Hi, this is my first original story and it seems to be going on forever,lol. I'm posting it here and editing it as I go along, trying to pull it together better as well as catching typos and spelling errors. The main characters from Charm School first appear here, much later along though.

As to warnings, this is yaoi, with some pretty glossed over violence and some not very glossed over sex. I'm not sure how close I am to the cut off between R and NC-17 but I'll be sure to add an additional warning before any of the more questionable chapters.

I hope you like and thanks so much for the warm welcome! sandy

Then & Now

by SB

Part 1

Dear Sir,

I must tell you that the newest litter belonging to the House is in good

health and looks to be well worth the time and effort needed to bring it

about. I have only one minor concern, #16. While it is too early to tell

for sure, his hands and feet indicate a propensity to height that may be

disadvantageous. Knowing as I do your dislike of culling, we will hope for

the best.

M. Blue

Dear Sir,

Once again I must tell you that while D litter is doing nicely as a whole,

#16 continues to cause problems. While he exhibits all the proper

emotional modifications, he comes far from displaying the proper physical

attributes of a product of the House. He is still growing, long past the

time he should have stopped and shows distressing signs of clumsiness.

Never has a product of our House been less than elegant and graceful and I

am at a loss as to how this has occurred.We will continue to work with him

and attempt to remedy his short comings.

M Blue

Dear Sir,

We are elated at being able to tell you that we have made our first

placement of a D litter mate! And at a most pleasing price! I think I can

say that our hopes for this litter were not unfounded and with the

exception of #16, I look forward to placement for all of them in due

course. I am at a loss as to what we can do about #16 though. He is quite

simply defective. Is it possible at this late date to obtain at least

partial return of his cost?

M Blue

Dear Sir,

As you have requested I am enclosing the files pertaining to #16. I will

warn you that they are not pleasant reading. While his psychological

modifications, desire to please, etc are all that could be hoped and some

of his physical modifications, touch hunger, etc. are in place, there was

obviously some mishap at his creation. His looks and his height alone are

enough to make one cringe at the thought of his bearing the House brand.

When viewed in company with the rest of his litter, the differences are

immediately and appallingly apparent. We will continue to do our best and

await your recommendations.

M Blue

Dear Sir,

I cannot thank you enough for your help in the matter of #16! You have,

with your usual insight turned a major liability into a major asset. I

only regret that we did not lay the entire matter before you earlier, but

we will work intensively with him to make up for lost time. Thankfully,

while he is not overly bright, he has been forced for some time to realize

his inferiority to his litter mates and to expand on this feeling will be

fairly easy. The training regime you have set forth gives me renewed hope

that he can be placed, in a niche market to be sure, but still profitably

placed and in such a way as to bring no disgrace to our House.

Thank you again,

M Blue


"The boss will see you soon. Want some coffee while you wait?"

The man nodded and sat, silent and watchful. Hard to tell

where or what he was watching for with those sunglasses on though.

The secretary brought the coffee and spoons, sugar and cream and set it

down diffidently on the table by the waiting figure. He smiled and thanked

her quietly.

She waited hopefully to see if he had any other requests or comments but

he seemed content to fix his coffee in silence. When she heard the sound

of voices approaching she reluctantly left the room.

Damn shame in her opinion that he wasn't in more often. She wouldn't mind

getting to know that one a little better. Seemed quiet and polite for one

thing, that alone set him apart from the other thugs that used this place

as a base. And pretty besides, little on the short side but cheekbones to

die for. Besides, she had never done one of the sidhe, heard it was a wild

ride though.

The gentleman in question was blissfully ignorant of the tone of her

thoughts. He was concentrating on the coffee and trying to brace himself

for dealing with the men who were now loudly bantering with each other as

they got their own coffee.

"Hey, it's the elf! How's it hanging Lin?"

He winced at the man's jocular rudeness.

"It hangs as usual."

This sent the gathered men into gales of laughter. They seemed to find his

deadpan delivery an attempt at levity. Although the laughter was touched

with a bit of nervousness. As quiet as Lin was he had a touch of menace

about him.

"Hey, you planning on staying awhile? See you brought your luggage."

He glanced down at the piece of luggage in question, a leather hat case

resting by his feet.

"Just making a delivery actually."

The men exchanged glances and changed the subject. Some things were not

healthy to know in their line of work.

