With Open Eyes
Written for Rhu for Yuletide 2007.
When Katze agreed to become furniture for some bigshot elite, he knew exactly what he was getting into. The man would be rich and gorgeous and cold; Katze would do his job quietly and unobtrusively, and in exchange he'd be warm, clean, fed, and--without his master's consent or knowledge--in easy access of technology that he couldn't get for himself after a lifetime of racketeering and petty theft.
"You understand that this contract is binding and non-negotiable, and that the reconstructive surgery is irreversible?" the nurse at the clinic asked him in a disinterested monotone, repeating no more than he'd just read in greater detail himself, no more than was already known by heresay on every street in Ceres.
Katze clutched the electronic contract with suddenly nerveless fingers. "Yes," he said, and gave his thumbprint signature to the tablet.
"Through that door," she gestured, and Katze slipped the tablet back onto the desk and stood up. "No, you'll need to take that with you," she said, frowning slightly. It was the first sign of emotion she'd given throughout the entire orientation.
Katze picked the tablet back up and walked through the door, taking a surreptitiously deep breath as he did so. He was embracing his destiny; this was no time to get an attack of nerves.
The dual operation to render him sterile and sexually non-functional was even less painless than he'd expected, and the recovery time far shorter. A pang of bitterness stabbed him when a doctor signed for his release only the day after he'd gone under the laser; the lowerclasses of Ceres were dying for lack of medical attention that would take almost no time and effort to make publicly available. And then he forced his anger down. He was one of the privileged now. The medical care he'd just experienced would be his for the duration of his employment.
A car was waiting outside the clinic to take him to his new master. When he stepped inside, the driver gave him a tablet with the information he'd need to perform his job for the elite who'd selected him from an electronic catalogue. Katze wondered briefly when exactly his fate had been decided, how long the elite had been waiting for his newly bought property, before dismissing the thought as irrelevant. He read the information on the tablet carefully, committing it to memory, beginning with the first line of the document. His master's name: Iason Mink.
When Katze entered Iason Mink's household, he knew exactly what to expect. The man was a blondie, so he'd be even more arrogant than the reds and blues who frequently slummed around in Ceres. On the flip side, he'd be more assured of his place in the social hierarchy, and that might make him more even-tempered. He'd also be richer; Katze's mind began painting dreams of computer equipment that no blondie who didn't have a sideline as a hacker could be expected to possess. Even knowing that he was being ridiculous couldn't stop him.
The door was opened for him by a slim, dark-haired man an inch or two shorter than Katze. Too old to be a pet. Too old to be furniture, as well, Katze guessed; that must be where he came in. The man's face was almost devoid of expression, and Katze wondered if he'd be able to manage that in five years--ten if he were lucky--when his familiarity with his master's habits became less important than the faint lines forming at his eyes and mouth, the sprinkle of gray strands in his hair. It seemed suddenly absurd. For all that the man in front of him was well over twenty, he'd have his share of suitors in Ceres. Well, those that didn't know about the absence in his pants, Katze amended mentally.
"This way," Iason's old furniture said to him at last, after sizing him up silently for what felt like a small eternity. He led Katze to a room bigger than the entire flat Katze had been sharing with six other guys. Katze would have thought it was Iason's room, except that the room was nearly bare and there was a suitcase sitting by the door. "This is yours, now," the furniture said.
Again, there wasn't a single hint of anger, jealousy, despair. Katze's stomach gave an embarrassed squirm, and he turned reluctantly to face the man.
"Are you going to be...um..." He trailed off into mortified silence.
The furniture shook his head. "I've already made all the necessary arrangements. I'm only here to orient you, and then I'll be on my way."
Which wasn't what he'd been asking. Katze almost let it slide, but then he somehow found himself saying, quick and low, "Are you going to be okay?"
A surprised look came over the man's face, followed quickly by a small smile. "Thank you for asking," he said. "But it isn't as though this was a shock."
Katze nodded, feeling foolish for having brought up the subject. It wasn't as though he could have done anything, either way. The furniture showed him around the rest of the apartment, explained that Iason would be back later that evening, and then left without further ceremony. Katze watched him go with a odd sense of guilty relief.
He'd known coming into this that he was getting an opportunity most people couldn't hope for. He'd even known that it wouldn't last forever. What he hadn't quite realized was that his gain could only occur as a result of another man's devastating loss.
When Katze became Iason Mink's furniture, he knew exactly what he could look forward to. He'd do his job as seamlessly as he'd planned, and he'd use Iason's technology, but he'd also make sure that when the day came for Iason to replace him, he'd be ready.
Iason was as easy to fool as he had hoped. Katze did his work with quiet expertise, and when Iason was safely away or occupied, he'd use the computer terminal provided for his use to chase electronic trails that lured him seductively, his heart beating loudly and his breath short as his fingers flew across the keyboard.
When Iason caught him, struck him, there was a terrible moment of clarity: the slow seep of blood from the cut on his cheek pounded in time with the pulse hammering in his chest and in his truncated cock, while all of the workings of his mind were reduced to a single thought: "I've lost everything."
"I'd never have thought furniture could accomplish so much," Iason said. There was a long, terrible silence. "It would be a shame to let it go before seeing what else it could do."
Katze couldn't respond; he wouldn't know what to say even if he could get the tightness in his throat to ease long enough to get the words out. He looked away instead, and after Iason had left, he smiled.
When Katze fell in love with Iason, he knew the precise boundaries of his love. He'd never get to touch Iason, never be touched in return. he'd never know the joy of having his feelings returned or even of confessing his own. But he'd be the person closest to Iason in every other way, the most trusted member of his household.
And then Iason met Riki. Then Iason fell in love with a mongrel turned pet and made him into his entire world. And Katze realized that he'd never known anything.