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

ELIZABETH MARSHALL STORIES

Trying

Richard lay in a languorous haze, enjoying the massage Silas was enjoying giving him. Silas's talented fingers made short work of the knots in his neck, the stiffness between his shoulder blades, the achy spot in his lower back. Sighing with pleasure, Richard closed his eyes and drifted.

Silas smiled at the blissed out expression on his lover's face. Straddling Richard's back, he rubbed deep circles, up and over and out. He could feel Richard's shoulders loosening. He listened to Richard's breathy sighs and felt altogether happy.

"Oh God, Silas, that is so good. God, I needed that. Come here." Richard kissed Silas soundly. "I hope you know that this isn't the only reason I love you."

"No, not the only reason." Silas stretched out alongside Richard, a laugh rumbling in his throat. Looking into Richard's half-closed eyes, he licked his lips suggestively.

"Silas, you want to kill me."

Silas gave a comprehensive demonstration of his true intentions. The two lovers lay together, sweaty and sated. Silas stirred first.

"Richard? I make you happy, right?" Silas regretted the words before they were out.

A muscle in Richard's jaw quivered. It was only a faint signal, but Silas imagined the unspoken reproach correctly.

I don't have time for this, Silas.

"I've got a long day today, Silas," Richard said out loud, refusing Silas's gambit. "Take my suits in, please. Don't forget again."

"Sure, Richard," Silas said, forcing a cheer he didn't feel, knowing his neediness irritated Richard.

"Shit!" Silas stared at the dry cleaner's "Closed" sign in disbelief.

They're supposed to be open till six! Silas checked his watch.

6:23. Shit.

Silas had had all day to do it. Only he hadn't really had all day, because he'd gone back to bed.

Three hours before Richard returned.

Richard came home at nine thirty. He could smell the lingering trace of roast chicken in the air. Silas was good about making dinner. But there was no Silas.

 

Silas's car was still in the driveway. Richard saw his suits hanging on the hook of the window behind the driver's seat. His jaw tightened. He knew Silas well enough to imagine the sequence of events.

Somehow Silas had blown off his request to get his suits in. And thwarted, Silas had panicked and bolted.

This I don't need. Richard changed into jeans and a black tee shirt. Threw his leather jacket over them and not wanting to deal with parking, called the car service to take him back downtown.

Three bars and pay dirt. Silas sitting over a drink, and next to him, flirting hard, a handsome man about Richard's age. Richard approached Silas from the other side.

"Let's go, Silas. " Silas started at Richard's voice, his hand catching his drink. Richard steadied the glass before it could spill.

"Your boyfriend?" Silas's new friend asked, acknowledging Richard's possessive look. Richard laid a twenty on the bar.

Richard patted Silas's cheek; watched his lover wince at his touch.

"Silas, come." Richard knew that only simple commands would cut through the combination of alcohol and Silas's panic.

"What are you going to do to me?" Silas's voice rose. Several men turned to look at them

"Don't make a scene," Richard said sharply. "I think you can make a pretty good guess, Silas."

"Yeah." Silas gulped. "Richard, I'm sorry! I don't want a spanking!"

A few more heads turned in their direction.

"Silas, this is embarrassing. Enough. Come along now." Richard's reproof was quiet, but it stung. Silas flushed and followed Richard out to the street without further protest.

Richard had the car service on the line before Silas had time to say anything. Silently, he ushered Silas into the car. There was no conversation on the way home.

"I'm too angry to deal with you tonight," Richard said to Silas, locking the door behind him. "Go shower and get into bed. I'll be up after I've eaten."

Silas swallowed hard. Richard was seldom this curt, and when he was, it was a good idea not to argue. Trying not to cry, he headed for the stairs.

Richard closed his eyes. He knew Silas felt he was being very mean. But given Silas's boundless capacity to absorb attention like a sponge, a certain coolness seemed a good idea.

Although Silas wanted to trash the bedroom in protest, he knew better than to up the ante. He simply dropped his clothing on the floor and flopped into bed. Buried his face in the pillows and sobbed.

