The boss´ herding dog
You can thank insomnia for this one. Also, my need to show an aspect of Albus I´m DYING to explore on the arc after For you. This is a few weeks after the whole photos fiasco. Sann has barely started to learn sign language so he will sound a bit cut(?).
Taglist: @castielamigos-whump-side-blog @giggly-evil-puppy @cowboysrappin @haro-whumps @burtlederp @neuro-whump @comfortforthepain @whumps-the-word @whole-and-apart-and-between @broken-horn @ashintheairlikesnow @rosesareviolentlyread @starnight-whump @just-a-whumping-racoon-with-wifi @as-a-matter-of-whump @whumpasaurus101 @grizzlie70 @twistedcaretaker
CW// Slavery, dehumanization, suggestive language to taunt, manhandling, blood, angry caretaker, workplace bullying, conditioning, pet whump, mentioned ableism and negative views on stimming, mentioned past noncon and fucky victim self blaming (it was necessary kind of fucky)
It was odd for him to show the collar around. People stared, people whispered. Albus would hear them talk about him on his back all the time now. But he would keep working. As it was what his owner bought him for. He knew that. He knew it and yet…
“Do you really have to go, Tony?” He asked the man putting his things inside a cardboard box. As he scratched his wrist over the leather band Sasha gave him to cover the number. He frowned at the clean desk, the walls that had been decorated with flyers ideas and visual references, the drawer with his snacks too were gone. All fitted inside the trash bag the lady had put into her cart a few moments ago.
It was a quick clean up so the box was almost empty. His analogue clock, his sketchbooks, his computer, tablet, photos of Sasha and him, of his family and even one that included him looking awkward as Sasha hugged him and Tony took the photo with his phone.
It was funny how much of a life could fit inside a box.
The man shrugged, pulling the box over the empty desk. “I hit the boss’ son. I have to, buddy” Albus lowered his head. If he hadn’t…he shook his head. There wouldn’t have been a party in the first place if he hadn’t. He had been good, but sometimes, it wasn’t enough to be more than that. Tony’s wide hand squeezed his shoulder “It’s not your fault, Al. I promise I hit that bastard because he deserved it. But is annoying because I didn’t have a brick to build him a prettier face” he joked making the albino smile. The other smiled too, opening his arms “Hey, Al can I hug you? I’m gonna miss you man”
The albino didn’t need to be asked, not from him. But it felt good to know he had an option. “Im gonna miss you too” Albus pulled his arms around his waist and squeezed. Sinking on his chest. After a moment they pulled apart and Tony dig through his things to take out the bags of snacks to put them on his arms. “Sasha will keep them on her office now”
“You know she’s never there”
Tony grimaced “But she lets her office open. You can take them and come to have lunch with us” Albus mouth opened to say Zarai wouldn’t- hadn’t allowed him to do that. Even if he went grocery shopping with his ID… “I talked with her. With miss Montenegro. She said it’s alright if you came with us. Just to notify her before you go” Tony smiled. He had his jaw on the floor. Always helping him like that… he couldn’t help but go for another hug.
“Thank you” the albino muttered as the man ruffled his hair.
“And how’s Sann? Everything going ok?” Albus scratched his neck as Tony sat on the chair. They still had time before the new guy came. Tony crossed his arms “He’s having a hard time isn’t it?”
They had been eating on the floor with Sann for a while now. Until they could get him to sit at the table. “It was a full conversation to tell him to not be naked in the house…and that he could sleep in my bed alone without…earning it…” that made a vein pop out Tony’s forehead.
“That pervert bastard” he said through gritted teeth.
“Yeah… At least he’s doing very well with Sasha’s lessons. Told me about this new book he´s reading in signs!” the albino smiled remembering how happy he had looked to see them come back the first few days. The book pile over his nightstand growing and growing as the days went by. For some reason calculus text books from Zarai’s days at college and an old encyclopedia had caught his attention.
It had become normal for him to work on the laptop on the studio’s sofa and have Sann sitting next to him on the floor reading. Sometimes, he mindlessly hanged his arm only to find Sann leaning on to it. He had tried not to touch him, to pull away, but he had caught his hand and pulled it to his head. Sloppily signed it felt good when he did that.
“And how are you feeling?” Tony suddenly asked taking him by surprise. His face was knit with a bit of worry.
Albus forced a smile “I’ll be fine” he replied. The other hummed.
“Don’t forget Jeremy is also there and half the trainees adore you. If you need help” Albus nodded bitterly. Lee had stopped talking to them entirely. Wouldn’t listen to her tasks unless another person told her. A few people had become like that towards him now.
