M/M sex, discipline, spanking. If the idea of a discipline relationship between consenting adult men offends you, so will this story.


ELIZABETH MARSHALL STORIES


PRESENT


It was a sunny Saturday, just past noon, when the doorbell rang. Silas got the door. He didn't recognize the mail carrier; he wasn't their usual man. Silas signed for the letter-- registered mail, return receipt requested--and took it into the kitchen, eyeing the return address curiously.


"What do you think this is, Richard?" Silas asked rhetorically, seating himself opposite Richard at the table. Ripping open the envelope, Silas extracted the letter from inside, read it without any visible emotion and then silently passed it to Richard.


"Oh Silas," Richard said softly. "I'm–"


"No." Silas was out of his chair and headed toward the front door in one smooth movement. "No!" He kicked over the hallway's fragile console table, dashing the vase on it to the floor, and grabbed ineffectually for his jacket, nearly taking the coat rack off the wall in the process. There was the sound of ripping fabric as the collar tore from the hook. "NO!!"


"Stop," Richard said. "Silas." He tried to wrap his arms around Silas, but Silas ducked under his embrace, shaking his head adamantly. Abandoning his jacket, Silas jerked the door open and headed for the street.


"Let me get my jacket then," Richard said numbly to himself. He pulled his own jacket on and followed Silas out the door.


Silas raced ahead, much faster than Richard could comfortably walk. Richard concentrated on keeping him in view. After a few twists and turns of road, Silas's pace began to slow. Richard caught up with him and walked with him, not saying anything about the tears streaming from Silas's eyes. They walked until Silas was winded.


"I want to go home," Silas said piteously. "Please, Richard, take me home."


"Come on now." Richard took Silas's elbow; turned him gently. Conscious of how many houses were around, he made no more overt sign of affection, just walked alongside Silas back to their house.


Once inside the door, Silas looked at the torn jacket, the broken vase and upended console table and then at Richard, awaiting his judgment.


"It doesn't matter, Silas," Richard said staunchly. He held out his arms and this time Silas came to him gratefully. Richard hugged him, feeling his racing heart, his quickened breathing. Richard eased Silas into the living room and seated him on the couch.


Richard sat alongside Silas, stroking Silas's hair, as Silas slumped forward, face buried in his hands, shoulders quivering.


"I'm so sorry, Si," Richard said softly. "So sorry. I'm right here, I've got you, it's all right to cry. I'm right here."


"I didn't know. I didn't know," Silas sobbed. "I didn't know."


"Didn't know what, Silas?" Richard asked gently.


"That he'd die! I didn't know he'd die!" Silas cried. "It's not fair, Richard, I didn't know he was going to die!"


"You didn't know he was going to die," Richard echoed gently. "You didn't know, Silas."


"If I'd known," Silas sobbed. "If I'd known!"


"If you'd known, then what?" Richard asked softly, when it was clear Silas wasn't going to keep going. "Can you tell me, Silas?"


"I didn't know!" Silas turned toward Richard.


"You didn't know," Richard repeated. "If you had?"


"I would have gone home," Silas wailed. "I would have gone home, I would have gone home, I would have gone home!"


"Ah." Richard rubbed Silas's back, trying not to overreact to Silas's intense misery. He hadn't ever pushed Silas to talk about his family, and now he regretted it. "Oh, Silas." Richard took a deep breath; this was about Silas's needs, not about his own regrets. "What can I do to be helpful, Silas? Can you tell me?"


"Hold me," Silas said. "Lie down with me, Richard? Hold me."


"I'm right here." Richard lay back on the couch and gathered Silas in his arms. Silas laid his head on Richard's chest, completely exhausted. He sank into Richard's embrace, allowed himself to be comforted by Richard's warmth and familiar scent.


"I don't want to go home now," Silas said. "They can do whatever they want without me. He's gone, there's no point in my going home now."


"Think about it before you decide," Richard said mildly, not wanting to push Silas, but not happy with Silas's choice.


"I don't want to think about it," Silas sniffled sadly. "I'm no fucking good at thinking, if you haven't noticed." He closed his eyes. "You can tell me what to do, okay?"


"Silas, I don't know if that's a good idea," Richard said gently.


"Please, Richard?" Silas began to cry again. "I'll do what you want. I want to do what you tell me."