His crying echoed through the house. Downstairs in the kitchen, Richard shook his head. It wasn't that he doubted the genuineness of Silas's outburst, it was just...he was tired. With a sigh, he put the uneaten half of his dinner aside and mounted the stairs.

Richard shook his head at the miserable huddle that was Silas. He might know objectively that engaging with Silas just encouraged Silas's outbursts, but Silas was pitiful.

"Come on, Silas, it's not the end of the world," Richard said softly, seating himself alongside his lover. "Sit up. Don't cry like this, Silas. It's not appropriate."

"You hate me!" Silas wailed. "You're mean and you don't love me and you wish you'd never met me!"

"Silas." Despite himself, Richard drew Silas into his arms, kissing his soft hair, rubbing his back. Manipulative brat, but damn he was good at it. Richard had to admire the sheer unmediated need that drove Silas's acting out.

"You hate me," Silas cried.

"If I hated you, would I be sitting here at eleven thirty after a full day of work, holding you?" Richard asked reasonably. "Silas, enough. Breathe. Quiet down, I'm right where you want me." He shook his head ruefully, but he was smiling.

He loved Silas.

Love made up for a lot of lacks, Richard thought. Including common sense. On both Silas's part and his.

"Shh" Richard eased Silas onto the bed, stretched out alongside his lover.

"Are you going to give me a shot?" Silas demanded, scowling fiercely at Richard.

Richard hid his smile. Silas's scowl was less than effective when viewed in bed at less than arm's length. Even Silas could not maintain his fever pitch of emotion indefinitely. Already he was calming, his eyes closing, his breathing steadying.

"You don't need a sedative. You need to pay attention when I ask you to do something, and if you break a rule, you need to take the consequences," Richard lectured, but his expression was soft and his hands were gentle as he stroked the tear tracks from Silas's cheeks. "And we don't use medication for discipline issues, you know that."

"Don't spank me," Silas said.

"Oh, but I will," Richard said definitely. "Tomorrow."

A soft snore was his only answer. Silas was fast asleep.

"NO! Richard, it's not fair! I'm sorry! I made a mistake! You can't spank me, you can't! OW!!" Silas tried to pull away, but Richard had his arm in a firm grasp.

"Stop it." Richard gave Silas another hard swat across the seat of his shorts.

"NO!" Silas was not about to give in.

Two more swats and a firm shake and Silas was still.

"All right. Come here, now, over my lap. What's this spanking for?" Richard clamped his leg over Silas's pair, effectively trapping him.

"NO!" Silas fought to get up, but Richard was immovable.

"Don't! Stop! Richard! Please!" Earsplitting howls accompanied each swat.

Richard was undeterred. He spanked Silas slowly and thoroughly, taking his time, turning his lover's bottom an increasingly brighter red.

Silas's howls continued. He wailed out his misery, not caring who heard. Richard gave thanks for well-sealed windows.

"Why am I spanking you?" Richard rested his hand on Silas's thigh.

"Because you're mean! Mean!" Silas responded through his tears.

Richard resumed spanking.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I won't leave again!" Silas struggled to escape.

Richard paused.

"Good," Richard said. "If. You. Do. I. Will. Take. My. Belt. To. You." Each word accompanied by a hard whack atop tender flesh. "Do. You. Understand."

"YES! I hate you!"

Richard released Silas, rolling him gently from his lap to the couch. Seated himself alongside the couch, not touching his sobbing lover.

Silas lay, shaky, sore and stunned, crying into the cushions. Gasping for breath.

"Tell me how I can help," Richard said softly.

"GO AWAY!"

"I won't do that," Richard said quietly.

"Don't touch me! I HATE that!"

"I'm not going to touch you." Richard knew that allowing the man who had just punished him to comfort him was an unbearable humiliation for his lover.

"Just stay with me?" Silas sounded a little more coherent.

"I'll stay with you," Richard agreed. "I'm right here if you want me."

Silas turned his face from the cushions to look at Richard.

"I don't know what to do! Tell me what to do!"

