“…nine… ten… wake.”
Morgan started slightly at the sound of a firm click right next to their ear. Their eyelids, having only moments before felt as heavy as lead, scraped open; even the warm glow of the fire and the soft light of sunset seemed almost blinding compared to the cool, comfortable darkness of trance. They blinked several times in an effort to refocus their eyes. They were awake – at least, as far as they could tell – and yet a feeling of coziness still clung to them, suppressing each movement as if their limbs were wrapped in pillowy down. It wasn’t quite clear whether they couldn’t move, or whether they simply didn’t really want to move – although, they wondered sleepily, I guess it doesn’t really make difference either way. It just felt too good to stay still, allowing themselves to coast on that feeling of floatiness, moment by moment feeling themselves sink back into –
“Now now, none of that. It’s time to wake.”
Another firm click, this time accompanied by a teasing tone. Morgan’s eyes snapped open again – they hadn’t even noticed they had closed. A face swam into view – angular features, olive skin, chestnut eyes. That half-endearing, half-frustrating little coy smile. Just the sight of it made Morgan hum happily and rub their cheek against what they were now realising was Gabriel’s lap. They tried to speak, but their tongue and lips felt heavy, loose, numb, altogether unable to make much coherent sound other than little chirrs of bliss.
They could vaguely feel Gabriel moving, his thighs tensing slightly against the side of their face. A moment later, a smooth glass rim was being gently laid against their lips, and a hand was lifting their head up to get better purchase on it. “Come, drink,” they heard Gabriel purring. “Some fluids will do you good, I think.”
Morgan did their best to steady themselves, half-sipping, half-lapping at the water being offered to them. The cool, pure liquid running down their throat sent tingles through their chest as their body slowly began to wake up. They hadn’t even noticed how dry their mouth had become; had it fallen open during the trance? As they continued to drink, they finally began to realise where exactly they were: lying down on an impossibly comfortable leather sofa, pulled up near to a warm hearth. The fire had mostly faded, only a few small slivers of flame and a pit of glowing embers left amidst a pile of ash and charcoal. When they looked past their blanket-covered feet, they could look through the high arched window to watch a tiny pinkish strip of sun just barely peeking over the horizon, on the verge of disappearing for the night. Its light was so frail that the rest of the view outside was coated in muted blue darkness.
Gabriel carefully tilted back the glass and laid it on the table next to him, before gently brushing his finger along Morgan’s jaw to help them look up at him. “Welcome back, my dear,” he said warmly. “How are you feeling?”
“Mmm…” Morgan simply hummed at first, readjusting their position so that their back was on the seat and their auburn hair could fall out of their face. This way, they could better look up at their lover’s smiling face. “Cozy…” they eventually managed, slurring slightly as their lips had not yet quite woken up. “Happy…”
It was Gabriel’s turn to hum happily, stroking his thumb over Morgan’s pale cheek just as he knew they liked it. His smile widened, bringing a cheerful twinkle into those round eyes. “I’m very glad to hear that,” he murmured, making sure to keep his eyes on Morgan’s to keep them alert. “Would you like another count-up, or are you awake enough?”
“Mm…” Morgan had to think for a moment, their thoughts still feeling as slow and sweet as molasses. “Nah… I think I’ll be okay. I kinda… like being a bit floaty for a while afterwards. That’s… that’s okay, right?”
“Of course, my dear,” Gabriel replied without hesitation. He continued tracing his fingers over Morgan’s freckly cheeks and temples, though he was careful not to touch the few key points he knew might lull them back into trance. “You’re quite welcome to enjoy the aftereffects for as long as you like.” There was a moment of silence – after almost an hour of talking almost continuously, Gabriel was feeling his words swimming very slowly to the forefront of his mind. “Would, er… would you… like some more water?”
“Sure, thanks,” Morgan mumbled, sitting up slightly. They were about to reach for the glass themself, but Gabriel has already picked it up and held it up to them. “Thanks,” Morgan repeated, downing the rest of the glass in a couple messy gulps. They wiped the drops off their mouth and cheeks with their cuff before offering it back to Gabriel. They couldn’t help but smile a little when Gabriel’s slender, delicate hand brushed against their much wider and firmer one.
