Stiles looked over the paperwork sitting on his desk yet again. There was a lot of it. A thick packet of explanations and demands for information from him. Places to sign to indicate that he fully understood what he was getting into, and places to sign to waive certain rights while retaining others, although he wasn’t sure exactly who the signatures were for. What he was thinking of getting himself involved in wasn’t exactly covered by human law.
There were a number of supernatural creatures in this world. Some were a problem, hands down. Some didn’t seem to bother anyone at all. Werewolves were in a certain grey area, a class all their own, and there were enough of them that they had a certain sway against human laws. There were vast preserves and territories occupied by the weres alone, and there they largely governed themselves. The system worked, for the most part, and rarely did the human and werewolf worlds have cause to meet.
But there was a contingent of werewolves, Stiles had found out -- a small, niche little group of them, who had taken their supernatural superiority to a kinky extreme. And those individuals sought out humans to keep, basically as pets.
Stiles wasn’t new to the kink scene by any stretch. At twenty-two years of age, he’d struggled through college on his own, and had needed a certain outlet. He’d played the Dom (which he’d hated), the sub (which he’d tolerated), and had even had largely egalitarian relationships with kinky play of various sorts. He’d tried out men and women, with only a slight preference for men. He’d been a dog for one partner and a little boy for another. And that last was the most fulfilling experience of all, by far.
Because Stiles hadn’t had a chance to be a child since he was nine years old, really. That’s when he’d lost his mother, and the result was a need to help take care of his crumbling father. His dad had tried his best, but he hadn’t perhaps handled it well, and Stiles had had to grow up fast. Twice. Losing his dad to his dangerous job in high school had forced Stiles to immediately become a fully fledged adult. One with inheritance, and bills. One with a need to go to college, but no idea how it was done, and no guidance.
Now at twenty-two, he had a history degree and no decent job prospects unless he went to graduate school. His ADD had barely handled undergrad and neither his wallet nor his soul could countenance going back for more, at least not yet. But working at a gas station like he was some tenth grader wasn’t going to pay off his student debt any time soon, and he was tired of living in a roach infested apartment. He needed help. He wanted out.
He’d tried to lose himself in his leisure hours, as much as one could, but it was never enough. And much to his despair, no long-term Dominant wanted to be saddled with Stiles’ student debt and lack of job prospects. It sounded like a great way to divest himself of crushing responsibilities on paper, but no one was dumb enough to want to take that kind of burden on. And certainly there was an ever shrinking pool of people who wanted age play as something more permanent. Stiles didn’t have a particular age in mind, but anything below his actual age people shied away from when it came to long term.
And so, there were the wolves.
Some wanted a pet. Some wanted a servant. But some... some wanted a sort of child. And the wolves, it turned out, were long-lived, and didn’t shy away from the long term. And the wolves, so it seemed, existed in a state of legal limbo, where someone like Stiles could lose his debts and obligations to the human world for at least as long as he’d agree to live on the preserve.
He looked around his dingy apartment, his hands sweating. None of the furniture was his, and all of it was defective. The mattress was so warped and lumpy that he’d seriously considered sleeping directly on the floor, though that would bring him closer to any number of various bugs he hadn’t quite managed to banish. In his kitchenette, there were stacks of take out containers that he really couldn’t afford, but he’d never had the time to learn to properly cook and still didn’t have the time now, with his insane hours. The thought of work brought his eyes to a wrinkled uniform and nametag. A gas station. Really. It made him cringe.
His eyes slid back to the thick packet of papers. There was no one really to inform. Stiles hadn’t had any close friends since high school. All of his high school friends had managed to fall away during college, when they’d all seemed to find productive lives and Stiles had seemed to suffocate. As far as his meagre belongings, his apartment, his bank account and so on -- the agency had assured him that they would take care of all of that. In fact, the packet of papers explained exactly how all of it would work, in great detail. Stiles had read it at least three times.
There was nothing left to sign at this point. Signing had been as easy as breathing. A weight lifted off of his chest with each signature added to the pile. A way out. He’d found a way out. Someone to take care of him, and take him away.
All he had to do now was go back to the agency, on the far end of town at the edge of the preserve. Hand over his papers, and his person, and his life. It was one final, very big step to make. Was he really doing this? His mind struggled to fully process the fact that he could walk there now, and miss his shift at the gas station tonight. He could miss it permanently. Or he could work his shift, he supposed, and eat take out, and do it all again. Until... what? What was the alternative plan? He didn’t have one.
Stiles walked into the building without much difficulty. Though it was in a poor area of town, and though most humans avoided anything remotely near the preserve, he hadn’t had any difficulty getting there, or getting in. There was no security posted at the door. No metal detectors. Hell, no cameras that he could see, and he had a decent eye for it, growing up around law enforcement.
