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



"I want to come home," Silas pleaded, his blue eyes hazy with unshed tears; his light brown hair grown a fraction too long and spilling untidily over his forehead.

"You will, Si, very soon," Richard reassured his lover softly. He looked around the brightly lit lounge and seeing it was empty and private, drew Silas into his arms for a reassuring hug.

"I want to come home now! I miss you all the time," Silas said more urgently. "Richard, I promise I won't do it again. Please take me home!"

"Soon, Silas." Richard held Silas and stroked his hair until Silas dropped his head to his shoulder and slumped quietly. "I have to go now. I'll be back tomorr--"

"No! No! Richard don't leave me here, please, I'll be good I promise, nooooooo–" Silas never accepted Richard's departures easily.

Richard sighed. None of his clinical experience was really much help in managing Silas's hysterics at parting. He took Silas by the forearms, shook him gently.

"Hush now," Richard said firmly. "Enough now. Settle down."

"Don't go! Take me home!" Silas begged in a slightly more subdued tone.

"Soon, Silas, I promise. Shh, say good night nicely now. I'll see you tomorrow." Richard kissed Silas gently. "I love you." Leaving Silas sitting hunched over on the couch in the lounge, Richard stopped briefly at the nursing station. He took advantage of the professional courtesy routinely extended to him to flip through Silas's chart before being buzzed out.

Silas picked at the scarred place in the naugahyde upholstery disconsolately. He wanted nothing more than to be home, in Richard's arms, in their bed. He remembered wistfully what their room looked like: The dark wood furniture, the zigzag crack in the ceiling that reopened despite the plasterer's best efforts.

Silas liked that crack; he took it as a sign that Richard wasn't so hung up on perfection that he wouldn't tolerate an imperfect boyfriend.

Only maybe not a suicidal one? Silas looked at his bandaged wrist self-consciously. All he felt now was embarrassment; what he'd felt at the moment he'd turned the razor on himself was lost to him. The new medication had taken hold; the restless, destructive energy he'd felt initially had been tamped down. He was no longer acutely suicidal.

Had he ever been truly in danger? Silas cocked his head sideways, considering. He didn't feel like he had, yet the bandage, the barred windows, the locked ward gave a different answer: Yes. Silas shivered, suddenly, scarily aware of just how close he had come to dying. He didn't protest when the male nurse gently ordered him to his room.

Alone in his bed in the hospital semi-dark, Silas tried to imagine Richard curled there with him, holding him. He cried quietly; it occurred to him, as it did every night, that he might never really have Richard with him again. He fell asleep with tears tracking his cheeks.

The house was empty without Silas, Richard thought. He felt both lonely and, at the same time, relieved that Silas was safe and in someone else's charge. He ate a sandwich while watching the news, sorted his mail and puttered about the living room until the chiming mantel clock forced him to acknowledge the lateness of the hour and he could no longer put off going to bed.

Richard hugged Silas's pillow to himself, imagining he could catch a whiff of the undefinable scent of Silas, remembering making love, remembering how sweetly Silas's body shaped itself to his own. His cock stayed flaccid, proof of the emotional estrangement he felt.

The blood haunted him. Nothing in his years as a psychiatrist had prepared him for the sight of his lover slumped on the bathroom floor, glassy-eyed and non-responsive, his breathing slow, his heartbeat erratic, his precious life fluid oozing stickily.

He had called 911 almost without emotion, even as he had stanched the bleeding, twisting torn strips of toweling around Silas's forearm. Richard would never forget those thirteen and a half minutes before the ambulance arrived.

Goddamn you, Silas.

Richard recognized his own anger as normal and at the same time he felt guilty. He had known Silas was depressed. He had found Silas a therapist; he had supported the therapist and his consulting psychiatrist's decision to start Silas on medication. Should he have seen that Silas was not responding well?

 "How did I miss it, Keith?" Richard asked Silas's therapist. "How did I not see how close to the edge he was?"

