he didn't feel in the mood. He was never sure how Skinner took his honesty, and he always ended up revealing far more than he wanted to, in a way that made him squirm with embarrassment afterwards. "Here. Now," Skinner told him. "Sit however and wherever you like." Mulder thought about it. Where he really wanted to sit was with his head in Skinner's lap, which was where Wanda was right now. On the other hand, he wasn't sure he'd be able to talk in such a position, and he couldn't look straight at Skinner during a confessional. He found it hard enough as it was, without seeing those dark eyes watching him intently as he talked. Instead, he knelt on the floor beside Skinner's knee, and leaned into his leg. He felt his usual insecurity about revealing too much of himself, but Skinner's hand found his neck, and started a gentle massage, and he started to relax. "Okay, yesterday…yesterday…I…did you know that bathroom thing in the restaurant was just about every wet dream I've ever had come true? And I didn't even get to come! In fact, that was part of what made it so good. There was this place I went into in my head, where I was on fire with being a slave, being your slave, being of service. It made my whole body tingle. Just remembering it is enough to fuel my next dozen jacking-off fantasies…not that I would - jack off I mean," he added hastily. "Not unless you gave me permission anyway…" He stopped, hating himself for sounding so damn stupid. God, Skinner must be laughing his head off at his clumsy, hesitant attempts at explaining the way he felt. Skinner's hand picked up speed on his neck, kneading him encouragingly. "You know me so well it's scary sometimes. You must have been a fantastic field agent, sir…" Skinner's fingers stopped momentarily. "Um, Master," Mulder corrected. "So damn thorough. Not that I'm not - just that I suppose I act more on inspiration and pay less attention to detail…and consequences." Mulder buried his face in his knees, with a sigh. "I know what you were trying to teach me with the whole bullwhip thing…but I don't think I'm going to change. I just know that when I put on my shirt and tie tomorrow, when I get back to my office, that it'll be as if all this never happened. I'm scared that it won't work there, that I'll go back to spinning out of control and I won't know why, although it's nice knowing you'll be around to pull me back in. That's the only thing that makes me feel okay about tomorrow. You will be there to do that, won't you?" Mulder suddenly looked up at his Master, his heart pounding. Supposing Skinner kept their home life and work life so separate that he wasn't there to provide the safety net Mulder so desperately needed? Skinner didn't reply, but he did smile, and his blunt fingers continued their soothing caress on his neck. Mulder bit his lip. "Okay…I'll be patient, I'll try not to get too edgy. I bet I don't sleep tonight. I want you to know you've got my permission to be as much of a hard-ass as you need to be if I look like I'm running wild. Hell, not that you need my permission! Just so you know. I'd prefer to be reeled in than to float off into space. I scare myself when I get in too deep. Sometimes I can't even see what's happening to me until it's too late. Shit, you landed yourself with one psycho slave. You must really be regretting taking me on…" He trailed off, sat down gingerly on his still glowing ass, gathered his knees to his chest, and hugged them with his arms. He was silent for several minutes, then decided that he was through. He moved his head, rested his chin on Skinner's knee, closed his eyes, and was rewarded when Skinner gently stroked his hair. Mulder sighed. This felt so good. This felt the best. He could sit like this forever. Skinner broke the mood a few minutes later, by disengaging Mulder's head from his knee, and getting up. "Okay, little one. We have some practical details to sort out. Are you listening?" Mulder came out of his reverie, and sat up straight. "Good - first of all, money." He took a credit card out of his pocket and handed it to his slave. "This is yours. There's a spending limit of $5,000. I'll keep track of any purchases you make, so I'd advise you to be…circumspect. This is not because I don't trust you, but more because I want you to understand that your life is transparent to me. There can be no secrets. I want to know everything you do, think, or feel. Understood?" "Yes, Master." Mulder glanced at the credit card. "Master…this is going to feel a bit weird. I mean, I've been handling my own finances since I was 17 years old. I'm not sure about this." "Tough." Skinner shrugged. "This may not be the way it will always be, Fox, but you've only been my slave for one week, so you'll have to expect to be kept on a short rein to begin with." "Yes, Master." Mulder bit down his resentment. He had signed away his money knowingly when he'd made that contract. He could hardly complain about it now. "This isn't a marriage, Fox, or a negotiation between lovers. You are my slave. Have I ever given you cause to misunderstand that basic fact?" Skinner asked him. Mulder shook his head. "No, Master." "You knew what that entailed, and you entered this condition willingly, didn't you?" Skinner pressed. "Yes, Master. I did." Mulder nodded. "Master…what about cash? I mean, a credit card's okay, but I'll need some cash, for lunch, or to buy a soda, or whatever." "Yes, Fox, I expect you will. You can ask me for cash whenever you require it." "What?" Mulder gasped. "Like, come up and ask you for lunch money in your office or something?" "That's right." Skinner placed his hands behind his back, and looked down on his slave from his full, forbidding height. "I said it was a short rein, Fox, and that's exactly what it'll be. When you can accept these restrictions, and learn to live happily within them, that's when I'll consider lengthening the leash - but not before then. You think you've learned a lot in the past week, and you have, but trust me, you have a long way to go." "I see." Mulder's heart sank. "Master - I'm used to behaving like an adult, making reasoned decisions…" he began. Skinner held up his hand. "I'm not treating you like a child, Fox. I'm treating you like a slave - which is exactly what you are. As for the reasoned decisions…from now on you can check them with me. If they really are 'reasoned' there shouldn't be any problems, should there?" His tone was deceptively pleasant, but Mulder knew just what he was getting at. "No, Master. There shouldn't," he said sulkily. "A friend of mine, who lived in a similar set-up to this one, had a very efficient slave who used to do his books for him, and keep a check on the household finances," Skinner said. "He earned that right, by proving he was worthy and capable. You can earn the same rights, Fox. In time. With diligence, and commitment." "I see." Mulder nodded glumly, sure that he'd never be good for long enough to earn any such rights. "As for the rest of your behavior - I do not want you to come to me with every tiny decision you have to make. You're more than capable of using your own initiative and I'm sure that in most given situations you'll know what I expect of you. If you choose not to take that course of action, then you know there will be consequences," Skinner said ominously. Mulder's heart did a flip. "If you're in any doubt - just ask. I will not punish you for not being sure, or for being tempted. I will punish you for disobedience, dishonesty, disrespect, and putting your own life in unnecessary danger. Those are the four givens. Punishment will not necessarily be of the physical variety, Fox," Skinner informed his kneeling slave. Mulder looked up, curious. "I'm very good at devising alternative forms of punishment when I think it's more appropriate," Skinner warned. "I know," Mulder sighed. "I haven't forgotten the exquisite boredom of tape surveillance, Master." Skinner laughed. "I'm glad to see my punishments were effective even before I had the leeway to be truly creative." He crossed over to where Mulder was kneeling, and got out his wallet, then began counting out some cash. Mulder had a sudden vivid flash of an old fantasy, as his Master handed him the folded up notes. "Here's some money for tomorrow," Skinner began, then he glanced at Mulder's burgeoning erection, bemused. "Was it something I said?" He murmured. Mulder flushed. "It's nothing." He willed the erection away, but it stayed resolutely in place as he took the money his Master was giving him. "No, it's very clearly something," Skinner observed. "You can either tell me, or I can give you six strokes with my belt, and then you can tell me. It's up to you." Mulder bit on his lip. "It's not a very politically correct fantasy, Master." "Neither is slavery," Skinner pointed out wryly. "How we conduct our fantasies, needs and desires is nobody's business but our own, I think, so long as we don't harm anyone else. Speak, slave. I'm waiting. If my slave has a fantasy, I think his Master should know about it - don't you?" "Okay, it was when you handed over the cash, Master. It kinds of ties in with what you did last night. I've always wondered what it would be like to be picked up in a bar by some wealthy stranger, and to be...paid…you know, for services rendered." "Ah." Skinner nodded. "Well, that's a commonplace enough fantasy, and certainly nothing to inspire any shame." "I wouldn't want it to actually be real," Mulder said hastily. "I mean it must be a crappy lifestyle, and anyway, I'm far too old to take up a career as a rent boy. I just like the fantasy. Hell, that can't surprise you. Selling myself, quite literally, into slavery, has to be the ultimate version of the fantasy." "Hmmm. Yes. Although being a hustler would give you more…control over the fantasy," Skinner observed. "Now, let's get back to business. Do you know what is expected of you tomorrow?" "Yes, Master. I have to get up at 5 a.m., swim for half an hour, make you your coffee, wake you. Then we both get dressed and go to work?" Mulder looked up for confirmation. "Yes. That's good. Once you've accepted your morning discipline, and been dismissed, you're on your own recognizance. You can drive to work in your own car, or take the metro, and leave at whatever time is convenient to you. I expect you to be back in this apartment by 6 p.m. every evening, unless there's a legitimate work reason to explain your absence, and you've cleared it with me. When I return home in the evening I expect to find you naked, and waiting for me. Bedtime is no later than 10 p.m." Mulder's heart sank again, and Skinner must have noticed the expression on his slave's face, because he gave a rueful smile. "Fox - this is all part of the short leash. If you respond well, I'll let you have more freedom. First you have to show me that you're prepared to work for that." "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded, sighing internally. He had a feeling that the next few days were going to stretch both his obedience, and his Master's patience, to their respective limits. "Good. Now go and get washed and dressed," Skinner ordered unexpectedly. "Dressed?" Mulder looked confused. "Yes. Wear anything you want. You're going back to the real world tomorrow, and it's time we got you used to that idea. And Fox?" Mulder turned back, his foot on the stair. "Whatever you do, I promise you that I will never, ever regret taking you on. Understood?" Mulder swallowed hard, remembering what he'd said in his confessional. "Yes, Master." "Good. Go get dressed." Skinner shooed him on his way. Mulder ran back to his bedroom, took a shower, washed his hair, then pulled on his jeans, and the new shirt Skinner had bought for him the day before. He ran back down the stairs, two at a time, reveling in the feel of his sneakers on his feet, instead of going around barefoot. Skinner looked at him appreciatively. "Good," he said, "now take your clothes off." "What?" Mulder glared at him. "I just put them on." "And now your Master is telling you to take them off. Do you have a problem with that?" "No. Master." Mulder ground out, sullenly. He put his hand up to his shirt, and started unbuttoning. "Not like that," Skinner interrupted. "What's the first rule of this house, Fox?" "Your pleasure is paramount, Master," Mulder said quickly. He'd learned that lesson well. "All right. Undress in such a way as to please me then. Put on a show - like you did earlier, in the bathroom." "You want me to do a striptease?" Mulder asked, horrified. "Yes," Skinner replied blandly. "There's no point having a slave if you can't make him perform. There will be many occasions when I take you to parties, and instruct you to undress. I don't want you to slip out of your clothing as if your body embarrasses you. I want you to undress in such a way as to make everyone in the room watch, and I want them to envy me for owning such a beautiful, entertaining, obedient slave. This is a skill you'll have to practice." "You'll make me undress in front of a room full of people?" Mulder's heart thudded in his chest. "Of course. I've already displayed you naked at your party, Fox. What's the problem here?" Skinner asked. "Just…going somewhere else, away from here…having people look at me, making them look at me…" "Ah, I see. Well, firstly, I'll be with you, and that's all that should matter. It doesn't make any difference where we are - I'll be at your side. Secondly, I know that I showed you off at the party, and you didn't display yourself, as such, but you'll have to learn. I insist." Skinner's eyes were deadly serious. Mulder swallowed nervously, then nodded. He put his hand up to his shirt again, and tried undulating his hips. Skinner sat down on the couch, nursing a glass of whisky, and watched over the rim. Mulder felt himself going red. "Shit… I'm no good at this, Master," he said, stopping in the middle of a clumsy hip-roll. "Then you have to learn. It's more a question of enthusiasm than skill," Skinner said. "Proceed." Mulder sighed, and started again. He closed his eyes, and tried to imagine he was in his room, alone. Damn, but he felt stupid doing this. He slid his hand into his pants, and played with pushing down his jeans, then turned and waggled his bottom half-heartedly in Skinner's direction. He did finally manage to undress completely, then stood there, naked once more, his whole body a nice shade of vermilion. Only then did he pluck up the courage to open his eyes. Skinner was giving him an assessing stare. "Okay. I know I was shit," Mulder sighed. "You could certainly do with some more work, but you'll get there. In time. You really don't have a choice," Skinner told him with a wry chuckle. "All right - put your clothes back on." "You're not going to make me try it again, are you?" Mulder asked. "No. I'm not. Next time I ask you to do this, I expect you to do it properly - or there'll be consequences. Give it some thought, Fox." "Yes, Master." Mulder buttoned up his jeans gratefully. "There's something else you can give some thought to," Skinner added, when he'd dressed. "I told you that Sunday is 'Master's Day'. I've kept you amused and occupied all week, which, don't get me wrong, has been very enjoyable," he mused, pursing his lips and smiling. "But now I'd like to relax. I have some paperwork to do in preparation for tomorrow, so you have a couple of hours free time. You can go out, swim, work-out, or do whatever you want, but our evening plans are up to you. Organize a nice meal for us both if you want, although I wouldn't advise you to actually cook it yourself, or dream up some other nice treat, but I'd like you to think of a way to make it a good evening for me. I'll expect you to come up with something every Sunday. It doesn't have to be much. Just something to surprise, and please me." Mulder nodded, and watched as Skinner disappeared into his study. Damn! He wished he could think of something really fantastic to surprise Skinner with, but his mind was a blank. Skinner had said that it didn't have to be much, but Mulder wanted it to be good. When he looked back on what Skinner had done for the past week, he appreciated the other man's skill and ingenuity. He had contrived to keep Mulder continually on edge, while teaching him some important lessons along the way. The man was truly a Master - completely skilled in his art. Mulder was apprehensive enough about going back to work to want to show Skinner how much he appreciated what he'd done for him, before he started jerking him around as Agent Mulder to his Master's Assistant Director Skinner. An idea occurred to Mulder. Skinner had said that he was a sensualist. There had to be a way to appeal to that side of his Master's personality. He went to the hall phone, and checked through the list of restaurant menus that Skinner had left there. A couple of them were particularly well thumbed so Mulder took that as evidence that they were Skinner's favorites. He settled on the Thai one, then telephoned the restaurant and asked them if they knew what Walter Skinner's favorite meal was. Luckily his Master was well known to them, and before long Mulder had a complete menu ordered. Now it was time to work on the next part of his plan. At 7 p.m., Mulder knocked on the study door, then opened it and put his head around it. Skinner was hard at work, and glanced up, frowning. "It's late, Master. I thought it was time to interrupt you," Mulder told him. Skinner glanced at his watch. "Shit, is that the time? I didn't realize." He shook his head, then did a double take, as Mulder entered the room. Mulder grinned, relishing the look his Master was giving him. He was dressed in one of the new outfits Skinner had bought for him the previous day: a pair of tight, black chinos hugged his ass, and he was wearing a shiny, petrol blue shirt. "You're looking good," Skinner said appreciatively. "Something smells good too. What is it?" "If Master would follow me, I'll show you," Mulder said. He led Skinner back into the dining room, and held out his Master's chair for him, expectantly. Skinner glanced around the room, his eyes shining in delighted surprise. Mulder had been out and purchased a dozen candles, which were placed strategically around the room, casting a soft, orange glow. Skinner sat down in the chair, and Mulder went and opened a bottle of wine. "What are we drinking?" Skinner asked. Mulder shook his head. "That's a surprise," he said. "Um, this might be too much, so tell me if it is, but how does Master feel about being blindfolded?" Skinner looked up sharply. "That would depend upon the purpose, Fox," he replied. "Well…" Mulder stood behind the other man, and massaged his shoulders lightly, noting that a few new knots had appeared in them since earlier in the morning. "I've arranged for a special meal, Master, but I'd like to feed it to you myself, to surprise you." Skinner considered this for a moment, then nodded. "That would be…interesting," he agreed. Mulder grinned, and went to fetch a velvet scarf that he had ready for the occasion. He caressed Skinner's head lightly with the lush fabric as he tied it around the other man's eyes. Then he brought the meal to the table, and placed a fork full of steaming food against Skinner's lips. The other man opened obligingly, and took a bite, considered the taste, and then broke into a broad grin. "Red chicken curry?" he exclaimed. "That's my favorite." "I know, Master." Mulder poured the wine, and held the glass to Skinner's lips. Skinner took a sip, and laughed again. "Do you know all my favorites, little one?" he asked, whipping off the blindfold and surveying his plate in pleased anticipation. Mulder grinned. "I'm a trained investigator, Master. I did a little research of my own." Mulder pressed a button on the remote, and the CD player started playing a random selection of songs; some jazz, some Mozart, some Sinatra. "I see that even my musical tastes have been discovered." Skinner raised his glass to his lips, and smiled at Mulder over the rim. "Of course, Master. How's your meal?" Mulder picked up his own fork, and started to eat. "Delicious. This is lovely, Fox," Skinner said sincerely. "I noticed a series of travel guides in your bookcase, Master. Have you traveled widely?" Mulder asked. Skinner shook his head. "Not as widely as I wish," he said with a sigh. "I did go to Europe on vacation a few years back - I'd like to return. I'm something of a history buff." Mulder spent the next hour discussing his time at Oxford with his Master, and sharing reminiscences of journeys to foreign lands. He did his best to be entertaining, and attentive, and he loved watching his Master relax, and talk to him openly about his past. "It's stupid, but I think one of the reasons I enlisted for 'Nam was because I had some damn crazy idea about traveling." Skinner shook his head sadly. "It's one way to see the world," Mulder shrugged. "Only if you want to find out what the world looks like through the sights of a gun," Skinner remarked grimly. "There must have been more of a reason to you enlisting than that," Mulder held his breath. He longed to know more about his Master. "There was." Skinner shrugged, and wiped his napkin over his mouth. "Do you ever talk about it? To anyone?" Mulder pressed. "Once. Then no more." Skinner shrugged again. "Some memories are too painful to keep getting out, and tearing apart, Fox." "I know." Mulder nodded. Skinner's eyes met his, and Mulder knew that they understood each other. He steered the conversation onto lighter topics. When they'd finished dessert, and coffee, Mulder got up, and held out his hand. "Would Master like to dance?" he asked. Skinner looked at him in surprise. Mulder shrugged. "I've never danced with another man, Master," he admitted honestly. "So I'm probably crap, but I thought…well, it might be a stupid idea, but…" "Don't spoil it, Fox." Skinner grinned, getting up. "It's no more stupid than some of the things we've done over the past week." Mulder thought of being led around on the end of his Master's leash, and broke into a grin himself. Skinner closed his hands around Mulder's waist, and pulled him close, and Mulder rested his head against his Master's cheek. He felt brave enough to caress Skinner's taut buttocks lightly, enjoying the feel of his Master's solidly muscled body pressed against his own. It felt so good, to be encased in Skinner's big arms, sated after a good meal, drifting in time to the music. After about half an hour, Mulder dropped to his knees, and opened his Master's pants. Skinner moaned, and allowed his slave to reach into his briefs, and take his throbbing cock in his hand. Mulder stroked it into full erection, then bestowed several little kisses along the hard shaft. "I just want you to remember that I can do this," he whispered. "Before we go back to work, I want you to know that I can be attentive, and obedient, and thoughtful. I want you to believe I can be the perfect slave, and, um…" he looked up into Skinner's dark eyes, "I want you to remember that next week when I screw up, because I will screw up." And before Skinner could reply, Mulder enveloped his cock in his mouth, and brought him skillfully to climax, holding the other man's hips as his Master pumped into him. When he'd finished, Mulder looked up, hesitantly. "Thank you, Fox," Skinner murmured, stroking the side of his face, softly. Mulder smiled. Seeing Skinner like this today had made him appreciate the other man as a person, and not just as his Master. He was determined to find out more about the man who'd captured his heart, whether Skinner wanted to tell him or not. He wanted to discover what had happened to his Master in Vietnam, and he wanted to know who had lived in the upstairs apartment before he had arrived. He wanted to understand Skinner. He was hungry to uncover every last fact about his Master's past. He was, after all, as he had pointed out, a very good investigator, and he intended to put his skills to good use. Mulder knew he faced a strapping before bed, and very probably a sleepless night, to say nothing of a stressful week ahead, but right here and now, he felt good - damn good, and that was because he knew where he belonged. Irrevocably, and without doubt. Whatever trials they faced, he knew he could cling onto that one fact. "No. Thank you, Master," he replied softly.
---
!Chapter 11: Ring, Master Mulder lay very still, one eye on the clock as the digital display gradually changed, taking him closer and closer to doomsday. 5:58, 5:59…He should have got up an hour ago. He should have swum, he should be making his Master's coffee, and giving him his wake-up call, and instead he was…6:00. Skinner's alarm clock hummed into life. Mulder jumped. So, his Master wasn't going to leave his wake-up call entirely in the hands of his slave on a work day. Mulder didn't know whether to be insulted or relieved. He rolled over, the chain clinking around his neck, and squeezed his eyes shut as he heard Skinner get up. There was the sound of footsteps that stopped by his head, and then a deep, heart-felt sigh. "Pretending to be asleep, pup?" He felt a toe dig into the side of his ribs, and sat up. "No, Master. Yes, Master. Are you angry with me, Master?" "Not yet. Should I be?" Skinner crouched down beside his slave, and Mulder looked into his Master's deep, dark, eyes, and swallowed nervously. Skinner held up a key, and unlocked his slave from the foot of his bed, where Mulder had chained himself in the middle of the night. "Go and make the coffee, and bring it back. Quickly, Fox. We're behind schedule now." "But, Master…" Mulder began. "You can fill me in on the whys and wherefors of how you came to be sleeping in my room when I've got a cup of coffee in my hands. I'm already kind of pissed off to have missed out on my usual wake-up perk, and I definitely don't function well before my morning coffee. Run, slave, and while you're making the coffee, you'd better give some serious thought to how you're going to explain yourself," Skinner warned. Mulder sighed, nodded, and left the room at a run. He wasn't invited into the bed. Somehow that didn't surprise him. He knelt beside the bed while Skinner skimmed the paper, and hastily drank his coffee, then his Master and frowned at him. "All right, pup. The honeymoon's over so we don't have time to linger. Make it quick." "I couldn't sleep, Master," Mulder admitted. "Why?" Skinner looked at him searchingly. Mulder shrugged. "Did you have another nightmare?" Skinner pressed. Mulder bit on his lip. "Not exactly," he confessed. "Hmm." Skinner moved his hand, and Mulder hesitated, then remembered his training, and went down on all fours, pressing his nose into the carpet. "I seem to recall that I gave you permission to come down here only after you'd had a nightmare. Not just if you couldn't sleep." "Yes, Master. I know," Mulder sighed. "The thing is…I knew I'd be able to sleep down here, and I didn't want to screw up today because of being too tired, so…" "So, you thought you finagle a night in your Master's room without paying for it," Skinner finished. "No! Maybe." Mulder made a face. "Jeez, don’t think I don't hate myself for coming over all needy, Master." "Needy? No, that's just the problem, Fox," Skinner said. Mulder looked up in surprise. "If you were needy, I wouldn't have had to insist on you signing that contract - you'd have stuck by my side whether I wanted it or not. Nervy - yes, like a temperamental colt, but not needy. Half your trouble is that you don't see what you need, and you'd have no idea how to get it anyway. That's what I'm here for." "Is it?" Mulder blinked. "Yeah. Now get me the crop, and assume the grace position. Quickly." Mulder did as he was told, and scrambled into position. He had a feeling that this was really going to hurt. He wasn't wrong. Skinner had given him a mild strapping the previous night, his arm, or maybe his heart, clearly not in the task, but this morning he was back on form. The crop landed with awesome precision on his ass, and it was all he could do to keep his position in the wake of the onslaught. "Your litany, please, slave," Skinner demanded. "I'm yours, Master," Mulder yelled. "Just here?" Skinner prompted. "No! Everywhere!" Mulder screeched. "Will you remember that today?" "YES! Oh god yes, I promise!" When Skinner finally finished with him, the tears were flowing freely down his cheeks, and his breath was coming in hitching sobs. Skinner clicked his fingers, and Mulder sank gratefully to his knees, and kissed his Master's feet. "Now, remember that even small pleasures require sacrifice," Skinner told him. Then he bent down, and kissed his slave's lips, firmly. "You'll do fine, Fox," he murmured. "And if you don't, your ass will know about it." "Master is…" Mulder began. "Cruel? Tough? Yeah - like I said, boy, the honeymoon's over. Yesterday was about indulgence: me indulging you, and you indulging me. Today, we're back in the front line, back in the office, and you are back to being my subordinate, as well as my slave. You can and will handle it. I'll be with you every step of the way. Now get in the shower." Skinner pointed. Mulder hopped away quickly. Skinner was in a very brisk, very uncompromising mood this morning. Why did he love that so much? Skinner joined him in the shower a second or so later. He pinned his slave against the wall, and held him under the water, then he kissed him again. "Condom," was the first thing he said, when he let Mulder up for air. Mulder put his hand around the edge of the shower curtain, and fumbled his fingers along the shelf above the basin until he found the item in question. He handed it to his Master, then stood there awaiting further instructions. "Turn around," Skinner ordered. Mulder quivered, his cock hardening. Damn but he loved Skinner in full Masterful mode. It was such a turn on. He put his hands against the wall, and opened his legs, thrusting his butt back, ready to receive his Master. He felt Skinner stand behind him, and take his buttocks in his hands, caressing the hot flesh gently. His Master probed one finger into his ass, then two, and Mulder moaned and opened up even more. He gave a cry of sheer bliss as he felt the familiar tip of his Master's hard cock against his opening, then Skinner thrust inside him, up to the hilt, taking his breath away. "Who do you belong to, pup?" Skinner demanded, his chest warm against Mulder's back. "You, Master," Mulder panted. "All right. Remember this moment all day - it should help you concentrate." Skinner's voice had a tone of wry amusement. He then proceeded to thrust into Mulder so hard, and so fast, that the slave thought he'd pass out. The stimulation of his prostate, combined with Skinner's masterful manner, was too much of a turn on for him. "Keep your hands on the wall. You can come but only after me, like a good slave," Skinner commanded, and a second later, he took hold of Mulder's cock and started to pump it in time to the rhythm of his thrusting. Shit, it was good! Mulder put his head back and let the water run down his face, gasping for air. It took all his willpower to hold on until Skinner came a few minutes later, and Mulder had his own climax barely seconds afterwards. They both stood there, panting, for a while, and Mulder enjoyed the sensation of being connected in the aftermath of their mutual pleasure. Then Skinner withdrew. "Okay. What do you have to say to me, boy?" He asked. Mulder swallowed, and went down on his knees in the water. "Thank you, Master. You are such a fucking stallion," Mulder grinned. Skinner frowned, and cuffed the side of his head lightly with the back of his hand. "And you are always just one step away from a taste of my strap on your bare ass. Remember that, slave." "Yes, Master." Mulder allowed himself to wallow in a moment of total adoration, then got up, and began to soap his Master. "Do yourself. I don't want you to ever be late for work on my account," Skinner told him firmly. Mulder nodded, and washed his own body quickly, watching out of the corner of his eye, as Skinner finished, and then handed the shower head to his slave. "Don't you want me to dry you, Master?" he asked, frantically. "No, not today. Dry yourself, then get upstairs and get ready. You're dismissed," Skinner told him curtly. "Yes, Master." Mulder finished washing and drying himself, then scampered back into his Master's bedroom to find Skinner getting his clothes out of his closet. Mulder ran past him, and put one hand on the door, then some devil in him prompted him to turn back. He sidled up to his Master, and kissed the back of his neck, pausing long enough for a quick grope of Skinner's sleek, muscled flesh. "See you in the office, Master," he murmured. Skinner turned with another growl, and swatted him hard on his naked, glowing backside. Mulder yelped. "I love you too, Master," he flung over his shoulder, before beating a hasty retreat. Something told him that it wouldn't be wise to linger. He didn't see Skinner again before he went to work. He didn't know whether he left the apartment before his Master or after him. He put on one of the new shirts and ties Skinner had bought him, and examined himself in the mirror. He looked fine. Crisp white shirt, tasteful navy tie. His Master would approve. Mulder grinned at his reflection, grabbed his keys and cellphone, then let himself out of the apartment and ran along to the elevator. He felt alive! He had never gone into work feeling so completely alive before in his life. He just felt so damn good! Mulder took the metro to work. His butt was stinging nicely, and at least he could spend the entire journey standing to give it time to recover. He breezed into the Hoover building, waved a cheery hello to anyone he recognized, and laughed when most of them looked over their shoulders, wondering if he was waving at someone else. He sauntered along the corridor, couldn't be bothered to wait for the elevator to take him down, and took the stairs two at a time instead. He paused for a moment outside the door to the basement, and then put out his hand to open it…and froze. Shit! The ring! Scully would see it and ask him all kinds of questions. What the hell was he going to tell her? Mulder went back and perched on the bottom step of the staircase for a moment, thinking it through. He could tell her that he just got married. No, asshole, she'd be hurt that you didn't tell her you were dating! Well, he could tell her it was a sudden thing - he just met someone and married them in the space of one week. No, asshole, then she'd ask you lots of questions about your new wife and insist on meeting her! Okay. He could tell her…that he was sick and tired of being chatted up and this was to keep the vultures away. Yeah, right. How many times has she ever seen you being chatted up? That is so convincing, lame-brain. Okay, how about…how about I tell her the truth? Mulder's withering internal voice didn't even bother to snort in disgust at that suggestion. Okay…how about… The door to the basement office suddenly opened. Mulder felt his life flash in front of him, and in a split second made his decision. He took the wedding ring off, shuffled it swiftly into his pocket, then got to his feet and smiled a falsely cheerful grin just as Scully stepped into the corridor. "Oh, hi, Mulder," she said absently, flicking through a file. "Have a good vacation?" "Fantastic," he breathed. She looked up sharply. "It must have been good. My god, what's happened to you?" She asked incredulously. "What do you mean?" Mulder looked down. Were his nipple rings showing through his shirt? No, that was impossible - he'd worn a vest underneath on purpose to hide them. Had Scully suddenly developed X-ray vision? Could she see through his pants? Had she somehow caught a glimpse of his cock ring? "You! My god!" Scully circled around him, then gave a low whistle. "You look so…clean. And well dressed, and…Mulder - are you glowing?" She asked suspiciously. Mulder flushed. Only my ass, Scully. "No. Only pregnant women glow, Scully. Everyone knows that," he told her loftily, disappearing into his office. "Mulder! You're not pregnant are you?" She teased, following him in. "Ha, ha. Very funny. No, I'm not." He flicked a paper clip at her. "Then you must be in love," Scully said firmly. He looked up, too quickly. "You are in love! I knew it. Tell me everything." She perched herself on the side of the desk and looked at him expectantly. "There's nothing to tell. You've been reading too many romances," he said, glancing nonchalantly around his office. Oh, it was good to be back! He went over to his filing cabinets and delved into his beloved X Files. "I missed you babies," he crooned to them. Scully rolled her eyes. "They didn't miss you, Mulder. You should take a vacation more often. It obviously agrees with you." "Yeah. Maybe. It wasn't so bad after all," Mulder said softly. "I'm pleased. When you left here last Friday, you were so nervy I thought you were going to your doom or something. It obviously turned out better than you expected." "Yes." Mulder glanced at her, a shy smile on his lips. "Yes, it did, Scully. It did." He took a bundle of files out of the cabinet, and dumped them on his desk. "What are you looking for?" Scully frowned. "People who undergo transforming sexual experiences," he grinned at her. She put her hands up in mock surrender. "Okay, Mulder. You're on your own with that one." She walked back to her desk, and he sat down with a sigh, then gave a yelp and jumped right up again. "Problem?" Scully raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Uh, no. I'd just, um…forgotten how hard these Bureau seats are." Mulder smiled feebly at her. She raised her other eyebrow. "Are you sure you're feeling okay, Mulder?" She asked. "I mean first of all you come in here looking like…like…Skinner or something, all crisp and clean - not that you're normally dirty, just that now you're almost sparkling. Then you talk about pregnancy and transforming sexual experiences, and now you're jumping around as if you have ants in your pants…a girl has to wonder, Mulder." "I'm fine," he said firmly, seating himself back at his desk gingerly. "Never better in fact." "That's good." She smiled sweetly, and handed him a note. "Because Skinner called just before you got here. He wants to see us both in ten minutes. Mulder? Hello?" Mulder banged his head on the desk. Ten minutes. You'd think his Master could have given him longer than that to adjust to all this, although he couldn't blame the man for wanting to check up on him so soon. Ten minutes. Ten minutes until he had to sit in the same room as his Master, with Scully by his side, and pretend that they hadn't just spanked, screwed, and sucked their way through an entire week. Mulder came out in a cold sweat. He spent the next ten minutes searching frantically around his office for the reports he had been working on before he went away. He had almost forgotten about them, and Skinner would be bound to ask. He found them under a pile of junk mail, and a dozen or more inter-office memorandums which he threw straight into the trash with his usual disdain for such things. He skimmed through the files quickly, trying to remember the salient points about the cases. Luckily his eidetic memory kicked in, and he was astonished how quickly he snapped back into work mode. "Did you finish the medical evidence on these?" He asked Scully. She nodded, and handed him another file. He looked through it, fascinated by her findings. "I said you'd find evidence of Alzheimer's in the brain tissue, Scully," he told her. "Yes, Mulder. And you are always right, Mulder." Scully made a face at him. "Well I am!" He grinned. "Well, about this kind of stuff anyway." "It's time." She glanced at her watch, and finished her coffee. "Damn. I'm not quite up to speed…" Mulder got to his feet, flicking through the file frantically. "Don't sweat it, partner!" Scully opened the door for him, and pushed him through. "Skinner knows you've been on vacation. Hey, Skinner's been on vacation too, so he's probably got some catching up to do as well." "Right. Good." Mulder put a finger under the collar of his starched new shirt, and loosened it slightly. They waited for a couple of minutes in Kim's office, while Skinner finished a call, and Mulder paced, anxiously. "Mulder!" Scully stared at him. "Calm down. You didn't go off investigating something while on vacation did you?" She asked suspiciously. "There's nothing going on here that I don't know about is there?" "Um, no I didn't go out investigating, Scully. I took a vacation, like I said I was going to," Mulder protested. "In fact, I hardly went out anywhere all week." That was true enough. "I was a slave to the chores and the apartment." He grinned at his own little joke. Scully didn't have time to reply, as Kim's buzzer went, and they were nodded into Skinner's office. Scully went first, and Mulder's heart nearly stood still as he caught his first glimpse of his Master back in his more familiar domain. Skinner was wearing one of the crisp white shirts that Mulder had ironed, and he looked devastatingly, dangerously…deadly. His Master's eyes flickered over Mulder as if he were nothing more than…one of his agents. Which he was of course. Just keep moving, asshole. Don't do anything stupid. Mulder shuffled nervously over to one of the chairs in front of Skinner's desk, and sat down. "Welcome back, Agent Mulder," Skinner said urbanely. "I trust you had a good vacation?" Mulder swallowed convulsively, willing his vocal chords to work. "Yes, sir," he managed to croak. "The best I've ever had, actually." He glanced up at his Master from under his eyelashes, and saw the faintest flicker of a knowing smile in Skinner's dark, shielded eyes. "Good." "I hear you were on vacation too." Mulder sat back in his chair, and relaxed slightly. "That's right." Skinner took the file Scully was handing to him, and opened it. He didn't give any more information than that on his vacation, much to Mulder's disappointment. He thought it had been good for Skinner too, but maybe it hadn't. Maybe Skinner had trained better, cuter, more obedient, and sexually insatiable slaves in his time. Maybe Mulder had just been another in a long line of people willing to do his Master's laundry. God knows, there had never been a time when Skinner hadn't worn those exquisitely ironed shirts, so he probably had a conveyor belt of slaves, constantly doing his washing. When one moved out, another one just moved straight in. "Agent Mulder." Skinner's voice broke into this bleak internal reverie. "Yeah. What?" He growled back. Scully gave him a surprised look, clearly startled by his tone. "You were writing me some reports too?" Skinner prompted. "They're not finished." Mulder snapped. "Did you bring what you have?" Skinner asked mildly, his dark eyes boring into Mulder. "No. You hate receiving unfinished reports," Mulder told him, sulkily. "A progress report is acceptable." "Okay." Mulder shrugged. "Do you have anything further to add to Agent Scully's report?" Skinner pressed. "Yes - it's clear that with this advanced level of Alzheimer's, the perp could not have committed these crimes…" Mulder began. Then his eyes flickered away from his boss, and skimmed over the briefcase that was on the floor beside his desk. His throat when dry. He recognized that briefcase! It was his briefcase. The one with all the special, Fox-engraved implements in it…Skinner had brought it here! Mulder's throat dried up in horror. Surely, surely, Skinner didn't intend to use them on him in the office? Please, god, no! "Agent Mulder?" Skinner was looking concerned. "Would you like a glass of water?" "Uh, yes…please…" he whispered. Scully got up, poured Mulder some water, and handed it to him. He took it, and gulped it down thankfully. It was only as he placed the glass back on the table that he realized he wasn't wearing his ring. SHIT! Mulder felt his whole world collapse around his ears. Why hadn't he put the ring back on for the meeting? Why had he forgotten? FUCK! He pulled his hands back quickly, and covered his left one with the right, hiding it from sight. "Your theory?" Skinner asked pleasantly. "My theory…" Mulder's eyes shifted back to the briefcase, while his fingers nervously caressed the place where his missing ring should have been. Please god, don't let him have noticed. Please! "…is that, um, in his weakened condition, the perp's body was taken over, and inhabited by a being, or beings who committed these crimes in his place," Mulder gabbled. There was no good way to expound this particular theory, so he didn't bother dressing it up in more acceptable language. "I see. In other words, the perp was possessed," Skinner commented, neutrally. "Um. Yes." Mulder went red. "By what? Or whom?" Skinner asked. "Evil spirits?" Mulder shrugged, trying manfully to drag his eyes away from the briefcase. "Right." Skinner nodded, then glanced at Scully. "And the scientific viewpoint would be, Agent Scully?" She smiled. "Sometimes people with Alzheimer's regress to a point in their past when they were younger, and stronger, and they experience that as their current reality. I would suggest that's what happened here." "Good. Thank you." Skinner smiled at her. Hah! Yeah, trust him to go along with the scientific viewpoint, Mulder thought bitterly. "Tell me, Agent Scully, were there any identifying signs on the perp's body? You're sure we've got the right person?" Skinner asked. Scully raised an eyebrow. It was a pertinent question but she'd covered it in her report. "Yes, sir. He was wearing a distinctively engraved wedding ring," she said. Mulder's heart sank. He looked up into Skinner's dark, impassive eyes. His Master stared back, coolly. "I see. He still wore his wedding ring even though you say his wife passed away…" Skinner flicked through the file, "ten years previously. How devoted of him." He glanced at Mulder with a look of pure ice. "Some people only have to be in a committed relationship for five minutes before they forget their devotion, and are only too happy to discard the visible symbols of the vows they've made." Mulder felt the ground open up and swallow him. He'd noticed! Oh, god, now he was in such deep shit. "Well, agents, I think that's all." Skinner handed them the file, which Scully took, with a smile. She got up, and Mulder found himself numbly following her to the door, his legs functioning on auto-pilot. He almost got there. He was so nearly safe, so close to freedom. He actually had his hand on the door, and one foot outside the office, when Skinner reeled him back in, like a fish on the end of a line. "Agent Mulder." Skinner's voice was silkily smooth, but Mulder wasn't fooled. He froze, took a deep breath, then turned back. "I'd like a private word with you, if I may. You can go, Agent Scully." He smiled at her over Mulder's shoulder. "I have a little task for Agent Mulder. He might be some time." Mulder's heart, already inhabiting the pit of his stomach, now fled into his shoes. He sent Scully a desperate, telepathic plea for help, which she clearly didn't receive, as she just smiled, and continued on her way, leaving him all alone with certain death. Mulder shut the door quietly, and turned around. "Before you say anything - I can explain!" He said desperately. "All right." Skinner sat back, expectantly. "But this had better be more convincing that 'I was drugged', Fox." "That was the truth!" Mulder protested. Skinner raised an eyebrow. Mulder decided that now was not the best moment to go into that particular event. "Look, I'm sorry." Mulder walked back to the desk, and stood in front of his Master. "I know I shouldn't have taken the ring off, but I didn't want to upset Scully." "Why would you wearing a ring upset your partner?" Skinner frowned. "I just figured she'd be upset I hadn't told her I'd got married!" "All right. Why didn't you raise this issue with me?" Skinner asked. "I forgot!" Mulder protested desperately. "You've had a while week to bring this up, Fox. One factor in our relationship was most definitely not negotiable, and I made that very clear. Your ring stays on at all times. In fact, all your rings stay on at all times, unless I remove them." "Why? You don't have to wear a goddamn ring!" Mulder growled in protest. "I'm not a slave. You are," Skinner replied pointedly. "And I'm not arguing about this. You knew the rules." He clicked his fingers. Mulder stared at him. "Not here. I mean…" Mulder glanced around the office nervously. "I mean…Kim's next door," he whispered. "Yes, she is. So you'll have to keep quiet. Now, are you going to obey me, or do I have to make you." Skinner got to his feet, and Mulder sank to his knees without further protest. He wasn't stupid. "Good. Now go and get the briefcase." Skinner pointed. Mulder crawled to retrieve the case, and presented it to his Master. "I still can't believe that you brought this here," Mulder whined. Skinner raised an eyebrow, and glanced at his watch. "Fox, it's 8:54 a.m. You've lasted less than half an hour before requiring correction. I think it's a good thing I did bring this in," Skinner said coolly. He loosened Mulder's tie, then undid the top button of his shirt, and reached inside. Mulder closed his eyes as Skinner retrieved the key to the briefcase, and opened it. His Master gave him an assessing look for several seconds, his fingers touching each implement in turn as he considered the matter. Then he pulled out the strap. Mulder's heart sank out of his body and down into the very foundations of the building. "Open your mouth," Skinner said unexpectedly. "My mouth…?" Mulder had no sooner opened it to speak, than Skinner stuck the strap between his lips. "Now, follow me," Skinner said. "You can walk." Mulder got up, feeling ridiculous with the strap in his mouth, and walked across the room. Skinner opened the door to his en-suite bathroom, and turned the light on, then he put down the lid on the toilet seat. "Kneel," he instructed. Mulder obeyed, glumly. "Undo your pants, and bend over the seat," Skinner commanded. Mulder looked up at him, with a mute plea. Skinner raised an eyebrow. Mulder sighed, and obeyed. "Good." Mulder felt Skinner's hands tug his trousers and boxers down to his knees, leaving his butt exposed. He moaned, softly, but he had to admit that he found the idea of being punished in his Master's office a turn-on. He looked up at Skinner expectantly, waiting for his Master to take the strap out of his mouth, but he didn't. "Now, I have a meeting in a couple of minutes. I expect it'll last an hour or so. You'll wait there, butt up in the air, until I have the time, and inclination, to give you what you deserve. Use the time wisely, Fox, and don't move. I'm sure I don't need to tell you not to make any noise either - not unless you want your fellow agents to come and take a look at what I'm keeping in my bathroom. I'm sure that they'd find it a most amusing sight - Agent Mulder, ass up over the toilet seat, with a strap in his mouth, awaiting punishment." Mulder gave a deep, heartfelt groan. It was both excruciating, and fiendish. Only his Master could have come up with something like this. He tried to speak but only succeeded in muttering a muffled, garbled sentence. Skinner removed the strap from his mouth and looked at him expectantly. "What if someone wants to use the bathroom, Master?" Mulder squeaked. "You'd better hope they don't." Skinner put the strap back in his mouth, and pushed Mulder's head down so that he was looking at the tiled floor. "An hour, Fox. Think about how much you hurt my feelings with your behavior, and how disobedience is always punished. Your bare, exposed butt, offered up for my attention should serve as a reminder." Mulder bit down on the strap to avoid making a smart reply, and Skinner delivered a swat to his ass with his hand. "Don't ruin that strap, boy - I don't expect to see teeth marks on it," he warned, and then he left the bathroom, leaving the door ajar behind him. Mulder knelt there for a long while, still reeling from this turn of events. This could not be happening to him. It couldn't! He could not be kneeling in Assistant Director Skinner's private office bathroom, ass exposed to the world, with a strap in his mouth awaiting punishment. Just over a week ago, the very idea would have been unthinkable. Shit! How the hell had this happened? Something that Skinner had said stayed in his