Adult readers only. M/m sex. If the idea of a discipline relationship between two consenting adult males offends you, so will this story.
ELIZABETH MARSHALL STORIES
"You what?" Alex looked at Walter with green, stunned eyes. "Tell me you didn't! Why, Walter?"
"Alex," Walter said, in a calm, placating voice. "It's only for a week. We're the Marches's closest neighbors. They've always been decent to us. Feeding their cat isn't going to kill us."
Alex sighed. His track record with dogs was dismal, his opinion of cats even worse, and yet somehow, he had the feeling Walter was going to see this as a joint responsibility.
"Who's going to feed it, you or me?" Alex asked sulkily.
"He's not an "it." His name is Merlin. I think the right thing would be for us to take turns, but I'm not going to make you do it," Walter said, sighing inwardly at Alex's tone.
"I don't like cats much," Alex said meditatively. "They always pretend to be so fucking friendly."
"What do you mean by 'pretend,' Alex?" Walter asked curiously. Some of Alex's beliefs required sorting out.
"There were cats in the Consortium lab. Beautiful, well fed motherfuckers. The little shits ate better than we did. They weren't hungry." Alex wanted to be sure Walter understood that important point.
Alex shivered, then continued.
"They'd put mice in the cage with them. Poor little mice. Birds, too, sometimes. Pretty, little birds. Baby rabbits. What the cats did...." Alex's voice trailed off.
"It's purely instinctive," Walter said gently.
"Cats enjoy killing. They enjoy hurting," Alex said uneasily.
"They're animals, Alex. There's no malice involved." Walter sighed.
"I suppose so," Alex said doubtfully.
"Come next door with me while I feed Merlin, Alex. He's a nice animal." Walter's tone made clear he expected Alex to do as he asked. Alex needed to see an ordinary housecat, under ordinary circumstances.
Reluctantly, Alex accompanied Walter on his errand.
Merlin was a sturdy black and white cat, well fed, obviously doted upon and equally obviously, annoyed at the absence of his owners. He batted reprovingly at Alex's ankles, his sharp claws emphasizing his displeasure.
"Shit! Get off me," Alex said irritatedly. He shook his leg free.
"Careful, don't kick him," Walter said.
"You know I won't." Alex scowled. Little shit deserved to be kicked, not that I'd do it, he thought to himself.
Walter discharged his cat sitting duties with his usual efficiency.
"All right, Alex, we're done. Watch the door, Alex. We don't want him to slip out as we're leaving."
And wreak havoc on the local wildlife, Alex thought to himself, carefully closing the door.
Alex was quiet all evening. Vague, almost dazed. Walter recognized the signs. Alex spacing out was Alex trying not to think about his Consortium past.
"Come on, Alex. We could use a good soak in the tub," Walter said, steering Alex upstairs with a gentle hand at the small of his back.
"Cats hate water, don't they?" Alex asked, watching as the huge tub filled.
"Mostly," Walter said.
"I'm not at all like them, then, not anymore," Alex declared. "I like baths now."
Walter puzzled over Alex's enigmatic statement. There was obviously something fueling Alex's need to distinguish himself. And judging from the Alex's increasing tension, whatever it was wasn't superficial.
"Do you need help undressing, Alex?" Walter asked. He had already stripped; Alex was still fully clothed.
"No, sir," Alex said softly.
Walter's heart dropped to his stomach. "Sir" from Alex was a very, very bad sign, an indication that Alex was lost somewhere in his harsh and hated past.
"Alex, where are you?" Walter wondered out loud.
"I'm afraid," Alex said.
"You're safe, Alex," Walter said. "I've got you now. Let's get these clothes off, all right?"
Alex nodded slightly. Walter eased his shirt over his head, removed his prosthetic arm and set it safely aside. Undid button and zipper, slid jeans and boxers down Alex's narrow hips. Coaxed Alex into stepping out of his clothing and into their tub.
Alex sank gratefully into the warm water, arranging himself with his back to Walter. He rested his head on Walter's chest, inhaled deeply.
"I love you, Walter," he whispered. "I don't know why you keep me."
"Alex, I love you. I know you feel overwhelmed sometimes. It's all right. We'll get through it. You're mine forever."
"Kitten," Alex said softly.
"Kitten?" Walter repeated, puzzled.
"Don't call me that! I hate that!" Alex stiffened abruptly.
"Shh, shh, I wasn't calling you 'Kitten,' I was only repeating what you said," Walter reassured Alex.
"Oh. I said that?" Alex sighed. "I didn't realize. A lot of Them called me that. I hated it."
Them. Those fucking Consortium bastards. Walter's jaw clenched. He took a deep breath, deliberately softening his muscles. His hard-edged fury was no help to Alex. Alex needed him to be calm.
"Tell me about it?" Walter asked gently.
"No." Alex closed his eyes. "They hurt me a lot. I don't want to remember any more."
"All right, Alex," Walter said. He would alert Alex's therapist to the issue that had just surfaced. They would deal with it together. In the meantime, a soak in the tub, some lovemaking, some cuddling, would help reorient Alex more quickly than any amount of discussion.
