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

The Visit

Alex knew Walter had to eventually run out of "major projects." How many things could you do to one small house, for chrissakes! He suffered through Walter's interior painting project with the forced grace of the unfairly put upon. Looking over the freshly painted living room, Walter sighed with satisfaction. He was proud of his craftsmanship. Now it was time to show off the fruit of his labors. Alex balked.

"Why the fuck do we have to have guests, Walter?" Alex asked, scowling at Walter.

"Alex, don't curse," Walter admonished his sulking lover. "Melvin and John are our friends. We'll enjoy visiting with them. I'm inviting them for this weekend, Alex. Trust me, it'll be fun." Alex sighed. This social stuff was impossible to get the hang of. How the fuck did Walter know it would be "fun?" Alex snorted.

"What about Ringo Langly?" Alex asked Walter.

"He's part of their little group, Alex. I think we should try to get to know him better," Walter said.

"He's not our friend. He hates me, and I hate him," Alex protested. Walter clenched his teeth and tried to be patient.

"Maybe this will help the two of you break the ice," Walter said. Alex wondered why, if a little time spent together had allowed him and Ringo to establish their mutual animosity, even more time together would make them like each other. It made no sense. Walter knew Alex was unhappy at the prospect of guests. However, he worried over how isolated Alex was socially. As far as he knew, Alex had no friends. Walter himself was not close to many people, but he cherished the friends he did have and he wanted Alex to have at least a few friends of his own. His stay in the hospital had made him acutely aware of just how lost Alex was without him.

Alex boycotted the preparations for their guests. He didn't help carry in groceries. He wouldn't vacuum, insisting he had done it only a week ago. Usually neat, he suddenly forgot how to make up a bed. He managed to strew both the kitchen and dining room tables with ragged piles of miscellaneous papers.

"Alex," Walter said, trying to keep his exasperation in check. "I know you're not happy we're having guests. But I expect at least a modicum of cooperation from you. Pick up your papers!" Alex glared at him.

"Fuck you, Walter," he said deliberately. "Make me." Walter caught Alex by his good arm and turned Alex to face him.

"Just stop it, Alex," Walter said. "Don't curse at me. The Gunmen are coming whether you like it or not. This is your last warning. Settle down and behave yourself, or I am going to spank you." Alex twisted, trying to pull free.

"No, Walter, fuck you, I told you I didn't want them to come! Why the fuck do I have to move my shit for them? Let them stay home if they don't like it. Fuck you, let go of me!" Alex tried again to pull away, but Walter was having none of it.

"Stop cursing. Now, Alex!" Walter said in his firmest voice. "We had an agreement. If you used that kind of language to me again, whatever the reason, I would spank you. Now come with me." He guided Alex towards the couch, his intention plain. Alex stiffened, then sighed. Shit. Walter was right. He had agreed.

"All right, Walter, you win," Alex said resignedly. As Walter seated himself on the couch, Alex sprawled across his lap, shoved his jeans and boxers to his knees. Sometimes, not always, Walter went easier on him if he admitted his mistake quickly. Alex looked back at Walter shamefacedly.

"I'm sorry," he muttered.

"Not as sorry as you're going to be," Walter responded shortly. He didn't have time for this. To his surprise, Alex blanched at his sharpened tone of voice.

"Please, Walter," Alex whispered. "I know I was wrong, I know you have to spank me, but you're scaring me." He sounded hurt. Walter shook his head. Was it possible that Alex was really anxious about the visit? Did the prospect of guests really unnerve him this much?

"Easy, Alex," he soothed, rubbing his back. "Breathe, Alex, breathe. Any better?" Alex nodded.

"Alex. What is this spanking for?" Walter asked, his voice much gentler.

"For cursing at you. For not doing my share. For acting like a brat and interfering with you straightening up," Alex said sadly. "I know I deserve to be punished, Walter. I just wish I didn't have to be spanked," he added.

"Even though I don't like you refusing to help out, Alex, I wouldn't necessarily spank you for that. But I absolutely am not going to tolerate being cursed at whenever you're upset. I'll always listen to what you have to say, Alex. But that kind of language is hurtful and just confuses things further. It has no place whatsoever in our relationship. We've discussed this before. Do you remember what we agreed?"