mind though. "Think about how much you hurt my feelings…" He had never intended that. He should have realized how much his Master enjoyed seeing visible symbols of his ownership on his slave's body. He'd mentioned it enough times over the past week after all, and the wedding ring was the only visible symbol when Mulder was fully dressed. Mulder sighed. He had screwed up and he hated that Skinner might have been made upset rather than angry by his actions. Mulder stiffened, hearing sounds in the office behind him. His whole body tingled in nervous anticipation, as he heard Skinner greet a couple of agents, and instruct them to sit. Mulder tensed, and stayed tensed for a good ten minutes. Shit, supposing one of them wanted to use the bathroom? Supposing he dropped the strap - his jaw was already aching. Supposing he moved, and made a noise? His tense muscles were making him shake with the effort of staying in position. Surely Skinner wouldn't know if he moved into a sitting position, would he? How could he know if Mulder took the strap out of his mouth? Mulder thought about it for a second, then came to a decision. He slowly, silently, removed the strap, and placed it gently on the floor, then he turned around, oh so carefully…and froze. Skinner had left the door ajar on purpose. From where he sat at his desk, the interior of the bathroom was clearly visible - although the angle would have made it impossible for anyone sitting facing him to see in. Mulder crossed his fingers behind his back. If he moved very slowly back into his original position it might not be too…damn! Busted. Skinner's eyes suddenly flicked in his direction. The big man's expression didn't change, but his gaze lingered just long enough to make it clear to Mulder that he'd been seen. Mulder sat on the floor, wretchedly, trying to come to a decision. This wasn't helped by the fact that his cock seemed to have found the whole event a complete turn-on and was now starting to harden. Inside he was terrified though. He was in enough trouble as it was, without making things worse for himself. How do you always manage to do that, asshole? Finally, deciding that he could at least repair some of the damage by returning to his original position, Mulder turned around, and arranged himself back over the toilet seat. He picked up the strap, and placed it in his mouth, then raised his butt so that it was once more in Skinner's line of sight. Enjoy the view, Master, you mean son of a bitch. Mulder didn't think he'd ever spent a worse hour in his life. Each second trickled by slowly, and his muscles seized up with the effort of staying in position. The strap smelt divine but it didn't exactly taste good, and he was petrified that it would drop out of his mouth, onto the tiled floor. He listened with one ear as Skinner discussed tedious expense reports, and for a brief second pitied his Master for having to spend his days in such boring pastimes. No wonder he wanted a slave on the premises to take his frustrations out on. No, that was definitely not a good thought. Mulder was painfully aware of his ass, waiting naked for its inevitable punishment. Very soon, this strap, which he knew stung like hell, would be tormenting his poor, exposed butt. Mulder wished he could sigh, but he was too scared of making any noise. Finally, the interminable meeting came to an end, and Mulder heard the other agents leave the room, and Skinner murmuring something to Kim. Then he heard heavy footsteps crossing the office in his direction. His stomach started to do that series of flips that it always did when he knew he was in trouble. The door was pushed open, and then shut, and locked, and Mulder looked up into his Master's stern, dark eyes. "Is it too much to expect you to be obedient in even the most minor matters?" Skinner asked him. "Do you take any aspect of your slavery seriously? Or is it all just a game to you? Is your servitude, something you offered up freely to me, so worthless? Merely something you pay lip service to - to be ignored whenever you think you aren't being watched? Well?" Skinner folded his arms over his chest and waited for an answer. Mulder knelt up, and took the strap out of his mouth. "I'm sorry, Master, but how the hell was I suppose to keep still for a whole hour?" He demanded. "Fox, if I told you to fly to the moon I'd expect you to at least try," Skinner riposted, hands on hips. Mulder opened his mouth to make a smart reply, then closed it again, sensing that he was on very dangerous ground. "All right - you're in trouble, boy. Big trouble. Now, give me that strap and get back over the toilet seat. And Fox?" Skinner took the strap from his hapless slave, and Mulder looked up at him, glumly. "Don't count on being able to sit comfortably for the rest of the day," Skinner warned. Mulder gave his Master a look of intense dislike, and then, grudgingly arranged himself over the toilet seat. "All right. What lesson will you learn from this?" Skinner asked, holding the strap over Mulder's exposed butt, caressing the leather against his flesh in a way that made his slave moan in scared anticipation. "To obey you, Master." "Well, I'm not holding my breath on that score, but yes. And?" Skinner prompted. "To talk to you about what's going on in my head, Master," Mulder said with a sigh. "Good." Skinner laid the first stroke across Mulder's butt, and he gave a strangled yelp as the pain kicked in. Damn but that strap stung! "Here." Skinner paused, and gave Mulder a clean, freshly starched handkerchief. Mulder stuffed it into his mouth, with a hitching sob, glancing up at his Master out of the corner of his eye to see if his distress would earn him a reprieve. It didn't. Skinner pushed him back down and proceeded to tan his hide thoroughly, and efficiently with the strap until Mulder squirmed, his long arms waving like a windmill as he tried to stay still and take his punishment. Finally, Skinner let him up, and gestured to him to kneel in front of him. He took the handkerchief out of Mulder's mouth, and used it to gently wipe his slave's tear-stained cheeks, then he took Mulder's face between his hands, and looked down at him. "What am I going to do with you?" He asked, softly. "I dunno, Master." Mulder shrugged. "Where's the ring?" Skinner held out his hand, and Mulder reached in his pocket and handed the wedding ring over. "Fox, this isn't just a piece of metal to me. It's a lot more than that." Skinner took Mulder's left hand, and kissed it, tenderly. "I'd like it to mean a lot more than that to you, but it's clear that it doesn't." "It does!" Mulder protested. Skinner's disappointment was harder to bear than all the punishments in the world. "Master, I'm yours. I've given myself to you and I wear all your symbols with pride. You have no idea…no idea at all how much they mean to me," Mulder choked. "Good - because you have no idea how much you mean to me," Skinner told him quietly. He pushed the ring gently back onto Mulder's finger, before reaching down and helping the other man to stand. Then he took Mulder in his arms, and kissed him firmly on the lips. Mulder hung there, in his Master's grasp, wanting to hate him for strapping him so hard, but succeeding only in melting against that big body, and holding on to that solidly muscled form. Skinner released him, and was immediately back to his business-like persona. "Get dressed, Fox, and get those reports to me as soon as possible," he ordered. "Yes, Master." Mulder pulled his boxers and pants gingerly over his backside. Skinner looked at his bobbing cock, and shook his head. "Fox - if you go and relieve that particular ache in the men's room, then the strapping I just gave you will seem like a walk in the park. Understand me? I don't want you playing with my toys, or there'll be less left for me later." Mulder sighed. "Is there even the faintest possibility that you will ever give me the slightest break?" He asked. "No." Skinner grinned, then he put a big arm around the younger man, and hugged him. "So, tell me," he whispered, directly into Mulder's ear as he escorted him out of the bathroom, "how long have you had this fantasy about being disciplined in my office?" Mulder went red. "Since the very first day I sat in front of that big head-fuck of a desk of yours, while you made me wait like a schoolboy as you read my first report," he replied. "That long?" Skinner raised an amused eyebrow. "Yeah. I have a desk fetish - did I ever tell you that, Master? And a ruler fetish - you kept slapping your ruler against one of your hands in a way that gave me a hard-on so bad I had to pick up a file to hide it." "A desk fetish, hmm?" Skinner shook his head. "Ah, my insatiable little slave. You'll be the death of me yet," he sighed. "And how long have you wanted to hand out some office discipline?" Mulder asked with a sly grin. "Don't tell me that never crossed your mind before." "It never crossed my mind before I had to deal with you, that's for sure," Skinner growled, landing a swat on Mulder's sore backside that made his slave yelp. "Now, get out of my office, boy, and try and behave for the rest of the day." He opened his office door, and ushered Mulder out. "And Agent Mulder - I have a meeting with you and the other department heads at 2.30. Don't be late." "No, sir!" Mulder shook his head vigorously. Mulder ran down the stairs and back into his office, whistling to himself. His butt ached, but somehow his Master's kisses had made everything better. Scully was busy working on her report and he was eager to get to work on his. His ingenious brain was filled to the brim with facts relating to the perp with Alzheimer's and he wanted to get them down and move on to the next case. He perched gingerly in front of his computer, and logged on to the Internet, tracking down some obscure facts about the disease, and saving them to incorporate into his report. A sudden thought occurred to him. His fascination with his Master's mysterious past was always bubbling away in his mind, and now they were back at work there seemed to be even more of a curious dichotomy here. It was hard to reconcile hard-assed, tightly controlled Assistant Director Skinner with the sensualist owner of that 18th floor Playroom, and Mulder was burned up with curiosity on the subject. He shelved his research into Alzheimer's, and went into the records of previous owners of the apartment that was his new home. It took him an hour or so of diligent study, but then he found his answer: Skinner hadn't bought either the 17th or the 18th floor apartments. He'd inherited them a few years previously. Mulder scrolled through the information eagerly, and found that Skinner's mysterious benefactor had been a man called Andrew Linker. So far, so good. Mulder filed the name away for future reference, and looked up, feeling hungry…only to find Scully staring at him, both eyebrows raised sky high. "So, Mulder, who's the lucky lady and where did you spend the honeymoon?" She asked. "What?" Mulder frowned, then he remembered the ring. "Oh this?" He grinned, pointing to the ring and affecting nonchalance. "It's just a…" he racked his brains, and blurted out the first thing that came into his head, "a bet!" he said triumphantly. Scully's eyebrows disappeared into her hairline and showed no signs of ever reappearing. "Um…yeah, I lost a bet with a friend, and the penalty was wearing this for a month," he told her. It sounded stupid even to his own ears. "Uh huh." She crossed her arms over her chest, and waited. Mulder searched desperately for those eyebrows but they had clearly decided to go for a trek over the top of her head and down the back of her skull. "Okay…the truth… the truth is…" Mulder hesitated, and went with one of his earlier options. "I was getting sick of being hit upon the whole time, you know. I thought the ring might keep the vultures at bay." "What?" Scully frowned. Mulder's heart sank. "Well, I've noticed that you get looked at a lot, partner, but I didn't realize you had a problem with that. To be honest, I wasn't sure you'd even noticed. I've seen some women, and even the occasional man," she gave him a sly grin, "try and chat you up, but it passes you right by." "When?" Mulder asked blankly. "When did that happen?" Then he realized he'd blown that cover story too. Scully sighed. "Come on, Mulder - why are you really wearing a wedding ring? Did you get married?" "No." Mulder said, grateful that much was the truth at least. "Then why?" Mulder sighed, running out of options. "Okay, but you won't like it," he warned. "Just spit it out, partner!" She cried, clearly exasperated. Mulder took a deep breath. She was his friend, right? And friends were supposed to be supportive about this kind of stuff. Okay, so it was a lot to hit her with all in one go, but she deserved the truth. "All right," he began, looking studiously at his own feet to avoid her searching stare. "There's some stuff you don't know about me. Basically…I, um, I'm into the BDSM scene, and I just, uh, sold myself into slavery and last week I was being, um, trained which is why I took a vacation. So now I belong to someone and that's why I wear the ring to signify that I'm owned and therefore not…um, available." He ran out of steam, and looked up to see what the reaction was. "Uh huh." He hated it when she said that in that special tone of voice. "I see." She gave him her patented Scully "look" and he squirmed. "And, uh, how long have you known this, um new owner of yours?" She was one step away from giggling. He could tell. "A long time." Mulder went an interesting shade of brick red. "And is she attractive?" Scully pressed. "Very…but, uh, she's not a she." Mulder winced, and waited for the reaction. Scully put her head on one side and gazed at him quizzically. "She's an alien?" She asked. "I wish!" Mulder shook his head ruefully. "No, I mean, that is…my new owner is a man. I have a…Master." You could have heard a pin drop. "Right." Scully said in a tone that implied she didn't believe a word of it but was going to indulge him in the fantasy anyway. Mulder heaved a sigh of relief and took a deep gulp of his now cold coffee. "Okay, Mulder. So, tell me about this training of yours. Did your, uh, master, give you a slave name?" Mulder's coffee went down the wrong way and he choked, then coughed energetically onto his desk. "What…" he rasped feebly after several minutes, "do you know about slave names, Scully?" "I'm not a complete innocent, Mulder." She gave him an infuriating wink, and he stared at her mesmerized. His Scully. His lovely Scully - surely she wasn't into the lifestyle? An image of her in a tight corset waving a whip sprang into his mind and he dismissed it. Not his Scully. He'd know if she played on the scene anyway - he'd gone through all the tops around, male and female, until he'd fetched up in Skinner's lap, so to speak. "So, come on, what's your slave name?" "It's Fox," he told her weakly. "Fox?" Her eyebrows went on another of their mountaineering expeditions into the far reaches of her hair. "Isn't that a bit unoriginal, Mulder? Or doesn't your master have much of an imagination?" "Well, it's not that." Mulder shifted uncomfortably. "It's more like an exquisite form of torture, Scully. You see, he knows I hate my name, and to have your slave name be your real name is kind of cruel as well. Sort of the ultimate humiliation, so that's why he chose Fox. I didn't have any say in the matter." "I see." She nodded. "So does your master spank you, Mulder?" He could see that she was enjoying every second of this game. She thought she was calling his bluff, when in actual fact every word he'd told her was the truth. Mulder couldn't help but appreciate the irony, and he laughed out loud. "Yeah, Scully. He spanks me good - but only when I'm bad," he winked at her. "Oh dear. Your poor master. His right arm must ache then," she mused. He glared at her, and she burst out laughing. "Oh, Mulder, honestly, you could have come up with something more realistic than this cock and bull story!" she exclaimed. "I don't care about the ring, Mulder. If you don't want to tell me, that's fine - it's none of my business, but you could have just said that," she told him reprovingly. He sighed, and nodded. Jeez - she was worse than Skinner on this whole honesty issue. "You haven't forgotten that we're having lunch together, have you, Mulder?" She asked him. "No," he grinned. "My treat." It was the least he could do, and it was Skinner's money anyway - he'd use the credit card his Master had given him. "You're on!" She grinned back. "Slaveboy!" She added as an afterthought. Mulder cringed inside. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea telling her the truth after all. She seemed to be enjoying the whole joke immensely. On the other hand - it was good to see her so happy. He was so content himself, in his new life, and his new living arrangement that he could hardly begrudge her a little bit of fun at his expense. The telephone interrupted them. Mulder picked it up. "Yo! Slaveboys R Us!" he announced, grinning at Scully who gave him a thumbs up sign. "Mulder - long time, no talk," a voice on the other end of the line purred. Mulder sat down heavily, ignoring the streak of pain that shot through his body as his sore backside made contact with the chair. Krycek. "What do you want?" he hissed. "That's no way to greet an old friend." "You're no friend of mine." "I could be though. I have information you might like to hear." Mulder glanced at Scully. She'd returned to her report, although she was obviously listening to this conversation with half an ear. "It's about your sister," Krycek murmured, in sibilant tones. It was a trap. It had to be a trap. Krycek knew that the one way to lure him anywhere was to mention Samantha. He had a pavlovian response to her name. He thought about Scully, and her dead sister, about his own dead father. You can't trust this man, Mulder, he told himself. You can't. "Remember I gave you that information about the black oil," Krycek told him, sounding like the devil himself in his efforts to tempt Mulder. "No." Mulder snapped. "I'm not playing this game with you." "We could arrange to meet," Krycek ignored him. "She's fine - safe and well. A… mutual acquaintance of ours visited her last week. He took me along as his driver. Don't you want to know where she's living?" Mulder closed his eyes, and counted to ten. He remembered Skinner telling him only yesterday that Mulder knew the kind of behavior his Master would approve of, and what he wouldn't. He had been ordered to go and speak to Skinner if he was in any doubt. He wasn't in any doubt though, and he knew what Skinner would say - he would tell him it was too risky. "No," he said, finally, through great effort of will. "This time I'm not biting," and he slammed the phone down. A sense of euphoria flooded through his veins. He'd done the right thing. His Master would be proud of him. That didn't still the tiny, nagging voice at the back of his mind though. Supposing Krycek had been telling the truth? Supposing his sister was out there, just waiting for him to find her? "Mulder?" Scully was looking at him with concerned blue eyes. "It's okay." He gave her a half smile. "Hey - isn't it time for lunch, partner?" Mulder took Scully to an expensive Italian restaurant nearby. He talked too much, trying to distract himself from thinking about Krycek's phone call, but he knew he sounded like he'd taken speed. He was gabbling, and not making a lot of sense. Scully was giving him one of her worried looks, and he could see she was wearing her 'Dr. Scully' hat. "Slow down, Mulder." She put her hand gently over his. "Is there something worrying you?" She asked him. "No. Why should there be? Do you like that sparkling water? I could get you still, or how about a diet coke?" "This is fine. Mulder…if you can't talk to me, perhaps you could talk to…" Her eyes flickered over his wedding ring. "The person who gave you that," she finished. Mulder bit on his lip. "I said, I'm fine. I'm great. Hey, tell me how work was last week without me to keep you entertained." He sat back in his chair, and tried to stop fidgeting. "Quiet. I missed you." She smiled. "But you needed the break and you're looking terrific, Mulder. Seriously - this, uh, master of yours is clearly doing you good." Her lips twisted up at the side, as if she wasn't sure whether this was a game or not. "Thanks." He took a sip of his own water and caught a reflection of himself in the mirror opposite. He looked rested, and his skin was…well Scully was right - he did look 'glowing'. It must be love… It was so good to be back with Scully again that Mulder started to relax. They talked for longer than they should have done, and overshot their lunch hour. Mulder looked around for a waiter so he could call for the check…and then froze. A familiar face loomed into his vision. Green eyes sparkled at him, and Krycek's mouth twisted into a grin of greeting. He was sitting at a table across the restaurant, just watching…and waiting. It was too much for Mulder. He got to his feet, angrily. "Mulder?" Scully looked at him in surprise. "Go back to work. I'll see you later," he told her. "Mulder…the check…I didn't bring any money!" She protested. "Here." He reached into his pocket and pulled out all the cash Skinner had given to him - he didn't have time to wait for the credit card to be processed. Then he turned and ran. Krycek had already disappeared by the time he got to the door of the restaurant. Mulder pulled it open and ran outside, and down the street. A car pulled up in front of him, and the door opened. "Get in." Krycek was the only occupant of the car. Mulder weighed it up, looked up and down the street, and then did what they both knew he was going to do anyway. He got in. "What's the deal, Krycek?" Mulder drew his gun and held it pointed at the other man. Krycek grinned. "Use that and you'll never find her," he said. "Where is she?" "I can't tell you." Krycek grinned again. Mulder grabbed him by the collar, nearly resulting in the car going off the road. Krycek shoved Mulder away. "You told me you knew where she was," Mulder snarled. "I did. She's been moved," Krycek shrugged. "My…employer moves her around a lot. She's important to them. Something to do with the virus they're developing." "They're experimenting on her?" Mulder closed his eyes, and tried to remember to breathe. "Yes. They've been experimenting upon her for years. Poor kid." "Don't. If this isn't true, don't do this," Mulder said, in a broken tone. "Sorry, old friend, but it's true," Krycek said softly. "Look - I don't like it either. She's had a tough life." "Where was she when you last saw her?" Mulder demanded. "California." Krycek handed him a piece of paper, with an address on it. "Check it out if you want, but you won't find her there, and there won't be any clues as to where she's gone. This is just a gesture of good faith, from me to you, so that you know I'm telling the truth." He stopped the car abruptly, in a quiet street, and turned to face Mulder. "I'm ideally placed to find out more," he said. "When I do, you'll know about it." Then he leaned over, opened the door, and pushed Mulder out onto the road. "I'll be in touch," were his last words before the car screeched away. It could have been a threat, or a promise. Mulder wasn't sure which. Mulder found himself miles from the Hoover building without any cash. He sank his hands deep into his pockets and began the slow walk back to work. It was almost 3 when he got there. He jogged the last couple of miles, but even so, he knew that he was dead meat. Skinner had warned him not to be late for the meeting, and now he would ask him a lot of questions about why he was late, and Mulder wasn't in any mood to answer them, knowing as he did that he'd just get into even worse trouble. He ran up the stairs and burst into Skinner's office to find his Master talking quietly to a group of agents. "Ah, Agent Mulder. Good of you to join us." Skinner's unerring eyes took in his disheveled appearance, without giving any hint of what he was thinking, but Mulder knew. He knew his Master well enough by now to know that he was in deep shit. "Sit down." Skinner gestured with his hand, and Mulder went and plunked himself into the vacant chair, only to jump up again as his painful buttocks reminded him of the whipping he'd received up here just a few hours ago. "Problem, Agent Mulder?" Skinner asked him. "No, sir. It's just these Bureau chairs, sir. They're a bit uncomfortable…" Mulder mumbled, going red. "Agent Mulder, you've held up this meeting for long enough. I'd be grateful if you would take your place as quickly and quietly as possible," Skinner growled, his eyes meeting Mulder's and holding a promise of imminent punishment. "Yes, M…sir." Mulder bit on his lip, and lowered himself cautiously into his seat. The meeting, which had already gotten off to a bad start, got even worse. Mulder couldn't keep his mind on the subject they were discussing. He was too busy thinking about Krycek, and what he'd told him. His sister had been experimented upon? He couldn't stand thinking about it. He was distracted, and paid little attention to Skinner's briefing. When his Master asked him questions he didn't know the answers, and after a while he stopped attempting to keep up. His eyes strayed over to the briefcase in the corner of the office every so often. Damn! It was hard enough keeping up with the labyrinthine conspiracy that threatened to overwhelm all of them, without worrying about getting his ass whipped as well. Mulder's lack of attention turned into a full-scale sulk, and he crossed his arms and answered Skinner's questions with barely any attempt at civility. He knew he was testing his Master's patience to the limit, but he figured that he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. He was going to get punished anyway, whatever he said, and he was so not in the mood. "So, Agents Phillips, and Goodacre, I'd be grateful if you could research this issue for me," Skinner wound up the meeting. "Yes, sir." The two agents nodded, and picked up their brief. Mulder glared at them. Asslickers. "Agent Mulder, do you think you'll be able to tie this in with the X Files you mentioned?" Skinner turned back to his most truculent agent. "Oh, I think I can just about manage that, yes, sir," he sneered, almost rolling his eyes sarcastically. "Unless you doubt my competence," he challenged. There was a silence around the table. Several agents looked as if they wanted to run for cover. Mulder didn't blame them. Skinner's mouth settled into a hard line. "Not your competence, no," he replied coolly, his message going home loud and clear, and not just to Mulder. He knew the other agents were wondering whether he was insane. Nobody took on Skinner and won. "That will be all, agents. You have your assignments." Skinner dismissed them. Mulder didn't even bother to move. Skinner also remained seated, as the other agents filed out nervously, casting glances in their direction. Mulder could see from the looks on their faces that they were all glad that they weren't in his shoes. Suddenly he wished that he wasn't in his shoes either, and cursed his earlier bravado and display of bad temper. The door closed behind the last agent, and still Skinner didn't move. He surveyed Mulder like a snake, watching its prey for any sign of movement. Mulder sat slumped in his chair, looking back, not dropping his gaze. He was going to stare Skinner out and take the consequences. Two minutes passed. Then three. Mulder suddenly felt very hot. Skinner's dark eyes were fixed on his face, waiting. His Master was leaning on one hand, his fingers caressing the side of his jaw as he sat there. Mulder cleared his throat, opened his mouth, then closed it again. Skinner's dark eyes were unwavering. Four minutes. Mulder snapped. He dropped his gaze, unable to bear it any longer, and that was when Skinner finally spoke. "Go and get me the paddle," he said, in a low, hard tone. "No." Mulder clenched his fists. "Don't you want to hear my explanation first?" He asked. "You mean you actually have one?" Skinner sounded surprised. "You're saying there can be any excuse for the appalling behavior I just witnessed? Well then, by all means, go ahead. Explain away. This should be good." He sat back in his chair and folded his arms, expectantly. "Oh fuck it. You're not going to listen to me anyway!" Mulder exploded, getting up and flouncing across the room to the briefcase. He opened it and drew out the paddle. While he hadn't exactly found this implement to be the most painful implement in the case yesterday, he knew his butt was so sore after the caning, and strapping he'd already received today that the paddle would add another level to his current agony. He brought the paddle back and threw it down on the table in front of his Master. Skinner caught his wrist in a vice-like grip. "I always listen," he said in a deep, urgent tone. "Now, talk." He kept hold of Mulder's wrist, and clicked the fingers on his other hand. Mulder tried to resist, but Skinner pulled his arm down and he found himself sinking onto his knees beside his Master. He knelt there glumly because he knew there was nothing he could say. Well, he could tell Skinner about Krycek, but he just knew how well that would go down. Skinner would have his hide for chasing after his old enemy and if he knew he'd got into the car with him…Mulder bit on his lip. It wasn't worth it. Some small part of him also knew that he didn't want to share this information, regardless of any punishment. He was a grown man, capable of making his own decisions, and he'd continue to make them regardless of any sanctions his Master placed upon him. "I was having lunch with Scully. We forgot the time," he said lamely. Skinner placed a finger under his chin, and pulled his head up to look at him. "And that's the reason why you showed me up in front of a room full of agents?" He asked incredulously. "Why, for god's sake, Fox?" "I don't know. I got annoyed with you." Mulder shrugged. "I knew I was in trouble anyway, and I just got angry. I'm not used to all these restrictions. I need some leeway." "Tough." Skinner got to his feet, his expression grim. "Quote me the first clause of your contract, slave." Mulder stared at him. Then did as he was told, with a sigh. "The slave agrees to obey and submit completely to his Master in all ways. There are no boundaries of place, time, or situation in which the slave may willfully refuse to obey the directive of his Master," he gabbled. "Did you put your name to that contract, Fox?" Skinner asked. Mulder struggled for a moment. "Yes, but I didn't know that you'd be working here!" He protested. "It makes no difference. At least you were lucky enough to end up with a Master who understands about your quest - can you imagine how many other Masters would be so accommodating to that side of your life?" Skinner turned back, and glared at him. "Now, yesterday I told you that the consequences of screwing up big time are being punished big time. Now I'm going to show you exactly what that means." He moved around the room, drawing the blinds, and locking the doors. Mulder watched, his heart sinking into his stomach. He wasn't in the mood for a spanking. This morning it had hurt, but it had also been a turn on. This afternoon it was more like a punishment, which was exactly what Skinner intended, of course. Mulder clenched his fists and willed himself to be anywhere else in the universe but here. Skinner finished his task, then turned back, and silently handed Mulder his handkerchief again. "You'll need it," he warned. Mulder took it, and Skinner pointed at the table. "Pants down, and bend over," he ordered. Mulder's breath caught in his throat. Usually those words thrilled him, but on this occasion…he wasn't sure. Skinner was genuinely angry. It still wasn't too late. He could still tell the other man about Krycek, about his sister. He longed to share the information with someone if he was honest, but a lifetime of dealing with this issue on his own kicked in, and instead of talking, he took his pants down, as ordered, and bent over the table. Mulder held onto the table with sweaty palms as he felt the paddle, cool and sleek, brushing his backside. The hard surface of the table dug into his thighs. Skinner didn't even bother to ask him what lesson he was learning. There was silence for a moment, then the most almighty blaze of pain. He choked into the handkerchief, as his Master punished him thoroughly. His already sore bottom reached new levels of pain as his Master laid into him with the paddle. Skinner was an expert of course, and he applied the paddle to cover every single inch of Mulder's red buns, until the agent was sure that he couldn’t stand it any more, and he dissolved into hiccuping sobs, trying to breathe through the handkerchief. Then it was over. "Get up, get dressed, and put the paddle away," Skinner told him firmly. Mulder pulled the handkerchief out of his mouth and gazed at his Master resentfully. No hugs? No kisses? No little words of reassurance? Mulder did as instructed in silence, watching out of the corner of his eye as Skinner returned to his desk, and started writing something down. Mulder finished his tasks, and went to kneel beside his Master. He rested his head on Skinner's knee in his favorite position, then nudged his Master's hand with his nose, like a puppy needing attention. Skinner looked down at him, and frowned. Then he ruffled his hand through Mulder's hair. Mulder sighed, and leaned into the embrace. "That hurt, Master," Mulder whispered. "I know. It was supposed to, little one," Skinner replied. "You know I'll be hard on you if you're disrespectful or disobey me. I've always made that very clear." They sat there for a moment, Skinner's fingers gently caressing his slave's hair. Then Skinner took Mulder's face in his hands and looked at him. "You're sure there's nothing else?" He asked, his eyes scanning Mulder's face, searchingly. Mulder closed his eyes. He wanted to tell his Master. He did want to, but an old instinct took over. He shook his head. "No, Master," he whispered. Skinner carried on looking at him for a moment, then dropped Mulder's head, abruptly. "Get up," he ordered. "Here." He handed Mulder the note he had been writing. "This is a list of the groceries we need. Make sure you get them on your way home." Mulder stared at the list, his throat dry. He knew he had disappointed Skinner, but he didn't know how to make things better. "Now go," Skinner told him. "Unless you have anything else you'd like to say?" "No." Mulder shrugged. He looked at Skinner for a moment, then pocketed the grocery list and walked over to the door. "And, Fox - don't be late home," Skinner advised. "I really wouldn't recommend that today." "No, Master." Mulder wandered downstairs, dejected. I knew this would happen. I told him this would happen. It's just not going to work. Jeez, the expression on his face - as if I disgusted him or something. He couldn't wait to get rid of me. He hunched his shoulders, and returned to his office. Scully glanced up, concerned. "Mulder - are you okay? Where did you get to? What happened to you?" "I'm fine, Scully." Mulder sighed. "I'm sorry for ditching you." Scully's eyes widened in astonishment. "What?" Mulder asked her, surprised by her expression. "Mulder - that's the first time you've ever apologized for ditching me in your entire life, and it's happened enough times!" She exclaimed. "That Master of yours must be really hot on manners," she grinned slyly. Mulder managed a feeble smile in return. "Yeah. He is," he murmured, seating himself gingerly in his chair. "Aw, what's the matter, slaveboy? Master spank you too hard?" Scully teased, watching him. "Something like that." Mulder shook his head wryly. Mulder's mood wasn't made any better by having to sit on his aching butt all afternoon. He gazed at the address on the note Krycek had given to him. He knew there wasn't any point in running off to California, although he was sorely tempted. He did a search on the address and dug up some details that didn't verify anything, one way or another. He was glad when it was time to go, and was about to leave when he realized he didn't have any money to pay for the metro. He was damned if he was going to go and ask Skinner for some, like a school kid, and he sure as hell wasn't going to start borrowing off Scully. Mulder decided to jog home instead. He kept some gym clothes and sneakers in his locker. He said goodbye to Scully, and went and got changed, then set off. It felt good to be running off his misery. He went over and over the events of the day in his head but he couldn’t see a way of changing anything. He wished he could have told Skinner about Krycek, but it was as if he became mute at the very idea. Something stopped him, something too deep for him to tackle. He felt as if he were floating off into space once more, and he desperately wanted somebody to pull him back, and keep him grounded. As he ran, he felt the endorphins kick in. This felt good! He'd missed being able to jog. Mulder glanced at his watch. It was almost 6. He should go home, but he didn't want to. He wanted to run and run, and if he ran for long enough he might be able to escape all his problems. He remembered the groceries Skinner had asked for, but he didn't care. He didn't care if his Master whipped his ass all night. He needed this. He needed to run and run forever. It got dark, and Mulder started to feel cold. It was so good though. He had gone into a dream-like state where nothing mattered. It must have been a good two hours later, when he realized his feet had stopped moving. He looked up and found himself standing outside the Viva Towers. Some homing instinct had brought him here. He glanced up at the seventeenth floor, and then, with a sigh, went inside to meet his fate. He considered going straight up to the 18th floor and locking himself in his room, but he knew that his Master had to be faced, sooner or later, so he knocked on the 17th floor apartment. Skinner opened the door, and looked at him for a long moment. "Can I come in?" Mulder asked. Skinner didn't move. "Master," Mulder added. Skinner stood aside, and Mulder entered the apartment. "All right, I know I'm in deep shit. Spare me the lecture," Mulder said with a smirk. "Just whip my ass and send me to bed without any supper. I didn't get the groceries, and I went out running without your permission. I've been a very bad slave," he mocked. Skinner didn't explode as he'd expected. He just shook his head. "Why, Fox?" He asked mildly. Somehow, his Master's unexpected reaction was like a red rag to a bull, and Mulder went ballistic. "Because I wanted to fucking run! And I didn't want to do the fucking shopping! And I don't want to do any more of your fucking laundry either. Now get off my case, asshole!" Skinner moved so fast that Mulder only saw a blur of white. Then he felt himself being propelled into the kitchen, and pushed over to the sink. He had no idea what was even happening, until a handful of white, sloppy goo was thrust into his mouth. "UGH!" He spat out the soap, but the aftertaste lingered. "Fuck you! Fucking, fuck...oh my god that tastes like SHIT!" Skinner grabbed hold of his sweatshirt, dragged him out of the kitchen and across the living room, opened the balcony door, and threw him outside. Then he reached into his pocket, snapped a set of handcuffs around Mulder's wrist, and secured him to the balcony railing, before getting to his feet and looking down on his recalcitrant slave. "You can stay out here until you cool down," Skinner told him. "You bastard!" Mulder yelled. "Come back here! Fuck you, Skinner. Let me go!" Skinner gazed at him impassively for a moment, then went back into the apartment, leaving the door ajar. Mulder struggled pointlessly in his bonds for a moment, then sank back on his haunches, growling to himself as he tried to find a position that didn't involve placing his sore butt on the hard balcony floor. He kept up a screeching monologue for several minutes, cursing his Master, calling him every name under the sun, but although Skinner could clearly hear him, he made no reply. Mulder could see him through the balcony door, moving around in the kitchen, making dinner. Finally Mulder subsided, reconciling himself to a long stay out here. Damn, but Krycek had been right - it was cold out here. Damn Skinner. Damn him. Why the hell had Mulder agreed to that stupid, fucking contract? Mulder closed his eyes, blinking back the tears. He remembered the words security, and love. He had wanted that, and he hated himself for that weakness. Skinner came out a few minutes later. He didn't say anything. He just placed a bottle of water on the ground next to Mulder, and gazed at him for a few moments. Mulder glared at him, angrily, still tasting the soap in his mouth. He couldn't wait to wash that away with the water, but he had enough pride to wait until Skinner had gone before he grabbed the bottle and held it between his knees so that he could twist the cap off. Then he drank down the entire contents in one go, lost in his own misery. Mulder knew the danger signs only too well. He wasn't angry with Skinner. He was angry with himself, and his fucked up life. He was angry that he'd lost his sister in the first place, angry that men like Krycek used her to lure him into god knew what kind of trap. He was angry with himself for responding, for still needing this so badly that he'd risk screwing up the best thing that had ever happened to him in order to get it. This was one of those moments that he had warned his Master about. He was about to go out of control, about to spin off into the edges of insanity and he knew that when he came back down to earth, he'd feel empty, and lost, without hope, and full of despair. Those were the moments when he woke up wishing that he were dead. It was on one of those days that he knew he might decide to die. Mulder wrapped his free arm around his body. He felt so cold. So alone. If he closed his eyes he could see his sister, lying in some laboratory somewhere, faceless men looming over her. Mulder fought against the image, fought against it swallowing him whole, and twisting his gut until he could feel real physical pain. He watched his Master move around the apartment. He knew that if he called out, if he apologized, Skinner would come out here, and undo the cuff, but Mulder wouldn't ask. He dipped his head down to his chest, sunk in misery. A few minutes later he felt something wet nudge against his hand. Wanda had come to investigate the novelty of her slave's slave sitting out on the balcony and she was sniffing at him curiously. "Go. Away," he told her. She looked at him with clear green eyes, then climbed calmly into his lap, and snuggled up against his chest. He longed to accept the comfort, and his chin dropped for a moment against her soft head, but then his self-loathing kicked back in, and he shoved her angrily off his lap and onto the floor with his free hand. "Shoo!" He snarled, and she ran back into the apartment. He saw her climb onto Skinner's lap where his Master was sitting on the couch. She snuggled up in his Master's arms, and that just added to Mulder's misery. He wanted to cry but he had too much pride, so he just sat there, glaring at Skinner, glaring at Wanda, glaring at the world. A couple of hours passed, and finally Mulder's mood played itself out. Skinner appeared in the doorway. "How are you feeling?" He asked softly. "Fucking freezing," Mulder snapped. "Not that you care." "You must be hungry." Skinner came out onto the balcony, and crouched down in front of him. He was holding a plate full of the most delicious smelling food. Mulder realized that he was hungry. Very hungry. "Open up." Skinner pushed some food onto a fork, and held it up to Mulder's mouth. "I can damn well feed myself," Mulder protested. "Open up," Skinner repeated, his tone brooking no further resistance. Mulder obeyed, grudgingly, and Skinner fed him a forkful of food, then another, and another. Mulder was too overwrought to eat much though, and he refused any more after the 4th serving. Skinner looked at him calmly. "You'll eat the whole plateful," he stated firmly. "You've been out running for hours. You need to replace the energy." Mulder turned his face away, but Skinner turned it back, and held another forkful of food against his lips. Grudgingly, Mulder ate. He finished the plate of food, and then Skinner disappeared into the kitchen and returned with dessert. "No slave of mine ever goes to bed hungry," Skinner insisted, holding up a spoon full of cheesecake. "There are some punishments you'll never suffer at my hands, and missing meals is one of them." Mulder swallowed it down, feeling completely and utterly wrung-out. "I'm sorry, Master," he whispered between mouthfuls. "I know you are." Skinner smiled. When Mulder had finished, Skinner took the bowl back into the apartment, and then returned to the balcony. "Ready to come in now?" He asked. Mulder looked at him wearily, all the anger having fled his body, leaving him completely drained. "Yes please," he said softly. Skinner knelt down beside him, and unlocked the handcuff. Then he pulled Mulder to his feet and enveloped him in a hug. Mulder clung to his Master's big body as if his life depended on it. He felt so safe here. So warm, and comforted. Skinner was his earth, his grounding. It felt good knowing he could rely on the other man to pull him back down when he was about to fly off into orbit. "Okay, little one," Skinner soothed, gently stroking his slave's hair. "Now, I won't usually reward bad behavior, but on this occasion I'll make an exception as you're clearly in a bad way. Go and wait in my bedroom. You can spend the night with me." Mulder pulled back, and looked into his Master's eyes. "Really?" he whispered. "Really." Skinner kissed his forehead. "Now go and kneel in the bedroom and wait for me. I won't be long." Mulder didn't need telling twice. He walked wearily up to the bedroom, and sank down on the floor, waiting to be told what to do next. He didn't want to think. He just wanted to be held, and loved. Skinner came up a few minutes later. He sat on the end of the bed, and pulled his slave over, then he undressed him gently, kissing him, and soothing the weary agent with loving words as he worked. Mulder went into a trance. He was so tired. He wanted to escape, to be free. He needed to find some place in his head where there was peace, but all he could see was his sister. He gave a stifled sob, and Skinner drew him close, and kissed his lips. Mulder drowned in that kiss, and realized, with a start, that he had found his escape in his Master's arms. Here he was safe from the demons that had haunted him all his life. He surrendered to Skinner's insistent mouth, to his claiming tongue, and melted against the big man, warming himself in that loving embrace. "I've run you a bath," Skinner said when he released him. "You need warming up." He helped Mulder to get up, and walked him into the bathroom. He deposited his weary slave in the bath, and then got undressed himself and slipped in beside him. He pulled Mulder over, and soaped him down, rubbing his muscles briskly. Mulder started to feel more human. He was warm, clean, fed, loved…He leaned back in his Master's arms, and allowed the other man to take care of him. Skinner didn't linger in the bath. He made sure Mulder was warm, then he walked him back into the other room, and helped him into the bed. Mulder watched his Master wander around the room, tidying up clothing, and longed for him to join him in the bed. Finally Skinner finished, turned off the light, and got into the bed beside his slave. Mulder hesitated, then inched his way hesitantly towards his Master, and put his arms around him, burying his face in the other man's chest. "I'm so, so sorry. I'm such a shit head. I…" "Fox. Stop. I never use abusive names when I talk to you, do I?" Skinner asked. Mulder blinked. "No, Master." "And do you think I'd keep a slave that wasn't worthy of me?" Skinner pressed. Mulder felt so tired that he couldn't think. "No, Master. I suppose not," he agreed reluctantly. "Well then." Skinner kissed him gently, lovingly, holding him tight. "Don't use names like that for yourself again." "Make love to me, Master," Mulder whispered. "No, sweetheart, you're too tired," Skinner replied. "Please. I want to feel…good again," Mulder kissed his Master's chest, and lightly teased a nipple with his tongue. "You make me feel good, Master. Help me forget…" "Forget what, Fox?" Skinner held him so tight that he couldn't escape. "What happened today?" "Nothing. Nothing. Nothing…" Mulder found his Master's soft cock and caressed it with his hand. He loved his Master's bed too much to want to lose the privilege by telling him what had happened, and apart from anything else, he just didn't want to talk about it. It was his pain, and his alone. It always had been, and he nursed it close to his heart and never let anyone in. "Please, Master…make love to me." Skinner sighed. "Fox, something clearly happened today. Now I can't make you tell me, but I want you to know that you can. When you're ready. I might whip your ass, but I'll always listen. Understood?" Mulder nodded, dumbly. Skinner shook his head. "Fox, I don’t like watching you tear yourself apart like this." Mulder ignored his Master, and kept nuzzling at Skinner's broad chest. He kissed his way down to his Master's groin, and took Skinner's cock into his mouth. It hardened under Mulder's expert caress. He drew back, and looked at Skinner expectantly. "Please…make love to me," he begged. Skinner nodded, finally accepting that it was the only thing that would soothe his deeply troubled slave. He turned Mulder around, and held his slave close against his chest. Mulder could feel his Master's hard length pressing against his buttocks. "Okay, stroke yourself. Come if you want," Skinner said. Mulder heard him putting a condom on his hard cock, and then his Master handed one to him as well. "So neither of us has to lie on the damp patch," Skinner whispered. He took hold of Mulder's buttocks gently, and eased himself between them, sliding into the lubricated hole without difficulty. Then he held Mulder tight, and gently rocked back and forth into his slave. Mulder lost himself in the sheer pleasure of his Master's touch, pressing back to impale himself on even more of Skinner's length. His own cock was hard, and he entered a dream-like state of total bliss, lying comfortably in his Master's arms, lulled by the scent of sex, and the pleasure of being made love to, of being loved. Skinner kissed the back of his slave's neck, and nibbled on his ear, and they both came a little while later. Skinner disposed of the condoms, then joined his slave back in the bed. He took Mulder in his arms again, and Mulder felt at peace for the first time since Krycek's phone call. "Listen to me, Fox, before you go to sleep," Skinner said. "Hmmm?" Mulder felt his weary mind begin to drift away. "Today was a bad day. Tomorrow we'll start again." "Yes…again." Mulder nodded. "Remember one thing." Skinner's arms tightened around his slave. "You belong to me, and you're hurting right now. I'll do everything in my power to help you. You're mine, sweetheart. Body, heart, mind, and soul, and whatever hurts you, hurts me." "I can feel myself spinning off course. Just don't let me go." Mulder had a vision of himself flying off into space. Deep inside, he doubted that even Skinner would be strong enough to keep him on the ground. "I won't," Skinner promised, and his voice was grim. "I might be hard on you, Fox, but I'll always be here for you." Mulder remembered, with a guilty start, the information he'd found out about Skinner inheriting these apartments from Andrew Linker. He had spied on his Master, lied to him, disobeyed him too many times to mention, and been insolent to him all in the space of one day. He'd shouted at Skinner, and pushed him to the limits of his patience, but at the end of the day the other man was still here, with his arms wrapped tightly around his slave. Maybe he had finally met his match, after all. Maybe he had at last found somebody he could trust with the true darkness of what he knew lay within himself. Just not yet. Not quite yet.