The man who had made the first overture seemed bent on forcing

conversation from the sidhe. Why this was so was a mystery to Lin but he

had learned long ago that humans tended to ignore anything other than

violence when they were in a talkative mood. Since he had no wish for

bloodshed before he had finished his coffee he counted to ten silently and

hoped the man would run down soon.

"Hey, you should have made the party this week end, boss said you were

invited. It was a hell of a time!"

Lin tried to picture what kind of torture could induce him to spend a

weekend with these louts. Bamboo under his fingernails? The rack?

One of the men who had apparently missed this thrill of a lifetime began

asking questions which the louder one was more than eager to answer.

"Yeah, the mutt was in rare form this weekend. He ...."

Lin tuned out the rest as best he could. He had been treated to renditions

of this song before and it had turned his stomach then. He had no wish to

hear the sordid details of what these men considered a grand sport,

tormenting their employers pet.

Once he had had the misfortune of being present when one of them brought

out a vid of the high points of that weeks party. He had tried to

avoid watching but some of it seeped in regardless.

While he considered most humans a waste of space, humans in groups,

especially male humans drinking to excess and given someone helpless to

hurt were beyond disgusting. They seemed bent on outdoing each other in

acts of cruelty and humiliation. That they considered this a bit of fun,

harmless R and R, just made it worse. Had they the wit or soul to feel

ashamed he might hold out some slight hope for them. Not much, but a


The worst part was the boy they used in these sessions. Or rather the

"pet". They called him a lot of things but reference to him as a human

being was strictly avoided. Lin had tried it to see what reaction he got

and had been told in no uncertain tone that he wasn't a human, he was

just a thing, made with magic and tech to be used by his owners. When Lin

had inquired what the magic and tech had been used on, knowing that the

answer was a human zygote, they had explained that when the alterations

were finished what was left was no longer human, but other.The law upheld them in this. The pets were a whole different category of beings, having no rights but the bare one to life, and that indifferently protected.

For men who broke the law for a living they developed a deep respect for

it when it reflected their own desires.

What he couldn't get out of his mind were the rare moments when the men

would lure the boy into thinking he had done something to avoid hurt, to

please these capricious masters. The boy would give a tremulous and

fleeting smile of overwhelming sweetness.

It never lasted long, human nature being what it was. The cruelty would soon drive it away. But the smile stayed in his mind for some reason. Like a guttering candle.

He drank his coffee and tried to turn his mind to other things. It

wouldn't do to let himself be ensnared in this matter. He was here on

business, nothing else.

When word came that the boss could see him, Lin picked up his package and

walked into the office. He set the box on the desk and seated himself in

the chair opposite the man he had come to see. Not a very impressive

specimen at first glance but a man with power of sorts. And, more

importantly to Lin, a man of wealth.

The man eyed the box dubiously and glanced at Lin. Lin gestured at the box

and gave a tight lipped smile. The man gingerly opened the box and peeked

inside. He closed it quickly and looked at Lin with some surprise.

"I didn't think, I mean, I had heard he was impossible to get to."

Lin shrugged. He made a very good living getting to people who thought

they were invulnerable.

"You didn't have to bring this as proof, I would have taken your word for


"So sorry. You said, if I recall, 'head on a platter'. One tries to


The man was looking a bit green and he was beginning to sweat. Lin rather

regretted the acute senses that were part of his heritage. He waited a few

moments and spoke.

"I fulfilled my part of the deal."

The man looked nervously around the room. He seemed to think that help was

lurking somewhere in the corners.

"Well, Lin, you have to give me a little time. I hadn't expected results

so soon if at all and...."

Lin pushed the sunglasses down and looked over them at the babbling fool.

His eyes were cat slit and dark forest green. The slits were wide at the

moment, not a good sign if the man was bright.

"You are going to pay me, are you not?"

The man nodded a few times too many.

"I just need some time. Maybe we could work out a deal?"

"We had a deal."

"I just don't have the hard cash right now. I have no way to pay you until

I free up some assets."

Lin casually looked around the office. It was tastelessly but expensively

decorated. What appeared to be a collection of Faberge' eggs rested in a

large display case.

He smiled at the man, "A trade perhaps?"

The man seemed to consider. Then his eyes widened and he nodded.

