Title: Learning The Ropes
Author: Meg Brown, aka Andromeda Valentine
Feedback address: andromeda.valentine@gmail.com
Date in Calendar: 25 June 2012
Fandom: Sanctuary
Pairing: Kate Freelander/Helen Magnus (mention of previous Magnus/John Druitt and Magnus/James Watson)
Rating: NC17
Word Count: 3989
Status: New; complete (6-22-2012)
Summary: Kate helps Magnus revisit an old experiment.
Series/Sequel: None at the moment
Warnings: Bondage, some dominance play
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD12
Archive: The FSAC site only until 7-1-2012. After that, feel free to ask.

Disclaimer: "Sanctuary," the characters and situations depicted are the property of Sanctuary 1 Productions, Stage 3 Media, and SciFi. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Sanctuary", SciFi, or any representative of the actors.

Author's Notes: Inspired by a scene from Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey.

Beta: None - my fault for running so behind. :P

Mirror, mirror,
do you like what you see?
I'll dance for you,
and you will dance for me.
Who says a woman cannot serve?
It would be my pleasure.
Who says it is not my destiny
to let you control me?

Jewel, Serve The Ego


"Ooh, is that one of Watson's old journals?" Kate Freelander asked, peering over her boss' shoulder. "Nice!"

Helen Magnus, looking up from the journal in question, smiled at Kate's enthusiasm even as she teased her a bit. "Manners, Kate - it's rude to sneak up on people."

Kate just scoffed as she took a seat next to the woman who was also her lover. "It's even ruder to make me come find you when you skip both lunch and dinner."

"Dear god," Helen said, blinking in surprise as she looked at her watch before smiling ruefully. "I'm so sorry, Katie - I didn't realize it was that late."

Honestly, Kate wasn't at all surprised. Declan had sent over several crates of old journals he'd recently found in storage at the London Sanctuary - all Kate had been able to gather about them was that they had belonged to James Watson, and that they were apparently for Magnus' eyes only.

The whole thing was odd - stuff like that was so delicate that it would normally just be archived in-house, after being carefully scanned into the database, but Declan had gone through the time and trouble to safely ship them all the way from London to Old City.

He'd also seemed a bit awkward when mentioning the journals to anyone, along with being extremely adamant that they were to go straight to Magnus without being opened by any of the Old City staff - Kate definitely wanted to know what the hell *that* was all about, not that she'd had any luck getting an answer.

Her best guess at this point was that the journals were strictly personal, and the whole song and dance was just to keep them private for whatever reason. Declan, as the only person in London who knew James Watson's personal cypher, would have been in charge of looking the journals over to see what was in them, and Kate could just imagine him stumbling across some entry Watson had left about going at it hot and heavy with Magnus back in the day.

There were some things you just didn't want to know about the boss - provided, of course, that you weren't also sleeping with them. Kate, ever curious about the enigma that was Helen Magnus, had already laid plans to spend a little time down here in the archives herself to see what those journals could tell her.

For now, though, her main goal was to make sure Magnus came up for air, and maybe a little food - Kate always ended up a bit lightheaded after just a couple hours in the thinner, drier air of the archives, and could only imagine how Magnus must be feeling after spending most of the day down here without stopping to eat.

Kate carefully planted herself in Magnus' lap, arms around the other woman's neck - the first step to sweet-talking her lover out of the archives for the night - and froze as she got a good look at the journal pages currently sitting opened in front of Magnus. "Holy hell, Doc - is that you?!"

Watson's journals were always filled with sketches and drawings - just not full-color, graphically detailed ones of Helen Magnus naked and trussed up in various bondage scenarios.

"Early 1900s," Helen mused with a fond smile, clearly not at all embarrassed by the images of herself. "James had just returned from a trip to Japan - he'd met a man there named Seiu Ito, who would later be known as the father of Kinbaku."

Kate's eyebrows shot up. "Kinbaku? As in the whole Japanese bondage thing?"

"Indeed," Helen replied dryly, clearly a little surprised at Kate's knowledge of the foreign term. "Though one day you'll have to tell me how you happen to know that - never would have thought bondage was your style."

"Yeah, well," Kate quipped, gesturing at the journal, "I never would have thought it was yours either."

Magnus just shrugged. "It has its place - though I will admit that I seldom allow myself to be on the receiving end."

That was something of an understatement. Kate would bet good money that the list of people Magnus had allowed to fully dominate her was made up of only two names - John Druitt and James Watson.

The less said about John Druitt the better, as far as Kate was concerned, given how the crazy bastard had likely perverted any power Magnus had given him over herself. James Watson, though - from what Kate had heard, he was the only man who'd ever had the sheer force of will to successfully stand toe-to-toe with Magnus, and had never once broken Magnus' trust in him, so she could see him being allowed to take control every so often.