"Yes, Walter," Alex said unhappily. "If I cursed at you again, you would spank me." Walter shook his head. Good thing Alex didn't know how vulnerable and appealing he looked, nor how little appetite Walter had for spanking him. Taking a deep breath, Walter steeled himself to the task at hand. Alex depends on you to set limits, he reminded himself. He needs you to act responsibly.

His conviction that Alex required tight boundaries was the only thing that allowed Walter to administer a series of firm swats to the fine white buttocks. Alex was crying when Walter decided he'd been spanked enough. He helped Alex upright and took him carefully in his arms. Gradually, Alex stopped crying. He let Walter wipe his face, accepted the glass of ginger ale Walter quietly offered. Readjusted his own clothing. Still sniffling, Alex snuggled against Walter's chest.

"I'll be good, Walter," he promised. "I'm yours, right? Even though I'm an asshole?"

"You're all mine, Alex, only mine," Walter reassured him. "And it takes a lot of guts to try as hard as you do to learn. You're certainly not an asshole. I don't want you to curse at me, and I don't want you to curse at yourself. Understand?" He smoothed Alex's hair gently back from his sweaty forehead.

"I'm so tired, Walter," Alex whispered. Carefully, Walter untangled himself from Alex. He stood and tugged his lover gently to his feet.

"Upstairs, Alex," he said quietly, turning Alex towards the bedroom. So much for straightening up the house tonight. Walter undressed and stretched out on the bed. He knew Alex needed to be held. After a spanking, Alex was unable to tolerate being left alone. Oh well, thought Walter ruefully. They could finish straightening up tomorrow. Alex shucked his clothing and crawled in next to Walter.

"Fuck me, Walter? Please?" Alex whispered. He sounded exhausted. Walter took Alex in his arms and kissed him thoroughly.

"Sleep first," Walter said firmly. "You're tired, Alex. Sleep first." He settled Alex comfortably against him, rubbed gentle circles on his back until Alex's eyes finally closed.

Walter woke early. Alex was snuggled to him, his good hand twined in the dark tendrils of Walter's chest hair. Walter tried to extricate himself without waking Alex, but at his first movement, sleepy green eyes opened to meet his dark ones.

"Love you, Walter," Alex whispered. He began to slide under the covers, shifting his hand to Walter's hard cock. Gently, he stroked the sensitive skin. Ran a careful finger around the tender head. Walter groaned at the sensation, then laced his fingers in Alex's dark hair.

"Come here, Alex," he coaxed, tugging Alex back to the pillow. He turned on his side, stretched his arm across Alex's chest. Shifted his weight so that Alex was contained, but not pinned. Kissed Alex, first just lightly, on the lips, then more deeply. Used his tongue to open Alex's mouth, pressed Alex's tongue back with his own. Continued his thorough exploration of Alex's mouth until Alex's eyes closed with a groan of pleasure. Not allowing Alex any escape, Walter lapped his way down the center of his smooth chest. Around Alex's ticklish navel. Nuzzled Alex's hard cock as it strained tightly against Alex's flat belly. Took Alex's cock deeply in his mouth, savoring the salty fluid already beading the small opening in the head. Used his hands to hold Alex's hips still as he worked his mouth along the hard length. Barely allowed Alex enough movement to arch his back reflexively. Alex came, hard, bucking against Walter's restraining hands. With a grin, Walter held Alex still as he continued to gently lap him clean, heedless of Alex's squirming and pleas.

"All right, Alex." Walter finally gave in, let Alex's now limp cock retreat back into its furry nest. Alex gasped for breath, his eyes very wide.

"God, Walter, god," he panted. "Some day you're going to kill me." Walter chuckled.

"You can take a lot more than you think, Alex," he said teasingly. Alex grinned, still catching his breath. He let his hand rest on Walter's as Walter efficiently stroked himself to orgasm. Walter took a deep, satisfied breath. Cuddled Alex to his chest, played with his thick, dark hair. Stroked his lover's beautiful face, marveling at how happy Alex's presence made him feel.

"I love you so much, Alex," Walter said. Alex pressed his cheek into Walter's hand.

