Did this scene hit as hard as it should have in terms of emotional impact on the audience?
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A note from candicame

Hey guys, I'm back with a new chapter, and I do want to put another warning here.  This is one of the most traumatic, one of the worst chapters in the book, and certainly the worst that you've seen so far.  This is the first real sex scene.

I'm eager to hear any feedback y'all have, I just wanted to make sure you knew what you were in for.

Xaxac was still reeling by the time he landed on the bed. The linens had apparently been changed, and he suspected the bed had been refilled, because he didn’t recognize the blankets, and what he landed on after Agalon tossed him down was even softer than what he had become accustomed to.

He wasn’t exactly dry, and it annoyed him. He also hadn’t gotten to comb out his hair, which he suspected did something to it, because his mother had always been very clear that it should be done, and very particular about how it needed to be done. He hadn’t had time to tell this to Agalon, and he suspected he likely wouldn’t have that time for a good while, because Agalon was slipping out of his robe and climbing on top of him, as if he was expected to continue what had been started downstairs.

The last time he had seen his mother, she had told him to be good, quiet, and polite. She had told him to do everything Agalon said and everything would work out. So he needed to just control his breathing, to fight past whatever was causing him the strange fear he shouldn’t feel, and be obedient, quiet, and polite.

He wished he was drunk.

If he was drunk, that feeling would go away, and he could enjoy things. Agalon didn’t seem to understand what was wrong with him any more than he understood it himself, but he wasn’t angry about it, had absolutely no desire to punish him for it, so everything was going to be alright. He would figure it out in the morning.

“You’re so cute, Honey Bunny,” Agalon said as sat up on his knees and pulled apart the towel he had wrapped Xac in downstairs. Xac’s first instinct was that they needed to hang it somewhere so that it would dry out, but he didn’t know where he could do that, and besides, Agalon had tossed it to the floor.

Xac thought that maybe Agalon had been right about him, though he had never seen himself the way Agalon described him. Maybe new things did scare him, did make him skittish, because the new way Agalon had taught him to cuddle had made him feel strange. That’s what had started it. But he also liked it, felt more than the contented comfort he normally felt- but they were sensations and emotions that he could not place, and he wished someone would explain it to him

Agalon cupped his face with one hand and braced himself on the other, then kissed him so fiercely it shoved him into the new stuffing of the bed. It made him feel the same way he had downstairs when Agalon had held him and touched him like he had never been touched before, and he didn’t understand why, because he had been kissed like this before and never made that sort of connection. Maybe he had to wake it up? And now that it was here, maybe it would happen all the time. He knew that he could like it, if he could get past the nervousness it gave him, the weight in his stomach that had absolutely no reason to be there.

Agalon pulled back and ran a hand down his chest, then his stomach, and giggled.

“You’re trembling,” he said softly.

“I’m scared,” Xac admitted, trying to sound as pathetic, fragile, and cute as possible, since Agalon seemed to like that sort of thing, “I’m not drunk anymore and new stuff scares me.”

“Don’t be scared, darlin’,” Agalon’s voice still held that strange deeper tone, and that change made him feel the same way the kissing and the cuddling had, and the confusion must have shown on his face because Agalon continued, “It’s alright to be nervous, but don’t be scared. You know I ain’t gonna hurt you. Just relax. You’re really gonna like this.”

Xac nodded.

“You just ain’t never done this before,” Agalon continued, speaking slowly and softly in that deep voice, “And I don’t think you’re real good at… calling stuff what it is. You ain’t scared. You’re excited.”

That may very well be true. Fear and excitement did feel very similar, and he was more confused than he was anything else. He didn’t know what he was feeling, only that Agalon was doing something to him, and that he knew, in his heart of hearts, that he could enjoy it if he calmed down.

“I don’t know what we’re doin,” Xac admitted, “I’m sorry.”

“You will, darlin,” Agalon promised, “You’ll have lots of practice.”

Xac wasn’t particularly concerned about the physical sensations; he had a vague idea what they were. He had absolute confidence that he could get that down pretty easily with practice. That was actually a relief and a real learning experience. It wasn’t the first time his dick had randomly decided to do strange things, and it was actually the least annoying time it had done it. Most of the time he just woke up feeling like he needed to pee but he didn’t. Whatever Agalon was doing was apparently the real reason that happened, which was good to know.

He sure wished he was drunk.

When Agalon wrapped a hand around the base of his dick and squeezed, he felt that strange sensation come over him again; the good part, the lightning that shot from the sensation up his spine so fiercely it caused the muscles there to spasm as if they had really been shocked and caused him to arch up off the bed- and the bad part, the weight in his stomach and the pool of dread that he didn’t understand. If he could get rid of the last part, which he thought he could do by drinking it away like all the other negativity in his life, he knew he would be fine. He hadn’t realized he had let out that confused whine until Agalon smiled at him.