"You didn't miss anything. It was an impulsive gesture, not a thought-out decision. Richard, you of all people know that there is always an elevated risk of suicide when depressed patients start to improve on antidepressants. Their lethargy lifts before their mood does," Keith said. "It happens, Richard."

"I appreciate that, Keith," Richard said tiredly.

"We seem to have Silas stabilized; if all goes well he'll be discharged on Friday," Keith said, trying to project more assurance than he actually felt. The amount of attention Silas monopolized on the ward was astonishing. Silas was a handful and a half and Richard was in for a rough time.

Keith wondered if he were really qualified to work with Silas. He had done a search of the literature, consulted with two professionals knowledgeable about gay leather communities and BDSM issues, but he still couldn't grasp the whole domestic discipline thing. He couldn't quite reconcile the Richard he knew with the Richard Silas described.

Silas had been adamant: He needed and wanted to be in a relationship that included discipline, the spankings were consensual, they hurt like hell and weren't sexually motivated in the least. But Keith still felt there was a definite erotic tinge to Silas and Richard's whole relationship; he just couldn't put his finger on where the charge was coming from. It wasn't a power exchange relationship as he understood them, it wasn't daddy-boy, but what it was, he didn't know.

Silas punctuated his therapy session the following morning by throwing himself down on the floor with so little regard for his own safety that the MSW working with him called the unit head to arrange for additional evaluation. Silas cried hysterically at the doctor's attempts to get him to talk; he reminded Silas of Richard and Silas wanted Richard more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life.

Only the mention of restraints cowed Silas into accepting a sedative. Drugged into a semblance of calm, Silas sat in his locked room and waited blankly for Richard to come and rescue him.

"Shh..." Richard drew a chair up in front of Silas and sat facing him, knees touching lightly. He took both of Silas's limp hands in his own and leaned in, sitting quiet and still until Silas looked up. "It's going to be okay, Silas. I promise."

"I don't want to stay here anymore!" Silas began to cry. "Please, Richard, take me home! Please don't leave me here! They shouldn't punish me, I didn't do anything wrong!"

"Silas, no one here is going to punish you." Richard tried to project calm and quiet, knowing how badly Silas needed that reassurance. "Silas, this is a medical facility, you're a patient, you're here to be helped. None of this is about punishing you."

"It is!" Silas insisted, his crying again edging into hysteria. "I want to go home!"

"Silas, look at me," Richard coaxed.

"NO!" Silas shook his head wildly, defiantly.

What I really need is some privacy, Richard thought wistfully to himself. Two or three smart swats and a tight hug would settle Silas right down. No one who had not experienced the intensity even a mildly upset Silas was capable of would believe so simple a solution could work, but Richard knew it would. Unfortunately it wasn't a viable option.

"Silas, keep working yourself up and they won't discharge you," Richard said sharply, knowing it was a cruel threat to bring to bear and knowing it was based in reality.

It sobered Silas. Richard saw Silas fix his eyes on a spot in the middle distance and clench his fists, digging his nails into his palms. Resolutely, Richard refused to soften his statement. Silas had to pull himself together, whatever it cost him to do it. Hysteria was a luxury Silas couldn't afford right now.

Friday, and finally, finally, Silas was home.

Silas looked around the living room. He felt sick, weak and dizzy. In a little part of his heart he had resigned himself to never being there again. He climbed the stairs slowly, his knuckles white on the banister. Stripping off his clothes and sneakers, he curled beneath the covers, welcoming the softness of Richard's good sheets, the clean, non-hospital smell of them. Buried his face in the broad, soft pillows and began to cry.

Richard locked the outside door behind him, hung up both their coats. Taking two bottles of water from the refrigerator, he mounted the stairs. He toed out of his shoes, unbuckled his belt and slipped out of his trousers, draping them neatly over the back of the chair by his dresser. Climbed into bed behind Silas.