---
!Chapter 12: Dog Days Mulder woke some time during the night. He shifted, and turned, mumbling something drowsily in his sleep, then realized that the room was lit by soft lamplight. He lay still, aware that Skinner was sitting up in bed, reading a book. His Master's hand was playing with his slave's hair, gently caressing it, so lightly as not to wake him. Mulder lay still, pretending to still be asleep, enjoying the feather-light touch. He gazed up at his Master from under hooded eyelids. Skinner was wearing his glasses, but he was naked, which made him resemble a strange hybrid between Master and AD. After just one day back at work, the office Skinner and the Playroom Skinner were still two very distinct beings in Mulder's mind. Mulder was transfixed by his Master's fingertips as they held the book loosely. Skinner had thick, blunt hands, with neatly trimmed, exquisitely manicured nails. They were big hands, that could cover a large area of naked butt very efficiently, as Mulder knew all too well. Mulder's gaze lingered on burly forearms, tanned, and covered with a light covering of wiry hair, then traveled up to take in the finely honed pectorals, rippling under taut, honeyed skin. Mulder hungered after those arms. He hungered to be enveloped in them, to be held, made love to, and, when he was spinning out of control, to be restrained by them as well. Skinner's arms had been a subject of his fantasies for longer than he cared to admit. He remembered being held down, and held up, too many times, even before he had become the other man's slave. Large arms holding him against a broad chest in the hallway of the Hoover building, when he was half out of his mind on hallucinogenic drugs, strong arms disarming him when he reached for his gun in the grip of a waking nightmare. The same arms had refused to hurt him when he had so recently flailed around on the edge of total insanity under the influence of an alien artifact. These were arms that caught him when he fell, captured him, and held him tight, held him upright, and kept him safe within their warm, comforting circle. Mulder watched as Skinner finished reading, and gazed at the ceiling for a moment, lost in thought. Then his Master fished out a bookmark from the back of the book, and studied it intently. Mulder moved slightly, to get a better look at it: it was a photograph - a picture of a man. He must have been in his sixties, but he was handsome, with silver hair, and sparkling blue eyes. His wide jaw hinted at a strong personality, but his face was intelligent, and friendly. Skinner's expression softened and he gave a wry chuckle, as he fingered the photo. "Andrew, sometimes I wonder what you would have done with him," he murmured. Mulder felt a pang of guilty insecurity. It was clear that he was the cause of Skinner's sleepless night. After the way he had behaved the previous evening, he wasn't surprised that Skinner despaired. He was intrigued by the warmth and affection in Skinner's voice as he addressed his dead friend. Mulder felt even more guilty as he reflected on how he came to know who Andrew was, although he couldn't even begin to speculate as to what the other man might have meant to Skinner. Skinner replaced the photo in his book, and placed it on the nightstand, then he turned off the lamp, and slid down in the bed. Mulder closed his eyes again, and was surprised when Skinner placed his arms around his slave, and pulled him against his chest. Mulder muttered something, still feigning sleep, and then he felt Skinner's lips pressed against the back of his neck, and his Master bestowed a series of soft, gentle kisses there. "My wild fox. Not tamed yet," Skinner whispered, his voice hazy with sleep. His fingers stroked soothingly down Mulder's flanks, and across his torso; tender touches, gossamer light, not designed to wake. "My captive animal. Still not feeding out of my hand." Skinner's lips found the tips of his ears, and traveled gently along the line of his jaw. "In my bed. In my heart." Skinner's hands and lips came to rest, his breathing deepening, and Mulder felt a lump rise in his throat. He so rarely saw the man behind the Master. Skinner didn't want him to see, at least not yet, and maybe Mulder didn't want to see either, although god knows he was curious enough. It was easier to stay as he was, distrustful, locked up within himself, than to take the first, tentative steps towards trusting. Mulder pressed his body back against Skinner's chest, and placed his hands over the other man's, clasped, as they were, over the front of his stomach. He had fooled himself that he could use this situation for sex, and to fulfill the fantasies that had been part of his psyche for as long as he could remember, only Skinner wasn't allowing him to do that. Skinner was demanding more, and Mulder knew that was partly the reason why he had reacted the way he had yesterday. He could quit. He could get up, leave the warm circle of these beloved arms, and renege on this contract he had signed. He could do that. He should do that if he wanted to keep the other man out, and his own secrets safely locked away in the darkness within, but he didn't want to give this up. He hadn't even realized he had wanted it until it was too late. Mulder closed his eyes again, too weary to keep thinking. He wanted to give it all up to this man. Damn, he wanted that so badly, but the inner strength that had kept him alive, and kept him going, despite all the knocks, for so many long years, wouldn't allow him to do that without a fight; and the fight was exhausting him. "Ow!" Mulder woke up several hours later to a stinging pain in his buttock. Someone was damn well spanking him awake! He jerked into consciousness with a start, to find that Skinner had one big arm holding him still, while his Master delivered a series of mild swats to his slave's ass with his other hand. "What did I do?" he mumbled into the pillow, his cock immediately erect. "Nothing." Skinner slapped his warm ass again. "It's morning, and I enjoy spanking my slave. There doesn't need to be any other reason." Another slap made Mulder press his erection into the mattress, with a startled "Oomph!" Then Skinner moved, and Mulder felt a wet tongue descend on his smarting ass cheeks, and lovingly lick the warmed flesh. He relaxed, moaning into the delicious embrace, and a few seconds later, another slap descended on his buttocks. He moaned again, and buried his face in his arms. More licking followed, and then sucking, gentle play bites on his tender ass that made his cock scream out for release. "Can I come, Master?" He panted, lifting his head from the pillow. "Not until I'm done," Skinner informed him firmly. Mulder moaned again and placed his head under the pillow this time. More light swats on his ass followed. He was still sore from yesterday's several punishments, but this was less like his usual morning discipline and more like a highly charged erotic game. Skinner was keeping the spanking light enough to do no more than sting and arouse. More licking, and the bites increased their intensity on his warmed flesh. Mulder shrieked, the sound coming out muffled from beneath the pillow. He had never enjoyed such exquisite tortures until he had met Skinner. Before that, a spanking had just been a spanking. He had sought them for the pain and the release, but had never experienced them given with such attention to sensory detail before. He was practically on the ceiling from the high. Yesterday, with all its sadness, was forgotten as he surrendered himself to his own pleasure, and to the pleasure his Master took from him. He knew it was a brief respite from a pain that would always been in his heart, until he found out, once and for all, what had happened to his sister, but it was better than nothing. "Who do you belong to?" Skinner asked him, between measured swats. "You, Master," he replied, comforted more than he would have thought possible by the familiar morning litany. Skinner had told him that he thought his slave responded well to routine, and for the first time Mulder wondered if he might not agree with that assessment of his personality, however unlikely it was. "Where?" Skinner asked. "Everywhere," he whispered, awaiting the next swat, and squirming with enjoyment as it landed on his sore ass. "Your status?" Skinner asked, his voice keeping time with the spanking like a metronome. "Your slave. I exist to serve you, Master," Mulder said, and then he realized he meant it. For the first time he actually meant it. He lay, obedient and acquiescent as Skinner's loving swats turned into several minutes of licking and caressing that carried him away on a cloud of total bliss. Then it was over. Skinner rolled him onto his back, and lay down next to him, one hand propping up his head. He looked down on his slave for a long moment, and, embarrassed by the silent scrutiny, Mulder looked away. Skinner reached out, and turned his head back. "Look at me, slave," he said firmly. Mulder nodded, but it was hard looking into those intense brown eyes, just looking - without speaking, and after a few seconds, he cracked. "I'm sorry about last night, Master," he said. "Hell, I'm sorry about all of yesterday." "Will you tell me what happened?" Skinner asked. Mulder kept the eye contact, but couldn't give Skinner the answer he wanted. "It was nothing. Just me being an idiot. You were kinder to me than I deserved," he said with a shrug. "No. I think that yesterday you deserved more than my kindness," Skinner mused. "That was the least I could give you." "No. You should have just whipped my ass and sent me to bed like I told you to." Mulder shrugged. "Since when do I take orders from you?" Skinner commented with a wry smile. "And you have never been very good at judging what's best for yourself. As for your ass - well that was on the receiving end of far too much discipline as it was yesterday. It could do with a rest today as well. Will it get one?" He raised an eyebrow. "I'll do my best," Mulder began. Skinner stopped him, placing a finger over his lips. "No. I want an undertaking, Fox," he said firmly. Mulder nodded, uncertainly."Yes, Master," he muttered. "Good pup." Skinner ran a gentle hand over Mulder's naked chest, caressing his slave gently. Then his hand went lower, and grasped Mulder's hard cock. He played with it, never taking his eyes from Mulder's face. "Alright, pup, today I'm going to keep you on a very short leash. I realize that I made a mistake yesterday…" "Master?" Mulder looked confused. "You didn't do anything wrong yesterday. I was the one who screwed up..." "Quiet, boy. I said we'd start again today and I meant it," Skinner told him firmly. "I made a mistake in allowing you so much freedom at precisely a time when you needed to feel secure. I gave you too much rope, Fox, and you well and truly went and hanged yourself on it, didn't you?" "Yes, Master. That's one way of putting it," Mulder bit on his lip as Skinner stroked his cock firmly. It was hard carrying on a serious conversation when he was being caressed in such an intimate way. "So, pup, today I'm putting you on a very short leash indeed." "That's not necessary. I can…" Mulder began, his heart sinking. He had the day planned out in his head. He wanted to look through the X Files to see if he could trump up a case in California so that he could check out that address Krycek had given him. He also had every intention of finding out whether Andrew Linker had any living relatives as well. He wanted to find out more about this mystery man that Skinner kept a photograph of. He couldn't do either of those things with Skinner breathing down his neck all day. "Pup." Skinner raised an eyebrow, his hand still continuing its slow torment on Mulder's cock. "Yes, Master," Mulder said with a sigh. "What exactly do you mean by short leash though?" "You'll see. Now, it's late. Go and take a shower," Skinner instructed. "Alone?" It was Mulder's turn to raise an eyebrow now. "Yes. I have something I want to do…oh, and Fox…" Skinner's skillful hand movements became faster and more furious. Mulder gasped and threw his head back, moaning softly. "Yes… Master?" he panted. Skinner leaned over and whispered in Mulder's ear: "You can come." Mulder obliged almost immediately and Skinner guffawed, and removed his hand, then got out of the bed, pulled on a robe, and left the bedroom. Mulder lay weakly on the bed, his body humming with sexual release. After a few minutes he supposed he should do as Skinner had instructed, but it was so nice just lying here lazily in the aftermath of orgasm. Finally, mindful of Skinner's words on the subject of further spankings, he dragged himself off the bed, and was about to go to the shower when he caught sight of the book on Skinner's night-stand. He stood, uncertainly, then, with a glance at the door to make sure that Skinner wasn't around, he reached out and picked the book up. He had expected a novel, so he was surprised to find that the book was a psychology text. Mulder frowned, intrigued, as he read the blurb on the back. It wasn't some kind of pop-psychology book: it was a serious, heavyweight, in-depth study. Mulder tugged on his bottom lip for a moment, then opened the book. On the inside cover was an inscription: "To Andrew, thanks for all you taught me. Everything good in this long tome I owe to you. All the bullshit is mine. Much love, Peter." Mulder glanced back at the front of the book to find that it was written by a Doctor Peter Mayfield. "Weirder, and weirder," he muttered, wondering who the hell this Andrew Linker had been that someone as eminent in the world of psychiatry as Peter Mayfield had sent him signed copies of his books. Mulder flicked the book open to the page where Skinner had stored his bookmark, and held his breath as he found the photograph. Up close, he could see that Andrew Linker had been a handsome man, in a quirky, off-beat kind of way. His heart quickened as he wondered if he was looking at his Master's former lover. What kind of relationship had they shared? Andrew wasn't smiling in the picture, but he looked thoughtful, and his blue eyes contained an element of mischief. Had he subbed to Skinner, Mulder wondered? Or, unthinkable surely, had Skinner subbed to him? Mulder couldn't envisage his Master on his knees serving anyone. It just wasn't possible. He heard a footstep on the stair, and hastily shoved the photograph back inside the book, then scurried to the shower. Skinner didn't join him in the shower, although Mulder heard his Master moving around in the bedroom. Mulder washed himself, then wrapped a towel around his waist and walked back into the bedroom - and stopped. Skinner had laid out some interesting items on the bed. "Good. Come here," Skinner beckoned Mulder over, "and lose the towel. When we're alone in the apartment together you'll go naked, unless I tell you otherwise. That's a given. Please remember it." "Yes, Master," Mulder murmured with a shiver of arousal, taking the towel off and glancing at the items on the bed. "All right. I said it would be a short leash and it is. You'll travel to work with me, and home with me as well - for the next few days at least." Mulder didn't say anything but he knew that a mutinous look had flashed up in his eyes. Skinner stared at him for a long time, then surprised Mulder by pulling him close. The big man laced his hands together behind Mulder's back, and kept him trapped there. "Yesterday was bad. I won't let it happen again," he murmured in Mulder's ear. "I'm going to take you down whether you want that or not. Fight it, and it'll be harder. Give it up, and you'll learn how to fly, little one." Mulder felt his heart beat faster inside his chest. "Don't you think I don't want to?" He asked, in a dry, rasping voice. "I can't change quickly though. This is the way I've been all my life. Alone, not letting people in. A week and a half with you isn't long enough to change me, Master. One day. Maybe." "I'm a patient man," Skinner assured him, "and you, are mine, sweetheart. If the things I demand from you are hard, it's only because I want you to be happy." "I am," Mulder said quietly. "Believe me. If you hadn't been here yesterday…" He closed his eyes, and leaned his head against the side of Skinner's face. "Well, I might have lost myself." "So you'll accept the short leash and all the restrictions it brings?" Skinner pushed him back, and looked at him intently. Mulder sighed, knowing that he really didn't have any choice. "Of course, Master." "Good." Skinner was suddenly business-like again, and Mulder regretted the loss of those warm arms around his waist, and that big body pressed close to his. Skinner picked up a light chain from the bed, and fastened it to each of Mulder's nipple rings. Then he picked up a long, slim, metallic lead, and attached that to the chain. "Uh…I do have to go to work, Master," Mulder pointed out. "I know. Which is why I'm going to fasten the lead to your cock ring…so." Skinner clipped the lead to one side of Mulder's cock ring, leaving another few inches hanging down below, then surveyed his handiwork. "The lead won't flap like that, and your clothes will fit over it nicely. Nobody will be any the wiser. Now go and get dressed - and here." He handed Mulder a pair of boxer shorts. They were plain navy, cool and silky. "Master?" Mulder frowned. "I want you to wear them today." "Why? I have my own?" Mulder asked, confused. "And I want you to wear mine today," Skinner said firmly. "Now go and get dressed and meet me down here in fifteen minutes." The whole boxer short thing was bizarre, Mulder thought to himself, as he wandered back upstairs. He pulled on the blue silk and surveyed himself in the mirror. The boxer shorts fitted him fine, and he liked the feel of the silk against his skin. Mulder straightened his shoulders and winced as his newly attached nipples were tweaked by the chain. Damn! Trust his Master to come up with another exquisite torment. There was no way he'd be doing any running today, that was for sure. In fact, every movement would have to be a slow and considered one, which was what his Master had in mind, he supposed. He was still puzzled about the boxers though. Mulder got dressed, and smoothed his clothes down. The lead and chain were only visible if you knew what you were looking for. Mulder's clothes were always slightly baggy on his lean frame, so that hid the tell-tale line of the lead. The loose end of the lead hung down his thigh, a couple of inches below his penis. It was cold against his leg, and bounced around as he walked, reminding him constantly of its presence, but it wasn't anything more than distracting. Again, Mulder supposed that was what Skinner had in mind. Mulder grabbed his cell phone, credit card, and keys and ran back downstairs. Skinner was waiting for him by the front door, the brown "implement" briefcase in his hand. "Do you have to bring that thing?" Mulder asked, his butt quailing at the idea of more office discipline while it was still sore from being on the receiving end of so much of it yesterday. "No. In fact I'm not going to take it to the office today," Skinner said with a smile. "Thank god!" Mulder exclaimed cheerfully. "You are." Skinner handed it to him. "What?" "You'll carry it wherever you go. Wherever you are, I expect the briefcase to be within 2 feet of you - touching you if possible. In your office you can place it under your desk so that it touches your leg. If you're called into a meeting, you'll take it with you. If you go to the bathroom - the case goes too." "Won't people find that strange?" Mulder asked. "From you? Nah." Skinner grinned, patting Mulder's cheek affectionately. "You mean they'll just think it's Spooky Mulder carrying around a piece of alien brain or proof of a global conspiracy?" Mulder sighed, knowing that was the truth. "Probably." Skinner shrugged. "You see - being interesting allows you to get away with all kinds of things. It's the boring people like me who have to take care not to arouse suspicion." Mulder shook his head. "Boring my ass. If the truth about you ever got out the world would be SO surprised." "If the truth about you got out, they'd just be surprised it was something so mundane," Skinner commented. Mulder couldn't help laughing out loud at that. "Daylight's burning, slave - we're late." Skinner glanced at his watch, then made a little trilling sound between pursed lips. Mulder looked at him in alarm. "Wanda-Wanda-Wanda…honey," Skinner called, and a few seconds later the little Burmese cat scampered into the hallway. "Daddy's going to work now, darling." Skinner scooped her up and she settled into his arms with a purr, and rubbed herself against his face affectionately. "See you later, sugar princess. Have a lovely day, my sweet precious, Daddy's little plush paws," Skinner crooned, stroking her behind the ears affectionately. Mulder rolled his eyes. "That's another thing that would surprise the world," he commented. "Big, tough Assistant Director Skinner going goopy over his stupid cat." "Say goodbye to Fox." Skinner held the cat out towards Mulder's face and she glared at him sullenly. "A kiss is appropriate at this point, slave," Skinner told him. Mulder deposited an airy and entirely insincere kiss on Wanda's silky head. "Foxy's ickle, wickle powder puff," he crooned in a fair imitation of his Master. You had to hand it to Skinner, Mulder thought to himself a second later as he nursed a stinging butt cheek. His Master could somehow manage to hold a cat in one hand, and still deliver the fastest, snappiest swat to his slave's buttocks with the other without even blinking. It was probably some kind of trick you learned at dom school. Skinner gave Wanda one last kiss, and placed her on the floor, then he gestured his slave out of the door. "What about lunch?" Mulder asked as they got into the elevator. "Do I have to take this case to the cafeteria? Or to a restaurant?" "Everywhere," Skinner said firmly, "but you'll be lunching with me, anyway." "I will?" Mulder looked up, startled. "Yes. 1 p.m. Don't be late. Oh, and Fox, you'll go to the cafeteria and bring us both a tray of the best thing on the menu. We'll eat in my office." They exited the elevator and Mulder tagged along behind Skinner as his Master strode swiftly across the parking garage to his car. Mulder was aware of the loose inches of his lead flapping against his thigh, and the tug on his nipples where the lead was getting caught against the waistband of his pants. The combination of soreness from his nipples and discomfort from the cold length of chain bashing his thigh was already starting to irritate him and the day had hardly begun. Skinner's silk boxer shorts felt nice against his butt though. Mulder felt a sudden surge of unexpected pleasure at wearing so intimate an item of his Master's apparel. "How will I know what food to bring you?" Mulder asked, as Skinner drove them out of the garage. "You can do some investigating." Skinner grinned. "You're good at that and I like to make the most of my slave's talents. It keeps him from getting bored." Mulder gave a deeply ironic grimace and Skinner guffawed. "You'll soon get to know my tastes, Fox. Remember to bring food for yourself as well. You can eat on the floor." "While you're sitting at your desk, I suppose?" Mulder groused. "No, at the conference table - I like to spread out and it wouldn't do to get gravy on any official documents. Am I detecting a note of complaint?" Skinner's eye dropped meaningfully to the briefcase nestled by Mulder's foot. "No. Definitely not," Mulder told him firmly. "It sounds like…a perfect day." Skinner laughed again. "Sarcasm aside, you might just be surprised, Fox," he told his disbelieving slave. Scully was already in the office when Mulder arrived. She raised an eyebrow. "What?" Mulder asked, placing the briefcase under his desk and out of sight as quickly as possible, wondering if it was his cosmic karma to be blessed with two people in his life with this strange, eyebrow-waggling disease. "Mulder, this is the second day running that I've been in the office before you. What's the matter? Master keep you up too late last night?" She teased. "No. He wasted precious minutes saying goodbye to his cat." Mulder took his jacket off and placed it on the back of his chair, then sat down. "He sounds like he's got his priorities right," Scully commented. Mulder paused in mid-swallow of his coffee. "Don’t tell me that you're a cat person too? I'm surrounded," he groused. "I like cats," Scully glanced at him over the top of her glasses. "That's good because I know one you can have for free. Two years old, only one previous owner, obsessed with faucets, washing her backside, and making my life a misery - you two would get on well." "She sounds lovely," Scully laughed. "Mulder - are you okay today? I was worried about you yesterday. To be honest, I thought that today you'd be…in one of your distracted moods. In the past when you've had bad days they've hung around for a while. You seem pretty upbeat today though." "I'm okay," Mulder said, too quickly, then he sighed, and looked into her concerned blue eyes. "No, that's not true, Scully. I'm hanging in there. That's the best I can say. Right now, I feel like it could go either way. It depends on what happens next." "That man at the restaurant was Krycek, wasn't he?" She asked, softly. "Yeah." Mulder admitted with a frown. "What did he want?" "To tell me that my sister is alive, and well, and being experimented upon. That she's been experimented upon for years," Mulder told her, speaking too fast, trying to fight back the sense of helpless anger that threatened to consume him. "Mulder, I'm sorry." Scully looked shocked, and concerned. "Did he give you any information on where you can find her?" "Not really. An out of date address in California." Mulder shrugged. "Mulder… I'm not complaining, but why are you telling me this now? You wouldn't tell me yesterday," Scully chided gently. "And I wouldn't tell you today, hell, you're not even the person I should be telling, but the truth is, that I need your help." "My help?" "Yeah. Scully - I need you to help me check through all our files. Find out if there's any case in California we can legitimately go and investigate." "Mulder - this might not be a smart idea," Scully said uncertainly. "No, it almost certainly isn't." Mulder shrugged. "Krycek isn't known for being reliable," she pointed out. "I know." "And if it means that much to you, why not just take a couple of days vacation and go and check it out?" "I can't." Mulder bit on his lip. "Why not?" "I just can't." Mulder sighed. "You could fly there at the weekend," Scully suggested. "Can't do that either," Mulder shrugged. "Trust me, Scully, someone has me on a very short leash right now. Literally." He was all too aware of the cold metal of the lead dangling against his thigh. "I'd be missed." "A short…Mulder, you're not referring to that master/slave cock and bull story you told me, are you?" Her blue eyes threatened to scald him alive. Mulder gave a feeble smile. "Scully - the truth is in California, not my living arrangements. Daylight's burning, partner." He grabbed a handful of files from the cabinet, and placed them on her desk. She looked up at him in amazement but he turned on his computer, and buried himself in his work, brooking no further conversation. Mulder was torn between checking out the X Files for cases in California, and checking out the mysterious Andrew Linker. In the end, having set Scully to work on the X Files, he turned his attention to the man in the photograph. His curiosity was getting the better of him. He had to know who Linker was, and what he had been to Skinner. It was eating him up. He was an hour into his search when the 'phone went. "Agent Mulder, I'd like a progress report on those cases you were writing up for me," Skinner's voice growled at him. "What - now?" Mulder asked, trying frantically to find them on his desk. "Um…sir," he added hastily as his knee nudged the brown case. "Now." The connection was severed. Mulder made a face at it. "Gotta go, partner. The lord and master calls," he told Scully with a sigh. "Skinner," he clarified hastily. "Not, you know, the other master I was telling you about." She rolled her eyes at his assumption of her ignorance and he gathered up the files and ran up the stairs with them. "You called, m'lord," he said with a mock bow, presenting the files to his Master, breathing heavily from his run. Skinner didn't take the files. Instead he gave his slave a hard look, then clicked his fingers. With a sigh, Mulder sank down on the floor on his knees beside his Master. "When I call you to my office, and we're alone, you will, in future follow this procedure," Skinner said tersely. "You'll lock the door, kneel silently at my side, open your shirt and attach the end of your leash to the desk leg. If you have anything requiring my attention you'll hold it in your mouth and wait for me to take it." "What?" Mulder exploded. "Freedoms are earned," Skinner reminded him. "They can also be forfeited. That's what happened yesterday. You can earn that level of freedom again, by dint of your service, and obedience. Understood?" Mulder tried to stare his Master out again, but, as he had yesterday, he failed. "Yes, sir," he murmured. "Good. Go and lock the door, then come back here. And, Fox?" Mulder turned, halfway to the door. "I think you forgot to bring something with you. Go and get it." Mulder remembered the briefcase with a sinking heart. "Yes, sir," he muttered. He returned a few minutes later with the briefcase, and obeyed Skinner's instructions to the letter, locking the door behind him, and kneeling at Skinner's side. Then he unbuttoned his shirt and pants, unclipped the leash and clipped it to the desk leg. He re-adjusted his clothing, and sank back on his knees, wincing as the movement tweaked the nipple rings. Then he placed the two files in his mouth, put his hands behind his back…and waited. Skinner kept him waiting for a good fifteen minutes, which didn't surprise Mulder. His Master clearly wanted to show him who was boss - as if there was any doubt on that score. Mulder let his mind wander, watching as his Master worked. Skinner seemed lost in thought, which gave his slave ample time to appreciate his Master's firm jaw, with its slight dimple, and the contours of his Master's face. He had a weird out of body sensation, wondering, dreamily, how he looked, kneeling at his Master's desk, tied to it by a chain attached to his nipples, the files in his mouth. Part of him wanted to laugh, but his cock was already bulging in his pants. Finally, Skinner finished what he was doing, and glanced at his slave. "Good, boy," he murmured, retrieving the slightly damp files from Mulder's mouth. Mulder smiled, and placed his chin on Skinner's knee while his Master read the files. He liked being here, leaning against his Master's solidly muscled thigh. Skinner absently fondled his slave's hair while he read the reports, then he looked down, with a frown. "You don't seem to have added much to these since I saw them yesterday," he said. "I…was distracted yesterday afternoon, Master," Mulder admitted, biting on his lip. "And today?" Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Today?" Mulder repeated blankly, remembering that he had thus far spent the day in tracking down his sister and his Master's old lover. Neither of which activities were anything he was going to admit to if he wanted to keep any skin on his butt. "What were you working on today? You clearly weren't working on these." Skinner pointed. Mulder swallowed. "I'm used to organizing my own work time, Master," he hedged. "Well, then you'd better get used to doing things differently," Skinner said firmly. He placed his index finger on the leash and tugged on it, creating a gentle pull on Mulder's nipples. Mulder yelped. "Short leash, remember, slave. Now go back downstairs and do some more work on these. You can bring them up to me at lunch-time so I can see what progress you've made." "Oh for fuck's sake!" Mulder exclaimed. Skinner looked at him impassively. "Yes, Master," Mulder muttered. He gingerly unfastened himself from the desk, and rearranged his clothing. Then he grabbed the files, and was about to leave when Skinner pulled him back, and kissed him firmly on the lips. Mulder melted into the kiss, and Skinner's hands kneaded his buttocks enthusiastically. Mulder sighed. "Why the hell do you bother with me?" He asked afterwards, a feeling of guilt washing over him for his many deceptions and deceits. "You're mine. I love you," Skinner replied simply, gently caressing the side of Mulder's face, his tone completely sincere without being in any way sappy. Mulder swallowed down the lump in his throat, and grabbed the briefcase, before scurrying out of the office and back to the basement. "Scully, put the files away," was the first thing he said when he got there. She looked up, startled and he started stuffing them back in the filing cabinet with frenzied movements. "Does this mean we're not going to California?" She asked, bemused. "Yup." Mulder nodded fiercely. "If I so much as mention it again you have my permission to do that eyebrow thing of yours, and you can yell at me, bang my head against the desk, anything you need to do to stop me." "Oookay," Scully sighed, turning back to a pathology report she had been working on before, used to her partner's mercurial moods from long experience. "By the way, someone called you from Central Records. Something about a guy called Andrew Linker. He's got the information you asked…" Scully blinked as Mulder screwed up the note she was holding and tossed it in the trash. "I'm not investigating that any more," Mulder said, putting the briefcase back under his desk, and laying the files out, oblivious to Scully's expression of surprise at this contradictory whirlwind of activity sweeping through the office. "I'm working on these. Top priority." He buried his face in the files, frowning in concentration, was completely silent for two minutes, and then looked up again into her disbelieving eyes. "Scully, what's on the menu in the cafeteria today?" He asked. Three hours later Mulder entered Skinner's office bearing a plate of pasta covered in a tomato sauce, with a salad. Skinner was talking on the 'phone, so Mulder placed the tray on the conference table, knelt down beside it, fastened his leash to the table leg, and waited. "Well done, pup," Skinner patted him on the head after he'd finished on the 'phone. "This looks good." "Yes, Master." "Where's yours?" Skinner asked. "I'm not hungry, Master," Mulder said. He wasn't. He was still over-wrought after yesterday. His stomach, always a barometer of his emotional state, was the first thing to shut down when he was under pressure. "Why?" Skinner asked him. Mulder shrugged. "Scully brought doughnuts into the office this morning. I stuffed myself," he said. Skinner got up and reached for the 'phone, wordlessly. "What are you doing?" Mulder asked. "Checking with Scully." "You don't trust me!" Mulder protested. "Well," Skinner paused, his hand on the 'phone. "Let's talk about trust shall we? If you were to ask me if I trusted you with my life, then I'd say 'yes' - immediately, without thinking about it. If you were to ask me whether I trusted you to do a good job on the X Files, I'd say 'yes' - but with some reservations about your methods. However, if you were to ask me if I trusted you not to self-destruct, I'd say 'no'. Now, shall I call Scully or not?" "Not." Mulder sighed. "I thought doughnuts didn't exactly sound like Scully." Skinner put the 'phone down and turned back to his slave. "What's this about, Fox?" He took Mulder's face between his hands, and looked down at him. "Sorry, Master. I'm just not hungry." Mulder shrugged. "Fox." Skinner said in warning tone. "Last night we didn't have the time for a confessional. I'm going to eat my lunch, then you are going to talk. You can spend the next few minutes thinking about what you're going to say." "Yes, sir." Mulder bit on his lip. He had no idea what he was going to say. Mulder watched Skinner eat. His Master went about consuming his lunch in an unhurried way, ignoring his slave. When he was done, he turned back to Mulder, glancing at his watch. "You have half an hour. Take your time. Don't hurry." Skinner unfastened Mulder's leash. "Any position you want. Sit down if need be. Get comfortable." Mulder glanced over to Skinner's big, black, imposing office chair, behind his desk. Skinner raised an eyebrow. Mulder flushed. "I said anywhere," Skinner repeated. "Go ahead, if that's where you'll feel comfortable." Mulder got up eagerly, and went over to the chair, then sank down into it. "You have no idea how many of my fantasies this chair has featured in," he said with a grin. "Of course usually I'm not sitting in it. I'm more kinda draped over it, or, um, over your knee while you're sitting in it." He went bright red at having admitted that particular fantasy. Skinner didn't say a word, but his brown eyes were thoughtful and impassive. Mulder swiveled in the chair. It was comfortable, and still warm from its previous occupant. It felt…nice against his bare skin where his hands touched it. He liked that thought - it was like his Master's boxer shorts. Just being close to something that belonged so intimately to his Master made him feel good. Mulder looked up in surprise. "How did you know that making me wear your shorts would give me this buzz?" He asked. Skinner shook his head at this tangential leap of conversational topic, then he put his finger over his mouth, gesturing his own silence, and that Mulder should continue. Mulder nodded, and took a deep breath. "Okay. Where to start? I don't know where to start. Except that I know I'm already giving you sleepless nights. That's the Mulder curse. I have insomnia and everyone I sleep with catches it too." Mulder paused, wondering if he'd revealed too much. Skinner crossed his arms over his chest, waiting. Mulder didn't like being looked at during a confessional - it disrupted his flow of thought and made him think too much about how ludicrous his outpourings must sound. He turned the chair around so that he could look out of the window. "Curiosity. Wanda would be proud of me. I wish I knew more about you," he murmured absently, watching the tiny ant-like people moving around on the street below. "Just when I think I know you, you do something that surprises me. You always seem to be one step ahead of me. I know…" Mulder faltered, "I know that in the past I've done some good work on the X Files, but that's irrelevant. I want you to be pleased with my work now, now that I'm, you know. Yours. I really want to make you proud of me. I don't get too proud of my own work. There was that time you told me I'd done good work - that time when Modell's twin sister almost made me take Scully out, but I couldn't feel it. I went home that night and your praise meant so much to me. Knowing you thought I'd done something good gave me a buzz, even though I knew I didn't deserve it. I got a first..." He suddenly felt stupid sitting in the chair, like a kid inhabiting his father's space, trying to emulate him, and got up, and leaned against the window, looking out, lost in the memory. "At Oxford. I got what they call a first - a first class degree. It's the highest grade you can get. You know that, I suppose. Mom cried when she found out. Tears of joy. She said she was so proud. I always thought I should feel something too - I mean, I'd worked so hard for it, but I didn't feel a thing. I wanted to. I'd worked damn hard to get it, but when it came…well maybe they're right. Maybe the journey is more important than arriving." Mulder shrugged. He started to wander around the room, glancing at the books that Skinner kept for reference. "There's no personal knickknacks in here, you know that?" He asked, not looking at his Master. "Photos on the desk - that kind of stuff. Don't tell me that you don't have any photos of people who mean a lot to you. Everyone does." Mulder bit his lip, wondering just how damn obvious that had been. "None of it means anything, not my degree, my success on the X Files, not really. Not in here." He gestured vaguely in the direction of his heart. "I wish it did. Sometimes, sometimes…I wonder if finding Samantha might not be the same as my degree. I've chased it for so long, fought so hard for it, that when it finally comes - if it finally comes - supposing it's a disappointment? What will I do…after?" Mulder stared into space, numbly. Somehow, he found himself coming to a stop by the chair where Skinner was seated, silently listening to his slave's outpourings. "What will there be left to do? How will I fill my days and nights if I don't have this quest? What will I be? What will be left of me?" Mulder found himself sinking to his knees, and his face sought the respite of his Master's knee. This felt so good. Just