In For a Penny

Sam glanced across the length of the bookshop at the customers who’d walked in. Acrossand down.

He didn’t have much patience with mice. In a land built for people four to seven feet high or so, being under a foot high made you just too damn small. Like now. The mouse woman’s gaze fell pointedly on a book on the top shelf. In turn, the man looked pointedly at Sam.

Sighing, he navigated around the old oaken counter and its piles of newly bought, still-to-be-sorted tomes and scrolls, and walked toward them, claws clicking softly on the hardwood floor. It had been a bad day. By the old grandfather clock, the magicians’ bookshop closed in less than five minutes. Old Man Smith would have chased the mice out with a broom, but if he caught wind of Sam passing up an opportunity to sell so much as a gumdrop he’d spontaneously combust. “Can I help you?”

The woman looked up, hands on hips. “I’d like to look at the Ardagast book up there.”

Sam had become good at guessing customer ages, but he couldn’t tell with her. If pressed, he’d put her at just under twice his age, mid-forties to his mid-twenties. Light tan fur covered a lithe, buxom little body, rounded ears breaking a river of unkempt black hair streaked with gray. A beautiful little doll. He couldn’t help think of her that way; at six-foot-two, the orange tabby’s knees were well over her head.

Striking cold lavender eyes regarded Sam with a confidence that broke his thoughts, leaving him momentarily off-balance. “Um. This one?” Sam said hurriedly, leaning over her and reaching for the book.

“No. The red one, with the sealing twine,” the man said.

They were a matched set, Sam decided. His fur was a darker brown, body muscular, bright black eyes and a similarly timeless age despite the gray hair. Both wizards, assuredly, but far from the shop’s normal clientele of doddering scholars. No, they were traveling wizards, people who used the spells rather than merely creating them. Fighters. Adventurers.

Sam felt a flare of anger. The kind of wizard he’d wanted to be. Both of the academies worth going to had turned him down after the entrance exam. Never mind how much he actually knewthey hardly seemed to test that. And here were two mice

He quelled the thought, tail lashing. The book Sam had reached for possessed a dark red spine reading “Ardagast,” but lacked the binding of string holding the covers shut. He moved his hand to the book next to it, a brighter red with the requested twine. “Alchemical Formulae,” he read aloud.

“That’s it.”

He tugged it out of its place, a musty cloud of dust motes rising from the shelf to glitter in the sallow light of a hanging oil lantern. Sam leaned over, setting it down on the floor.

Smith had told him you should always kneel when giving something to a mouse. “Don’t lean, and never crouch, for God’s sake,” he’d said. “Seeing a cat crouch over ’em kicks off some kinda fear instinct and you just about have to scrape ’em off the walls.”

Not these mice. A mere flash of irritation crossed the woman’s muzzle as she leaned over the book herself. “Undo the twine?”

“Sure.” He did so.

“Are we the first customers to look at this one?” the man asked.

Sam shook his head. “I doubt it. We retie the twine. It’s a custom some spellcasting schools use as a way to mark books that use dangerous spell components.”

“We’re familiar with the tradition,” the woman said dryly, starting to briskly flip through the pages. “Thoughtful of you to protect students from themselves even in here.”

“It’s a courtesy. Ardagast liked some pretty explosive stuff.”

“You know his work?”

Sam shrugged, leaning back. “I studied to be a wizard once,” he said nonchalantly. “Just the secondary training.”

“You didn’t apply at an academy?” She glanced up over her shoulder.

“I didn’t pass entrance examinations,” he said, “and haven’t gotten enough money yet for new training.”

“It won’t help,” she said, turning back to the yellowed tome on the floor. “Or more precisely, any academy testing you for book knowledge is a useless academy. That’s most of them, though.”

Sam gritted his teeth, but didn’t respond, just watching them as his tail lashed.

The woman’s knee-length black skirt hadn’t seemed either that short or that tight before she’d leaned over. But both of his arrogant little customers were dressed quite provocatively, he realized, particularly for such a conservative little town. He wore thigh-length breeches to go with her skirt, and both wore leather vests; the man didn’t have anything on under his. Sam couldn’t see what she wore underneath, but he remembered a lot of furprobably just a halter. And probably black, like everything else they both had on. Black and tight.

“This might do,” she mused, flipping the pages more slowly. The man simply seemed to be standing at relaxed attention, arms crossed over his chest.

The grandfather clocked struck six long, rolling chimes. Unfazed, the mouse woman continued her study, not once looking up from the book. “Jared, see if our failed student can tear himself away from gazing at my ass long enough to find any other Ardagast volumes.”