"Me, too, Walter," he said softly. "I'll be good today. Promise." After a quick breakfast of hot cereal, fruit juice and coffee, they set to work with a will. By eleven the house was neat and shining.

The Gunmen's disreputable old van rolled up about noon. Walter and the three men exchanged pleasantries. Alex tolerated a hug from Melvin Frohike, shook hands politely with John Byers, and returned Ringo Langly's offhand nod with an equally offhand one of his own. While Walter proudly showed Melvin the house, Ringo wandered off on his own and John followed Alex into the kitchen. Alex started coffee, his poised efficiency masking the anxiety he felt.

"So how goes it, Alex?" John asked. Alex adjusted the water level in the coffee carafe, playing for time.

"OK," Alex answered. Talk, Alex, he silently berated himself. Talk. John waited for more.

"Everything's OK now that Walter's better," Alex finally said tentatively, not sure if that was what John expected from him.

"I'm glad, Alex," John said with a nice smile. "What have you two been up to?" Alex tried to remember.

"We painted the rooms. All of them. Walter loves that shit. And then Walter laid a brick patio in back just to keep busy. And I dug about a million holes, for some plants Walter wanted to put in. Walter's idea is that all this is fun," Alex said, smiling carefully, hoping he was responding properly. John's expression reassured him that he was doing all right. Alex took a deep, relieved breath. He was going to be able to manage. He was going to survive this visit after all.

Alex wandered out to the garden, smug in his new role of able host. He had forgotten about Ringo Langly.

"Hey, hey, dude," Langly greeted Alex.

"Hey," Alex returned, without enthusiasm.

"So, what's up between you and the big guy?" Langly asked suggestively. He eyed Alex curiously. The idea that a career bureaucrat like AD Walter Skinner could hold any attraction for a bona fide bad boy like Alex Krycek absolutely baffled him. Steeped as he was in the cool polyamory of cyberspace, it never for a moment occurred to Ringo that his question might offend Alex. All hair and brain and attitude, Ringo was accustomed to getting away with asking anything. Cute, outrageous, amusing--it worked for Ringo. Sometimes, it even produced answers.

It didn't work for Alex. His newfound confidence in his social graces evaporating rapidly, his butt still smarting from the previous night, Alex had no idea how Walter would want him to handle Ringo's teasing. His own idea, which involved silencing the blond freak permanently, he was quite sure wasn't on Walter's list of approved options.

"I don't know," Alex said sullenly, trying his best to recall another of Walter's recently administered lectures, the one on dealing graciously with idiots. Langly smirked.

"Come on, Krycek, give. What's it like? I mean, is it daddy-boy games, or master-slave shit or what? What're you two into? Do you whip his butt, or does he do yours?" Astonished, embarrassed, enraged, Alex had had enough. He hit Ringo Langly so hard and so fast that the blond man was flat on his back, face up, before the blow even registered.

"Ow!" he yelped, shock as much as pain fueling his cry. Alex straddled him, slapping his face with his good hand, his prosthetic hand tangled cruelly in Langly's long hair.

"Don't ever, ever, ever talk to me like that again, you motherfucking piece of shit," Alex spat. "Don't ever talk about Walter like that again, or I will kill you." He hit Langly a little harder; was gratified to see blood gush from his nose and mouth.

"Tell them you fucking fell," Alex said. He left Langly sprawled on the ground, bleeding, his eyes wide with pain and surprise. The adrenaline rush faded quickly, leaving Alex cold and shaky. He knew he was in trouble now. And it wasn't even his fault, Alex thought sickly. He didn't want Walter to be angry, he didn't want to be scolded, and he certainly didn't want to be punished. Spanked. Again. Shit, shit, fucking shit. He had told Walter this visit was a Bad Idea. And had Walter listened? No. And now who the fuck was going to be in trouble? Not Goldilocks. Him. Shit. Alex crept silently up the stairs to their bedroom and then hesitated. He could wait here until Walter came looking for him and then...what? Tell Walter what had happened? Would Walter even care why? Alex couldn't believe he felt so sick. So he'd broken one of their fucking rules! Jesus, he had killed men and agonized less over it than over this. Fuck it all, he'd barely touched the blond asshole. At a total loss as to what to do next, Alex sank to the floor, back against the bed. Pulled his knees to his chest, dropped his head and waited for whatever was going to happen. Wrapping his good arm around his knees, he rocked slowly, letting the familiar rhythm block out all conscious thought. Help me, Walter. Please help me.