kneeling here, beside Skinner, being an obedient puppy. He sighed as he felt Skinner's hand stroking his hair. "I know this stuff isn't what you want to hear. I wish I could tell you the other stuff. I'm not any damn good you know, Master. I've done things…if you knew. Yesterday. Oh well…" He trailed off, was silent for a while, just enjoying the silent moment with Skinner, then he started again. "If you hadn't been there…I owe you a lot. I'll make everything up to you. I promise. I was a jerk." "Fox." For the first time, Skinner interrupted him during a confessional. Mulder looked up in surprise. "Words," Skinner said, tapping his head reprovingly. Mulder thought about it and remembered his habit of calling himself names. "Right. Yeah. Well I fucked up, and you were right to take me down like you did. Nobody has ever done that for me before. Mom and Dad didn't know how to handle me. Dad used to run a mile from one of my moods - he was that generation that didn't like talking about anything so our whole screwed up family shit got swept under the carpet. Scully does her best, but you know…hell, I get my own way with her. She's a tough lady but I ditch her if she's in the way. You'd flay me alive if I ditched you. Not that that would necessarily stop me from doing it." Mulder grinned. Skinner's fingers tweaked his ear lightly in response. "I'll prove what I can be. I mean it. I'll make you proud of me," Mulder vowed fiercely. He was silent for a moment, then glanced around the room. "Yesterday when you paddled me, that damn well hurt. There isn't usually a spanking I can't take but that was a close call. D'you know what was going through my mind? I just thought what a bastard you were because you didn't want to make it good. You knew I had the desk fantasy so you used the table. There's a whole world of difference between a turn-on spanking and just a good old-fashioned punishment but you seem to understand it like it was in your soul or something. What makes it good, or bad - it's so subtle. Yeah, I know the psychology, I understand my own kink, I'm just surprised someone else understands it, that's all. Maybe you've got a psychology degree too." Mulder couldn't stop thinking about that book he'd found Skinner reading. He was silent for a while. Skinner's hand remained on his head and Mulder knew that his time was nearly up. He felt curiously soothed and at peace - almost drowsy. "You said you loved me," Mulder muttered. There was a long pause. "Crazy," he murmured, shaking his head. "Patsy Cline," he mumbled in a disjointed way a few seconds later. "I'll shut up now," he finished. There was silence in the office for a few minutes, then Skinner moved his knee, and dislodged Mulder's head. "Go down to the cafeteria and bring up a plate of whatever looks good to you," Skinner ordered. "I already said I'm not…" Mulder began. Skinner forestalled him with a raised hand. "Do it," he commanded. Mulder did as he was told. He returned with a pizza. He noticed Skinner frowned disapprovingly, but he had told Mulder he could bring up whatever he wanted, so his Master let his slave's choice of food pass with only the merest hint of a grunt. "Kneel down." Skinner gestured. Mulder obeyed instantly, and sighed as his Master opened his shirt, and pulled out the lead. Skinner fixed it to the table again, then he sliced the pizza, and held up a forkful of it to Mulder's unwilling lips. "You know, I could feed myself," Mulder pointed out. "Yes, and if you'd brought a meal up in the first place, like I asked you to, then I'd have let you," Skinner retorted. "Learn, Fox. Every disobedient act is going to take you one step back. Just count yourself lucky that I'm allowing you to stay dressed." "You'd make me kneel here, and eat…naked?" Mulder asked in horror. "In the office?" "Of course. Here, there, and everywhere. You know the rules," Skinner replied, thrusting the food into Mulder's mouth in a bid to shut him up. Mulder took an unwilling chew and then rediscovered his appetite as he realized how nice the pizza tasted. He chewed with renewed vigor, and Skinner made the most of his slave's silence to do some talking of his own. "I won't normally spend so much time on slave issues in the office, but getting you straight is important and I figure we've put in enough unpaid overtime over the years to take some time to work on this right now. You're right, Fox. I know the difference between erotic spanking and a punishment session all too well," Skinner's eyes were serious, "and I also know that sometimes only a severe punishment session can give a person the release they need. There are many different levels to the mental and emotional aspects involved in spanking, as I'm all too well aware." Skinner gave a heartfelt grunt. "Different people have different needs," he mused thoughtfully. Mulder's eyes widened as he tried to fathom the subtext of Skinner's words. "I don't like to work just by enforcing discipline though. There have to be rewards as well, Fox. So," Skinner's brown eyes were twinkling behind his glasses as he looked at his slave. "If you react well to the short leash, and behave like a model slave for the next few days, then I'll make sure that there will be a special treat for you on your slave's day on Saturday." "What kind of a special treat?" Mulder's ears pricked up at that, and he envisaged a whole day spent having erotic tortures and delights applied to his body in the Playroom. "Anticipation is half the pleasure," Skinner said slyly. "So you'll have to wait." His Master curled his long legs around Mulder's body, pulling his slave closer, then waved another fork of the pizza at him. Mulder opened his mouth obligingly. Skinner grinned at him. "Just like a baby bird, waiting to be fed," he observed. "And one day I'll teach you now to fly," he promised. Mulder's cock leapt as he decided to interpret that literally, as referring to the harness in the Playroom. Maybe his Master would swing him high into the air on Saturday, trapped in his bondage, and…Skinner interrupted this train of thought by leaning forward and whispering silkily, "your ears are glowing, slave-boy. Don't second-guess me. You'll almost certainly get it wrong. Now, a couple of other issues. I don't have any photos of loved ones in here because I don't need them - I have the real thing and if I want to see him, I can just call." Skinner finished feeding Mulder the pizza. "You know me well enough to know that I don't like parading my personal life around at work. I'm a deeply private man. If I'm taking certain risks with you right now, it's because it's necessary for your training. I won't ever put us in a position of jeopardy. You are my slave here, and it's important that you understand that, so I'll discipline you here if you need it, but do not expect nice, erotic office discipline of the kind that takes place in your fantasies during our working hours. We're here to work, and I'm here to straighten you out - not attend to your libido." "Yes, Master," Mulder muttered sullenly. He liked that fantasy but he could see the point to what Skinner was saying. "All right. We're done." Skinner unfastened Mulder's leash, and re-clipped it to his cock ring, before straightening his slave's clothing. "You're dismissed," Skinner said, and Mulder turned to go. "Oh, one more thing." Skinner stopped him before he reached the door, and Mulder heard him come up behind him, and the next thing he knew he was enveloped in a pair of big, warm arms. "You make me proud just by striving to be an attentive slave," Skinner whispered, his breath tickling the side of Mulder's face. Mulder felt a shiver run up his spine. "You make me proud just because you're charming, witty, and smart. Most of all, you make me proud because you're mine and sometimes I want to shout that fact from the treetops, so that everyone knows how proud I am of you. I want to show you off to the world, little one. The night of the party was the happiest of my life, because people saw that you belonged at my side - and that it was where you were meant to be." Skinner's arms were tight and protective around Mulder's body and he felt as if he had been transported onto another plane of existence and there was just his Master's silky voice, whispering in his ear. "I'd do anything to please you, Master," he said, his own voice shaky, his knees almost giving way. "I'll help you by always being here to bring you back down, by loving you and keeping you safe, by disciplining you when you need it. You already eat out of my hand, but one day you'll learn to trust me too - enough to tell me everything. I'll be here. I'm a patient man. I can wait," Skinner promised. "There's no escape from me, slave." "I know. Thank you." Mulder closed his eyes, savoring the moment, then Skinner kissed his ear and pushed him away gently. "We're done," he murmured ironically, and Mulder was reminded of the last time his Master had performed that action and said those words. This time there was a world of difference. Mulder went downstairs still reeling. He was quiet for the rest of the afternoon, to the extent that Scully even asked him if he was feeling all right. He smiled at her dreamily, and then reached for the 'phone and called Skinner's office. "Skinner," his Master answered tersely. "Hi. I've nearly finished the first report, sir," Mulder informed him. "And?" Skinner waited. "That's it. I thought you'd like to know," Mulder said, wondering just how obvious it was that he had wanted to hear his Master's voice. "I see. Well, bring it up when you're done." Skinner put the 'phone down. Mulder smiled seraphically at Scully and then turned his attention back to his work, ignoring Scully's raised eyebrow. Half an hour later he called Skinner again. "What time are we, um, I mean, are you leaving tonight, sir?" He asked. "About 6," Skinner answered tersely. "If it was 6:30 I could have that report done by then," Mulder said eagerly. "Don't knock yourself out, Agent Mulder. Tomorrow will be fine," Skinner answered. "Oh. Right. Okay." Mulder hung up. "Jeez, Mulder what happened to my partner?" Scully asked him in disbelief. "Don't tell me - you're the model agent clone Skinner had made and the real Mulder is stuffed into Skinner's desk drawer desperately hoping to be rescued." "Yeah. As if." Mulder made a face at her. "I just want to do a good job, Scully. Skinner's put his ass on the line for us in the past, and it's the least I can do to make sure he gets reports on time. Especially considering all the shit we've thrown at him over the years." "Right." Scully nodded, her eyebrows kaleidoscoping into her hairline. Mulder smiled at her sweetly. "Have you ever considered having an operation for that eyebrow problem of yours, Scully?" He asked. Mulder was waiting outside Skinner's door on the dot of 6 p.m. He helped his Master into his coat, then took his Master's briefcase and carried it for him. Skinner drove them home, then unfastened his slave's leash, and ordered Mulder to get changed into his sweats. "We're going jogging," he announced. Mulder was surprised, but pleased. "I like the idea of taking my pup for a little exercise," Skinner grinned, slapping his butt. Mulder ran to get changed and a few minutes later they both emerged onto the streets of Crystal City. Mulder was surprised by how fit his Master was. Skinner easily kept up with his own loping strides, although he forced Mulder to hold a slightly slower pace than he was used to. "I don't want you running yourself into the ground," he warned. They ran for just under an hour, then returned back to the apartment. A delivery boy from the local restaurant arrived at the same time. Mulder couldn't help but marvel at his Master's organizational skill. They ate, and then Mulder ran Skinner a bath and cleared away the dishes, all without being told. When the bath was ready, he went to kneel beside his Master, and awaited further instructions. Skinner turned the television off, and smiled at his slave. "Today was good, sweetheart. Keep this up and you'll be off the short leash by next week." "Yes, Master." Mulder smiled, pleased by the praise. "Now, go and get undressed and get into the bath. I'd like you to be nice and clean when I use you." "Master is going to…?" Mulder looked up hopefully. "Oh yes. I missed out on my usual wake up call this morning, and you've been tantalizing me all day with glimpses of your body, so I'm in the mood." Skinner grinned. "It's amazing what an attentive slave-boy can do for his Master's libido." "I'll remember that, Master," Mulder said gleefully. He scurried to do Skinner's bidding, making sure he lubed himself thoroughly before getting into the bath, and placing a condom on the shelf by the soap, in easy reach. Skinner put his slave to good use that evening. First he made Mulder wash him thoroughly, then he took him once in the bath with the water sloshing all over the floor. They both lay back in the warm bath afterwards, sighing in contentment. Skinner held Mulder for half an hour as the water grew cool around them, and then he made Mulder jerk off for his pleasure, before harrying his slave out of the bath and into the bedroom. "Time to crash out in front of the TV," Skinner said gazing at Mulder hungrily as his slave wandered naked and clean towards the bedroom door, "but not before… Assume the grace position, slave." Mulder did as he was told, surprised, and Skinner came up behind him, grabbed his butt cheeks, and kneaded them firmly. "Not before I taste your hot, eager body again," Skinner growled, turning Mulder on instantly. He could feel his Master's hard cock rubbing against his crease, and thrust his butt out. "Please, Master," he said, excited by the fact that Skinner could get hard again so soon after the last time, and all because he found his slave's body so enticing. "Beg me," Skinner insisted. Mulder blinked. This was new. He liked it. "Please, Master. Take me. Hard, fast, now. Don't show me any mercy," he grinned, getting into the swing of the scene. "Hard and fast?" Skinner nipped his neck with his teeth and Mulder arched his back, and moaned. "Or slow, and deep?" He squeezed Mulder's buttocks and Mulder cried out. "I don't care, Master. Use me any way that pleases you!" He gasped. Skinner's hands wandered all over his body, then ended up on his buttocks again. His master eased them apart, and entered a finger. "Is this what you want, you wanton little slave?" he asked. Mulder nodded, opening his legs wider and pushing back on Skinner's finger. "More please, Master. Use me, please. Put your cock inside me, nail me to the wall," Mulder begged. "Is that what you want? Hold still then." Mulder heard a condom being unwrapped, then Skinner held his buttocks apart, and slid slowly, so slowly into Mulder's body. He pushed, then stopped, then pushed again. It was the slowest, most agonizing entrance Mulder had ever endured and he cried out from the sheer pleasure of being kept on the edge of anticipation. "More?" Skinner asked. Mulder nodded. "Please. Yes…" he whispered. "Good. Because there's plenty more," Skinner hissed into his ear. Mulder felt his anus stretched another agonizing inch. Surely his Master was fully inside him? He felt completely filled, to capacity. "There's still more," Skinner said. "Want it all?" "Yes!" Mulder screamed. "Please!" He gave a gasp as Skinner suddenly thrust hard, deep inside him. He could feel his Master's body pressed up tight against his own. "How did you like it slow?" Skinner asked, his hands brushing over Mulder's sensitive nipples and awakening his slave's cock. "It…it's mind-blowing, Master," Mulder gasped. "You're so nice, and tight, and hot, and wanton," Skinner murmured in a low, sexy tone that went straight to Mulder's hardening penis. "I'm going to fuck you slowly, so slowly, until you're begging me to come, but I'm just going to keep going, enjoying myself in your warm, slick body…feels so good. Do you like feeling me in here like this? Taking you, filling you? Reminding you that you're mine. You belong to me…does that feel good?" "God…yes…!" Mulder managed to stammer. He could feel the heat of Skinner's body, and the pulsing of his cock inside him. It was the most amazing moment, as he stood there, trembling, trying to keep his hands on the wall and his butt out, while Skinner stood behind him, filling him to capacity, stretching him with his big cock, and all the time talking to him in that deep-toned, intimate way. Mulder was on the verge of collapse when Skinner slowly, so slowly, moved his hips back, sliding his cock so that it was almost out of Mulder's body, and then inching it back in again. His slave almost dropped to the floor as he felt every last sensation of being possessed by that magnificent, hard cock. "Shit, Master…" he murmured. "Hold still. Don't move. I just want to enjoy doing this. Very slowly…here we go again." Skinner slid out, then back, and Mulder marveled at his control. His Master's hands found the chain linking his slave's nipple rings and tugged on it. Mulder yelped as the combination of the pain in his nipples and the slow, exquisite caress of his prostate sent him to a different plane of sensation. "Good boy. Take it. Take it all," Skinner whispered as he slid back in at a snail's pace. He repeated this maneuver several times, combining a slow pull on Mulder's nipple chain, with a slow entry into his body, until Mulder thought that he was in serious danger of expiring. His own cock was standing out perpendicular to his body, and Skinner suddenly wrapped his hand round it. "Okay, boy. You can come whenever you like, but remember, I'm going to go on using you until I'm through, so if you come too early you'll have to stand here and take me until I'm done." Skinner continued his agonizingly slow entry and withdrawal, one hand caressing Mulder's cock, the other tugging the chain on his nipples, until his slave couldn’t take any more and he bucked into Skinner's hand, coming with a cry of complete bliss. Skinner licked the back of his neck, holding him upright until his orgasm passed, and then he began that grinding, slow entry and exit again. Mulder's nerve endings cried out at being so stimulated after he'd taken his pleasure and he suddenly understood his Master's warning that he'd have to stand here and take this. While he'd been erect, this had been so mind numbingly pleasurable that he hadn't been able to hold on, but after his climax the sensation was too much, and he began to whimper. "Sensory overload," Skinner chuckled, but he didn't speed up. He slid into his slave several more times before finally speeding up, and coming with a sigh of pleasure. Mulder felt as if he'd crumple up on the floor in a sated heap, but Skinner stayed buried deep inside him, his arms holding Mulder tight around the stomach. It was a good feeling, being held like this by his Master while the big man softened inside him, being so comprehensively owned by him, and Mulder drowned in it for a while. Finally, Skinner withdrew, but with the same exquisitely aching slowness as before, and Mulder sank immediately to his knees and kissed Skinner's feet. "If you're ever going to do that to me again, please warn me," he gasped beseechingly. Skinner grinned. "Too much for you, slave-boy?" "No. Too good. It blew me away," Mulder sighed. "Good. TV then bed." Skinner pulled him up, grabbed a robe for himself and they both went back downstairs. As it turned out, Skinner was the only one who watched any TV. He sat on the couch, and Mulder lay down next to him, with his head in his Master's lap and was asleep within seconds. He was dimly aware of his Master fumbling to answer the phone without dislodging his slave, and listened with a sleepy ear to what Skinner was saying. "He is? Fantastic. That should be worth seeing. He does? Great. You're fine with that? Yeah, I thought so. God, yes. Wouldn't miss it. I'll bring Fox. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He is, yes." Mulder heard his Master give an almost teenager-ish laugh. "No, he'll love it. When he's gotten over the shock that is. I might have to hold him down while it's happening though! Yeah, yeah! Oh I promised it. Not yet. No, this is for keeps. It'll happen one day. A hawk? Nice. I'm just trying to figure out what mine will be. No hurry on that though. No, yeah, see you then, Murray." Skinner put the phone back and gazed down at his dozing slave. "Time for bed soon, boy," he whispered. "You know one good way of dealing with puppies with too much destructive energy? You keep them constantly stimulated, don't leave them alone for too long, feed them well, give them several vigorous bouts of exercise, and a thorough grooming, and they just curl up and go to sleep on you, instead of chewing through your favorite pair of slippers." Skinner stroked his slave's hair, and gave a little chuckle. Mulder grunted, and stretched, and Skinner took advantage of the moment to tickle his slave's belly. Mulder gave a contented gurgle and fell asleep. Mulder vaguely remembered being half-carried, half-walked back to bed a few minutes later. His bed. Not his Master's, but he was so tired he didn't even care. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow. It had been a good day. Several other good days followed it. Mulder was on his absolute best behavior. He stuck to Skinner's side like the proverbial puppy, and was rewarded by being frequently petted, or better - made love to, by his appreciative Master. He suddenly understood what his Master had told him about rewards as well as punishments. This felt so good that he didn't ever want it to change, and, he reasoned, if Skinner could make him feel this good during the week, then his slave's day had to be something really special. Mulder awoke on Saturday morning feeling tingly. Today was the day. It had been nearly a week since he'd last set foot in the Playroom and he couldn't wait to get in there. Maybe Skinner would take him there straight after breakfast he thought to himself, idly, as he performed his wake-up call. Skinner didn't seem to be in any hurry though. He sipped his coffee, used Mulder as a newspaper prop for an hour, and then sent him to the corner when Mulder fidgeted. "You can stand still for half an hour. Butt out. I want something good to look at," Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed sulkily. Twenty minutes later he emitted a deep sigh. "Problem, slave?" Skinner asked dangerously. "Today's Saturday, Master!" Mulder protested. "Thank you for reminding me. Your old Master can't keep track of the days any more," Skinner replied acerbically. "No. I didn't mean…I meant…today's slave's day, Master!" Mulder protested. "Is it?" Skinner flicked open the paper again. Mulder could feel himself pouting. He banged his head against the wall in frustration. "Don't do that, boy. That's my property you're damaging there," Skinner growled. "Slave's day? Hmm. You know, I could have sworn it was puppy day. Go and get me the item that's waiting in the closet," he ordered. Mulder turned gleefully, just in time to catch the twinkle in Skinner's eye. "What is it?" He asked, running over to the closet. He found a bag, and brought it to the bed, kneeling beside his Master and offering the parcel up prettily, eyes down, but with a big smirk on his face. "It's a special item that I want you to wear when I take you out today," Skinner told him with a wide grin. "You're taking me out?" Mulder asked anxiously. This wasn't in his plan for slave's day! He had thought they would be staying in. All day. In the Playroom. "Yeah. You'll like this - we're going to party," Skinner told him, with a grin. Mulder's heart sank. "It's one big social whirl for you, boy," Skinner said, tousling his hair. "Two parties in the space of just over a week." "Yeah. I'm a lucky pup." Mulder pulled a face. "My thoughts exactly, which is why I had this made for you." Skinner opened the bag and pulled out an exquisite, thick brown leather collar, from the same range as the implements in Mulder's special case. Mulder looked at it, aghast. "Here. Touch it." Skinner handed it to him and Mulder took it, numbly. It was so soft that it was almost like a second skin, but it was thick enough, and wide enough to ensure that Mulder wouldn’t be able to forget that he was wearing it. There was a silver band across the front with FOX written on it in big letters, and a ring attached. "And this," Skinner rummaged in the bag again, "is the dog-tag." He grinned and held up a silver emblem, with a picture of a Fox on it. "Okay, pup, let's get you dressed for walkies shall we?" Skinner patted the bed and Mulder climbed up reluctantly, and knelt while his Master fastened the collar around his neck. It fitted much higher than his gold chain, so Skinner didn't remove that. He pulled the buckle tighter than Mulder thought was really necessary, so that the hated collar hugged his throat, and it was so wide that it kept his chin up. "Beautiful," Skinner murmured, attaching the tag. "There. Very nice, pup, and we have a lead too." He drew out a long, brown leather lead and fastened that to the silver ring too. "Don't sulk, boy. You're going to be on display this afternoon, and although I could have made you walk to heel with the nipple leash, I thought it'd be kinder to allow you to stay fully dressed. You can thank me." Mulder suddenly appreciated that this was the better of the two options, and mumbled his thanks. There was something nice about the way the collar fitted him so snugly, reminding him of his status at all times. "Thank you, Master," he whispered, chastened. "It's an afternoon party then, Master?" he asked. "Yes. Over at the house of a good friend, and fellow dom. He has a big house, and his parties are great fun. It'll do you good to mix with some other subs. There's always plenty going on - swimming, tennis, volleyball, basketball. You won't be bored. Oh, and he's laying on some entertainment too." "What kind of entertainment?" Mulder asked warily, remembering when he had been the entertainment on the menu not so long ago. "A very special kind. A sort of…ceremony between Murray and his sub. You'll enjoy it, trust me." Skinner winked and Mulder was suddenly certain that he wouldn't enjoy it at all. Mulder sulked all the way to Murray's house. Going to a stupid party was not his idea of 'slave's day', damnit! He hated parties. In fact, he'd avoided them for most of his adult life, so to suddenly end up going to two in the space of a week was enough to make him scream. Not that he hadn't enjoyed the last one…but this was different. This was supposed to be his day, a day when his Master did wonderful erotic things to his body, and made him shriek in ecstasy, or fulfilled some special fantasy of his. He didn’t want to spend it at a stupid party. Mulder was already in a serious sulk by the time they arrived. Skinner ignored him. He parked his jeep, grabbed the end of Mulder's leash, and led his reluctant slave into the house. They were met by a thickset, dark haired man with bulging muscles and a broken nose. He was wearing tight leather trousers, and a leather vest, and was the scariest dom Mulder had ever met - apart from his own dear Master. "Hi there, Walter." The dom grabbed Skinner's hand, and pumped it enthusiastically. "Sorry we had to miss your last party. This must be the slave, yes?" The bulked up man glanced at Mulder. Skinner smiled, and pulled on Mulder's lead. "This is Fox, yes. Fox, say hello to Hammer. He's Murray's sub." "He's…a sub?" Mulder asked in surprise. He knew, from his own experience on the scene, that people weren't always what they seemed but this guy was the toughest looking sub he'd ever come across. "Oh yeah." Hammer grinned. "Nice to meet you, Fox. You landed a good Master here. Second best only to my own dear Murray. I hope he's treating you right?" He winked at Skinner. "Well…" Mulder opened his mouth, and caught Skinner's look of amused warning, so he closed it again. "Get him to tell you the meaning of the term 'slave's day' sometime," he muttered mutinously to Hammer. The other sub raised an eyebrow, and Skinner burst out laughing. "Don't mind him. He's in one of his sulks. I'll take my belt to his backside if he doesn't cheer up soon," Skinner warned ominously. Mulder gulped. Skinner was wearing a very big, very thick, black leather belt with a silver buckle, and he just knew it had to hurt - big time. He plastered a falsely bright smile on his face, and Hammer gave a giant guffaw. "You've got your hands full with this one, Walter," he laughed. "He has his moments, but he's been very good all week, and I adore him." Skinner pulled Mulder over for a deep kiss, then let him go again. Mulder tried to remember how to breathe. Skinner grinned at him and unfastened the lead from around his neck, leaving him in the collar. Mulder felt curiously bereft of his Master's guidance when the lead was gone. "Mingle. Enjoy yourself," Skinner instructed, slapping Mulder's backside heartily. Mulder shot him a venomous look. He didn't do mingling. Everyone knew that. He was legendary for his 5 minute appearances at the annual FBI Christmas party. "Come on, Fox, let me show you around," Hammer said, clearly sensing his uncertainty. "The doms like to hang out in the library, the subs in the pool-room at the start of one of Murray's parties. It's kind of tradition. They all get together later on so you can see your Master again then." Hammer grabbed Mulder's arm and led him away. He glanced back to see Skinner gazing after him with an amused smile on his face. There were about 15 subs already milling around in the pool-room, playing pool, and helping themselves to drink. Mulder poured himself an orange juice and watched, feeling lost and lonely, without even Skinner by his side. Hammer stayed and made small talk with him for a while. "Murray's got a nice place here. We've been living together for about 20 years now. Murray retired last year, but I still work," "What do you do?" Mulder asked, wondering what the hell Murray looked like if Hammer looked so scary. "I'm a nurse." Mulder choked on his drink. "Right," he spluttered, wondering how many patients had heart attacks on waking after surgery to find this apparition looming over them. "I work with the terminally ill," Hammer said, and Mulder felt immediately chastened. "I've been looking forward to today for weeks. It's our anniversary, so Murray is giving me a very special gift," he winked, and then someone called him away. Mulder pretended to be engrossed in a game of pool, and was therefore surprised when a voice piped up in his ear. "Why, if it isn't the bunny." Mulder swung around, remembering that voice all too well. "Grow up, Lee," he responded wearily. Lee was wearing the most outrageous pair of gold jeans, and a tight gold tee shirt. A gold crucifix hung between his perfectly toned pecs. "Bite me." Lee clicked his gleaming white teeth at Mulder. "Don't tempt me." Mulder wandered out of the pool-room and into the yard. He had no wish to get into any trouble with Skinner today and staying anywhere near Lee would almost guarantee it. He found a game of volleyball in progress outside, and hung around on the outskirts of it, scuffing his sneakers in the dirt. He longed to join in and be accepted, but at the same time, he didn't have much time for any of this sub bonding crap. He had never actually made any friends on the scene. There had been people he played with, and that was it. He hadn't gotten close to anyone. He hadn't wanted to. He had come to terms with his own kink, but he almost despised it in others. He didn't want to belong to anything, or be part of anything. He was happier standing on the outside, being an observer. "Hey, want a game?" One of the subs, a small, wiry guy with a dark mustache beckoned him in. Mulder gave a half smile, and then loped over. He was soon too engrossed in the game to remember to sulk, and he found himself enjoying the activity. It felt good to get away from the X Files, from the all- consuming nature of his quest, and to just enjoy the sheer pleasure of exercising, and being with other people. He hadn't expected to enjoy it, but he was. The small, wiry man was called Ian, and they became friends the minute Mulder found out that Ian was the editor of Anomaly magazine, a publication devoted to reporting on the gap between what the government said it was doing and what it was actually doing. Before he knew it he was conducting an in-depth conversation with the other man, in between knocking the ball over the net. The team changed as people wandered in and out, and Mulder found himself so caught up in the conversation that he missed an easy ball, and then, too late, realized that Lee was playing on his team, and was pissed off. "If you can't play properly, then fuck off elsewhere," Lee yelled. "It's not the Olympics." Mulder shrugged. "Chill out, kid." He imbued the last word with as patronizing a tone as he could manage. "Bite me!" Lee screeched, giving Mulder the finger. Mulder sighed and turned his back on him, grimacing at Ian. "Or do you need Big Daddy around to fight your battles for you?" Lee jeered. Mulder clenched his fists and tried to stay calm. "Do you know what my dom did to me last Friday?" Lee asked, coming up to Mulder, and shoving him. "He damn well took the skin off my butt, that's what." "What kind of a sub are you if you couldn't take that?" Mulder inquired coolly. "Bite me." Lee said obnoxiously. "It was all your fault, bunny. I'm glad your Big Daddy is here today because I am going to move in on him and then you'll be history." He turned back and bounced the ball over the net. Mulder stood there, getting his temper back under control. At that moment, a hustle of doms emerged from the house, drinks in hand, laughing and joking. Mulder's heart soared as he saw that his Master was among them. Skinner was dressed in a pair of tight, faded blue jeans that hugged his long legs, and a black tee shirt, and he looked devastatingly attractive. Mulder could see that Lee wasn’t the only one giving Skinner an appreciative stare. He stood out from the other doms, partly because of his height and stature, but also because he had an innate authority that even these most experienced of doms couldn't match. Skinner caught sight of Mulder and gave his slave a heart-stopping smile, meant only for him. Mulder was aware of some of the other subs eyeing him in jealous awe, and he couldn't stop himself grinning back at his Master, and doing an absurd little hop as he bounced over to pick up the ball. He threw himself into the game for a while, showing off for his Master and the other doms. He was completely surprised by himself. This wasn't his normal style of behavior at all, but he just loved the fact that Skinner was watching him, and boasting about his slave to the other doms, pointing him out and cheering him on when he was engaged in a rally. Ian grinned at him. "You're his?" He asked, glancing at Skinner and looking seriously impressed. "Yeah. His indentured slave," Mulder said with a nonchalance that belied his surge of pride. "Wow!" Ian shook his head. "What about you?" Mulder threw himself lazily at a ball and slammed it back to win a point, then turned smoothly, feeling 10 feet tall, knowing that Skinner was watching. "I'm not with anyone right now," Ian said with a shrug. He looked suddenly very sad. Mulder felt sorry for him. "I lost my dom, my partner, lover and friend, in a car wreck about 2 years ago. I keep coming to the parties hoping to meet someone, but nobody lives up to…you know?" "I'm sorry," Mulder said softly. He wondered how he would feel if Skinner was taken from him, and a lump rose in his throat. "I'm so sorry, Ian," he said sincerely. "You must introduce me to your Master," Ian said. Mulder was surprised by the wave of jealousy that flooded through him. Ian wasn't making any moves on Skinner, but he was painfully aware that his Master was the object of considerable attention. Mulder had barely noticed that he had been looked at with considerable interest by several of the doms as well. He was too busy battling with his feelings of insecurity. Besides, he knew that he wasn't interested in anyone but Skinner, but he had no idea how his Master felt on the matter of exclusivity. Mulder shrugged these thoughts aside, and turned back to the game. Everything was going fine until both he and Lee went for the ball at the same time, and crashed together, banging their heads. "You fucking moron!" Lee seethed. "It was my ball. You should have looked where you were going, goldie," Mulder spat back, annoyed at having been made to look like a clumsy idiot in front of his Master. "Yeah? Yeah?" Lee challenged aggressively. "Well, bite me, fucker!" "Okay." Something inside Mulder snapped, and he launched himself at Lee, grappled him to the ground, and sank his teeth into the kid's shoulder. He got a mouthful of vest, and barely even broke the skin, and then he found himself knee deep in doms as they came over to break up the fight. Mulder found himself being unceremoniously handed over to his Master. Skinner snapped the lead onto Mulder's collar, and hauled his resisting slave away from the crowd. "All right, pup, this is taking the whole doggy theme too far," Skinner said angrily, giving him a swift shake. Mulder gasped as Skinner tugged hard on the lead, and he found himself unable to do anything but follow on behind his Master. He was suddenly very grateful indeed that the leash was around his neck and not attached to his nipples. "Now if you're going to behave like a disobedient puppy, then I'll treat you like one," Skinner snapped. He turned to a tall, florid, hook-nosed man, with a white beard, dressed in a flowing caftan robe. "Murray, have you got a muzzle in your Playroom? My pup's turned dangerous and needs to be kept quiet for a bit." "That's not a pup you've got there, Walter, it's a hellhound!" Murray chuckled, nodding, and disappearing for a few seconds. He returned with what looked like a bag made of leather straps and buckles. "Kneel." Skinner ordered curtly. Mulder obeyed, trembling slightly. "This isn't fair. He started it!" He protested. Skinner raised an eyebrow. "And who did the biting?" He asked. "He kept…" Mulder broke off with a sigh as Skinner's expression became even more dangerous. "I did, Master," he agreed. "I'm of the opinion that public displays of bad behavior should be rewarded by public displays of punishment…oh, don't worry, boy, I'm not going to whip your ass in front of these people, but you will be feeling my belt on your backside soon. Now open your mouth. You can wear this for the next couple of hours so people can see that you're being punished." Mulder obeyed, sullenly, and Skinner placed a strap over his tongue, and fastened it to a buckle on the side of the mask, then he strapped the whole contraption under Mulder's chin and over his head, keeping his jaw clamped shut. Mulder seethed. He couldn't even speak with this atrocious muzzle fastened to his face. "Okay, into the bathroom," Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, anger at the muzzle now mingling with fear at the punishment he knew he was about to receive. He watched, trembling, as Skinner locked the bathroom door, and then undid his belt. Mulder's stomach fell into his shoes. Skinner slammed the toilet seat down with a flick of his booted foot, and then sat down on it. "Over my knee. Now, pup!" Skinner commanded. "Undo your jeans first." Mulder's fingers were shaking as he obeyed. He pushed his jeans and boxers down, then knelt beside his Master. Skinner pulled him over his knees, taking endless long minutes to get his slave arranged in exactly the position he wanted him in, then he placed one heavy hand on the small of Mulder's back to keep him in place before delivering a firm swat with his belt. Tears sprang into Mulder's eyes. He couldn't even scream! He was reduced to making an absurd gurgling noise. "Okay, the lesson you are going to learn from this is not to lose your temper and show me up in public, no matter what the provocation," Skinner told him forcefully as he raised the belt again. Mulder hadn't received any punishment spankings over and above his morning discipline all week and even his morning discipline had been light, so his butt was fresh. Even the lines from his last marking had paled into almost nothing. The belt was heavy, and it packed an almighty wallop as it rained down on his unprotected skin. Skinner gave him ten hard licks, then righted him again. Mulder could feel the tears, more of humiliation than pain, squeezing down his cheeks and was about to wipe them away angrily when Skinner grabbed his hand to prevent him. "No, I think we want to show folks that you are one contrite slave-boy who's been thoroughly punished by his pissed off Master. You are contrite, aren't you, boy?" Skinner demanded. Mulder thought about it for a moment, then noticed that Skinner still hadn't put his belt back on so he nodded, unwilling to taste any more