"Just breathe, Silas. Nice, deep breaths. Just breathe."

"I can't, I can't, I can't!" Panic in Silas's voice. "I can't!"

"Silas. Do you want me to hold you?"

"NO! Richard, I don't know what to do!"

Silas was hard work sometimes. Richard reached deep within himself for his surest, most professional voice.

"Listen to me, Silas. Come to me now." Richard seated himself on the couch and drew Silas into his lap. "Come on, Si, I need a hug, too," Richard coaxed.

Silas stiffened for a moment. and then gave way abruptly, winding his arms tightly around Richard's neck.

"I'm sorry, Richard!"

"I know, Si, I know. Easy, Silas, It's all right."

"I'm sorry, Richard." Silas sounded miserable.

"Have some water." Richard twisted the bottle open and nudged it into Silas's hand.

Silas drank thirstily.

"I love you, Richard." Silas kissed Richard, soft, appreciative kisses. Trailed his way down Richard's jaw. Undid his shirt buttons, nibbled at his throat, his nipples, down the midline of his chest.

Richard let Silas push him back onto the couch. He didn't protest as Silas unbuckled his belt, unbuttoned his fly, unzipped his pants. Nuzzled him, his breath hot. Took Richard in his eager mouth and worked over him until he came.

"I make you happy, don't I?" Silas asked afterwards.

"Very." Richard rearranged Silas against him so that he could see his lover's eyes. "It isn't only about sex, Silas. You make me happy in many ways."

"Sure I do." Silas laughed lightly, but without meeting Richard's gaze.

"It isn't just the sex." Richard stroked Silas's cheek, cupped his hand around Silas's chin. Ran his thumb back and forth over Silas's lips. Kissed him roughly. "I could have any number of guys, Silas. I chose you. I love you."

"Yeah." Silas shrugged.

Richard sighed. Silas at times was a bottomless pit. He had spent the entire morning spanking, soothing and reestablishing a sexual connection with his needy lover. Enough was enough.

"Come on, Silas, I'll treat to lunch out. Then I need to get under way. Go shower, please."

Silas responded to the slight harshness in Richard's tone. He pulled himself together, stood up and headed upstairs obediently. The spanking and its aftermath had left him physically and emotionally raw. He was exhausted. He threw himself face down on the bed, intending only to rest for a minute.

Fifteen minutes later, Richard found Silas fast asleep. He covered Silas carefully, not wanting to disturb him. Wrote a quick note; propped it by the alarm clock on the night table. Changed his clothes and headed out.

Dream, dream, it was only a dream. Silas awoke to the sound of his own scream, his heart racing. He sat up.

"OW!" That was a mistake. Silas catapulted out of the bed, his ass still tender from the spanking he'd gotten that morning. "Richard!"

Silas's voice echoed through the empty house. He looked out the window to the driveway: Richard's car was gone.

Silas was too upset by his perceived desertion to notice the note that Richard had thoughtfully left for him. Silas kicked the nearest chair across the room.

"OW!!" It didn't ease his feelings; it only hurt his foot. Infuriated, Silas limped downstairs.

Richard worked his way steadily through his inbox. Thank God, it was Friday. Aware that he was flagging, he allowed himself a short break. Went online and read a first fic by a new author, a well-crafted tale of a brat's increased comfort with and acceptance of the mutually agreed-upon rules of his discipline partnership.

Richard shook his head. His life should only be so simple!

Rules and Silas didn't mix well, yet more and more their relationship was ruled by Silas's insistent demands. And it wasn't working, Richard mused. What they were doing now was doing neither of them any good.

4:00. Silas rummaged in the refrigerator for a beer. He hated when Richard left him on his own the day of a spanking. And Richard should fucking well know that, Silas thought resentfully.

Nursing his beer and his grievance, Silas pulled dinner's ingredients from the cabinets with sharp, angry jerks. The rhythm of the kitchen slowly drew him in, settling him. The smell of butter melting, the whiteness of raw flour maturing to a deep, dark roux. The drag of a spoon through the thickening sauce.