Or all the time, Kate amended as Magnus continued turning pages to reveal more drawings of herself, all rendered with Watson's famous eye for exacting detail. It was both crazy hot and strangely beautiful, as some of the poses shown were clearly more artistic than functional.

Magnus smiled again, a touch of nostalgia entering her voice. "James really was quite obsessed, and his enthusiasm was oddly catching - we must have spent the better part of a year experimenting on each other and recording the results. I have my own companion journal about James that's much like this one - though James had to supply the artwork for it as well."

The fact that none of this registered as especially odd anymore was due to either the sheer strangeness of life in the Sanctuary network, or to having developed a mind so open it sometimes threatened to let her brain leak out her ears - Kate wasn't really sure which anymore, though she supposed the two could be related.

In the end, it really just meant that Kate didn't even blink when Magnus stopped at a particular sketch and mused aloud about how the setup depicted therein had been one of her favorites.

"You see, here?" Magnus asked, pointing at the sketch. "All the ropes are connected, and you have that knot, just there - make even the tiniest movement..."

Magnus shuddered at the memory, and Kate had to smile. "Yeah, that looks pretty wicked."

"James would have me try to pleasure him while tied up like that," Magnus recalled, "or simply challenge me to free myself from the ropes without his assistance."

She paused for a moment, then looked up at Kate with a smug grin. "I failed on both counts every time, of course, but I daresay I never actually lost..."

That was a typically Helen Magnus view of the situation, and Kate couldn't argue for once - knowing you were guaranteed to pleasure yourself into oblivion no matter what happened kind of struck her as win-win too.

Magnus stood up and stretched, giving the page one last longing glance. "It's a shame, really - I've always wanted to try this on someone else, just to see what it's like on the other side of it."

Kate was willing to try most anything once, at least if she was trying it with Magnus. She also knew a bargaining chip when she saw one. "Tell you what, Doc - you remember to come up for a little air, sunlight, and food while you're sorting through these, without me having to hunt you down, and I'm all yours. I'll even supply the rope."

Magnus was as good as her word over the next few days, so Kate was a good as hers - it took a couple weeks to iron out both the details and their schedules, but Kate finally met up with Magnus, ropes in hand.

Kate had chosen to have them use Magnus' office for their little experiment - it had always held more of Magnus for her than any other room in the entire building, including Magnus' own bedroom, and so had quickly become her favorite spot for just about everything.

It was also one of those rare days where everyone was gone and everything was quiet, meaning that they could actually indulge Kate's love of fooling around in Magnus' office without fear of being interrupted - not that that stopped them from locking the office door, just in case.

The furniture in front of the fireplace had already been shifted to allow them room to move around, and Kate just stood in the center of the rug for a moment after kicking off her socks and shoes, soaking up the ambient sunshine alongside the general vibe of the room.

Magnus, polished and poised as always in the skirt and heels she so favored, walked over to take the thin ropes from Kate, examining them closely. "Nicely chosen, Katie. Silk?"

Kate just nodded. "I know jute or hemp is traditional, but I figured silk would be better 'til we get a feel for how sensitive my skin is."

Magnus smiled her approval as she paused to stack a couple throw pillows on one end of the nearby couch and then set the ropes beside them - in a few moments, it would all get transferred to the floor for use in their experiment.

Preparation done for the time being, Magnus closed the distance between herself and Kate, touching Kate's face. "You don't have to do this if you don't want to."

"I made a deal," Kate teased, grinning. "Besides, I'm kind of curious after all your big talk about how awesome it was."

Magnus pulled Kate close and kissed her, though she didn't allow her hands to wander like she normally would have. Once the kiss was done, she removed Kate's layers of shirts one at a time before helping her remove her jeans.

That left Kate standing there in her bra and panties, Magnus making no further move to touch her at all. Easily sensing that Magnus was trying to inject a certain gravity into the encounter, Kate managed to avoid being silly or coy as she finished undressing, but decided she liked their usual playfulness much better as a regular thing.

Magnus reached out to silently touch Kate's face one more time, then busied herself placing the throw pillows on the floor at Kate's feet.

"You know," Kate quipped as Magnus went to pick up the ropes, "I can't help thinking it's a little unfair that I'm the only one naked here."

Magnus, ropes clutched in one hand, merely raised an eyebrow as she smiled and stepped out of her heels, like she was actually making some sort of concession to Kate's complaint.

Kate just rolled her eyes, then took a deep breath before giving Magnus a small nod to signal that she was ready to start in earnest.

The feel of the whole room changed in the space of a couple heartbeats as Magnus closed then opened her eyes - that was all she'd needed to summon the air of command she was so (in)famous for.

Kate shivered a little as the shift hit her - she'd never cared much at all for playing the submissive, but she wouldn't deny that watching Helen Magnus completely dominate the world around her with just a look was hot enough to make her reconsider.