Because he was a box boy and would always act keeping his owner´s pleasure in mind like a loyal dog, he had heard them say. And they were right. He had been trained to have his owner’s safety as his maximum priority. If Zarai was in danger, he wouldn’t doubt a second to switch places.
Albus had to say goodbye to Tony that day to welcome days of dealing with the aftermath of what Robert had provoked.
Dealing with people letting things slip carelessly just to see him try to catch it, bossing him around, laughing when he did all the tasks, when it was “just a joke”. Having almost a heart attack upon finding a dog plate full with dog food over his desk with a note that said “for the boss’ puppy” he had to throw away and clean before Zarai saw it. Going to more public zones was tricky now. He was fine with the rumors. But hearing two trainees talk about their lack of promotions and suddenly seeing him enter the room to use the copying machine went really uncomfortable when he overheard one sigh.
“At least I don’t get deals by making my pet sleep with them” Albus hand crunched the pages on his hand and slammed them on the machine before he turned to them. Recognizing the dirty blonde who had talked as Galván. A guy who had graduated from a top college because his parents could afford it with pocket money and worked there because his uncle made a few calls.
“Ma’am´s position was earnt through her own hard work and years of experience. I would be very happy to remind you, you will need either her or my signature to have your degree after four years of dropping college, so you can find any other job than just an internship someone gave you” the guys snorted.
“What? Puppy boy can actually bark?” The other guy went, a black haired guy with a wiry body type and at least two heads taller than him. He vaguely reminded him of handler Harry. His primary handler. The one who supervised his whole training, and the one to make him stop circling his thumbs, wiggle his leg or tap when he was nervous. Until eventually it came back and Zarai said nothing. They started rounding him “Look at you, acting like you own the place” one of them reached to his neck and Albus stayed still as he uncovered the collar. Digging his nails into his hand “but you’re just the herd dog. Looking after your Master’s sheeps”
“By that logic, I guess the sheep should know they’re below the dog’s watch” the guy felt a chill seeing Albus’s crimson eyes gleam darkly. A grin crept to his face as he firmly put the guy´s hand away. “You were so slow at the beginning and asked me for help for something that took me two days to learn. It was me who helped you not get fired in your first week, wasn’t it? The dog with no degree” the guy scrunched his nose. Albus felt strange as something coiled inside his stomach and a white stinging pain formed behind his eyes “You better not stray from the herd and stay where I can see you”
“Shut up” the guy said pathetically, amusing Albus.
“Shut up what? Remember your manners” and Albus was bitterly reminded of training. Of the white rooms and the men who smiled when they shoved him to his knees. Who lifted his chin up and mouthed his instructions. The same he was saying now, echoing through his memories “You will refer to your superiors with respect. And when they ask you to do something, whatever it may be, your only reply will be “yes, sir” understood?”
The other guy laughed at his friend. Picked his ribs before turning to Albus again.
“Well, aren’t you sharp? My uncle’s boxie is a dumb domestic who can’t even clean a spot right. Just mindlessly begs to be forgiven all the time” there was something on his smirk that made Albus’ skin crawl “he became a lot more fun when they taught him how he could be useful as a romantic” the boy´s eyes sparked with malice “Heard all the ordeal with the CEO’s pet and you, sir” Albus froze “But I need to know from you, sir. Do you herd him too?” He took a step closer to Albus in that same suffocating air as the handlers. Albus tried to control his breathing. It would be fine. Their conversation had gathered a few faces, as well. Quietly amusing themselves with the show “Do you make the Romantic say “yes, ma’am” to her when she’s using him? Or do you make him say that to you only? I heard you were a romantic too, so maybe, you’re just teaching him how she likes it so he can join in? Or maybe, he’s worse than that? He’s your pet sir?”
The sound of her heels made faces on the crowd watch on her direction. Many of them running away as soon as they spotted her. Giving her freeway to the middle of all the commotion.
“Take it back!” She heard Albus scream eraged, so atypical from him. It was a surprise to see Albus being held back by a trainee as another stood before him with his knuckles peeled red and covering his bloody nose. Two guys restraining him harder as they saw her. Albus spit a bit of blood as he shouted “You know nothing about him! Take it back!” He jerked against the guy restraining him.
“Mister Serra stop!” the blonde trainee said putting his all into not letting go even as he squirmed so violently. Kicks in the air just to get an inch closer.
“NO! He has no right to say that about him! He doesn’t know shit about us! None of you do!” He screamed at the top of his lungs “Let- ngh, Let me go Jeremy!” He said through gritted teeth. “I need to knock some sense up that stupid head of-“
“Hear this out, the dog wanting to explain to me about a cocksleeve!” He cut him, just making Albus fight harder.
