12 Days Ago
Magnolia looked up from the pile of paperwork on her desk towards the door. Someone had knocked on it, and that was an unusual occurrence. Taylor never knocked, knocking was not part of their relationship – at least when it came to him invading her privacy, and she was fine with that. She was his, to do with whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased, or to ask anything of her at anytime. Sleeping, working, exercising, fucking, it didn’t matter, whatever had been occupying her time was very easily dropped and she was ready to serve within seconds.
That, however, left very few possible visitors. The other combat recruits never bothered her in her room, they knew better than to bother her, and it was a self-replicating order, older recruits would teach any newbies the consequences of bothering her. In visceral detail.

Intrigued, she pushed herself back from her desk and opened the door. Outside her room was a box with legs. Rather familiar legs.
Merlin peeked around the side of the long white box. ‘Delivery!’
‘Not my birthday Mer,’ she said as she took the box from the boy and invited him in. Merlin immediately jumped onto her bed and sat on the pillows, extracted a lollipop from one of his over sized pockets and waited for her to join her.
‘It’s not from me,’ he said as she sat and extracted the card from under the ribbon. ‘It’s from Grigori.’
She flipped the card over. ‘I guessed. No-one else would write me a note in Cyrillic.’ She passed the linen-paper card over. ‘What’s it say?’
He took the card, gave it no more than a cursory glance and blushed. ‘Black, white and sexy all over.’
‘He’s a flirt,’ she said.
‘You like him,’ the boy said. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.
She played with the ribbon on the box. ‘He…fascinates me,’ she said honestly. ‘Come on, I mean, you ever meet an agent like him?’
‘Nope!’
‘What do you think of him, Mer?’
‘He’s an ogre.’
She smiled and shook her head. ‘No he isn’t.’
‘He’s got layers,’ he clarified. ‘He comes and says hi, then asks if he can turn Agent Squishy off, even though he knew it wouldn’t happen. He’s happy and sad all the time all at once. And…he thinks a lotlotlot about Taylor.’
‘I don’t blame him.’
‘He’s…good,’ Merlin said after a moment. ‘Trust me, he’s good.’
‘You know, you being a reader really helps sometimes.’
The boy pouted. ‘I’m-’
‘You’re a reader, Mer, that’s all you are.’
‘That’s all I am,’ he replied dutifully.
‘Good boy,’ she said absently, trying to keep her thoughts away from what he could do. He was far more than a reader, though she had no wish to know the extent of his power, whatever she knew, she had a responsibility to report, even if it meant detrimental results for the boy. Unknowns were dangerous. Unknowns were something to be contained. She smiled at him, not doubting that he could pick apart her thoughts, having no doubt that he could-
‘Are you gonna kiss him?’ he asked.
‘What?’ she asked hurriedly, feeling a blush rush over her cheeks.
‘He’s taking you out on a date, that usually means kissing.’ The boy said with a grin, acting as though he was in on some big secret.
‘I’m not even sure I’m going,’ she said, ‘I mean, I have things to do here, I-’
‘You’re gonna go.’
‘…I’m going to go.’ She paused and began to undo the bow. ‘I just don’t know what-’ She stopped, shook her head and tore the bow away. ‘I don’t have anything to worry about. But…an agent, I’ve never been out with an agent before.’
‘Least he won’t have two left feet if he wants to dance.’
‘I knew someone with two left feet. He had wings though, so it made it up for it.’
She opened the box, revealing the dress inside. Slowly, she stood, drawing the dress out of the box, her fingers tingling in pleasure at the touch of the fabric. ‘Oh my gods,’ she whispered. ‘It’s Tabitha silk.’ She hurriedly put it back down, running a single finger down the exposed length of the dress. ‘He bought me Tabitha silk.’
Merlin crawled off the pillows and dress. ‘It’s pretty.’
She put the lid back on the box. ‘I can’t accept this, do you have any idea what this cost? I don’t know what this would have cost. It’s not like Faerie tailors take required cash. Gods…Mer, take this back to him. I’ve got plenty of stuff to wear.’ She caught his shocked expression. ‘What?’
‘You can’t return a present,’ he said in a stage whisper. ‘That’s really, really, really impolite, he might not want to go on a date anymore, and it might increase his sad quotient.’
‘His wallet has has a really big sad quotient right now,’ she said. ‘This isn’t like the fruit Bennefree sends over, you can’t negotiate for a dress like this with required currency or goods. It’s a first date, I-’
‘He’ll definitely want a kiss.’
‘He’ll want more than that,’ she said, ‘I mean, I’ve whored myself out for less, but-’ she put a hand to her mouth. ‘Ignore that, Mer. Just take it back with my apologies.’
‘If I take it back, he won’t give me a tip.’
‘I’ll go buy you some real ice-cream later if you do.’
‘Nuh-uh! No returns!’ he said, poking his tongue out.
‘Mer…’
He waved, jumped off the bed, then ran through the door. She stared at the door for a moment, pretending that she had seen it being slammed closed, that he had indeed opened and closed the door. Yes. That’s what he’d done, she was just frazzled and hadn’t noticed. The truth now firmly planted in her mind, she looked back to the dress.
Her hand reached toward it again, and she buried it in the soft folds of the silk, feeling the fabric surrounding her long fingers, she lost herself and immediately began to strip herself of her clothes.
‘Strip!’