"Come here," Richard said, sprawling on his back and opening his arms.

Silas laid his head tentatively, but obediently, on Richard's chest.

"That's it, Silas." Richard smoothed Silas's hair gently. "You're home now, I've got you, everything's going to be all right."

"I missed you so much, Richard." Silas sniffed back tears. "I'm all yours."

Richard realized abruptly that he really, truly was who Silas loved. He felt his heart expand with warmth at the trust Silas placed so willingly.

Silas felt the shift in Richard and the anxiety he'd felt on the car ride home began to ebb. Something in the way Richard held him, in the timbre of his voice, the steadiness of his hand, reassured Silas that Richard's feelings for him had not changed. Silas took a deep, relieved breath and began to cry again.

Richard didn't try to stop him. He held Silas, listened to his crying, and realized just how frightened Silas must have been, how scary the hospital must have seemed, how much he must have hated being left alone at night. The rush of love Richard felt startled him.

"I was afraid you wouldn't let me come back," Silas whispered almost inaudibly.

"All right, all right, all right," Richard crooned. His Silas. His. Hurt, confused, a hell of a lot of work, but unarguably his.

Richard realized that there was a week's worth of tears Silas had been saving for him to witness. Silas sobbed and Richard held him snugly until he had cried himself out. Richard reached for a bottle of water, only to see Silas cringe.

"What's the matter?"

"Usually you only bring water if you're going to spank me," Silas sniffled piteously.

"Silas!" Richard rolled his eyes. "You need to drink, babe, you'll be dehydrated otherwise."

Silas took the bottle Richard offered and gulped thirstily.

"It hurts, being spanked." Silas snuggled closer. "But Richard? I sort of wish you would just spank me for what I did. I feel bad, like I deserve something."

"Oh, you deserve something all right," Richard said ruefully. "But I really don't think a suicide attempt is something we can handle with a spanking."

"Oh." Silas was quiet and then Richard heard his sharp intake of breath. To Richard's dismay, but not to his surprise, Silas began to cry yet again.

Richard rubbed his back, wondering for the millionth time if anyone else might have a clue as to how to deal with Silas more productively. By the time this crying jag was done, Silas's blue eyes were even redder, and his nose was running even harder and he looked even more a sight. Yet Richard was so very, very glad to have him home.

"Baby, do you want to stay up here or come downstairs while I find us something to eat?" Richard asked, knowing that no matter the long term issues, in the short term they had to deal with meals and schedules and the everyday detritus of ordinary life.

"I want to cook," Silas said.

"Uh, sure." It was the first coherent, adult, rational sentence Richard had heard from his lover in ten days. "Sure, Silas." Hand in hand, they went downstairs.

Silas surveyed the kitchen. It was neat, neater than he usually left it, but it was also empty of any trace of warmth or activity. He opened the refrigerator, hunting for something appealing. Fished out eggs, mushrooms which didn't look too bad. Took an onion from the bag stowed in the cooler space near the window and began to dice it small.

"Is your omelet okay, Richard?" Silas asked.

"Thanks, Silas, this is delicious," Richard said. He was amazed at how easily Silas seemed to slip into an earlier, more comfortable place in their relationship. "I missed your food."

"You did?" Silas brightened a little; at least something he did brought Richard some pleasure. The joy Richard's compliment brought curdled quickly to regret. "Richard, I'm so sorry. I'll try harder, I'll do better, I won't overreact. I won't ask for more than you want to give, I promise."

"Ah, babe, you can't help it," Richard said. He swiped surreptitiously at his own eyes. "I wish I had more to give you."

"Are you crying?" Silas asked, astonishment in his voice.

"Yes. No. A little, Silas, don't worry about it." Richard willed himself to sound certain.

"I need too much, I know I do. I've always needed...more...than most people need," Silas said moodily. "Richard, how long before you get sick of my shit?"

Richard was very, very quiet.