“Enough!” She hollered coming to his line of sight. Freezing them completely. Some people had taken out their cameras and she snatched one phone out of their hands. “What is this? A high school quarrel? You’re adults in the working force, gentlemen” she let it sink, seeing how Albus went stiff and trembled since the moment he spotted her. Zarai turned her head to the trainee with the bloody nose “We wont send some little piece of paper for your parents to sign, you go straight out” Albus eyebrows knit in horror stopping to struggle.
“No, please wait, ma’am” he whispered shakily as Jeremy balanced letting him go.
“I dont even need to know who started. you’re fired. Get your stuff out now” she said pointing to the widened eyed trainee as Albus suddenly collapsed on the floor. “All of you better erase those videos right now unless you are sure you can face the consequences.” She growled loud enough for the crowd to let a thick quiet settle. She knelt in front of Albus and he flinched wildly when she approached her fingers to his neck.
“Pl-Please, please no. Im, I, Im sorry, please! he, he said-“ he covered the collar with his hands. Trying to keep her from taking it away.
“I dont care what he said” she terminated before she took a napkin Jeremy handed her “Im not gonna take it away, are you ok? You took quite the hit there” he nodded slowly, somewhat relieved but not taking away his hand from his neck just yet. Albus kept looking at the ground as she wiped away some of the blood off his mouth. He saw her stand and talk again to the half dispersed crowd. “Most of you don’t know me very well yet. But have clear that I do not take lightly when my property is damaged and much less when the most capable member of my team has to endure your childish behavior” Albus head sank slowly as she kept talking. Nodding when Jeremy asked if he was alright and helped him up “I thought better of you. But you have proven to me not worthy of that right. I’ve had enough of this situation” she eyed every single frowned face, every guilty and compliant. “If I hear, or see, something like this happens again, or I find any of you trying to start a fight or bullying others, I will have them personally seen outside the building after signing their resignation letter and put you on the blacklist of candidates myself. Are we clear?”
“But what about-“
“Are we clear, Miss Lee?” Zarai directed to the black haired girl among the crowd. She stared at the ground while she nodded “Whoever refuses to accept this can come to my office to explain and sign their resignation. Thats all. Disperse”
She watched them walk away, before she turned to Albus “Follow me”
The albino´s heart leapt before he walked after her with his head down. His heart drummed at each step and seemed to halt to a stop when she opened the door for him. Albus stared into her eyes, but as many other times, she was unreadable when she cocked her head.
Clenching his jaw, he stepped inside and heard the door close behind him.
He had fucked up.
He had completely broken her trust in him and he would finally be punished.
What was he thinking? Mistakes weren´t allowed.
Zarai walked past him to a small cabinet behind her desk, but Albus had his eyes locked in the ground. Not wanting to see what exactly she would use to punish him until she was on it.
“On the desk” she ordered still rumminating through a metallic box. The boy breathed in deep before walking to her desk with shaky legs. The uncertainty of what would come just made his heart race faster. He sat on it obediently anyways.
“M-Ma´am, I´m so sorry…” he started, fear taking the worst out of him, his hands got damped in sweat.
“I know you are” she replied calmly before pulling his chin up with soft fingers “Lift your head, hun” Without meaning to, he flinched wildly at the sight of blurry fingers over him. Zarai fished his jaw and pressed slightly on each side, to turn his head up “Hey, hey, don´t move. I know it hurts but I need you to stay still so I can put it on” Zarai then poked his cheek with something cold, making him blink at the refreshing sensation on his skin. “Doesn´t hurt, right?”
He blinked confused at her, “L-Lidocain?” he said in the smallest voice she had ever heard.
“Uh-huh” she kept rubbing the gel over his bruising cheek. Completely frozen over the desk as she cleaned his busted lip. After a moment she closed the lid of the gel and put it back on the metallic box. He now recognized it as a first aid kit. After she put a bandaid she looked down to throw the package in the trash “You can come down now. How´s it?”
It took the boy a moment to reply, slipping off the wood desk with ease “Better…Thank you, Ma´am”
She hummed as she put the box away, sitting on her chair as the boy stood in front of her desk utterly transfixed in her calmness.
Albus kept eyeing her furtively. Worry visible as he kept rounding his thumbs. She took notice of it quickly and stopped herself from checking her computer to sigh. “Tell me”
“Im sorry for the trouble ma’am”
The woman lifted her eyes.