"I do have one possession that could cover the price. You might actually

come out quite a bit ahead on the deal."


The man rummaged in a desk drawer for a moment and finally fished out a

photograph. He presented it to Lin with a wide smile.

Lin glanced at it and his eyes narrowed. The boy in the vid looked back at


The man took advantage of Lin's silence to enlarge on the money the boy

was worth, the advantages of having him already 'trained' and if that

didn't please Lin there was always the option of selling him. Or, and here

the man fished again in the desk and came up with a business card which he

handed to Lin.

"This film maker was very interested in him. I hadn't given him a definite

answer but the market in snuff films is really hot and the profits would

be astronomical if you come up with something that grabs peoples interest.

You know, something different and dramatic. He had some good ideas."

Lin closed his eyes for a moment.

"The pet's possessions? The contents of his home?"

"Included. Do we have a deal?"

"Yes. There is paper work?"

The man nodded and left the room to get the necessary papers.

He returned with the paperwork and a small, sharp knife. Lin eyed the

knife with interest and the man shrugged.

"Sorry, blood is needed to seal ownership. It activates the link. Okay?"

Lin nodded again and the quick ritual and signatures were dispensed with.

Hands were shaken and Lin left the office with his ownership papers and

photo and the odd tingling feeling of the bond linking him and the boy

sitting uneasily in the back of his mind.

And three small Faberge eggs stashed in various pockets.


"Tazzy, pick up the phone. I have a present for you."

"Lin? That you?"

"Who else my dearest?"

"What do you want?"

"To shower you with riches."

"In return for....."

"My heart, I am wounded! I call to share my recent good fortune with my

dearest friend and I am met with doubt and mistrust. Such cruelty in one

so young."

"Such flowery language usually means serious trouble. What do you need?"

"Minor things only, a moving company contacted and engaged for a job.

Some advice. Perhaps a shoulder to cry on. The usual."

"You want me to hire movers? You have a phone and a phone book, what more

do you need to do that? You're moving? Why?"

"Not me, someone else. And I know you know people that will get to work

right away for a largish fee and not remember addresses if asked later."

"Look, why don't we meet and talk. Lunch okay?"

"Lunch is perfect. See you then."

Taz arrived at the sidewalk cafe late as usual. Lin noticed that his hair

style had changed again, the wild mop of hair now sported streaks of gold

amongst the black. His dress indicated that he was going through one of

his more feminine phases, a long gauzy number with a many layered skirt

that fluttered around his ankles. His face was striking with little make

up but a touch of color around the dark eyes. He spotted Lin and strode

over with a smile. Lin was amused to see the attention his half elven friend

attracted, looks of admiration and censure seemed about equal.

He seated himself and the attentive waitress took their order and left

them to chat.

Lin handed the other man a small gift wrapped box which was opened with

expressions of glee.

"It's gorgeous! You know I have always wanted one of these since we saw

that museum display! How sweet!"

"Glad you like it. Love the hair by the way."

"Thanks. When are you going to let me do something with yours. You would

look great with some lighter streaks maybe and some feathery wisps around

your face. It would soften the look, let me try it?"

Lin laughed. His hair was pulled back in his usual manner, the thick braid

running beneath his jacket and looped around itself out of sight. Taz had

rarely seen it otherwise, when it was unbound it draped in a fall of

midnight blue that reached the smaller mans knees at last check. Taz had

been bugging his friend about doing something more artistic with this mass

for ages and had met the same response each time.

They chatted of nothing of substance until the after lunch coffee and then

Taz lent forward and asked for details.

He got them.

"You did what? A pet? What the hell were you thinking?"

"Look, it is hard to explain but it is done now. It's only temporary


"Temporary? In what way?"

"Don't look at me like that, I have no plans to do anything dire. I just

need some time to find someone who will take him off my hands. And who will

treat him well."

"Don't look at me! I can't deal with my fish, I don't need any more

responsibility. Do you have any idea what you have gotten yourself into?"

"It can't be that complex. I just need him and his stuff moved. I'll speak

to him and find a more permanent owner and that will be that."

"Right. You want him moved into your place?"

"No. I bought a place in the quarter. That way he can stay there after he

gets a real owner."

"You do know that you will be doing more than 'speaking' with him, right?"

"Why? You know I don't do humans. What are you smirking about?"