heavy bites from that strap on his bare butt. Skinner gestured that Mulder could adjust his clothing, then he put a firm hand on Mulder's shoulder, and ushered him back out into the house. Mulder flushed bright red as people shot him glances. Although these people were all on the scene, they weren't dressed up today, so in his muzzled condition he stood out like a sore thumb. "This way. We're back on a short leash," Skinner told him, tugging Mulder along behind him. "A very short leash," he clarified. Skinner took a seat on a couch in the library, and gestured that Mulder should kneel beside him. Mulder obeyed, aware that everyone was watching him. He flushed, and hung his head, wishing that the ground would open up and swallow him. It was so obvious that Skinner had just taken him to the bathroom and spanked his butt. He couldn't sit back on his bottom because it stung, so he had to kneel up. "Dangerous creature you have there," a well built, swarthy man commented, sitting beside Skinner. "Yes. He'll learn. He's new to his slavery," Skinner replied, grabbing a beer from a side table. "Oh, I like a sub with bite, and he's certainly got that," the stranger laughed. "If he's too much for you to handle, you might consider selling him to me." Mulder's heart thudded in his chest and he looked up. "Eyes down!" Skinner barked. Mulder obeyed, hastily, flushing again. "Thanks for the offer, but this slave will never be on the market," Skinner replied. "Never's a long time." The stranger gave an easy smile. "Let me tell you about myself. My name is Franklin," he handed Skinner his card, "and I specialize in taming…recalcitrant slaves. My methods are severe, I'll admit. If this young pup was mine, I'd have stripped him naked in the middle of this room, and taken the hide off his ass with my crop. He wouldn’t be able to stand afterwards. I find that they usually learn after the first couple of times. Then we can have more fun. I'd offer a considerable sum for a slave such as this. Oh, I enjoy the challenge of breaking them to my will," he said, his tone one of complete relish. He eyed Mulder as if he was something he was about to eat. "You must be new here." Skinner placed the card on the table, making it clear that he had no intention of keeping it. "So I'll make allowances for you. However when I say that I won't sell, I mean that I won't sell. I don't care who the buyer is, or how much he offers. This slave is my own personal property. He's not available. Not now. Not ever." "Ah, you've fallen in love with him." Franklin made a disapproving clucking sound with his teeth. "Always a mistake, if I might say so. It's fine to allow the slave to fall in love with you, in fact it's to be encouraged, but you should never reciprocate. It's a common mistake, but you'll learn in time." Skinner looked as if he would explode, and then, much to Mulder's surprise, he burst out laughing. "Thanks for the tip my friend, but I'm not a green newcomer. I know how to play - and safely too. Incidentally, as you're clearly new to this area of the world, let me give you a tip - always make sure you know who you're talking to before you open your mouth. I'm the Guardian of The House - you've probably heard of me." He smiled, and inclined his head. Franklin's flashing brown eyes widened in astonishment. "I…oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize. Forgive me, Guardian," he murmured, paling visibly. He made his excuses and shuffled away. Mulder wished he could smile. It had been so good watching his Master put that upstart in his place. Mulder knew the phrase 'Guardian of the House' all too well. The 'House' was an exclusive enclave of the most experienced players on the DC scene, both subs and doms. They met occasionally, to discuss the other players, and whether they needed to step in to outlaw any unsafe players. It was their task to generally police the scene in a discreet way to ensure that it didn't fall foul of the law. The leader of the 'House' was referred to as the 'Guardian', and that was how Skinner was referred to on the scene. He was the legendary player who people rarely saw but whose reputation preceded him. An hour or so passed. Mulder felt his anger and humiliation dissipate, as Skinner charmed a variety of people, who came to sit by him, almost as if they were seeking an audience with him. There was a distinctly reverential tone to the way they approached his Master, and Mulder decided that he liked the kudos of being the great man's slave. He felt tired and wrung out, and slumped down next to Skinner's thigh, and rested his head upon the other man's knee. As always, Skinner's hand absently stroked his hair, while he talked to his friends - both fellow doms and subs, ignoring his slave save for that steady fondling of the younger man's hair. Mulder grew to enjoy his enforced silence. Nothing was expected of him; he could just relax, contentedly curled up at his Master's feet, silently waiting for his Master to take notice of him again. He felt curiously relieved, almost blissed out, and he sighed and moved his face to gently nuzzle his Master's fingers as best he could from behind the muzzle. He was glad, once again, that Skinner was strong enough to take him down and make him submit when he got like this. It was what he needed, and nobody had ever been able to give it to him before. He gazed at his Master adoringly, lost in his slavery. "Now, there's a change." Mulder dimly recognized Murray's deep, booming tones, and was aware that their host was standing over him, looking down, but he was too exhausted to move. "Doesn't he look sweet now that you've got him tamed? You'd never think he had such sharp teeth." "That's my pup," Skinner said, tickling Mulder's ear. Mulder didn't even look up. "How's Lee, Murray?" "Fine. Hammer took a look at the bite - it was nothing, just a scratch, and frankly no less than the little brat deserved. He always manages to upset someone, wherever he goes. Sorry it had to be your boy and he got into such bad trouble over it, though. I guess your Master whipped some sense into you, boy, hmm?" He asked Mulder. Mulder sighed, and buried his face even further into Skinner's lap, trying to forget that particular painful experience. "Fox will learn," Skinner said firmly. Murray nodded. "With you as his Master he'll turn out all right," he chuckled. "I've been meaning to ask you, Murray - who was the man Fox was talking to earlier?" Skinner asked. "At the game? That's Ian Rylance." Mulder's ears pricked up at that, and he wondered why his Master was interested in Ian - unless, maybe he…Mulder pushed that thought back down. He couldn't cope with his own jealousy right now. "What do we know about him?" Skinner asked. "He's sound," Murray replied. "Lost his partner a couple of years back and hasn't played since. I'm very fond of him. He often stays here - Hammer adores him. I must go, Walter. The main event is almost due and I have to prepare Hammer." "Of course. Go ahead - and good luck!" Skinner called. Out of the corner of his eye Mulder noticed some bustle, and wondered what was going on, but he was too comfortable to move, so he just lay, being stroked, while some kind of brazier was brought into the room, and lit. Then he noticed that the room was filling up. An hour or so later, the room was burning hot. Mulder finally looked up, to see that a stage had been set at one end of the room, next to the brazier. A bondage table was there as well, awaiting an occupant. Mulder glanced around, and saw Hammer being talked to by his Master. Hammer was pacing up and down, anxiously, a frown creasing his face, and Murray looked just as worried. Mulder looked up at Skinner uncertainly. "It's all right, pup. Last minute nerves. They'll both be fine. Watch and learn - it'll be your turn one day," he whispered. "Although I don't think I'll make you wait 20 years for it!" Mulder's eyes widened frantically, and Skinner pulled him close, so that Mulder was practically lying in his lap, and stepped up his stroking. The room was now full up, and Murray called for silence. "As you know, today is the day that Hammer takes my brand onto his body, to mark our 20 year partnership," he announced. Mulder glanced at Skinner again and his Master smiled, and placed a finger over his slave's lip to soothe him, and remind him to stay calm. "Hammer, come here," Murray ordered, his tone changing into a dom's tone of command, and Hammer stepped forward, his eyes fixed on his dom. Mulder thought they made a strange pair. Murray was portly, with a dramatic air that went with his deep, booming voice, and he was a good twenty years older than his sub. Hammer was muscled, with hard, toned flesh and a quiet, understated manner. Hammer looked infinitely the tougher of the two. Mulder wondered where he'd got his nickname. "Strip," Murray ordered. Hammer didn't stop looking at his dom, as he took off his trousers and vest, and stood, butt naked, awaiting further orders. "I'm going to burn my mark into Hammer's flesh myself," Murray told the expectant room. "I'm using a hawk - which seems appropriate." A wry laugh went around the room, as Murray made the self-deprecating reference to his long, hooked nose. "All right, Hammer, it's time to be branded." Murray's tone was hard. "I've already prepared Hammer. He's fully in his sub headspace as you can see. I've clamped him, and spent the past hour performing a series of escalating punishments on him, so he's ready to take a more extreme form of pain. Yes, Hammer?" Murray asked, his eyes keen and sharp, clearly wanting to make sure that Hammer was in the right place mentally to take what was coming next. "Yes, sir," Hammer nodded. Murray led him over to the bondage table, and strapped him in tightly. Mulder bit down on his muzzle, and looked up to Skinner for reassurance. Skinner didn't really mean to put his slave through all this one day, did he? He had to be joking! Mulder buried his face in Skinner's lap as Hammer was fastened down on the table, face up. "For personal reasons, that are between me and my sub, his mark will be placed on the top of his thigh - here," Murray said. There was silence for a moment, and the moment stretched on and on in the hushed room. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, Mulder looked up just in time to see Murray bury a steaming brand in Hammer's skin. It made a hissing sound. Hammer let out a bellow of sheer pain, and Mulder smelled burning - he realized it was flesh and nearly choked. Skinner stroked him gently, calming him. Mulder buried his face in Skinner's lap again and didn't look up again. The branding continued but he didn't hear any of it. He was too busy wondering why the idea of bearing that atrocious pain in order to accept his Master's mark onto his body, both shocked him and turned him on at one and the same time. Mulder wasn't sure how much time passed, but when he looked up again, the room was nearly empty, and Skinner was looking down at him gravely. "I think you've learned your lesson, pup, so the muzzle can come off," he said. Mulder nodded gratefully, and Skinner unfastened the muzzle and pulled it away from his head. Mulder ran a hand through his flattened hair and tested out his tongue, trying to swallow the taste of leather. Skinner handed him a glass of water. "Here. Now, how are you feeling?" "Fine, Master," Mulder whispered, feeling subdued. "Good." Skinner tousled his hair affectionately. "It's been a good learning experience, yes?" "Um…I suppose so," Mulder agreed reluctantly, still feeling that it was a giant waste of his slave's day. "Good boy. Now, you have one thing to do before we can leave." Skinner jerked on the leash and Mulder followed his Master. His heart sank as he saw that Skinner was taking him over to where Lee and his master were standing. "Mike. Lee." Skinner inclined his head. "My slave has something to say." He waited expectantly. Mulder looked at him with angry eyes for a moment, then sighed. "I'm sorry, Lee. I shouldn't have bitten you," he said. "Yeah. Well you…" Lee began, but Skinner quelled him with one raised eyebrow. "Don't push your luck, son," he advised and Lee shut up. Mike laughed and slapped his sub heartily on the bottom. "We can't keep these young hot heads out of trouble, eh, Walter?" he chuckled. Skinner grunted, and led Mulder back to the house to say goodbye to their hosts. Mulder stood numbly on the end of his leash, staring anywhere but at the new, livid red mark on Hammer's body as Skinner talked amiably to both men. Finally, Skinner tugged on his leash and Mulder looked up, startled. "Don't you have anything to say?" He asked. "I…" Mulder looked at Hammer. "It's beautiful," he choked at last, unexpectedly. Then he flushed and looked down again. He didn't like the way all this made him feel. Murray exchanged a glance with Skinner. "The boy will need…" he began. Skinner interrupted him. "Yes. I know. I knew that when I took him on. He'll get it," he promised. Mulder wondered what the hell that had been about. "Fox - go and wait for me by the jeep," Skinner ordered, and Mulder went. He watched as Skinner took leave of their hosts but instead of coming over to the jeep afterwards, Skinner made a beeline for Ian instead. Mulder ground his teeth together. First his Master ruined his slave's day, then he brazenly approached another sub. Mulder kicked his feet in the dirt, feeling another sulky mood descending on him. He hated feeling like this - when he wasn't in relationships he was spared all this and functioned as a perfectly normal human being, but, as it had with Phoebe, being involved with someone brought out characteristics in himself that he barely recognized and certainly didn't like. Mulder watched as Skinner spoke to Ian for a couple of minutes, then took something the other man gave him and put it in his pocket before returning to the jeep. Mulder was glaring at his Master by the time he arrived back. Skinner took one look at him, and sighed, then he unlocked the back door and held it open expectantly. Mulder looked at him in surprise. The back of the jeep contained an old blanket and a pair of Skinner's walking boots. There were no seats. "Pups who can't behave themselves travel up behind," Skinner said, shoving him in. Mulder glared at his Master. "I thought you'd already punished me!" he protested. "Really?" Skinner got into the driver's seat and started the engine. "Yeah. Jeez, a strapping and 3 hours in that fucking muzzle." "I've got one at home. I'll put it straight on you when we get back if you're not careful," Skinner warned. "Well it was all your fault!" Mulder exploded, crouched uncomfortably in the back. "How so?" Skinner glanced at him in his rear view mirror. "Because I was good all week damnit! And you promised me a slave's day!" "Fox, I thought you'd enjoy mixing with other subs. Sometimes you seem to have some strange ideas about your needs. I thought meeting a other people with similar needs would help you rationalize your own better." "I do not fucking need you getting into my head!" Mulder growled. "I'd have said that it was exactly what you damn well need," Skinner responded tersely. "So I suppose I've blown any chance of a session in the Playroom?" Mulder asked a few minutes later, already knowing what the answer would be. "It was never on the cards, pup," Skinner said into the mirror. "I have to drop into the office to run through some paperwork anyway so…" "What? Oh great." Mulder slumped down against the window, feeling at odds with the whole world. "First, a swim," Skinner told his slave as they arrived at the Hoover building. You look as though you could do with some cooling off time too, pup." Skinner undid the collar around Mulder's neck, and slung it in the back of the jeep. "There's never many people here on a Saturday but we wouldn't want to take a risk," he said. "I know. I have worked on Saturdays before you know," Mulder growled. "Yes. I do know. I've sat up in my office, thinking about you down in the basement, wondering why you worked yourself so hard. It clearly wasn't for the promotion, or even because the job demanded it," Skinner remarked, looking at his slave intently. "I enjoyed it." Mulder shrugged. "Good, because I want you to help me." Skinner refused to say any more. They both got changed and Skinner dived smoothly into the pool, did ten brisk laps, then pulled himself out. "You carry on swimming. I'll be waiting for you in my office when you've swum that sulk off you face," Skinner told his slave. "I mean it, Fox. Leave the attitude behind when you come up." Mulder took a deep breath and ducked under the water, ignoring his Master, and losing himself in that familiar, underwater world, blurry, and insubstantial, with its echoing sounds. He could lose himself here. It felt good - better than facing up to all these damn emotions. Mulder emerged, gasping for air, then did 20 laps in quick succession. He was, he noted with some satisfaction, a much faster swimmer than his Master. Finally, half an hour later, unable to delay the inevitable any longer, he got out, took a shower, lubed himself just in case, although he really wasn't in the mood, and then opened his locker - and stopped short. The casual clothes he had been wearing were gone, and in their place was one of his work suits, complete with shirt, tie, shoes, socks and a clean pair of boxer shorts. Mulder sighed, wondering just how anal his Master could be to insist that they observed Bureau sartorial protocol on a Saturday evening for god's sake. "A Saturday evening we should be spending in the Playroom," he growled at the empty locker, banging the door shut in disgust. He had no choice but to dress, but he was deliberately slow about it, and then he took a long time drying his hair and making faces at himself in the mirror before finally wandering up to his Master's office. The Hoover building always felt eerie on a Saturday, but he had never been to the fifth floor on a Saturday before. The empty corridors, usually bustling with agents and secretaries, were now empty, and his footsteps echoed as he walked. Mulder felt like a kid going into school on the wrong day of the week. He felt an almost overwhelming urge to peek into all the offices and see the secrets, usually kept hidden by weekday activity. Sensing that would most definitely NOT be a good idea, he carried on walking to Skinner's office. Skinner had changed too. Mulder paused on the threshold of his office. The sight of Skinner in full work regalia never failed to take his breath away. Normally he couldn't show his appreciation because he was accompanied by Scully, and Kim was sitting in the outer office, but this time it was different. Mulder took in the sight of his clean, shining Master, sitting at his desk, wearing his crisp, white shirt, with a dark tie. His pants were perfectly pressed, and he oozed an aura of the most devastating power and authority. Mulder felt his throat go dry. "Ah, Agent Mulder. Come in, and shut the door behind you," Skinner instructed. Mulder stood there, uncertainly. Why was Skinner calling him 'Agent Mulder' when they were alone? Skinner raised an eyebrow, and Mulder hastened to obey. "Yes, sir," he mumbled, striding over to Skinner's desk and standing in front of it. Skinner looked at him for a long time, until Mulder could feel himself flushing. "Sir?" He asked. "What do you want me to do?" "I want you to account for yourself, Agent," Skinner said. Mulder opened his mouth, then hesitated. Skinner seemed almost angry with him, but it was a controlled anger. He wondered what he'd done. "Account for myself, how, sir?" He muttered weakly, wondering what the hell was going on. "Account for yourself over the past 6 years." Skinner waved a hand at his desk and Mulder saw a pile of what he recognized to be X Files. "Yes, these are yours. I've been through them and picked out all the ones where you used questionable methods," Skinner said menacingly. He got up out of his chair, walked around to the other side of the desk, and stood behind his slave. "I'm sure that you thought you'd got away with it at the time, each and every time, but you didn't. I was watching, and waiting, and now, Agent Mulder, there has to be an accounting - and due punishment." Mulder felt his knees grow weak. This was hot! This was every fantasy he'd ever had for six years while sitting in meetings in this office, come true! Skinner's presence was prowling, and predatory, and although his words were those of censure, his tone was low, and sexy, speaking straight to Mulder's cock. It was a world away from the way Skinner normally disciplined him in his professional capacity. A light bulb went on above Mulder's head. Skinner was creating a scene for him! And not just any scene - the scene that Mulder had played out himself so many times in his head, for so many long, lonely years, never even hoping that he could one day have the reality. "Sir, I'm sorry, but I don't really think you can hold me responsible…" he began, relaxing into the scene. "Quiet, Agent Mulder. When I want you to speak, I'll tell you, but I'm warning you, you're already in a lot of trouble, Agent." Skinner's voice was a bark of sheer authority, and it was like a soothing caress to Mulder. "Yes, sir," he muttered, looking at his shoes. "Look through the cases, and tell me what you did wrong in each one, and then we'll discuss how to punish you," Skinner said, sitting down again. He watched, unblinking, as Mulder picked up a file from the mound on his boss's desk. "Could I sit, sir?" He asked. "No," Skinner snapped. He picked up a ruler, and began slapping it against his hand menacingly. Mulder swallowed hard, and lost himself in the moment. His cock was already bulging inside his work suit, only this time it didn't matter. This time he didn't have to hide, or pretend that this situation wasn't a giant turn on. This time his fantasy was going to be fulfilled. "I'm waiting!" Skinner barked. Mulder nodded, and flicked through the file. "I, uh, ditched Scully," he began. "I think we can take that as read in most of these." Skinner slapped the ruler against his hand again. Mulder shuddered. Although it was only a game, Skinner was playing it so real that he couldn't have broken out of role if he'd dared. "I upset the local PD with my attitude, I went into a dangerous situation without backup, I…" "Let's backtrack here," Skinner interrupted. "As I recall, your 'upsetting the local PD' involved you calling the sheriff a 'self important loser who wouldn't know his ass from his elbow.' To his face. Yes?" "Uh, I'm not sure I remember the details," Mulder hedged. "Then try harder, Agent Mulder! FBI work is about detail. The devil, as they say, is in the detail." "Yes, sir!" Mulder thought back frantically. "It's possible I said that, sir, yes. It sounds about right," he finished wryly. "Very well. As you can see, Agent Mulder. This is a pile of transgressions bigger than I've ever, in my years as a Supervisor, had to deal with. So, the question is, how should I punish you?" "I don't know, sir." Mulder looked at his feet, his whole body trembling in anticipation. "In the past, I've put black marks on your file, I've given you menial work assignments far beneath your capabilities, and I've chewed you out. Did any of that work?" Skinner barked. "Not really, sir," he admitted. "I agree. So, Agent Mulder, I think the time has come to try a stronger form of discipline, don't you?" Skinner got to his feet. Mulder looked up, his eyes wide with a combination of arousal and alarm. This was much better than the reality of being chewed out and punished by his boss. Those times had always filled him with dread, and although they were erotic in his fantasies, in reality they had just been dreary, awkward and humiliating. This was the fantasy version and it was good - damn good! "What…do you mean, sir?" he stammered. "Marine discipline, Agent Mulder. Good, old fashioned, physical discipline, Agent." "Isn't that against regulations, sir?" He protested. "Very probably." Skinner cleared a space on his cluttered desk. "However, I'm not prepared to have a loose canon on my ship any more. You'll play by my rules or not at all. What do you say to that, Agent Mulder?" "You can't do this, sir!" Mulder threw himself into the spirit of the game, enjoying the tingling in his body. He loved this! It was one thing to just allow his Master to do whatever he liked with him in the Playroom, or the bedroom, but to interact, and role-play - this was even better. He got the chance to participate in making the fantasy work. "Someone has to stop you, Mulder, or you'll just keep getting into trouble. As your supervisor, it's my duty to haul you back into line - however painful that might be. Now, I think physical punishment is the answer with you, so that's what I'm going to use." "Please…" Mulder muttered weakly. Skinner stood in front of him, drew himself up to his full, formidable height, and seemed to almost puff up several sizes in sheer bulk. When he spoke, his voice was so hard, low and sexy that Mulder almost came from the tone, as much as the words. "Pants down and bend over my desk, Agent. Now! I'm going to whip you." Mulder shivered, and opened his mouth to continue his protest, but Skinner's dark eyes were so captivating and compelling that he found himself instead undoing his belt with shaking hands. Skinner was right - he did know the difference between an erotic spanking and a punishment. Back at the party, the strap had just been painful, but this…this was making him tremble with arousal. He undid his pants, and pushed them down, then his boxers. He was so deeply into the role, that he blushed at exposing his bare backside, although his Master had seen it countless times before. "Over you go." Skinner put a heavy hand on the small of Mulder's back, and pushed him over the desk. Mulder lay there, savoring the feel of the moment, the unfamiliar cool wood pressed into the flesh on his bare thighs. The files were so close that his nose was almost touching them. He felt exposed, his ass waving in the air, awaiting its punishment, and his cock sticking out hopefully at the front. He lay there, in an agony of anticipation, listening to Skinner's footsteps as his Master walked around to the other side of the desk, and picked up his ruler again. Mulder's stomach did a leap, thrilled that Skinner was going to use the heavy wooden ruler. He almost jumped into the air when he felt the cool wood soothing his bare bottom. "I think we'll start off with minor offenses," Skinner told him. "Then move onto the major ones. I'll put this here, so you can look forward to what you've got coming later." He placed the ruler on the desk in front of Mulder, so that it filled his vision. Mulder moaned softly, as he felt his Master's hand caress his butt. Then there was a smack. It was only light, warming him up, and he flailed, clutching onto the sides of desk to stop himself sliding off. Skinner put a big hand on the small of his back to hold him in place, then set about smacking his buttocks in earnest. Mulder wanted the moment to go on forever. He committed all the details to memory. His Master's sexy, demanding voice, telling him he was being punished, and why, instructing him to expect no mercy. The way the desk felt against his bare stomach, and thighs, the smell of paper, and wood that filled his nostrils, and the feel of that big hand slapping his exposed bottom. He could feel his butt heating up, and began to wriggle and squirm, and then begged to be let up. Skinner ignored him, rightly judging that being let up was the last thing Mulder wanted right now. After several minutes of steady spanking, the pace dropped, and Skinner's hand soothed his slave's bottom, just delivering the occasional light swat in between gentle stroking. Mulder sighed. Damn, but this was good. It wasn't in character with the scene, but it was so damn good! "All right. That was just the beginning. Time to deal with the serious issues now. Get up," Skinner told him. Mulder stood, starting to feel that dreamy high that a good spanking always gave him. Skinner walked around the desk, sat in his big chair, and then crooked his finger and beckoned Mulder over. Mulder bit on his lip, and shuffled towards his boss. "I'm sorry, sir," he muttered, standing beside Skinner's chair. "I promise I'll always follow procedure from now on." "Over my knee, Agent!" Skinner proclaimed, pointing. Mulder felt as if his heart had stopped. That was one of his favorite fantasy lines. God, if anyone could see them - it was so absurd, and yet it felt so good. He nodded, and lowered himself over Skinner's strong, muscular thighs. Skinner picked up the ruler, and swished it through the air a couple of times. Mulder clutched onto his Master's thigh for support. "This will hurt. There's no point using corporal punishment unless it drives the point home, and that's exactly what this will do," Skinner told him ominously. Mulder closed his eyes and held on even more firmly. He felt the ruler tapping his flaming butt cheeks, and then it landed on the fleshiest part of his bottom with a resounding thwack. Mulder let out a strangled cry. Another swat, and the pace and force started to increase. Mulder began to thrust against Skinner's leg, his cock screaming for release. "This is what happens when you disobey me, Agent," Skinner said, picking up the tempo even more. Mulder began to plead for mercy, to beg to be allowed up, but Skinner held him down and didn't stop until he'd delivered a swat to every single inch of Mulder's sore backside - several times over. Mulder grew intimately familiar with the color of the flooring, and the smell of the leather on Skinner's chair, and he felt as if he was floating on a cloud of hazy pleasure, fueled by each painful swat on his ass. Finally it was over, and he lay, dazed and sated in his Master's lap, sweat soaking his hair. "I won't do it again! I promise, I promise!" He cried, no longer even knowing what he was saying, or promising. "Good. I'm pleased to hear it," Skinner said, brushing the sweaty hair out of his face. Mulder fell to his knees on the floor beside Skinner's chair, and lay his head adoringly on his Master's lap. "That was fantastic, Master," he sighed. "So, so good. You seem to know everything that goes on in my mind…every trigger word…" "I'm not finished yet, Agent." Skinner's hard tone brought him back into the scene. "Go and stand facing the wall. I want that red butt on display." Mulder looked at him, wide-eyed. Oh god, this was just beyond his wildest dreams. He got to his feet, and shuffled over to the wall. He was still trembling from the excitement of enacting the fantasy, and although his butt hurt like hell, the endorphins were making his brain buzz and he was as high as a kite. He needed the corner time to pull himself back together. It felt good too, standing with his nose pressed against the wall, red butt on display, in Skinner's office of all places. He glanced back to see that Skinner was either working, or feigning work. "Look around again and I'll come over there and redden those cheeks some more," Skinner warned. Mulder turned back immediately, flushing. There was something so humiliatingly erotic about standing here, being almost ignored, while his Master worked. He sighed dreamily, wondering how long Skinner had been planning this. Now he felt guilty for all his snide complaints about missing out on his slave's day. This was a gift he could never have asked for. Skinner had taken him so skillfully into his sub headspace, and kept him there, like the Master he was. Mulder's cock was still straining against its gold ring and he touched it surreptitiously, squeezing it. He was so absorbed in this, that he jumped into the air when a swinging slap landed on his bottom. "Touching yourself without permission, boy?" Skinner hissed, and Mulder knew that the scene was over, and they were back to normal - whatever that is. "Sorry, Master, but that scene was just so damn hot," he said honestly. "Want me to take care of it?" Skinner asked, rubbing his hands up and down Mulder's arms, and kissing the back of his neck. "Yes…please…" Mulder croaked. "Come back to the desk then." Skinner led him back to the desk and sat down in his chair, then he pulled Mulder close and took his weeping cock into his mouth. Mulder yelled in surprise as Skinner practically swallowed him whole. He put his hands on his Master's shoulders and dropped a series of kisses onto Skinner's bald head as he worked. Skinner's hands were holding his burning backside, caressing it, kneading the flesh, giving him that knock-out combination of pleasure and pain that took him new levels of bliss that he'd never known before. He came with force, bucking into Skinner's mouth, and his Master swallowed his come, then released his slave with a grin. "I take it the earth moved for you, then?" He asked. "You don't even need to ask the question." Mulder slumped against his Master, feeling utterly sated. "You've been good all week. You deserved a reward," Skinner said, stroking him. "I almost screwed up today though," Mulder sighed. "Hmmm. You're fine in a controlled environment, sweetheart, but as soon as you're interacting with other people, it goes wrong. I can't keep you on a short leash all the time - I wouldn't want to and you'd grow weary of it and act up if I did." "I'm sorry, Master," Mulder sighed, resting his head in Skinner's lap again. He liked this position best in the whole world. "Fox - it's early days yet. I knew there'd be a struggle to begin with. We'll get there," Skinner promised, holding Mulder's face between his hands. "In time, with patience - and some healthy doses of discipline," he winked. Mulder grinned. "Thank you, Master, for the fantasy - and for everything else." "While you're here, I have a fantasy of my own…" Skinner grinned. He pulled Mulder up, and held out his hand for a condom. Mulder supplied it hastily, fumbling in his pocket. Skinner kicked away Mulder's pants and boxers, and then hauled him onto his lap. "Ride me. In my chair," he commanded. Mulder grinned back. He found 'riding' Skinner difficult, but the pleasure it gave his Master more than made up for the fact that the deeper angle of penetration sometimes brought tears to his eyes. He climbed eagerly onto Skinner's lap, opened his Master's pants, and put the condom on his Master's erect cock. Then he gingerly held his sore butt cheeks open, and slid Skinner's cock into his ass. Skinner grabbed his thighs, and jerked his hips up, and Mulder put his hands on Skinner's shoulders and slid expertly up and down on that hard cock, until his Master moaned, and pumped into him, gasping out his climax. They both hung there for a while, then Mulder daringly moved his face and caught Skinner's lips with his own, kissing him soundly, opening his Master's mouth and claiming his tongue. Skinner's arms tightened around his slave, and he pulled him even closer, devouring him. They left the office fifteen minutes later, when they'd recovered, and readjusted their clothes. Mulder was on a total high as he walked down the corridor towards the elevator. His whole body was tingling and alive. He indulged for a moment in the fantasy that he was naked, and Skinner was leading him along by his nipple leash. It was therefore a total shock when a voice broke into his reverie. "What's this? Working another Saturday, Walter?" Mulder froze. The Director. Skinner smiled at him warningly, then turned. "Yes, sir. There's always work to be done. This is Agent Mulder. You've heard about him, I'm sure." "Of course." The Director gave Mulder a keen stare. "Hard not to hear about you, and your exploits, Mulder." "No, sir," Mulder gulped, hoping that his most recent exploits hadn't been heard. They continued down the corridor to the elevator, with Skinner talking easily to the Director, and Mulder, still floating high in the sky, trailing along behind them. He liked watching Skinner walk, his Master's taut body gliding like a panther, full of tightly controlled strength. Skinner stopped by the elevator, and, still in his leash fantasy, Mulder found himself sinking to his knees, acting on automatic pilot. Skinner grabbed hold of his elbow. "Did you stumble?" He asked, helping Mulder up. Mulder flushed, wondering what the hell he had been thinking of, with the Director here! "Yes…sorry," he mumbled, flustered. He was relieved when they finally got to the jeep. "Jeez, I'm sorry about that. What an asshole!" Mulder kicked one of the tires. "I enjoyed it," Skinner grinned. "It shows that you're learning well - although I think such demonstrations of your obedience should be saved for when we're in private." He opened the back of the jeep and waved his hand at Mulder. "Do I still have to ride in the back?" Mulder groused, climbing in anyway, in too good a mood to argue. "Of course. No puppies on the seats," Skinner retorted. "Master…?" Mulder began, as they finally arrived home. He sank down on the couch, and then winced, and turned onto his stomach, kicking his shoes off with a sigh. "Slave." Skinner got himself a beer out of the fridge, and threw one to his slave. "Would you ever take another slave - or even a sub? It's just… I saw you talking to Ian, and…" "Ah, that reminds me." Skinner took a card out of his pocket, and handed it to Mulder who took it blankly. "Ian's business card - he wrote his personal 'phone number on it too. You two seemed to be getting along well. I thought you might like to see him again." "Why?" Mulder looked up, puzzled. "You need friends, Fox. Everybody does. I'm not sure I entirely approve of Ian's work, but you liked him. Go out for a drink with him occasionally, swap horror stories about the Masters from hell that you've both had in your time." Skinner grimaced theatrically. "You wouldn’t mind?" Mulder asked, confused. "Why should I? I want you to feel less isolated, Fox. You're isolated everywhere - in your working life, and your personal life. I know that you make a fiercely loyal, and very entertaining friend. A lot of people would like you if they got to know you - if you let them get to know you." "I dunno." Mulder stared at the card. "Well it's a good thing it's an order then." Skinner moved Mulder's feet and sat down on the couch beside him. "Call him tomorrow." "Yes, Master," Mulder grinned, going to settle down again with his head on his Master's lap. Skinner cleared his throat pointedly. "You're overdressed, boy." "Oh." Mulder got up wearily, and removed his clothes, then lay down on the couch again. A few seconds later, he was startled when something warm and soft jumped on top of him. Wanda settled herself down on his lap and purred sonorously. Mulder considered pushing her off, but he was too tired to move, and he had to admit that her sleek fur felt good against his naked flesh, so he let her stay. Skinner ran a lazy hand over his slave's chest, and played with his nipples. "These are healing nicely," he murmured. "I'll be able to do more with them soon. I'm looking forward to that." Mulder's stomach lurched. "There will be sessions in the Playroom. I have a cock whip I want to try out on you, and all sorts of clamps." Skinner squeezed a nipple fiercely, and Mulder whimpered. "What about…?" he began, then bit on his lip. "Go on," Skinner's fingers played with the nipple he'd just viciously squeezed, caressing it gently. "That branding, Master," Mulder whispered. "You said you'd do something like that to me." "I will. In time," Skinner said firmly. Mulder closed his eyes, imagining taking that fiery object into his flesh, feeling it burn into his soul. "What symbol will you place on me, Master?" He asked, in trepidation. "I haven't decided yet," Skinner grinned. "One thing's for sure though - you won't have any say in what I choose. You'll accept whatever sign I put on you." "It has to hurt," Mulder muttered. "It does, and it lasts forever." Skinner smiled affectionately, and stroked his slave, soothing him. "You'll take it, sweetheart, because I'll make you take it. Don't worry about it. It won't happen for a while yet. Now, it's late, and I'm tired. As you've been so good all week you can sleep in my bed tonight - that's an honor you can earn most slave days if you keep up your good behavior." "Thank you, Master." Mulder closed his eyes, feeling completely happy. He'd made the right decision about California, and about Andrew Linker. He was sure of it. He wouldn't have forfeited today for anything. "My puppy - he runs full bore until he drops and sleeps," Skinner whispered. Mulder smiled. Life was good, and only he could screw it up. Maybe he'd learned not to in this past week. Maybe. A part of him wondered what he'd do if Krycek called again with more information, but he pushed that thought aside. Right here and now, life was good and he didn't remember it ever having been so good before. "I like slave's day, Master," he murmured drowsily, and he heard Skinner give a deep, rumbling laugh, before he fell fast asleep.
