"... Mistress, I’m not sure about this...” Senna whispered, fidgeting as she trailed behind Piper.
"You’ll be fine, Senna. Don’t worry so much."
"But... Why are you being so cruel to me? Have I done anything to upset you?”
Piper smirked in reply, but said nothing. Senna dutifully followed behind her, face upturned, eagerly awaiting orders.
‘This above all.’ Three simple words had been all it took to reduce Senna to such a state. Piper still had trouble believing that her suggestions worked so effortlessly.
Not that they’ll be effortless for her, now, will they...
Piper grinned. She’d taken great pains to ensure that today’s experience would be perfect, tuning her suggestions so that Senna had an out, but wouldn’t escape by accident and spoil the fun. Days of planning, of phone calls with Barry and discussions of Senna, had all come to this.
And Senna was going to hate it.
Senna had suggested the idea herself, actually. When she was planning a new game of extreme devotion in public, she had worried about the very real possibility of accidentally revealing the more… interesting details of her relationship to complete strangers.
And so she was under a brand-new rule: she couldn’t tell them. She was forbidden from revealing that she was a slave-and yet she needed to serve, to give her Mistress the respect that she was due.
It was horrible, it was evil, and Piper wished it had been her idea.
"I’ll be as cruel as I want to, Senna dear. It is, after all, the will of your mistress.”
That shut her up, although Piper did feel a twinge of guilt as Senna bowed her head, looking appropriately chastised.
Piper pulled her phone out of her pocket and shook her head, trying to dispel her doubts. They had agreed on this, damnit.
"Ten to noon,” she noted, smiling. "Right on schedule.” As the pair turned a corner, the entrance of the museum came into view.
"Do you have the membership card, Mistress, or did you leave it with me?” Senna asked, patting the pocket where she kept her wallet absently.
"It’s with you. Don’t worry about a thing, slave. Just let me handle things."
"Of course,” Senna whispered.
"Prepare the card, why don’t you? We’re almost there.”
Senna nodded, fumbling for her wallet and pulling it from her pocket, her fingers idly tracing the leaves of the senna plant sketched onto the white canvas as they climbed the steps to the museum’s entrance.
"You know, Mistress, telling me that you’ll handle things is a little silly if you ask me to do something right after...” she whispered absently, then gasped as she caught herself. "I didn’t mean... I... Forgive me, please.”
"At ease, Senna. You’re not in trouble. Although you will be, if you aren’t careful with that tongue of yours... speaking of which, why don’t you be a good servant and handle our admissions?”
Senna blinked. "I... surely you don’t mean to strain my obedience. That’s ridiculous. I apologize for even thinking such a thing."
Piper’s smile widened. "Now why would I ever do something like that?"
"Ma’am, do you have a pass, or a membership card?”
Senna handed the card to the woman sitting behind the counter.
"Ms... Collins, is it?” the museum employee asked.
Senna shook her head quickly. "No, that’s my mi-” She paled. "My... girlfriend. My girlfriend who I... have a normal relationship with.”
"Ok, so you’re her girlfriend, Ms...”
"Martin. And I’m not her girlfriend, I’m her s- uh. Yeah. I’m... her girlfriend, yeah.”
The bemused employee raised an eyebrow. "Is something the matter, Ms. Martin?”
"No! Nothing’s wrong. We have a normal relationship. We’re two women who have no sex drive whatsoever outside what falls within expected societal norms, and please do not inquire further.”
"We are not taking questions at this time thank you have a nice day bye,” Senna mumbled, stepping behind Piper and hiding as best she could behind someone four inches shorter.
"Ms. Collins, is your friend alright? The museum, ah... has a no-smoking policy, you know...”
Piper chuckled, smiling widely. "No, no, she’s perfectly sober. It’s... a game, you could say. Don’t worry about it.” Behind her, Senna nodded vigorously, mouth clamped shut.
"I... never mind. Well, enjoy your day, ladies. And don’t let your... game... disturb the other patrons, alright?”
Piper grinned, tilting her hand in a noncommittal gesture as she walked past the counter. "We’ll try.”
As soon as they rounded the corner, Senna sighed in relief.
"Mistress, I must offer my deepest apologies for causing that woman to question you. I most certainly did not mean to cast aspersion on you, but any other action I could have taken would have been further insubordination...” She grimaced, shaking her head apologetically.
Piper rolled her eyes. "It’s fine, Senna. God, you don’t need to act so stiff, it’s not as if-"
"It is as if, Mistress,” Senna interjected, then paled. "I- I didn’t mean to interrupt, I- I just don’t believe that my insubordination should be so easily forgiven. That’s all."