"You may have to rethink you're prejudices unless you find an owner toot

sweet. Pets have some pretty serious needs."

"Go ahead, drop the bomb. I can tell you're dying to."

"Pets typically have a need for release that grows exponentially with

time. And we aren't talking months or even weeks. Days are more likely."

"So he can deal with it, I wasn't told he had lost the use of his hands."

"No, he can't. Most owners enjoy having complete control over that aspect

of their pets life. He needs you for that."

"That's ludicrous! What if the owner ends up in a car wreck or something?

The pet just drags around in need for the duration?"

"The owner can delegate someone to deal with the pet. And 'need' is

putting it mildly. It is rather like a cat in heat apparently."

"Wonderful, just what I wanted to make my life complete. A boy screeching

under my window. How does the delegation thing work."

"Don't even think about it, I am not going to get into this mess with


"But Taz, you could be my right hand man."

"I'm left handed and not interested! He's your pet, you deal. Besides he

will need a lot more than sex."

"Walkies and treats?"

"Don't get sarky. He will need affection and reassurance. Company too. It

is difficult for them to be alone. They are made to want to please, to

love the one who owns them. He will need you."

"He didn't get anything like that from the guy who owned him before."

"He was treated badly?"

"Put mildly, yes."

Lin told Taz a bit of what he had heard and watched his friends face fill

with anger.

"Lin, this kid is going to have some real problems. Don't just sling him

in to someone elses lap right away, okay?"

"I won't. But you know I am not the person to deal with this kind of

thing. My approach to problems is pretty simplistic."

"Yeah, I know. And generally pretty permanent. I will get a moving gang

and set him up in the new place. Have you called him or anything?"

"No, why?"

Taz sighed.

"Give me the number and both addresses. I'll let him know he'll be moving

and that he has changed hands.You want all his stuff moved with him?"

"Everything that isn't nailed down. And anything that can be pried up

isn't really nailed down."

"Got it. I'll call when things are set up."



The phone was ringing. 16 made his way to it quickly and picked it up. He

waited for the person on the other end to start the conversation.

"Hello? Is anyone there?"


Taz barely heard the voice. It sounded like a semi-whisper. He tried


"Hey! Can you speak up a bit? Is this, ummm, sorry, I don't know your

name. Is this 585-2756?"

"Yes. This is 16. Are you, do I belong to you now?"

"No! Did someone get ahold of you then? About your new owner?"

"No, I felt it. The change."

"Oh, sorry about that. I'm Taz, a friend of your new owner. His name is


"Thank you."

"Don't hang up! He got a new place for you."

"Will I live with him now?"

"Er, no. It is a really nice place though. Two fireplaces and a balcony

and all."

Silence greeted this news.

"There will be people coming to move you and your things in the morning.

Is that too soon?"

"My things?"

"Lin thought you might want your stuff from the apartment as well as

personal things, yeah. Everything there can go with you, okay?"

"Thank you."

"The movers will be there at 7 am, you can go with them to the new place."

"Will he be there?"

Taz winced. He had no bloody idea.

"If he isn't there when you get there he will be there that night."

(If I have to drag him there kicking and screaming.)

"Will you be there?"

"I'll drop by the next day, let you get settled in and all. Maybe we can

shop for whatever you need in the new place. Knowing Lin he will forget a

bunch of stuff. He is a good guy, just a little, umm, different."


"I look forward to meeting you. See you soon."

"Please, did Lin, did the other one give me to him?"

"No! He bought you."

Taz winced again. That sounded awfully raw.

"Thank you"

The kid sounded relieved . Shit, what a life. To have your big

thrill of the day be that someone actually wanted you enough to buy you

rather than have you foisted on them as a gift. Taz dialed Lin as soon as

the line was clear.

"You have reached T.L. I am not in right now to...."

"Lin, I know damn well that is you pretending to be the machine! Stop

screwing around and talk to me."

"....To take your call. At the sound of the tone please...."

"Lin, I got ahold of your, of 16. "


"His name is 16."

"That isn't a name, light of my life. That is a number."

"Whatever. It is what he called himself."

"Oh, how did he sound?"

"Scared. And did you know that he could feel it when you took over his


"No. I had no idea."

"Did you plan to meet him at the new place?"

"I have some business tomorrow."

"Well, get it done before tomorrow evening and go see him."