Sam stiffened, feeling his ears redden.

Grinning, the male mouse looked up at Sam. “Well?”

Rising to his feet, Sam said, “The only other one I see in this section is the one you didn’t want.”

“Your thaumaturgy section is separate, I trust.”

“Yes.”

Jared nodded. “Let’s go.”

“I’ve really got to close the store, I’m afraid

“Not until Mira and I are finished.” The mouse’s voice was calm, which somehow made it more infuriating than if he’d been overtly commanding.

“Fine,” Sam snapped, stalking toward the thaumaturgy shelves. Jared hurried after him.

“Here’s an Ardagastno, three.” He pulled the old books down from the shelves and dropped them on the floor, letting them hit with a resounding crack that shook the floorboards. Jared stopped abruptly, arms pinwheeling as he backpedaled, and then glared up at the giant.

Sam flashed him a calculatingly vapid smile, showing just a hint of teeth. “I’ll be doing the after-closing bookkeeping and other failed student chores. Let me know when you’re ready to make a purchase.” He walked directly over Jared, heading to the door and flipping the window sign from Open to Closed, pulling down the window shade and locking the deadbolt.

Mira glanced over her shoulder at the counter as Sam came back into her view. “I see why you were screened out. The problem’s not your brain, it’s your temperament. What’s your name?”

“Sam, and my problem is rude little customers who come in at closing and want to use the damn store as a library,” Sam burst out, slapping his hand down on the counter.

“I’m not rude, I’m demanding, and right now I’m demanding that you do your job. Bring the thaumaturgy books over here, without trying to drop them on my husband this time.”

He scowled, feeling his blood start to burn, but she’d turned away from him again already.

Sam stalked out from behind the counter, striding to the thaumaturgy shelf once more, and picked up all three booksthen picked Jared up, too, grabbing him around the waist. The mouse let out a squeak of surprise, then spluttered as Sam carried him that way, swinging his armand the mouseat his side as he walked back to Mira. He set the mouse down on his feet, then set the books down, gently this time.

Mira had her hands on her hips as she stared up coolly. “And you call us rude.”

Sam quickly leaned over toward both mice, smiling with teeth completely bared. “If I was being rude, I’d pick you up and throw you both out. Literally.”

Jared’s tiny hands were balled into fists, but he simply said, voice calm, “Go back to your counter, cat-child.”

Sam saw red.

Dropping to his knees, the cat lashed out, grabbing Jared in one hand and Mira in the other. Both mice gasped.

You are more fired than fired, a voice in the back of Sam’s mind said. If you set them down and give them all the books for free, Old Man Smith will still fire you but maybe he’ll let you live.

Mira looked rattled, which somehow elated Samfinally she showed an emotion other than cool disdainbut appraised him keenly. “Sam, do you really want to be a wizard?”

“Of course.” He sat back, but kept his hands around both mice, forcing them to sit on his kneesJared to the left, Mira to the right. “What, you’re bargaining?”

“All of life is a bargain, Sam. Why are you so frightened by not being in control?”

“You don’t think I’m in control now?” Sam tightened his grip.

Mira gasped, wriggling, her little tail flicking back and forth erratically. “I meant

“Shut up!” he snarled.

“If you let us go now, we can go about our business and forget you assaulting us,” Jared said.

Sam fixed him with his gaze. The mouse’s flinch told the cat he looked as wild as he felt; with a sense of excitement combined with distant alarm, Sam realized he was becoming very aroused. “But you’re quite the handsome little doll, and your wife is damn hot.” He leaned forward and stage-whispered, “Does she spit or swallow?”

Mira and Jared exchanged worried glances, then both looked back up at Sam. “What do you want us to do?” Mira said, sounding more resigned than nervous. “Put on a miniature sex show between your legs?”

Sam’s grip faltered slightly as he looked at her. He couldn’t askcouldn’t demandno, he could. But he’d already crossed one line he shouldn’t have.

“Don’t pretend to look shocked, Sam,” Mira said, voice edging toward impatience. “Even if I couldn’t see your erection from here I could smell it.”

Sam licked his lips. “In for a penny, in for a pound, huh? All right. Have it my way.” He slid both mice along his legs to his thighs, then down so they pressed against his breeches, their loose fit now tightened visibly in front.

After another exchange of glances, Mira reached up and deftly undid the top button, as Jared used both hands to tug down the zipper, muscles straining visibly under his fur.