"Richard? I'm sorry?" Incipient panic in Silas's voice.

"Shh, it's all right," Richard said with a sigh, wondering how many times he'd repeated the same pat reassurance. It wasn't all right. "Silas, do you talk about these issues with Keith?"

"Um...maybe?" Silas said, not sure what Richard wanted to hear.

Richard sighed again.

"Silas, I'd like a real answer. I'm not going to criticize you, whatever you say, I just would like to try and understand what's going on here. You have a therapist, I'd have expected you would be doing better, not worse, and yet that's not what I'm seeing happening."

"Please, Richard, don't be mad at me." Silas leaned in and kissed Richard. It went from there. Richard followed Silas back to bed and fucked him into the mattress.

It was a near perfect solution, Richard thought bitterly. It satisfied him and it satisfied Silas and hey, when the magic wore off they could do it all over again. Shit.

Richard called Keith.

"We need to have a joint session, I think. Silas isn't making any progress that I can see. I want to get a sense of where you are."

"There are confidentiality issues, Richard," Keith said with some trepidation. Richard was senior to him, there were not only confidentiality issues, there were clear conflict of interest issues. "I think he needs to work with someone else, Richard. I know someone who might be good. Dr. P is very open to alternative lifestyles and I think Silas would feel comfortable with him."

Silas looked at the new therapist doubtfully. Dr. Papadopoulos had a beard and soft, soulful eyes. He seemed to look right through Silas.

"Would you like to share what you're thinking, Silas?" Dr. P asked evenly. He waited quietly, letting the silence draw an answer from Silas.

"Um." Silas swallowed hard. "Nothing?"

"Nothing you want to share? Or nothing, your mind's a blank?"

"My mind's a blank," Silas said. "I'm not holding out on you, just there really is nothing I think that's worth talking about."

"Nothing that's worth talking about with me? Or nothing that's worth discussing at all, with anyone?"

"Um. Both," Silas said unhappily. "I'm not very smart."

"So only smart people have thoughts worth discussing, is that it?"

"Well, I don't know. I mean, I like talking about dumb stuff with people sometimes, so I guess not. Dumb people might have stuff to talk about that's interesting, too," Silas said. "Or it might just seem dumb to other people, but not to them."

"What have you talked about in the past that's interested you?"

"Stuff I saw on television. Stuff I ate. How to cook things, stuff like that," Silas said. "What kind of fishing there was, when I worked at a place in the mountains. People used to like talking about that, even if it was dumb. Fish biting, not biting, how come either way. Dumb, but it mattered, you know?"

"It mattered to you?"

"To me, yeah, but to other people, too," Silas said. "I mean, maybe they weren't really smart people like Richard. Some of them were big shots, though, I mean it was an expensive place to come for vacation, so you'd think they were smart, right? But then I wasn't with them much, just a few days, so maybe they thought I was smart, too. Maybe I can be smart for a little while and then it sort of wears off."

"You seem to think Richard is smart, and you're not, is that true?" Dr.P deliberately made his question vague enough to permit several interpretations.

"He is smart. He's a doctor," Silas said. "You know that means he's smart! You're a doctor too, right?"

"Not an MD, Silas. I use the title "doctor" because I have a doctorate in psychology. It's not the same thing as being a medical doctor," Dr. P explained.

Silas looked puzzled.

"But you think doctor doctors are smart though, right?" Silas asked.

"They're smart," Dr. P conceded. "They know medicine. They don't always know people."

"My last boyfriend was a doctor, too," Silas said dolefully. "He might have been smart, but he was mean."

"Is Richard mean?"

"No!" Silas was taken aback. "I never said that! Richard's not mean!"

"All right, Silas, I hear you saying that Richard is 'not mean.' What is Richard like?"

"How much do you tell him about what I say here?" Silas asked.

"What do you think?"

"You're not supposed to tell him?" Silas sounded troubled. "But Keith, the guy I used to talk to, did talk to him. When I was in the hospital I think they talked a lot." He fell uncomfortably silent.