"I mean it. And take a nice housewarming present."

"What? I got him the place, now I need to take a gift? And what the hell

is a nice housewarming present?"

"Look, from what my mother said, you guys don't live in trees or anything.

You must live in houses, correct?"

"Uh huh."

"So it follows that occasionally you must move into new houses or move in

together or some such."

"Well, yes."

"How do you honor this occasion?"

"It would depend, for most we do a ceremony to ensure the

fertility of the land and the union, if it is a couple."

"Like what exactly?"

"Spill our seed on the grounds."


"You heard me and I am not going to repeat it."

"Please tell me you bring it with you in a nice discreet vial or


"If it makes you feel better, my heart."

"May I just say, no wonder you don't get invited out much."


"Well,in this case,just bring a nice plant."

"As opposed to what, a nasty plant?"

"Look, wise ass, bring a nice house plant and some wine and make nice or I

will put a curse on you that will shrivel you like a raison."

"I will arrive bearing greenery and Dom Perignon. And make very nice

indeed. Okay?"

"Promise. He really sounded sad and scared. Just be charming."




16 hung up the phone and looked around the apartment. His stuff? Aside

from the furniture there wasn't much, his clothes would be easy enough to

throw into a bag. He could do that now. It would calm his nerves to have

something concrete to do.

The man on the phone sounded nice. Maybe Lin would be nice too? He hated

to get his hopes up. He wondered if Lin had seen him. He knew the men

sometimes took pictures or vids of him. Had Lin seen one?

He picked out his nicest clothes to wear in case Lin was there when he

arrived and resolved to get up early and fix himself to look his best.. He

wanted so badly not to mess up right away, to make a good first


He slept very little. A hot shower and some coffee gave him enough energy

to start his day. He tried to come up with something different to do with

his hair but it didn't want to cooperate. It seemed bent on going it's

own way whatever his wishes in the matter. He managed to force the thick

mass of red back from his face and into some semblance of order before

spraying it into temporary submission.

Next, his eyes. He always did them next as he rather liked them. They were

a kind of dull shade, brown, but they were at least elegantly tilted and

almond shaped. He had often wished his owner had let him have colored

contacts so he could more closely resemble his litter mates with their

vibrant and exotic eye colors but he was stuck with what he had. Oh, well,

they weren't so bad really.

His skin wasn't too bad either. He used a lightish base and some powder

and a little liquid blush to accentuate his cheek bones. Now he was down

to the lips. He hated his lips. He tried to emulate his littermates cute

bow lips to no avail. His mouth was too wide and his lips not the right

shape. He did the best he could and stepped back from the mirror.

He tried to take in the whole picture as a stranger would. He wasn't

anywhere near the beauty he had grown up around but maybe he wasn't as bad

as he thought? He clung to that hope. Maybe Lin wouldn't mind too much if

his face wasn't gently rounded, his chin too square. He looked away and

tried to concentrate on other things.

He had picked out the best outfit he had, a kind of longish skirt with

rather nice lines. He didn't think it looked too bad on him and it fit

okay. He hoped Lin wasn't as stingy about clothes as his old owner had

been. The old one had pointed out that since 16 was naked most of the time

he was in company, his clothes didn't matter. This may have been true but

it would be nice to have some new things.

He put on his lowest pair of heels and hoped his feet didn't look too

outrageously big. He wished the skirt was just a little longer to hide

them but it couldn't be helped. He pulled on the top he had chosen, black

and low necked. He thought it made his neck look too long and did nothing

to hide the width of his shoulders but it would have to do. He glanced

once more in the mirror before turning away to get his collar on. He hated

the thing, it was too wide for comfort and was plain and old into the

bargain. He knew he wasn't allowed outside without it and the leash

though, so that was that. He finished up just as the movers pulled up. He

opened the door for them and stood to one side, head lowered, awaiting


The men mostly ignored him, which was fine with him. They made a few

comments but nothing he hadn't heard before. One of the men seemed to take

an instant dislike to him, he said pets gave him the creeps. The others

seemed more neutral and at least no violence was offered. When everything

was loaded onto the truck one of the men grabbed his leash and led him

out. The man who had voiced his distaste spoke up:

"That thing isn't riding up front with us."

"Alright, I'll find room for him in the back."