The idea of having all of that focused on her exclusively for however long this took was enough to make Kate's pulse jump a little, but that had always been part of the attraction for her. Magnus didn't do anything so obvious as demand obedience - she quietly commanded it simply by being present.

Kate had expected that it would take some time to get the ropes - cords, really, given their thinness - tied properly, but she'd forgotten that setting the bindings was intended to be as much a part of the process as anything that came afterward. Magnus hadn't forgotten, though, and Kate was surprised by how erotic it ended up being.

It took Magnus several moments just to decide which of the cords to use first, silently running each of them through her long, agile fingers as if testing them, and every heartbeat that passed during the process only served to slowly hone Kate's anticipation.

Finally, though, Magnus chose one and hung it around Kate's neck. Her gaze flicked from Kate's hand up to Kate's hair, and Kate used that hand to pull her hair out from under the cord and up off her neck.

Kate shivered as Magnus evened out the cord, the gentle, ghost-like friction of the silk across the nape of her neck sending a not-entirely-unpleasant chill down her spine. There was the same unfamiliar, almost subliminal sensation across her collarbone and breasts as Magnus drew the cord under her arms - her hands were now laced together at the back of her head, to aid the process, and she felt her nipples start to harden as the vulnerability of that position added an unexpected edge to her response.

Magnus crossed the cord at her back - fingers brushing Kate's skin along with the silk as she adjusted everything to her satisfaction - then pressed herself against Kate's body as she looped the cord around Kate's waist twice, securing it behind Kate before stepping back.

Kate started to to take a step back as well, instinctively trying to stay pressed up against Magnus, and shivered again as she felt the dangling ends of the cord brush against her buttocks and the back of her legs. Then she felt Magnus' fingers slide up her arms until they reached her wrists, using a gentle tug on each to tell her to unclasp her hands.

Magnus used her grip on Kate's wrists to gently maneuver Kate's arms behind her back, ending with her forearms held horizontally against the small of her back, fingertips to elbow. Magnus finally had to speak then, to make sure the position was workable for Kate, but managed to turn even that into something shiver-worthy by murmuring in Kate's ear.

Kate shrugged her shoulders a little to test everything out, and nodded her assent when she found that it was actually more comfortable than she'd expected. Magnus then took the dangling ends of rope and bound Kate's arms in place, which involved even more ghostly trailing of both silk and Magnus' fingertips across her skin.

The deliberation over the second cord - which Magnus made a show of for Kate's benefit - bought Kate a moment or two to collect herself, though she was beginning to suspect it wouldn't help much in the end.

Magnus, having made her choice, stepped back behind Kate - Kate could feel warm fingers against the nape of her neck as Magnus secured the second cord by tying it to the first.

She then draped it over to one side before moving to draw it down between Kate's breasts so that she could attach it to the cord at Kate's waist - the play of silk and warm skin against Kate's own made her sigh, especially the brush of Magnus' fingers against her navel.

Kate jerked and gasped as Magnus drew a length of that cord down between her legs, surgeon's fingers probing sensitive flesh as she gathered whatever information it was she needed for the next part of the binding.

Magnus began to tie a knot in the cord at the spot she had marked out after her earlier probing - a small, very hard knot - and Kate suddenly recalled why its precise location was so important. If she hadn't been wet already, the thought of that knot rubbing up against her with every movement would surely have made her so.

Kate got a taste of what she'd been imagining as Magnus passed the cord between her legs and secured it to her arms - the urge to move just to experience the pleasure she knew it would bring was overwhelming, but she somehow managed to make herself stay still.

Magnus, third and final cord in hand, circled back around to stand in front of Kate, taking a moment to look over her handiwork. Apparently finding it satisfactory thus far, she flicked her eyes from Kate to the pillows on the floor - a clear, if non-verbal, command to kneel.

Kate sank to her knees with her head bowed, only to jerk her head back up with a gasp, gray eyes wide with disbelief, as the cords moved with her, that tiny knot working against her clit. Holding herself motionless - head up, back arched and breasts thrust forward - offered some relief, but not much. "Holy... shit... Doc..."

"Language, Katherine," Magnus chastised, but the quirk at one corner of her mouth made it clear that Kate's startled outburst had amused her.

Kate tried to focus on just breathing - and staying very, very still - as Magnus moved behind her again to attach that final cord. Magnus bound her ankles together and then tied the remaining cord to her arms, every movement of Kate's body causing pleasure to ripple through her and making Kate begin to doubt her secretly-held belief that she'd be able to beat this thing where Magnus hadn't.

Had the objective been to simply stay still for as long as it took to beat the clock, Kate could probably have managed - but that was hardly the point of the exercise.

Magnus wasted no time reminding Kate of that fact, making a show of undoing her blouse one button at a time while Kate watched hungrily from a few steps away. She deliberately left the blouse hanging open afterward rather than removing it, framing a black lace bra that did little to actually cover her breasts.