Does that mean it's my fault I never told him to go home? Richard shivered. I never tried to get him to talk about his family. What does that say about me?


In the end, Richard had to acknowledge that Silas's refusal was reasonable. At Richard's prompting, and with Richard sitting at his side, Silas telephoned the law firm that had written him with the news. Silas's father had been buried after a modest church service, in accordance with Silas's parents' form of plain Christianity. Silas shrugged, less upset by his exclusion from the brief ritual than Richard was upset for him. He hadn't expected anything else.


There was no word from Silas's mother or any of his other relatives, and Silas flatly refused to make any attempt to contact them, either.


"He just wants to be held," Richard said. He rolled his head back, left shoulder to right shoulder, feeling the vertebrae in his neck crack. "God, John. I don't know what to think. He curls up in my lap. He'll stay there for hours if I let him." Richard sounded exhausted.


"That's a very good sign, Richard," John said gently, "It's very healthy that he's so open about his need for physical contact."


"But John, hours?" Richard asked. "He doesn't want to talk to me, he doesn't seem to care whether or not I talk to him, he doesn't seem to want me to do anything, he just wants to be held."


"How many hours are we talking, Richard?" John asked calmly, not reacting to the frustration in Richard's voice. "Give me a number."


"Literally as long as I let him," Richard said. "Three, four hours at a stretch. Two, three times a day. He doesn't cry, he doesn't talk...he just wants to be there. It's unnerving, John."


"That's not excessive," John said gently. He could see how stressful Richard found Silas's need for contact. "Hold him, Richard. Listen to music, watch television, let him lie with his head in your lap. You can read or make calls or do paperwork, if he doesn't seem distressed by those activities. But you need to let him have that physical closeness."


"All right," Richard said dubiously.


"Just make sure he takes his medication and keeps to his routines. Don't give him any slack there," John cautioned Richard. "Spank him if he's at all reluctant. Don't coax him through them; don't give him any second chances."


"What?" Richard looked at Richard doubtfully. "You're telling me to hold him as long as he wants, and then in essence to spank him over nothing? What the hell?" Richard didn't understand. He'd be happy to ease up on the reins, to let Silas find his own way.


"He needs solid support, Richard." John's voice held no doubt. "He needs to feel held, physically, emotionally. Give him any rope at all and he'll hang himself. He's in emotional free fall and he needs you to catch him. He'll get through this in better shape if you're firm with him. It's about contact, Richard."


"Contact?" Richard glared at John. "What the hell do you mean by that?"


"You know what I mean," John said, not reacting to Richard's flash of anger. "I mean emotional contact, emotional connection, which in Silas's case requires physical expression as well. It's about being present."


"When my father died, I didn't need that sort of support," Richard said harshly. His father had died of cancer after a painful, protracted battle. Richard had been in college; he'd come home for precisely a week before returning to bury himself in his studies.

 

"You're you," John said. "Whatever was between Silas and his father, this death's thrown him badly. Silas is going to need a tremendous amount of support for a few weeks and then it should taper off. Richard, support for Silas means physical contact. You don't have to think about this, you don't have to understand it, you just have to do it."


"All right," Richard said doubtfully.


"Richard, I'm very certain about this. You've got a small window of opportunity here, while Silas is grieving appropriately, in which you can support him through this at relatively little cost. If you push him away, it's going to be impossible to retrieve this chance."


Safe in Richard's arms, Silas drifted...


He was twelve. Sitting in the passenger seat of the pickup truck, window open, Silas concentrated on the handheld game he held. Angry voices wafted from inside the old Victorian with its wooden front porch and gingerbread trim.


"...that child." The disapproval in his mother's voice was clear.


"Ah, give the kid a break."


Silas shifted lower in his seat. The acrimony between his parents wasn't new, nor was his father's defense of him. Silas scowled at his game and jabbed the buttons harder.


His father came back out to the truck.


"Come on, Silas, give me a hand at the store. Let her cool down a little." His father ruffled Silas's hair gently. "I wasn't any great shakes in school either. It's not your fault."


Silas's shoulders shook; his face was suddenly wet. Richard smudged the tears from his cheeks with a gentle finger.


"Sit up, Si," Richard coaxed. "Here, blow your nose." He handed Silas a wad of tissues.