He was led into the tight maze of furniture in the back of the truck and

the man with the leash found a corner he could curl up in for the trip.

This man seemed a bit embarrassed and unsure how to deal with him. He

asked if he would be okay back here while studiously avoiding eye contact

with him. 16 nodded and the man left, shutting the doors behind him. 16

shifted a bit on the floor, trying to get comfortable and trying not to

think of how his clothes were going to suffer from this trip. He closed

his eyes and drifted into day dreams of his new life and eventually the

day dreams slid to true dreams and he slept.


Lin felt that he had gone to some green infested purgatory as he wandered

dazedly about the garden shop. He wondered if there was some special

section where nice plants lived. He had absolutely no clue what would

prove acceptable. And there were way too many choices. Hanging or upright,

flowering or non-flowering, scented or not. And every size from miniscule

to massive. He finally found a sales person and made a quick circuit of

the place pointing out things at random. Then of course he realized he

would have to have this mess delivered as he had overdone it. He had to

have at least one thing to carry with him. He shrank from the idea of

lugging a potted plant all the way to the kids place, probably arriving

liberally smeared with dirt and with grimy hands.

He stood dithering in the cut flower area until some woman took pity on


"May I help you?"

"I live in hope."

She laughed.

"First date jitters?"

"More or less, yes."

"Don't worry about it, women love the idea of a guy arriving with flowers.

The kind don't matter as much as the thought does."

Lin smiled thinly.

"Do guys love the idea of guys arriving with flowers is the question


The woman lost her smile for a moment and then gamely wrenched it back

into place.

"Are you serious?"

"Rarely, but this is one of those rare times."

"Oh, well. I don't know. I never thought about it before."

"What a coincidence."

The woman took in Lins lost air and her eyes got a determined glint.

"Tell me a bit about him and we'll come up with something he'll love."

Lin thought a bit and said:

"He is new in town and we have never actually met."

"Blind dates are hell."

"I am beginning to agree with you."

"Do you want to be understated and elegant or sweep him off his feet with

something showy and lavish?"

"Is there something in between with a dash of reassurance as to my

honorable intentions?"

"I'll do my best."

A brief time later Lin was on his way with a tasteful selection of flowers

and a phone number to try if things went badly. He had tipped the girl

lavishly and stuck the number in his pocket.

He paused at the door of the building, trying out a variety of smiles. He

settled on a slight diffident grin that felt okay, squared his shoulders

and marched in before he could change his mind.

16 answered the door in a state of high anxiety. He hadn't had a chance to

repair much of the damage from the trip and was sweaty, hair every which

way and in wrinkled clothes. He stood in the doorway on the verge of


Lin had started to speak to the figure in front of him when it suddenly

dropped to it's knees. He looked around in some confusion but finally

decided the boy hadn't fainted or anything, he just seemed to be following

some old habit. Lin turned up the smile and dropped gracefully down in

front of him.

"Hi! I am Lin. You would be 16?"

"Yes sir."

"You can drop the sir. Lin is fine. Are you all right?"

"Fine, si-...Lin."

They knelt in crushing silence for a moment and Lin decided to try a new


"I hate to mention it but I am not used to addressing the tops of peoples

heads. Could you look up if not stand up?"

16 looked up and met Lin's eyes. Or actually, Lins sunglasses. He seemed

riveted by something. 16 finally blurted out in a strained voice:

"You have ears!"

"The better to hear the dulcet sound of your voice, my dear."

16 put one hand to his mouth and dropped his gaze.

"You can look at me, truly, I am vain enough to enjoy it."

When 16 darted a glance back at Lin he swiveled one of the cat like

pointed ears in his direction. 16's eyes widened.

"I gather Taz left out some major points about me. I am of the sidhe."


They drifted off into silence again and Lin suppressed a sigh. This was

actually going worse than he had expected. He gave up on the smile. And he

had worked so hard on it too. Oh, well.

"16, could we maybe go inside? I don't bite or anything. And I brought

flowers that need water. Okay?"

16 rose and stepped backwards through the door, keeping an eye on Lin.

When they had gotten far enough into the room Lin kicked the door shut

behind him and 16 jumped.

"16, are you phobic or something?"

"I'm sorry, what?"

"Some humans are a bit phobic about us, about the fey. Is that the

problem? "

"No, I'm so sorry, I was just surprised. I'm sorry."