The entryway and the private office he’d seen previously weren’t sterile at all. They had neither the look, nor smell, nor feel of other official buildings Stiles had been in, like banks or office buildings or doctors offices or the school bursar. It was clean and bright, not exactly lived in he supposed, and yet it had more the feel of someone’s living room rather than office.
A woman was at the front desk when he walked in. A sturdy wood desk, like something out of Mad Men, and her cat-eye glasses evoked another era, though her clothes looked modern and comfortable enough. “May I help you?” she asked pleasantly, and Stiles eyed her speculatively. Was she one of them? He never was certain who might be a werewolf. It would make sense if one of their own worked at the agency, but then again they might hire humans. He really didn’t know.
At any rate, she wasn’t the woman he’d met with previously. “Yes. Uhm.” Stiles pulled his stack of papers out of his messenger bag and slid it over her desk. His palms were sweating and his heart was hammering in his chest, and he was starting to feel dizzy, but it wasn’t exactly a panic attack. He was intimately familiar with panic attacks. No, now it was simple nerves. This was kind of a big deal.
The woman’s eyes lit on the papers with comprehension as she began to page through them. She smiled warmly at him. “I see. Why don’t you sit down while I go over these?” she offered, nodding to the comfortable chair at an angle to the desk. Stiles sat immediately, grateful for some direction, as he wasn’t sure what to do here. His leg bounced nervously and he wasn’t sure what to do with his hands, twisting them into the hem of his t-shirt and fussing with the strap of his bag.
The woman took her time. Of course she would. It would take time to read through something so lengthy. But at last, she looked up at him again.
“Everything seems to be in order here,” she glanced down again, “Stiles. If you’re certain?”
“Yes,” Stiles hurried to agree, desperate now that he was here to get this over with. To get to the next step.
The woman smiled that warm smile again. “Wonderful. Then I believe we’ll get you settled in. Have you eaten yet tonight?”
It was around eight o’clock now, Stiles guessed, when he factored in when he’d left and how long he’d been there, though he didn’t see a single clock. “Uhm.” His mind blanked. “I ate kind of a late lunch?” he hazarded a guess. “Around three?”
“We’ll get you on a regular schedule soon enough,” the woman, whose name he still didn’t know, reassured him. “Our evening meal has already passed, but I’ll let them know to give you something light before we get you settled.” She was typing on her computer. Stiles supposed she was letting someone know something about his situation, as she’d indicated, though he couldn’t see the screen.
“Meryl will be through in just a moment. She’ll help get you oriented and settled in for the night.”
“Oh. Okay. Great,” Stiles said stiltedly as his mind spun out in a hundred directions.
“We’ll take possession of what you’ve brought with you,” the woman reminded him, and he nodded. He’d had an in-depth conversation about it already at his preliminary interview. “It says here that you take Adderall. Do you have it with you now?”
“Uh, yeah.” He fished in his bag for his pills.
The woman nodded. “Meryl will take that as well. Just let her know when you’ve last had your dosage and we’ll be sure to work the medication into your schedule. Future prescriptions will be taken care of. You don’t have to worry about that.”
Stiles felt a warmth run through his chest. Even when his father had taken care of him, it hadn’t been a given that he’d have his meds. Sometimes there was the threat of low income and high expenses hanging over their heads. His dad would try to shield him from that, but he always knew. Sometimes it was the fact that neither of them was great at keeping track of when Stiles needed a new order, and days, weeks, or even months could go by before the situation would be remedied. But now the agency would take care of it. And later, his new guardian -- whatever wolf they’d vetted, and who would choose him. He wouldn’t have to worry about his basic well-being again.
The woman at the desk was clearly prepared to say more about what was to come, but just then a bright-eyed blonde stepped up to the desk from seemingly nowhere. Stiles hadn’t really been paying attention.
“Stiles?” she questioned.
“I’m Meryl. I’ll help you settle in for the evening. If you’ll come this way?” She held out her arm to usher him, and Stiles stood up, hitching his bag over his shoulder.
“Let me take that for you,” she offered, holding out a hand. It felt weird to let some woman take his bag for him, the opposite of what he’d been conditioned to do, but Stiles fought with his conditioning for a second as he realized she wasn’t really offering. It wasn’t really his anymore.
“Oh. Right,” he said with a sort of dazed blink as he handed it over, but Meryl acted as if neither of them had missed a beat. “And these are my meds.” He handed that over as well, the pill bottle still having been clutched in his hand.
“Perfect. When was your last dose?” she asked with a tone of casualness. “Do you remember?”
“I think this morning... probably around ten o’clock?”
“Thank you, Stiles.” She smiled as if she were pleased with him, and Stiles felt pleasant goosebumps emerge across his skin in response. “That should be easy to work into your morning routine.”