---
!Chapter 13: Remote Control "You really don't have to do this, Master," Mulder said nervously. "Nonsense." Skinner smiled - always an alarming sight, Mulder thought to himself, shifting uncomfortably. "Keep still." Skinner tapped on his shoulder reprovingly and Mulder swallowed. "Would you like me to tie you?" Skinner asked, with a snort of amusement. "Would that help? I could put you in deep bondage if you'd prefer." He flexed his wrist threateningly. "Uh, no. I can keep still." Mulder bit on his lip. "You have done this before, haven't you?" He asked, glancing up at his Master. "Of course," Skinner said smoothly, picking up a small, black leather case and unzipping it. Mulder swallowed again as he gazed at the contents. Three shiny implements were nestled on a bed of crimson silk. Mulder's heart missed a beat. "How many times?" Mulder asked, wanting to yell that he wasn't letting any of those implements anywhere near him. "Enough times to know how to do it." Skinner smiled disarmingly. Mulder fought down a wave of panic. "Relax," Skinner put his hands on Mulder's shoulders and his slave gave a startled jump. "We are nervous aren't we?" Skinner mused. "If I didn't know better, I'd think that somebody didn't trust his Master. Would that be right, slave?" This was Skinner's most dangerous tone, and Mulder knew better than to risk his Master's wrath by agreeing with him in this instance. "Uh, no. It's just…" An idea came into his head and he looked up at Skinner with a smile of pure, seraphic innocence. "Today is your day, Master. Sunday - Master's Day remember? You shouldn't do anything for me - I should be doing something for you!" he said triumphantly. "Oh, you will," Skinner chucked. "You will - just as soon as I'm finished here." He picked up the shiniest, sharpest implement, and Mulder took a deep breath…and held it. "Why so nervous, slave?" Skinner asked. "I can't possibly make a worse job of it than the last butcher who cut your hair." Mulder scowled at his Master in the mirror. He was seated on a stool, stark naked, his wet hair plastered to his head, and flopping into his eyes. "I liked that cut," he growled. "The one that made you look like you'd been in an argument with a lawnmower - and lost? Hmm, yes, I can see why it appealed," Skinner murmured. "Thankfully it's grown out, but it's far too long now. I should have cut it last week and forgot. Next time - remind me, slave." He flexed the long, shiny scissors he was holding. Mulder suppressed a low moan. Skinner picked up a silver comb from the exquisite black leather case, and parted Mulder's hair with a deft flick, then dragged the comb through the dark, wet locks. "I'm not questioning your ability, Master…" Mulder began nervously. "It's just, you're not exactly a stereotypical barber - I mean, let's face it," he babbled, "you're an FBI employee for god's sake, and while you're a very skilled Assistant Director, that doesn't mean…" "I can see that you'd like a full list of my hair-dressing credentials." Skinner put the comb down, and pinched a wad of Mulder's hair between his thumb and forefinger. "Which is tough because you're not going to get one. Trust me, I trimmed someone's hair every few weeks for a year, and he never complained." "Who was he?" Mulder asked quickly, his heart beating too fast, a sudden wave of jealousy, warring with curiosity inside him. "An old friend." Skinner smiled. "And that's all I'm going to say." "Why won't you tell me about your past, Master?" Mulder turned his damp head to glance up at Skinner. His Master was dressed in a pair of jeans, but was otherwise naked, his bare chest level with Mulder's eye-line, which was distracting as it was rippling particularly enticingly this morning, Mulder thought. "Why do you have so many delaying tactics in your repertoire, slave?" Skinner replied, firmly turning Mulder's head back to face the mirror. "Answering a question with a question. Typical avoidance technique," Mulder muttered under his breath. "Fox," Skinner said warningly. He took hold of a damp wedge of Mulder's hair again and opened the scissors. Mulder closed his eyes and winced theatrically, unable to watch. Nothing happened. Mulder opened them again. Skinner was watching him, the scissors still poised. "Would you prefer a blindfold?" Skinner offered in an amused tone. "I'm sure that can be arranged. "No, Master." "Then watch - and learn. I'll want you to cut my hair next," Skinner told him. What hair…? Mulder thought to himself, and was surprised by a firm swat to the side of his thigh. "Ow! What was that for?" He demanded. "For what you were thinking," Skinner replied. "You cannot possibly punish me for what I was thinking," Mulder groused. "Jeez, what is this - 1984? The thought police?" "No, it's the year 2000, the year that this slave will finally learn to do what he's told, and give in to his Master's wishes - and I notice that you didn’t deny what you were thinking. Now, hold still, or I'll take that razor and shave your hair off completely," Skinner said, pointing at the electric razor in the black leather case. With a resigned sigh, Mulder gave in. In fact, Skinner proved to be as skilled as he had promised. He trimmed Mulder's hair neatly, although without any great creativity, used the razor to shave a swathe at the back of his slave's head, then dried the thick locks on top. Mulder had to concede that not only did he look fine, it was also nice not to have to keep pushing his hair out of his eyes. "Now - I want my full Sunday service," Skinner told his slave, shaking the damp towel out. "That means a shave, a trim, and a full body massage." "Right," Mulder said, getting up and grabbing the towel. Then he paused. "Master wouldn't like anything else, would he?" He asked. "Such as?" Skinner raised a coolly assessing eyebrow. Mulder swallowed hard then took all his courage in his hands. "Well, you did say that I could…that one day I might…" "Yes?" Skinner crossed his arms over his broad chest, and Mulder suddenly wished that the ground would open up and swallow him. "…be on top, Master," he finished, almost inaudibly. "Not top you," he clarified hastily. "Just serve you in a different way." Skinner looked at him thoughtfully, and Mulder bit on his lip. "Sorry, Master…I shouldn't have…" he said quickly. Skinner interrupted him, pulling him close, and looking at him intently. "Never apologize for suggesting ways to please me, slave," he said. Mulder went quiet, flushing under the scrutiny. There was an expression in Skinner's eyes that he didn’t understand and he wondered what the hell was going on. Finally, Skinner shook his head, and gave a wry, heartfelt sigh. "Fox, I will want you to serve me like that one day, but you're not ready yet." "Why not?" Mulder argued. "What's to be ready for?" Skinner frowned. "I've given you my answer, but let's discuss it anyway. Maybe it'll help you. Come here." He pulled his naked slave over to the bed, and sat him down, then sat down behind him, and put his big arms around Mulder's torso, grabbing his slave's wrists in his hands, thereby trapping him within his warm embrace. His legs wrapped themselves around Mulder's thighs, heavy and powerful. Mulder tensed for a moment, feeling as if he were in a kind of bondage, then relaxed as Skinner kissed his neck. "All right, tell me how you feel when I use you," Skinner said softly, nuzzling at Mulder's shoulders and the back of his head. "How I feel?" Mulder craned his neck to get a glimpse of his Master, confused. "Yes. Tell me." Skinner blew on the newly cut hair. "It feels great. You know that," Mulder shrugged. Skinner's arms tightened around him and Mulder fought down an urge to struggle against the embrace, which was too firm, too close. "I said, tell me," Skinner hissed. Mulder gave up fighting his urge to struggle, and gave in to it instead. "Let me go!" He wriggled, fruitlessly, then pushed against his Master, and finally tried to twist away. At last, panting, he gave up, and was still, glowering at his Master. "Let's start again. Why is it so hard to talk about?" Skinner asked. "Because it is." Mulder snapped. Skinner pinched the top of his arm. "Master," he added, sullenly. "All right, let me help you out here. Your fantasies about anal sex have always been about domination rather than love-making, haven't they?" Skinner asked, his breath warm on the side of Mulder's face. Mulder stiffened. "Well?" Skinner pressed. "Usually. So what?" Mulder retorted. "When I made love to you after your party - that was the first time you'd allowed yourself to just be loved by another man, maybe by anyone, wasn't it?" Skinner asked. Mulder felt another surge of frustration at being held here, so tight, unable to escape, and forced into facing this kind of scrutiny. Skinner squeezed his arms around his slave's body, searching for his answer. "Yes! Yes, damnit! Why the fuck is that important?" Mulder growled. "It's important because you enjoyed it," Skinner purred silkily in his slave's ear. "Didn't you?" "Yes. Of course I did. You know that. You were damn well there." "And that was okay, wasn't it? To enjoy it without the domination? To just enjoy good, old fashioned, vanilla sex? You were even a little bit proud of yourself for being able to enjoy it, weren't you?" Skinner paused, but Mulder made no answer. He closed his eyes, breathing heavily. "In your mind, enjoying being dominated, enjoying being fucked, makes you feel weak. You can't understand why you'd like feeling less than equal - it festers in your mind. When you first came to me, you told me that you knew what you were, that you'd come to terms with it, but you haven't. You've avoided doing that." Skinner's voice was relentless, boring into his soul. Mulder wanted to scream. "So, if I were to allow you to serve me by giving me anal sex, what would that make you think about me?" Mulder felt the fight leave his body, and he slumped against Skinner. He was silent for a long time, head bowed, then he took a sudden, gasping breath as if he had been jolted into life. "That you're weak, Master," he whispered. "That's right. And then you'd be able to despise me, like you despised all those other tops you consumed. Then you'd be able to hit out, run away, convince yourself that I'm not what you need, escape from the intimacy that scares you, and from your own desires which you try to deny. Yes?" "No." Mulder closed his eyes. "There's more to it than just one act of sex," he said. "You aren't my Master merely because of what you do to my body. Your authority, your skill, the things you say, the way you treat me, and…care for me - they all combine to make you my Master, and I your slave. You are my Master in more ways than just sex. Many more ways." There was silence for a moment, then Skinner kissed his slave firmly on the back of his neck. "Good. I know that - and I'm glad that you know it too." Skinner released his grasp on Mulder's wrists, and ran his hands lovingly down his slave's arms. "You can earn the right to serve me in that way, Fox. I'd enjoy it - but not yet. You have more things to learn about strength and weakness before I'd take that risk with you. Some rewards have to be earned in any case, and after that act of public disobedience yesterday I'm not inclined to grant you a reward of this magnitude." "You're right. I don't deserve it. I don't know what I can do about…my perceptions though. Shit, it isn't as if I haven't read up on the psychology of my kink. You're going to make me face up to this, once and for all, aren't you?" He turned a scared face towards his Master. Skinner smiled at him, and brushed a gentle hand down the side of his slave's face. "Yes, sweetheart. I promised you nothing less when I first took you on. Don't worry about it though, Fox. Your open mind, and willingness to learn are among your best qualities. If you could apply them to yourself, and throw in the same understanding and compassion that you show to others, then the lesson would be more easily learned. As it is…" he sighed, and the sound was heartfelt, "well, it might be painful." He squeezed Mulder again, reassuringly, and Mulder melted against his Master's strong, muscular body. "I've wondered about your past," Mulder admitted. "Did you ever sub, Master? I need to know. I have to know," he said desperately. "Some of the things you've said…I see this image of you, kneeling, and I can't…I can't get my head around it. It isn't what you are." "It isn't what you know me to be," Skinner said elusively. "Did you?" Mulder looked up. "How did you get into the scene? When did you start? I know you were married, yet you've been involved with men…why?" "So many questions." Skinner pulled away and got up, and Mulder followed him, consumed by his need to understand. "I will tell you everything, in time, little one," Skinner said softly, turning to face his slave. His Master's dark eyes were serious, and Mulder couldn't find the answers he was looking for in them. "But not yet," Mulder said resentfully, his need to know burning him up inside. "Not yet. Fox, there's so much that's new in this situation and your state of mind right now is fragile - I think you'll agree? I found you on the edge of an abyss, and I've managed to pull you back a couple of inches. I don't want you to turn back and jump right in." "You've been playing me, psyching me out the whole time," Mulder accused, bitterly. "And what have you been trying to do to me?" Skinner retorted. "You've been pushing the boundaries since you got here, slave." He pulled himself to his full height, his chest wide and solid. "You've tested me from the very beginning, constantly - and you still are." Mulder shook his head, angrily. "So what? I don't stand a fucking chance. You hold all the winning cards," he spat. "You always did. The slave contract, those interviews with my former tops, the way you've crawled inside my mind. I can't win. I can't defeat you." "Not only that," Skinner said, his tone deadly serious, "you don’t want to win. Fighting me is like fighting yourself, and besides - you and I both want the same thing at the end of the day." "We do?" Mulder asked, drowning. "Yes. We do." Skinner's eyes were dark and intense as he pulled Mulder close, held his slave's head firmly between his hands, and kissed him hard on the lips. Mulder struggled, briefly, then surrendered to that familiar, beloved touch. His arms went around Skinner's waist, and his hands stroked his Master's bare back. Skinner reciprocated, drawing his slave close, plundering his mouth with his own. After several long seconds, Skinner pulled back, and clicked his fingers brusquely. "Submissive position, slave," he ordered, turning away and walking towards the bathroom. Mulder bristled, drew himself up to his full height, faltered for a moment on the brink of rebellion, then sank to his knees. "You bastard," he whispered. "You didn't even watch to make sure I knelt. You knew I would." "Yes," Skinner said simply. "By my side, slave, and add 5 to your tally with the strap in your bedroom this evening. I can see the lesson about your use of word 'bastard' isn't sinking in." "Yes, Master," Mulder whispered with a resigned sigh. He shuffled to his Master's side, and glanced up at Skinner's stunning physique hungrily, an expression of total, abject, helpless worship in his eyes. Skinner smiled, and gently patted his slave's head. "We'll get there, sweetheart. I promise," he said softly. "Now, what do you have planned for me today?" "Planned?" Mulder repeated blankly. "Planned. It is, as you so rightly pointed out, Master's day, and I want to be surprised." "Right." Mulder sat back on his heels. He'd been so absorbed with his own problems all week, that he hadn't given the matter of Master's Day any thought. He looked up and saw the flash of hurt in Skinner's eyes - his Master knew he hadn't even planned anything. "I'm sorry, Master," he said quickly, "but the truth is that I know a lot less about what would please you than you know about me. When you did that scene for me yesterday, it was perfect, and I'd like to do the same for you, but I don't know what kind of stuff would turn you on." "Fair enough. We can talk about that," Skinner agreed. "And Fox - you don't need to take care of my whole day. Just do one thing to surprise or please me. I don't mind what - just that you think about it, and try." "Well, I do have an idea," Mulder said, remembering his first lesson with Clark Hammond, the massage teacher, a few days before. "I'm not sure it's all that much of a treat, but I hope I can make it nice." "Good." Skinner smiled. "I'll take a shower, then you can trim my hair and shave me. After that - I'm in your hands." "Yes, Master." Mulder smiled happily, as he watched Skinner strip off his jeans and disappear into the bathroom. The one thing that continued to surprise him was how much he enjoyed losing himself in this role of devoted slave. Warming Skinner's towel, drying his Master, and seeing to his general comfort in a solicitous way, brought him almost as much pleasure as being made love to and he reveled in it. He made a passable job with the scissors on the fringe of hair at the back of his Master's head, then led Skinner over to the bed, and gave him his full body massage. After that he cooked his Master's breakfast, then excused himself in order to prepare for his Master's special treat. He found the scented candles he'd bought the previous week, and lit them, shut the drapes in the living room, turned the lights off, and led Skinner over to the couch. "You have to sit on the floor for this," he said apologetically. Skinner raised an eyebrow, but complied, and Mulder sat on the couch behind him, his knees on either side of Skinner's head. "I know this isn't that much different to the massage I just gave you - I mean it's the same kind of thing," Mulder said hastily. "But Clark said that the head and feet are the most neglected areas when it comes to massage, and, well, I know that this is something I really enjoy, so I hope you'll enjoy it too." He put calming hands on Skinner's shoulders, rubbed softly, then instructed Skinner to lie back against him and relax. His Master obeyed, closing his eyes with a deep, heartfelt sigh. Mulder then poured some oil into his hands, and warmed it, before placing his fingertips on Skinner's naked scalp. He caressed his Master's head with gentle strokes of his long fingers, allowing them to linger on that smooth scalp, enjoying the sensation of the oil sliding over the bare, pink flesh. He could feel Skinner grow heavier against his legs as his Master zoned out, and he smiled to himself as he worked. His fingers found slight bumps in the contours of Skinner's scalp and he committed them to memory. "Did you know that phrenology is the art of understanding somebody's personality by the bumps on their heads?" He murmured to Skinner in a low tone. "Uh-huh," Skinner replied, clearly off on his own special plane of bliss. "I wonder what I could tell about you from this, Master?" Mulder whispered. "Hmmm…dunno," Skinner said. Mulder's fingers moved the skin over the hard bone of his Master's scalp, relieving the tension that had built up there, then gently fondled behind his Master's ears. "My grandmother used to give me head massages when I was a kid," Mulder said. "I used to get headaches, and she would rub my scalp with lavender water. I'd forgotten how nice that was until Clark reminded me." "S'good," Skinner said drowsily. Mulder smiled happily, and worked for several more minutes. Then his movements became slower, softer, and he interspersed them with several kisses to his Master's newly polished, gleaming dome, before finishing the massage. Skinner shook his head blearily. "Over?" He asked, glancing up at his slave. "That part is. Now for your feet," Mulder said. He patted the couch, and Skinner lay down beside him. Mulder swung his Master's feet into his lap, and began to massage them. Skinner wriggled and Mulder caught hold of his ankle. "Don't tell me my Master is ticklish?" He asked mischievously. "I don't mind firm strokes, it's when you do all that light, whispery stuff," Skinner protested. "Like this?" Mulder ran his fingernails down the underside of Skinner's foot and his Master gave a low gurgle and twisted up frantically to get away. Mulder held on tight. "I'll remember that," he winked, then he began to massage the feet with strong, deep strokes and Skinner gave another sigh, and leaned back on the couch, surrendering to the massage. Mulder took his time, and covered every inch of those golden feet. When he'd finished, he raised one of Skinner's feet to his mouth, and sucked each toe, then turned his attention to the other one. He finished off with a quick bite to Skinner's big toes, that earned him a growl in response, then let go of the feet, and went to kneel submissively at his Master's side. Skinner put a hand on his slave's shoulder and squeezed. "Very nice, boy. I could get used to that. I don't think anyone's ever massaged my scalp like that before. It was a wonderful sensation." "Thank you, Master." Mulder felt a wave of pleasure sweep through his body that almost knocked him out with its force. "I exist to serve," he whispered, picking up Skinner's hand and kissing the fingers. "Well - sometimes," Skinner said. Mulder hung his head - his Master knew him too well. "You've done well, Fox," Skinner told his slave seriously. "I enjoyed that." At that moment the 'phone rang, and Mulder went to pick it up, and presented it to his Master, head down, lost in his servitude. Skinner smiled at him, and answered the call. "Hello? Yes. No, it's Walter. Yes, he is. Hold on, Ian." He handed Mulder the 'phone and Mulder looked at him in surprise. "It's your new friend - I gave him our number. Here." He got up and walked into the kitchen. Mulder took the 'phone cautiously. "Hi, it's Ian. I was wondering if you were free to have a few beers this evening," the other man asked. "Well…I'll need to ask…" "Your Master. I know!" Ian laughed. "Hell, that brings back memories. I wish I had someone I had to ask," he sighed. "Go ahead, ask him then," he prompted. Mulder bit on his lip, half hoping that Skinner would say no. He had enjoyed meeting Ian the previous day, but he had never been very good at the guy thing of hanging out drinking beers. He didn't drink much for a start, and he couldn't see the point of just standing around, doing all that macho crap unless you were going to get completely drunk on your ass at the same time. "Ian wants me to go out for a drink this evening, but it's your day so I'll tell him I can't," Mulder said, following Skinner into the kitchen. "Why?" Skinner frowned. "It's fine by me. Go out and enjoy yourself. I've got a few 'phone calls I need to make this evening anyway." "Oh." Mulder stood there uncertainly. "Fox," Skinner pointed at the 'phone. "Okay," Mulder shrugged, and turned back into the living room, not at all sure about this new development in his social life. Mulder trotted down the stairs a few hours later, dressed in jeans, a blue shirt, and a jacket, ready to go. Skinner glanced at him. "Go and change into the red shirt," he said. "What? Why?" Mulder asked, glancing down at what he was wearing. It felt understated, and comfortable. "Because I say so," Skinner replied. Mulder glared at his Master, and clenched his fists. "I've been dressing myself since I was a kid. I'm sure I know what damn clothes to wear to go to a fucking bar," he groused. Skinner got up, and Mulder put his hand on the stair banister, ready to flee if need be. "Fox - you're my slave, so when you go out in public what you wear, and how you present yourself, reflect upon me. Now go and change, and add another 5 to your bed-time tally." Mulder considered protesting further but he'd already notched up nearly 20 swats over the course of a fairly average day so it didn't seem worth making a fuss about a different colored shirt, even though the red one was far more garish than he'd have liked. He got changed, grumbling to himself the whole time, then stopped, and thought about it. Skinner couldn't really care what color shirt he wore. He was simply finding a way to remind his slave who he belonged to - that even though he was going out socially on his own for the first time since he'd signed his contract, he still belonged to Skinner, and he should keep that fact in mind. Mulder found his cock hardening as he realized the thought processes going on there. Skinner was good. He was damned good. Not for the first time, he wondered where his Master had learned all these tricks. He trotted back down the stairs, ran into the living room where Skinner was sitting, and dropped a kiss on his Master's head. "Thanks," he murmured. "You're welcome - for whatever it is you think I've done," Skinner grinned, grabbing his clothed slave, and kissing him firmly on the lips. "Next time be more obedient," he said, slapping Mulder's butt affectionately. "Yes, Master!" Mulder laughed. "And don't be back any later than 10," Skinner warned. "No, Master!" Mulder chanced his luck and went back for another kiss. Skinner growled, but allowed him his kiss. At least with Ian he wouldn’t have to make any excuses about why he had to leave - he could just tell the other man that his Master had given him a strict curfew and Ian would accept that without taunting him, or asking any awkward questions. "And don't get into any trouble," Skinner said, keeping one hand wrapped firmly around his slave's wrist. "Remember that your behavior in public reflects on me." "Yes, Master." Mulder rolled his eyes, and Skinner swatted him on the backside again. "Apart from that - have fun," Skinner winked, finally letting his slave go. "Yes, Master!" Mulder stole another kiss from his Master, then ran for the door before Skinner could swat him again for his temerity. As it turned out, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. Ian was good company, with a wry, self-deprecating wit. He listened as Ian told him about his dom, Justin. Ian wasn't a great one for self-pity, but it was obvious that he still missed his lover a great deal. "I've talked about myself for long enough. Tell me how you managed to snare the top top on the whole scene," Ian said, raising his beer to his mouth with a wide grin. "The one and only Guardian of the House. I'm seriously impressed. You must be a damn good sub." "Slave." Mulder flushed and took a sip of his own beer. Ian raised an eyebrow. "He wouldn't take me as a sub. It was a slave or nothing." "Interesting. I'm not sure how that works. I mean, is it a constant thing?" Ian asked. "Yeah. 24/7." Mulder shrugged. "Or, here, there, and everywhere, as he's so fond of telling me." "And that works out okay?" Ian frowned. "So far." Mulder bit on his lip. "To be honest, it's been better than okay - but then again I've only been his slave for a couple of weeks, although it already feels like a lifetime - a very exhausting, very painful, permanently orgasmic lifetime!" "It sounds horny," Ian grinned, "but I'm not sure I could deal with the loss of my freedom." "That's the hard part, although…" Mulder paused, and thought about it, "he's not really unreasonable. I have a few…" he hesitated again, not sure how much to reveal, "well there's been some stuff in my past that I haven't really dealt with. I think maybe my Master insisted I become his slave to make sure I couldn't run away from it." "Ah. I always find the dynamics of other people's lifestyle arrangements fascinating," Ian said with a grin. "I hope you don't mind me asking?" "No." Mulder was surprised to find that he didn't. "Tell me more about your work. You know, I'd love to run an article on these X Files of yours. They sound fascinating," Ian said. "There's no chance of a scoop, is there?" "I can just imagine what my boss would say to see me giving an interview to a publication like Anomaly," Mulder laughed. "Hey, I work for the government remember, and your magazine is devoted to debunking everything the government says. We're natural enemies," he winked. "Only you're also friendly with some friends of mine," Ian responded. "The Lone Gunmen," he prompted, when Mulder gave him a questioning look. "So, maybe we have more in common than the obvious?" he grinned. "Maybe," Mulder grinned back. He wrestled with a question that had been at the back of his mind all evening, then finally gave in. "Ian…have you ever heard of a Doctor Peter Mayfield playing on the scene?" He held his breath. He had told Scully he was dropping the investigation into Andrew Linker, but his conversation with Skinner earlier in the day had reawakened his curiosity. He had to know more. "Peter? Yes, of course!" Ian laughed. "Justin and Peter were an item a few years before I met Justin. Things didn't work out between them, and they split up - it was amicable." "Right." Mulder nodded, telling himself he shouldn't go any further, but knowing himself too well to listen to his own advice. "And…Andrew Linker…?" He asked, in an undertone. "What do you know about him?" Ian's expression changed, and he looked at Mulder thoughtfully. "Why do you want to know?" "Curiosity." Mulder shrugged. "I think he and my M…that is, Walter, were involved once." It felt strange referring to Skinner as "Walter." Strange, but kind of nice too. "Well, I never met him, but I know that Andrew was the Guardian of the House before Walter. I don't know the exact details, but I'm assuming he trained Walter to take his place." "Right." Mulder nodded, feeling almost relieved. Skinner had clearly been Linker's protégé - that was why he had left him the apartment. The other man had trained his Master to take over from him as Guardian - it had been a business relationship, nothing more. "Mulder - why are you asking me all this? Why not ask Walter?" Ian looked puzzled. Mulder shrugged. "There's some stuff he doesn't seem to want to tell me." "Well, I wouldn't have thought it was a good idea to go digging around behind his back," Ian pointed out. "Unless you want your butt to suffer for it if he finds out." He gave a loud laugh and Mulder smiled, uncertainly. "Yeah. Right," he muttered. "As a matter of fact, I've met Peter a few times - he's got a nice place in LA. He's become some kind of celebrity psychologist out there. Writes a few books, works as a shrink to a few neurotic film stars," Ian smirked. "LA?" Mulder's heart thudded inside his chest. "California?" "Well, that's where LA was last time I looked!" Ian joked. "Right. Yes. LA. California." Mulder repeated. California…if he went there, he could kill two birds with one stone. He could check up that address Krycek had given him, and look up Peter Mayfield and find out more about his Master's old mentor, or whatever Andrew Linker had been to Walter Skinner. Mulder got home at quarter to ten, to find Skinner asleep on the couch, one arm hanging down, his hand almost touching the floor, with Wanda draped over his broad chest. The cat glanced up as Mulder came in. He put his finger over his mouth, and glared at her pointedly, then looked down on his sleeping Master. Skinner looked so peaceful, his long legs splayed out, his bare feet just touching the end of the couch. His head was still shiny and glistening from his massage earlier. Mulder felt a wave of self-hatred for what he knew he was going to do. "I'm sorry, Walter. I have to know," he whispered. Wanda opened her eyes again, her ears flicking, and Mulder shook his head sadly at her. "Curiosity killed the slave, Wanda," he said wistfully. She gave a trilling purr of delight at being spoken to, and stretched out to an impossible length along Skinner's body. "You two make a good pair. I shouldn't have come along to break up the party," Mulder said, hunching his shoulders miserably. He crouched down on his haunches beside Skinner and looked at his Master intently. Skinner had clearly been working on some files, which were strewn over the floor, and he was still wearing his glasses. There was an empty glass of whisky on the coffee table. Mulder gently removed his Master's glasses, and delivered the faintest whisper of a kiss to Skinner's lips. Skinner murmured something and Wanda gave another loud purr. California, California…it beckoned to Mulder, and yet, if he went, and Skinner found out why, then he feared that the fragile bond of trust they had built up over the past couple of weeks would be broken - maybe irrevocably. "Maybe you love him more than I do," Mulder told Wanda, reaching out a finger to stroke her soft head. She gazed at him steadily, looking into his soul. "You're certainly more devoted than I am, although you have no idea how much I envy you your current position." He tickled her under the chin and she purred again. "Don't think that this means I'm calling a truce, lady - I'm not. I'm just…in a weird kind of mood." With that thought in mind, Mulder got undressed, folded his clothes neatly on a chair, and knelt by his sleeping Master's side. He stayed there for a further ten minutes, eyes down, completely still, trying to find the serenity of belonging. Then Skinner blinked, and woke with a start. His eyes came into focus, and rested on his slave for a moment, then widened in surprise. "Now, that's a sight for sore eyes," he murmured, reaching out to fondle his slave. "Why didn't you wake me?" "I didn't like to, Master. You looked so peaceful," Mulder replied. "You could have just gone up to bed," Skinner grinned. "I didn't like to do that, either, Master. I'm owed a strapping," Mulder pointed out. Skinner laughed and sat up. "Somehow I seem to have acquired a model slaveboy. How the hell did that happen?" He asked. "No, don't answer that - I'm just grateful it did. Come here, you." He dragged Mulder over to the couch, and kissed his slave thoroughly, his hands urgently covering every inch of Mulder's body, caressing his nipples, his hardening cock, his buttocks. "You know, to reward you for your thoughtfulness, I think I'll let you off your punishment tonight." "Thank you, Master." Mulder nuzzled Skinner's neck. "I told you, I reward good behavior, and punish bad behavior," Skinner said, keeping up his slow caress on Mulder's body. "Yes…Master," Mulder panted, as Skinner's hand wrapped itself around his hard cock and pumped hard. "Any time you want to come," Skinner grinned. "Although if you hold it, that means I'll have more opportunity to play with your exquisite body, slaveboy, and that would please me, and pleasing me is your purpose in life, isn't it?" "Yes…it…is…" Mulder threw back his head, and sighed, as Skinner's hand kept up its pumping, while his Master's mouth lightly teased his nipples, flicking the rings with his tongue. Mulder groaned, and put his hands on Skinner's shoulders for balance. Skinner stopped and drew back. "Hands behind your back. I'm going to play, and you're going to just accept," he grinned. Mulder's cock jerked in appreciation of the game, and Skinner tugged on one of the nipple rings. Mulder gave a startled gasp as the arousal and pain shot through him at one and the same time. "Did you have a good time this evening?" Skinner asked, his hands continuing to play with Mulder's body. "Y…es…" Mulder replied, sweat starting to roll down the side of his face. "Good. I like Ian - I hope you two will be friends." "Yeah…" Mulder agreed, beyond coherent conversation. "See how good it can be, sweetheart," Skinner said in a deep, throaty, sexy tone that made Mulder fling back his head, his exposed neck glistening with sweat. "YES!" he cried. "How good it can be when we work together, slave and Master. I like rewarding you more than I enjoy punishing you, little one. It could be like this all the time. We could both make each others lives run a lot more easily and there would be so many rewards…" Skinner said, his fingers hooked in his slave's nipple rings, drawing Mulder forward and keeping him on the brink of climax. "Slave and Master. Master and slave, complementing each other. Your service and devotion, my love and protection." Mulder had now been dragged so close to his Master that all he could see were Skinner's lips as they neared his face. Then his own lips were parted and he was being kissed so hard, and so thoroughly, and his nipples were being gently soothed, with little teasing circular motions of Skinner's hand while his Master's other hand was sliding up and down his cock… He came with a shout, and then rested his head on his Master's shoulder, all thoughts of California banished. "Thank you, Master," he whispered. "My pleasure, sweetheart." Skinner replied, stroking his shaking slave's back tenderly. "Could I return the favor?" Mulder asked, nuzzling forward against his Master's body, aiming for his crotch. "No. I'm fine. It's been a good day - and it's time for bed. Your Master is tired." "Hmm, well Master is extremely old," Mulder teased, holding out his hands to drag his Master to his feet. Skinner delivered a light swat to his slave's butt in response. "We could re-think that strapping, slave," he growled, with mock ferocity. Mulder laughed, and skipped out of the way of another well-aimed swat to his ass. Mulder was off the short leash, and he performed his morning tasks the following day to a level of perfection that earned him more praise from his Master, and several breath-taking kisses. Mulder would have sauntered off to work more happily if he hadn't been all too well aware of why he was behaving so well. Somehow, it was recompense for an act he hadn't even committed yet, and wasn't even sure he was going to commit. He got into work early, beating Scully into the basement office, and then paused. There, on his desk, were 3 new X Files. It would be so easy to just bury himself in them, forget about Samantha, and Andrew Linker, and just get on with his life - a life that was a hundred times better since he'd signed that contract a few weeks before. The phone went as he sat down at his desk, and he reached for it, absently. "Mulder," he said, flicking through the first file, his mind elsewhere. "Hello, old friend. I'm surprised you're still in DC," a low, familiar voice said. "Fuck off, Krycek," he replied, his hand making a fist around the papers it was holding, scrunching them up. "You haven't been to check up that address I gave you," Krycek said. "You told me she wasn't there, so what was the point?" Mulder hissed. "You've changed. What's happened to you? In the old days you'd have taken off before I finished talking to you." "Well now I'm older and wiser. That address could be a trap." "It isn't," Krycek interjected. "Or just a game of hide and seek. I don't want to play your games any more, Krycek. Someone always ends up getting hurt - and it's usually me." "Not always," Krycek said pointedly, and Mulder remembered the other man's disfigured body. "I thought I was helping you out. I thought you were interested in finding your sister," Krycek continued in a low, baiting tone. "I'm not listening." Mulder put the 'phone down, and then slammed his fist on the desk. Damn Krycek for always doing this to him, for cutting into his soul to find his weaknesses with almost surgical precision. He smoothed out the papers he'd scrunched up and read the file. He didn't take in any of the details on the first read, as his mind was still racing, but when he attempted a second read through, one word kept catching his eye: California. He sat up, and concentrated on the case. It was the kind of case that he might have ignored on a different occasion: a woman had died while out walking her dog on a beach. She had no enemies, and there were no footprints leading too or from the body, which had been burned to a crisp. "Spontaneous Human Combustion?" Scully raised a bored eyebrow as he outlined the case to her half an hour later. "Haven't we looked into this before, Mulder?" Mulder shifted uncomfortably, remembering Phoebe. "Yes, but this is a completely different case, and I think it's worthy of further investigation," he told her urgently, feeling a sense of excitement surge through his veins as his need to pursue his quest returned, wiping out everything else in his life, even his relationship with Skinner. "Uh-huh. And the fact that this, uh, supposed case of SHC occurred in…California?" She did her performing eyebrow trick and he sighed. "Such a suspicious mind, Scully. That's not why I'm interested in it." "Well it sure as hell is why I am!" She grinned. "I could do with a few days in the sun. When do we leave?" "Scully!" he remonstrated in a shocked tone. "Mulder!" She mocked back. She got up and walked towards him, then, without warning, grabbed a handful of his hair, and pushed his head lightly towards the desk. "Hey! What the hell are you doing?" he yelled. "Just following orders," she grinned, releasing him and smoothing his hair back down. "You said to bang your head against your desk if you raised the subject of California again." "Oh. Yeah. I did, didn't I?" Mulder said sheepishly. "And thank you, Agent Scully. Your attention to detail is, as always, above and beyond the call of duty." "Where's the 302?" Scully glanced at the file over his shoulder. Mulder sighed, and bit on his lip. "Ah, well, that's something I haven't had time to arrange yet," he murmured, wondering what Skinner's reaction would be to letting his slave out of his sight for the first time. Mulder booked their tickets to California before going to see Skinner, reasoning that presenting his Master with a fait accomplis would help him to get that 302 signed. He also took Scully along to his meeting with Skinner, feeling sure that his Master would think twice about turning down his request if she were there. After all, it was an X File, it had been on his desk, and it was exactly the sort of case he'd been investigating for the past 6 years. In fact, he had even managed to convince himself that he was genuinely interested in the case, and not just following it up for his own purposes. He had to admit though, that it was like his birthday, Christmas and Slave's Day, all rolled into one. Information about Samantha, a chance to find out more about the mysterious Andrew Linker's shadowy past, and an X File thrown in along the way. It was too good to be true. He was almost quivering with anticipatory energy by the time of their meeting with Skinner. He took his seat, beside Scully, and his knee immediately began to dance up and down in a nervous gesture that he couldn't stop. Skinner, as always a picture of studied calm, read through the X File, and then glanced up at Mulder, and looked, pointedly, at his Agent's wildly rocking knee. "You want to investigate this?" He asked. "Yes." Mulder nodded. "For what reason?" Skinner threw the file back down on the desk. "For what reason?" Mulder echoed incredulously. He was unable to sit still, and got up in a wild burst of energy that took both Skinner and Scully by surprise. "Because we could be looking at a case of Spontaneous Human Combustion here!" He exploded. "Spontaneous…? Isn't that a myth?" Skinner frowned. "It's never been proved or disproved one way or the other. As a matter of fact there's considerable circumstantial evidence to suggest that it's a very real phenomena…" Mulder gabbled, pacing around the room, gesticulating wildly. "Although I would postulate that the severity of burning in the cases on file have meant that a thorough examination is very rarely possible," Scully interjected. Mulder glared at her. "If it isn't SHC, then what the hell did kill this woman, alone, on a deserted beach, at 6am? There were no footprints leading to or from her body," Mulder pointed out. "It's an X File, sir, and we have to investigate it." Skinner looked at his slave for a long time, and Mulder swallowed, nervously, under that intense scrutiny. "Agent Scully?" Skinner turned his attention away from his agitated slave. "I think Agent Mulder's right. We should investigate," she said, with a butter wouldn't melt expression on her face. Mulder suppressed a grin. He wasn't the only one around here who wanted to go to California. "I see. Well, I think you're right," Skinner said, reaching for the 302 and signing it with a flourish. Mulder opened his mouth in surprise. Skinner handed the signed 302 over to Scully then glanced back at Mulder. "So, when do you leave?" He asked. "Tomorrow. First thing," Mulder managed to croak. Skinner nodded, considering this information gravely. "Very well. I expect to be kept up to date on your progress, Agents," he said. Mulder nodded, and exchanged a triumphant look with Scully. She got up, and he almost ran over to the door, and held it open for her. There was a smile on her face as she breezed through in front of him. Mulder was about to follow her when Skinner stopped him. "Agent Mulder, before you go…" Mulder stopped, his heart sinking. He waved Scully on, and shut the door behind her with her a sigh. He turned back to his Master, and started to talk. "I know I'm going to be away from home, but I'll be good, I promise, and you said the contract wouldn't interfere with my work at the very beginning, and…" He watched, nervously, as Skinner stalked stealthily out from behind his desk, like a panther hunting his prey. Skinner moved towards him, and Mulder held his breath…but his Master ignored his slave, and went over to the door, and locked it. "Follow me," Skinner said tersely, crossing the room, his back to Mulder. He opened the door to the conference room that adjoined his office, and Mulder followed after him nervously, wondering what would happen next. The conference room was rarely used and only accessible from Skinner's - now locked - office. It didn’t bode well. There was a large table in the center of the room, surrounded by formal chairs, and, to one side, two armchairs facing each other over a coffee table. Skinner shut the door behind them, turned the key noiselessly in the lock, then turned back to his slave and said one word: "Wanda." Mulder stared at him, his eyes widening with shock, then glanced at the locked door. "What? Here?" He hissed. Skinner's eyes narrowed. "Don't make me repeat myself. In position, slave," he growled. Mulder swallowed again, considered disobeying, then glanced frantically around the room, trying to find a place to position himself. Finally, he decided on the black leather armchair, and walked over to it, unfastening his pants as he went. His stomach was crawling with a combination of fear and excitement. The idea of Skinner taking him here, in this way, with people going about their daily work outside, was so arousing that his cock was hard before he got his pants down. He fished a condom out of his pocket, and placed it on the back of the chair, then bent over, and waited. "Prepare yourself," Skinner growled, and Mulder stood up again, rummaged in his pocket for some lube, then began stretching himself, flushing wildly the entire time. This was so humiliating - and so good. He knew that Skinner was watching the whole process, in silence, and that made it even more wildly erotic. Finally, as prepared as he could make himself, he bent back over the armchair again and a few seconds later he heard his Master walking towards him. Mulder held his breath. He found being used in this way unbearably arousing, even though he knew Skinner wouldn't allow him to come. It was the ultimate demonstration of his Master's power over him, and it made him feel more dominated than any of his Master's other little tricks. His whole body was on edge, waiting to accept his Master. He put his hands back and pulled his butt cheeks apart, moaning slightly to himself as he wondered what kind of an image he was presenting to his Master. He heard Skinner come over to stand behind him, and the sound of him unzipping his pants. Skinner always promised him that these occasions would be rough fucks, which was part of the appeal to his slave, and he didn't disappoint on this occasion. Mulder heard the condom being ripped open, and then, a few seconds later, the feel of his Master's stiff cock against his anus. Skinner grabbed Mulder's hips, and slid inside his slave's willing body with a hard, urgent thrust that took Mulder's breath away. "I want you to look at the clock," Skinner whispered. "Look at it!" he ordered. Mulder looked up with a groan, finding it hard to think about anything else but the large cock that was devouring him. "This is going to be long and hard," Skinner promised, and Mulder's own cock skyrocketed at that news. "I'm going to use you for a good long time, slaveboy," Skinner hissed in his ear, and Mulder almost lost control and came there and then. He trembled as Skinner began to thrust into him with fast, hard, urgent strokes that took his breath away. It didn't hurt, but it was rough, and undignified, and it turned him on like nothing he'd ever experienced before. He was dimly aware that Skinner was bringing him down from the state of wild agitation he'd been in during the meeting, and, at the same time, giving his slave a good reminder of his status to take away to California with him. It was working. Mulder glanced up at the clock, and wondered at Skinner's prowess and sheer stamina. His Master's hands gripped his thighs as he bucked into his slave, sliding back and forth with quick, surging thrusts that made Mulder's ass burn, and his cock want to explode. He couldn't believe it could go on for much longer, but Skinner's ability to hold back his own climax was phenomenal. After a while Mulder started to moan; his knees were in danger of giving way, his prostate had been stimulated into an explosion of sensation, and his cock was screaming for attention. Finally, after what felt like an hour, Skinner came with a shuddering sigh, and withdrew, roughly. Mulder lay, panting, on the back of the chair for a long time, and then, gingerly, stood up. His cock was stiff with arousal, and aching to be caressed. "Don't touch that - it's mine, and I'll want to play with it later," Skinner warned, adjusting his own clothing and handing Mulder the used condom. He opened the door, and returned to his office, without a backward glance. Mulder took a moment to recover, then pulled up his pants and went into the en suite bathroom to deposit the condom in the toilet. He ran some water and splashed it over his face, still feeling shaky. That had been so good, and so scary, and he knew it would feature in his jerk off fantasies every night while he was away…which was presumably something else his Master had intended. Finally, he looked at himself in the mirror, trying to pull himself together. His face was flushed, but his eyes - his eyes were alive, and sparkling. He took some deep breaths, and walked swiftly back into the office. Skinner was sitting behind his desk. He glanced up and Mulder went to his side, and knelt down beside him. "Thank you, Master," he whispered, kissing Skinner's shiny black shoes. "Good pup," Skinner tickled the back of his newly shaven neck. "Go back to work, and don't be late home this evening. As you're going to be away for the next few days, I want to see that you're well marked." Mulder's cock did another spasm and he had to bite on his lip to keep from moaning out loud. "Yes, Master. Of course," he said softly. "Whatever pleases you, Master." He kissed Skinner's shiny shoes again, then got to his feet, and scampered to the door, feeling absurdly light-headed. His former nervous agitation had disappeared - he felt relaxed and serene in his state of slavery, and returned to his office with a jaunty saunter, whistling to himself. Mulder made sure he not only got home