The last sorry sounded like the beginning of a wail. Lin winced and handed

the flowers to 16.

"Don't worry about it, really. Just put these in some water, all right?"

16 took the flowers to the kitchen and put them in a glass with some

water. He took a few seconds to admire them and to get a grip. He

took a few deep breaths and went back out to try and salvage the


"Um, Lin?"


"The flowers are beautiful. Thank you."

Lin just shrugged but 16 thought he looked pleased.

"Lin, I just never saw an elf in real life, just on documentaries and

stuff on tv, I'm not phobic or anything. Really."

"I'm glad. It would have been awkward. Is the place all right? I didn't

know what kind of thing you might like."

"It's lovely. I haven't really had a chance to look around much. It's

much bigger than my old place."

"I'm sorry if I got here at a bad time."

16 wondered if Lin was being sarcastic. He didn't sound like it though.

"No, I am glad you came."

16 was beginning to feel fidgety. He wasn't sure what the rules were with

Lin. He was so afraid of making things go badly. He was used to one way of

doing things and now he had no bearings. The old one usually just barged

in and started in on him. He had never been expected to make conversation.

He had no idea what might be the right thing to say.

And he was hungry for touch, he had never had a chance to be with anyone

so beautiful and he wanted him badly. He had no idea if he was allowed to

ask. His old owner hadn't let him ask, he had pointed out that 16 was

there for his convenience and not vice versa. Did Lin feel the same way?

He moved a little closer to Lin and that seemed to be okay, Lin didn't

back away or anything. He did take off his sunglasses though.

16 found himself fascinated with Lin's eyes. He realized with a start that

he was staring and quickly dropped his gaze again.

Lin looked around the mostly empty room for something to talk about. He

was getting uncomfortably aware that 16 seemed more than a bit on edge. He

wondered if he should say something. There didn't seem any discreet way to

broach the subject.

"16, do you have an actual name or something you like to be called?"

"My last owner never gave me one."

"Well, is there one you like? Unless you have some sentimental attachment

to 16 which is okay too."

"I don't like 16 much. I would like a name if you would give me one."

"Look, names are very important to my people. I can't just give you one, a

true name is one you find yourself."

16 nodded and stood there in a pool of quiet sadness. Lin mentally cursed

and spoke again:

"I could give you a use name if you like, I think it is what you would

call a nick name. Is that okay?"

16 nodded and smiled at Lin. Lin had to remind himself that this was a

strictly temporary arrangement and that 16 would smile just as sweetly at

his next owner.

Still, he was so beautiful. Warm brown eyes under elegant brows, the lines

of his face were strong and his mouth was definitely an invitation to sin.

And aside from the fact that you could hurt yourself on it, his hair was

gorgeous. All shades of red and copper with a few light strands of reddish

gold strewn about.

He was tall and from what one could tell with the long skirt and all,

leggy. He seemed a bit on the thin side, Lin wondered if the old owner had

fed him decently. He seemed shy and skittish but Lin couldn't blame him

for that. He had no reason to be trusting.

"How about, Faun? For a nick name? Like a young deer, you know. Your eyes

are like theirs."

"Thank you, I like that a lot. Faun."

He smiled at Lin and Lin couldn't help smiling back. Faun moved a little

closer and Lin cleared his throat.

"Um, Faun, I don't know much you know about the sidhe from tv but some

things you might want to know. We have, rather obviously, a keener sense

of hearing than most humans and we can see in the dark. My kind, my branch

if you will,have some other attributes."

Lin smiled widely at Faun, showing delicate looking fangs. Faun paled a

bit but held his ground.

Then Lin extended one hand and two inch claws shot out from his finger


He waited a second and then retracted both teeth and claws. He waited for

Faun to say something but Faun seemed speechless.

"I just thought you should see the whole package, as it were. This

arrangement, my owning you is just for a little while. I'm sure we can

find a human owner, one who will treat you well and who you will like

soon. For the time being, I am afraid you are stuck with me. I also have a

much better sense of smell than a human would. And when people are aroused

their scent changes."

This got a reaction, Faun hastily backed up and blushed furiously.

"I smell bad?"

"No! Not bad, nice really. Really nice. Really distractingly nice."

Faun noted that Lins voice was getting a little husky by the last