They’d passed through the entry room and down a hallway, and were coming to a set of thick wooden doors. They looked sturdy, but incongruous with the current era. Everything here was a sort of anachronistic hodge-podge of old and new. The werewolves, it seemed, operated within an entirely different set of cultural preferences.
“Right through here,” she said, opening the door with a large metal key, and then locking it again behind them.
Stiles looked around at a dining hall straight out of Hogwarts. Okay, so maybe there wasn’t anything actually magical in evidence, and it was quite a bit smaller, but it had the same sort of wooden tables and chairs, and an air of majesty.
“This is where you’ll take your meals for as long as you’re with us,” Meryl explained, though she was already leading the way into the kitchen in the back. Again, Stiles was struck by how it was nothing like a school cafeteria, or any industrial kitchen he was familiar with. It was certainly large enough to accommodate the facility, but it was homier, with an old world flair.
The dinner hour had already passed and the dining hall was empty and clean, but here in the kitchen a man and a woman were still cleaning piles of dishes by hand.
“Jason, Beth, this is Stiles,” Meryl introduced, as everyone made their polite hellos. “Jason if you could heat up some simple broth for Stiles that would be wonderful. And perhaps some herbal tea? We’ll come back through after Stiles has had a shower and a change of clothes.”
“Of course.” Jason grinned at the two of them, and Stiles found himself wondering if every single person in this facility was always this genuinely cheerful. He couldn’t remember the last time someone in the human world had smiled at him sincerely, but he couldn’t detect any of that forced falsehood from these people. It unnerved him just how much he wanted to believe it was real.
Meryl was already striding ahead through a muted hallway with dim lights and a scrubbed wooden floor. A communal bathroom was next on the list, though it too was eerily quiet. White porcelain tiles gleamed out at him, and he took in the series of sinks, toilets, and shower stalls. Unlike in his previous dorm room, however, here and there were signs of life -- not shower baskets whisked back into private rooms.
The sinks had toothbrushes neatly in their loops on the wall, a clean glass beside each, and a tube of nondescript toothpaste, though each person seemed to have their own, and there was some slight variety. Apparently you could have preferences? Or perhaps your toothpaste was assigned randomly, or maybe it had to do with physical needs? At any rate, Stiles didn’t get a chance to ask about it.
Along a wall near the showers, Stiles could see a variety of coloured fluffy towels hung with varying degrees of neatness, all in a row. The floor and the sink were wet, as well as most of the towels. Stiles looked to Meryl questioningly.
“At our particular facility, our boys and girls go to bed by eight o’clock. I’m sure everyone’s guardian will have their own preferences but that’s the routine we’ve set,” Meryl explained. She opened a closet door against the wall and pulled out a fresh towel and a washcloth, which she handed to Stiles. A bar of soap. A bottle of two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. A toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste.
“If you require anything else, let me know,” Meryl told him. “Some of our little ones prefer to floss, others use mouthwash. If you don’t like a particular scent or taste provided, let one of the caregivers know about it and we’ll do our best to make you more comfortable. Though as I’m sure you know, wolves can be quite sensitive to scents as well, so you might not have as much variety as you’re accustomed to.
“As for shaving, you’ll be allowed access to shaving supplies as needed but only while supervised. Many guardians will choose to depilate their little ones but we prefer to leave the decision up to the guardian. Let’s see, what else....” Meryl seemed to be counting items on her fingers as she thought. “Ah. Deodorants and perfumes of any sort are strictly forbidden. Again, wolf preference.”
Meryl held out her arm toward the row of stalls. “You’ll find there’s ample shelf space in most of the stalls for your things. Simply set up where you find spare room,” she explained. “You can leave your old clothes on one of the benches,” she pointed along the wall under the towels. “While you wash up, I’ll go get you some clothes, and we’ll save brushing our teeth for after meal time.”
Stiles stood in the middle of the bathroom for a moment as Meryl left, and hesitated on what to do first. He peeked into a few of the shower stalls until he found one with space on the ample tiled shelving set into the wall, and placed his soap, shampoo, and washcloth, hoping that he’d remember which one was his. Then he traced back to the wooden bench and began to strip, feeling intensely self conscious. Meryl could return at any moment, he knew. In fact, he’d signed whole sheaves of paper regarding his nudity, allowing guardians access to his body in any number of ways.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want it, of course, but baring himself now made his decision more real. As he placed his clothes on the bench before him, he thought about how he might never see them again. Not if he stuck to the program. His heart clenched as he remembered some of his more treasured items. A prized photo album in his apartment was among them. The agency would keep it for him, and then his guardian. If it seemed like it would be good for him, he might be given access to it one day. But until then, they would keep it to help him with his transition, unless and until he should opt out.
