Returning to Work At A Job You Love Is Often A Positive Experience
Joey jumped at Owen, which was his mistake.
Owen pushed him backwards while he was in midair, making him land on his ass with a grunt. Joey glared up at Owen, reached out with his tail. Owen lifted up a foot to avoid being grabbed and Joey tackled his other leg, earning himself a knee to the jaw even as he pulled Owen to the ground. As Owen was standing, Joey planted his tail on the ground and kicked as hard as he could, taking Owen in the face, which hurt a lot.
Owen grabbed Joey’s ankle before he could pull it back and stood up, rubbing his cheek. “Ow,” he said, dangling Joey off the ground. Sparring with Joey was fun because he fought unlike any human, but if Joey had one actual draconic quality, it was his inability to control his own strength.
“Let me go!” Joey’s tail snapped out again, but Owen caught it this time and held him there, not doing anything, just holding him in the air helplessly while he flailed and kicked Owen. “Let me go!”
Joey growled and smacked and cursed, but eventually sighed, going limp. “Okay, you win.”
Owen nodded. “It would be cool to make you give me a blowjob like this,” he said thoughtfully. “Holding you up so you can’t move.” A few guys had carried Gavin around at the orgy like a sock puppet on a dick, which Owen had enjoyed, and it might be amusing to do that to Joey.
“Shut up.” Joey paused, huffing. “You want a blowjob?”
“Nah,” said Owen, as always. He gently lowered Joey down on the ground cheek first, letting go of his ankle once his whole face was on the ground. Owen rubbed his face again. “You know, I know you’re into this dragon nudity thing, but you should think about wearing some light armour for fighting. That kick was really strong and if you’d had a boot on, it would have knocked me on my ass.”
Joey looked up at him, rubbing his head. “You think so?”
Owen nodded and helped Joey stand. “Yeah, definitely. We can probably get you something made that won’t be too heavy or restrictive.”
“Hm,” said Joey, narrowing his eyes and glaring at Owen. “You’re just trying to trick me into wearing clothes so that Darby will stop using me as a reason why he shouldn’t have to, aren’t you?”
Caught, Owen smiled bashfully. “I don’t know how else to explain to you that clothes are useful for other things than hiding your dick from the world.”
“That seems like something someone with a small dick made up,” Joey decided. “I could really kick harder if I had some boots?”
Owen nodded. “Not harder, but they’d hurt other people’s faces more and you wouldn’t have to worry about hurting your feet.”
“Okay. I’ll think about it.”
“Good. Now fuck off, I have other people to beat the shit out of.”
Joey nodded, and fucked off, though only a short distance, because he picked a fight with Archie right away. Owen was back at the fortress and, despite how long he’d been gone, it didn’t seem like they’d found anyone to be the asshole who stood in the training yard and told everyone what they were doing wrong.
Fortunately, Owen was an asshole, good at standing, and knew what people were doing wrong, so he could do that. There was a pack of new squires, so he was out here with all of them, the older ones and Joey, stealing them from their sparring partners one at a time so he could see them in action himself. Darby had come with him and done a little practicing too, but he’d disappeared a while ago. Owen had last seen him facing off against Ty, who was also mysteriously missing, so Owen was just choosing to be grateful that they’d gone somewhere private to fuck instead of trying to do it out here in the cold where they’d be distracting everyone.
The next squire was one of the new guys, a nervous looking kid named Twig who didn’t look like a twig, but who also wasn’t thick enough for the name to be a good joke. “You ready?” Owen asked Twig, who nodded and held up his sword.
Owen let Twig set the pace—the point was to see where he needed to improve, after all—and he was pretty good. He knew how to use his shield, which a lot of them didn’t. His sword work was effective if clumsy, and not the standard moves they taught them in training. “Someone taught you to fight well before you came to the school,” Owen told him.
Twig blushed a little. “Yes, sir. My mom.”
There was some reluctance there, so Owen just nodded. “She did a good job. How come you use your sword in your right hand?”
“Uh, well, where else would I hold it?”
“Well, you’re left-handed, aren’t you?” He wasn’t using his shield like people who were right-handed did, he had a lot more control over it than that, looking for ways to use it offensively. Really, his whole body never stopped moving, which made it harder to tell what was a feint and what wasn’t.
Twig blinked. “Uh, not really? I’m good with both hands.”
Owen nodded. That was a useful skill. “You should think about holding your shield on your right arm instead. You’d have to do some practicing to get used to it, but it would really throw most people off and give you a big advantage.”
“Oh.” Twig nodded, looking down at his shield. “Okay, I’ll think about that. Thank you, Sir Owen.”
“Anytime. Go practice with Warren, and try not to bend your knees so much.”
Owen looked up, saw Elaine standing in the doorway, waving him over. “You’re next when I get back,” he warned Leo as he went by, patting his shoulder. Sparring with Leo was Edwin, and Owen moved his hand to his shoulder. “If Ty takes his dick out of my son long enough to come back to training, make sure to tell him I did notice he’s still doing that thing with his shoulders, will you?”