"Yes, if you permit me to, I'll speak to Richard on occasion. Because he's your partner, there are certain things to be gained from us maintaining open lines of communication."

"Oh. I just...I know Richard's giving me the money for this, so maybe it's his right to know what I say about him, but I don't want him to think I'm complaining about him. I don't know." Silas wished he understood the rules.

"Silas, you're my client, not Richard. What you tell me is confidential," Dr. P said.

"Richard spanks me when I'm bad." There.

"I see." Dr. P didn't react to Silas's intentionally provocative statement. "And is this something you've agreed to?"

"Well, yeah." Silas was both taken aback and relieved by Dr. P's matter of fact reply. "I mean, he could if he wanted to, but mostly he doesn't anymore, because he thinks I get too upset."


"Do you?"

"No!" Silas's response was instant. "I don't, I really don't! Richard just thinks that I do!"

"What is it, do you suppose, that makes him think that?"

"Maybe I don't exactly cooperate? You know, kicking, struggling, stuff like that? I scream a lot," Silas said.

"So you do get upset?"

"Well, yeah, who wouldn't if he know he were about to get his butt beat?" Silas objected. "But that doesn't mean that Richard shouldn't punish me! I just wish..." His voice trailed off. "I just wish he didn't have to punish me, you know? That he would make me do what he says, not spank me when I don't."

"You feel you need more support than you get?"

"I need more something," Silas said sadly. "It all seems impossible, you know? None of it makes any sense at all to me. Swear to god, I think there's something wrong with me. Shit."

"Have you felt this way before?"

"With Mack," Silas said softly. "I wasn't like this before Mack. You know, I fucking deserve this for being a lazy, gold digging bastard."

"Is that what you are?"

"Mack said I was."

"But do you think you are?"

"I..." Silas began to cry. "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know!"

"Is that what Richard thinks?"

"Yes! No! I don't know! I hope not! Stop it stop it stop it!"

"Stop what, Silas?"

"Stop asking me questions I can't answer!" Silas sobbed out.

Dr. P sat quietly as Silas's sobs grew louder and more desperate. He didn't talk, he didn't intervene. He just waited. Silas continued to cry until it sank in that he was meeting with no response. He looked piteously at Dr. P.

"You don't care!" Silas said accusingly.

"What makes you say that?"

"You're not helping me at all!" Silas wailed. "You're making me feel worse!"

"How?" Dr. P kept his voice gentle, but it took effort. Clearly Silas was upset; equally clearly, he needed to experience what it was like to not have his tantrums manipulate the situation. "How am I making you feel worse, Silas?"

"You don't care! I'm crying and you're not helping me!" Silas sobbed.

"I care, Silas. I also believe you can calm yourself so that we can talk rationally about what you're feeling."

"I can't!"

"Can't, Silas? Can't or won't?"

"I can't!" Pressed far beyond his limited tolerance for frustration, Silas grabbed for the nearest thing at hand and heaved it at Dr. P.

Fortunately it was a tissue box. Unfortunately Silas had a good arm.

"Our session is over," Dr. P said, standing up. "I don't feel we will be able to work productively together." He opened the office door and watched impassively as Silas, still crying, walked out.

Stunned and ashamed, Silas used resources he hadn't thought he possessed to propel himself through the blessedly empty waiting room, out to the parking garage and into the car. He closed the door, put his head down on the steering wheel and for a space he was lost. Only the persistent shrill of his cell phone brought him back..

"Silas, where are you?" Richard sounded concerned.

"Um." Silas's voice was hoarse from crying. "I'm in the car. In Dr. P's parking garage?" Silas cringed; it sounded ridiculous.

"Silas, how long...never mind." Richard calculated rapidly. "Stay put; I'm going to come get you. Stay where you are, understand? Answer me, Silas."

"Yes, sir." Silas was both resigned and relieved.