Downstairs, a bleeding Ringo Langly was being carefully tended by Walter. Walter tipped Ringo's head back, pinching his nostrils with fingers as gentle as they were firm.

"You'll be OK," he said soothingly. "Try to breathe through your mouth, that's it, Ringo, nice and slow. Don't talk yet; wait till you stop bleeding. That's it. Here, hold this ice on your cheek or you're going to have a hell of a bruise." His unhurried words belied the anxiety he felt. What had happened? He knew immediately that Alex had hit Langly only a fraction as hard as he could have. A good thing, too, or I'd have to hide the body, he thought morbidly, aware of how seriously he meant it. Nothing was going to be allowed to hurt Alex, not while Walter Skinner was alive. Least of all Alex's own bad judgement.

Both John Byers and Melvin Frohike knew Ringo was lucky to still be alive. And that Alex was shortly going to be very unhappy that he himself was. John felt especially sorry for Alex. He suspected Walter was going to apply quite a little seat of the pants instruction and he had real reservations about it.

Even as he patched up Ringo, Walter could tell how much restraint Alex had used. Sighing, Walter wiped the last traces of blood from Ringo's face.

"How'd this happen, Ringo?" he asked quietly. Ringo looked at him, the area around one eye already darkening.

"I was just playing," he said. "I asked him about you guys, what was it with you, and he lost it."

"What exactly did you say?" Walter asked. "Do you remember?"

"Yeah, of course. I asked, what was it like for you two, daddy-boy games, some master-slave thing, who beat whose ass. That kind of bullshit, you know?" Walter winced. Damn Ringo! Punishing Alex was going to be hard. Maybe he could just talk this through with him. Poor Alex really had been blindsided.

Walter dreaded disciplining Alex. He hated spanking Alex, hated the way Alex quivered silently at each smack, hated Alex's choked whimpers and bitten back sobs. It had been a long time since Alex had merited two spankings this close together. Walter knew this was going to be hard for both Alex and him.

Walter made sure the Gunmen felt free to help themselves to beer and snacks and headed upstairs. He was pretty certain Alex had retreated to the safe haven of their bedroom. One look at his lover, his green eyes wide and blank, rocking mechanically, and Walter knew it was bad. Very bad. He sat himself on the bed behind Alex, straddling his shoulders, and with a reassuring murmur, embraced Alex firmly. He was relieved to feel Alex's rocking slow. Holding Alex still, he began to knead his tense shoulders. He kept up a stream of comforting words, reassuring Alex he was safe, it was all going to be all right, he was loved. Not sure if anything penetrated Alex's frozen state. He was grateful to feel Alex soften under his hands as he continued his gentle massage. Finally, Alex took a deep breath.

"Walter? What are you going to do to me?" Alex whispered. Walter sighed, relieved that at least Alex was talking.

"Alex, what happened?" he asked. Alex tensed.

"You're going to punish me," he said woodenly. "Just remember, Walter, I could have killed him. But I didn't." Walter bent forward, brushed his lips over Alex's disheveled black hair.

"I know, Alex, I know," he said. "Come on up now. Sit with me so we can talk. I promise, Alex, I'm not going to punish you if we don't agree it's fair." Alex shrugged.

"You always say that. And in the end I always agree with you. But this time it isn't fair, Walter, it really isn't. That prick can say whatever he wants and I'm just supposed to take it? It's not fair. He should be punished. Not me." Walter had to agree Alex had a point, at least as far as fairness was concerned. But of course, Ringo's relationship with John and Melvin was different. They were colleagues, friends, maybe occasional fuck buddies--Walter wasn't sure--but not lovers. Though they cared for each other, it wasn't in the intimate, cherishing way he cared for Alex. With a sigh, Walter hugged Alex close.