Accordingly, Walter soaped a soft washcloth thoroughly and began to wash Alex carefully. Alex lay quietly, trusting Walter's sure and gentle hands. He didn't even flinch as Walter cleaned his stump, his touch confident and knowing.
"Lean back. I want to wash your hair," Walter said.
Alex groaned with pleasure as Walter massaged the shampoo into his scalp. He knew Walter would be careful to keep the lather far from his eyes. He knew Walter would keep him safe.
Walter rinsed Alex carefully, keeping the hand sprayer at its lowest pressure. Alex was relaxed and sleepy by the time Walter helped him from the tub. He snuggled into the towel Walter enveloped him in and let Walter lead him to their bedroom. Discarding the towel, Alex sank back into their bed with a deep sigh.
"I'm so tired," Alex whispered.
Walter finished toweling himself off and put the damp towels in the hamper. Stretched out alongside Alex.
Alex snuggled into Walter, his head on Walter's chest. Walter stroked his still damp hair lovingly. He felt Alex harden against his leg. Still holding Alex close, Walter rolled them so that he was on top of Alex, both their cocks pressed together between their bellies. Their hips worked together in practiced rhythm, increasing the friction and the tension, until Alex came, his back arching. The hot spurts of Alex's cum against his own stiff cock took Walter over the edge.
"I don't know why we bother to clean up before bed," Alex groaned softly and happily. "It's a fucking waste of water." He laughed quietly. "Ow!"
Walter had swatted him on the rump.
"Language, Alex," Walter laughed. "It's a clean mess. Go to sleep." Walter was happy, too. Alex was back to himself.
Sensitive to Alex's uneasy feelings about cats, Walter didn't push Alex to assist with the cat feeding. But tonight, Walter was busy with dinner.
"Would you mind feeding the cat, Alex?"
"I'd love to, Walter," Alex said sarcastically. "I'll just put on my shin guards first."
"Merlin's just a little too playful, Alex. Go on now, I'll have dinner ready when you get back," Walter said. "Be careful he doesn't slip out."
Merlin was not happy to see the intruder. He launched himself at Alex's ankles.
"YOW! Get out of here, you fucking cat!" Alex yelped. The cat darted away.
Sulkily, Alex changed the cat's water, put out food.
"Merlin! Kitty kitty, come eat, " Alex called. No response.
"Fine, fucking starve to death for all I care!" Alex muttered under his breath. He slammed the door behind him and headed for home.
I hate cats, Alex thought to himself. He forbore to mention the little altercation to Walter.
Walter had timed the steak to perfection. Both men ate happily. The potatoes were hot and soft, the salad cold and crisp.
"I'll do the pots, Walter," Alex said, pushing himself back from the table. "That was an excellent meal. Thank you."
Alex stood at the kitchen sink, humming as he scoured the broiler. Gazed out the window that overlooked their back yard and did a double take. There was the large black and white cat, watching him balefully.
Merlin. Shit. How the fuck did the fucking cat got out? What the fuck should I do? Alex thought desperately, racing for the door. By the time he reached the yard, the cat was gone.
Walter is going to kill me, Alex thought unhappily. He warned me to be careful.
Alex was sure not allowing cats in your care to escape fell under the category of Behaving Responsibly. He winced. Violations in that area tended to result in a very sore and sorry violator.
Who the fuck do I know who knows something about cats?
Alex called Ringo. Surely the former farm boy would have a clue.
"Hey, Alex. What's wrong, man?" Ringo listened sympathetically to Alex's tale of woe.
"I lost it. I lost the fucking cat. I don't know how it got out, but Walter's still going to take it out of my ass," Alex said unhappily, looking out at the empty yard.
"Cats are escape artists," Ringo said practically. "It'll be hanging around the yard somewhere. Don't worry, Alex, it'll come in when it gets hungry."
Alex saw the cat reappear outside the kitchen window.
"Shit, Ringo, there it is again. Let me try and get it."
"Don't chase it, Alex. Call it nice," Ringo counseled.
"I'll be nice," Alex muttered. "I can't kill it until I catch it, in any case."
Grimly, he stalked out into the yard, prepared to chase down his quarry.
"Here kitty kitty, " Alex said hopelessly.
"Merrumph," Merlin answered. To Alex's shock, the black and white cat approached him willingly, slinking between his legs.
"You are a good cat!" Alex exclaimed. He picked Merlin up gently, surprised at his friendliness.
Merlin seemed newly fascinated by the house. He sniffed cautiously at the furniture, mewing frequently, glancing at Alex as if for reassurance.
Alex was intrigued despite himself. Maybe all the cat had needed was a little change of pace? For the first time, Alex considered what life as a housecat must be like. Boring, he decided. Very boring.
Feeling a lot friendlier towards Merlin in particular and cats in general, Alex opened a fresh can of food and set it out.
"Mowf," Merlin said, setting to with a will.
Maybe cats aren't so bad, Alex thought. They might be all right, if you got to know one. Like former assassins. Like me.