“No, Im sorry. I should have done this sooner, dont worry about it” she turned on her chair to face him. Lips parting and biting it for a second “You have been working for me for six months, Albus. You know better than this” the way he sank on his shoulders confirmed “I dont wanna know what they said because your reaction was probably justified. I trust you in that. But you can’t do this again, yes?”
“Yes, ma’am” he kept quiet for a minute before he dared speak up again “Ma’am?” he tried “Why wont you punish me?” She lifted an eyebrow.
“Would you want me to?”
“N-No… I mean- no, but-” the boy stammered, squeezing his hands tight as he lowered his head submissively “…But I won´t complain if you think I deserve it”
“That´s not going to happen. You did nothing that required punishment, Albus” she sighed.
“But I started…I punched him first” he admitted.
“Well…that’s certainly surprising” she found herself wondering how he had reached his face with his small height “But no. You won’t be punished for it. The guy was also getting on my nerves with that sly mouth. So maybe I should thank you”
The albino sneaked a little smile “Then…then will you keep me? Will I be able to keep working?” Zarai sighed and nodded. The albino looked shaken, capable of keeping his composure, as he went back to work later. She knew by just watching him automatically doing his chores and cleaning up when it was time to go with a blank face.
The elevator was quiet and the ride home even more. Zarai wasn’t exactly a feeler. But she knew the way his eyes were fixed on the floor as he waited for her to enter the house was empty. She gave him a headpat then. No words as she didnt even know what to say to him that would cheer him up. But still, he leaned on to it.
“Thank you, ma’am” he said when she took away her hand to open the door.
“Everything will be ok yeah?” she smiled at him before they entered the house. The boy trailing after her feeling a small blush on his cheeks. He could hear Cloude’s loud voice and smelled something very sweet. French toasts?
Sann came trotting to meet them. Wearing one of Cloude’s shirts that were too big for him and basketball shorts. He bowed to Zarai who gave him a headpat too and a smile before walking to the kitchen to greet Cloude.
“French toasts arent breakfast?” She teased.
“Time is a social construction. Its 10 am somewhere” Cloude thought french toasts were for breakfast too, but Sann had never tried them and frankly possibly neither Albus. Prepared them? Yeah for training surely. Eat them? Not so sure “Just a lil something after a hard day” he said to her before she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
The freckled boy smiled wide before he spotted the bruise on his cheek.
“What happened?” He signed worry flooding his face as Albus shifted uncomfortably. Taking off his leather band as he remembered what the other guy had said. Anger threatening to come back. Sann noticed his knuckles were bruised too. “Hurts?”
“Nothing important” Albus shrugged. Looking away “Dont worry, it was just a scratch. but it looks ugly because…albinos bruise easily…” he said every word slower than the last, as his bitterness leaked through his words. Waiting for him to nod, to sign yes, for anything but him softly soothing his swollen knuckles.
“Easy or not, bruises still hurt” he signed as an affirmation, eyes losing focus to wonder back on memories. Sann looked up again before stroking his healthy cheek. “Wont ask how. Instead, Want some ice?” Sann smiled after signing. Just before noticing a tear rolled down Albus’s cheek. Then he frantically started to round his chest as an apology.
The albino shook his head not able to shake the smile off his face for the rest of the night. It was even more difficult as Sann finally sat on the border of the chair. Next to him. To eat french toasts for the first time and had Cloude laughing at their reaction. Even more as, deep into the night, he stroke Sann’s hair while sitting next to him reading the space part of the encyclopedia. Sometimes asking what a word meant and pouting when he didnt know. Taking out the dictionary and reading the meaning together.
The futon on his back didn’t feel so hard suddenly. Even if he managed to keep himself awake way after Sann left to sleep, he covered his eyes. After a moment, he passed his fingers around the leather collar on his neck. Loosened up to sleep like always. Still there. The physical permission to keep having all that. A cozy place to sleep, a job, friends as well as the insults and degradation.
What deemed him her property.
He had her words stuck in his mind all day. His Ma´am had made something clear that day but it didn´t make him feel better at all. It was just…so exhaustingly confusing. He didn´t understand how to be good for her, how to keep the punishments away. By some lucky strike he had managed to get this far without fucking up, but this was an strike and he knew better by now to think she would wait for a third to act.
Albus let out his breath as he covered his eyes with his hand. Feeling the warmth of his swollen fingers, he opened his eyest to stare at the knuckles with bandaids Sann insisted in putting after some ice and smiled before rolling over to face the door, covering his head with his arm like an instinct the handlers didn’t put in him, and closed his eyes to sleep.
For a moment, Albus swore to himself he would figure out his owner as he went by, even more carefully now. It would be ok. As long as he had that one person by his side, it would be enough.