"Alex, you're right, it isn't fair. But we have our own rules, which we agreed on, and sanctions, which we also agreed on. Rules that are meant to keep you safe. And "no physical fighting" wasn't even one we argued about."

"I could have killed him like that," Alex said dully, snapping his fingers. Walter drew a deep breath, released it, trying to calm the concern he felt at Alex's lack of affect.

"I know, Alex. And you didn't, which shows just how much self-restraint you really have. But Alex--do you really think what you did was right?"

"I don't know," Alex said glumly. "But Walter, you're supposed to like me better than him. It's not fair that I get punished and he doesn't! Walter, please, please don't spank me." The desperation in his voice clued Walter in to the obvious. Alex felt as much threatened by the Gunmen's claims on Walter's affection, as by Ringo's mean-spirited taunts. Being punished by Walter would confirm Alex's worst fear, that Walter cared more about somebody else than about him, and would take his side against Alex's. Walter tried to reason clearly. Did Alex need to be pulled up short, to have his boundaries firmly reinforced, or did Alex need to be cuddled and reassured, cut a little slack? Did he need to be stroked or spanked? Petted or punished? Walter sighed, unsure how best to proceed.

"Alex, can you promise me that this will never, ever happen again, no matter what the provocation?" Walter asked. Alex eyed him ambivalently.

"I'll try, Walter," he whispered. "I really, really will. But I can't promise...does that mean you're going to hurt me?" Walter winced. Alex sounded more stressed by the moment. "Hurt." Jesus, he'd thought they were beyond that.

"I'll never 'hurt' you, Alex," Walter said. "That's not what punishment is for. It's to keep you safe. What if you hadn't stopped with a few slaps? What if you'd really injured Ringo, or even killed him? Hitting someone like that is assault, Alex. Ringo would be within his rights to complain to the police. You know as well as I do that you can't afford that kind of contact with law enforcement. How am I supposed to keep you safe if you won't do your part?"

"He'd better not contact the police. And I never killed anyone accidentally after the first time," Alex said with wounded professional pride. Walter sighed. Dealing with Alex in this edgy mood was never pleasant. He obviously felt he was more sinned against than sinner. Walter knew Ringo's careless jibes had left Alex feeling both violated and unsafe. Walter himself had been deeply offended by Ringo's words.

"I know you were upset by what he implied about us, Alex. I didn't appreciate it either. Is that why you lost it?" Walter asked, prepared to cut Alex a considerable degree of slack.

"I didn't 'lose it,' Walter," Alex said, his voice cold with wounded dignity. "He needed to be taught a lesson. I taught him one." Walter realized Alex was not at all repentant. He just didn't want to be punished.

"Are you telling me," Walter asked, trying to contain his outrage, "That you think what you did was right?"

"Yes," Alex said implacably. "He was shooting off his mouth like a fucking asshole. He deserved what he got." He grinned mirthlessly at Walter.

"Goddamnit Alex, you've got it all wrong. And I'm going to spank you to make it clear just how wrong," Walter swore. Alex's icy grin faltered.

"Walter?" he said softly. "Walter, are you sure I was wrong? Walter, please, I don't get it. Why do I need to be spanked? What did I do that was so wrong?" Alex sounded very genuinely puzzled and very genuinely scared. Walter took a deep breath.

"Alex. Think a minute about our rules. One; no physical fighting. Two; words, not fists. Three; talk to me if there's a problem. What part of that is unclear?" Alex gulped.

"I forgot, Walter. I didn't think. Please, please don't punish me. I'm sorry, Walter, I won't forget again." It was Walter's turn to hesitate.

"I know you're sorry, Alex. And I know you understand why I'm going to spank you. Don't you?" Alex nodded, biting his lip.

"I was wrong," he whispered. "I hit Langly, and I should have just walked away and found you. I didn't have the right to hit him. I deserve to be punished. But Walter, it's just so fucking hard. I hate it when you spank me."

"I don't like to spank you, Alex. But it's my responsibility to punish you. Come here now, let's get this over with." He extended his hand to Alex.