“Calm down,” he said soothingly, “If you’re scared of stuff you don’t understand… here, I’ll explain it to you.”

Xac nodded, and his smile was sincere for the first time since they had began. That probably would help.

“You were built to be a pleasure slave,” Agalon whispered, and did not stop the motion, which made him a bit more difficult to understand, because the physical sensation was distracting, but Xac fought to keep his eyes on him while Agalon leaned forward, pulled open the drawer on his nightstand with his other hand, and pulled out a bottle of something that Xac didn’t recognize, but that reminded him of all the pretty little bottles down in the bath.

“This,” Agalon tightened his grip on Xac as he moved, to accentuate his point, “means that you’re happy. And I like to see you happy, Honey Bunny.”

Xac was beginning to relax. The more he understood, the less nervous he became. That made sense. He was excited and happy, he did like what Agalon was doing to him, and if he could just get rid of whatever was holding him down, he would enjoy it. It wasn’t much different from the way they normally cuddled, the way Agalon normally held him and played with him, stroking his hair or the flesh on his back or stomach.

“It means you want to have sex,” Agalon smiled as he spoke, closed the drawer, gripped the bottle he had retrieved, and moved to lie closer to Xac, to allow him to cuddle into him. “Do you know what that is? I don’t know what you know.”

He thought he did, but only in the vaguest terms. He had heard the word, the concept bandied around, but never really thought extensively on the subject. As he wracked his brain, trying to come up with some sort of definition, he thought back to the subjects his father and the other men would talk about, late at night around the communal cooking fire, on the nights his mother didn’t come home and they would eat there. There was an abundance of gossip, and the first time Xac remembered hearing the word, it was in the context of one of the men the others were making fun of, who was not there, and who was apparently deserving of ridicule, like the others who ‘couldn’t keep a woman’. Apparently this man had been bad at sex, which was why he ‘couldn’t keep a woman’, and that apparent fact was worth laughing over.

Xaxac did not laugh at this memory.

It was something Agalon wanted him to do, and something he could be bad at. If he was bad at it, it could be dangerous. He needed to be good, like his mother had told him, and he needed to do everything Agalon said, to secure this position, to get him to trust him, to get out of this room again, to see his family again, to get clothes- which was more of a necessity now that he didn’t even have the one outfit he had worn to the bathhouse- to get to go on trips… and to avoid the terrible things that happened to people who were bad, like the Emerald Knight, or getting sent away to that building in town where people were punished, to the place where his actions had sent Mrs OfAgalon.

He realized that he had been lost in thought for too long, and Agalon expected an answer from him, but he seemed content to let him think it over as he kissed down his neck and continued to play with him.

“Kind of,” Xac snuggled in closer, trying to find comfort, trying to get rid of the sense of wrongness that he couldn’t shake. “Not… really, I guess.”

“Well, you’ll love it,” Agalon promised, “You were built for it. You’re so cute, Honey Bunny. And you’re a shifter. Ain’t nobody else got one of you. Rabbits love to fuck. That’s a thing people say. ‘Fuckin like rabbits’.”

Xac nodded, and thought that perhaps the word ‘rabbit’ wasn’t as cute as the word ‘bunny’, so he agreed and corrected at the same time, trying to keep Agalon in the right mindset, by saying, “I’m a bunny.”

“Good,” Agalon kissed his cheek and sat up to lean against the headboard. “You’ve stopped shaking. I really need you to relax or you can hurt yourself. I would never want you to get hurt, darlin. Come here, I wanna show you somethin else that’s gonna feel real good.”

Xac didn’t like the position Agalon arranged him in, because he recognized it. He had been in it before, but he had only had to take it once before he learned never to do it again. He had seen people who didn’t learn from their first beating, and he thought they were stupid. His parents used discipline sparingly, but Xac didn’t know his own strength, and the one time he had lost his temper and hit his sister, during a long, tense winter night when she had pulled his needles out of his yarn and dropped every single stitch because she wanted to use them, he had hit her hard enough to put her on the ground. He had barely had time to realize what he had done before Abe scooped him up, flipped him over his lap, and absolutely busted his ass.

She had a bruise on her face, but she didn’t hate him. Xac didn’t have a bruise, because he had always healed faster than most folks, but he learned not to hit people.

But it absolutely was not helping his nerves, and he wasn’t particularly sure what he had done this time to warrant punishment. He suspected Agalon was angry about his bad attitude, and began to beg.

“I’m sorry!” he pleaded, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me!”

“Why are you saying that?” Agalon asked, sounding genuinely confused. “Nothin is gonna happen. You’re fine.”