Sex was still Alex's preferred arena for expressing his feelings. He teased Walter unmercifully, pressing against him like a cat in heat, until Walter abandoned all attempts to watch television and peruse his paper and, not exactly reluctantly, accompanied Alex upstairs.
Walter watched with bemused enjoyment as Alex removed his clothing and knelt before him and began to nuzzle at Walter's crotch. Cooperatively, Walter undid his fly. Alex worked Walter's cock free and took it slowly and completely. Walter rested his hand lightly on Alex's hair, relishing the feel of his hot, wet mouth.
Alex used the muscles of his throat to bring Walter quickly to orgasm. Grinning, he shoved Walter onto the bed. Removed Walter's pants and boxers with a quick tug. Reached for the lube on the bedside table, flicked the cap open.
Still breathing hard, Walter rolled onto his stomach, drawing his knees under him. Felt Alex's slick finger probe him carefully. Sighed blissfully as Alex's well-lubricated cock replaced his finger.
Alex fucked Walter deeply and tenderly, his rhythmic strokes making Walter sigh with pleasure. Alex took his own orgasm quietly; sprawled over Walter's back in total relaxation.
Walter rolled sideways, tipping Alex into his arms. Kissed him soundly.
"That was so good, Alex." Walter kissed Alex again. "Now tell me what you did."
Alex's eyes flew open. Walter grinned at him.
"Come on, Alex. What don't you want me to punish you for?"
"Shit, Walter, you creep me out sometimes," Alex complained. "How the fuck do you always know?"
"You don't do guilty very well," Walter said gently, stroking Alex's hair back from his forehead. "What did you do, kick that darn cat?" He cupped Alex's jaw in his hand, rubbed his thumb over Alex's closed lips. Gazed into his startlingly green eyes.
"No. It got out somehow." Alex gulped nervously as Walter's hand stilled. "I got him back inside.' Walter's hand resumed its soothing petting.
"Alex, do you still think I'd punish you for a mistake?" Walter asked.
"No, Walter," Alex said. "Unless you didn't think it was a mistake..."
"Was it a mistake?" Walter asked quietly.
"Yeah. I make them. I always made them. They punished me for them. I wasn't a perfect killer, not at first. Not like their fucking cats. I cried the first time they made me kill something little. They beat me for a long time for that." Alex's voice was dull and sad.
For the millionth time, Walter cursed the Consortium for the multitude of ways it had hurt and damaged his lover. For the cruelty that had molded Alex into a killer. For the neglect and abuse that had made him the wounded man he remained.
"My poor Alex," Walter said, rubbing Alex's back in soothing circles.
"It doesn't matter," Alex said irritably. "It was a long time ago."
"It matters, Alex," Walter said gently. "It matters to me."
"Yeah, whatever," Alex muttered sulkily. He cuddled closer to Walter anyway.
As long as Alex accepted at least his physical comfort, Walter was content. He continued to rub Alex's back until Alex slipped into deep, exhausted sleep.
Walter tried to calm his own roiling stomach. The Consortium's offhand cruelties still had the power to shock him. Alex's casual recitations of the details of his training were chillingly matter-of-fact. Alex had known nothing else. The abuse he was subjected to felt normal to him.
The ringing phone brought both men fully awake.
Walter listened, shaking his head.
"No, that's all right. We were still up," Walter lied. "Yes, I'm sure you were. We did try to be careful. Yes, they are. Well, all's well that ends well. You're welcome. Anytime. We will."
"What was that all about?" Alex asked curiously.
"That was our neighbor. Alex, did you notice anything strange about Merlin when you caught him outside?"
"Just that he was a lot friendlier. He probably was glad for a little freedom," Alex said.
Walter laughed. Alex scowled at him.
"What the fuck is so funny, Walter?"
"Alex. The cat you caught. That wasn't Merlin. That was Puffin, from up the road. The Marches' s found two cats in their house when they got back tonight."
Alex stared at Walter, open-mouthed.
"I hate cats," Alex said viciously. "It tricked me on purpose."
Walter stopped laughing.
"Do you really believe that, Alex?" Walter asked softly.
Alex closed his eyes. He was silent for a long moment. When he looked at Walter again, his eyes were clear.
"No, Walter. It was a mistake. The cat wasn't trying to get me in trouble." He bit his lip nervously. "Right?"
"That's right, Alex," Walter said, relieved that Alex was able to make the distinction.
Alex smiled uncertainly.
"It is a funny story, isn't it?" Alex asked Walter shyly. "Like people tell at dinner?"
"That's right, Alex," Walter said with an answering smile. "Just like that."
"I love you, Walter," Alex said softly. Alex rubbed his cheek against the soft fur on Walter's chest. He had no words for what Walter meant to him.
"I love you, Alex." Walter replied, drawing Alex to him. He understood what Alex couldn't say.
"It is funny, Walter," Alex said sleepily. "I'll tell Ringo tomorrow."
"Sweet dreams, my Alex. I love you."
WRITTEN for Ursula's NL Birthday Challenge. For Lorelei, who knows cats. EM