Stiles’ hands shook as he placed the last of his clothes on the messy pile, and he moved into his shower stall to clean himself with the mostly unscented soaps. Because the werewolves preferred it. Again, Stiles found himself wondering whether Meryl was a wolf. Or the woman at the desk. How many wolves were in this building, right now? How soon until he met one face to face? Had he already? And when he did, when he met a potential guardian and knew they were a wolf, would he actually be able to tell? Would he ever see one of them in their shifted form?
Stiles emerged from his stall to towel himself off, and flushed when he realized Meryl had indeed returned. She made no effort to avert her eyes, any more than a parent would to a small child.
His old clothes, he noted, were already absent, and in their place were some soft pyjamas, not unlike what he’d normally wear. Some soft drawstring pants. A slightly baggy t-shirt. Both of them nondescript. A similarly plain pair of tighty whities completed the look, and Stiles flushed a shade darker when he spotted them atop the pile. He hadn’t worn that style of underwear for years now, preferring boxers.
Meryl stopped him before he could reach out to begin dressing. In her hand was a device he’d seen before but never tried. A cock cage. “I’m afraid we can’t trust new boys not to try something naughty,” Meryl told him with a sparkle in her eyes. “Let’s just take care of this and you can get dressed.”
Stiles had known he was agreeing to any of a number of chastity devices, so it wasn’t as if it was a shock. Still, he tried to keep his eyes on a point on the wall as Meryl fussed with his genitals for a moment, efficiently locking his soft cock into a small cage.
“Any discomfort?” She drew Stiles back into his body, to the present moment.
He shifted a bit from foot to foot. The cage felt new, and there was a weight to it, a new pressure at various points. But no, no real discomfort. He shook his head. For once in his life, his words were scarce. He was grateful that at least Meryl seemed satisfied and he rushed through putting on the rest of his clothes.
“Come along then, Stiles.” Meryl ushered him back through where they’d come from, into the kitchen. By the time they arrived, the dishes had been cleaned and there was no sign of Jason or Beth, but a bowl of chicken broth had been left out for Stiles along with a small crust of bread, and a cup of chamomile tea. He sat down at the little counter, glad that he didn’t have to sit out in the large dining hall alone in the night. Though it couldn’t really be said to be night either. Not at eight thirty, with the summer sun still in the sky.
Stiles would have had work scheduled tonight. His hours were sporadic. But tonight he was scheduled to work, and as such he was wide awake. And hungry, as it turned out. He’d always struggled with self care, and this small meal was enough to settle his nerves and his stomach. While he ate, Meryl prattled on to him about how his schedule would go, how the facility worked, a number of things he knew the gist of already from his previous interview and the sheaf of papers.
When Stiles finished eating, he was led back to the bathroom to brush his teeth and use the toilet. It was weird sitting to pee with the cage, but at least he had the relative privacy of a stall while Meryl waited just outside. And then he was led to a large dark room, full of the sounds of sleeping.
Each bed, he could see in the dim light, was some cross between a bed and a crib. There was a bit of slatting on either side, as if to keep a child from falling out of a bunk bed, but not quite high enough to count as a true crib. Here at the facility, Stiles understood, none of the “children” had an “age”. That was something to be decided between the little and his or her guardian. Some would be kept nearly as infants, with deference to their adult needs, while others would live as old as teens, and everything in between.
Stiles tried to get a quick count of how many people like him were here, just as he’d done in the bathroom earlier. As near as he could tell, there were perhaps ten of them at any one time. Most of them had had to travel to reach this place. It was unusual that Stiles had already lived so near to the preserve.
Several beds were empty but Meryl led him to one in particular, and he crawled in over the little wooden barrier, settling himself under the cover and sheet as Meryl helped him. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had actually tucked him in. She smoothed his hair once he was settled and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Sleep well, Stiles,” she whispered to him, and it was so far from his usual life that Stiles didn’t have a clue how he was meant to respond. Before he could let it worry him, however, Meryl had crept from the room and closed the door behind her, leaving him in the dim quietude of the sounds of sleep.
Stiles laid in the dark, trying to make out the dim forms of the others through the slats of his bed rail. He wasn’t the least bit tired, but he felt soul weary, as if he’d just been through an ordeal. He was anxious, and it took quite some time until he was able to slow his heart. This was real. He was really doing this. This room: not his room. These clothes: not his clothes. He shifted under the sheets to find a more comfortable position, and yep: that cock cage, not his cock cage.
He wondered whether he should have jerked himself off before coming here. Wondered when he’d next be able to. Somehow, it barely seemed to matter. Not against the larger picture. Someone to care for him. Someone to take his problems away. Stiles turned onto his side and tried to simply listen to the sounds of sleep around him. He was more tired than he’d imagined, and it didn’t actually take him long to fall asleep.