Richard broke the connection and called for car service. It was easy enough to find Silas's car. Richard paid his driver and waited for him to leave before approaching Silas's window. He rapped lightly on the glass.

"Let's change sides, all right?" Richard said gently, helping Silas out of the car. Silas's eyes were red and he was shivering; he hadn't worn his jacket and the car was ice cold. Richard walked him around to the passenger side and eased him in, trying to keep his temper in check. Silas had made a suicide attempt less than a month ago, what sort of irresponsible bastard...ah, shit.

"Silas, let me start the car and put the heater on, you're freezing." Richard knew his anger was unreasonable. Dr. P was only a therapist, not a mind reader. Very few people would have anticipated Silas's reaction. Richard took a deep breath, forcing a calm he didn't feel.

Silas sniffled miserably the whole way home, clearly distressed and unnerved. Richard ushered Silas up the stairs and into their bedroom, helped him under the covers, his hands gentle and sure.

"Richard? Richard, I don't think I can go back there. Richard, I threw stuff at him," Silas whispered, needing Richard to know the worst of it.

"Ah. What did you throw, Silas?" Richard asked, sitting down on the side of the bed.

"A tissue box? I think I might have hit him. I know I did." Silas held his breath.

"Ah. Silas, Silas, Silas, what am I going to do with you?" Richard asked rhetorically. "And how long did you sit in the car in the cold? That's a lot worse punishment than I would have dished out for throwing things, Silas. You ought to have called me." Reproach in his voice.

"I'm sorry. You can spank me, that'd be fair," Silas said diffidently. "I think maybe you should this time, Richard. I wish maybe you would."

"I don't know." Richard shook his head. It wasn't that simple. "Silas, a spanking's not going to magically fix everything that you feel, you do know that, don't you?"

"Yeah." Silas sniffed back the tears threatening to overwhelm him. "But Richard? I'm okay with it, I really am. And we practiced, the whole thing; that was hard, Richard. It's kind of a waste if we don't do it for real."

"I see." Richard thought a minute. "I don't know, Si, it seems to me that you have a point. Still, this is something we have to talk through first."

"Oh." Silas lost his struggle not to cry again. He cried hard, not caring how it looked. If he was a weak, hysterical, spineless man, that's what he was! Richard could love him or hate him as he chose.

"I don't care! I don't care! I don't care!" Silas sobbed. Richard rubbed his back, trying to understand what Silas meant, although he doubted that Silas truly knew himself.

"Listen to me, Silas, take a breath, try and settle down. I know you can do this." Richard wasn't actually sure that Silas could, but he held on to his hope that his lover was not as far gone as he sounded. Richard knew Silas was capable of tantrums above and beyond anything most people could imagine a sane person throwing; Richard hoped this was one of them and not a sign that his lover needed to be hospitalized again.

"Silas, you need to breathe," Richard said firmly. "You're going to make yourself sick. Breathe, Silas."

To his enormous relief, Silas responded with a gasping breath. Richard stroked Silas's hair back from his face, so grateful that Silas was trying that he was willing to overlook how badly Silas was behaving.

"That's it, Silas," Richard praised his efforts. "Breathe. Again. That's it." He was surprised, as he always was, at how quickly Silas quieted, how little time passed before Silas lay with his head in his lap, cheeks wet, eyes red, breathing ragged, but no longer hysterical.

"Richard? Richard, I can't keep doing this," Silas said softly. "Most people don't act like this, right?"

"Most people aren't you, Silas," Richard said very gently, realizing as he spoke how true it was. "Most people don't feel the way you do. But no, you can't keep doing this."

Silas arched upward to Richard, kissing him softly, and Richard almost let himself be seduced. Almost. It hit Richard with chilling certainty how powerfully manipulative Silas was. Silas paid lip service to the need for discipline, yes. But his expectation was that he could exchange sex for endless indulgence.