Piper shook her head, tsk-tsking even as she hid a smile. Well, I suppose I should have expected that. Loyalty doesn’t always mean pure obedience, after all...
"If you truly believe so, Senn, I can punish you later. Relax for now, okay?”
Senna’s entire posture shifted, going from tense and worried to peaceful and blissfully happy in an instant. "As you command,” she whispered, smiling. "I shall leave everything to you.”
"Not quite that relaxed. You still need to walk with me, dummy."
Senna stood up straighter and nodded sharply, smiling warmly as she did so. She looks so innocent... so genuinely happy to be following me. And I don’t think it’s just the suggestions talking, either.
The pair continued down the short hallway into the exhibit they had intended to see: a showcase of M.C. Escher’s works. Both Senna and Piper, without a word, slipped into the crowd milling about in the room, splitting up as they each found a piece that had caught their eye.
She overrode her suggestions to split away from me, even in her current state? That girl’s curiosity is a force to be reckoned with. Piper smiled, but didn’t move to meet up with Senna. I can let her have a bit of fun for herself. No harm in that.
Piper inspected the piece she had chosen, her eyes flitting across its features, taking note of every detail. It was a twisted design-literally. It depicted a gallery of art, where the leftmost painting warped to cover the top half of the canvas. Escher’s more surreal works always tended to throw off her innate sense of space, disorienting her at the points that the forms she saw flowed into one another. It left her off balance but determined to understand it, to prove her mind wouldn’t be defeated by simple lines on canvas.
We are really similar, aren’t we? That wouldn’t have sounded out of place coming from her mouth at all.
Piper glanced over at Senna, who was muttering under her breath as she moved her fingers before her in vague arcs and stared at a piece depicting several concentric spherical meshes.
Determined to understand.
Senna closed one eye, leaning in closer, lips pursed.
Senna turned, noticing Piper staring at her, and quickly approached her Mistress.
"Mi... P-piper...”, she began in an excited whisper, "I believe you would like that one. It’s practically a study on perspective, and it’s so fascinating how the pieces interlock despite being identical, and-” she paused, catching her breath- "and the lighting from the center is very well shaded, and...” she trailed off, noticing Piper’s smile.
"What is it, my... girlfriend?” she managed, grimacing apologetically at the botched deflection. Luckily, the passersby didn’t seem to notice.
"Oh, nothing, love. It’s nice to see you enjoying yourself, that’s all.”
"Well, if that’s what you desire, I would be happy to walk around this exhibit with you. If you’d accept being escorted by... someone as...” she trailed off, then dropped into a whisper. "As lowly as your slave, that is.”
"That’s complete nonsense. Be the rest as it may, nobody could ever describe you as lowly.”
Senna nodded slowly, unconvinced.
"Your mistress only accepts the best, after all,” Piper whispered. "And don’t you forget it. That’s an order.”
Senna nodded solemnly again, but her eyes were shining this time. "Of course.”
Piper looked around, noticing a few people were giving them looks. "Now let’s get out of the way. We wouldn’t want to miss the rest of the exhibition, after all.”
Senna led the way to the food court, stretching her arms behind her head. She sighed with contentment, stepping to the side as they entered the spacious room so Piper could lead.
"Mistress, I wish to apologize for taking so much effort to be convinced to come here. I don’t know why I...” Her expression flickered, a moment of confusion giving way to a flash of shock, which slipped into a blank, disoriented stare. She blinked once, shaking her head. "I apologize for the trouble I gave you regardless, Mistress.”
Piper smirked. "Yeah, but you wouldn’t have agreed to come if the exhibit was about nearly anyone else.”
"No, that’s not true at all! For you, Mistress, I would do anything, even sit through several hours of history lectures on a Saturday afternoon!”
Piper shuddered. "I’m not that cruel a Mistress, Senna."
Her ‘loyal slave’ grinned. "No, you’re not.”
Piper sat down at one of the small two-person tables, and Senna dutifully installed herself in the other. She sat up straight attentively, waiting for her next order.
She’s like a damn puppy. She’d probably respond to ‘Sit!’ and ‘Stay!’ just as happily, too...
"Well, since you did accompany me here, what did you think of the art on display? Anything stick out to you?"
Senna’s expression grew pensive, and she reached out suddenly, placing her index finger on Piper’s cheek. Piper flinched back in surprise, nearly toppling out of her chair. Senna, unfazed, started to move her finger in slow arcs, muttering something Piper couldn’t quite make out.