Kate swallowed hard as Magnus ran her fingers over the top of those breasts, tracing their curves with an almost obscene slowness. Her mind filled in the missing click of Magnus' heels on the floor as the older woman moved to stand directly in front of her - even when only imagined, the sound made her shiver.

Shivering, of course, was movement, and Magnus just smiled at Kate's muffled curses.

Still smiling, Magnus started slowly inching her skirt up her thighs, revealing that she wore a garter belt and stockings but no panties - a scenario she knew was guaranteed to make Kate crazy.

Kate felt her mouth go dry as she tried to figure out what to do. The game was a familiar one - Magnus made Kate hot by secretly providing easy access, and Kate repaid the favor by taking advantage of said access - but their little experiment had changed the rules and made victory unattainable.

The up close and personal view as Magnus began touching herself was what finally broke Kate, who decided she might as well go down fighting. Mentally steeling herself to ignore her own body as she focused on the task at hand, Kate managed to get her face buried between those thighs.

She hadn't intended to do anything quite so clever as deliberately stifle her moan against Magnus' sex, but it happened and she rolled with, awarding herself a point as Magnus tensed and made an appreciative noise.

It got a little trickier from there - Kate managed to get everything positioned right, especially with Magnus spreading herself open so invitingly in an apparent attempt to be helpful, but quickly discovered that simply moving her head was enough to pull at her bonds.

She got pretty good mileage out of just losing herself in Magnus' taste and scent, licking and sucking at Magnus' clit with single-minded abandon until she felt the other woman start trembling. If she could just hang in there long enough to get Magnus to finish first...

Victory was snatched away as Kate's orgasm suddenly ripped through her. She quickly discovered that every twitch tugged at those damned cords, locking her in a vicious cycle for several moments until she climaxed again.

"Oh fu..." was all she managed to get out before the room went white around her.

When Kate came to, she was lying on her side on the rug with Magnus hovering above her - she'd never even realized she'd fallen over in the midst of it all.

Magnus offered to untie her, but Kate demanded a rematch, certain she'd do better now that the edge had been taken off. Five minutes later, she was back on her side on the rug again - and Magnus hadn't climaxed once.

That apparently necessitated a third attempt out of sheer stubbornness. Kate lasted all of three minutes that time, and still hadn't gotten Magnus off. At all.

Kate yielded after that, but only because she suspected a fourth attempt might just kill her. "I give - get these damn things off me!"

To Magnus' credit, she didn't actively smirk as she started working on undoing the cords - though Kate couldn't fail to miss the amusement in those blue eyes.

Kate, shifting back to a kneeling position once she was freed, tried to force some strength back into rubbery limbs as she watched Magnus, who stood nearby neatly coiling the cords back up. She briefly contemplated leaving Magnus to satisfy herself just to be spiteful, but figured it was probably bad form given that she'd actually volunteered for Magnus' little experiment.

Well, that, and Magnus bent over slightly as she reached out to toss the cords onto the couch, giving Kate a better idea.

It was completely underhanded, in a totally Kate Freelander sort of way - she faked potential injury long enough to get Magnus to kneel down by her, then pulled Magnus face-down across her lap before the other woman could respond.

"Oi!" Magnus struggled for a second as Kate shoved her skirt up around her hips - as if Kate was crazy enough to do something like try and spank Helen Magnus - then went still as Kate's hand slid between her legs.

For all her outward calm, Magnus had been brought within a hair's breadth of climaxing multiple times in a row while never actually getting there, and was still wet as hell. She was also highly sensitized, gasping as Kate slid two fingers into her and started thrusting a little rougher than was strictly necessary.

After a moment or two, when Magnus started trying to push back against Kate's hand, Kate added a third finger and kicked up the roughness just a notch. The positioning didn't allow Magnus much control or leverage at all - which was kind of the point - and Kate maximized on that, choosing an angle and rhythm that would keep Magnus just at the edge of orgasm but not let her actually reach it.

She held Magnus there on that edge for several moments, working her hard and fast as Magnus continued futilely to try and gain just that last little bit of sensation that would let her finish. Finally, Magnus' moans and gasps turned to begging, and Kate decided to have a little mercy.

She ground her thumb against Magnus' clit as she continued thrusting away, and watched Magnus fly apart - it was a beautiful sight, as always. Once the aftershocks subsided, Kate removed her fingers and gave Magnus a chance to catch her breath.

A moment later, and they were lying stretched out together on the rug, laughing at their own antics.

"I suppose I deserved that for not stopping you after the first attempt," Magnus conceded, though she was still smiling.

"Damn straight," Kate replied, glaring at the pile of silk cords like it was Evil given physical form. "Next time, you can be the one tied up..."