There was another long silence. Morgan laid back into Gabriel’s lap, sighing contentedly and pulling up the blanket which had been wrapped around their lower body. The fireplace cracked once as some small pocket of moisture burst. Gabriel continued playing his hands over Morgan’s face with the touch and grace of a pianist, but his warm smile was beginning to falter. His brain was beginning to churn, looking for something to say, something to do, something to think to help make Morgan more comfortable. His wit was beginning to falter, he could imagine Morgan stirring uncomfortably. He needed to think of something to soothe them, to guide them, to –
“Hey.” Morgan’s soft voice broke through Gabriel’s reverie, bringing him back to the present. They reached up, running their own much broader fingers through his dark hair and rubbing his scalp comfortingly. A wide, sleepy smile made their whole face light up, filling his half-closed green eyes with love. “You did good. I had a lot of fun, I really appreciate it. Thank you.”
With just those few simple words, Gabriel’s worries vanished. His shoulders dropped, his smile returned, and a rush of warmth filled his chest. When he sighed happily, he half-expected rosy steam to come bursting from his lungs; instead, it simply wiped his brain of the niggling anxieties. Slipping one hand through Morgan’s long hair to hold the back of their head, he lifted them up just enough to deliver a single kiss to their forehead. “You are most welcome, Morgan,” he beamed. “I’m very happy you enjoyed yourself.” The moment of silence which came next carried no weight nor tension; it just gave Gabriel a chance to coax yet more happy purrs from Morgan’s chest by renewing his gentle cheek rubs. “Even when you’ve just awakened from a deep trance, you already know just the right thing to say.”
“Mm… well…” Morgan said, between chirrs, “you root around in my head plenty, so I figured turnabout’s fair play.”
Gabriel snorted. “Ah, I see your sense of humour’s waking up as well. Nice to hear that again.”
“Careful.” Morgan’s lips curled from a blissful smile to a mischievous smirk. “That almost sounded like you enjoy me mouthing off at you.”
Gabriel’s fingers curled, flicking away from Morgan’s cheeks and diving into their rumpled curtain of hair. The mere feeling of his hands in their hair was enough to make their coy grin waver for a moment. Instinctively, their chest tightened, ready for a moment of tension… but it did not come. Gabriel simply ran his fingers through their hair in long, smooth strokes, as if combing it with the softest of brushes. He said nothing, simply fixing Morgan with a cool, neutral stare. His lips still bore a graceful smile, but it did not quite reach his eyes. The edge in that imperturbable gaze did more than enough to instruct Morgan to fall quite silent.
It was Morgan who blinked first. They could feel the rosy tint stealing over their cheeks as they looked down at their own muscular legs, swallowing hard. They felt their head laying back down onto Gabriel’s warm, comfortable thighs, though whether of their own volition or by the hands’ implicit instruction, they weren’t quite sure. A warm, butterfly-like feeling tickled the pit of their stomach; apprehension had made itself known, but so too had the submissive glow of being gently put in their place. They did not dare break the sacred silence which now hung between them, nor challenge their lover’s quiet, careful authority by looking them in the eye.
Eventually, though, Gabriel returned his hands to Morgan’s cheeks. With one fluid motion, he both resumed his soothing strokes along their jaw and lips, and guided their gaze back up to match his. “Now, my dear,” he said, softly, slowly, sweetly. “Is there anything else you need right now? More water, another blanket, a restoked fire, perhaps?”
Morgan had to swallow again before they were able to speak. “N-no.” The pink colour in their cheeks turned a shade closer to crimson; their slightly trembling voice was half an octave higher than usual. “Just… erm… can we just cuddle? F-for a little while?”
Gabriel broke into a soft, but unmistakeably blissful chuckle. “Morgan, my dear sweet Morgan, we can cuddle for as long as you like,” he hummed.
He took the time to adjust himself very carefully; holding Morgan’s head in one hand, he shifted his thighs out from under their head and instead tucked them behind Morgan’s back, running along the back of the couch. Despite the hypnotist being almost a head shorter than his burly subject, both adored it when Gabriel was the big spoon; his long, flexible limbs lent themselves wonderfully to myriad cuddling positions. This time, Gabriel allowed Morgan’s head to rest on his arm, while his other hand wrapped around their shoulder and his face burrowed into their neck. Morgan, for their part, dutifully shuffled their rear backward to nestle tightly into the warm arc formed by their lover’s abs and thighs. It took a few moments of shuffling and sliding to find the best position, but before long, they were comfortably pressed together beneath the blanket, each following the curves of the other’s body snugly and delighting in each other’s warmth.
“So,” purred Gabriel, his position allowing them to murmur directly into Morgan’s ear, “did you enjoy the session?”
“Mmm… yeah,” Morgan sighed contentedly. “It was really, really… nice. Thank you.”
Though Morgan could not see it, the teasing note in Gabriel’s voice was more than evidence enough of the sly smirk on his face. “Really? You’re not usually one to skimp on the details. Tell me, what was your favourite part?”