Silas was happy until the moment his eye caught the clock two hours later.

6:00. Shit. Shit shit shit. The fucking drycleaner. The fucking suits.

Richard set me up.

The paranoid thought rose unbidden in Silas mind. He reacted to it as if it were the truth. Infuriated, he slammed pans and plates into the sink, ignoring the sound of stoneware shattering. Grabbed his car keys and headed out the door. Yanked the car door open, threw Richard's suits down onto the driveway and gunned the motor.

6:30. Richard tapped his fingers on the bar, annoyed. He had looked forward to treating Silas to dinner. His note had clearly said six, and still no Silas.

Richard dialed Silas's cell. There was no answer. With a sigh, Richard headed for home.

Annoyance gave way to shock and then a flash of anger at the sight of his crumpled suits. Anger quickly gave way to concern. Silas was impulsive, but not spiteful. This was a defensive gesture, born of hurt, not an offensive gesture. No matter how it might look.

Silas sat miserably in his car in front of the bar Richard had pulled him out of the day before. His head hurt, his stomach hurt, he wanted nothing more than to go home. The adrenaline rush of fury that had fueled his flight had faded. He was sad and sore and shaky and he didn't know what to do to save himself.

Richard rapped lightly on Silas's rolled up window. Silas started. An expression of purest relief crossed his face, before it was replaced by panic. He reached for the keys, started the engine.

Richard circled his hand in a "roll down this window " gesture.

"I'm driving home," Richard said firmly. "Leave the keys in the ignition and stand up."

Silas obeyed mutely. Richard took him by both forearms, shook him lightly.

"Listen to me. It's all right, Silas. We're all right, you understand me?"

Silas dipped his head in acknowledgement.

"Walk around to the passenger seat please. Don't even think of bolting."

"Yes, Richard," Silas whispered. "What are you doing to do to me?"

"I'm taking you home. Go on, Si." Releasing Silas's arms, Richard gave him a gentle nudge in the right direction. To his relief, Silas slipped compliantly into the adjacent seat.

"Why'd you leave me alone, Richard?" Silas huddled into himself, sad and small.

"Didn't you read my note, Si?"

"What note?" Silas asked blankly. "You left me a note? I never saw it!"

"Silas. Did you look? I didn't think so. We are not going to discuss this until we get home."

"Richard, please!" Silas wailed. "Let me out of the car!"

"Do not touch the door locks if you know what's good for you," Richard said sternly. "Fold your hands in your lap and sit quietly."

Silas scowled, but did as he was told.

Richard shepherded his tense and tired lover into the house. They paused at the entrance to the kitchen, Richard noticing the disaster in the sink for the first time, Silas eyeing the mess he had left regretfully.

"Ah, Silas, why?" Richard shook his head.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Silas's voice edged higher. "I didn't know what to do, Richard. You weren't here and I didn't know what to do!" Tears welling in his eyes.

"Shh," Richard said, hugging Silas hard. "It's too late to do this tonight. Upstairs, in bed, we'll straighten this up in the morning. Shh, I've got you." He half-guided, half-pushed Silas up the stairs and into the bathroom. Gave Silas three minutes to wash up before hustling him into bed.

"What are you going to do to me?" Silas sniffled. "I'm scared."

"There's never any reason to be scared of me." Richard drew Silas's head to his chest, buried his nose in his soft brown hair. "You know that. We'll talk tomorrow." He rubbed Silas's back, soothing them both into sleep.

"Good morning, Silas," Richard said, shaking Silas's shoulder. "Come on, get dressed, let's go to the pancake house."

"Because the kitchen's a mess from last night," Silas deduced mournfully.

"That and I thought it would be good to start our day on a positive note," Richard laughed. "It is Saturday."

Silas was unable to contain his anxiety any longer.

"Richard I'm sorry are you going to spank me you're not going to spank me please don't spank me..." His words an agitated litany.

Breakfast out was clearly not on the menu.

"Easy, Silas, easy," Richard said, resigning himself to the inevitable. "Quiet down and let's talk sensibly."