Sam’s eyes widened. The anger had subsided, partially replaced by the speculation the larger folk shared, mostly when drunk, on couplings between themselves and mice.

Mira ran both of her hands up the taut cloth of his briefs, looking up at the cat’s face.

This time it was his turn to gasp. A shiver ran down his spine, from shoulders to tailtip.

Jared reached up and grabbed the top edge of the briefs, tugging firmly. Sam watched dumbly as the cloth revealed the tip of his penis, then the top part of the shaft.

Mira shrugged out of her vest, tossing it aside, then ran her hands down the cat’s exposed skin, pin-sized clawtips playing over the nerve endings. He leaned back, arms to either side for support.

Jared tugged the briefs down more, then climbed nimbly over the cat’s thigh and hip. After a moment Sam felt the same kind of claw treatment at the base of his tail. “Rrk.”

“Is this good?” asked Mira, taking hold of his shaft with both arms.

“Yes…uh, Irrr!” His erection twitched as the mouse woman licked into the slit. “No. Look. I sh-shouldn’t be…making you…”

“No, you shouldn’t,” Mira agreed. “Are you as frightened of being in control now as you are of having it taken from you?”

“I’m not!” he protested with a wavering growl. He was having trouble keeping his voice level.

“Then tell us to stop, Sam, or tell us what to do.”

“St…st…” He grimaced. “Take off your top.”

Mira nodded solemnly, pulling off the halter and shaking her hair out. “Very well.”

At that moment Jared ran both of his little hands up Jared’s rump. The cat jerked. The mouse under him scrambled away; Mira held on tightly to his shaft, hooking a leg around it as well, making him twitch again. His hands slipped and slid along the floor, until Sam found himself prone, legs folded at the knees and feet under his hips, arms out to the side. The position hurt a little, and it was awkward. He had no leverage.

Mira started kissing him.

Sam squirmed, tail writhing under him. “Hey” He sucked in his breath as Jared began to lick the inside of his left ear.

“Getting flustered, Sam?” Jared murmured.

The cat got his hands back to his sides and started to push up.

Glancing over her shoulders, Mira waved a hand in a quick, casually intricate pattern. The twine from around the alchemy book shot across the floor and sailed in a loop around both of Sam’s wrists, two, three times and pulled tight. With a yelp, the cat fell backward again, feeling the twine quickly binding his wrists together behind his back.

“No! I’m sorryI’ll” His protests dissolved into panting as Mira started to massage his shaft again, nipping along its tip.

Jared climbed up on the cat’s shoulder, grinning, then started nuzzling at Sam’s throat.

“Ohhh…” Sam squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block the sensations. But he couldn’t. Mira kept gently teasing and nipping at his shaft, and Jared lazily nuzzled down along his torso to his exposed thigh. After a few moments Sam couldn’t see him, but he could feel the mouse climbing into his pants under his wife, stroking directly under his tail and along his rump.

Sam clenched his teeth, back arching.

He glanced down at Mira, most of her body stretched out on top of his shaft. Their eyes met and she kept her unblinking gaze on his face as her hands moved to either side of his tip. Then she grinned, gripping, and pulling down hard at the same time as she clenched powerfully with her hips.

“No” He made fists behind his back. He wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of

She stretched out, then pumped him again.

Sam’s hips bucked. Of

A third time, and his protest become a yowl, seed spurting out in a quick stream over his belly.

“You do like your sex toys,” she murmured, pumping again, more slowly, continuing until his spurts become a few drops. Then she climbed off him, joining Jared a few feet from his side as he tried to catch his breath.

When he looked at them, both mice were smiling pleasantly, arms crossed.

“I’m…s-sorry,” he gasped miserably.

“Why?” Jared said, putting his hands on his hips.

“Iforced

“You forced me to truss you up like a turkey? Please, Sam.” Mira said, tilting her head. “I’m not going to untie you until you answer a question.”

“What? What?”

“Is having control taken from you really so bad?”

He stared at her.

“It’s a good question,” Jared said. “That was a hell of a climax. I’m hard myself.”

“I…enjoyed it a little,” Sam mumbled, then quickly added, “Just physically.”

“Magic’s all about control,” Mira said. She raised her arms like a conductor, spreading them apart wide. Electricity crackled around her fingertips. “Before you can learn to control it, you have to learn how to surrender. That’s what a good initiation test finds out.”

Jared added curtly, “As opposed to an entrance exam.”

The cat stared at Mira, as light flared between her hands. “Wh…what are you doing?”