"Uh... Senna? You alright there?”
"Of course, Mistress. I was just revisiting what I had noticed about the patterns between the scattered points on the finest art in this museum.” She said it without a flicker of sarcasm or humor, as if she’d just declared that she realized her eyes were, in fact, brown.
"Y... you’re joking, right?”
"Why would I joke about such a thing, Mistress?” Senna asked, seeming genuinely confused. "I answered your question to the best of my ability.”
"You...” Piper trailed off as realization hit. "You put me above all else. God-of course that’s how you’d interpret it. You sap.” She grinned, shoving a bemused Senna playfully.
"Interpret what? I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Mistress...”
Piper shook her head. "Don’t worry about it, slave. I’ll tell you later.”
She nodded quickly, her confusion gone in an instant. "Would you like me to fetch you some food, Mistress?” she asked, pointing to the small sandwich shop.
"Sure. I could go for a salad, if you would.”
Senna nodded, practically flying from her seat to the counter before ordering from the stunned cashier. Once money had changed hands, she slid back into her seat across from Piper, earning a few stares from the people around them.
The stares, at least, were nothing new. Senna did love to show off.
They sat there in silence for a moment, Senna tensing as she watched the counter where they placed food when it was ready. The moment the cashier placed their salad and sandwich down, Senna was already back in flight, snatching the food with a hurried ‘Thank you’ before crashing back into her seat, which slid back a couple inches from the force.
Piper snorted. "Senn, you don’t need to earn your calories."
"But my Mistress should not be made to wait, should she?”
"I suppose not,” Piper chuckled. "Although I suspect you’d have done that anyway, even if you were eating with someone else.”
"You know me too well, Mistress,” Senna grinned.
Before they knew it, their respective trays were clear, and Piper sat back with a satisfied sigh. She reached out for her trash, but Senna snatched it away first.
"A Mistress should not be burdened with such a thing as disposing of trash. Please allow me.”
Piper giggled. "Of course.”
Senna pushed herself out of her seat again, earning more looks as she bolted to the trash can, then rushed back. "What should we do now?”
"How about we check out the Ga-the gift shop? Since the Escher exhibit was the only thing we came here for...” Piper swallowed, hoping Senna didn’t notice her slip.
"Alright!” Senna agreed instantly, standing to attention as she did so. "Is there anything in particular you wish to purchase, Mistress?”
"Oh, I was thinking we’d take a look together. It’s more for the fun of browsing, after all.”
Senna nodded, and with yet another sudden burst of speed, sprinted to the entrance of the gift shop. Piper sighed and smiled, following after at a more leisurely pace.
As the duo entered the gift shop together, Senna froze the moment she saw the cashier. Their appearance was unmistakable; black hair with green tips, skin a shade tanner than hers, and those piercingly bright hazel eyes. She breathed a sigh of relief, walking quickly over to the center of the shop. They were a person who knew, and therefore, a person she could tell. "Gamma, you have no idea -"
Piper grinned as Senna froze again. Gamma isn’t the only cashier on duty today... Piper thought, singsong.
Senna groaned, then jumped as she remembered that Piper was behind her. "I- I’m sorry, M- uh. Nothing’s wrong.”
"Very well. Let’s poke around the shop a bit, shall we?”
Senna shot a calculating glance at the long-haired woman standing across from Gamma.
"Mistress, I wouldn’t dare to presume... but you didn’t know that Gamma was working today, right? I don’t mean to cast any aspersions upon you, but this seems too perfect of a setup..."
"I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean,” Piper smiled.
"Forgive me for ever doubting you,” Senna sighed. The obvious lie might as well have been a masterful deflection, for all that Senna noticed. Blind devotion indeed, Piper thought wryly.
"I’m going to go chat with Gamma. You remember which things we picked out?”
Senna nodded, and turned to fetch the souvenirs in question.
"How’s she holding up?” Gamma chuckled.
"Surprisingly well, all things considered. And what about her?” Piper thumbed towards the other cashier.
Gamma tapped the other woman on the shoulder, who glanced at Piper, then grinned and pulled aside her hair to reveal an AirPod.
"Owed me a favor. I told her that I’d handle you two, and that you didn’t want her hearing what was going on. She got the implications.”
"You bastard,” Piper chuckled. "Senna has no idea. That’s downright evil.”
"Thanks! I try,” Gamma smiled, flicking a dark green-tipped lock from in front of their eyes.