“Got it,” Edwin said, and Owen patted his back and joined Elaine in the doorway. She was watching Leo and Edwin too, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Now that he wasn’t out there, they were the two best fighters on the field, even if it wasn’t a particularly close contest. Owen had shown up to practice an hour early and found Edwin already there, but except for the sweat clumping his hair, Owen never would have been able to tell he wasn’t fresh. His movements were so fast and smooth that Owen hadn’t been able to give him any pointers, even though he’d been watching him out of the corner of his eye all morning.
Oh. “They’ve gotten better since we left,” Owen told Elaine, hoping his codpiece was hiding just what kind of appreciation he’d started to feel. Hopefully Elaine wasn’t half as perceptive as Gavin, who’d been able to see it back in the summer no matter how much Owen wore.
Elaine nodded. “How’s the new batch?”
“They’re pretty standard, I think. Twig is really good.”
“You like him?”
“I don’t know him,” Owen said. “But he’s talented.”
“Okay,” Elaine agreed. “Not totally sure Stan is a good fit for him is all.”
“You don’t think?” Owen didn’t know Stan well. He seemed fine. “Well, if you’re thinking of moving him, Gabrielle’s about to lose her squire and so’s Devin.” Ash and Warren were both up for promotions, and so was Evan, all at the same time as Edwin.
“Yeah,” Elaine agreed. “That’s actually what I need to talk to you about. You know Gavin’s put in a request to have his bodyguard expanded because of Darby and Greg?”
Oh, good, he’d put in the request. “Yeah,” said Owen. “I told him to do it.” They’d talked about it last night for a few hours. “We’re also hiring two mercenaries we know, one of which is a sorcerer.”
“Right,” Elaine agreed. “It’s looking like Edwin will get his knighthood, and I’m thinking of having him command the group that’ll be looking out for the kids, what do you think?”
“I think that would work really well,” Owen said. He couldn’t help but smile a little at the image. “Edwin deserves it, but more importantly, I think he’d be good at it, and Darby likes him and Greg doesn’t mind him.” Greg didn’t know Edwin well yet, that was all, but he knew him better than he knew most people.
“We’ve found in the past,” said Elaine as they turned a corner, “that kids respond better to younger knights. That they’re more likely to listen to them and do as they say.”
“Right.” That made sense to Owen, though as a kid he’d have listened to anyone with armour and a big enough sword. “You’re thinking we should poach Ash and Warren for Darby and Greg, then.”
“Not poach, Gabrielle and Devin both put in recommendations.”
“They don’t want them on Gabrielle’s guard?” Gabrielle also had Franz and his whole family to look out for now too, since a bunch of them had appeared up here since they’d left, though Franz did have all his own security as well. “Isn’t her guard growing as well?”
“It is, but Gabrielle wanted Ashton on Gavin.”
“Because she trained him,” Owen said, ignoring the other way to hear that sentence. “Yeah, you’re definitely right that Darby will pay more attention to Ash and Warren than he would to someone your age.” He blinked, realizing what he’d just said. “Which is what, twenty-five?”
“Cute, but not all of us are afraid of being in our forties,” Elaine said with a smile. “We will put more seasoned guards on the team too, obviously, but I was thinking those two and Evan would make good additions.”
“I think that’s a good idea. As long as Greg isn’t afraid of them, he’ll listen to them,” Owen said. “So it’s really just Darby you need to worry about. And I don’t see him having a problem with them.”
“Speaking of which…”
“Yes, I’ll talk to him and explain that his bodyguards are allowed to say no when he tries to have sex with them.” He’d probably make Edwin tell them that they’d have to say no during dangerous situations like state functions, because that would definitely be when Darby would be the most bored and when their jobs would be the most important. Owen had to remember to set aside a few hours so he could fully enjoy the look that Edwin would get on his face during that conversation.
“Good. I doubt they will, but I’m not the boy’s father so that’s not my problem.” Elaine nodded. She pushed open the door to a small office and led Owen inside, gesturing for him to sit. “I also want to go over candidates for inclusion on Gavin’s expanded guard. I know Gavin will want to review them, but please try not to choose them based on what they look like naked.”
Owen grinned at her. “I do take my husband’s protection seriously. What his bodyguards look like naked may be his first priority, but it’s fourth for me. Speaking of which, anyone new to the family’s guard and everyone currently on it is going to need to learn sign language. Gavin’s hiring a teacher this week.”
“I’ll make room in all our schedules.” said Elaine. “Oh, one more thing before we get to the list.” She fished out a piece of paper, handed it to Owen. “Your new orders.”
“New orders?” Owen took them, opened the paper.
“You’ve been formally assigned to the training yards here at the fortress until we can find a permanent replacement. Obviously we don’t expect you to prioritize us over Gavin, but as long as you and your betrothed are in the capital, there’s no reason you can’t be useful.”
Elaine’s voice hid the deception so well Owen almost believed it. Owen would be happy to have everyone know the truth about him and Gavin, except that it would cause problems for Gavin, so it was good that one of them knew how to keep their mouths shut. “That sounds like I’m being ordered to do exactly what I’ve been doing.” Now Owen’s smile was so wide it almost hurt.
“Indeed. Your probationary status is also being reviewed.” Elaine shrugged. “May take a while, so we’ll get back to it another day. For now, let’s go over these names quickly so you can get back out there.”
“Got it,” Owen said, putting the paper into his pocket. He was glad to be back at work.