‘We’re still playing that game?’ she asked, wiping blood from the corner of her mouth. ‘Gods, suit, when was the last time you got laid? I will fuck you if it’ll calm you down a bit. Not like I’ve never fucked an agent before.’
He jammed the gun up again her head. ‘Strip.’
‘I already agreed to work for you, so long as-’
He grabbed her by the hair and forced her to look up at him. ‘You need to follow every order I give. This is a simple order. If you can’t do even this, I have no reason to keep you around.’
‘I’m not wearing the motherfucking suit.’
He slapped her again. ‘You are past the point where you have any say in the matter.’
‘How will giving in to you make me stronger?’
‘Just do it, Magnolia,’ he whispered into her ear. ‘Or I’ll kill you.’
He pushed her away, though kept the gun aimed at her. He was no better than Cryo, no better than Travis, no better than any pathetic gang leader she’d worked for, he was just another power hungry dickhead, just another wanting to prove his superiority.
A promise to make her stronger, though, that was something the others hadn’t promised her. Money, sure; a safe place to sleep, generally a given; connections, offered as a carrot on a stick; all things that benefited them, but this one…he’d offered something that would benefit her.
She kicked off her boots, tore away her socks, pulled down her jeans with little ceremony, he wasn’t interested in a show, no matter how much of a good one she could give him, then peeled off her top, only momentarily regretting not wearing a bra, let her fingerless gloves fall to the ground, and shook her hair out.
She kept her stance strong, despite being in the presence of an extremely dangerous man in only a thin black pair of panties. She put her hands on her hips, accentuating her breasts further and smirked at him. ‘There we go,’ she said, ‘like what you see?’
A mirror appeared, and she stared at herself as she lifted the dress up in front of her body, feeling it slide across exposed skin, and enjoying the pleasurable infused magic all too much. It was an exquisite fabric rendered into an amazing design, it was not what she was used to.
So much as her wardrobe shocked the people around her, particularly new recruits, and more so than not, any visiting agents, at their heart, the dresses were always simple, cottons, lace, ribbon, only accents of anything more. This was a dress that princesses would have killed for, and not in the clean kill-order way, this would make even the prissiest cartoon princesses scrap and shank in the dirt for the chance to wear it.
The magic woven into the threads made the dress as much an experience as it was a piece of haute couture.
She slipped the dress over her head, adjusting it only slightly as it fell into perfect position almost immediately.
She required her hair up, letting it spill over her shoulders, rather than being restrained in a ponytail or bun, then slowly spun to look at herself in the mirror. Her back was exposed, and it freely showed off all of her feathers, something none of her other dresses did.
It made her feel nude, exposed, no-one was supposed to see her feathers – other than the ones she wore in her hair.
The agent spun her, but she kept her balance. ‘At least use lube if you’re going to fuck me up the ass,’ she said, waiting for him to push her up against the wall and-
His hand touched her back, and she felt him pulling on one of her feathers. ‘What are you, a quarter, an eighth?’
‘Of what?’
‘Answer the damn question.’
‘Half,’ she said, feeling more off-kilter by the question than by her own nudity. ‘My mother is, like The Magpie. Harps on about being mother of all and whatnot.’
‘The warden?’
‘Huh?’
He plucked a feather and waved it in her face. ‘The central spirit for any kind is the warden. You don’t even know that much?’
‘We’re not exactly on speaking terms,’ she snapped. ‘I hate the stupid bitch.’
He grunted, then held a hand, a suit appeared there, and he threw it at her. ‘Your uniform.’
‘I said-’
‘Do it.’
She dropped the suit the ground, lifted the pants and began to climb into the uniform.
She couldn’t stop staring at herself in the mirror, at the unfamiliar reflection and at the dress she had to return.
As she stepped out of the dress, she felt a familiar presence behind her. ‘What can I do for you, sir?’ she asked, turning immediately to look at her superior. She held the dress in front of her, not to protect her nearly-naked form, but to keep the dress from the floor – if it remained immaculate, then there was a chance that whomever Grigori had purchased it from would allow him to return it.
Quickly, she placed the dress back onto the box, and was once again standing before him, her body his for the taking, his to admire and his to do with as he pleased. There was no reason to require herself back into clothes, modesty was a weakness, and the last thing she wanted to show him was weakness, unless he demanded it of her.
‘I’m almost finished with the paperwork sir,’ she said as a silence began to form. ‘My apologies, but I was distracted. It won’t-’
‘Grigori is distracting,’ he said, as if almost forgiving her for her poor performance. ‘It will still be done on time.’
‘Of course sir. Was there something I could do for you sir?’ The question was unnecessary, he wouldn’t be there unless he wanted something, unless he needed something.
He stood silent for a moment. ‘It’s your downtime tonight, Recruit,’ he began.
‘Not if there’s something you need me to do, sir.’
‘Jones is releasing the mistake for limit testing. The first day is longer than the rest, it would effectively eliminate your downtime.’
She nodded, covering her excitement. ‘Of course sir, if I won’t be in the way, I will gladly assist. I’ll reschedule with Agent Grigori. He has expressed interest in assisting with the limit testing, so I’m sure he’ll understand.’
To this, he grunted.
‘When, sir?’
‘Two hours. My gym.’
‘The paperwork will be done by then.’
He nodded, then shifted away.
She required herself into a fresh dress, sat at her desk, and lost herself in the paperwork, free of any thoughts involving the likelihood of naked agents.