"Thanks, Richard." Silas sniffed hard. "My dad and his brothers inherited two big hardware and lumber stores and a lumbermill from their dad. Lots of building going on as people came up to New Hampshire for second homes and such. And the zoning kept out the big box stores, so we did really well..." Silas broke off. "This is boring."


"I'm not bored," Richard said. This was more information than Silas had ever shared about his background. "Did you work with your dad? Did you like it?"


"It was okay," Silas said softly. "I never really fit in there."


"You sound so sad, Silas," Richard said. "Would you tell me about it?"


"I always knew it was guys and not girls did it for me." Silas shrugged. "I fell in love and we got careless. We fucked up. My uncle caught us and told my father and well..." He shrugged. "Anyway, I left."


"That sounds very hard. Where did you go?" Richard asked gently.


"It was easy enough. It was summer; I got a job at a local resort as a busboy." Silas shrugged. "Room and board and a little money. And I met people." There was something in the way he said "people," that made the hair on Richard's neck stand up.


"People." Richard looked at Silas. "Men?"


"Yeah." Silas closed his eyes, then, shrugging, met Richard's eyes again, refusing to feel ashamed. It was, after all, how he had met Richard.. "I got another job, a nicer place, then another one after that. Eventually I ended up at the island resort, which was the nicest gig of all. I don't want to talk any more, Richard." He shivered and slid down the couch so that his head was in Richard's lap. "I'm so tired."


My Silas. Richard stroked Silas's cheek. I hope I'm doing the right thing for you, baby. Richard debated whether it wasn't time for some more aggressive, possibly medical, intervention. John had thought not.


Richard sighed. Silas had fallen asleep, so Richard pulled the paper-laden folding table before him closer to the couch and let Silas doze as he worked. Silas slept quietly for over an hour before beginning to wake again, whimpering.


"Shh, shh," Richard said automatically, smoothing Silas's hair, quieting him. He had almost forgotten Silas was there; he was returning phone calls and going through treatment plans.


Silas nodded and curled closer, reassured by Richard's touch, Richard's voice. He paid no attention to the substance of Richard's telephone conversations. Closing his eyes, he drifted back to sleep.


Richard thought ruefully that it was a strange thing, getting used to Silas lying against him. Silas didn't talk, except to answer Richard's questions. He let Richard read, he let Richard type on his laptop; basically all he wanted was Richard's presence.


Silas clung; there was no other word for it. The hours Richard spent at work were painful for Silas.


"I'm going to spank you if you don't stick to your schedule," Richard warned Silas, as he roused him in the morning, expecting him to protest. Instead, Silas nodded and with a heavy sigh, pushed himself upright.


"You're so mean, Richard," Silas grumbled, heading for the bathroom and the shower.


Richard shook his head. John was right; just the threat of a spanking gave Silas the slight impetus he needed. Silas liked feeling he was being held tightly.


Left alone for even a short while, Silas spaced out. Following John's instructions, Richard left Silas lists of chores to complete. He spanked Silas, lightly, but fairly often, for not completing his assignments, for offenses he was more naturally inclined to overlook. He was heartened by Silas's acceptance of the punishments, by his cuddling afterward, by the way Silas seemed to welcome what Richard thought of as a ridiculous amount of interference. Richard's own impulse would have been to give Silas some space, cut Silas some slack. John assured Richard that those were the last things Silas wanted or needed.


"You were right," Richard said to John. "He's coming out of it, he's livelier, he'll snuggle awhile and then get bored and go off to do something. He's more himself."


The second letter--registered mail, return receipt requested--again arrived on a Saturday morning, this time with their regular mail carrier. Silas read the lawyer's letter, looked at the enclosed check and smiled. It was the cash equivalent of his father's third share of the business. Silas didn't care about the business, he'd never liked the store, the single thing he'd ever gotten out of it was an introduction to a hot carpenter who'd taught him more about sex than he had about carpentry.


"Look, Richard!" Silas said enthusiastically


Richard looked at the check and at Silas and was reassured by Silas's response that it was, indeed, a happy legacy, not a hurtful one. His father had called it right in the end: Silas wanted out. Silas was out. Richard gave a silent prayer of thanksgiving to a man who had loved a son he hadn't understood.


"I'm glad, Silas," Richard said.