Morgan chuckled. “My favourite part? Well, that’s easy, that was… erm… that… th-that was…”
An icy chill trickled down Morgan’s spine as they tried to cast their memory back over the previous hour. As they tried their damndest to single out a particular moment, a turn of phrase, an alluring image, something… nothing came. They could remember sitting down at the couch with their hand in Gabriel’s, being instructed to look into the then-roaring fire… and then nothing. Not even the fuzziest wisp of a memory, not even the muffled echo of an idea, not even the shadowy silhouette of a word dared surface into their conscious mind. They felt their heart beat a little faster in their chest. How was that possible? An entire hour of blissful trance, and they couldn’t remember a second of it? Were they even sure it was an hour? Their eyes darted over the room, but no helpful clock loomed out of the shadows to inform them just how much time they had lost. Was Gabriel even wearing the same clothes as he had been before? In their post-trance haze and the darkness of the room, they hadn’t noticed. They tried again, screwing up their face in the exertion of trying to recall something, anything. Yet the harder they tried, the more the memories stubbornly refused to return.
A persistent buzzing feeling in their back brought them back to the present; it took them a moment to realise that Gabriel was chuckling quite merrily. “You know, you make the most wonderful expressions when you try to focus on something,” Gabriel laughed. There was no malice in their tone, rather a teasing, mischievous amusement. “But I believe I asked you a question, my dear. What was your favourite part?”
“I…” Morgan felt themself growing red again, this time with embarrassment. Their voice became small and soft, almost a whisper. “I… I can’t remember. I… why can’t I remember? Wh… what…?”
Gabriel’s chuckles redoubled; the arm wrapped around their shoulders squeezed them tightly. “Oh, dear,” he cackled softly. “Is Morgan having trouble with such a simple question?”
Morgan couldn’t help but crow incomprehensibly in embarrassment, smooshing their face into the soft leather beneath them. “Y-you…” they muttered, cheeks still flaming red. “You did something. You made me forget, didn’t you?”
“My dear Morgan, it was you who brought up the idea of amnesia. Are you really so surprised that you can’t remember what happened?”
“I…” Finally, memories swam to the surface, but not of memories during the trance. Memories of sitting with Gabriel beforehand, memories of heat rushing to their cheeks when they confessed to their fantasies, their desires, their ideas. Memories of Gabriel chuckling, with that mischievous glint in his eye as he instructed them to look into the flame. “I… I did ask for that, yeah. B-but…” Morgan swallowed hard again. “D-does that mean… you installed a trigger like you said you were going to?”
“Mmmmmm…” Gabriel purred, whispering directly into Morgan’s eager ears. “Perhaps I did, perhaps I didn’t. If you want to know for sure, I could always restore your memory… then you –”
“No!” Morgan yelped, a little more stridently than they were intending. “I, er, I mean no. It’s weird, b-but… I… I kind of like not being able to remember?”
Gabriel’s laughter only stirred the demure bubbling deep inside Morgan’s chest into an ever more submissive boil. “Well now… it seems that you really do enjoy me toying with your memories after all,” he snickered.
“But,” he continued, somewhat more seriously, “I do appreciate your trust in me to allow me to play with your thoughts like this. It’s a joy and a privilege for me to be able to do this with you, and I would never betray or abuse that trust you put in me. You do know that, right?”
“Of course,” Morgan replied immediately. They squeezed the slender hand wrapping around their shoulders with their own, much broader one. “I give you that control because I know I can trust you with it.”
Gabriel hummed joyfully. As the conversation lapsed, Morgan found their eyes pulled back towards the last few reddish embers still smouldering in the hearth. Though the fire was nearly extinct, they still felt quite warm and comfortable. The blanket wrapped around them kept their body heat in wonderfully. But more than anything else, they felt… safe. Safe in Gabriel’s arms, safe with his head against their neck, safe with their legs slowly entwining with his. Not even the strongest walls or the deepest moat could give them the sense of security they had with him.
“Oh, and one more thing…” Gabriel murmured, slightly sleepily. “Whatever triggers I may or may not have installed in you… though your conscious mind doesn’t know them yet, I’m sure your unconscious still remembers them very well. I’m sure that you’ll get the chance to enjoy them fully soon.”
Morgan turned their head to kiss Gabriel softly on the cheek, before settling back into a more comfortable position. As their eyes began to drift shut, though, a lingering question surfaced, keeping them from their rest. “Wait… triggers? Plural?”
Once again, Gabriel chuckled as enigmatically as possible, just to infuriate Morgan ever further. “Rest now, my dear. Rest now, and soon, I will show you what your unconscious is really capable of.”