The plane ride is uneventful.
Cato falls asleep. Valentine falls asleep. Jean sits miserably in the back of the plane and is investigated by chickens.
...this does not help at all.
He does his best not to take any actions which could reasonably be described as caressing the leather.
Valentine glances at him, every so often, watches his hands and face and elsewhere with casual interest.
When the cuffs are all open, he sets about tightening the first one on Jean's good wrist. It's soft, pliant leather, pleasant to touch, thick enough that it's still very obviously secure. He checks the fit with a finger, adjusting it twice before he's satisfied.
The locks match the hardware.
"I'm sorry," he says, softly, when Valentine is finished.
"If I couldn't bear to see you enjoying yourself, I could just put a bar on your door."
He moves one of Jean's wrists up to the bedpost. There's an eye bolt sunk into the wood for the purpose, which he links to the cuff with a short chain.
...that's ... something to think about.
(Somehow, this is --- not violating Valentine all over again, which is already a gift, but also -- something, by implication, more than just bearable. A bar on the door would be easier.)
It's almost unbearable, all of a sudden, to have Valentine looking at him.
Valentine secures his other three limbs in short order.
The brass chains are long enough that he can move his arms, somewhat, and his legs, change his position, but not so long that he has any real freedom of movement.
"Check that for me, please."
It's the most exposed position possible. The other, at least, allowed him to hide his shame to some degree; not this.
He pulls on the chains, obediently; tries the range of motion of his wrists, flexes muscles. "It's secure, sir."
He moves up the bed, puts his hand in Jean's hair – strokes it, slowly, just the lightest touch.
He goes utterly still -- scarcely dares to breathe -- because otherwise he'll betray himself, and he doesn't know if he'll weep or moan or beg.
(His cock, outside of his voluntary control, twitches.)
He doesn't stop.
His fingers tease at Jean's hair in delicate little spirals, nails occasionally kissing his scalp but never so much as denting the skin.
"Sir," he says, soft and desperate, agonized and dripping, still not daring to react.
(He's terrified the word will break the spell and he'll lose this moment -- but he doesn't know how much, exactly, Valentine can bear to see him -- enjoying himself -- doesn't dare risk it...)
"It's all right," he says, gently.
His nails drag lightly over his temple.
It turns out, when he lets go just a little, that he weeps and moans both at once, shuddering and pressing up into Valentine's touch as far as his bonds will allow.
At least he doesn't beg.
Valentine pushes his head gently back down onto the pillow, and continues.
His fingers keep moving in elaborate, ever-broadening swirls, dipping occasionally onto his cheek or his neck or his forehead, almost painterly in their character.
Jean cries, more than anything.
He cries from agonized, frustrated desire. He cries because it hurts, intensely, every time he pulls against his bonds. He cries for shame at being so undone, for guilt over what he's done to Valentine, for regret that maybe he could have had something like this and instead he destroyed it all, for horror at the wrongness of Valentine touching something like him.
He cries for despair, and he cries for hope, too, hope that maybe Valentine will give him a good death, maybe Valentine will kiss him when he dies. He cries for self-loathing, and for cleansing, for something which isn't forgiveness but might just be mercy. He cries at the gentleness of the touch, at Valentine's patience; he cries for love, and for loneliness, and for plain bone-deep weariness, tired and tormented and finally at something like peace.
He's there for a long time, just touching him, watching his face, listening to his cries, occasionally brushing tears from his cheeks with his fingertips, before he stands and turns the light out.
"Good night, Jean Dulac," he says. "Sleep well."
And he leaves him to rest.
Somehow, miraculously, he does.
The rest of the week is much the same.
Valentine brings him meals (richer food, now, with small sweets now and then), clothing (simple shirts and leggings in roughly his size), new books when he needs them. He’s left alone for most of the day - he never sees Cato.
On some nights, Valentine gives him a few chances to ask questions. On others, he sits and pets him for a while, after he’s secured to the bed.
In the mornings, when Valentine comes to free him, he checks him for damage, a gentle hand on wrists and ankles and shoulders.
Jean has no taste for sweets, but he still cries the first time Valentine brings him one, and every time after that.
He treasures the books; he hopes against hope for some sign of Valentine in them -- a dog-eared page, a note in the margins, a certain page to which they fall open. He wears the clothes; sometimes, putting them on, he pretends to himself that Valentine chose them because he wants to see Jean in them, that Valentine thinks they make him pretty.
Looking forward to the petting -- wondering, hoping desperately, if he'll be blessed with it tonight -- would be unbearable, if he didn't have the assurance of Valentine's hands gentle on him every morning, touching him like he matters.
Very quietly, very tentatively, Jean begins to expect that Valentine will eat him.
(It's the best thing in the world.)
The sacred chicken.
"What are you doing here?" he asks the bird, despairingly.
Is it hungry?
Is it lonely?
Is it -- oh, god, it's in a cage. He's in a cage, this is a cage, and the chicken has trauma.
"I'm sorry," he tells the chicken, trying to squint at his awkward angle and discern if it's having flashbacks. How can you tell if a chicken is having flashbacks?
He can't allow this to continue.
...he is never going to be petted again. But he can't allow it to continue. The chicken has trauma.
Jean starts working on the handcuffs.
It's incredibly painful. He's mangling his broken finger, he can tell, and eventually he grits his teeth and dislocates his thumb, and it doesn't even help. In the end, it's an eyelet in the bed that gives, yanked free by sheer force.
Jean apologizes to the startled chicken, before he picks the other locks.
Eventually, he's free.