“You’re not gonna hit me?” Xac tried to turn to see him, and had to twist nearly in half to do so. Agalon was pouring a thick, viscous, clear liquid from the small bottle onto the outstretched middle finger of his right hand, and didn’t seem at all as if he was preparing to give him a beating.

“Not unless you want me to,” he said with a snicker, as if it was a clever joke, and Xac didn’t understand why that was funny. “No, I done told you, Honey Bunny, you’re a pleasure slave. Nothin but pleasure for you. Stop worryin so damn much. Get outta your head and relax.”

Xac nodded and tried to control his breathing. He didn’t think Agalon was lying to him; he had never lied to him so far. So what was he doing then?

“You can squirm all you want to get comfortable,” Agalon told him, “Because the stretch might not be that comfy at first. But let me get in here and I’ll show you somethin else you’re really gonna like.”

Xac had not had time to form the thought, ‘What stretch?’ before he felt it. But Agalon was wrong, it wasn’t uncomfortable, exactly, it was just new, and like everything else he had learned tonight, it sent that oppressive heaviness over him, so the last thing he felt like doing was squirming. Instead, he froze and collapsed, limp in Agalon’s lap. Whatever Agalon was doing was taking a long time, but he was being especially cuddly, running the hand he wasn’t using through Xac’s hair, the small of his back, or gently over his face, until he seemed to find what he was looking for-

And Xac saw stars.

The lightning that had struck when Agalon had played with him before hit much harder, so hard his knocked him upwards onto his knees and elbows.

“You like that?” Agalon asked.

Xac could ignore the strange emotions for that. He really liked that. Do that again. Do that again and again and again and let him get shitfaced drunk first and then just let that be life.

Agalon trailed his other hand along his stomach and wrapped it around his dick again, then began to move both hands at once.

Ooooooh. That made sense.

Xac grabbed at the blanket and completely lost himself. Agalon was right, he was always right. This was something else like the wine and the kisses. This was one of those things that you didn’t like at first, but then, once you acquired a taste for it, you wanted more and more and more. He still felt the tension, far away and buried somewhere, but he didn’t have time for it anymore, not while he felt this good.

“See, darlin?” Agalon asked, “You’re a natural.”

Xac nodded in agreement.

“I’m gonna teach you all kinds of things,” Agalon continued, “and you’re gonna like all of um, cause you’re built for this. I shoulda done this the first night I got you, but I figured, as jumpy as you are, it might have scared you. But you got over that pretty quick, didn’t ya?”

Xac nodded again. Truth be told, he wasn’t paying a lot of attention. He was more focused on the way the lead in his stomach had been replaced by what felt like a heated spring, and his lower body was tingling, almost numb. It was the best he thought he had ever felt, and he never wanted it to end. The lightning that had struck him was constant, Agalon was moving too fast, and the bolts couldn’t dissipate before a new one set off. He could feel them in his whole body, and couldn’t control his muscles as they tightened up.

“Aw shit,” Agalon said, “I shoulda put a towel down.”

That was the last thing Xac heard before his hearing decided to shut itself down and his eyes closed of their own accord while the world went white around the edges. For a few seconds he was so overcome by a kind of bliss, the kind of pleasure that Agalon had told him about, that he was afraid he wasn’t really tethered to his body. He almost felt like he was floating, and he felt everything more than he was supposed to, as if he wasn’t trapped in a physical body, as if Agalon was touching his raw nerves behind his flesh as he moved and positioned him on his back so he could lie down on the soft bed.

It didn’t take him long to come back to himself, and he blinked physicality back into his eyes as he pushed himself onto his elbows and watched Agalon as he washed his hands in the basin, whistling a tune that Xac knew the words too.

Rabbit what you sittin in the corner for?

Ain’t gonna rain no more no more

Rained last night and the day before

Ain’t gonna rain no more.

“You want a drink darlin?” Agalon asked, and Xac nodded, “You scream when you cum. That the first time you ever did that?”

Xac nodded again.

“How ya feelin?” Agalon asked.

“Can you do that, too?” Xac asked as Agalon picked the towel up off the floor, wet it in the basin, and ran it up and down Xac’s dick, which was much more sensitive than he had anticipated and made him jump up so quickly that he slammed his head against the headboard. Agalon thought this was funny, and it hadn’t really hurt him, so Xac giggled too.

“Yeah,” Agalon explained as he moved to his side of the bed and ran the wet edge of the towel over a stain that was forming on the blanket. “And I’ll show you how to do that in a minute. I need a drink first, and I reckon you do too. Glad to see you happy, darlin.”

“Is that what a pleasure slave does?” Xac asked, “Is that why you wanted me?”

“Dream job, ain’t it?” Agalon tilted Xac’s face up by the chin and kissed him again, “Don’t think of it as a job. I love you, Honey Bunny. You love me too, don’t you?”

Xac nodded, but Agalon stared at him, as if he expected more, expected him to say something, so he said, as sincerely as he could, “I love you too.”