"Not downstairs," Alex said in a panic, drawing back. "Please Walter, just this once, let's take care of this here. Where it's private." Walter weighed his options. He had early on resolved that their bedroom would be used only for comfort, not discipline, but Alex had a valid point. Walter locked the bedroom door, closed the blinds.

"Get undressed, Alex," he said quietly, pulling the old wooden chair out from the small corner secretary. Alex closed his eyes.

"Please don't, Walter. Please?" he whispered. Walter concealed his pity under an unusually short tone of voice.

"Enough, Alex. Let's get this over with. Over my knee. Tell me what this spanking is for." Alex gulped and obeyed.

"I'm not allowed to fight. I'm supposed to ask you for help if I feel overwhelmed. You hate me." Walter had already lifted his hand before Alex's last sentence left his lips. Now he paused with his hand in midair. Laid his hand gently on Alex's back.

"No, Alex, no," he soothed. "Of course I don't hate you. I am punishing you because I love you and I want to keep you with me always. You need to be careful, Alex, you need to stay safe. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Walter," Alex said numbly. "You need to punish me so I'll be good." The rote answer made Walter cringe.

"Alex. I'm not going to spank you when you're this upset. Come stretch out." He pushed Alex gently face down on the bed. "Easy now." Walter rubbed Alex's back with slow, gentle strokes, trying to calm and ground him.

"A little better, Alex?" Walter asked presently.

"Yes, Walter," Alex whispered. Walter ruffled Alex's dark hair gently.

"All mine?" Walter wondered out loud.

"All yours," Alex agreed. "I'm OK now, Walter. I love you." He sighed softly. "You can spank me now." He stretched himself trustingly over Walter's lap, exposing his bare rump. Walter rubbed his back gently.

"Why am I punishing you, Alex?" he asked.

"I could have hurt Langly. I didn't have the right to hit him. But our relationship gives you the right and the responsibility to punish me," Alex said, his voice quiet, but sure. Walter shook his head, marveling at his lover's change in attitude.

"Well put, Alex. This'll be over soon, I promise." Walter brought his hand down, hard, across Alex's white flesh. Rained one smack after another on the pale skin, watched it redden on impact. Forced himself to remember Ringo's bloody face, and continued to spank Alex hard, despite his stinging palm.

"You are never, never, never to use your fists to settle a score like that again, Alex," Walter said grimly, accompanying each word with yet another stinging smack.

"Do." Smack!

"You." Smack!

"Understand." Smack!

"Me." Smack!

Alex began to cry in earnest.

"No more, Walter, no more, please, stop, please," he begged. "I'll be good! Ow! Ow! Ow!" Walter delivered the final few smacks in one hard volley, as Alex sobbed bitterly.

"That's it, let it out, you're OK, it's all over now," Walter crooned, helping Alex right himself. He hugged Alex tightly, careful not to touch his flaming bottom. "It's all right, Alex, all done." Alex clung to Walter miserably.

"Don't leave me, Walter," he begged. "I'll be good, I promise, please don't leave me. I'm scared, Walter, I'm scared. It hurt, it hurt a lot, I didn't think you'd ever stop. Please, I need you." Walter stretched out on the bed, rolled Alex gently alongside him, stroking his sweaty hair back from his face and murmuring reassurances. Gradually Alex's breathing slowed and he quieted under Walter's lulling hand.

"You think they heard everything?" he asked Walter worriedly. Walter shook his head negatively.

"These old houses have pretty thick walls, Alex. And anyway, it's our house. We didn't do anything wrong. They're the ones who have to accommodate us, not the other way around. And they're aware of our relationship." Walter held out his hand to Alex. "Come on, go wash your face, get dressed and let's go be sociable."

"I started another pot of coffee, Walter," John said. "I didn't think you'd object."

"Thank you," Walter said, rummaging in the cabinet for the tin of cookies. He placed it on the kitchen table, took out mugs. John brought over the freshly brewed carafe of coffee. He looked critically at the wooden chairs.

"Can you sit, Alex?" John asked. Alex gave him a horrified look and fled upstairs. With an apologetic shrug, Walter followed. Alex lay curled on his side on the bed, his arm hiding his eyes, his cheeks flaming.

"I'm not coming downstairs again. Ever. I hate being laughed at," Alex said bitterly. Walter rubbed his blue-jeaned leg sympathetically.

