He searches my face, looking in and through my eyes.
I cock my head, raise an eyebrow. “What?” I whisper.
He shrugs. “Just looking to see if your eyes are doing any fun things.”
“And are they?” I ask.
“Mmmmm,” comes the non-committal reply, echoed in the small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
I have no idea what my eyes are doing; there are too many emotions cascading and colliding to know what’s coming out. I’m standing in a room of engineers and scientists, the guys who used to cheat off my calculus tests who now make more money than I ever will. I have a degree in mathematics but work in a coffeeshop. Still, I can hold my own here.
Here. I am here, and strung taut wondering what’s coming. Wanting to be here, wherever “here” is. Beside him, here. Who I am, here.
“Should I tell them you’re my…boyfriend?…if they ask? Cause I know you don’t like partner…” he had asked in the car as we pulled away from his house to come here. I sighed heavily. That happened fast. This conversation was bound to come up, but I thought it would take longer than this; I haven’t been here an hour.
“I…” another sigh. “Just… for this, you can… oh, just say I’m your fucking partner; I have complicated feelings about it, but for this…just… call me your partner, it’s fine.”
And so here we are, side-by-side, talking to coworkers about ideas and plans, kids and the importance of living while you’re young. We grin at each other across the conversation, a smile lost on the wall of words coming from a man old enough to be my father, full of sage advice that we both already embody.
Upstairs, in his room. I grab a black button down from my suitcase and start to change, furiously ignoring the metallic sounds coming from his hands as he chuckles, unlocking one of the gleaming silver rings and walking up behind me. Settles the cool metal on my neck and I shudder, fear and shame and pleasure coursing through my skin and making my hands shake. I am really doing this.
“Is that comfortable?” he whispers. I nod, not trusting my voice. He chuckles again and I resume buttoning my shirt. Maybe if I don’t acknowledge it, I can forget about it. Maybe if I pretend it’s not there, no one else will see it.
He reaches for my hand, locks a matching cuff to each wrist. I can’t forget the weight of these, nor can I avoid looking at them. The weight near my hands is a constant reminder of what sits, gleaming at my neck; I can’t forget or pretend otherwise. I start laughing and shake my head.
“Goddamn,” I say, trying to situate my appearance. “Really doing this, huh?”
I’m not really submissive but then, he’s not really dominant. A sadist, yes. Matter-of-fact, cool and calm, he will tell me what to do, but not because he wants to control me. I writhe against his words, stubborn obstinance fighting with desire, and he watches my discomfort, smiling. He doesn’t collar me to own me, to control me. He collars me and parades me in front of friends, fellow kinksters, people who take one look and have some concept of what it might mean. Even if I am not submissive to him, I yield, and the yielding is worn in heavy weight to be seen, recognized, understood in some capacity. It’s the space in me I have the hardest time occupying, and he wraps up these complexities in a metallic band and links it closed around my neck, holding me open when I most want to close.
I chose this.
“You’d probably fit my shirts pretty well,” he says, looking at me with mischievous consideration.
“Probably,” I agree. His shoulders are bigger than mine, but my chest is larger than his, so it would probably balance out fine.
“C’mere,” he beckons me toward the closet. Pulls out a rich blue shirt, both deep and vibrant simultaneously. I start shaking my head.
“Not blue,” I say. “It’s the wrong color. It’s wrong. I can’t wear blue. No.”
He smiles, pulls the shirt off the hanger. “I think you can. I think you should wear this.”
I had just finally gotten my shirt buttoned and tucked in. Goddammit. For blue, it’s a beautiful color. But it’s blue, and I am red, made of fire and detesting the water. Blue is wrong.
Grumbling, I undo the buttons more deftly than I had buttoned them, and pull the black shirt off. Put the blue on and shudder. Button up, roll the sleeves that catch on the cuffs. Damn him.
Redressed, I glare at him while he stares, considering. “I think…” he says, picking up a plug from the array sitting on his dresser, a collection of glass and metal that I am both eager and nervous to try.
I shake my head. “I’m already dressed though!” I protest, sitting on the bed.
“Too bad,” he says, and grabs my legs, pulls me forward and flips me over in one deft motion. Fuck, that’s hot. Undoes my pants and pulls them to my knees and I whimper, no time to think with cool metal and lube against my ass. Fuck. Relax. Fuck. Inhale, oh-! Oh. Ok. That…that happened.
Glaring, I stand up, plug firmly in my ass and, with as much grace as I can muster, get redressed for the third time. “Are you quite finished?” I ask. He smiles.
The small ways I try to hide, he catches and redirects, shifts the boundaries of comfort so that I am always off-balance. “Take your coat off,” he says when we sit down at the restaurant, and I glare as the blue blazes across my skin and the heavy weight of the cuffs knock against the wooden table, a reverberating sound echoing in my ears long after the ringing has faded.
And later, grabbing the ring of the collar and twisting enough to buckle my knees slightly, smiling wickedly while people watch, absorb, notice. I can’t hide in anonymity here. I can’t be someone else, someone not-Malachi, another face lost in a sea of faces. I am too distinctly real and present and cannot escape into blissful isolation. We take a picture together, and all the complex emotions shifting through my skin emerge in the lines creasing my face. One of the first pictures we have ever taken together out of scenes, and I am collared, wearing blue.
“Ready to go home?” he whispers, and I nod. Back to his house, where he encourages me upstairs and I pull the shirt from my body, taking care not to rip the buttons. It is a nice shirt, after all. Turn to glare at him as he approaches me.
“I don’t trust you at all,” I say, which is of course not true; I trust him deeply, intimately, fully.
“No?” he says, softly, dangerously. “We should work on that. Something to build trust… here.” His hand drifts over my pants, running up my thighs. I shiver. I know what’s coming. “Would that be ok?”
I need my voice to work in this moment. I am afraid of betraying how much I want this, and him, and everything that has happened, and everything that is coming. A choice again, a crossroads I walk over and over: casual nonchalance masking, however poorly, this building ache, or a trembling nod, a whisper- “Yes, that would be very much ok.”
I choose the latter, and he smiles.
Flash. Tied to the hardpoints on his bed, strop linked to the collar, the wshp of a straightrazor over the leather as he watches my eyes.
Flash. Tracing the line of my femoral artery in my mind while the razor slices and shaves bits of hair from skin. Trust, indeed.
Flash. Shaving done. Bondage tape over my eyes, vibration, fullness. Fuck. More. Relax, release. Let go. More.
More. Always more. Insatiable, greedy, more. Drenched in desire, builds and plateaus, more. Filled with him, more. I cum again and again until my body shakes with exhaustion and still. More.
“Want to grab a glass thing?” he asks, and I do, smiling. Watch his face fall open, laughing, as it presses against him, sliding in. Laughter, clean and bright, his eyes alive and full, uncontained, unconstrained. This. More of this. I could drown in this laughter, drench myself in the pleasure radiating from his face. This. So much more of this.
And when we are both done, laying exhausted and spent, we press skin to skin in quiet stillness, my head on his chest, his hand holding me close. This. The scent of him, musk and spice, earthy and clean, the taste of him still resonating on my tongue, the reverberation of trembling muscles, echoes and shadows held between our skin and we are just here, laying quietly, wrapped in one another. Partners, I acknowledge, silently, in some form, whatever that means, here, in this space, in language, in desire, in me. Deep inhale, exhale to bury myself closer into his skin. I could lay like this with him for hours. And that, more than anything, is the part of me that relinquishes the last vestage of control and sinks into this, into him, into these strange, beautiful, complex dynamics we traverse easily with one another. Friends. Switches. Partners.