"This has to stop, Silas," Richard said quietly. Silas deserved to be taken in hand and called on his behavior. Silas deserved to be spanked.

"I hope you remember what we practiced," Richard said calmly. "Because you're right, Silas. What you did was wrong and I am going to spank you. Take your pants off."

Be careful what you wish for, Silas thought ruefully. He undid his fly; shoved his pants down and kicked out of them.

"This is for throwing things at Dr. P." Richard turned Silas face down and tugged him forward over his lap.

"Richard, please, don't do this!" Screw practice! Silas squirmed, trying to free himself, and Richard grasped his hip and pulled him in closer.

"Stay still," Richard said sharply. He slid Silas's shorts down.

"No, Richard! Oh, ow! No more! Ow!"

Richard spanked Silas briskly and thoroughly despite his unhappy wails of protest.

"Ow!" Silas was miserable. He wanted, he needed, this proof of Richard's ultimate control, but shit, it hurt!

It was over quickly. As Richard righted Silas and drew him into his lap, Silas struggled to pull away, wanting some space.

"Let me go! Let me go!!" Their practice sessions might have eased the actual spanking, but accepting affection in the aftermath was still overwhelming for Silas.

"Shh..." Richard let his struggling lover stand up and guided him across the room. "If being held is too hard, I want you here in the corner for a little while." He wondered why he had never considered a little supervised corner time as an option before. It might be a perfect compromise...

...or not. Silas slammed his head into the wall, frantic.

"Stop that!" Richard wrapped his arms around Silas, restraining him. "You don't hurt yourself! Silas, do that again and swear to God I'm going to take you back to the hospital and leave you there!"

Richard was shocked at his own threat; he was even more shocked because he knew he meant it.

"No! NO!" Panic stricken, Silas fought to free himself. "NO!" This wasn't what they had practiced!

"Enough, Silas." Richard swatted Silas, hard, and Silas collapsed into him. "It's all right, Silas, it's all right. My mistake," Richard said softly. He felt Silas's slender body shaking against him.

"I *am* trying, Richard," Silas whispered through his tears.

"I know you are. Shh," Richard said. "I didn't mean to surprise you. Shh, don't cry anymore, Silas." He gentled Silas into bed and sat alongside him, rubbing his back, until Silas's sobs subsided.


"I understand you're going through a rough patch here, but you need to do some things, too, to help yourself feel better," Richard lectured.

Silas listened quietly, waiting for the bottom line.

"I'm going to find someone else for you to talk to and this time you're not going to throw anything. I'm going to take you to your sessions and wait for you and take you home afterwards, because we're not going to have any more afternoons of you crying half-frozen in a parked car. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," Silas said softly.

"Silas, I don't like it when you call me 'sir,' I've told you that before," Richard said. "It's just not something I want to hear from my lover."

"Yes, Richard."

"The medication will help you, Silas, but there is no magic cure for depression. You need to make some decisions; I'll help you think them through. You are going to make some plans about what you want to do with your time and then follow up on them. This isn't negotiable."

"Yes, Richard." Silas wasn't sure he understood what Richard meant. What could he do? He swallowed hard. "Richard? What sort? Of plans?"

"Surely you want to do something besides be my slave and dance attendance on me?" Richard's feeble joke prompted a wan smile from Silas.

"Your slave? You don't even like me to call you 'sir'! " Silas tried to joke back. "Although I think maybe the beating part appeals to you..."

Silas's game attempt at humor touched something in Richard.

I love him, Richard thought. I love him and I can afford him. I can choose to afford him financially and I can stretch to afford him emotionally.

"We're going to figure this out together," Richard said. "Tell me, Silas, if you remember: When you were a boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

"Loved?" Silas rolled his eyes, mocking himself.

Richard was silent a moment. Then he swallowed hard and drew Silas into his arms.

"You are now," Richard said huskily. "We can work from that."


Thank you, Rusty, for your comments and your support. EM