"Me, too, Alex," he said softly. "But I really, truly don't think John's laughing at us." There was a gentle tap at the door, followed by an apologetic cough.

"Uh, Walter, Alex, it's John. Could I talk to Alex a moment?" John sounded acutely uncomfortable. Walter looked at Alex. He nodded, and Walter opened the door.

"I hope I'm not intruding even more," John said nervously. "I just wanted to apologize, Alex. I had no intention of embarrassing you. It's just hard for me to understand how this works for you two, not that it's any of my business. Alex, Walter will tell you, I've never liked the idea of you being subjected to corporal punishment. I didn't mean to upset you further. I'm sorry, I let my own beliefs intrude on yours, and I was wrong." Alex uncurled and looked at John with wide green eyes.

"It's OK, John," he said softly. "I didn't know you were really concerned about me being comfortable. I thought you were making fun of me. It's just a spanking, but it hurts." It was John's turn to blush.

"I'm not trying to pry," John said hastily.

"It's OK," Walter broke in. "I think talking to you is good for Alex. I'm going to leave you two alone while I start dinner. Alex, for whatever it's worth, I think you can trust John." He left the room. Alex looked at John.

"Why does Ringo Langly hate me?" he asked. He was almost as surprised by his own question as John was. John sighed.

"He doesn't hate you, Alex. He's totally in awe of you. Jealous. You're everything he imagines he would like to be."

"Me, John? Me?" Alex said in total disbelief. John nodded.

"What do you think those virtual reality games he plays are all about, Alex? Espionage, double and triple agents, weapons and violent mayhem. Being an assassin is his fantasy dream job!" Alex gaped.

"He really has no idea, does he?" he said softly. John shook his head sympathetically.

"None, Alex," he said quietly. "None at all."

This time it was Alex who approached Ringo.

"Hey," Alex said. RIngo looked up, his expression wary.

"Hey, dude," he replied. Alex turned his hand palm out.

"I'm not going to hit you," he said, thinking of the number of times he had used this as a ruse. This time, though, he was sincere.

"I'm sorry I hurt you," Alex said softly. "I lost my temper. I still think you were rude, but I shouldn't have put my hands on you. I'm sorry." He lowered his eyes. Ringo nodded.

"Yeah, sure, whatever," he mumbled. "I'm sorry too, Alex. I'm a fucking loudmouth sometimes, you know? I didn't mean to upset you like that." The two men looked at each other. RIngo broke the silence first.

"You really were an assassin, huh? That's so cool!" Alex looked at him.

"It's not all that much fun," Alex said soberly. "You get hurt a lot. The beating I gave you? That was nothing, compared to the shit I've taken. You get cold. You get hungry. It's a lousy job. Not like your fucking games at all."

"Cool," Ringo breathed. "You really did that shit! That's so cool." Alex sighed.

"It's really not," he said softly. "Ringo, did anything bad ever happen to you?" Ringo was silent.

"It wasn't a lot of fun, growing up," he finally said. Alex looked surprised. "You had a family?" Alex asked. Ringo nodded.

"Yeah. I grew up on a farm. You know, cows, hay, shit. Boring, boring, boring. You did the same thing day after day, and everyone thought playing with computers was weird and a waste of time." Alex snorted.

"Did they hurt you?" Alex asked.

"My dad was pretty old-fashioned, if that's what you mean," Ringo said. "He'd give me a couple of licks with his belt if he thought I deserved it." Alex looked almost wistful.

"Did he hurt you?" he asked again. Ringo shrugged.

"He was a pretty gentle guy," Ringo acknowledged. "It was just boring. I was glad to leave."

"You know, Ringo, you're a fucking asshole," Alex said emotionlessly. "I had the shit beaten out of me almost every day. No fucking reason. I don't even remember the first time I got fucked, I was that young. You're an asshole, Ringo. Now leave me the fuck alone." Ringo looked at Alex for a long, silent moment.

"Shit," Ringo finally said, his usual brashness gone. "Alex, I know a little about the Consortium, but I really didn't know about this. Shit. I'm sorry." His eyes held Alex's, his sincerity plain. Alex shrugged, his face expressionless. Ringo hesitated a minute.