He could almost believe it.

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A note from candicame

If I've done my job some people might have fallen ill, so take a minute to collect yourself and I'll tell you what I was trying to do and why scenes like this are important, and why it's important they be explicit.

The first reason I'm going to talk about is something important to me- in much of the work out there today, this scene, if taken out of the context from the rest of the book, could be read by the audience as erotic or romantic.  There are scenes in erotica and romance that read right out of the DSM, right out of the nightmares of survivors.  And I mean real survivors, in the real world, have to live in a world where this kind of thing can be seen as romantic or erotic.  This kind of horrendous abuse that is the culmination of psychological torture.

Even more disturbingly I see this sort of shit come up in BDSM which is literally the exact opposite of what BDSM actually is.

We see a lot of shit going on with Xac in this chapter that has to do with the abuse, so I'm just going to kind of run through it really quick.  He's lost the right to bodily autonomy to the point that he no longer even tells Agalon what he wants or needs.  He just accepts that, for example, he's not going to get to comb his hair out and he's going to have to go through the pain that will cause in the morning as he works through the knots.  When he does get scared enough to resist in any way, he doesn't try to fight back, he begs.  This is actually another question that people ask survivors- why they didn't fight back.  It has very similar answers to the "Why didn't you run" question and pisses me off to think about having to answer, so I'm not going to answer it twice; you've likely already read the notes from the "Why didn't you run?" section.

He's also to the point where he fully trusts Agalon over his own thoughts and feelings.  Completely.  It doesn't even enter into his mind to consider what he feels, he just wants it to go away.

And he thinks it will if he drinks.  And he's right.  Substance abuse is a major, major issue faced by many survivors because it's something that they use as a coping mechanism during the abuse, and it does work to temporarily relieve the symptoms of the mental issue they develop.  So if it seems to be working, there's no incentive to stop.  This means that the abuser can use the substance as a reward.  That's actually the reason Agalon kept telling Xaxac he couldn't have a drink until they were finished.  Now he's been a good boy, he can get drunk.  Because being drunk is a reward.

Also, there are a few specific drugs that are commonly used because they stunt growth and alcohol is one of them.  Getting the victim addicted doesn't just force them to stay close to the supply, it also causes what developmental psychologists call 'failure to thrive'.  That is, the kids just don't grow like they're supposed to.  You'll get survivors who are, for example, 17 but look about 12, because the consumption of alcohol has impeded their growth.  This isn't a PSA about underage drinking, but seriously if you drink before you've reached your full development it will physically make you not grow like you're supposed to.  This is true even in rats.  Here's an exerpt from a study on the subject:

"During puberty, accelerating cascades of growth factors and sex hormones set off sexual maturation, growth in stature and muscle mass, and bone development. Studies in humans have found that alcohol can lower the levels of growth and sex hormones in both adolescent boys and girls. In animals, alcohol has been found to disrupt the interaction between the brain, the pituitary gland (which regulates secretion of sex hormones), and the ovaries, as well as systems within the ovaries that are involved in regulating sex hormones. In adolescent male animals, both short- and long-term alcohol administration suppresses testosterone; alcohol use also alters growth hormone levels, the effects of which differ with age."  https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh283/125-132.htm

The goal here is actually pretty obvious, the abusers are trying to keep their victims as childlike as possible for as long as possible.  Cocaine also does a similar thing.  There's a bunch of drugs that do this.  Notice how it affects every level of growth, bone density, muscle mass, secondary sex characteristics, like this is not something to fuck around with and it's not like these kids go through rehab and it's like none of it ever happened.  These people will be shorter and have less developed features, like, forever.  This is a permanent disfigurement.  They will eventually go through puberty and reach adult maturation levels, but they're stunted in their development.  I just want to explain that this is not a small thing that someone can just "Get over", because I have seen people in the real world say this to survivors.  This is something that will permanently affect their physical development.

Take that information and apply it to the way Agalon has said a few times that Xaxac is "probably done growing" or "about as big as he's gonna get".

Also though, this is a fantasy story.  So remember that Xaxac has said several times that he "heals really fast" or "heals quicker than a lot of people".  Notice that he lost his buzz almost as soon as he quit drinking, and his hangovers only last for a few minutes, not for hours like they do with a normal human.  Agalon's plan of stunting growth might not work as well on a shifter as it did on his last pleasure slave.  They might heal from the effects of drugs a lot quicker than regular humans.

Also that very last thing, that forcing Xaxac to tell him he loves him- again, for the grooming to work, Xac doesn't have to believe this, because if he keeps saying it, it get easier.  It gets easier every time, until it might as well be true.

This scene was supposed to have a huge emotional impact on the reader, so for feedback, I'm really interested in whether or not it actually did.


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candicame

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