"What do you think I should do with it?" Silas asked uncertainly.


"Save it, Silas," Richard said. The words came to him unbidden, from a deep place of certainty. "Save it for when you start your own business."


"Okay," Silas said.


Richard was surprised that Silas didn't even blink. Was it possible that that was something Silas dreamed of?


"Silas, what sort of business are you planning to have?" Richard asked, intrigued.


"A spa," Silas said. "Crystals, aroma therapy, massage, that stuff, you know? Seaweed wraps."


"Oh." Richard digested the information. "When?"


"After I get my license for massage therapy," Silas said.


"And when is this going to be?" Richard asked, feeling as if he'd just stepped into an episode of "The Twilight Zone."


"I was thinking about it," Silas said softly. "How good it felt, how safe I felt, when you held me. How I understand about touch, you know? Not words so much, but touch. I looked online a little and it doesn't seem like it's that hard. I did sports massage and stuff at the resort, and I can do erotic massage, you know that." He leered at Richard.


"Very well, too." Richard could attest to that.


"I'm kidding about that last part," Silas said quickly. " But I'm serious about the rest of it. I could learn to do massage professionally, get my license, work out of someone else's office or gym for awhile and then start my own business."


"You could." Richard thought Silas probably could do very well for himself.


"I probably would have to practice a lot," Silas said. He let his eyes caress Richard in a promise of things to come.


"I wouldn't complain," Richard said with a laugh. Then, more seriously: "Silas? When did you start thinking about this?"


"My father is dead. I'm not a kid anymore. I have to do something, Richard," Silas said, as if it were a foregone conclusion.


"Ah." Richard could think of nothing else to say. He had thought all those hours of Silas lying quietly beside him were empty time. Silas had shown no sign of introspection, had given no indication that he was thinking, or planning, or considering anything. He'd seemed more of a pet and less of a partner than ever, and Richard had accepted that as the way things were.


"I could make decent money after a bit, Richard. People would like me; they always did at the resort."


"You're very easy to like," Richard said softly. "Silas, you amaze me."


"I don't think I do. I wish I did." Silas shrugged. "I'm not very special, Richard. Boyfriends like me, sort of a dime a dozen, you know?"


"That's not so," Richard said. "You're a lot more trouble than the average boyfriend." He kissed Silas. "But you're worth every bit of it."


"Gee, Richard, not overdoing the flattery, are you?" Silas asked, but he giggled, clearly reassured by Richard's gentle teasing.


Richard pushed Silas down on the couch and stretched on top of him, kissing him, relishing the return of his lover.


It wasn't until after they were both thoroughly sated that Richard rearranged Silas so that he could see his face and stroked his cheek gently so that Silas raised his eyes to meet Richard's.


"Tell me more about your plan, Silas," Richard said.


"I can get my license as a massage therapist in less than a year, if I go the private route, in two years if I do the community college thing. I'd have options; there are lots of jobs." Silas shrugged. "If I want to specialize, gay men, you know? I could get a lot of work."


He's really thought this through! Richard was too stunned to answer immediately. Silas misinterpreted Richard's silence.


"Real medical massage, not sex stuff, you understand, Richard?" Silas said, a sudden flare of tension in his voice.


"I understood the first time," Richard said reassuringly. "I know a lot of men who are interested in complementary therapies, who'd be thrilled to find a licensed gay masseur. No question you'd get plenty of referrals."


"Yeah. It feels like it might work," Silas said softly. "I could do really well."


Silas thought about the hours Richard had given him, the way in which Richard had tolerated his need for almost constant contact. Richard had been kinder than ever to him. Even the despised spankings, which had been brief and bracing, had kept him on track. Silas held his breath, hoping Richard would approve of his plan.


"I love you so much, Richard. Please don't leave me now."


"Silas!" Richard wrapped his arms around Silas in a close, hard hug, understanding the reflexive fear inherent in Silas's statement. Silas thrilled to the spontaneity of the gesture. He leaned into Richard, his heart racing, his entire body suffused with pleasure.


Richard felt it, too. Richard cupped his hands possessively around Silas's face.

He kissed Silas deeply, enjoying the way Silas's lips opened obediently at his slight nudge, enjoying his sweetness.


"I love you, Si," Richard said. "You have me. Go for it."


***FIN***