"Hey Alex, you want to see this way cool game I'm working on? Alex?" Alex looked stunned. Whatever response he'd expected, it wasn't this.

"Uh, sure, Ringo," he said. "I guess so." He followed Ringo over to the table where he'd set up his laptop.

It was there Walter, Melvin and John found them two hours later. Tousled black hair alongside disheveled blond locks. Ringo's hands gesticulating wildly; Alex's gestures quick and efficient. Ringo's impassioned voice arguing point after point; Alex's husky rejoinders. Walter grinned. He had never seen Alex like this before. John shook his head. Melvin just stared.

It was very late when the Gunmen finally departed. Walter started the dishwasher.

"We can clean up the rest tomorrow, Alex," he said with a satisfied smile. "Let's go to bed." Alex followed obediently. Both men washed up quickly and efficiently. Alex laid his head affectionately on Walter's chest, rubbing his cheek against the dark fur. Walter stroked Alex's hair lovingly, enjoying Alex's good mood. Gently, Walter turned Alex's face to him, kissed him fully and deeply. Alex groaned and arched against Walter, hard and eager. Walter grasped Alex's cock firmly. Alex's breath quickened and he thrust into Walter's tight grip. Walter gave a few promising strokes and then, releasing Alex's cock, rolled Alex over gently onto his belly. Ran his hand tentatively over Alex's reddened buttocks. Felt Alex flinch and winced sympathetically. He knew Alex had needed to be spanked, but he was sad to know Alex was still that sore.

"Maybe this will work, Alex," Walter suggested, turning himself face down and widening his legs. Resting his head in the small of Walter's back, Alex played gently with Walter's ass, his fingers insistently working their way deeper between the muscular cheeks. Walter stretched for the lube, handed it back to Alex. Sighed with pleasure as Alex worked it carefully into him. Moving between Walter's legs, Alex replaced his finger with his cock and pressed himself deep into Walter's ass, enjoying the tight feel of his lover, savoring Walter's throaty, excited groans. Thrusting forward, he stretched along Walter's back, nibbled the nape of Walter's neck gently, leaving little teeth marks.

"Love you so much, Walter," Alex said, breathing hard. "Love you just so much." With a final thrust, he came deep inside Walter. Walter strained against the sheets. A few hard strokes of his own hand and he too came. Alex lay on top of Walter, utterly sated. Carefully, Walter tipped Alex sideways, smiling as Alex protested being moved. Caught Alex in his arms, stroked his face, kissed his half-closed eyelids. Alex tilted his head back, opened his mouth to Walter's questing tongue.

"Love you, love you, love you," Alex whispered, as Walter finally released him from the kiss. Walter chuckled.

"Happy, Alex?" He smiled at his lover. Alex closed his eyes. When he reopened them, they were bright with unshed tears.

"Thank you, Walter," Alex said softly, gesturing inarticulately. "For all of this. For everything." His waving hand included the bedroom, the house, the tender bond between them. The sex. The warp and weft of their life together.

"I thank you, Alex," Walter whispered, kissing Alex's palm gently. "Love you so much." He was almost asleep when he heard his name.

"Walter?" Alex asked softly.

"Yes, Alex?" Walter answered.

"Is Ringo for real, do you think?"

"What do you mean, Alex?" Walter asked.

"He's so innocent. I was never that innocent, Walter, never," Alex sighed.

"I know, Alex. And I'm sorry. Yes, I think Ringo's for real. And I think you've made another friend," Walter said.

"I don't think I ever made a friend before, Walter," Alex said shyly. "What if I screw it up?"

"You're fine, Alex," Walter said reassuringly. "Ringo's as new to this as you are. It'll be good for both of you. And just for the record, John is your friend, too. And Melvin." He tucked Alex snugly against him. Alex cuddled even closer.

"Are we friends, Walter?" Alex asked timidly.

"Friends and lovers," Walter reassured him. "Forever." Alex smiled sleepily.

"I love you, Walter."

"I love you too, Alex."

 

***FIN***

THANK you, Lorelei, my beta and my friend. EM

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