Senna approached Piper from behind, wielding a pillow-sized stuffed koala, then froze.
"H-hey there, Gamma...” she gulped.
Gamma smirked. "How’re ya doing, Senna? Everything going well with you and Piper?”
Gamma, you twisted genius.
"Gamma, you twisted bitch... you know, don’t you?” Senna muttered under her breath, soft enough that only Piper could hear.
Gamma blinked innocently, and Senna started.
"U-uh... yeah! Things are going very well! There is nothing out of the ordinary about our relationship status.”
Gamma frowned. "About whose relationship status? You’re talking about us?”
Senna glanced frantically at the other cashier, who appeared to be nonchalantly staring at her phone.
"Y-you know who I’m talking about.”
"Senna, are you alright? Come on, you know Piper wants you to be honest with your friends when something’s wrong.” Gamma shot Piper a look, and she nodded, attempting to conceal a smirk.
"I- You- You know I can’t...”
The other cashier raised an eyebrow at Senna’s agitated gestures, causing Senna to freeze up.
"I... Mistress, I’m sorry. I can’t bear this. I need to give you the respect you deserve, but it’s so difficult, and... Please forgive your loyal slave, Mistress. I would never intend disrespect...” She flushed, dropping to her knees.
"Please forgive me. I’ll do anything you ask to repay for this dishonor. I meant no harm, Mistress... I... I don’t think I can take much more... I... Orange?”
Piper and Gamma shared a look at the mention of the safeword color. Gamma shrugged and frowned, as if to say I only did what you asked, Piper. Don’t look at me.
"Yeah, yeah,” the shorter girl muttered. She pulled out her credit card, gently taking the items from Senna, whispering soothing reassurances at the distraught girl.
"Damn Gamma... how dare they... I’m sorry, Mistress...” Senna muttered, still visibly shaken, as Piper grabbed their purchases and led her out of the shop. As they left, Gamma held up a dollar bill, pointing to themself, then mimed taking a bite.
I suppose that’s more than apology enough. I did drag them into this.
"I’m sorry it ended up like that, Senna.” Piper spoke softly, sitting in the driver’s seat of their parked car. Senna curled up in the passenger’s seat, tightly hugging the plush she’d bought for Piper.
"It’s... please don’t apologize to a lowly slave, Mistress. Especially one who doesn’t deserve it. I should have found a way to escape, or deflected the question. I should have spoken more softly in the gallery as well, so people wouldn’t have been suspicious. I... Please, Mistress. Punish me as you will. I deserve it.”
Piper’s heart twinged.
"This above all...” Piper breathed. Senna perked up at the words.
"Mistress, isn’t that-”
"To thine own self be true,” she completed, clear and steady.
She promptly buried her face in the plush.
"How could you do that, Piper?” she whispered, muffled, as her face flushed crimson.
"She couldn’t hear us.”
"Gamma promised me that their coworker would be listening to music and wouldn’t overhear us. I meant it to be a fun game, but I went too far. I’m... sorry about that.”
Senna’s eyes flicked to Piper, staring sharply at her. "So... all of it was for a laugh? The whole idea was to have fun at my expense?”
Piper laid a hand on Senna’s arm. "Senna, you came up with this. You wanted this day, and the idea you proposed was fun at your expense."
Senna leaned back and groaned. "I know, I know... You’re right. It’s just... gah, that was so embarrassing. And I made such a fool of myself! The other cashier must have thought I was crazy... And the lady at admissions, too!"
"The cashier knew there was some kind of game going on. She didn’t think anything of it, I’m sure.”
Senna breathed deeply for a few minutes, slowly trying to bring herself to some semblance of calm.
"It’s fine, Piper,” she said finally. "Things don’t always go according to plan. It wasn’t your fault-you did as much as you could. And it was fun, up until the end there. Thanks for getting me out."
Piper nodded. "Did you like the exhibit, at least?”
"Inasmuch as you can love mind-bending perspective and bullshit geometry,” she grumbled.
"That’s a yes, isn’t it.”
Senna snorted. "Of course it is.”
Piper grinned. "Are you ready to go home?”
Piper turned the key in the ignition, and soon they were driving towards the main road.
"Mistress,” Senna mumbled, again hiding in the koala.
"No, I’m not. Hear me out.”
"Alright...” Piper hesitated, one eye on the traffic light.
"You owe me for this.”
"What? It was your-”
"I demand cuddles. Lots of them. Whenever I want. As payment for this indiscretion. Until such time as I demand otherwise.”
Piper laughed. "That, I think that I can arrange.”