on time, but was early. He went to his room, and took off his clothes, hung them up neatly, and then returned to the downstairs living room to await his Master's return. He knelt in the center of the room, head down, arms behind his straight back, his whole body displayed proudly for his Master. Skinner returned home fifteen minutes later, and surveyed his slave with a loving smile. "I'm going to miss you, boy," he murmured, putting down his briefcase. Mulder sprang to his feet and helped his Master out of his coat, then poured him a glass of whisky, and brought it to him as he sat on the couch. He crouched at Skinner's feet, unlaced his shoes, and took them off, then he sat back on his haunches to await further orders. "The question is," Skinner mused, one hand playing idly with his slave's hair, "how much ground will you lose when you're away?" Mulder looked up. "Master - I won't forget any of the lessons you've taught me," he said earnestly. "I've only just begun though." Skinner shook his head sadly. "You've learned a lot, but there's a long way to go yet. I don't want you losing yourself without me around to anchor you. So…" He paused and looked at his slave reflectively, "while I'm going to allow you to make this trip, you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking it will be the same as other field trips you've been on." Mulder bit on his lip, wondering what Skinner was suggesting. He needed some leeway to pursue his own lines of inquiry in California, so he hoped his Master didn't plan on accompanying him, or anything like that. "Just because you're out of sight, doesn't mean you're not still my slave. I'll be reminding you of that on a daily basis," Skinner said. "How, Master?" Mulder asked, with a dry throat. "You'll see. Let's go upstairs and oversee your packing, and then we'll go to the Playroom to mark you." Mulder's heart jumped nervously at the thought of being marked. "Slave?" Skinner put a finger under Mulder's chin and raised it so that his slave was looking at him. "I have to sit on a plane tomorrow, Master," Mulder muttered. "I know. It'll be painful." Skinner smiled ruefully and ran a hand through his slave's hair. "A constant reminder of what you are. I might be out of sight but I will most definitely not be out of mind!" He got up and Mulder followed him immediately, his obedience unquestioning. He loved it when Skinner brought him down to his most basic level like this. He felt a sudden wave of regret, as he realized that he would be leaving the warmth and safety of his Master's care and venturing out on his own. He didn't want to go back to the way he'd been before. He remembered long, insomniac nights on the couch, flicking through the TV channels, his mind in turmoil, or grueling jogging sessions in the dark and rain, trying to escape from himself, and he knew he didn't want to go back. He liked what he'd found here. Skinner went through Mulder's closet and instructed him what clothes to take. They weren't any different to the clothes Mulder would have taken himself so he didn’t mind. Then Skinner held the door open and nodded his head in the direction of the Playroom. Mulder's heart missed a beat, then he smiled at his Master, and obeyed his unspoken command. "It's been a long time since you last allowed me in here, Master," he murmured, as Skinner unlocked the door. "Well, if you're good, then when you come home I'll give you a special session in here to unwind you and bring you back to yourself." Skinner smiled, taking hold of his naked slave from behind, and pulling him close, kissing his ear. "I'll miss you, little one." "I'll miss you too, Master," Mulder replied, perversely wishing that he wasn't leaving after all the trouble he'd taken to arrange the trip in the first place. "Go and get my switch," Skinner instructed in a low, loving tone, his lips bestowing another kiss to the back of Mulder's neck, making him shiver. "And the leather pouch." Mulder went, trembling, to the cupboard, and retrieved the items, returning with them to Skinner's side, and kneeling obediently, with the items in his mouth. "I'm going to tie you," Skinner said, running his hands lovingly up and down Mulder's arms. "I've never placed you in real bondage before, sweetheart, but I think you need to find a still center to take with you on your journey." "Yes, Master." Mulder looked up at Skinner with an expression of total trust on his face. Skinner smiled down at him, and bent to bestow a kiss on his slave's eager lips. Mulder drowned in the kiss, opening his lips to allow his Master in. Then Skinner pulled back, and his demeanor changed to one of total authority. "Follow me, slave," he said briskly. Mulder followed him to the harness, and stood, obediently, while Skinner fastened the protective pouch around his slave's balls and cock. Then Skinner buckled him into wrist and ankle cuffs, fastened a wide belt around his midriff, and attached him to the harness. He pulled Mulder's arms behind his back, and encased them in a leather glove that secured them tightly. His legs were bound together by a series of black leather straps. Then Skinner stepped forward and adjusted the harness, testing and double testing each strap to make sure it wasn't biting into flesh or causing any distress. "Do you feel comfortable?" He asked. Mulder nodded, his eyes wide, fighting down the panic. "This isn't extreme bondage - just enough to keep you still and comfortable this evening. You'll be hanging here for a long time, just getting in touch with yourself, and focusing on what I expect from you in the next few days. Understood?" Skinner asked. "Yes, Master," Mulder replied, trembling slightly. "You'll be fine." Skinner pulled him close, and gave him another firm kiss, then he hauled the harness a little way into the air, and fastened it tightly. Mulder wasn't far off the ground, but he was completely suspended, unable to move a muscle. "Good. Now, I'm going to mark you. This will be thorough, slave - in order to make up for all the morning discipline you'll be missing," Skinner informed him. Mulder nodded fearfully, and closed his eyes. He felt the switch rest against his backside, and then a whoosh. He tried frantically to move out of the way, but was held immobile, unable to even wriggle even a fraction of an inch. The switch connected with his naked flesh, blazing a path of pure pain, and he cried out. "Good boy. Prepare yourself for the next one. Lower this time." Skinner patted the switch against Mulder's butt to show where the blow would land. "Remember that marking is less about causing you pain than about reminding you who you belong to, and making you carry that knowledge with you," he warned. Mulder nodded, his eyes wide. He felt so vulnerable hanging here, unable to move a muscle, having to accept each blow without so much as flinching. The switch tapped his butt, then he felt a breeze, and that whistling sound, and it descended on his flesh again, in the exact spot Skinner had aimed for, making him scream at the top of his lungs as it bit into his flesh. There was a pause, as Skinner allowed him to get his breath back - a kindness usually only granted during markings, not during other punishments - and then the loathed switch tapped his butt again. Mulder could feel his cock thrumming into life inside its leather casing. Much as he hated being marked, it always, without fail, turned him on. Another blow landed on his sore flesh, an inch beneath the last, and then another. Mulder started to moan. "Please, no more!" He gasped. "Two more. I told you this would be severe," Skinner warned. Mulder nodded, trying to catch his breath, giving into the bonds that secured him, allowing his body weight to rest totally on them, his muscles relaxing. He closed his eyes, waiting for the next savage, beautiful strike, and gasped as the switch bit into his bottom. It hurt so good! The switch went about its vicious work one last time and Mulder came up for air like a drowning man. Skinner stood in front of him, and smiled. "Good boy. The marks are particularly clear and fine - and very evenly spaced if I do say so myself. Try not to get yourself shot when you're away - they might be difficult to explain in the hospital," he winked. "These marks should last until you return - and then I'll mark you again to celebrate having my slave back," Skinner grinned. "Maybe a nice erotic spanking will be in order," he mused. "Yes, please!" Mulder replied eagerly. Skinner laughed. "We'll see. It will depend on how well you've behaved. On that subject…" He went over to the cupboard, and pulled something out. Mulder craned his neck to get a glimpse of the object as Skinner returned. "This…is something I promised you a little while ago." Skinner held a butt plug under Mulder's nose. "It's not an exact replica," Skinner grinned, "but the, uh, measurements are the same." Mulder's eyes opened wide in recognition. "As you won't be available for my use, I think a constant reminder of me will be necessary. You'll wear this plug during your off duty hours - and that includes all night. There are chains to keep it attached and in place. Don't even think about disobeying me on this, slave," he warned. "I can assure you that I'll find out. You are to wear this whenever you go out in the evening, and at all times when you are not officially on duty. Is that understood?" Mulder nodded, unable to take his eyes off the butt plug. Skinner was not a man of small dimensions, and the plug was the largest he'd ever seen. There was no way he'd be able to forget that thing was up his ass - and he guessed that he'd be sitting down very cautiously. "I'm going to insert it now and you'll wear it until you leave the apartment tomorrow morning," Skinner said, going to stand behind his slave. Mulder felt a lubed finger entering his ass, then another. He put his head back and moaned as Skinner prepared him thoroughly, making sure his ass was ready to receive the plug, and then he felt the hard, plastic tip pressing against his anus. "Open more - don't tense…you're used to accepting me, this is no different," Skinner said, tapping his slave's butt reprovingly as Mulder clenched his muscles against the intruder. "It feels different!" Mulder protested. Skinner slapped his sore bottom hard, and Mulder tried to obey his Master, opening up his body to the plug. It entered slowly, wedging his butt cheeks wide apart, and Skinner didn't stop until he had pushed it all the way home, slow inch by slow inch, forcing the plug deep into Mulder's body. Then, to Mulder's surprise, he started to remove it again, then pushed it back and forth with long slow strokes that made Mulder's cock stand upright with need. "Oh god!" Mulder moaned, as the plug burned inside him. He was already sore from being used earlier in the day, and the plug was both stimulating him and rubbing at the sore area in a way that drove him insane, giving the pleasure that added burn of pain that tipped him over the edge of arousal. Skinner unfastened the pouch, and Mulder's cock leapt gratefully to attention. Mulder gave a hoarse shout as his Master grabbed his hips, took his hard cock into his mouth, and then proceeded to suck him. At the same time, Skinner moved his hand around Mulder's butt and continued to manipulate the plug, pushing it in, and pulling it out in time with his sucking on his slave's engorged cock. "Oh shit - no!" Mulder yelled, unable either to buck forward into that warm, waiting mouth, or to move away from that invading plug as it was pushed back and forth in his butt. The delicious torment went on for an eon, and he couldn't do anything but endure it, the sweat running down his body as he was sucked and fucked simultaneously. Finally, he came, his whole body convulsing within its bondage. Skinner pulled away, and cleaned his slave up with a washcloth, then he adjusted the butt plug, pushing it in to the hilt, making Mulder's eyes water. He fastened the plug securely in place, then tested the straps before coming to stand in front of his slave again. "All right - in order to keep it this securely fastened, the strap needs to be buckled to the fourth notch," he told his slave. "When you get back from California, you'll present the straps to me so that I can see from the wear on the leather that you've fastened it correctly every evening." "Yes, Master," Mulder groaned. The butt plug was so enormous he didn't see how he could perform any normal, everyday activities, and as for sleeping in it! "When you're wearing it, I want you to think of me inside you, using you," Skinner purred into his ear, "and to remember who you belong to." "I could never forget that, Master," Mulder whispered. "Good." Skinner smiled heartily, and slapped Mulder's butt. "Now, I'm going to enforce your bondage with a blindfold and gag. Then you're going to just hang here, thinking about your condition. Understood?" "Yes, Master," Mulder agreed quickly. His heart quickened as Skinner approached him with the thick, leather gag. He'd never been placed in this level of bondage before, and he wasn't sure how he felt about it. "I'll use bondage as punishment occasionally," Skinner informed him, "in order to get you to think clearly about your behavior. On this occasion, I'm using it to make you focus, and remind you who you are. Open your mouth." Mulder obeyed, and Skinner placed the wedge of leather between his teeth, and fastened the gag securely to his jaw and around the back of his head. It was a heavy duty gag, and Mulder found that he couldn't make so much as the smallest noise when it was in place. "You won't be able to tell me if you get into any distress, so I'm going to fasten a bell onto the gag," Skinner said, attaching the bell. "If you need me, then just shake your head and the bell will alert me. I will not, at any time, leave you on your own. In fact, I'm looking forward to a quiet evening in your company," he said with a sly grin. Mulder would have made a face if he could. "Next, the blindfold. Close your eyes," Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, and felt the thick, leather blindfold placed over his eyes. Again, it was impossible to open his eyes once it was in place, and he was unable to see even the faintest glimmer of light. "I'm not going to place anything over your ears to complete the sensory deprivation, but I certainly will another time. On this occasion though, I want you to listen very carefully to what I have to say and focus only on me. I'll give you a few minutes to become accustomed to your new deprivations, and then I'll start talking." Mulder nodded, and was rewarded by the bell tinkling. His butt was slapped lightly in correction. "Don’t move unless you're in distress," Skinner said. Mulder gave himself up to the bondage, relaxing into it. It felt strange to be in the dark, and unable to speak. He felt disorientated, and yet curiously at peace. He wasn't sure how much time had passed - a minute or an hour, when Skinner started speaking. "All right, little one. This will be a big test for you. Conduct yourself well, and make me proud of you, and I promise you a reward that will blow your mind. However, if you let me down, or disobey me, I'll give you the whipping of your life upon your return. It's up to you." Mulder was lost, floating in space, as that deep, sexy voice spoke to him. It filled his consciousness, disembodied, like a verbal caress. "When you're away you will phone me three times a day. Once when you wake up in the morning, then at lunch, and again when you get back from your evening meal - please bear in mind the time difference on the West Coast. I do not want to be woken in the middle of the night. I will occasionally give you special tasks or duties to perform in your absence and I expect you to follow my orders to the letter, as if I were actually there - let's call it remote control, shall we?" He gave a little chuckle, then there was silence for a moment. Mulder became lost in the undemanding beauty of that silence, and then Skinner started speaking again. "You are not, I repeat, NOT to play with your cock during your absence. You are forbidden to come. Every night, before you go to sleep, you will lie naked on your bed, on your front, with your butt plug inserted, and think about this conversation. You will focus on the fact that your bare backside…" Mulder jumped, as his buttocks were grabbed, and firmly caressed, "is available for correction, even though I am not present to administer it. That is all you will think about for that half hour - in order that you remember that you are a slave, and subject to my will and whim." Mulder tried to remember to breathe, as Skinner's hands massaged his sore flesh. His cock, which he would have sworn was sated, began to twitch. "Hmm." Skinner's hand flicked at his penis, startling him again. "This is forbidden any more release until your return. Remember that," he warned. Mulder managed a low groan deep inside his chest. He didn't know that he could physically manage to abstain for that long, although he was sure that Skinner would find out if he disobeyed him. "Remember that this cock doesn't belong to you. It is mine and exists for my pleasure, to be granted release only at my discretion. I want you to spend fifteen minutes every morning on your knees beside your bed. During that time, I want you to think about your Master, and all the ways in which you will delight him upon your return," Skinner's voice was low and throaty with amusement. "Now, I will leave you alone in your bondage to consider what I've just said. Remember your signal. I'll be in the room but I won't talk to you again until it's time to release you. Your bondage will last for at least 90 minutes, so relax, and don't fight it. I might interrupt you occasionally to deliver any little swats or kisses that please me. You will accept these as your due, slave." He said that last word right into Mulder's ear and Mulder nearly jumped out of his skin. He hadn't realized that Skinner was so close. He felt warm breath against his shoulder, then his neck was licked, and after that - nothing. Mulder hung in space, alone in the darkness. He knew he was only a couple of feet away from the floor, but it could have been miles away for all he could see or sense of it. He had never felt this free before, conversely, considering how restricted his movement was. His mind was floating in a daze, and all he was aware of was the sting in his buttocks from the switch, and the huge butt plug pressed deep inside him. He thought about his Master, how the plug was a substitute for Skinner's hard, large cock and that made his own cock twitch again, and stiffen. He longed to take hold of it, but he couldn’t even move. He was consumed by a silent, convulsive frustration that just increased his arousal. He longed to feel Skinner's warm, wet mouth on his cock again, but knew that he would be denied that, and the knowledge of that denial was enough to make his cock grow even more erect. He was lost in the darkness of his own body, and his own desires, and it was mind-blowing. Mulder careened off into space, his mind focusing down to the fact that he was tied here, suspended in mid-air, at the mercy of his Master's mood and whim. It was a feeling like no other. All thoughts of California, of Andrew Linker, and even of Samantha were banished from his mind. He was just Fox, his Master's slave, a chattel, and possession, existing merely to serve. He was so deep into this mindset that when he felt the warm, moist imprint of his Master's mouth on his buttocks, it took him by surprise. Skinner licked his butt cheek, then his teeth closed around a portion of flesh, nipping it. It just started to hurt, when Skinner moved on to another part of his slave's buttocks, licked and bit again, and then moved on. Mulder's cock stood erect, his whole body in a state of arousal. Suddenly, without warning, that teasing mouth bit down hard on one of his nipples. He tried to scream, but couldn't. His whole body convulsed instead, making his bell ring. Skinner stopped immediately. "Shake your head again if you're in distress," he said in a low tone. Mulder got himself under control. He wasn't in any distress - he was having the most erotic time of his life. Clearly satisfied that his slave was fine, Skinner's mouth suddenly bit into Mulder's other nipple, sharply cutting into the tender flesh, squeezing the nipple itself between his tongue and the top of his mouth. Mulder gasped, almost passing out from the acute sensation. It was amazing how being tied, helpless, gagged and blindfolded, focused his entire being on his body. Skinner's mouth withdrew, and Mulder gasped again as the butt plug inside him was twisted around inside his body. Skinner turned the plug slowly, just a little way in either direction, burning his slave's tender flesh from the inside out, and Mulder saw a hundred white lights explode inside his mind. He hung, limp, and abandoned in his bondage, completely at his Master's mercy. Skinner laughed, and slapped his slave's sore butt, and then Mulder heard him move away again. It seemed that only a few more minutes passed before he felt his Master's fingers on his face, removing his gag, and blindfold. "Take some time to return to normality," Skinner advised. "Why? What happened?" Mulder blinked and looked around. "That wasn't 90 minutes. I was fine - I could stay there for the full time," he protested. "Fox." Skinner took his face between his hands and looked into his eyes. "You were there for nearly two hours." "What?" Mulder screwed up his face, confused. "It's easy to become disorientated when you're in total bondage like that. Did you like it, little one?" "I…it was beautiful. A revelation," Mulder whispered. "Good boy." Skinner's wide smile lit up his whole face. "I'm pleased you responded so well to it. Some people take a long time to adjust to the sensation, and they panic when they can't move. Giving up control completely is very hard. You did fantastically." He beamed again, and gave his slave another deep, long, claiming kiss. "I waited until I'd won some degree of your trust before taking this step, and it's worked well. It means we can have a lot of fun," he winked. "Are you back with me now?" He asked. Mulder nodded, slowly returning to normality. Skinner had dimmed the lights in the room, so they didn't assault his eyes, and his Master lowered him to the floor, and gently unbuckled him from the harness, releasing him from his bondage. Mulder lay in a state of boneless abandon, and Skinner crouched down beside him, and began massaging some life back into his body with brisk strokes of his hands on Mulder's wrists and ankles. Finally, he helped his slave to stand. "Go to bed," he ordered, planting a firm kiss on Mulder's forehead. "I'll say goodbye to you here, now, as you're relieved of your wake-up duty tomorrow morning." He picked Mulder up almost bodily, his large hands roaming over every inch of Mulder's body, and then he took hold of Mulder's hair, and his mouth descended on his slave's, forcefully, claiming the most aggressive kiss Mulder could ever remember. He lost himself in it, hanging onto Skinner's broad shoulders for dear life, his knees in danger of collapsing beneath him. Skinner finally let him up, and took a step back, looking at his slave intently. "Remember all my instructions, slave. I will not be merciful with disobedience," Skinner warned. "No, Master," Mulder whispered. "Go to bed then." Skinner grinned. Mulder turned and made for the door as if in a dream. "And Fox?" Mulder stopped, and glanced back. "Bon voyage," Skinner said, his brown eyes serious and full of affection. Mulder couldn't stop himself from running back to Skinner's side, and kneeling at his feet. He took hold of his Master's hand, and kissed each finger. "I'll miss you too," he said in a choked tone. Then he grabbed his Master's other hand and kissed every finger on that as well. Afterwards, he got shakily to his feet and left the room, his heart flying light and free inside his chest. Mulder woke up early the next morning, and took a shower. He glanced down at his cock, encased as usual, in its cock ring, and decided to be daring. Skinner wouldn't know if he removed the cock ring. Contrary to his Master's instructions, he had no intention of not jerking off for the next few days. He was only flesh and blood, and Skinner had gone out of the way to put all those delicious erotic ideas in his head. His Master couldn't expect his slave to just ignore them. It was inhuman! Mulder felt a thrill of disobedience surge through his body, as he took the cock ring off. It felt almost strange to be without it - like going naked in public. He slipped it into his pocket, and grinned at himself in the mirror, then tip-toed downstairs. He grabbed his Master's newspaper as usual, then, on an impulse, took it up to Skinner's bedroom. His Master was asleep, sprawled out under the covers. Mulder looked at him for a moment, wishing he was staying, then placed the newspaper on the nightstand. "I really will miss you," he whispered, reluctant to leave. Something moved, and he watched, fascinated, as a lump traveled up the bed, and then Wanda's head appeared from under the sheet, her green eyes glowing. She looked at Mulder questioningly, and he stood there for a moment, their eyes locked, then she emitted a trilling purr and nuzzled against his hand. "Okay, I'll miss you too," he sighed. He picked her up, and she rubbed the side of her face against his chin. "Yeah, you've won for now, lady - no wonder you're being so magnanimous," he groused. "He's all yours - for a few days at least, and don't think I don't envy you for it, Madam." She headbutted him and he relented, and gave her a kiss on the top of her silky head. "That's not for you - it's for you to give to him," he warned, then he returned her to the bed. "And don't tell him I kissed you without being forced into it - he'd be unbearable if he knew." She sat there, and watched him go, and for the first time in his life he had the sensation of leaving behind something he belonged to, a person who loved him. Maybe even, if he was being sappy, a family. "Jeez, I must be going soft, if I'm counting the two W's as my kith and kin," he muttered. "Wanda and Walter…the Master and his little Mistress. Damn, I'm not going to be homesick. I'm never damn well homesick." A little voice inside whispered that he'd never exactly had a home to miss before, but he ignored it, pulled himself together, and went to the bedroom door. He hesitated before he left, and glanced back. Wanda had curled up in the crook of Skinner's large protective arm and he wished he was there with her, but he'd made his decision, and there was no turning back. "California." Mulder sighed with relief as the plane touched down, and got up eagerly, anxious to take the weight off his sore butt. Scully drove them to the local PD, and Mulder glanced at his watch, anxiously, and reached for his cellphone. "Who are you calling?" Scully frowned. "Skinner." "Why?" "Just to, uh, report in," Mulder smiled weakly. "Report on what?" Scully questioned blankly. "We haven't even got there yet." "I know. Ssh!" Mulder waved his hand at her as he got put through. "Sir? It's Agent Mulder. I'm with Agent Scully en route to the local PD to find out more about the case. No, we're not there yet, but it's lunch time, so I thought I'd…yes, I did have a comfortable journey, sir. The seats were very comfy, yes. Thank you for asking." He made a face at the 'phone. "Well, I just wanted to check in. I'll keep you updated as you requested, sir. Yes, sir. No, sir. I'll remember that, sir," and so saying he severed the connection. "Keep your eyes on the road, Scully," he said reprovingly, ignoring her look of utter disbelief. "We wouldn't want to cause an accident now would we, Agent Scully?" He smiled at her with a false cheeriness, and replaced the cell phone in his pocket, then shifted his weight to his other buttock, and started to whistle. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, they were in California and he was completely, utterly, besottedly in love. Mulder couldn't remember ever having been this happy. The officer in charge of the investigation introduced himself as Ray Glover. He was a large man, with an enormous, protruding stomach, and a kindly air. "To be honest with you, we didn't know what to make of this case - that's why I sent the file over to you. I didn't think we'd be honored with a visit though," Glover grinned. "We try to follow up on these kind of cases," Mulder said stiffly, knowing that if it hadn't been for his own burning desire to investigate two important personal issues in this state, they wouldn't be here. Glover took them down to the mortuary to view the body, then left them to it. Mulder took one look at what was left of the corpse, and winced. "Hardly enough to do an autopsy," Scully murmured. "Do the best you can," Mulder instructed her, turning on his heel. "Where are you going?" Scully called after him. "To take care of some business." "Mulder." She ran up behind him, and grabbed his arm. "If you're going to investigate that address then you are not, and I repeat, not going alone. I'm coming too." Mulder stood there, uncertainly, but her blue eyes were flashing fire, and her expression was full of concern. Finally, he nodded. "All right, Scully. You can come with me." "Now?" She glanced back at the body. Mulder tugged on his lip, suffused with guilt, then finally raised his arms in a gesture of despair. "Scully, I can't wait. I just can't," he told her. "Not now that I'm so near." "It's a two hour drive," Scully pointed out. "I know, but that's so close." Mulder glanced at the body again. He did care about his work - passionately - and this poor, dead woman deserved his best attention. He couldn't concentrate on her case when all he was thinking about was Samantha. "Let's go," he said to Scully and she nodded, understanding. Glover looked surprised when they told him they were taking off. "A lead already?" He whistled, handing them his file on the case. "Boy, you guys must be really good! I'm glad I called you in on this!" Mulder's ears had the grace to flush a guilty pink. They drew up outside a pretty house in a normal suburb a couple of hours later. "Nice." Scully surveyed the flowers in the garden. The whole place had a homely feel to it. Mulder knocked on the door, his fingers absently fingering his gun through his jacket pocket. Krycek had told him Samantha had been moved on, and it could be a trap. If the Consortium owned this house… There was no reply to his knock on the door, so Scully went around the back. "You looking for someone?" A voice inquired. Mulder looked around to see a woman standing, watering her roses in the next door garden. "Yes. A girl…no, a woman, in her thirties. I don't have a recent photo, but this was what she looked like when she was…about 8." Mulder fished out the photo, knowing this was a long shot. The woman gave him a puzzled look, and fumbled for her glasses. "Sorry, I'm Agent Mulder - FBI." He showed the woman his ID, and she relaxed, visibly. "I wondered who you were. Now, this little girl could be anyone, Agent Mulder," she chided, peering at the picture. "I know. Is anyone living in this house at the moment?" "Not that I know of. Every now and again someone moves in - in the dead of night - we never see any furniture or cases being taken inside. Then they move out again a few weeks later. Again, in the middle of the night. Why, are they drug dealers or something?" "No. Why do you ask that?" Mulder put the photo back in his pocket. "Well, we hear some strange noises in there. Sometimes I swear I've heard someone moaning, like they were on drugs…" "Or in pain," Mulder interjected, his heart beating too fast. "Didn't you ever think of reporting this to the police?" "I mind my own business," the woman told him, turning back to her roses. "Sorry I couldn't be of more help, sonny, but I've never seen that little girl." "Thank you." Mulder sighed, and turned back to find Scully coming towards him. "Nothing around the back. Want to take a look inside?" She asked. "Without a warrant, Agent Scully?" he questioned, in a shocked tone. "Are you going to ask Skinner for one?" She replied, one eyebrow raised in amusement. "Do I look stupid?" He responded. She laughed out loud. "I won't answer that!" She drew her gun, her expression becoming serious, and he nodded at her, and drew his. It didn’t take them long to kick the door open, and then they moved inside, covering each other with a skill borne of long practice. The house was comfortable, just a normal, regular house - except for one room which was completely empty, with one, lone table in the middle. "What the hell happened here?" Mulder looked at Scully and she shrugged. "No idea. It looks like a dead end though, Mulder." "Maybe not." He bent down and retrieved a piece of paper from the floor. On it, was scrawled a telephone number. "Or maybe this is all Krycek's warped idea of a treasure hunt," Scully murmured. "He starts you off, then you just keep following the trail. It's a good way to keep you occupied." "Why bother?" Mulder shrugged. "Because something big is going on somewhere else?" Scully suggested. Mulder frowned, and got his cell phone out of his pocket. "What are you doing?" Scully hissed. "Making a call - what does it look like?" Mulder began dialing the number on the paper. "Damn." He put the phone back in his pocket. "Disconnected," he told Scully. "I'll get in touch with Holly and see if she can find me the address it belongs to." He made the call to the FBI, looking around the house one last time. Had Samantha been here? He ran his fingers over the table. Had they strapped her down here, injected her? Had it been her screams the woman next door had heard? He pushed that thought aside, and walked unsteadily back to the car. "I'll drive," Scully said, recognizing his mood. He nodded, thankful, and leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes. Damn, but he wished Skinner was here right now to distract him, and make him focus on anything but this. He longed, suddenly, for the feel of his Master's big, strong arms wrapped tight around his body, to feel his Master's warm breath on the side of his face, and to be comforted within his powerful, loving embrace. They drove to their motel in silence, and then parted to go to their respective rooms. "I'll see you for dinner later," Scully said, and Mulder nodded morosely. He unlocked his door, and flung his bag on the bed, then threw himself down beside it. He wanted his Master so much it was like a physical pain in his body. Skinner had instructed him to call after he'd eaten, but he didn't want to wait that long. He itched to speak to his Master, even if he couldn't tell the big man what was going on. Mulder stared at the ceiling for a long time, trying to resist his own weakness, then finally he gave in, and picked up the 'phone. It rang a few times, and he began to grow impatient, then angry. Where the hell was Skinner? Was he making the most of his slave's absence to go out and enjoy himself? "Skinner." His Master's voice interrupted this reverie before it got out of hand, and Mulder could have wept with relief. "Master!" He exclaimed. "Slave. Where are you?" "Where were you?" Mulder shot back. "I thought you'd gone out." "I was taking a bath. I've been working out," Skinner informed him, his tone calm, not responding to Mulder's obvious bad temper. "What progress have you made on the case?" "Nothing…concrete, as yet," Mulder hedged. "I'll have more news for you on that tomorrow, I expect. Sir." "You sound tense. I wasn't expecting you to call at this time," Skinner said softly. "I…it's been a long day. I…wanted to hear your voice," Mulder admitted, clenching his fist angrily, hating being this needy. "What are you wearing?" His Master asked, his voice becoming low, and sexy. Mulder could feel his heart speed up inside his chest. "My dress suit, Master." "Does the phone have a speaker function?" Skinner asked. Mulder glanced at it. "Yes." "Then put it on, and start getting undressed," Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, his body trembling in anticipation. He stripped quickly and efficiently, telling his Master as he removed each item. Once he was naked, he stood in the room, feeling stupid, but aroused, his cock already starting to jump into life. "All right, take your belt from your pants, and lie face down on the bed," Skinner instructed. Put the belt over your butt." Mulder obeyed. "I missed giving you your morning discipline, slave. The belt is to remind you of it - and also to remind you what you'll receive when you get back. "Yes, Master," Mulder moaned, his cock hardening, as his Master's voice continued, saying those beautiful, terrible things to him. "I'm going to give you a spanking you'll remember for a long time, boy," Skinner purred. "Yes, Master." Mulder whispered, arching into the bed. "Are you wearing your plug, slaveboy?" Skinner asked. "Uh…no, Master," Mulder admitted. "Why not? I ordered you to." Skinner's voice was a sibilant, throaty growl. "I know. I only just got back." "All right - get the plug, and put some lube on it," Skinner instructed. Mulder leaned over, and opened his bag, retrieving the plug, and lubing it. "Now tease it in and out," Skinner told him. "Just the tip." Mulder placed the hard, plastic tip of the plug against his anus. "Harder," Skinner commanded. Mulder moaned, as he thrust more of the plug into his body, then pulled it out a little way, then back in. "Now, push it all the way in, and tighten the straps," Skinner said. Mulder did as ordered. "Put the belt back on your butt, and just lie there, and think of me, inside you. Think of me, putting you over my knee," Skinner purred. "Oh god," Mulder closed his eyes, allowing the image to fill his mind. He felt soothed by that voice, by the familiar feel of the hardness in his butt, by the reassuring touch of the leather on his ass. He felt the tension start to leave his body. "Can I touch myself, Master?" he asked. "Yes, but you can't come," Skinner warned. "All right, Master." Mulder turned over, and grabbed his hard cock. "Before you go for your cock though…" Skinner interrupted him, and Mulder paused. He could almost believe Skinner had some kind of hidden camera on him. "I want you to put your fingers on your nipple rings." Mulder obeyed, flicking at the rings. "Now tug on them - just gently at first. Do it!" Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, and was surprised by how good it felt. They had been so sensitive after the initial piercing that he hadn't wanted to touch them, but this felt good! They were completely healed now, and when he pulled on them it sent waves of pleasure/pain straight to his cock. "Okay - now you can touch yourself anywhere you like," Skinner told him. Mulder put some lube in his hand, and thrust his cock into it, then back, pushing the butt plug deep inside him as he went, then up again into his hand. He used his other hand to play with the nipple rings. "Pull down hard on one of the rings - now!" Skinner ordered. Mulder obeyed, and gave a hoarse yelp as the pain kicked in, claiming him in its erotic embrace. "Oh god…" he moaned, arching his back, all thoughts of his unhappy day forgotten. "What are you?" Skinner asked. "Your slave, Master." "What is your purpose?" Skinner's hard, low tone demanded an answer. Mulder gave it, automatically. "I exist for your pleasure, Master." "Good boy. Remember, you can't come." "Please…Master…I have to," Mulder moaned in low tones. "You can't." Skinner's voice was implacable, sending Mulder to dizzying heights. "If you come, then when you get home I'll have to punish you." "Yes, Master," Mulder panted, thrusting down on the plug, then up into his hand again. "It's your choice," Skinner warned. "Yes, Master…" Mulder sighed. "Uh, Master…?" "Yes, slave?" "I think I made the choice," he admitted ruefully, glancing down at his hand which was covered in his come. "Why am I not surprised?" Skinner's voice sounded amused rather than angry. "All right, slave. Get up, get into the shower, and get dressed in your jeans and navy blue sweater. Are you eating with Scully tonight?" "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded dreamily, lying in a boneless heap on the bed, utterly sated. "Very well - from now on you will eat everything that Scully does - only in double portions." "What?" Mulder sat up, too quickly. "Ow!" he yelped as the butt plug made its presence felt. "Scully eats low fat yogurts and salads!" he protested. "Then you will too - just make sure you eat enough of what she's eating not to go hungry. You know how I feel about that." "Yes, Master." Mulder scowled at the telephone. "There's no need to call me again this evening unless you want to," Skinner said. "No, Master." Mulder got up, stretching his body, feeling light headed. "And slave - that's 5." "5 what, Master?" Mulder asked. "5 strokes with the implement of my choice when you get home. Start making a tally. I'm sure you'll notch up a few more." "Yes, Master," Mulder sighed, a delicious thrill tingling through his body. He ended the call, and went to take his shower, running his hands all over his naked body as the warm water washed away some of the tensions of the day. He dried himself, then looked down at his naked body. It didn't feel right. Something was missing. He remembered the ring, and fumbled in his pocket for it. Somehow, his minor rebellion seemed childish now. He wanted to wear the ring. He needed to be reminded that he was Skinner's property. It both turned him on, and made him feel safe, at one and the same time. They went to a diner down the road. Mulder was acutely aware, as he drove, of the huge butt plug inside him. He hoped he wasn't walking strangely as they crossed the parking lot and went into the diner. He was relieved to sit down - which he did very cautiously, suppressing a little whimper as the movement forced the buttplug deeper into his body. Mulder glanced at the menu - then paled. He just knew that Scully was going to choose the pasta with the low fat tomato sauce. "Hey, Scully - doesn't the steak look good," he pointed out. She made a face at him. "Mulder, since when do I eat steak?" She asked. He sighed. "They've got cheeseburger!" He suggested brightly. "So have it!" She replied, smiling at him. "Keep me company," he wheedled. "I don't think so. The pasta will do fine," she said, closing her menu. Mulder glared at her and she looked at him in surprise. "Pasta's so dull, Scully," he chided. "Come on - live a little." "Eating cheeseburger is living?" Scully raised an eyebrow. "You sure know how to let your hair down, Mulder." "Come on, it'll be nice!" Mulder said brightly. The waiter came over and stood by the table expectantly. "Two cheeseburgers!" Mulder ordered. "He means one pasta, and one cheeseburger," Scully amended, kicking him under the table. Mulder thought about it for a moment, opened his mouth to change the order, then closed it again. He needed real meat, damnit! Not pasta! Anyway, Skinner wouldn't know - how the hell was his Master going to find out? He relaxed, and settled down, amusing Scully with an endless list of observations about their fellow diners. "You seem to be coping with this really well," Scully smiled. "After what happened earlier I thought you might be upset." "I was." Mulder shrugged. "You're really dealing with this stuff a lot better these days," Scully placed her hand over his, and squeezed, gently. "I'm proud of you, Mulder. In the old days, this would have sent you off into one of your tailspins. I used to ache for you when you were obviously hurting so much. I'm so pleased to see that you're finally coming to terms with this part of your life." "Yes." Mulder nodded, uncertainly. "I think I'm improving, Scully." With a little help from my Master… They had just started eating when Mulder's cellphone interrupted them. He answered the call, and choked on his cheeseburger as he recognized his Master's voice. "Agent Mulder, I had a call from Ray Glover. He seems impressed by you." "Uh, thanks, sir." Mulder swallowed his mouthful down hastily, and took a sip of water, coughing into the 'phone. "You seem to be incapacitated, Agent. Why don't you pass me over to Agent Scully while you get your breath back," Skinner ordered. Mulder considered asking why Skinner wanted to talk to Scully, but this was a conversation he didn’t want to get into right now, and anyway, Skinner would hardly ask Scully what her partner was eating - would he? "Skinner," he mouthed at Scully, handing her the 'phone. She took it, and Mulder played with his meal, willing her not to say the wrong thing. He couldn't hear what Skinner was asking, but it seemed to be general things about the case. "Yes, sir. Badly burnt, sir. I've scheduled an autopsy for tomorrow. Today? No, we had some other areas to investigate first. No, they were dead ends, sir," she said smoothly. Mulder put his thumbs up, and gave her an encouraging smile. "Seafood? No, sir. Yes, it is the right area! No, I'm very fond of it too." She smiled absently at Mulder, winding her pasta around her fork, clearly enjoying the informal chit-chat with their boss. Mulder waved his arms, trying to get her to stop talking. She frowned at him. "You're right, we should have chosen the seafood platter!" She laughed. "I had the pasta instead. Agent Mulder? No, he's clearly not a seafood addict either - he's chosen the cheeseburger!" She laughed again, and Mulder thumped his head down on the table. Who'd have thought Skinner would be this devious? He watched as Scully continued her conversation, clearly enjoying this culinary discussion with her boss. Then, a few minutes later, she handed the phone back to Mulder, who put it tentatively to his ear. "Hello?" He croaked. "That's 10. Add it to the tally," Skinner said crisply. "Yes, sir." Mulder sighed. "And obey me from now on, Fox." "Yes, sir," Mulder muttered. Skinner severed the connection, and Mulder put the 'phone back in his pocket. "Wasn't that nice?" Scully beamed. "Skinner's actually really interesting when he gets talking. Apparently his folks used to own a seafood restaurant up in Maine." "Yeah. Right." Mulder made a face at his cheeseburger. He wriggled in his chair, his butt plug pressing deep into his body, and his welted backside reminding him painfully of its existence. How the hell had Skinner managed to be such a presence? He was miles from home - his Master was over the other side of the country, for god's sake, and yet he might as well have been sitting at this table for the control he was still managing to exert over his hapless slave. Mulder felt curiously comforted by that thought. However, it also increased his desire to find out more about his Master's past. He had to understand the enigma that was Skinner - and to find out how his Master had become so skilled at this game. Despite his desire to seek out Peter Mayfield, Mulder knew it would be stupid to do anything other than devote the next couple of days to the investigation. If Skinner was in contact with Glover then he wouldn't be able to bluff any more time away from the case. After a hearty breakfast of yogurt and fruit, he spent the following morning interviewing the man who'd found the dead woman's body, then met up with Scully to hear the results of her autopsy over a lunch of vegetable lasagna and salad. "I'm glad to see you're taking a healthier approach," Scully smiled at him, nodding at his plate. "What? Yeah." He scowled. "Well, you know, this stuff isn't too bad, Scully, and I like to try new things," he muttered lamely. "After a day spent eating this stuff, you must be dying for a nice pizza, with garlic bread, smothered in cheese, followed by chocolate cake, in the evening," he suggested hopefully. "Not really." She shook her head, blithely unaware of his interest in her eating habits, and his heart sank. They spent the afternoon going through the case notes, and arranging interviews for the following day. Mulder devoured three seafood platters in the evening, trying not to be distracted by the smell of pizza that was wafting from the people sitting next to them where an entire family seemed to be carving into thick crusted, cheese-filled monstrosities as if on purpose to torment him. Their trip to the dead woman's family revealed that she'd recently suffered a stroke. Mulder spotted a steel cane she'd used to help her walk, and the rest slipped easily into place. He made a few calls, found out that there had been a lightning strike in the area on the day she died but no rain, and then they reported their findings back to Glover who laughed out loud. "Something as simple as that!" He exclaimed. "I don't know how I missed it. Strange the way she burnt up so much though." "Sometimes that happens." Scully shrugged. "We're going to look like idiots when you turn in the report on this one," Glover sighed. "Well…" Mulder mused, "how about we make sure you don't look like idiots in our report, if you don't tell our supervisor that we wrapped this up today? That way we get to spend a day sunbathing, and you folk come out of this smelling of roses." Glover's face broke into a broad grin, and he slapped Mulder heartily on the back. "It's a done deal, son," he beamed. "Tomorrow, while you're sunning yourself on the beach, I need to go and look into something," he told Scully over a dinner of roast vegetables and ciabatta. She looked up at him in alarm. "This isn't about Samantha is it?" She asked, her eyes worried. "No, it isn't about Samantha," he told her gently. "It's something else. I won't be long, I promise - it's just something I need to do." Mulder woke early the following morning, and took a quick shower. He removed the butt plug, and washed it, and was about to stick it back in his bag. He sat down on the side of the bed and considered it instead. It was early, so he was still, technically, "off duty". Should he put it back in until later, and if so, when should he remove it? His mission to speak to Peter Mayfield was a personal one, so he would really be "off duty" for most of the day, but… Mulder laughed out loud, unable to believe that he was really having this internal dialogue with himself. If Skinner found out about his unauthorized visit to Mayfield, then a missing butt plug here or there would be the least of his problems. On the other hand, Mulder realized that, uncomfortable and intrusive though the plug was, there was something strangely comforting about its presence. Finally, after considering the matter for a few minutes, he decided to wear it. If he was going to do something so obviously against his Master's wishes as digging into the other man's past, then the least he could do was to pay a price for it. Sacrificing his comfort seemed like a just penance. With a sigh, he slathered some lube onto the plug, and strapped it back on. Peter Mayfield lived in a luxury beach-front property a few hours drive away. Mulder took one look at the palatial residence, with its neatly kept gardens and whistled. "Maybe I chose the wrong career path," he murmured. Although Peter Mayfield was an eminently respectable psychologist, with a number of seminal publications to his name, he was now more popularly known as the "shrink to the stars", and spent his days listening to the neuroses of his famous and wealthy neighbors. "Nice work if you can get it," Mulder muttered under his breath, knowing that he couldn't have stood it for five minutes, no matter how well it paid. Money had never played a big part in his life - even before his slavery. He had enough to pay the bills and eat, and he used the rest to further his quest, and that was all that was necessary as far as he was concerned. He knocked on the door, feeling uncomfortably hot in his dress suit. He was just considering whether to remove his jacket, when the door was answered by an attractive, burly, blond-haired man of his own age. "Dr. Mayfield?" Mulder asked. The man laughed. "No, I'm his…housekeeper," he replied. Mulder noticed the slight hesitation. "Did you have an appointment?" "No." "Then I'm sorry, you can't see Dr. Mayfield." Mulder bit on his lip. He didn't want to turn this into an official mission, but even so, he hadn't driven all the way out here to return empty handed. He made a split second decision. "This won't take long, and I'm afraid Dr. Mayfield will have to make time to see me. My name is Agent Mulder. I'm with the FBI." He showed the housekeeper his ID, and the other man frowned. "Well, he's in the courtyard working on his new book. He doesn't usually like being disturbed, but it's time for his chamomile tea, so…" He gestured Mulder to follow him into the house. It was a beautiful place, containing the most exquisite examples of ethnic art. Mulder followed the housekeeper into a wide, sunny courtyard, containing an aviary, and a bubbling fountain. It was beautiful - a peaceful place to write, and Peter Mayfield was doing just that. He was seated in front of a lap-top computer, dressed in a pair of shorts and a tee shirt, typing away with two fingers. "Peter - we have a visitor. An Agent Mulder from the FBI," the housekeeper announced. Mayfield looked up with a frown, and peered at Mulder from behind his glasses. The doctor was about Skinner's age, a plump man, but not unattractive, with light brown hair, and the most beautiful green eyes. "Agent…?" Mayfield looked startled. "Mulder." Mulder held out his hand, and Mayfield took it, still looking startled. "Thank you, Troy," Mayfield said to his housekeeper, who gave him a wide, intimate smile. "I'll bring you both some chamomile tea," Troy said, then he exited. Mulder noticed that Mayfield's green eyes remained fixed on Troy's taut buttocks until the other man disappeared from sight. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Doctor Mayfield," Mulder began, sitting in the chair he had been gestured to, then giving a low yelp of surprised pain as the butt plug made its presence felt. Mayfield looked at him curiously. "Sorry," Mulder muttered, flushing. "Stiff muscles. I do a lot of…riding," he improvised wildly. Mayfield frowned, clearly bemused. Mulder took a deep breath. "Uh, what I have to say next is highly confidential," he began. Mayfield's eyes flickered over his shoulder, and Mulder turned to see Troy returning with the tea. There was no point in saying anything to Mayfield while Troy was around. The doctor was completely oblivious to anything when the muscle-bound 'housekeeper' was present. Finally, Troy disappeared again, and Mulder took a sip of his tea, wondering how the hell he was going to explain his interest in Andrew Linker from an official FBI viewpoint. In the end, he just opened his mouth and started to talk. "I'm doing an investigation into Andrew Linker…" he began. Mayfield's reaction was startling. He dropped his cup, and it shattered on the floor. "Andrew?" he stuttered. "Why? I mean, Andrew had cancer. Everyone knew that but there was no question of anything sinister taking place. God, even though he was in such terrible pain at the end, he would never have asked Walter to…and surely Walter would never have…" He looked at Mulder in abject horror. "Are you suggesting that some kind of euthanasia took place, Agent Mulder?" He asked. "No," Mulder said quickly, suddenly realizing that there was a whole story here he knew nothing about. "Walter…Walter Skinner nursed Linker through the final stages of his cancer?" He asked. Mayfield nodded. "He was a rock - an absolute saint. Ask anyone. I mean, we all helped out - Walter had a busy job and couldn't be there 24 hours a day, but he was so good to Andrew, even when Andrew was very weak, and I know that Walter felt so helpless. He's not very good at talking about his emotions, but I think I managed to get him to open up a little to me," he said, smiling softly. I know, Mulder thought, understanding all too well how little Skinner liked talking about himself. I know, Mulder thought, understanding all too well how little Skinner liked talking about himself. "Andrew wasn't short of friends. There was always someone with him. He had a number of good people around him," Mayfield said. "He was much loved." "Yes." Mulder swallowed down a lump in his throat. So this was Skinner's secret past that he didn’t want his slave to find out about - devotedly nursing a good friend through his terminal illness. "Not least by Walter," Mayfield added, and Mulder felt a pit of jealousy open up inside. "They were…lovers?" Mulder asked, his throat dry. "More than that. It was more than that," Mayfield replied. "I mean, Walter knew that there could never be anyone in Andrew's heart after the death of his long term partner in 1988. They'd lived together for twenty years, so of course Walter couldn't take Ryan's place, but there was a bond between Andrew and Walter. It wasn't a love match. It was more than that. Andrew pulled Walter back together, and in return…Walter devoted himself to Andrew's comfort." "Ah." Like a slave, devoting himself to his Master's comfort, Mulder thought. "Please, Agent Mulder, Walter's not in any trouble is he?" Mayfield asked. "God no! We aren't investigating him," Mulder replied hastily, hating himself for having distressed this man so much for no reason. He had been stupid. He should have realized how much Andrew had meant to Peter from the inscription in that book, and yet he'd blundered in here, asking his questions. He'd been such an idiot. "Then what are you investigating?" Mayfield asked, his plump fingers playing with the hem of his tee shirt. "Nothing that need worry or concern you, Doctor," Mulder said firmly. "I promise. I must apologize for coming here like this, upsetting you. Trust me, this is very peripheral to the investigation, just fact-finding really, to eliminate it from our inquiries. There's no question, no question at all, of Skinner being in any kind of trouble." "And what about you?" Mayfield looked at him keenly. Mulder loosened his collar, sweating profusely from a combination of nervous guilt, and the heat. "What about you, Agent Mulder? You don't look comfortable. Are you in any kind of trouble?" Not yet… "I'm fine, just not used to the climate. Can you tell me anything else about Andrew Linker, and his involvement in the, uh, sadomasochistic lifestyle?" he asked, deciding that he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb; he'd come this far, after all. To his surprise, Mayfield laughed out loud. "You people. You always ask these questions - you pretend that it disgusts you, when really you just want the prurient details, don't you?" Mulder flushed again, and finally gave in, and shrugged his jacket off. "Well, if you want the details, I'll give them to you. Andrew was well respected in the lifestyle. He was the safest top on the scene." "He was a top?" Mulder's throat was dry. Mayfield smiled, and shook his head. "He was sublime. Oh, I never played with him - although god knows I'd have liked to! No, I met Andrew when I was a barely out of college. I was going through a bad time, and he was my counselor. He refused to play with people he counseled on a professional basis, which was sound - although if he took you as his sub, you just had to benefit from all that remarkable wisdom. He was a truly great man, Agent Mulder. You won't find anybody, anybody at all," he stressed, his pudgy face changing out of all recognition as he imparted his utmost sincerity to the words, "who'll say a bad word about Andrew. He was charming, quietly spoken, unfailingly polite - a good man. The best kind. He always had time for everyone - and he knew how to listen. Not that he couldn't be tough." Mayfield shivered. "As a dom, I believe he could scare the wits out of sub with just a stare." Sounds familiar…Sounds familiar…Mulder gave a pained smile. "Don't make the mistake of thinking he was evil, or in any way perverted because of his lifestyle. He wasn't. He knew how to make his partners happy - very happy. Ask Walter. Andrew took him in, and straightened him out. I don’t doubt there was a great deal of pain experienced along the way, but if Andrew thought Walter needed it, that's what he'd have given him." "I see," Mulder croaked, his head pounding in the sun, his mind in turmoil. This wasn't what he'd expected, and it wasn't what he'd wanted to hear. He couldn't imagine Skinner subbing to anyone. It just didn't fit in his world-view. He knew that a high proportion of people on the scene were "switches", that they took either role, but he didn't understand how Skinner could be such an expert top if his true preference was to be submissive. He examined his own heart for a moment, wondered if he had a longing to play the top, to swing a whip, to inflict… pain, but his mind shied away from that thought. He was lost, confused, and it was all he could do to make his excuses to Mayfield, and then stagger out of the house and into the sanctuary of his waiting car. Suddenly all this seemed too much: the glaring sun, the charred remains of that poor woman, the revelations that this state had yielded. He wanted to escape from it, to return to the arms of his Master, where he belonged. The truth was out here, and he had found it too hard to deal with. It was time to go back home, to accept what his Master told him, to wait to hear the truth from Skinner's own lips, in his Master's own time - a time when his slave might be better able to handle it. Mulder put his key in the ignition, and started to drive back to pick up Scully. Home. He was going home. He arrived back in the middle of the evening. He wondered whether to go straight to the 18th floor apartment, or whether to knock on the door of the 17th floor one. In the end he decided he couldn't wait to dump his bag - he needed to see his Master now, so he knocked noisily on the door. There was no answer. Mulder frowned, wondering where the hell his Master could be. He'd called Skinner before he'd left California, so the other man was expecting him. He knocked again, but there was still no reply. With a resigned sigh, he got back in the elevator and went up to the next floor, letting himself into the apartment wearily. Surely Skinner hadn't stayed late at work when he knew his slave was due back, had he? Mulder walked along to his bedroom, dispirited, then noticed that the door to the Playroom was wide open, and a red glow was emanating from the room. He frowned, and dropped his bag in the corridor, wondering what was going on. He walked hesitantly towards the glowing light, and then stopped in the doorway, his mouth opening in surprise. The lights in the Playroom had been dimmed, and orange and red lamps glowed on the walls. Skinner was standing in the middle of the room, dressed in tight leather trousers, and the longest leather boots Mulder had seen in his life, stretching all the way up his Master's long, muscular legs, and ending up at his thighs. Skinner's chest was gleaming - clearly having been anointed with oil, and his Master was holding a sleek, black riding crop in his hands, which he slapped against his boots impatiently. His back was to Mulder, and when his slave gave a whimper of sheer arousal, Skinner turned, slowly, and looked at him. It was too much for Mulder. He ran into the Playroom, and knelt at his Master's side, looking up at him in total adoration. "I couldn't wait to get home, Master," he whispered. Skinner looked down on him, his boots seeming to lend him even greater height. "And I couldn't wait to have you home, little one," Skinner murmured. He leaned down, took Mulder's face between his hands, and brushed a lock of hair away from his slave's forehead. Mulder kissed his Master's fingers, eagerly, then slid his hands up Skinner's shiny, polished boots. "Master looks…incredible," he breathed. "And the slave looks…" Skinner smiled, "edible," he grinned, drawing Mulder close, raising him to his feet, and cupping his denim clad buttocks. Mulder buried himself in that glistening chest, kissing his Master's honeyed flesh, licking at his hard nipples, at the cleft between his collarbones, and finally daring to go in for a kiss on his Master's welcoming lips. Skinner's big hands clasped Mulder's butt firmly, as if testing a fruit for ripeness, pinching, weighing, squeezing, and drawing his slave closer, so that their erections rubbed together inside their pants. Mulder pressed even tighter, wanting to bury himself in his Master's divine body, wanting almost to merge with him, to become one, and Skinner laughed, and pushed him away. "Pretty though you look, I don't think you're dressed appropriately, slave," he murmured. "Sorry, Master, I'll…" Mulder began to undress, but Skinner stopped him. "Don't. I have other plans," he said, gathering Mulder's hands behind his slave's back, and holding them there in one big fist. He reached for the fur-lined handcuffs hanging from his belt, and fastened them onto Mulder's wrists, securing them firmly. "I've missed playing with my property," Skinner smiled, in a way that was so completely the dom and Master, that Mulder's cock hardened immediately. "I've been…deprived," Skinner smirked, "so I think it's time I reminded my slave who he belongs to - yes?" "Yes, Master. I belong to you," Mulder whispered, dropping his head and kissing those shiny toed boots. "Lick them," Skinner ordered, and Mulder obeyed without hesitation, lapping at the smooth, polished surface, his hands tied securely behind his back Skinner traced the riding crop over Mulder's back, and down the side of his face as he worked. "Good boy, now the other one," Skinner instructed and Mulder went about his task eagerly, losing himself in his devotion. "That's enough," Skinner ordered. "I think that you've been allowed too much free time over the past few days, slave. I think some restraint is in order. Don't you?" "Yes, Master." Mulder nodded eagerly. "Get on the table." Skinner nodded his head in the direction of the massage table, and Mulder climbed up eagerly, and sat on the edge, expectantly. Skinner hung the crop back on his belt, pushed Mulder's legs apart, and stood within them, then placed his hands firmly on the massage table on either side of his slave, and leaned over him. The orange, glowing light just served to make his Master even more imposing, and Mulder swallowed nervously, as Skinner looked into his eyes for several long minutes. "How many of my orders did you disobey while you were gone?" Skinner asked him. "Not…very many, Master," Mulder admitted nervously. Skinner leaned in and gently nipped the side of his slave's neck with his teeth. "How many?" He asked. "Well…you know that I came that time on the 'phone," he began. "And the following morning you jerked off as well." Skinner continued nuzzling his slave's neck. "How did you…? Oh, never mind," Mulder sighed. "I know you, little one. I know you too well," Skinner moved his head, and began nuzzling the other side of his slave's neck, licking, and nibbling his earlobe. Mulder tried to remember to breathe. "How many times did you jerk off in all?" his Master asked. "Three," Mulder said quickly. Skinner's teeth sank into his earlobe, just hard enough to make Mulder wince. "Five," Mulder amended hastily. "I couldn't help it, Master! You filled my mind with too many erotic fantasies - first, taking me in your office before I left, then putting me in the harness…oh god, please, stop," he whimpered, as Skinner burned a trail of fiery kisses along his collarbone. "You're mine, I can do what I want with you, and right now, I want to devour you," Skinner said in a low, sexy tone. "I want to remind myself what you taste like, slaveboy." He put his hand in Mulder's hair and pushed his slave's head back, then started licking Mulder's exposed throat. "Oh shit, Oh fuck…" Mulder hung there, limp in the delicious embrace. "How else did you disobey me?" Skinner demanded. "I…" Mulder tried to think, but it was difficult when his hair was being grasped in his Master's big paw, and his head was bent so far back. His throat was so vulnerable, and every now and then Skinner would pause and lightly nip the skin with his teeth. "I ate a cheeseburger!" He yelled at last. "I know about that. Anything else?" Skinner demanded, his mouth trailing over Mulder's face, kissing the tip of his nose, and then descending on each closed eyelid, and gently depositing a kiss on each. His free hand moved to the front of Mulder's jeans and he ground his palm against Mulder's bulging, contained erection. "No! Yes!" Mulder yelled, his head held immobile by that hand. "Which?" Skinner asked, licking his way down the side of Mulder's face and ending up at his mouth. He claimed a long, loving kiss, all the while kneading his hand into Mulder's groin. Mulder felt as if his whole body was turning to Jell-O. "I took off my cock ring, but only once, Master!" Mulder whimpered. "Very well. Anything else?" "No, Master," Mulder said quickly. "All right." His Master released him abruptly, and then, moving fast, shoved his errant slave back on the massage table, picked up his legs, and swung them around too, then cuffed them to the ends of the table, wide apart. He turned Mulder on his side, and undid the handcuffs, but only in order to re-tie them, above his slave's head. Mulder lay, spread-eagled on the massage table, his eyes wide. Skinner loomed over him. "What's your tally, slave?" he asked. Mulder tried to remember, but it was difficult to focus when those dark eyes were pinning him down with their masterful gaze. "Um…twenty, I think, Master," he whispered. "Very well. I'll add another ten for those you just mentioned - that comes to thirty. Where shall we deliver them, slave?" he asked. Mulder frowned. "Where?" he repeated blankly. "Yes. Where?" Skinner laughed, reaching into his pocket. Much to Mulder's surprise, he drew out a knife. "Master!" he gasped. "You know, I've never liked this shirt much," Skinner mused. He opened the knife, and cut his slave's shirt away from his body. Mulder held his breath, but the silver blade never went near the naked flesh beneath. "That's better - my ragged slaveboy," Skinner grinned, sheathing the knife. He flicked aside a few stray pieces of fabric, then pressed his lips against his slave's nipples. "I could give you the strokes here," he mused, his tongue brushing the sensitive nubs of flesh, making his slave squeal with pleasure, "but you know, there are other ways to torture these." He reached behind Mulder, to a table, and drew out a set of nipple clamps, dangling from a shiny silver chain. "These aren't my most vicious clamps, slave," he whispered in Mulder's ear, his fingers gently caressing Mulder's nipples until they were rock hard, "but they hurt, and do you know what's really nice about them?" he smiled, a dark, sinister smile. Mulder shook his head. "They're adjustable," Skinner murmured. He opened the head of one, and Mulder groaned and tried to twist away. "Still, slave!" Skinner tapped his slave reprovingly on the head, then, with one quick move of his hand, he snapped one of the clamps onto his slave's nipple. Mulder tensed, but it wasn't painful. "I said they're adjustable," Skinner smiled. "So we can take our time, build up to something very, very, tight." He punctuated this phrase by tuning a little wheel at the side of the clamp, and Mulder began to feel it dig into his flesh. He took a deep breath, and watched as Skinner fastened the second clamp to his other nipple, then tightened it, almost imperceptibly. "Now, slave, let's see about making this a little more painful shall we?" Skinner wrong-footed Mulder, by pressing a lever under the massage table with his foot, lowering it several inches. Then he swung one long leg over it so that he was straddling his hapless slave. "Poor boy," he cooed, "all trussed up, and unable to resist. Who do you belong to, slave?" he asked, in a low, sibilant tone. "You, Master," Mulder's hazel eyes never left his Master's dark brown ones, and Skinner's fingers returned to one of the clamps. His Master continued to look down on his slave, as he slowly turned the little wheel on the side of the clamp. The vicious implement started to squeeze Mulder's sensitized nipple, making its presence felt. "How does this feel?" Skinner asked, bending forward, and taking a kiss from Mulder's full lips. "Hurts, Master!" Mulder whimpered, his body jackknifing up against Skinner's leather clad groin. "Not enough. Not yet," Skinner said softly, turning the wheel again. Mulder let out a groan as the clamp bit down into his tender flesh. "Oh god! No more, Master, please!" he begged. "I haven't finished yet!" Skinner smiled, and turned the wheel slowly, one more notch, his eyes never leaving his slave's. "Please!" Mulder cried, his nipple throbbing in earnest now. "Not yet." Skinner turned it another notch and Mulder let out a cry of sheer pain. He could already feel the endorphins kicking in, and his cock was straining so hard against the front of his jeans that he thought it might break through the fabric. "Let it out," Skinner smiled, pushing his slave's sweaty hair out of his forehead while Mulder yowled. "Good boy. Now, time for the other one," he announced, his fingers turning on the wheel of the second clamp, slowly fastening it tighter around Mulder's tortured flesh. "Shit! Please…!" Mulder begged, knowing it was useless. His entire body was suffused with aroused anticipation. "I think…" Skinner lowered his lips, and sucked the flesh around the side of the clamp, "that this nipple is the more sensitive one, slaveboy. Am I right?" "Yes…Master!" Mulder gasped, bucking up against Skinner's groin, his cock desperate to be released from its denim prison. "So, I think," Skinner gave him a smile of pure sexual evil, "that this nipple should suffer more for your crimes than the other one. Yes?" "NO!" Mulder yelled as Skinner's fingers suddenly turned the wheel three times in quick succession closing the clamp shut around his nipple like a vice. "Oh shit, oh fuck, take them off, please, take them off!" he yelled, his body flapping on the table like a fish beneath his Master's thighs. "Hush, little one, hush." Skinner's hands stroked his slave's body gently, and wiped some sweat from his slave's forehead. "My beautiful slave, so bravely taking his Master's will. I've missed this body - my plaything." He looked full of loving pride, as he ran his hands up and down Mulder's torso, gentling and calming him. "See, my will isn't too hard to bear, little one?" he whispered. "Is it?" "I don't know…" Mulder whispered, the pain in his nipples receding slightly as he became accustomed to it. Skinner smiled at him lovingly, and returned to his slave's mouth, taking another long, deep, tender kiss. He drew back, and sighed regretfully. "I'm afraid, little one, that you haven't been punished enough yet," he whispered in a blood curdling tone. Mulder's cock went into spasm inside his jeans. "I'm afraid, that you have to suffer some more before you've atoned for your wrong doing, slave," he murmured. Mulder sighed in aroused anticipation, and put his head back, gazing at the ceiling. Skinner undid his ankle cuffs and then he felt his Master's hands unbuckle his belt. His Master unzipped his jeans, and pulled them down his legs. Mulder lifted his hips to accommodate the action, and the pants were dropped onto the floor. His boxers soon followed suit. His cock leapt up, ramrod straight, ready to burst. "It's so eager to receive its punishment," Skinner murmured in a regretful tone, re-fastening the ankle cuffs. "Wh…at?!" Mulder tried to sit up, craning his neck to see what was happening. Skinner smiled, his hands running down his slave's naked legs. "Well, somewhere has to be punished, and I think it should be this little beauty, don't you?" Skinner smiled wickedly, and reached over to the table again, and brought forth a miniature, black flogger, made from tiny lengths of suede. He grasped Mulder's cock in one hand, and Mulder groaned, and thrust up. "This cock will have to pay for the slave's disobedience," Skinner crooned. He fingered the cockhead, manipulating the flesh that was softer there, playing with the skin. Mulder sighed, his whole body a morass of sensation, then yelped as Skinner brought the tiny flogger down on his cockhead. It flicked against the flesh, making him yelp, but it wasn't as painful as he'd thought it would be. "It needs time to build up," Skinner whispered, winking at him. "Thirty strokes should be enough, little slave. Thirty licks with my flogger and you'll be begging me to stop." "Oh god." Mulder put his head back again, the sweat streaming down his face. He felt the flogger on his cockhead once more, a sharp, flicking pain, quickly receding. It felt like nothing on this earth. His endorphins were having a party, taking him to a new level and the boundary between pleasure and pain didn't seem to exist for him any more. "Oh…shit…" he whispered hazily, as Skinner landed three more blows onto his eagerly waiting shaft. His cock burned, wanting its release. "Not yet. Not until I'm done." Skinner pinched the cockhead hard between his fingers, and Mulder yelled out loud. "Hold it," Skinner urged, and Mulder fought back the urge to come. Skinner finally let go, but only in order to deliver another lick to that straining cock head. Mulder was dimly aware that his Master was varying the intensity of the blows, sometimes soft and caressing, sometimes hard and flicking, and he never aimed at the hard shaft itself, or the sensitive area underneath, just the soft cockhead. It caused a sensation like nothing he had experienced before - burning, and stinging, creating an arousal that shot through his belly, warming his entire body. He was dimly aware that his nipples ached, that his cock ached, that he longed for release, but at the same time he wanted to endure this torture forever, and to suffer whatever trials and torments his Master chose to put him through. He knew he was babbling, talking nonsense, but he wasn't sure what he was saying. His cock burned more and more, until he was sure he couldn't take one more caressing stroke from the whip, and then he dimly heard Skinner whisper "thirty," and the torture stopped. "My slave's body is so enticing," Skinner murmured, putting the flogger to one side. Mulder would have jumped into the air if he hadn't been bound, as Skinner's mouth descended on his hot, burning cock, and enveloped it. "OH. MY. GOD!" he cried, as his Master's tongue skillfully warmed the hurt away, soothing the tortured flesh. Skinner sucked him gently for a few minutes, bringing him to the edge of climax, then drawing back again, leaving Mulder panting on the brink. "Master, please!" Mulder begged. "Master, you have to let me…!" "Not yet. Soon." Skinner leaned over his slave, his fingers finding the clamps, and then, smiling down lovingly at his slave, he moved the wheel another notch, pinching the tortured nubs of flesh even more in that cruel embrace. Mulder cried out, as exquisite waves of pleasure/pain coursed through his body. He watched, in a haze of pleasure, as Skinner unfastened his leather trousers, revealing his hard, resplendent cock. Mulder groaned. "Master…please, let me worship you…" he begged. Skinner smiled, and ran his fingertips along his slave's body, making Mulder tingle all over. "You will. You'll worship me with your open legs, and with your ass," he said, placing a condom on his erect cock. Skinner placed one lubed finger inside his slave, and Mulder closed his muscles around the intrusion. "Relax," Skinner soothed, and soon his Master had entered two fingers inside his naked, prone, tied slave, then three. Finally, having fully prepared his slave, Skinner drew his fingers out, and unfastened Mulder's legs. He placed them on his shoulders, and positioned his hard cock in the entrance to his slave's anus. Mulder cried out, welcoming that familiar, hard intrusion, trying to draw his Master deep inside him. Skinner grinned, and thrust with one smooth, fluid motion, burying himself up to the hilt inside Mulder's hot, slick flesh. "Yes, Master! Please!" Mulder begged, out of his mind with sensation. Skinner began to thrust, slowly at first, then harder. As he drove in and out, his hand massaged Mulder's cock in time to his thrusts, and Mulder knew he couldn't hold on any more. "Come before me and I'll whip you," Skinner hissed. Mulder cried out, no longer caring. "I'll use the bullwhip - 10 on your naked back and butt, 10 on your bare flesh," Skinner warned. Mulder clawed his way back from the brink, unwilling to taste the bullwhip on this joyous homecoming. He had no doubt that his Master would keep his word if he disobeyed him. Skinner always kept his promises. His mind spiraled away, and he felt as if he was having an out of body experience. For one, brief, vivid moment, he looked down into his own eyes, saw the sweat running all over his body, his hair soaked through with it. He saw his Master thrusting into his prone body with deep, powerful strokes, and then watched, in slow motion, as Skinner slid his hands sensuously up his slave's body, and removed the nipple clamps with a whisk of his fingers. The world exploded into a point of bright white light. The pain was indescribable, as the blood rushed back into those tormented nubs of flesh, and yet the pleasure, the endorphin rush, was like nothing he'd ever experienced before. He knew he was coming. He could feel his come bursting out of his body like a train emerging from a tunnel into the light, but the sensation was so intense as to be indescribable. He knew he was screaming out his pleasure, knew that his come was splattering all over his stomach, all over his Master's stomach. He knew, dimly, that Skinner was coming too, deep inside his slave, and then there was only the beating of their hearts in unison, and the calm after the storm. Skinner bent over his slave's body, panting, his hands soothing, gentling, rubbing the salty come into Mulder's sweaty flesh. Mulder lay there, trying to return to himself, as high as a kite. He felt Skinner withdraw and heard him dispose of the condom, then his Master was leaning over him, undoing the cuffs, his brown eyes twinkling. "I guess you missed me then, huh?" Skinner asked, his fingers rubbing Mulder's wrists solicitously. "You don't even need to ask," Mulder whispered, getting up and falling against his Master's solid chest. "I wanted to be back here beside you so many times, wanted to feel your arms around me, loving me." "Oh, you're loved, little one." Skinner tilted Mulder's head up, and kissed him slowly, chastely, on the lips. "Don’t ever doubt that you're loved," he murmured, stroking his slave's sweaty hair away from his face. "Did you like your homecoming?" he asked. Mulder rested his head on his Master's shoulder with a satisfied sigh. "It was…out of this world, Master," he said. "I worship you." He kissed Skinner's shoulder, tasting the salty flesh. "I exist to serve you, Master," he said, all thoughts about what he'd found out in California completely banished from his mind. Skinner was so completely the dom, so totally the Master - he lived the role, 24/7, just as Mulder lived the role of slave. They moved like clockwork together, each in his right place, where he was supposed to be, complementing each other, like parts of a sophisticated piece of machinery, designed only to operate as a whole, each part needing the other. "Come on. Let's take a bath," Skinner said, helping his slave to his feet. They soaked in the tub for well over an hour, Skinner's long legs wrapped around his slave's thighs, Mulder's head on his Master's furry chest, too dazed and sated to talk, just enjoying the companionable silence. Then Skinner pulled on a robe, and they went downstairs, and laid on the couch, Mulder's body entwined in his Master's. Skinner played with Mulder's hair as they lay, listening to music, Wanda's furry body nestled up against them, purring loudly. Mulder felt sleepy, and happy. He was back where he belonged, with his family. He should never have left in the first place. He had never really belonged anywhere until now, and it felt so good. The 'phone went, and Skinner reached for it lazily. "Skinner. Peter? My god, it's great to hear from you! It's been a while." Skinner sat up. Mulder tried to run this piece of information through his dazed mind, feeling sure that the name 'Peter' was important, and that he should be worried, but he was too happy, and on too much of a high to care. "Yes, I'm fine. Are you okay? How's Troy? Hmm…a-ha…mmm." Skinner twisted his slave's hair through his fingers, and then ran his hand down the side of Mulder's face, ending up at his mouth. Mulder opened his lips and took those fingers between them, sucking on them. Skinner smiled down on him lovingly. "A visitor?" Mulder was aware of Skinner's body stiffening beneath him, but he wasn't sure why, or what the implications of that were. "Andrew?" Skinner's voice caught in his throat as he said the name. "There is no…who? Mu…? Yes, yes…no." Skinner's whole tone changed, and he pushed Mulder off his lap, and sat up, his body hard and tense. Mulder stared at him, wondering why his Master's mood had changed so dramatically. "No, Peter, it's nothing to worry about. Yes, Peter…I do know him. I know him very well. No, no, it's got nothing to do with Andrew. No, of course there was nothing suspicious about his death. I can't even understand the implication." Skinner's voice was full of hurt. "Look, this is to do with me, and the new situation I've gotten myself into. No, you did the right thing. Thanks for the information." Mulder twisted to look at his Master as Skinner put the 'phone down, then suddenly, he remembered why he should be worried. He sat up, shocked out of his sated stupor, a chill going deep into his heart. "I'm sorry," he whispered, trembling slightly. Skinner stared at him for a moment, and there was an expression on his face that Mulder had never seen before. "Don't ask me to leave. You can do anything to me apart from that," Mulder begged, flinging himself down at Skinner's feet. "I don't care what you do, Master. Do anything, but please don't make me leave," he begged. Skinner's hands clenched by his sides, and for a moment Mulder thought he'd see his Master do something he'd never done before - lose control. He watched as Skinner fought a silent, internal battle, a range of emotions flitting across that normally self-contained face, then finally, Skinner spoke, and it was in a low, soft tone, as if he didn’t trust himself to talk in his normal voice. "Mulder, go to bed," he said. Mulder flinched at the use of his surname. "Please, Master…don't…" he whispered. "Just go. Now. I can't…" Skinner struggled hard, and visibly, to retain control. "Not now. Later," he said in a choked voice. "Please, just tell me you won't send me away," Mulder pleaded. "I won't send you away," Skinner repeated, in a dull, mechanical voice, "but I can't promise you anything else right now. Go, Fox. Please. For me," he urged, and it was a request, not an order. Mulder nodded, relieved, both by the use of his first name, and Skinner's promise. "I'm sorry," he said again, and then he fled. Mulder reached the stairs, and looked back briefly. Skinner had his back to him, and the tight muscles of his Master's back were clearly visible under the other man's robe. Skinner was hunched, his body full of tension, and he looked so lost, and heartbroken, that Mulder longed to run back and make it better, but it was he who had done this, and Skinner couldn’t handle him right now. Mulder knew he had no choice but to return to his room. He threw himself down on the bed, and covered his eyes as the tears threatened to spill out onto his face. Damn, trust him to take the one good thing that had ever happened to him in his entire life and to screw it up like this. Damn! If only he hadn't gone to California, if only he hadn't spoken to Peter Mayfield, if only Mayfield hadn't jumped to conclusions about euthanasia of all things, when nothing could have been further from Mulder's mind. He had been so stupid. It hadn't even occurred to him that Mayfield and Skinner might be friends. He had been so sure that Mayfield and Andrew had been involved, before Skinner came onto the scene, so caught up in his pursuit of the truth, as always… Mulder caught a glimpse of the framed contracts on the nightstand. He grabbed the Master one, and held it tight against his chest, and then he couldn't hold back the tears. He buried his face in his pillow, and silently convulsed against the fabric, curled up in a fetal position, the Master contract clasped against his heart.
---
!Chapter 14: Release Mulder woke early. He didn't think he'd managed to snatch more than thirty minutes sleep at a time throughout the long, dark night. At the beginning he'd cried for himself, but as the night wore on, his emotions quieted, and he was left with a desperate, harrowing sadness for the man he had left downstairs, his back shaking. He tried to imagine how he would feel, if someone had blundered into his life, re-opening old, and still tender wounds, and he empathized with his Master all too well. If Skinner was still his Master. He didn't see how the other man could want him now. What had seemed merely to be his usual headlong pursuit of the truth had spiraled out of control, and caused repercussions that he had not envisaged. Mulder's heart ached, not just for himself, but also, and most of all, for Skinner. He felt as if he was experiencing a loss of innocence. He had been so content to bask in the erotic heat of Skinner's expert caresses that he had forgotten that the other man didn't simply exist to tend to his slave's needs. Skinner was real flesh and blood, and however hard they played this game, at the end of the day he was more multi-faceted that this one role allowed him to be - as was Mulder. There was so much more to both of them, and what made it all worse was the fact that Mulder was sure that Skinner had been trying to show him that. Mulder had been too lost in the excitement, and the erotic fulfillment of so many of his dreams, to notice though. Maybe, in time, he would have, but now he felt sure that time would be denied him. Mulder got up, and dutifully performed his morning swim, for no reason other than to anchor himself to his Master's will at the very moment when he was sure it had been withdrawn from him - along with the other man's love and trust. Then, not knowing what else to do, Mulder made his Master coffee, picked up his newspaper, and went to Skinner's bedroom. He would perform his wake-up call if Skinner would let him, or kneel beside the bed if his Master would not. He just needed to know it would be all right, and to be given a chance to repair the great damage he had wrought. Mulder pushed open the bedroom door - and stopped. Skinner wasn't there. Somehow Mulder wasn't surprised. He stepped into the room, and laid the coffee on the night-stand. The bed was made, and when he checked inside, it was cold. Skinner had either got up very early, or he had never gone to bed. Either way, he wasn't in the apartment. Mulder sat down with a thud on the bed, and bit back more angry tears. He didn't know what to do. Nothing he could think of would redress what had happened. It was over. He sat, staring absently around the room for a long time, then reached out and caressed his Master's pillow. He picked it up and smelled it - it carried Skinner's scent, faint but still that essence of Skinner that Mulder loved so much. He pressed it against his face, and gave in to the silent tears again. Not that it made any difference, but he couldn't stop them falling. Something nudged against his elbow, and he looked down into Wanda's curious eyes and managed a wry smile. "Hello, girl. Come to see what a fuck up the interloper has made of this situation, huh? But you always knew I would, didn't you, lady? You knew I wasn't good enough for him from the outset." She regarded him calmly for a few seconds, then climbed onto his knee and settled there with a contented trill. He pulled her close and buried his face in her fur. "You are beautiful - you know that though, don't you? He's lucky to have you. I wonder how the hell he did end up with a cat. I can't exactly see him going out to buy one. I could ask him, but I think my curiosity has got me into enough trouble, don't you?" She blinked at him, slowly, and he sighed, and buried his face in her fur again, stroking her soft body. She nestled in close and he was surprised by what a comfort she was. He hugged her for a long time, then finally disengaged himself, and wandered back upstairs to get dressed. As he showered, Mulder looked down at the trappings of his slavery. Just a few short days ago he had removed his cock ring in a stupid gesture of rebellion. Now he wondered what it would be like to go without them, to have Skinner remove all of them, as the other man had said he would if he released his slave. Mulder shivered. He had become accustomed to his rings. He found them not only to be horny reminders of the contract he had signed, but also something to be proud of, something that signaled he belonged to a man he had come to love. Love. You've got a strange way of showing it, Mulder, he berated himself. He went to work, his stomach churning, his footsteps leaden. He wanted nothing more than to see Skinner, and make sure the other man was all right, but he knew that as soon as he did see his Master, he'd have nothing to say. He also wasn't sure whether he could bear the look of disappointment he would see in his Master's eyes. He walked into the basement, his shoulders slumped and dejected, and Scully looked at him in surprised alarm. "Mulder? Are you all right?" Her blue eyes radiated their concern. "I'm…fine. Just…tired. It was a long day yesterday." "Yeah! You're not…you're not thinking about what we found in California are you?" She asked him anxiously. "No, Scully, I'm not. Don't worry about it. I'll be fine." "Good, because I've scheduled us a meeting with Skinner in a few minutes to go over the report." "Right. I see." Mulder's heart lurched. However much he wanted to see Skinner, he wasn't sure he could face his Master as "Agent Mulder" after what had happened, to carry on a pretense when there was so much that he wanted to say - that needed to be said. Skinner looked rough - presumably he'd had a night as bad as the one Mulder had suffered, wherever he had spent it. Mulder's heart went out to the other man. He had dark rings under his eyes, and his face was pale. When he thought about the homecoming Skinner had given him, and how perfect that had been, Mulder shuddered, hating himself even more. "Sir…" He handed Skinner his interim report, and their fingers touched as Skinner took it. Mulder held the moment, wanting to look into his Master's eyes, but Skinner's gaze remained resolutely fixed on the file. He wouldn't even look at his errant slave. Mulder released the file hopelessly, and took his seat. Skinner read through the report, then looked up. "I see Ray Glover agrees with your conclusions," he murmured. "Yes, sir." Scully nodded. "And you wrapped this up yesterday?" Skinner asked, flicking through the file. "That's right." Scully crossed her legs, and shot Mulder a look from under her eyelashes. Mulder noticed Skinner flinch, visibly, from this information. Not only was his slave lying to him, but both Scully and Glover were lying to him as well. He didn't deserve that. "That's what Glover says too," Skinner murmured, the surprised hurt sounding in his voice. Mulder couldn't stop himself. "Actually, sir, we wound up the case on Wednesday - it wasn't very hard. The woman was killed by lightning, it didn't take a genius to work that out," he said quickly. Scully looked at him in alarm. "We could have come back straight away, but I felt like taking a day out in California, so I had Glover cover for us. It wasn't Scully's idea," he added swiftly. Skinner put the file down on the desk, and looked at his slave for the first time, and now it was Mulder's turn to flinch. Skinner's eyes were dark, and bleak. "Thank you for your honesty, Agent Mulder," his Master said quietly. "I appreciate it. I'm sure we've all done something similar in our time. I trust you had an enjoyable day?" He directed the question to both of them. Scully smiled, relieved, and nodded. Mulder bit on his lip, and shrugged. "Not really. I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about something, but it was a mistake. I should have let it go. I wish I had," he said, his tone urgent and intent. Scully looked at him, her eyebrow raised in unspoken query. "Well, this report seems clear enough. I'll see that personnel note that yesterday was taken as vacation time," Skinner said tersely. "Write up the report properly, and I'll sign it, then we can bury this case." "Yes, sir," Mulder nodded, his throat dry. Skinner was like a man functioning on automatic pilot. Mulder wanted nothing more than to kneel at his Master's side, with his chin on Skinner's knee, and offer the other man the same comfort Wanda had given him this morning. He wondered whether he would ever be given the privilege of assuming that position again. "You're dismissed, Agents," Skinner said, and Scully got up to go. "Mulder?" She asked, when she reached the door and found he wasn't following. "I'll catch you up, Scully." He gave her a wan smile, and she nodded, frowning. When she had gone, he turned to Skinner. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I'm so, so sorry. I had no idea what I was stumbling into. I never intended to cause you such pain." "No. You never do," Skinner stated cryptically, in a low tone. When he spoke again, his voice had changed to his usual brisk, business-like tones. "Agent Mulder, I don't have time for this conversation right now. I'll see you at home, this evening, when we'll decide where to go from here." "Are you going to take my rings away?" Mulder asked, hardly daring to voice the question, but needing to know. He didn't really believe Skinner's reassurance last night that he would not be sent away. There was silence. Skinner frowned, as if he didn't trust himself to speak. "Please, sir, are you going to release me?" Mulder pushed, in a desperate tone. "Just be there this evening. We'll talk," Skinner said, not looking at his slave. "Please." Mulder stood in front of his Master, trying to make Skinner look at him. "Understand that I'm sorry at least, if you're going to release me. Understand that. I wouldn't want to hurt you, I promise. I'd never intentionally…" "That's enough, Agent Mulder," Skinner snapped, his jaw clenching spasmodically. "Intentional or not, you did, and you aren't helping right now." "I'm sorry, it's just that I…" Mulder began. "Yes, that's it - I. That just about sums you up. I've said this before, Fox, but not everything is about you. This was about me, it still is. Now, please leave, before I say something that I regret and that you don't want to hear." Mulder hesitated but the look in his Master's eyes showed that the other man was deadly serious. He turned and left, the pain inside digging into his chest like a dagger, making it hard to breathe. Mulder sleepwalked through the day. He composed his report on auto-pilot, submitted it, and then went home. After the morning's conversation he no longer dared hope that Skinner would keep him. He wouldn't, and there was no point nursing any false hope. He decided to save himself the heartache, to walk before he was sent, and went straight up to his room, and started packing his belongings away. He had no idea where he would go, but it was obvious that he couldn’t stay here. He finished packing away his meager belongings, deciding that he'd have to come back for the fish tank. He was nearly packed by the time Skinner got home. His cases were in the hallway, waiting. "Nearly done," he managed a wan smile in Skinner's direction as the other man threw his briefcase down on the table. "I'm sorry - I should have been out of your way by now. I won't be long." "You're running out?" Skinner crossed to the decanter, and poured a large tumbler of whisky, raised it to his lips, then stopped, and slammed it back down. Mulder winced. "Is that what you're doing? Running out?" "Isn't that what you want?" Mulder asked, bewildered. "No, it's what you want. Isn't this what you do, Fox? You run out when there's a threat of real intimacy." "No." Mulder stood up straight, considering the point. "No, but I know when I've screwed up, and I know when I'm making things worse by staying than by going. Believe me, I know that feeling all too well," he muttered, with a bitter, ironic laugh. Skinner gazed at him dispassionately. "I spent the 6 years after Sam was taken knowing I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I knew I was in the way and I got out as soon as I could." "And now you're doing it again." Skinner strode into the kitchen, poured a large glass of water and took a deep gulp. Then he turned back. "Well you can't," he said to Mulder. "You can't leave because I'm not going to release you. You signed a contract, remember." "Yes." Mulder shrugged. "But you and I both know that it's entirely dependent on us keeping up the game." "It's not a game." Skinner slammed his glass down again, and Mulder backed off from the real anger he saw in the other man's eyes. "It's a role, yes, but not a game, damnit." He advanced on Mulder, his body shaking in fury, and Mulder shrank back, towards the door. "All right," he said, trying to calm the situation. "Whatever you say." "No, not whatever I say. You don't understand because you refuse to," Skinner said despairingly. "Never mind. Go if you want to. Escape was always what you both feared and wanted most. This way you'll have managed to hit out, to forestall rejection before it comes to you - which is what you always do. Not because you're a coward, but because you think your presence in some way hurts people, and you can't stand doing that. I was hoping to show you something else, but I can't make you stay. You're right about that. Contract or not, our current living arrangement depends upon our mutual collusion." "Yes," Mulder said simply. He had always known that, even if he'd maintained the fiction in his own mind that he had no choice. He did have a choice. He'd always had a choice. "You should have let me come to you as a sub. That would have been easier," he said softly. "Easier, yes, but you'd have learned nothing, and I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't tried..." Skinner broke off, abruptly. He downed his water in one long gulp, then took off his coat and threw it on the couch. His suit jacket followed, then he started to undo his tie, with quick, angry movements. That ended up on the couch too, and he jerked his collar open, as if struggling for air. Mulder watched the other man, noticing the depth of controlled anger