“You’re a good student, Sam, so tell us about the Black Order.”

Sam’s ears folded back. The Black Order were legendary fighter-magicians. Their business remained secret, but they always caused a stir, so the tales saidcarousing like pirates, fighting and stealing like mercenaries, even killing those who persisted in being in their way. “I…are you…”

“We are.”

“Please don’t kill me,” he said squeakily.

Jared laughed, shaking his head.

Mira’s tone became admonishing. “It’s time to learn how to love your fears, Sam. I think we’ve figured out yours by now.” The light between her hands flared, and she brought them slowly together. “And furthermore, it’s hardly fair if you’re the only one who climaxes. Something you’ll learn about our order

if we don’t kill you” broke in Jared.

is that most of us really do enjoy sensuality.”

Sam felt himself shrink with the motion, both the twine and his clothes receding from him abruptly. “But I’m not your student!” he wailed.

The shirt collapsed on him like a tent.

Scrambling to his feet, he fought to get out of the cloth. It took him ten seconds to get enough wits about him to climb up out of the neck hole.

Jared and Mira stood there, hands on their hips, looking down again. Sam realized he was barely ankle height to themthey looked like they were well over a hundred feet high. “I think you’re whatever we say you are,” Jared said with a grin.

“Oh my God,” he breathed. He turned tail and ran, making it a full dozen strides before Mira’s fingers closed around him. As she lifted him up into the air he screamed.

The mouse set him down in her other palm and regarded him, then lowered her muzzle. Sam’s eyes became huge as her soft lips touched his little body. “What are you doing?” he squeaked.

“Playing,” she whispered. He felt her move, perhaps sitting down. “Playing with my cat toy.”

“I’m n-not a toy!”

“What was it you said earlier? In for a penny? You are a toy, Sam, for right now. If you survive the night we’ll decide if you move from toy to our apprentice, our permanent pet, or a spell component.”

He stared dumbly. “What do you want me to do?” he finally whispered.

“Hmm?”

“What do you want me to do, m-my lady?” he said clearly.

The beautiful giant face in front of him smiled. “You may avoid spell component after all. I want you to get hard again.”

Sam blinked, then gasped as her muzzle came down once more in an enveloping kiss, tongue covering his thighs and belly and lapping.

Don’t fight. Whatever you do, stop trying to fight. Trembling, he tried to relax, letting the sensations flood him instead of trying to block them out. Shortly he kissed Mira’s lips back.

“Good,” she murmured against him. She drew away after a few more seconds, leaving the cat with a healthy start on a new erection.

She picked him up again between thumb and forefinger, and faced him away from her as he dangled. Sam choked.

Jared had taken off his pants, too, and knelt by his sitting wife. He supposed the mouse’s raging erection was only an inch or two long, but to the tiny cat it was easily twenty feet or more.

Mira moved Sam toward her husband’s shaft.

“What are you doing?” he yelled shrilly.

“Wrong question,” she admonished gently.

“What do you w-want me touff!” He shuddered as she pressed his face against Jared’s tip.

Sliding him up until his hips were against the mouse’s flesh, she said, “I want you to wriggle, Sam. All I want you to do is wriggle.” He felt his little shaft slide into Jared’s shaft. The giant shuddered, letting out a low, approving moan. Sam gasped, too, tail flicking wildly, finding his erection growing.

“There,” Mira said. She leaned forward until Sam felt her breath on his back, and he twisted his head around to stare at her over his shoulder. “Love your fears.” she whispered.

He nodded shakily, terrified by both the mice and his response to them.

“Kiss me.”

He leaned back, supported just by her fingers, kissing her lips. He gripped Jared’s shaft with his legs, the motion rewarding him with another shudder and a tug against his own shaft.

“Kiss him.”

Sam looked up at Jared’s face, towering above. The male mage met his eyes, smiling amusedly but reassuringly. And breathing hard. The cat leaned forward, bending at the waist as if he were touching his toes, gripping Jared’s shaft with his hands and nuzzling at it.

Mira’s tongue licked under the base of his tail. “You want to know if I spit or swallow?” she murmured.

Sam’s heart leapt into his throat as he felt the mouse’s lips part behind him and start to slide over his back and legs.

“Yes,” he whispered voicelessly.

He felt her light chuckle through her tongue as it pressed against him again. Then there was darkness, the feel of the teeth ahead, and the pressure building behind him, in front of him and inside him.

Sam hung on tightly, rolling his hips, urging his giant lovers on toward the answer.

April 2002