"NO! You can't make me be quiet! NO!!" Silas was indignant.

"Be Quiet Now," Richard said sharply.

Silas shook his head. No.

"Why? Why should I be quiet?? You're going to beat me no matter what I say, why shouldn't I say what I want???" Silas grew louder and less coherent.

"Lower your voice right now or I am going to walk out of this room," Richard said evenly.

"NO!!!" Silas was infuriated.

Richard turned his back on his hysterical lover and walked downstairs. Silas's voice rose in a banshee wail behind him.

"That's right, go away! I hate you! Go away!! Richard, where are you going???"

Refusing to engage as long as Silas was indulging his tantrum, Richard ignored his lover's outraged screams as best he could and started coffee. Toasted himself two slices of whole wheat bread. Poured a glass of juice, took a container of yogurt from the refrigerator and took his breakfast into the sunroom.

Silas's throat hurt. How dare Richard just walk away! He threw himself on the bed, kicking, determined to make Richard return. Make enough noise and surely Richard would step in.

Richard looked at his watch. Half an hour more before Silas's fury would ebb, he estimated. He took a sip of coffee and sighed, wondering for the hundredth time what drove Silas, where the hysteria came from.

Maybe drugs would be appropriate: A course of antidepressants, a trial of anti-anxiety medication? Sometimes Richard was tempted.

This is no good, Richard thought. Something has to change.

Richard had called Silas's tantrum correctly. Twenty-five minutes after he had first checked his watch, the house was silent.

Richard put his plate and mug alongside the sink. Filled a plastic glass with juice and headed upstairs.

Silas lay curled around a pillow on the bed, pale and shaky. Richard seated himself alongside him.

"Sit up, Silas. Take a few sips for me," he coaxed, offering Silas the juice.

Silas took the glass in his hand and took a convulsive swallow. Shivered. Handed the glass back to Richard and closed his eyes.

"What are you going to do to me?" Silas asked dully.

"Nothing you don't think is fair. Nothing you don't really want," Richard said gently. "This is a partnership, Silas. I want you to be happy. If the discipline is making you this miserable, let's forget it. I'm not going to coerce you into submitting to corporal punishment if you feel this strongly that it's not for you."

"He did," Silas said.

"I'm not him." Richard was silent. "Look Silas, I won't deny that I like the discipline aspect of our relationship. I like being in control. I think you do better when someone else takes charge. But I am not going to go through a scene like this every time I think you deserve to be punished. I won't do it."

"Are we breaking up?" Silas asked sadly.

"No, no, no," Richard said. "That isn't what I'm saying. Listen to me carefully, Silas: A discipline partnership takes two people. One to lead, one to follow. I am not going to do this any longer if you won't do your share."

Silas shivered.

"Just breathe." Richard rubbed his back reassuringly.

"You said you'd strap me if I took off again," Silas whispered.

"I did say that," Richard agreed. "And when I said it, I believed that we were partners. That you understood that I punished you because it was the best way I knew to take care of you and to keep you safe."

"Are you going to strap me?" Silas asked.

"Is that what you want from me?"

"I don't know!" Silas glared at Richard. "How do you expect me to answer a stupid question like that?"

"I think you just did," Richard said. "All right, then. Clean up the mess you left in the sink last night. I'm going to take my suits in to the dry cleaner's."

"You're going to leave me," Silas said miserably. He began to cry, softly and sincerely.

"Come here, Silas." Taking his lover in his arms, Richard rocked him without talking, tears pricking the back of his own eyes.

"Richard? Richard, tell me what to do!"

"Just breathe," Richard said. "I love you, Silas. We'll work it out, I promise. You don't have to do anything but breathe." He held Silas until Silas's eyes closed and Silas sagged into sleep.

Easing Silas back onto the pillows, Richard smoothed his lover's hair from his face. Kissed his forehead, drew covers over him.

Richard made his way downstairs and turned on the computer.

***FIN***

THANK YOU, Hedeia and Rusty, for your insightful questions and for your encouragement. EM