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Jan 22, 2019 11:36 AM
jean goes shopping
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“—yes, sir.”

He’s clearly practiced the motions of dressing and undressing, how to make it pleasing — his shirt comes off in one fluid motion, and it ends with palms pressed up against the ceiling.

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"You sing beautifully," he says, taking the lighter out of its socket. The tip of the coil glows red. "You'll tell the tutor you're interested in expanding your range, let them decide if that's a worthwhile priority."

He touches the glowing metal to Sky's side, on his ribs just below his armpit.

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“Yes, si—aah—

His voice hitches and breaks, and he twitches against the hot coil, palms firm against the ceiling. His eyes well up.

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He takes it away, puts it back.

"You may take your hands down. Tell me honestly, did you like that?"

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He drops his hands, and catches his breath.

Tell him honestly.

“...yes, sir, I did.”

There’s a little evidence, if he looks.

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"Good."

He rests his hand on the evidence, just for a moment, before reaching for the door handle. "Put your shirt back on and come with me."

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Oh.

He just barely resists pressing up into Jean's hand.

"Yes, sir."

Shirt on, out of the car, door closed behind him.

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He leads him into the apartment, pointing out key features on the way: the gate code, the mailbox, the stairs and elevators, the fire exits. "I expect you to generally be accessible, but you are not strictly confined to the apartment if you have a pressing reason to be elsewhere. Outside of an emergency, don't leave the building without permission."

The apartment itself is sparsely furnished, and surprisingly small for someone who can afford a slave. The living room has a couch and an armchair and a low table and several bookshelves; the only decoration is a vividly-colored pastoral tapestry on one wall. A doorway opens onto the kitchen; a closed door presumably leads to the bedroom.

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Huh.

"Yes, sir."

He looks around, trying to familiarize himself with the details of the place as quickly as possible. There's not as much to see as he expected.

"Will I practice here, sir? The exercises can be ugly."

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"I don't have a tutor for you yet. You'll do as they prefer. I've heard vocal exercises before, they don't bother me. The bottom shelf on that bookcase is yours; the red binder in the kitchen has instructions for chores. The first-aid kit is in the bathroom under the sink, the fire extinguisher is in the kitchen over the refrigerator. Questions?"

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"Should I tell you if I hurt myself, or take care of it quietly, sir?"

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"You are not to hurt yourself without permission."

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"–accidentally, sir," he clarifies, trying not to sound disappointed.

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"You are not to hurt yourself without permission," he repeats.

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"...yes, sir."

Not asking questions is a virtue. He'll be told if he's not perfect. So he just waits for an order.

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"You may in general ask questions as necessary to clarify instructions."

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“Thank you, sir.”

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Jean looks at him for a moment longer, before turning and going into the bedroom. (He doesn't shut the door after him.)

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...well, he didn’t tell him to follow him, but he didn’t tell him not to, either. And he doesn’t have standing orders...

He follows him and stops at the threshold.

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The bedroom is as bleak as the rest of the apartment. The bed is metal-framed and generously-sized, with a trundle stowed beneath it and hooks sunk into the ceiling above. A locked door  presumably leads to the closet, while the bathroom door stands slightly ajar. There's a sturdy wooden desk and chair, a nightstand on each side of the bed, and another tapestry on one wall, this one geometric. It's all immaculately clean.

Jean, who's seated himself at the desk and is starting up the computer, ignores him.

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...well. That’s fine. He’ll make himself useful, instead.

He returns to the kitchen to, before anything else, study the red binder backwards and forwards. This place is clean and he’ll want it running perfectly. (And the punishments for missing cleaning tasks are so easy to make, and to make horrible. ‘Do it again, but with a toothbrush’.)

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The red binder is sensibly laid out, and excruciatingly thorough in its instructions for every possible household task, from replacing a fuse to cooking kosher food to treating minor injuries. The tone is clear and instructive, not condescending or authoritarian; it's something that could be handed to a housekeeper or a child as easily as to a slave.

It's clearly been in use for some time. Some pages have ringed coffee stains on them; others have had comments or corrections added, in various hands, noting how Jean takes his tea (milk, no sugar) or updating the number of his preferred plumber. A few which see particularly frequent use have been laminated.

The general impression is that perfection is demanded, but sophistication is not. There's a guide to arranging a menu for the correct balance of calories and nutrients, but notes on preferred foods are few and far between. Dishes shouldn't be left in the sink, but only a single set of wine glasses need hand-washing. There's an entire page of instructions on handling books with appropriate care; another lists French phrases he might want to know, with translations and pronunciation tips.

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The first thing he does is start to commit the French to memory. He has some experience with the pronunciation, from his musical education, so he’s not starting from scratch.

He’s going to be exceptional. He’s going to be worth keeping, this time. Monsieur is attached to his native language, his slave will know how to speak to him in it. La fleur que tu m'avais jetée was never his favorite, but he’ll be practicing it anyway.

Right now, everything in this house is too clean to bother with, but it’s about the time of night he should be working on dinner. He investigates the fridge.

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It's stocked reasonably thoroughly, though not with anything particularly unusual. Three kinds of meat, four kinds of cheese, milk, butter, yogurt, sour cream, crispers full of fruits and vegetables, two tupperwares of leftovers.

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There’s beef and there’s broccoli and he knows how to put that together into something appetizing — is there rice in this kitchen? A rice cooker, hopefully? Oil and vinegar and spices, salt and sugar, if he can find all that he’ll have something to work with.

(And maybe if he’s good enough at this part, he’ll be allowed to demonstrate some of the reasons someone would actually want to keep him.)

He murmurs the words to the aria under his breath while he gathers his supplies.

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